International Order of Kabbalists - Tree of Life (Western Hermetic Tradition)

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Chesed and Tiphareth.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Yod. Hand.

Titles: Prophet of the Eternal. Magus of the Voice of Power.

Spiritual Significance: Virgo. The Virgin.

Tarot Card: IX - The Hermit.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Yellowish green.
In Briah: Slate grey.
In Yetzirah: Green grey.
In Assiah: Plum.




The papers below describe the Twentieth Path of Yod that symbolises the infleunce between Chesed and Tiphareth. (More to follow)...

(Updated 11 January 2021)


The Hermit - Chokmah to Chesed

By Doreen Sturzaker

The Hermit carries the Light of Wisdom from the Supernals from Chokmah to Chesed, where the Scheme or Divine Plan is known. He comes from the Sphere of the Masters of Wisdom carrying with him the knowledge of the Plan to light him on the way into Manifestation in Malkuth, and I think he knows exactly where he is going although not quite what he is going to come up against on his way.

The Lamp of Wisdom is with him and the light has not been extinguished yet. The cloak protects him and may represent the spiritual powers he connects with or may equally be the cloak of materiality he is collecting about him on the way down.
The staff could be the staff of Righteousness and a guide to steady his footsteps on the way to Malkuth.

If we look at it on the Path of Return, the Lamp of Wisdom is guiding him back; he obviously cannot see far ahead of him and needs the light from above shed upon his Path to show him the true way. Without this light he would be groping in spiritual darkness, which could mean the vices of Tiphareth - pride, bigotry, hypocrisy, cruelty and tyranny - would prevent him proceeding any further on the Path until he had neutralised them by the power of the Staff, the Staff of Hermes, or, as Mayananda says, ‘. . . it is the representative of the secret forces of Nature used for Equilibrium’.

His use of the Staff shows that he has now learned to control the forces of Nature and balanced them so he has power in the three Worlds, the World of Nature, by balancing the forces; the World of Humanity by virtue of conquering and balancing the Inner forces within himself and he is well on the way to becoming a Master himself since he is making for the Sphere of Chesed consciousness, and must indeed be in close contact for he has already received illumination. He is a Light-bearer now, in the true sense, in a position to show the way to others.

Magus of the Voice of Power, too, implies that he has gained control and can use his spiritual powers in a correct manner for right action, which would mean here, I think, a loving guidance, a protectiveness, yet allowing others to see by the light of his Lamp of Truth their own light and their own way ahead along which each must travel by himself alone. This is part of the function of the Masters of the Wisdom and the Hermit approaching near to Chesed along the Path is very close to this state of Being.


The Hermit

A Geburah Lodge Compilation

By D.M. Dalton (1999)

Of all the paths on the Tree of Life, with possibly the exception of the High Priestess, the path of the Hermit connecting Tiphareth with Gedulah seems to inspire most students with visions of sages, prophets or otherwise enlightened beings who remain apart from the rest of humanity in the solitudes and the silence of remote mountain dwellings, who hold up the lamp of wisdom and follow the inner light through the realms of the outer self to the illumination of the master within. This romantic picture of the Hermit can easily induce a very subtle and not often recognised ego-trip where the student, in identifying with the Hermit, believes themselves to be someone special, with some important task to fulfil in the spiritual realms, necessitating an enforced withdrawal from society in order to fulfil their special destiny.

The genuine Hermit is one who is very much involved with everyday life but finds themselves unable to communicate with those around them. They stand alone with their own problems and become involved in a gruelling ordeal of soul-searching questions, looking for answers which can only come from within themselves.

The Hermit holds up the lamp not to guide others at this stage, but rather in an attempt to light up the path before him. The lamp, in that it symbolises the six-pointed star, represents the ideal of the perfectly balanced self. By realising the ideal which the lamp symbolises, the Hermit should achieve the clarity of mind to see revealed before him the wisdom so sought for. The ordeal eventually ends when the Hermit follows the wisdom offered and finally faces the truth of the situation, so resolving the conflict which sent him/her down this path in the first place.

More philosophically, the Hermit may be viewed as moving in two directions, one inner and one outer. It means essentially a withdrawal from the outer world in order to develop and activate spiritual qualities. This does not mean a physical withdrawal from the world but rather being in the world but not of it. The Hermit detaches himself from activities once considered important in order to work consciously on other levels.

