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Mystical Cats Tarot - The Hermit IX

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Onaorkal  Onaorkal is offline
Join Date: 27 Jul 2016
Location: Quebec, Canada
Posts: 337
Mystical Cats Tarot - The Hermit IX

Please bear with me on this one, I have a LOT to say and even though I tried to connect my thoughts in a logical way and make my explanations as flowing as possible...well in any case, if something is not clear please let me know!

A very big grey and white tabby cat is lying in a pomegranate tree. He is in a loaf/bun position, his eyes are semi-closed and to me it looks like he's smiling...a bit like Mona Lisa, I'd even venture to say.
The tree is bearing ripe fruits and 12 pomegranates are depicted on the card. One of them is split open, which means it's very ripe.
On the lower part of the card, we can see the trunk going further down, small branches and dense foliage in the background.
On the top half of the card, the trunk and branches are hiding part of the sky. We can see it's close to night time because of the blue-grey sky and stars, but the sun is either rising or setting on the horizon. A crescent moon (wet/horned/Cheshire moon) is clearly visible.

Colors : The red color of the fruits really jump out in this card, as there is technically no direct sunlight touching them (which makes it suspicious in fact).

I think it's funny how the book specifies that the tree is a magical one. When I was searching about pomegranates, I found out that pomegranate trees are not usually very large and tall. I had decided to brush it off, but now it all makes sense
The message here is somewhat the opposite of the Chariot one. Instead of taking action, we are told to not "[...] expect to understand the deeper meaning of life if you are constantly engaged in activities and busyness. Wisdom requires making time for introspection." Other relevant keywords given are 'retreats', 'meditate', 'solitude', 'perpective', 'detachment', 'calm comprehension', 'observes', 'step away' and 'inner stillness'. The common theme is active passiveness. Not making an external action does not mean doing nothing at all on the inside.

The symbolism:

Very big cat : If you compare the size of this cat with the size of the tree and pomegranates, you will find the cat appears quite large. I went as far as measuring the size of my cat's head and compare it with the standard pomegranate size! So let's say I'm not crazy, and this cat is indeed larger than average. It would be quite appropriate, since the focus of the Hermit card is 'you'. You are the subject of the focus, most of your attention should be turned toward yourself.

Tabby cat : Don't you find our Hermit looks a lot like the cat found in the Cat (Fool) card? They might not be one and the same, but I think the resemblance is serendipitous. (Isn't it funny that the word I was looking for can be found in the book's description about the Cat card? Another serendipitous event hehe.) Many interesting ideas can be drawn when comparing the Cat/Fool and the Hermit. Here is what I found.

Duality between the Cat and the Hermit :
-Numerologically speaking, the Cat is 0 and the Hermit is 9. The Cat is right at the beginning of the adventure and the Hermit marks the end of a segment.
-The Cat is making himself wide open to the wonders of the outside world, while the Hermit is opening himself to his inside world.
-The Cat is standing up, 4 paws on the ground, his tail up, all his senses aware of his surroundings. The Hermit is lying down, 4 paws tucked under himself, he's high in the air, his tail down, not quite interested in what's happening around him.
-On the Cat card, many plants are flowering, so it's probably Spring time. Life is emerging, it's time for new beginnings. On the Hermit card, the pomegranate fruits are ripe, so it's Fall season. Life will soon slow down and fall into a peaceful slumber as winter sets in.
-On the Cat card, the Sun is rising on the left. On the Hermit card, we can see the Sun on the right, probably setting if the comparison really holds up.

Loaf/bun position : Like the cat in the Strength card, this one is lying down with his 4 paws tucked under his body, a position commonly known as the bun or loaf. Cats will usually do that when they are comfortable and relaxed - not under stress. In this case, I feel it adds to the 'introspection' side of the card.

Mona Lisa smile : I'm not saying the cat is really smiling like Mona Lisa, but, to me at least, this cat really has an uncanny expression displayed on his face. Some people might simply see a cat who's dosing off, but the first time I saw this card I thought to myself "What the hell is this cat thinking about!?" To me it instinctively added to his aura of mystery.

Pomegranates : Common representation of fertility and abundance. If we make a parallel between the fruits and the Hermit cat, we could say that it's wise to let ourselves 'ripen' enough before stepping once again into the wild. Once the fruit is ready, its hard skin splits open and generously give away its seeds. In a similar way, the Hermit has made a wall between him and the world and he will open himself again only when his mind will feel ready. Then, the fruit of his mental work can be shared with others.
Only one pomegranate is split out of 12, if we keep the parallel we could guess the Hermit is quite at the beginning of his introspective work.

Number 12 : It's the cosmic number. It holds much symbolism in many different cultures. It represents completion, the end of a cycle. Important time units use the number 12 (12 months, two times 12 hours in a day) and many religions/belief systems included the number 12 in their scriptures/stories/structure (12 apostles, 12 zodiac signs, 12 Olympian gods, etc).
In the Hermit card, if we follow my interpretation about the pomegranates, it could be about the importance of completing this life cycle before moving on. All 12 pomegranates must become ripe enough before they are harvested. The Hermit cat must take enough time in introspection to make sure he's ready to come out again.

Hidden ground vs open sky : There is quite a contrast between the top and lower half backgrounds. Even if there is some foliage, we can clearly see part of the sky, while the area towards the ground is completely hidden by foliage and darkness. The ground (Earth element) is associated with the terrestrial world and practical matters, while the sky (Air element) is associated with matters of the mind and intellectuality. Introspection is definitely an intellectual business.

Night time / moon / stars : Commonly associated with the unconscious and the spiritual self.

Sunset : Of course I'm not 100% certain that the sun is setting, but it's my gut feeling and it works with the overall symbolism. If we go back to the comparison between the Hermit and the Cat, we had a rising Sun which symbolized new beginnings. Unsurprisingly, a sunset symbolizes the end of the journey/cycle. Time to ponder about everything that was learned along the way until now!
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Seldes Katne  Seldes Katne is offline
Join Date: 03 May 2016
Location: New York State, USA
Posts: 91
Seldes Katne 

In many Tarot decks, the Hermit is depicted carrying a lantern or other source of light; s/he sometimes is shown carrying an hourglass. The lantern symbolizes knowledge or insight, and one of the ideas behind this card is often that not only does the Hermit walk ahead of us seeking understanding, s/he is also willing to share that understanding with anyone willing to seek him or her out.

The only source of light I'm seeing here is the crescent moon, which doesn't really cast much light. Perhaps this is meant to symbolize that each of us must find our own understanding, and that we can't gain it from anyone else, only from our own experience and introspection.
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