Hermit

The Hermit, from The Brightwing Tarot by Beth Weaver-Kreider and AI.

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Quest, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the tarot cards. I have been using the tarot as a tool for deep inner understanding and spiritual growth and development since 1992, and I thought it was time to do a public exploration of some of the ways in which this tool has helped me to learn more about myself and my connection to others and to the Holy One.

The way out is the way in.

Recently, I have begun praying the rosary. I’m in the middle of a 54-day novena, praying along with a group of others for our heart’s desire. I’ve been praying that I may live wildly and freely, unbound by others’ expectations and boxes. I can feel this prayer working and growing within me every day. The saint that we’ve been focusing on during this novena is St. Thecla, who listened to the apostle Paul and herself became an evangelist. Her story is told in the Apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla. Thecla was captivated by Paul’s preaching, particularly with his ideas of celibacy, which seemed to offer her freedom from an arranged marriage and the Roman ideas of respectability proscribed to young women of her day. Instead of being caged within her proscribed gender role, Thecla became a wandering preacher, wearing men’s clothes, and living on her own terms.

I’ve been thinking about St. Thecla quite a bit lately as I have been considering the tarot. The eighth card in the Major Arcana is Strength, which traditionally features a young woman closing the mouth of a lion. In St. Thecla’s story, when she refused the advances of a prince of the city, she was thrown to the lions, but they would not harm her, and one female lion actually protected her from the others. Thecla, like Strength, is portrayed in the company of lions, not dominating them, but quietly present with them.

Later in her life, having survived several attempts by powerful people to have her put to death, she withdrew from human society and lived in a desert cave, as many of the church’s early mothers and fathers did, where she ministered to people who came to visit her, and performed many miracles of healing.

So today’s Tarot character, the Hermit, is also reminiscent of St. Thecla. The Hermit withdraws from the hustle and bustle of society in order to focus and think, to pray and contemplate, to do inner work.

The way out, they say, is the way in.

The Hermit is a special kind of activist, an inner activist, who anchors and focuses the work that must be done through prayer, contemplation, generating healing energy, developing wisdom–not hoarding it. The Fool comes to the Hermit in the wilderness to learn to anchor and channel energy, to balance outward movement with inward contemplation. The Hermit is always portrayed carrying the light of their own inner wisdom in the wilderness. The Fool comes to the Hermit and learns to find the fount of Wisdom within.

One of the lessons I still carry from my college days was one a group of our professors worked hard to help us explore: that the work of the activist to create social justice must be balanced with inner work. Contemplation feeds action. Action enriches contemplation.

If you’re a Hermit, don’t give into feelings of shame that you aren’t doing more active work in the world. Do the work you’re called to do. Anchor energies. Pray. Find wisdom. Welcome the seekers. Be a refreshing fountain where your beloveds who are at the front lines of activism may come and receive your healing calm and wisdom.


Gratitude List:
1. Hummingbird
2. Holiness everywhere. In the Aenid of Virgil is the phrase: Incessu patuit dea. The Goddess is revealed as she passes. Everywhere you turn, She is there.
3. Wide and welcoming tables, and the people who work to create them.
4. My colleagues are so incredibly supportive and welcoming.
5. Cats
May we walk in Beauty!


“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you must be able to attain.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“Hope is a renewable option:
If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.” ―Barbara Kingsolver


“There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
Listen.”
―Rumi


“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
―Carl Jung


“I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.”
―Mary Oliver


“We have come into this exquisite world to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom, and light.”
―Hafiz


“Our space was a home because we loved each other in it.” —Barbara Ehrenreich


“A lot of what we experience as strength comes from knowing what to do with weakness.” —Barbara Ehrenreich


“There is a vast difference between positive thinking and existential courage.” —Barbara Ehrenreich

Step Away from the Gates

Yesterday was perhaps a bit of a let-down day after the high of Luna Moth Day, full of barely maskable crabbiness and low-grade anxiety.  Sigh.  I suppose we can’t always live in the realm of the sublime.  The mundane has lessons aplenty.

Worn out by the anxieties and slog of the day, I lay back in the recliner for an evening catnap, and the first part of this just sort of fluttered into my head.

Don’t sit so close to the gates of Despair, sister.
I don’t need to to tell you how the gates open inward,
suddenly drawing the shuffling masses inside the yawning arches.
I don’t need to tell you how easy it is to be carried along in the wave,
or worse, trampled by feet of those who are eager
to prove their dark visions and those who cannot
relinquish their lifelong addiction to fear.
You know them too well, these shadows.
You’ve been in that land.

Roll up your mat, gather your books,
pick up your bucketful of bright yellow flowers,
and walk twenty paces east of the gateway
to the place where a sapling grows patiently
out of the moss-covered pavements.

From this spot you will hear the faint whisper
of breezes, from faraway places
where courage is dawning.

From this breathable vantage point,
you will hear the distant shushing
of waves on the beaches
where hope will awaken.

I know why you choose your perch,
there, on the doorstep.
I know why you watch them so carefully,
tending the crowd like a garden,
why you believe yourself safe,
you, with your books and your flowers.

I know, too, how you belong there,
in that waiting crowd of restless people,
how some days your flowers turn lifeless and ashen,
how the words in your volumes, on grayest of days,
run down the pages like ink-bled tears.

Pick up your mat, I say, now before the gates open.
Turn your back on that archway.
Follow the pathway of bright white pebbles
that I laid there myself one gray day.

 

Gratitude List:
1. The way words come together to make meaning
2. The holiness of the everyday
3. Tomato sandwiches
4. Cool summer morning breezes (“. . .blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”
5. This web that we belong to.  And I don’t just mean the www, though that one has its contribution.  Can you feel how the strands connect us, how the energy runs between us?

May we walk in Beauty!