This path is a bridge between the personality and the individuality and also a link between the individuality and the spiritual. In Tiphareth the personality and all things safe and familiar have been sacrificed and with this immolation the Hermit becomes a solitary figure and, as portrayed by the card, appears as a very lonely individual, and yet, is he really so much apart? The light of his lantern brings illumination and he is robed in a cloak of wisdom. From Gedulah flows the qualities of love, compassion and expansion bringing the knowledge of unity and therefore he becomes aware that “He is one with every other”.

On the outer level he emerges as a guide and helper to all who are approaching the occult path and are unsure of their direction. His lamp has a six-pointed star within it denoting the blending of fire and water, and the blending of intellect and emotions resulting in the development of the power of the will. Or we could say that the Hermit has brought to a state of integrating the unconscious and conscious mind and has gained contact with superconsciousness or, to put it another way, he is in touch with the over-self or the one supreme will.

And so he stands on the mountain tops which represent the Chokmah influence pouring down through Gedulah. At this stage he is the wise old man sometimes encountered in our dreams and meditations. Although he follows a solitary path he is never lonely for he is in touch with the influences coming from the sphere of the masters as he plods steadily on his way towards Gedulah. He no longer needs his staff but it is now similar to the Magician’s wand, the staff of power.

There are a mixture of aspects to this particular arcanum. The Hermit symbolises, as most people know, the individual who has advanced along the spiritual path to a high level and holds his lamp, not just to help those that follow, but to light the path ahead for himself.

The Hermit depicts the seeker after eternal truth as well as prudence, wisdom and the hidden mysteries. The other side of this arcanum is that of the awakened occultist who suddenly realises that they are utterly alone. No longer one of the herd, although living amongst the crowd, working and even playing with others, inside there is a deep, hidden loneliness.

The Hermit is a being who is set apart by his actions and studies, who also has the need for secrecy and watchfulness. This card also indicates a time when a persons life is about to change. It can also indicate a meeting with a person who will give help and advice on a particular problem. In some instances the Hermit represents the individual who likes to be alone and neither needs or asks for sympathy, on the other hand there are those who long to be in the midst of family or friends but are prevented by circumstances and so become the enforced Hermit.

A completely different aspect is the indication or symbolism of frugality or poverty. There is also the negative aspect of the frugality, that of the miser who, standing on his mountain of material riches, who isolates himself from the normal run of humanity. There is no inner illumination, so a lamp has to be used.

There is no point of my going into the normal symbolism of the cloak, wand and lamp as all will be acquainted with them, but I will finish with a different symbolism of the three items: the cloak is yonic and feminine, the wand is phallic and masculine and the lamp holds the balance – the six-pointed star, three points feminine, three points masculine. So one can say that the card of the Hermit is a symbol of perfect balance.

His wand and staff is a symbol of support, guidance and strength. The strength to discard his baser desires for the purity of Virgo, which protects and insulates him from harmful influences.

However, there is the negative aspect to be considered. The path is green and consequently it can be seen that there will be stress and struggle to gain harmony within.

From Tiphareth flows the element of pride, which can engender a feeling of arrogance. How can the Hermit feel in unison with all, if he sees himself as superior? His aim must be to learn the true meaning of sacrifice and compassion.

The Hermit is ever pure and innocent; the path involves certain qualities of Daath. The isolation of the figure is naturally mysterious and compelling, shining his own light. The Hermit is an expression of space, or descent alone for contemplation and further awakening to the higher self.

Yod is related to Kether. It forms the graphic root for all other letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Yod is phallic, it is the male fire which rushes out towards the female water. The Yod within a fire triangle means the Yod is the very essence of spiritual fire within the Microprosopus.

The Lamp:

Most people think of the lamp as an instrument of illumination simply by it’s light but there is a little more to it than that. As we know incense is burnt when carrying out rituals for the purpose of raising the consciousness and bringing through to the mind illumination. Way back in time the ancients burnt incense upon their lamps and in their temples the lamps burnt continuously. They considered the lamp a higher level of illumination than the temple candles.

