Here we arrive at the 9th Key of the Tarot Tableau, The Hermit. We find the Hermit at the top of a very high mountain. He climbs no further, thus holding his staff in his left hand. He has used the staff, symbolical of the Kundalini to help in his climb. The staff is also one of the implements of the Magician. The Tarot Keys are successive; the accomplishments made in one Key prepare you for, and are the foundation of, the next Key in the Tableau. Only now, when control has been established over the beast of animal nature, can you go on toward the summit of Attainment.
The Hermit stands in darkness. What is behind all of our personifications of the Supreme Reality is actually quite incomprehensible to our intellect. The darkness also represents the hidden, interior, subconscious field of the Divine Operation. He wears an under garment of white signifying purity, the Primal Light and pure spirit. To us this Ancient One, expressed by his long white beard, is an abstraction, cold, far removed from the warmth of everyday life. Yet he carries his own light, holding it up for the benefit of those who follow him, to show them the Way as they toil towards him. He has traveled the Path before them and knows all the difficulties that they will face. The light is a six-rayed golden star with its interlaced triangles symbolizing union.
The six points of the star also hint at the zodiacal sign Virgo, the sixth sign. His blue hood forms the letter Yod, the very foundation of every letter in the ancient Chaldean alphabet, now generally known as Hebrew. The letter Yod is also associated with Will. The Hermit is the representation of the Ancient of Days, or the One Identity, as the Will power in the universe. It has no support other than itself. He who stands alone symbolizes adeptship, because he cannot share his knowledge with those who do not comprehend it.
Yod is a Hebrew noun meaning “the hand of man.” This ties into an ancient doctrine: The primary and fundamental reality of the universe is identical with the power that is expressed in the handiwork of human beings. It is said that the upper point of Yod represents the Primal Will, while the rest of the letter is assigned to the aspect of the Life-power named Wisdom. The hand of man is able to perform its manifold operations because it is the seat of highly organized centers of touch. Hence the sense of touch is assigned to the letter Yod.
Because Yod is the foundation of the letters, and looks like a flame, it is often named the Flame Alphabet. Virgo is also attributed to the letter Yod, and thus to Key 9. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, that is, the power symbolized in the Tarot by the Magician. Astrologers say that Mercury has its highest mode of expression in Virgo. Mercury represents the Life-power working at the self-conscious level through the brain. The physiological field of Mercury’s brain-manifestation is the frontal lobe of that organ. Here are the controls that determine all bodily responses. But the most important field of expression in which the controls exerted through the frontal lobe are manifested is the field that astrology assigns to Virgo.
This field is the abdominal region, and especially the upper part of the small intestine, where food is assimilated and sent to the various organs that transmute it into bone, tissue, and the all the other parts of our bodies. At one stage of intestinal digestion, food is transformed into an oily, milky substance called chyle (alchemists call it Virgin’s Milk), from which the lacteals absorb nourishment for the bloodstream. When, under proper self-conscious direction, the finer forces always present in chyle are liberated into the bloodstream, these forces energize brain centers that function in the experience termed Illumination. This experience is that of conscious union with the One Identity.
We control the activities of the assimilative portion of the intestinal tract by carefully choosing what we eat, and by utilizing the law of suggestion to bring about the release of the subtle forces in chyle. This last seldom happens unless one knows of the possibility, understands to some degree how such release of subtle force will bring about Illumination, and definitely takes himself in hand for the sake of accomplishing the Great Work. It has been said that God chooses the weak things of the world to confound the wise, and certainly the fact that Illumination depends upon the release into the bloodstream of a subtle force that is generated in the intestinal tract is not one likely to arouse any feelings of pseudo-aestheticism. Go figure!!
The actual building process of a finer, regenerated vehicle of personality is made possible by changes in the bloodstream, and it is in the Virgo region of the human body that these changes are initiated. Key 9 represents attainment through union. This means that the end of the path is reached when the personality meets the inner Self in perfect contact.
Most interesting on this topic is a recent book published in 2015 called Brain Maker, The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Brain – For Life, by David Perlmutter, MD. A board-certified neurologist, he links the health of your gut (the small intestines) in determining the health of your brain. Amazing! He introduces us to the microbiome in our bodies. He draws on 30 years of key clinical and laboratory studies and results from doctors and patients from around the world. The stories he tells are truly uplifting. I had the pleasure of dining with him at a function at the Buck Institute in Novato, California. A most remarkable, sincere and dedicated scientist. I highly recommend checking it out.
Thinking about the Causeless Cause it appears to us to be far off – a cold, isolated abstraction. In truth, it is intimately related to every circumstance in our daily personal lives. It is the substance, the power, the consciousness expressed in the least of our experiences. It is the source of all our personal light and wisdom. It is the objective of all our aspirations.
The Hermit is the supreme Will, the cosmic, eternal urge to freedom. Union with that Will is the highest result of the operation of the law that subconsciousness responds to the initiative and to the suggestions of self-consciousness. Only through the working of the sub-conscious body-transforming powers may our bodies undergo the subtle changes which make them fit vehicles for union with the Supreme Spirit.
Through right recollection (Key 2 High Priestess) we come to know the One Identity (Key 9 The Hermit) and that knowledge overthrows all structures of separative illusion (Key 16 The Tower). The lightening-flash in Key 16 is a ray from the Hermit’s lantern.
The number 9 is the end of a numerical cycle, and includes within itself each of the preceding numbers. The Hermit is the Fool after the latter’s re-ascent to the heights, after his descent into the valley of manifestation. The Fool is Spirit in its aspect of Eternal Youth. The Hermit is the same Spirit in its aspect of all-embracing experience. Yet both are the same, for both youth and age are but appearances of the No-Thing.
Paul Foster Case gave his students the following to help them work with the subconscious mind. “Speak directly to the subconsciousness, as if to another person, and say: Henceforth you are free from the influence of any other misinterpretations of appearances that may result from the inaccurate operation of my conscious thinking. You will refuse to accept any such misinterpretations, and you will be guided by the influx of superconscious life and wisdom. Under this influence you will set my body in perfect order, through this wisdom you will guide me aright in all my affairs, and by the reflection of this boundless power into my personality you will give me ability and strength to accomplish all that I have to do.”