The Hermit VIIII of The Tarot of Marseilles.
The overall image of the Archetype of The Hermit VIIII in Reverse (The Hermit VIIIIR) appears to lack balance and is less graceful than his upright image. At the very top of the picture we see a a solid layer of the ill-defined colours of gold in the path, blue in his cloak and red in his habit. Rather standing at the pinnacle of the mountain – a high position that gives him full view of his past experiences and achievements – the large, fullness of his body presses down on a small troubled face, which appears pressed hard against the bottom corner of the picture. The wide-expanse of cloak and habit ‘mushroom’ downwards threatening to bury a small and tired face that stares hopelessly into his upturned lantern, in a mass of heavy, billowing cloth.
A reversed colour implies negative qualities and traits. The colour blue in The Hermit VIIIIR suggests low self-worth, emotional uncertainty, and feelings of being overlooked or ‘less-than’. Blue is the colour of the Fifth Chakra which symbolizes our own ‘voice and hearing’; it represents the seat of our personal inspiration and guidance. In reverse, it can be a voice of fear stifling what needs to be said and heard, and what we can offer to the world. It can signify an inability to give yourself enough merit for your ideas, aspirations and plans; it can indicate an inability to speak for what you need and want. At times, it can imply aimless prattle that lacks coherence and meaning; or repeating the same ideas and information over and over to anyone who is within earshot!
We see The Hermit VIIIIR’s rich-red habit underneath his cloak. Red symbolizes First or Root Chakra and the energy center for personal boundaries, drive, motivation and ambition. These traits ‘ground’ us to our purpose so we can joyfully live our own lives. The colour red is however ill-defined, implying negative values of dullness, fatigue and a lack of drive. It might indicate our joie de vivre is replaced with anger or even rage. The Hermit VIIIIR habit appears as a red waterfall, cascading downwards over his throat and spilling-over his shoulders to (almost) choke and suffocate him in the process. Does The Hermit VIIIIR’s blocked quest to understand what his happening in his life isolate and infuriate him? Is it The Hermit VIIIIR being prevented from using his basic wisdom and common-sense? Is he perhaps looking at bottom of The Wheel of Destiny X and his future or fate, with fear and or misgivings?
The colour gold symbolizes our self-esteem, sense of abundance and ideas about success. Gold signifies higher ideals and inner-wisdom and guidance. But gold when ill-defined implies a lack of trust, a fear of achievement or an inability to manifest abundance, and sadness. The golden path along which The Hermit VIIIIR is travelling may feel dangerous, be leading ‘nowhere’ or no longer support him in his journey; the golden lining of his billowing blue cloak may not provide him with the projection he needs from the elements around him; the reversed golden bells decorating his jesters’-hood might signify little or no humor and wisdom; and the red-gold glow of his lantern is dulled, dimmed and an almost useless as guide to his making progress.
The Hermit VIIIIR’s red and gold lantern is upside-down and situated at the bottom right-hand corner of the card. Any item that occupies this position, represents an important, noteworthy or ‘final message’. A lantern is a universal symbol of hope and divinity; it ‘shines the spiritual light’ onto our dreams and aspirations so that we may see them clearly. Upside-down and near the ‘ground’, the lantern cannot light-up the path ahead, signifying that goals and desires are unclear or blocked. His capacity for self-guidance is at its lowest point. The Hermit VIIIIR’s is literally searching in-the-dark or is looking on the darker-side-of-life, bring the path he is trying to follow into question.
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Continued next post:
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