Card: El Ermitano / The Hermit
Numerical Value: 9
Astronomical Symbol: Virgo
Depiction: In the Tarot de la Santa Muerte, "El Ermitano" depicts an elderly man, a hermit, in purple robes with a walking stick in one hand and a lit candle in the other. He appears on a mountain side, next to a human skull at his feet and beside what appears to be a cave whose opening resembles the reflective surface of a mirror. The black cloaked Santa Muerte towers over the El Hermitano and looks upon him. Also above El Hermitano flies a large, powerful owl. A shining sun and white cloud appear in the background.
Symbolism: El Hermitano represents spiritual enlightenment and growth through introspection and meditation. The old age of the hermit, shown by his long white beard and tired posture, represent wisdom and knowledge of the world. His purple robes symbolize his spiritual mastery, as purple is the color of the astral realm and intuition. The staff which the hermit uses to help him walk is a symbol of power, authority, and patriarchy, as carried throughout time by leaders and patriarchs. The lit candle in his other hand shines bright as a symbol of enlightenment and the pursuit of truth. The mountain top on this card represents personal growth and internal achievement, but also the fact that true self reflection can be a mountain of a challenge that not everyone might be ready for. The human skull next to El Hermitano's feet represents the truth of life that, ultimately, spiritual mastery and enlightenment requires knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of death - it is only when you're fully aware of your own mortality that you will truly begin living for yourself. The reflective surface of the cave entrance represents self reflection, and learning to seek your truths from within instead of from without.
The Santa Muerte at the top of the image, viewing the hermit from above, represents that the Santa Muerte protects and guides those who withdraw from the mainstream world in order to self reflect and meditate. Fear not your journey of self discovery, and know that the power of the Santa Muerte can destroy all roadblocks and challenges on your journey inward.
The large owl depicted is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, the things you will obtain as a result of your introspection and meditation. The shining sun, a symbol of fertility and growth, represents the personal growth of El Hermitano and those who follow in his footsteps. The white cloud is a symbol of peace and hope, which your inward journey will guide you toward.
In a reading upright, this card signifies a time of self reflection, meditation, and introspection - a time of figuring things out. Like El Hermitano, you will have to disconnect from the mainstream world in order to turn off the noise and truly examine what you want and how you want to go about getting it. The answers to your questions already lies within you, you just have to turn inward to discover what those answers are.
In reverse, El Hermitano represents too much disconnection from the mainstream world - a tipping of the scales to the extreme end of the spectrum. A certain amount of withdrawl from the mainstream, meditation, and self reflection is always a good thing, but not if it turns you into an actual hermit, devoid of personal and meaningful connections and trapped in a depressing world of solitude. At this point, an effort to get break out of your shell may do you some good.
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