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Esotericism reading: The Hermit – symbol of inner search
Topic:Esotericism Reading
Esotericism ReadingThe Hermit proceeds on his way with the help of his instruments. He goes along the inner path in the search for the light of the truth that he will receive from the soul. By looking for the soul, the Hermit will find Himself: he will then reach the resolution of the initiatory Teaching.

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The Hermit – symbol of inner search


The XXII “Lamas” of the Major Arcana are the chapters of the biggest esoterical book left to us from the Mediterranean Mysteries, testimonies of old secret teachings hidden in symbols.

The Golden Lamas of the Tarot go back to the Egyptian cult of the God Thoth. The Great priest of the Temple of Osiris used them to receive protection from God. Afterwards, the Great priests of the Temple of Jerusalem used them to derive oracles with the favor of the Teraphims.

« … When the Supreme priesthood stopped existing in Israel, when all the oracles in the world went silent at the presence of the Word made Man that spoke through the mouth of the most popular and sweetest wise man, when the Arch was lost, when the sanctuary was profaned and the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed for good, the mysteries of the Ephod and of the Teraphim, that were not drawn on gold and precious stones anymore, were represented by the wise cabalists on ivory, on parchment, on silvery and golden leather and then on simple papers; the latter were always considered suspicious by the official church, as if they held a dangerous key for its mysteries.» - Eliphas Levi

The mystery of the initiatory Journey

Many initiatory ceremonies are based on the metaphor of the journey. Freemasonry, for example, reproduces four of them that represent the journey of man, symbol of humankind, through the elements of the four kingdoms of Nature (mineral, vegetable, animal and human). In man, the four elements are the metaphor of the 4 levels of conscience: the earth is the physical aspect, the water is the emotional aspect, the air is the thought and the fire is the vital energy. Man and therefore humankind, must learn to dominate these elements in order to obtain initiatory freedom (see the Wings of the Caduceus of Hermes). This means to free oneself from the influence of animal physicality, to re-generate the identity of thought and to re-gain the primeval consciousness of oneself.

The journey starts from V.I.T.R.I.O.L. V isita (visit) I nteriora T errae (the inner earth, the personal unconscious) R ectificando (by rectifying) I nvenies (you will find) O ccultum L apidem (the hidden stone, the hidden essence). Remember that conscience is the initiatory path.

The mind that identifies itself with different elements (integration), stating I am this and I am that , pushed by an unconscious force, starts its journey through the material conscience (earth and water elements) in the search for something it doesn't understand yet, a forgotten identity.

It refines and advances in the most subtle planes of one's conscience (air element) up to reach the level called inner sky (subtle conscience).

In order to progress, it will have to learn to deny (dis-integration) the primeval links, now stating I am not this neither that . If it is able to do so, it will reach the highest (subtle) part of Self. This is the top of the initiatory mountain, that is of the inner sky; in the light of the soul (journey into the fire) it meets the Divine part of itself, called spirit.

The initiatory journey represents the evolution of the human conscience that from the animal-man progresses up to finding again the spiritual-man. It touches the metaphor of the fall of the mind (the eloim, the fallen angel) in the physical-animal substance that goes up towards the forgotten identity transforming the impulses of the inferior nature. In the esoterical version the fall is not a metaphor of punishment, but of act of service to the planetary life . Indeed, by refining its elements, man's identity that is only mind and conscience, absorbs, transcends and sublimates the energetic roughness of the elements he is made of and he feeds on; it gives them back to the planetary aura in the shape of energy-thought. Whilst the elements of the body pushed by the law of evolution are given back perfected and their matter elevated.

The Hermit is the noble Traveler on the initiatory path

The Hermit progresses in his journey with the help of his instruments.

He goes along the inner path in the search for the light of truth that he will receive from the soul. By looking for the soul, the Hermit will find Himself; he will then reach the resolution of the initiatory Teaching.

Where do I come from, where am I going, how and why? - This is the question the initiate must answer.

The door we can catch a glimpse of behind him shows “where he comes from” , the direction he's facing shows “where to go” , the instruments he has show “how” . The Major Mystery will be to understand “why all this happens”.

This Lama is marked by the Number 9 (3-3-3) that represents initiatory perfection. (*)


(*) Number Nine, perfection

The primitive Yod is supported by nine pillars. These nine pillars are placed in the nine directions of the world. They are arranged in straight lines, Three in each direction and one at the center. These three points arranged in a square make nine, which are in actual fact eight. They are the thrones of the sacred Yod. Book of the Zohar II/180.

Nine is then the number of the forces that support the system of manifestation of every Form and their itinerary inside it, as shown by Archaic Cosmogony.

We can visualize this sacerdotal and scientific cognition that comes from the ancient times, with the Seal of Apollonius of Tiana (see article “Magic Squares”).

