Card VIIII: The Hermit (L’Hermite)


Return to Table of Contents

 Draft of a Translation of Le Tarot de Marseille by Paul Marteau


            It is represented by number 9 = 3 x 3, which is to say, 3 secondary ternaries included in a general ternary.  These ternaries respond to the cosmic planes, which can be translated by the terms “physical,” “spiritual,” and “mental,” or by the terms “life,” “love,” and “light.”

The secondary ternaries are reflections of each of the elements of the principle ternary; they are surrounded by them, but distinct. Thus love grasps life and light, and light is life and love. Without life, love does not manifest and, without light, it cannot be illuminated. Likewise, love exhibits a physical and mental quality; without the physical, the spirit could not be made concrete; without the mental, it would remain incoherent and lacking all restraint.

The set of this ternary, that is, the number 9, suggests the perfect coordination of all these elements.

General and Abstract Meaning

             This Card represents WISDOM REFRACTING ITSELF IN THE MATERIAL WORLD, wisdom in which truth is found, deeply hidden and concealed from human eyes. It is love and light and, when it enters into the material world, it proffers life.

Specific Analogues

            This Card follows “JUSTICE” as a search for the truth, indispensable for rendering justice.

The lantern, alternately yellow and red, which the Hermit holds in his right hand, indicates that this search must be carried out as much in the domain of light as in that of the spiritual. The top of the lantern, entirely yellow, shows that this search is guided by intelligence. It is in opposition to his cloak and partial covering, since it need not be illuminated harshly. As light can only be found in meditation of oneself, the cloak which envelops him is a symbol of this. It is blue, lined with yellow, because the spirituality must be internally intelligent. The one who seeks it without intelligence does not find it, but the yellow lining which can be seen on a corner of the cloak, to the left of the Hermit, is there to indicate that this intelligence is not so hidden that Man cannot see it, for he has need of it to evolve.

The red robe under the blue cloak shows that Man remains ever impregnated with matter and that it is in matter that he must find the truth. This interior garment represents, therefore, an inescapable material state with we are obliged to cover ourselves, while the cloak is the garment which which we submit to our will [?] according to our purpose and degree of evolution.

The red hood signifies that the truth appears to mingle intimately with matter, this being always in communication with intelligence, but the yellow ball at the tip of it shows that intelligence always dominates in the end, whatever the situation may be. On the other hand, this hood symbolizes momentary states of matter which we are able to cast aside quickly at will.

The staff, flesh colored, by touching the ground points to the correspondence which a Being is able to establish with the physical plane through its vital fluids. It signifies, too, that the way is difficult to climb and that Man often has need of some kind of assistance borrowed from the physical world.

The Hermit’s head and beard are flesh colored, since he is evolving through the receptive and active play of his fluids.

The yellow sun, striped with parallel lines, shows that he must always orient himself towards the same goal–that of initiation into the divine.

Orientation of the Figure

            He is standing in profile, with his head turned almost forward. He is oriented towards direct action in his thoughts, but action with consideration. He is disposed to proceed with calm, meditative steps, and his upright stance suggests a working environment.


Specific and Concrete Meaning

            The name “THE HERMIT” is given to this card to describe the retreat into oneself to examine the results of the actions which have been sanctioned by Justice.

Meanings as They Relate to the Three Planes

            MENTAL. A source of light to illuminate and resolve some problem.  An illumination which will appear spontaneously.

ANIMISTIC. A source of the solution. Coordination, reconciliation of affinities. This signifies prudence as well, not with the idea of fear but for the purpose of improvement.

PHYSICAL. A secret which will be unveiled, a light which will shed on hidden plans.

With respect to health: a source of knowledge about the state of one’s health with advice about the remedy.

INVERTED.  Obscurity, faulty understanding of a situation, the difficulty of going against the current.


            In sum, in its Elemental Sense, “THE HERMIT” represents Man in his search for truth, calmly and patiently, using logic and light, partly veiled, which he projects with prudence.

Return to Table of Contents

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s