The Tao of Tarot: The Hermit
by Christina Bjergo
The word tarot is derived from "tota" meaning "total" and "rota" meaning "revolving wheel." The tarot is a deck of cards that uses symbolic imagery to express universal truths. With each movement of the wheel, deeper understanding into the cycles of life and the seasons of the soul is accessible. Ultimately, the journey around the wheel takes each of us inward to the center of ourselves, to the totality of our being.
The Major Arcana are the original 22 cards of the tarot. Webster's Dictionary defines arcana as the great secret of nature which the alchemists sought. This mysterious elixir remedy is the formula for long life, well being and spiritual transcendence sought after by alchemists and spiritual seekers alike since the beginning of human culture.
The mysterious origins of alchemy came from Egypt and China then spread through Greece, early Islam and medieval Europe. In China, the earliest practitioners appear to have been the Taoists. Chinese alchemists focused primarily on inner cultivation techniques such as Qigong to purify the physical body and become one with spirit. Unknown to most people the Asian secrets of health, longevity and spiritual illumination are hidden in the symbols of the Universal Waite tarot deck.
Mircea Eliade writes, in A History of Religious Ideas, that the Chinese ideogram for an Immortal (xian) suggests a Hermit. The tarot’s Hermit card represents the spiritual qualities of inner cultivation leading to transcendence. Vitality and long life can be obtained through mindfulness practices like Qigong. The ultimate aim of practice, however, is to return to Source Consciousness in what the Taoists referred to as the Rhealm of the Immortals. Like the Waite-Rider Hermit tarot card the Rhealm of the Immortals is described as high upon the mountain peaks and amongst the clouds. The immortal Hermit of the Waite-Rider card shows from an eastern perspective that the individual pictured has achieved eternal life and lives in harmony with the totality of the Tao/Source/God. Maintaining awareness of the innate oneness behind creation, living Immortals in China and elsewhere continue to spend time meditating to be a benevolent influence upon humanity. Through the body minded practice of Qigong we can all become receptive to spiritual wisdom.
The Hermit in this card also represents the qualities of the mind used for relaxation and visualization. Imitating the movements of animals and imagining oneself in and part of different natural settings such as the ocean or a forest floor we connect with different aspects of our own inner nature. Self discovery is achieved through communion between the inner self with that which we might label as other since everything in our external reality is also found within. The power of intention is also utilized in Qigong practices to direct energy to key acupoints and body parts to help clear and strengthen the energy of the body during meditative movements. Even without physical movement, however, Qigong is said to be about 70 per cent effective as a visualization. This demonstrates the strong influence of the mind in healing. This is particularly the case when concentration is developed through mindfulness practices.
The energy of mental consciousness, known as shen in Chinese Medicine, is the subtle yang energy of the heavens. Shen Spirit is one of the three internal treasures of the human body and corresponds to the energies of the Central Sun. This spiritual energy is stored in the center of the brain within an energy field called the upper dan tian.
In Chinese art, celestial energies are represented by the color blue. The robes of the Hermit card reflect the blue color of the sky showing divine influence. The Hermit holds a lantern directing the light of consciousness downward through intention. He has drawn in his spiritual light by closing his eyes and is gently guiding the energy through the head and down the body depicted here in the Waite-Rider card as the wooden pole. It is at the crown of his head, particularly acupoint GV-20, that the Hermit expands his conscious connection and becomes a channel for Spirit. Similarly, the Hermit’s pointed hat, like those worn by wizards, witches and school dunces of the past, was believed to help spiral in the intelligence of the Universe.
Guiding the qi or life force energy downwards through the upper dan tian in the head, the Qigong practitioner activates this spiritual center facilitating transpersonal awareness, divine insight and sacred dreaming.
Qigong movement meditation
Go to the place you would like to practice and get into a comfortable position. Bring the tip of your tongue upwards to gently connect with the upper palate just behind the upper teeth to connect the flow of energy called the microcosmic orbit around the body. Relax the focus of your gaze, slowly closing your eyes and bringing in your spiritual light. Relax the body part by part.
Bring your mind’s attention to the center of the palms, the acupoint known as Lao Gong. Turn your palms forward and imagine yourself holding a ball of vibrant energy or qi in front of your body. Focus on the palms of the hands and with relaxed arms, use your shoulders to slowly lift the ball of qi upward towards the heavens. When your hands reach the level of your ears, relax your wrists turning your palms downward. Bending your elbows to the sides, slowly and naturally guide the ball of qi down through the top of the head and into the central of the body. Moving your hands softly downward in front of the body, feel or imagine the energy going through the middle of the head, through the center of the chest and into the lower dan tian at the center of the lower abdomen. Relax the hands to the side of the body and repeat several times.
Finish the practice with hands comfortably resting over the belly. Take a few deep breathes to concentrate the energy generated into the vitality center of the lower dan tian. Set a positive intention for the rest of the day. When ready, slowly open your eyes.
© Christina Bjergo
Christina Bjergo. LAc is author of the Tao of Tarot: “The Way” to Health, Happiness & Spiritual Illumination through Qigong Dreaming. She is Qigong Grand Master of Sacred Serpent Spiral Qigong, founder of Qigong Dreaming and a Body Dream Work Practitioner using the tarot to help people improve their health, strengthen their intuitive gifts and follow their dreams. For upcoming classes and more information on the tao-tarot-dreaming-health interconnection, visit the website www.taooftarot.com.