In the book of Psalms we find the Psalmist saying, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light upon the path”. Here we have the understanding of the lamp as it exists in our present day and age.

We must not, however, just look upon the lamp as having a positive side. As there is the lamp of the righteous and the lamp of the wicked, this supports the idea of the Hermit being both positive and negative. Jehovah does say, however, that the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

The lamp of Hermes symbolises the ever burning lamp of the sage representing the illumined mind and perfectly balanced intellect without which the mysteries of the ages can never be solved.

In some of the ancient religions they believed that the devil was using lamps to ensnare the credulous and so lead their souls to perdition. We could perhaps call this the illumination of the evil, illumination of the mind in planning their evil projects.

In true witchcraft, not the present day mishmash which has no bearing on the real, witches and warlocks would carry a lamp or lantern to symbolise the Moon goddess or, if a warlock, the Sun god. In both cases it symbolises the wise one and, like the Hermit, witch and warlock travelled alone. Today, unlike the true craft, they are all witches, male and female alike which is, of course, utter nonsense.

The true ancient witches and warlocks did not meet in covens but twice a year on a full moon and a new moon. They all met together and in the centre of the circle blazed a large lantern and each individual present carried their own lantern and it was not called a witches Sabbat, but the circle of light, the light provided by their lamps or lanterns.

This circle appears important concerning the lamp as the disciples formed a circle around Christ before he was taken away by the lawless Jews. Standing in the ring around Christ, they sang a song,  the disciples sang one line and Christ sang the other – and one of the lines Christ sang was “I am a lamp to thee who beholdest me”. This particular ritual was discovered in a fourteenth century M.S. preserved in Vienna and first published in 1897.

The lamp also depicts the Hermit as the “Way-Shower” ever ready to help others along the road to freedom and to share his knowledge of the wisdom teachings with those who follow in his footsteps, and the path seems very rocky. The lamp also symbolises the revealing of the hidden mysteries, intelligence, clear sightedness, prosperity, vision, love, piety, vigilance and conceit.


In the archetypal world the intuition is highly developed bringing to the Hermit direct knowledge of higher spheres of consciousness. His persistence has brought the reward of stability and harmony.

The colour of the path in the Briatic world is slate grey and tells of the struggle of the soul for it’s freedom and the dogged persistence needed to gain it, yet there is a measure of balance and harmony with it.

In Yetzirah the colour is a greenish grey again denoting struggle and persistence and the achievement of harmony at that level that is, of course, not the ultimate harmony.

In Assiah the plum colour shows that in the Hermit’s earlier stages along this path he is developing a forceful power which provided he does not allow himself to become too proud or pompous as he withdraws himself from the hurly-burly of the world, although he is still in it in his daily life, it will eventually take him to great heights of spiritual awareness as he develops his true will.

Position on the Tree:

Following on from the above comments, all indications point to an individual who is deeply involved with the search for inner truth, in order to resolve some difficult problems.

First of all there is struggle and conflict, which can usually only be resolved by having to make sacrifices. These sacrifices are often painful and can only be carried out by the person involved on this path. Friends surrounding him although sympathetic cannot help, for the Hermit feels that they cannot truly understood the true implications of the problem.

Secondly, the Hermit is searching within himself to find answers. The answers are always there, the pure ideal is constantly radiating from Gedulah. The Hermit is mainly struggling to realise the truth of the situation, as symbolised by the ideal balanced state of self, portrayed by the lamp.

The path of the Hermit is usually embarked upon by circumstances beyond the control of the student. Often, the student does not realise that they may have already been travelling that path for some time. There are several causes behind this situation. The student may have reached a point in their unfolding where it is necessary to bridge the gap between the personality and the individuality. The causes are then set in motion, in this case by the higher self, which will offer the opportunity for the student to make the necessary sacrifices and ascend the mountain.

I mentioned ‘offer the opportunity’. The higher self operating from Gedulah, will never go against the will of the lower self. To do so would involve the higher self into another cycle of karma. Remembering the woman in white of the path of strength, Gedulah will allow the wisdom in its highest ideal to be seen, but only when the student is ready to receive it. Therefore, the opportunity is offered at a very special time, and the student will be then ready to take up the offer, which allows the lower self to embark upon the next phase of the Great Work. Obedience is the virtue of Gedulah. The higher self has therefore manipulated the lower self without becoming karmically involved.

