We're 1 month into 2016 already - who can believe it! As January fades to a distant memory, and we're finally coming to terms with falling off our New Years resolution wagon, let's take a look at what 2016 has in store for us. Numerologically speaking, 2016 is a 9 year (2+0+1+6), and the ninth Major Arcana card is the Hermit...so what messages for the year does the Hermit hold in store for us?!
Well, I suppose it depends on *which* Hermit we're talking about - each deck gives its own spin, it's own nuanced message and it's own approach to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Hermit, and so I take a look at some of them, in the hopes that it will give us some insight for the year ahead.
The Personal Journey
Oftentimes the Hermit is about having the focus, determination and confidence to take the road less travelled, and to cut ones own path through the undergrowth. Paving your own way can be a painstaking process - a melange of needing to slake ones own thirst for something very personal; getting up the confidence to break free of the herd; not panicking in the face of sometimes tremendous resistance; and being isolated and without the usual safety net of support.
The Hermit is invariably about a need, rather than a gentle tickle of desire - it's not something we'd quite like to do on a Sunday afternoon if the weather isn't too bad, and we can get off the couch and turn off Netflix for a couple of hours, but instead something that we have to commit to, to want it so badly, as the saying goes, that we can taste it.
Sometimes we might not know what it is exactly that we want, but we realise that 'doing the same as everyone else' or 'doing what we've always done' just isn't cutting it for us anymore, and we need to break that mould, switch on the 4x4, and launch ourselves into that Unknown quantity.
This personal journey lacks the spontaneity of the Fool, where gay abandon can find you half way over a cliff before you've had time to get your feet under yourself, but instead it comes from having known, grown, experienced, and realised that we're trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. It's that part of us that needs to find some level of personal recognition, to do something that's important to us personally, or to redefine ourselves in line with those higher ideals that we want to hold ourselves to.
The Hermit can also emphasise the Individual - that we've been part of something larger for so long that we've lost our ability to connect with ourselves, and so we feel lost: a very small fish in a very large pond; or we feel adrift with no rudder to steer with, and no star to guide us. Very often the Hermit accompanies this desire to seek and, ultimately, find ourselves - to cast off the pretensions of youth or inexperience, to drop the desire to people-please or put others first, and ultimately to start to build on the relationship with ourselves that we find fulfilling and rewarding in a way that, previously, we might not have thought possible, or had tried to find outside of ourselves, to find our 'other half' or 'missing piece'
When the Hermit manifests in this way, we can feel a disconnect from those around us, as we realise how much we're influenced by our chosen circle...it's not necessarily discarding those things that were previously important to us, but it's an opportunity to acknowledge that our role in the structure of our life needs to change, and that change starts within.
By understanding our own drives, needs and motivations, we can make better choices to fulfil our needs for ourselves, without the need to compensate externally or by pushing for things that are, ultimately, only temporary salves for wounds that have built up over time, learned behaviours or standardised reactions that need intense exploration and shadow-work to heal fully, and for us to find release from.
This desire to push Self over Others can, for the human pack animal, feel strangely alienating, selfish or unnecessarily self-indulgent, but by putting in the work on ourselves and being true to those needs that we have, we, ultimately, put less strain on those connections with others, and ensure that by caring for ourselves, rather than expecting others to do it for us, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
Enduring Personal Hardship on the Road to Self Discovery
Sometimes we're already on our own personal journey, having launched ourselves into unfamiliar territory, and we realise that it's not necessarily the jolly weekend picnic jaunt-into-the-countryside that at least a little part of us thought it might be (pop to shops for milk and bread: check! Drop kids off at grandmas: check! Record documentary about political intrigue: check! Initiate and complete journey of self discovery: erm...ooh...might take a little longer than I had scheduled - I really thought 20 minutes would do it!).
The Hermit can signify a radical shearing of our expectations for our life, or an in-depth and deep-rooted shake up of our core self, and these are not changes that come without their own significant challenges, risks and threats that we must overcome in order to achieve those goals in a way that will stick with us, rather than causing us to slip back into old patterns.
