Way of the Hero – Part 3 – The Journey Through Tarot Cards
In the previous “Way of the Hero” article, I have explained the three steps, or levels of the Hero’s journey and mapped them out within Tarot cards. We looked at: The Hierophant, The Lovers, and Chariot
Now our Hero will journey through The Justice and The Hermit.
Maturation – The Justice
The Justice is traditionally considered 8th among the Major Arcane. Waite has moved it to the eleventh place. Nevertheless, this card personifies the hero’s first actual experience when he leaves the Garden of Eden (his homeland) and enters the outside world. For this reason, I will follow the traditional order, where The Justice is in the eighth position.
Our Hero is an adult now and should be responsible for his own actions. If earlier he was following his family’s rules and customs, now he must learn rules of the society. He used to be under his parents’ protection, but now he must understand that he is the cause of all his problems and take responsibility for his actions.
The major accent of this card is the conscious mind (to reason). As a whole, this card represents a carefully considered choice, the judgment dictated by a conscious mind that went through a critical check based on the objective data, yet intuition is not forgotten.
Thus, The Justice symbolizes a wise and carefully thought-out decision, making it the polar opposite of The Lovers card when the choice was made unconsciously and driven by the spontaneous heart’s command. Between The Lovers and The Justice, there is The Chariot (which means that hero has entered the phase of conscious choices, moving from spontaneity to reasonableness and responsibility). If we lay out the cards, one after another, we will see that the black sphinx, the symbol of the subconscious, located to the site of The Lovers, and the white sphinx, the symbol of consciousness, connects The Chariot with The Justice. So, we see that from now on the choices that the hero must make will be all carefully thought and conscious.
Such a card comparison does not contain any kind of judgment between good or bad, instead, here we see that none of them is better or worse than the other. We will encounter situations where we must choose with the heart, but also we will have situations where we must use the critical reasoning. The whole meaning of the card is the maturing consciousness and the ability to make decisions. And this consciousness is symbolized by a sword.
In myths and fairy tales, this stage is shown when the hero finds the sword and takes it into his possession. Once Arthur was able to pull out the sword from the stone he was pronounced a king.
True Name – The Hermit
The Hermit is the 9th card of the Tarot and it is the last card with the single digit number. The image of the Hermit standing on the snow-covered mountain reveals the real meaning of this card: the road leading to the development of the consciousness has ended and all the knowledge required to pass through this stage is acquired. In fairy tales and myths, this is the stage of withdrawal from all affairs, taking a break to analyze what has been done and/or meeting with the wise man, who lives in isolation. He gives the hero magickal attributes and tells him the magic word, which will protect him on his way and will open hidden doors, (like “Open Sesame!”).
But most importantly, the hero will discover his true name! Knowledge of his true name will help him understand who he really is. He does so by abstracting himself from everything he learned from his parents, teachers, relatives, or friends. This kind of self-identification is a very important accomplishment which only can be achieved in the quietness of solitude. This is how we can understand who we really are. The wise man, like all other archetypes or stages of development, is just an allegory. Even though we will learn something about ourselves from the other person, the process is still happening inside our mind. The other person is just a way of passing us the message for faster and better self-realization. This is why we don’t have to start looking for the wise man who will reveal the secret, however it could be very interesting to meet someone like that, – and The Hermit card (stage) will take care of it for us.
It is very important to hear and recognize our inner voice that will tell us when to find a place of solitude and spend time alone. Only there the wise man who lives within us will reveal what we need to know. Only in solitude, we will find out who we really are. Nowadays it is not easy to find such a place, where we can spend time in quietness and talk with our inner wise man. We get bombarded with information from everywhere that easily distracts us. That is why very few have the chance to find out their true name and the true meaning of their lives. Many are trying to copy someone else, pretend to be someone they are not, but little do they know that everyone of us is born unique and original, but many die as a cheap imitation of someone else. C.G. Jung considered our natural ability to copy very useful for the collective (number of people), but deadly for the individual.
In numerology, the number (9) represents completion, personal mastery, and the conclusion, or end of a process, situation, idea, or involvement. The qualities of the number (9) perfectly match the characterization of The Hermit’s state.
The Hermit is the living representation of human mastery over earthly 3rd dimensional polarities, emotions, and temptations. He has reached the mountaintop, the last spiritual level of mastery, and is now devoting his full attention to the support and enrichment of others. In numerology, the (9) personality is also heavily involved in counseling, healing, and supporting others. This is a wonderfully noble endeavor; both for The Hermit and for the (9) personalities, but there can be a downside. Most (9) personalities are so emotionally involved and committed to their work and the people they wish to protect, that they tend to become self-sacrificing and willing to give up their own rights and interests just to aid another. And this should be avoided. The evolved Hermit, being fully aware of this pitfall, always stipulates… “I love you and will help you, but as a Hermit, I stay apart, removed and disconnected from your personal emotional entanglements”.
“If you desire my help and assistance, please ask, but if you simply want to invade and drain my energies and expecting me to carry you, I will detach”.
When our hero finds out his true name, he will never forget it and will never lose it. Once we grasp who we really are, once we understand our true purpose, we must know that from now on we have to match to our name and purpose. Otherwise, we will have to come back again and again to the place where we will be reminded of our true name.
The isolation of self from the surroundings is represented by the Hermit’s hood, which protects him from the outside influence. His flashlight (Waite) shows him the way: “Where I am now, could be you”. It means that the discovery of the secret true name is not something outrageous, but something that could be experienced by anyone who can isolate himself to meet the wise man (of course prior self-development steps must precede).
The “magical power”, which helps us in difficult situations resides in our own subconscious mind and is able to assist us in miraculous ways. Our subconscious mind is the most important and the most significant tool. However, the more we brag about our connection to that power, the more we will reveal our magical secret word to others, the sooner it will lose its power. (Remember the rule “To be silent”?). And what will be left? Well, we will be left with soulless formulations, empty words, useless rituals, powerless stones. Magick will disappear. That is why the hero, as well as ourselves, must keep this gift secluded, isolated in the privacy of our hearts. We must never forget, that this gift was not earned, so we can brag about it, but it was given to us and it must be taken with the huge appreciation.
It’s interesting to note that The Hermit wears a gray robe. It signifies that he has solved a mystery of life’s polar opposites which are always shown in the Tarot as either White (positive energy) or Black (negative energy). Gray is the blended neutrality of these Black and White opposites. In his left hand, he holds the suspended yellow rod or staff of intellect and higher knowledge. This storehouse of wisdom resides within his subconscious mind. In the Tarot, anything held in the left hand is automatically subjective and of a subconscious nature. Anything held in the right hand (the lantern) manifests within the conscious awareness of the individual.
The Wise Man archetype is widely known in our culture. We can recognize him as Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary priest who, according to some sources, lived at the down of ancient Egypt’s civilization and later was pronounced as God Thoth, or according to other sources lived in the time of Moses. Multiple occult schools are based on his teachings. He is also a Merlin, the old wizard from the Arthurian legend and Gandalf the Grey from Tolkien’s novels. We also know him as Odin, who spent nine days on the Yggdrasil Tree of Life then got initiated.
Another representative of this archetype is Moses. He returned the self-realization (true name) to a whole nation. During the forty years, he was leading his people through the desert to reach the Holy Land. During that time, he also passed to them God’s Ten Commandments. His ascension on Sinai and the reception of the God’s Laws finds a parallel in the transition from The Hermit’s stage to The Wheel of Fortune.
© Rita Digilova 2009