In other cases it could be the student who sets the causes in motion, by taking certain decisions which they know to be unwise and yet remaining pig-headed enough to try to maintain their stance, effectively isolating themselves from those around them. Eventually, the truth of the matter will dawn on the student that they have been fooling themselves all along and if they will only admit to themselves their mistakes and sacrifice their pride (the vice of Tiphareth), then they will free themselves from the situation by taking the necessary decisions, following the wider view which this experience has taught.

It seems therefore that the most probable place for the card of the Hermit is on the Tiphareth-Gedulah path. This is the current attribution of the Hermit and it also helps to indicate the state of mind which the vision of love can portray. Love at the purest level is compassion. Unlike emotional love and sentimentality, compassion embraces a far greater reality.

Compassion allows mistakes to be seen without judgement. It is a state of accepting the person or situation as it is, without any prejudices or retribution. Therefore the student, in the very depths of their solitude and loneliness is able to forgive themselves and accept that though stupid they may have been, it was just another aspect of life which had to be experienced.


The Hermit

By R. Stewart (1976)

I am the Hermit, often known as wisdom. I am the wisdom of will power, the light of the soul shining bright for all to see. Many have called me old Father Time because I act like a father to children of consciousness in the material world. I stand for all that is stable and strong, a king among men, eternally humbled by the benediction of conscious enlightenment. I have been called the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End because I stand at the abyss of the finite mind. The beginning of infinite consciousness. The Yetziratic Text calls me the Intelligence of Will because I follow the dictates of the divine spark within. Anyone who follows this Path must be prepared constantly to test his will against the rocks and cleavages of the World of Assiah. Iam often associated with time because of the eternal, calculated grace with which I pass slowly but surely along my chosen path.

I gonowhere without my staff, symbol of the will of the true self. I hold the lamp of the world in the hand of love, mercy and understanding and I try to show that mine is not the way of abandonment of the world but complete wholesome participation.

From the ones who seek my path I ask only obedience and devotion to the Supreme Self. It must be so because there are many dangerous pitfalls along the way, laziness being just one. To the aspiring soul seeker I teach a discipline of disciplines, of body and mind. I do not give away my knowledge and wisdom for it is not mine to give, all I can do is to show how it may be obtained, the rest is up to the person and their individuality.

Many think I am cold, cruel and ruthless and this I understand. But it is my job to be unrelenting in teaching the aspiring being to use the knowledge of their Guardian Angel, their will and intellect to bring about the change of consciousness necessary to progress. And progress they must in order to escape the wheel of life and join the Divinity. Once the Great Work commences it must never cease. Beware of trickery! There are many blessings bestowed upon the transcendentalist as he travels the road, psychic powers being an example. They must be used with respect worthy of the Almighty Spirit and used as a tool for progress only. Many use them as a tool to set them above others and then it is here that they bear down upon the soul as pride and restrict forward movement which defeats our end.

There are many who pretend to walk the Path of the Hermit and who take advantage of the position they gain and stray to the Left-Hand Path. These are the people with little insight and warped sense of direction who rule with tyranny, speak with hypocrisy, are wanton of powers for gluttony's sake and who are bigoted and proud. To the wise these people are easily recognised for the weak personalities they are. There are safeguards for those in need of them and these are of course easily come by through obedience to the voice of the true will.

Loneliness is often ascribed to the Path of the Hermit. The Hermit feels great compassion for all mankind and always has its interests at heart. But the aspiring Hermit has one goal and that is the true self often called the individuality which as the name implies is the real individual devoid of the dictates of the outer personality and so in the search he is taken away from the majority in the spiritual sense to rise higher on the planes of consciousness. Until I have only my Rod of Will, Cloak of Wisdom and Lamp of Aspiration to guide. But this is comfort enough for those who have the knowledge of the Holy Guardian Angel to guide them.

You may have seen already that I am in fact a Magus no less than the first or fifth arcanum but am a different aspect from the standpoint of compassion and love.


