Here we are at the 9th Key The Hermit. We find the Hermit alone at the top of a very high mountain. He carries his staff in his left hand and holds high in his right hand, the hand of power, a lantern radiating a shining 6-pointed star. We originally saw the staff, a symbol of Will and measurement, on the shoulder of the Fool. We saw it on the table of the Magician, representing the element Fire, again expressing Will and energy. Each Tarot Key is a preparation for the next Key. Therefore, only now, when control of your life has been established through your understanding of how to use the Law through Strength Key 8, are you able to climb the summit upon which the Hermit stands.
He’s looking down at the path he’s traveled, lighting the way for those of us that will follow him. Behind this adept is the Ain Soph Aur, the Endless Light, which is so completely incomprehensible to our mind that it appears as darkness. It is also the underlying background of the 32 paths on the Tree of Life diagram. He wears a grey cloak, indicative of the wisdom and understanding he’s accumulated along his journey. The Hermit’s white under garment and long white beard signify pure spirit and identifies him as an Ancient Adept.
The six-pointed star in his lantern is a pair of interlaced triangles, expressing the phrase “as above so below,” the idea of unity with Creation. When we are able to acknowledge and experience a feeling of unity with Creation in our daily lives then we will be able to see the Hermit’s light, and allow it to guide us toward him.
His blue hood is his simple crown, signifying authority, that forms the letter Yod. The color blue represents water, memory, receptivity and intellect, reminding us of the High Priestess and the subconscious plane of mental activity. That plane is being exalted here.
As with the wand, the letter Yod is associated with Will. Yod is a Hebrew noun meaning “the hand of man.” The sense of touch is assigned to this letter. Masters and Adepts may be considered the Hands of God. The transmission of power is through the laying on of hands on the crown of the recipient. The upper point of the Yod represents the Primal Will. Wisdom is the supporting remainder of the letter. So here we have the Yod as a combination of the Primal Will and the subconscious mind operating through the use of the Law resulting in a perfect conscious union with the Creator. The Yod looks like a flame, and because it is found in all of the Hebrew letters, the Hebrew alphabet is called the Flame Alphabet.
With all of these indicators of Will on the card, we see this Ancient Adept for who he is, none other than the cosmic Will. He is the self-conscious mind, the doer, like the Magician. But he is also crowned by a blue Yod so what more has he to tell us? What do we need to do to have this experience of unity with Creation as a part of our daily lives?
Let’s take a look at how Virgo and Mercury interact on this card and what parts of the human body they each rule. The sign Virgo is attributed to the letter Yod plus it is ruled by the planet Mercury. You may also wish to look at Paul Foster Case’s detailed discussion of this card concerning Mercury and Virgo in his book The Tarot, a Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, published in 1947.
The symbol for the planet Mercury represents the superconscious mind, the third character in this Tarot story. Mercury also represents the Magician, your self-conscious mind, the doer. The physical location in the brain where self-conscious directing takes place is in the frontal lobe region. It is the part of the brain that controls important cognitive skills in humans, such as emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behaviors. It is, in essence, the “control panel” of our personality and our ability to communicate. And it is through our brain that the superconscious mind works. So how does this area relate to Virgo?
Virgo rules the upper part of the small intestine. The small intestine or small bowel is an organ in the gastrointestinal tract where most of the end absorption of nutrients and minerals from food takes place. It lies between the stomach and large intestine. Chyle is a milky bodily fluid consisting of lymph and emulsified fats, or free fatty acids. Chyle is formed in the small intestine during digestion of fatty foods, and taken up by lymph vessels specifically known as lacteals. From here food is sent to the various parts of our bodies, including our brain and nervous system, through our blood.
So here we see a direct connection between the health of our brain and nervous system, Mercury, and what we choose to eat, which determines the health of our gut, Virgo. In addition, with our understanding of the use of the law from Strength, by subtle self-conscious suggestion, we can direct the release of nutrients in the chyle to create a healthy, balanced, calm body. And the body is where you live while you accomplish the Great Work.
I also found this same information in a small book called Basil Valentine His Triumphant Chariot of Antimony with Annotations of Theodore Kirkringus (1678). He referred to the chyle in the small intestine as Mothers Milk and its important effects on the nervous system and brain. According to Wikipedia, Basil Valentine (c. 1600) is the Anglicized version of the name Basilius Valentinus, ostensibly a 15th-century alchemist, possibly Canon of the Benedictine Priory of Saint Peter in Erfurt, Germany, but more likely a pseudonym used by one or several 16th-century German authors. Whoever he was, Basil Valentine had considerable chemical knowledge.
And then, more recently on this same topic, is a 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 in determining the health of your brain. He introduces us to the microbiome in our bodies and how to keep it healthy. He draws on 30 years of key clinical and laboratory studies and results from doctors and patients from around the world. A most remarkable, sincere and dedicated scientist.
The Hermit lights the way for us to give us a better understanding of how creation works. He is depicted as the supreme Will, and he shares with us how to be more closely united with him through the use of the laws of creation. The Hermit tells us that by directing our attention with intelligence to the Mothers Milk in our gut, we are able to create a more perfect vehicle, brain and nervous system. Just know, it is a bolt of light from the Hermit’s lantern that destroys The Tower in Key 16.
9 is the number of this Key. It symbolizes in the Cabala the end of a numerical cycle, but also includes an aspect of each of the preceding numbers. The Hermit is the Fool who has now risen from the abyss, having learned much from his many adventures. But in Truth, they are one in the same, behind the Great Creator’s veil of youth and old age.