The Gothic Tarot by Vargo - IX The Hermit


Here's The Hermit, who resembles very much the scary High Priest. He is at the top of a very high tower, next to a big bell. At the top of him, there are three arches with three pillars. The Hermit, wearing a black cloak, is on the left side, his right arm standing horizontally. Three scultures are engraved on the side, two skeletons with wings turning to each other its back, and a bat at the top of them, ready to fly. Eleven bats are flying on the left, and we can see through the mist another building behind.

Being so high like this, beside being unreacheable, means also superior power reaching the divine, a higher consciousness, the sky within us. To meet the Hermit means looking for him first, and it's not an easy task, more of a quest of some sort. The bell could be used to communicate with these higher forces.


On my Hermit I have always counted 10 bats…which is important (unless there is an eleventh and then…)

In the English School, the Hermit holds a light, and is similar to Diogenes of Sinope. In older continental decks, the Hermit holds an hourglass, the symbol of Kronos. As such, the older Hermit reminds us of our mortality – time is always slipping away. The newer discusses being alone, or not ‘fitting in’.

Ten is the number of completion, with our Nosferatu calling the bats home, this card is a reminder that some phase our our journey is coming to an end, and even when surrounded by friends, and family (who are always batty) we are still very much alone in our endeavours.

This is not a card of doom, but a card that symbolizes that in some manner, a completion is at hand.

This card does not do away with the "Solitude" aspect of the Hermit, but instead emphasizes the never ending movement of time.

What we often fail to see is that endings usually disguise beginnings. And indeed to reach the Hermit requires an effort…and when you reach him, you can ring the bell.

The bell, always tolls at the passing of a soul…

“All the birds of the air
Fell sighing and sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin.” (from “The Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin”)


You're right, there are ten bats. I'm afraid that, in my enthousiasm, I added one more.

I really like this card, reminds me of a vampire dream I had where we, vampires, were living in a high place like this one, flying from levels to levels; it was so high we couldn't see the ground.


I forgot to mention that Vargo's cards were based on earlier works, you can see some of them on his website. This card is called Belfry Haunt


The Hermit

An arched bell tower is the setting for this card. A huge bell hangs inside, visible through the arches. There is a vampire standing there, his right hand lifted, fingers spread. There are ten bats leaving the belfry, as if directed by the vampire. He is in a more natural feral state, not having the need to present a more acceptable appearance. On the wall below him is an ornate fresco depicting pillars supporting a running arch. Above a pillar is a large bat. Its wings are spread wide and it has a hungry dangerous look on its face. On either side, below the arches are some skeletal gargoyles. The one on the left is crouched facing left as if scouting that way. The one on the right is also crouched, but he is facing right, but not directly so, almost as if he is looking out away from the tower.

This hermit vampire rarely leaves the belfry. He is sending his bat minions out to bring back information. He uses these bats often for the purpose of scouting and information gathering, as well as communication when the rare circumstance requires it. He is an outcast from the clan. His political and personal agendas clashed with the current leaders and so he has removed himself from them to pursue his own plans. He still has contacts with the ancient leaders of the clan that are currently in hibernation, but until they require his services or wisdom, he remains here, alone.


I like the representation of the skeleton- bat and the two skelectical winged people we can see at the bottom of the card. Beside of the compagny of the bats, the character of this card is alone. To me, he seems to indicate to the bats to go feed themselves and to make some exercices.

I feel that the High Priest have more experience from books and other similar intellectual knowledge. And the Hermit seems to had gained more living experience. Now that he is old, he don't necesseraly agree with the norm of society. And he feel strong and mature enough to follow his own path.


The Hermit

The minute I looked at this card all I say it that it reminded my of Uncle Fester on the Adams family.

However, in really looking at this card it appears that he is not a Hermit after all. He is signaling for his children to venture out. See how his arm is raised as if almost pointing. Interested that he would be in a bell tower. Has the bell represents freedom. There is no way of telling how high the bell tower is or how low it is to the ground.


I think he appears to be sending the bats out to the world as opposed to calling them. Perhaps they are the messangers of his knowledge. He knows his time is passing and is ready to take on a student to teach his wisdom to.


" And the people - ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone -
They are neither man nor woman -
They are neither brute nor human -
They are Ghouls..."

The Bells, by Edgar Allen Poe

Unlike the romantic vision of Dracula who is glamorous, beautiful and alluring, Orlock is hideous. He sleeps in soil infected with the black death and is a harbinger of disease. His very presence is noxious and his is followed by rats. He is bald, ugly, hunched, spider like in appearance. He repulses, his appearance causes his victims to freeze with fright. It is remarkably different to the alluring, sexual presence of the modern Count but it is a deeply rooted description of the early vampire.

Nosferatu or Nosferat is a Romanian species of vampire associated with both the incubus and succubus. He is said to be the illegitimate child of parents who are illegitimate. Shortly after burial, it awakens and takes part in blood sucking orgies of a savage nature with the living. Male Nosferatu's are able to impregnate women and its children are born covered with hair, destined to become either vampires or witches (moroii). It has a particular dislike of married couples, rendering the man impotent and the bride barren.

It's interesting that the Nosferatu is born out of wedlock, therefore outside religious norms, cursed from the moment he was born. Foucault's Archeology of Madness describes how society treated the 'insane', through exclusion or asylums. 'Sins' were locked up or kept out of site/sight. Orphaned children were sent to workhouses, unmarried pregnant women were sent to convents if they were lucky or the asylum if they weren't. You were punished for being poor, homeless and heaven forbid, mad. Madness is still a societal taboo but since the recession of the church we seem to treat 'sinners' more humanely.

I can't imagine what it must have been like for a child born out of wedlock in eastern Europe, harsh to say the least. You were cursed and cursed others by your presence, and a child of such a cursed one was a witch or vampire; naturally. Maybe you were forced to wear a bell around your neck like a leper, to keep the 'clean' wary of your presence should you taint their spotless souls.

Batty, bats, bats in the belfry are all used to describe madness. Someone who lives the hermit life, who discourages visitors, who lives outside societal norms would probably be describes as 'batty'. This vampire is telling you to go, to leave him alone, to approach at your peril. He does not welcome society.

Its reminiscent somewhat of a diseased soul, which I doubt this vampire has. He lost his soul long ago, but a person with crippling shyness, who sees themselves as ugly. They see themselves as a nosferatu. Unclean, unable to live within society. They feel inwardly ugly and keep away from others, other purer souls. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychiatric illness where the person only sees what they think they are in the mirror, the actual reality is far removed from that illusion. People who see themselves as ugly on the inside, often project this on their outside until they feel too disgusting to leave the house. Sometimes society itself sees you as unfit and projects its own fears onto you, it takes it upon itself to lock you up or make your life a misery.

You become a ghoul, neither dead nor alive. By making you not quite human, others feel they can treat you like an animal, as diseased, aan abomination. A very clear example of this is the dehumanisation of the Jews during Hitler's purges. Look at the dehuminisation of Othello or Kafka's Metamorphosis. Yet: "No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction." For Whom the Bell Tolls ~ Donne.


This Hermit is my favorite card!

I've been always drawing this card...even at random...

I simply adore and love and feel deeply drawn to and connected to this deck's Hermit.

It's gorgeous to me, in that classic goth way.

Is this card ok to 'journey into'? I feel like The Hermit is trying to tell me and to show me the way to something......