Reflections on the 20th Path (The Hermit)

By A.J. Lesser (2009)

Three triangles have to be taken into consideration: Chesed-Geburah-Tiphareth, Chesed-Tiphareth-Netzach and Chesed-Chokmah-Tiphareth. The first triangle is that of the individuality consciousness dealing with karma; the second is that of birth and rebirth into matter, touching upon death, sacrifice and destiny; the third is the one in which the path connecting Tiphareth and Chesed most closely corresponds to the Yetziratic Texts description as ‘Intelligence of Will’, preparing the Individuality for the recognition of primordial wisdom.

The Fool cannot become the Hermit unless or until he has mastered all the problems inherent in the first two triangles on each respective path and has, at least in part, faced up to the promise and implications of the third. He needs his staff to comfort and guide him while he is dealing with the triangle of  destiny and death. He needs his cloak to shield him from outside influences while inwardly he is dealing with karma. He needs his lamp because Tiphareth, his Sun, has gone into eclipse ever since he realised that it was only a Sun when seen high above from below, but became eclipsed by the Moon, his personality, once he tried to rise higher. To free himself from this darkness he took to his lamp until in Chesed he should again find the bright light of the Spirit shining from above and leading him on via the 16th path of the Heirophant to Chokmah.

Once he has attained Chesed, the highest point of the individuality, which reflects the spiritual man most closely, he has established a direct link with Malkuth via Tiphareth, where both Individuality and Personality meet.

In Tiphareth he will then find the men who will be most amenable to his influence and his teachings, and he will establish the most direct contact with them via this 20th path which he will walk continually in both directions. For as Master in Chesed, the highest sephirah in Yetzirah, and thus the highest reflection of Kether in form, he senses the true image of Spirit, the primordial wisdom of the Yetziratic text. So it becomes his function to mediate or make available to humanity the divine forces of this wisdom and the divine will via the 20th path, the Intelligence of Will.

We find then on all levels of this path communicating between the principle of divine wisdom and grandeur, the beneficence, affluence and cheerful goodwill issuing from Chesed and the effulgence, idealism and balancing or harmonising action of Tiphareth.

Let us now see how these communications appear in each sephiroth. In Malkuth, the World of Assiah or material activity, we can liken this path to such concepts as are lying at the base of the welfare state for example. Here the object is to demonstrate a state of balance and harmonious well-being of the community in all it’s activities by providing the material means as well as the psychological and mental facilities. At least this is the motive, intention and theory. In actual fact we soon see how difficult it is in practice to tread this path even in Malkuth without considering it in its context as one side of the triangle which brings Geburah into play. Even when looking at things purely from the point of view of an idealistic individual with a purpose to help, one often finds it hard to know exactly how and whom. The great originators of social schemes and theories worked, of course, in the sephiroth of Hod and Netzach, which I shall consider next, and only them will I come back to Yesod.

In Hod, we have the rationalisation of all the charitable motives and lofty ideals. How to make things whole and complete, and how to establish and maintain harmony in all spheres of activity and walks of life. To decide this is the task of the Hermit on the 20th path in Hod. But in order to decide such far reaching questions, yea merely to face the problems involved he has to get his inspiration from Netzach and his ideals from Tiphareth.

The Hermit appears to be a symbol which is difficult to pin down and to confine to one sephirah at a time. He seems to function in triangles or sets of three sephiroth in conjunction; thus Tiphareth-Netzach-Hod, as outlined above, are grouped together to describe the action of the Hermit in the personality, or in other words, the interplay of Chesed and Tiphareth in the personality.

Now we come back to Yesod. In Yesod the path between Tiphareth and Chesed takes a somewhat different aspect which becomes clear when considering that Yesod is the sephirah where the whole of creation is being perfected for physical manifestation in Malkuth. Here each object or aspect of manifestation has it’s core. Subjectively we experience this as emotions which the Tiphareth end of the path establishes as harmonious and the Chesed end as beneficent and conducive to happiness. In walking this path in Yesod we bring laughter and happiness into our and other peoples experience. “We greet the unknown with a cheer”, which by itself establishes and maintains a harmony and emotional bliss.

