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The Hermit from the Beaux Arts uncut sheet
The Hermit from the Tarot of Metamorphosis

History and Iconography

Early representations

In the earliest known list of the Trumps (Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis), this card is called El Gobbo (The Hunchback). Other names in Italian include Il Vecchio (The Old Man) and Il Tempo (Time). The Visconti-Sforza Tarot depicts him as an elderly man with a long, white beard. He leans on a stick with his left hand and holds an hourglass in his right hand, clearly symbolising the fleeing of time.

Because of his age and experience, and because of his slow, careful tread, the card is thought by some to correspond to the fourth cardinal virtue in the Tarot, Prudence. The other three cardinal virtues (Justice, Strength and Temperance) are unquestionably identified by their titles and iconographical representations.

On the Rosenwald Sheet, an old, bowed man is shown walking with the help of two crutches. Unfortunately the card hasn’t been preserved on the Cary Sheet.

In a XV Century uncut sheet at the Bibliothéque de L'Ecole National supérieure des Beaux-Arts, a winged Hermit appears. The winged hermit is typical of the Bologna Tarot and can also be seen in the Tarocchino di Mitelli. The winged version is without any doubt an instance of Father Time, as described by Erwin Panofsky in Chapter III of his "Studies in Iconology".

The Tarot de Marseille named it L’Hermite (The Hermit) and portrays an old, heavily cloaked man. He probes the ground with a stick in his left hand and with his right holds up a lantern (or perhaps a bell), which could be a reference to the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who carried a lantern with him during the day in his search for an honest man.

20th-century representations

In the Waite-Colman Smith deck, the card is called The Hermit as well and is represented as a tall old man with grey, ragged robes. He stands on top of a snowy mountain peek and clutches a stick and a brightly shining lantern in his hands. The atmosphere is sombre and grim, and the man appears to bow his head in silent regret.

Suggested Divinatory Meanings

The Hermit signifies solitude, contemplation and thought - without the hassle and distractions of today’s world, he is able to go deep within himself. He has grown wise from his past experiences, and follows his path slowly but steadily. Carole Sédillot writes in Ombres et Lumières du Tarot: "Withdrawing from the world doesn’t mean fleeing from it, but means allowing communion with one’s own inner world and deriving truth from it, one’s own truth."


These are not accepted outside of those who follow such attributions


Golden Dawn oriented (and derivatives)

Numeral : VIIII; IX; 9


  • Astrology
    • Type : Zodiac
    • Name : Virgo
    • Symbol : ♍
    • Element : (Earth)
  • Alchemy
    • Type : Process
    • Name : Distillation
  • Colour : Yellow-Green
  • Yetziratic Intelligence (Golden Dawn Version): Intelligence of Will
  • Musical Note (Paul Case Version): F Natural
  • Cube of Space position : North-Below
  • Tree of Life position : (4,6) (Chesed, Tiphereth)
    • Interpretations :
      • Mercy of Beauty
      • Beauty of Mercy

In other languages

  • Dutch: Heremiet
  • French: L'Hermite
  • German: Der Eremit
  • Hungarian: Remete
  • Italian: L'Eremita
  • Portuguese: O Eremita, O Ermitão
  • Spanish: El Ermitaño