That road to self discovery can be a shocking shift for us from what we've become accustomed to, filled with snares, bear traps, pitfalls, crossbows, avalanches, sharp stakes and trip wires. It can also be a lot longer journey or slower progress than we ever thought possible, putting considerable strain on our personal stockpile of willpower, determination and grit...but the journey is an itch that we know we'll never be able to scratch if we don't reach the end, and we know, deep down, that we'll only be letting ourselves down if we fail...and so the journey may be long and arduous, requiring sacrifice and continued commitment beyond what we were originally prepared to put towards it, but the results will be worth it - it's short (and potentially mid-) term pain for long term gain.
Withdrawal from Society or Social Norms
The 9 to 5 standard isn't for everyone, and sometimes we see individuals with the urge to throw it all in and embrace something spiritual, personal or more meaningful to them in the grand scheme of things. Whether it's taking a year (or longer!) out to 'find oneself' doing a charity build or backpacking round mountainous locales on the other side of the world; running yoga and meditation retreats in far flung and sumptuously exotic locations; or giving up the day job to finally commit to writing a novel or building up a business from scratch...the urge to 'jump ship' can come early or late in life, carrying us outside of the expected social norms of school > college > work > retire, all the while earning money and trying to 'get ahead' or achieve in some tangible way that reflects itself in a bigger house, faster car, or room for a pony.
Instead, there's a calling that carries us outside of these expectations, and can be rather alarming to those around us that we're bucking a trend, 'doing it for attention', that it might just be a phase we're going through, or that we'll grow out of, given a few months creating driftwood artwork in a beach shack somewhere. Those people in your current circle can react in negative ways because your own desire to 'go bush' can cast a distinct light on their own lack of achievement in that area, that they succumbed to fear and allowed themselves to be held back.
The Hermit reminds us that this is our journey, and that essentially only we need to understand it. If we are called to create performance art using only a dog leash, 2 crates of mangos and the spare tyre from a 2CV, then, as long as that's what fulfils us and has that level of personal meaning, it is something that we should embrace - if nothing else, the experience will teach us further what we don't want to do, allowing us to narrow down our choices where we feel unsure or conflicted.
Pulling out of the standard eat/sleep/work/repeat cycle can be a wrench for the psyche where it's an ingrained pattern or something where we have sheltered for a long time, and giving up creature comforts can also be a threat that can derail those desires for something different, but by embracing the off-beat, the novel and the creative, life will present ways in which those goals remain achievable, carrying us forwards, if we're prepared to keep our eyes on the prize...even if it does mean learning, from scratch, those skills that allow us to be 'off-grid' in areas where we'll see the most benefit.
Identifying Ones Own Star
Finally, the Hermits message can be a simple one...Find Your Own Star. It's another 8 cards in the journey through the Major Arcana before the Star itself will make an appearance as something to hold onto and to recognise, but it appears in the Hermit - calling on us to recognise those things that are important to us and that we are prepared to fight for - with luck, karma, stasis, change, balance, temptation, and destruction between the Hermit and the Star cards, it's easy to see how many personal journeys don't make it to fruition, or don't yield results that stabilise into the norm, but might give temporary relief, solace or pleasant memories that are enough until another driving urge comes along, calling us, and hoping that we'll answer.
The star that the Hermit holds in their lantern is an important one - it's that personal flame that lights our own journey at this stage, rather than helping to light up the entire sky. It's a message that, at this point, is personal and focused, captured in a glass cage and protected against high winds and other dangers that threaten to snuff it out, before it can take it's place in the night sky, a tangible and permanent reminder of what has been sacrificed, what has been achieved and what opportunities remain open to us.
2016 is certainly a year that promises much in terms of our own personal journey, and the energies that can pull us onto that path...or push us from it. Be open to that calling, be prepared to answer it, and be ready with those resources to allow you to commit fully to those opportunities and challenges as they arise!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Hermit year ahead!