The centre of the harmonising and balancing ideal on the Tree is, of course, Tiphareth. And as we are here considering a path at one end of which is Tiphareth we must try to appreciate that at this point of balance of all balances and harmony of all harmonies, right at the very centre of the equilibrium of the Tree, all must be inert. Here must be the one point in the whole of Manifestation which is perfectly still. All must here be under permanent equilibrium of tensions and stresses. For anyone to proceed out of this state in any direction whatsoever must require a great impetus. On the 20th path in Tiphareth this impetus is derived from the munificence and benevolence of Chesed which directs the Hermit into action.

This action consists in establishing semblances of the equilibrium and harmony found in Tiphareth further down the Tree in the Personality and in material manifestation. The Personality for instance is to learn what is the meaning of “Peace beyond Understanding”; and in the world of matter we have galaxies, solar systems and atoms all displaying the equilibrium whose pattern is established in Tiphareth. The devotion and awe we feel and live when presenting these wonders to our minds and admiring their beauty (Tiphareth) and grandeur (Gedulah) is treading the 20th path in Tiphareth in the upward direction. They enable the Hermit to preserve his calm and composed poise under the most adverse circumstances.

Next we come to consider what aspect the path assumes in Geburah and Chesed. Tiphareth, we know, always represents a balanced state of consciousness within the framework of any one sephirah. Chesed – beneficence, mercy, humour – we can at present only approach from our human point of view. If, however, we were to turn from the projection of this humour to it’s pattern in the higher mental plane, then we can consider the Hermit in Chesed a symbol which leads to harmony and well being from an attitude of light-hearted exuberance; and in Geburah a symbol which helps to attain the balanced essence of Karma by a generous injection of sarcasm or its equivalent on the Geburic level of consciousness.

In Briah the 20th path constitutes the connection or relationship between the two Archangels Raphael or Michael and Zadkiel; the harmoniser and healer and the Lord of Righteousness. In Chokmah they appear as rulers of forces, as intelligences of will, in Binah as creators of archetypal concepts. Earlier I pointed out how difficult it is for us to know exactly how, where and when to do what for the best. If we can reach out to Michael and Zadkiel – they have all the answers.

In Atziluth Eloah Va-Daath, the Omniscient One is the God-Centre where all lives are created, where our souls are created, on which El, the merciful God, bestows the great bounty of similitude to Yehovah-Elohim via the 20th path. And when finally at the end of his pilgrimage the Fool is to sacrifice his Neshamah to Eloah Va-Daath then El, the Merciful, helps to prepare him for this ultimate union with the Divine.


The Hermit

By Peter Oddey (2000)

The path of The Hermit travels from the world of Chesed to the world of Tiphareth. The Hebrew letter ascribed to the path is Yod (y), which means ‘a hand’ and the path is one of higher initiation. The letter Yod is also ascribed to the world of Malkuth, as the number 10 and we might therefore infer that for each of us, life in the world of Malkuth is a hermitage. At the last, we have only ourselves to whom to answer and the solitude and silence of The Hermit, standing on top of the world or in the midst of the expansive desert, bids us to consider this more deeply.

The Psalmist of Psalm 119, which is an acrostic Psalm with a sequence of verses assigned to each of the 22 Hebrew letters, provides some insight into the path of Yod:

verse 73: “Your hands made me and formed me, give me understanding to learn your commands.”
verse 77: “Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.”

We can see in these verses that the writer of the Psalm, saw the hand of Yod coming down from the world of Chesed in the act of creation, whereupon the Psalmist calls for compassion, which is of course, the chief attribute of the world of Chesed.

At the time that Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, a renaissance of cabalistic ideas infused the Italian culture. The influence of the Kabbalists Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola  in the Italian Court (in the late 1400’s) was at its height and the depiction of the hand and finger of God infusing life into the earthly Adam on the ceiling of the Chapel is a pictorial narrative of that which takes place along the path of The Hermit. The path of the Hermit is the path of our higher life, where the soul of man meets his spirit and does the business of his destiny in incarnation.

Something of the high station of the path of Yod may be inferred from the cards of the Minor Arcana, ascribed to the fourth and sixth worlds. The fours of each suit generally imply perfection, realisation, completion, the making of a matter fixed and settled. The Lords of Perfected Work in Wands; Blended Pleasure in Cups; Rest from Strife in Swords; and Earthly Power in Pentacles, are clearly some way from our experience of Malkuth. Chesed is the world of Love.