The letters in the first image refer to the cardinal points which are “the 9 directions of the world” mentioned in the Jewish Book of Zohar, whilst the numbers express the qualities and the characteristics of those energies.


The old age of the Hermit is a symbol of wisdom. It is an initiatory oldness that doesn't correspond to the physiologic age; in the age of wisdom the path to cover is obstacle free.

The black robe represents the initiatory uniformity. It is a conscious mind lacking the passional colors that distinguish a human being from another.

The robe is the negation of the apparent diversities and hides the difference in forms. In the wise man any antagonism has disappeared, his uniform is knowledge. Without opinions or favoritism knowledge makes simile in thoughts, words and acts all the Members of the universal Brotherhood, past and future. Once crossed the threshold of the Major Mysteries, the robe of the wise man will become white like the color of Truth.

The lantern that he carries high up symbolizes the Knowledge that “like light cast from above” lights the obstacles on the way. The lamp held in the right hand, active side , shows the contact with the strong-willed part of the superior conscience that strengthens in the initiate the ability for clear-vision . The concrete mind didn't have this ability, being an archive of the past memory unable to project its own investigative ability inside the desired idea.

The Wooden stick with 7 knots held in the left hand, passive and receptive side , represents the spine and the 7 Centers, active in the initiate (see Caduceus of Hermes) through which in man flow the 7 energies of the 7 sacred planets, the 7 Secret Masters the Scottish Rite talks about. To reveal the precept: « man expresses the universe and by knowing yourself you will discover the universe » means to light the “star Vault” inside all of us.

The snake is placed on the right side of the Hermit, active, conscious and joined with him; it looks and proceeds towards the same direction as the Hermit.

The snake is a symbol of consciousness. Adam and Eve, myth of individualization, because of the fruit of a snake knew themselves and lost the animal unconsciousness – “they acknowledged themselves, they knew they were alive and they met the pain of existence and the fear of dying”.

Kundalini is the snake of the igneous and primordial force that generates physical forms. The snake is the sexual energy (see libido) that becomes passion and therefore Eros.

It is a push that doesn't know either the good or the evil that the man's mind can direct to one of the two sides. It is the mainstay of freedom of choice and mistake; psychic energy that by turning into wisdom develops the Free Will.

In its sublimation sexual energy lights the center in the throat that transforms it into creative intelligence, which is the highest expression of physical energy. In conclusion, generating energy is a force that answers to the needs of nature first (survival and preservation of the species) and then to the will of the man who uses it and addresses it where he likes in a more or less conscious way.

The snake is a terricolous animal but with the wings it becomes a Dragon , symbol of the sacerdotal power but also a sacred reference. In the constellation of the Dragon the 7 energies of the stars of the Ursa Major blend with the 7 Pleiades, their sisters.

According to an eastern principle: … the Power of the Snake expresses through the eyes, the hands and the Words of Power; it can express through a destructing or liberating nature, because nothing can be built or changed without destroying the previous “form”.

The sandals of the Hermit show an achieved initiatory essentiality, sometimes mistaken for poverty. Essentiality is comparable to the abandoning of heavy metals , a stage that distinguishes the initiate from the profane; the latter is attached to them. To abandon heavy metals means to leave behind any mental aspect that makes hard the advancement, like the attachment to old habits, such as roles, models and beliefs generated by profane cultures.

As indicated on the Lama, the Hermit travels under the sign of Neptune.

Neptune, king of the sea, represents the domination of the water Element, the untiring world of passion. It is subjected to the power of his Trident, triple sign of power of the god Neptune and it has its home in those Waters. To water corresponds fog with its oneiric miasmas (dreams and tales) which the non-awaken gets lost in.

The power of the Trident underlines the ability to re-orientate towards values and thoughts that don't belong to the sphere of passion; the domination of ephemeral goals in order to direct attention to unchangeable values. To re-orientate means to re-define one's own psychological world that used to be mobile and chaotic in reference to water; to geometrize its mental boundaries in majesty, balance and the Justice of the Universal Order (see Ars Regia).

In order for this to happen the Noble Traveler must complete the crossing of the sea of emotion and illusion, accompanied by the wisdom of the man who can travel on the iridescent fluid of suggestion.

It must not be dragged by its waves but he must absorb its salt (salt synonym of intelligence). It must let the salt melt the metals of personality and detach the waste of the animal form making him deaf to its call. (*)


(*) A splendid representation of deafness as lack of attention to the call of animal forms comes from the esoterical re-reading of the trial that Ulysses faced when crossing the straight between Scilla and Cariddi.

This is another metaphor of the trials the hero underwent.

Ulysses asked to be tied to the mainmast (the right way) of his boat in order to be able to listen to the sirens (inferior forms) without surrendering to their calls. He was then able to listen to their calls without getting lost or destroying himself by “falling in the water” in the attempt to follow them. This is one of the many initiatory allegories that Homer lavished in his works.

Athos A. Altomonte

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