“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung
The Fool continues along their journey of the Major Arcana to the meet the reclusive Hermit. After the grounding and active show of the Strength card the Fool is now inspired to move inward and illuminate the shadows. S/he encounters the mysterious, nocturnal and curious Hermit. In most decks we see The Hermit as a hooded figure, holding a lamp to light his way in an otherwise dark background.
In the Crowley deck, we also see a three-headed dog at the Hermit’s feet. This dog symbolizes our primal fear that hides in the recesses of our mind, waiting to emerge barking and ferocious when triggered by something we perceive as an attack. We become defensive or prideful, perhaps attack back or recoil like a victim in fear. Shining the light on this fearsome beast is our only hope to recognize that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
When this happens, when we can turn and stand and face the monsters of fear, ignorance, shame, pain, sorrow…when we step fully into the shadow of our own making only then will the monster dissolve. In a powerful practice created by Lama Tsultrim Allione, “Feeding Your Demons” we ask questions to the demon of what it needs. Most often this is LOVE: kindness, compassion, acceptance. In the practice we visualize feeding the demon love, what it needs most, nourishing its thirsty, fearful, wild, fierce self. Most often this results in an imminent transformation into an Ally: a protector or guardian.
Tibetan Buddhism is full of stories and accounts in which the practitioners of ancient times turned local nature demons who guarded rivers or stones or mountains into protectors of that very same land! By giving the demon a purpose and deeply accepting its presence through clear sight and compassionate awareness, the demon stopped torturing others, but instead created a safe haven for other practitioners. Similarly, we can transform our own inner demons into allies and protectors. So very often our greatest pain is actually our greatest power.
“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” ~ Marianne Williamson.
The Hermit encourages us to visit this deep self within and discover our power. He reminds us that this is
possible in time spent in silence, contemplation, meditation or prayer. He is often figured in a cave in nature reminds us to retreat into a quiet place, a wild place, to an undisturbed area of the forest. To retreat into the wild is to drop the trappings of culture and expectations, familial obligations and the illusion that we are important. Often it is only when we are alone and profoundly still do deep insights arise from within. When the Hermit is in the quiet of his solitude, through his introspection he realizes the True Nature of Mind.
“True wisdom is never spoken.”
This occurred to me when ‘discussing’ truth, wisdom and the inner light of the Hermit. I realized, how can words ever truly convey this profound essence who we really are? When we have a direct experience with the Universe, or All That Is, God/ddess, Creator, Higher Self, our Aumakua or whatever we wish to call that part of us that transcends these bodies, mind, ego, emotions and personality…can we ever truly explain that experience?
When the Hermit appears in our readings we are reminded to find sanctuary. This can mean many things in these days of turmoil, emotionally, financially, politically. Seeking refuge in ourselves and our inner truth may also compel us to provide refuge and sanctuary for others as well.
This week, take time to meditate. Sit and focus on the breath for a few minutes in the morning or evening. Find time to do Yoga, practice contemplative prayer or do a guided visualization. Focus on a candle burning quietly. Appreciate the natural world! Notice the return of Spring creeping its way along the ground. Do not hurry this week. Take your time. In every little thing, take time. Trust in the cycles of life, trust in divine timing. Remember that you are always at the center of your own being!
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