My mother recently gave me a book of what are essentially very fun, silly introspective exercises. About halfway through, I came to one that asked me to come up with a star sign that described myself–what the constellation would be, what the characteristics were, and stuff like that. After probably over half an hour of deliberation that was way more serious than it needed to be, I decided that I would be a lantern: sometimes a little loud, but ultimately meant to clarify things that would otherwise be left or lost in the dark.
Earlier this month, I found out that my birth card is the Hermit. I pulled the card and looked at it. Oh.
I didn’t really like the Hermit when I first started reading way back when. I looked at this picture of an old man wearing a Jedi robe by himself in some kind of frozen wasteland and thought, “Well, that looks boring.” I’ve always had trouble keeping my mind on one thing for a long time, and the Hermit seemed to tell me the same things I’d already heard a million times growing up. Pay attention. Think before you speak. Figure it out on your own. It embodied all the things that I knew that Successful People™ were good at that I wasn’t. Whenever I’d pull the Hermit, I’d think, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Leave me alone. I’m trying, you asshole. I’m sure this is easy for you, but I didn’t choose to live on a damn mountain, you did. How about you go be one with the universe or yourself or something, and I’ll just keep doing my thing?”
I then proceeded to spend my adolescence and most of my adult life staying inside, thinking about pretty much nothing but symbols, implications, and the nature of truth. This wasn’t because I’d consciously learned anything from the Hermit; this was despite the fact that I didn’t see myself in the Hermit at all. Obviously, I had nothing in common with Tarot Obi-Wan over there; after all, I was loud-mouthed and not particularly wise. I just happened to major in a field of science completely focused on the relationship between things and their meanings while spending basically all my free time contemplating my own motivations and quizzing both myself and my friends on who we really were, what we wanted, and what that meant about us and our lives. (Shockingly, I still have these friends.)
I’m kind of a weird Hermit–a slightly impulsive, confused, Fool-y one–but if we’re putting ourselves in Tarot Hogwarts here, this is my house in the majors, and I’m used to it. I’m still loud-mouthed and still less wise than I’d like, but the Hermit has left a clearly discernible boring-old-guy-with-a-stick-shaped imprint on my life, from my interests to the way I interact with other people. When someone has a problem, I’m the first one to ask why, what does that mean, why do you want to do that, are you sure, take a step back. When something is unclear to me or to the people around me, I may not know the answer or even how to find it, but I can sure as hell ask the right questions. I run out of energy and have to be pulled out of my own head and my apartment by the people who care about me and tell me, “Okay, that’s enough thinking, now go soak up some vitamin D and actually get something done.”
It’s hard for me not to assume that being introspective isn’t important. After all, it comes easily to me, but I still feel like I actually accomplish way less than everyone around me, so it can’t be that big of a deal. Or, that’s what I tend to tell myself. If it’s a big enough deal to be one of the major arcana, though, maybe it’s time to stop selling myself short. Maybe it’s not boring or useless. Maybe what’s missing is the application. Maybe it’s time for me to come down from the mountain.