In English, the word love serves as a currency for all types of love. In the world of ancient Hebrew and Greek, there were at least three distinctions of types of love. The Hebrew Ahaba, roughly attributable to the Greek Eros, meant sexual love; the Hebrew Rahamaim, attributable to the Greek Philadelphia, meant friendly love and commitment; and the Hebrew Chesed, attributable to the Greek Agape, meant love of the highest order: love without bounds, without the need for a response on the part of the recipient. Perhaps best summed up in the Covenant Love of a God for a wayward, stubborn and ignorant race of nomads, who remained faithful to them, regardless. This is the love of the world of Chesed.

Moreover, we are taught by the sage, “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is One” (Deut.6:4) and the letter Yod is a simple letter, meaning sexual love. The love of Chesed is not the love of Malkuth, separated, fragmented, divided, but an all combining, unified and exalted love. This explains why the most sublime mystical literature, such as the “Song of Songs” and “St. John of the Cross” applies the imagery of sexual love and marriage to convey the deeper truths.

The sixes of each Tarot suit generally imply the accomplishment of a matter; its completion, following effort. So we have the Lord of Victory in Wands; The lord of Pleasure in Cups; the Lord of Earned Success in Swords; and the Lord of Material Success in Pentacles. The concept of these cards, with the Fours assigned to Chesed, places the worlds of Tiphareth and Chesed and the path of The Hermit which adjoins them, into a very high order indeed. Not forgetting also that Tiphareth is the World of the Princes of the Four Suits, who draw their authority from the King and Queen of Chokmah and Binah. The Princes of Tiphareth are the Elemental Kings; personifications of the most rarefied aspects of our personalities. As the Princes are entirely motivated by the power of the King and Queen above, we are reminded that we are dealing with the Royal world of Tiphareth.

The path of the Hermit is therefore the path of the higher self and this is borne out by the Yetziratic text of the “Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom”:

“The twentieth path is the Intelligence of Will and is so called because it is the means of preparation of all and each created being, and by this Intelligence the existence of the Primordial Wisdom becomes known.”
The solitary nature of The Hermit, often depicted standing alone in a desert or on top of a mountain holding a lamp of light, speaks to us of the silence and solitude that is often the initiation itself, into the higher Worlds. As on e mystic put it: “Glory be to the silence that spoke by the Voice of the Logos”.

“The dog barks; the caravan passes; he who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know.” (Anonymous)
The silence of the soul facing the truth of its earthly existence, is in fact deafening, for we are entering the Supernal World where the higher self and the Divine Spirit meet. Paul Foster Case expressed it in another paradox, “the Radiant Darkness of the Limitless Light”. All of which relates us back to the paths of The Fool, The Magician and The High Priestess.

“In the beginning, The Father uttered one word; that word is the Son and he utters him forever in everlasting silence; and in silence the soul has to hear it”. (Anonymous)

The path of The Hermit, situated between the marvellous worlds of Tiphareth and Chesed, is therefore, the clarion call to the quest of the higher life. The Hermit stands silent and says nothing; and at this point, what we are saying to ourselves is everything.


The Influence of The Sephiroth Chesed & Tiphareth
On The Path of The Hermit &Vice Versa

By J. Anthony Greenslade (1988)

In the beginning Amon created an island in the primordial waters on which to stand. This happened on a universal scale, but in microcosm the lotus appears and Amon on it. Growing tired of his watery home, he manifested as Ra. From thence onwards the Egyptian triads continue in reflection of this manifestation.

In Chesed the higher mind exercises control over the material whilst in Tiphareth the forces work to produce creation at a point. That is, Chesed moves toward Tiphareth.

Thus we can define a Hermit as one who joins two states of affairs together or produces one state from another. Amon was but first in the line. Orpheus, Moses, Appollonius, the Saviour, Paracelsus, Hermes, Isis and Blavatsky might all be considered as Hermits.

Chesed is the sphere of the Masters and Tiphareth the sphere of God's creation. The journey either way is obviously a difficult and lonely one. It is a Path which leaves the remaining vestiges of the temporal to become immortal or vice versa. It is therefore a creative path in the sense of creating a useful self. A Path of Initiation.

The Path of the Hermit is part of 3 triangles forming a side with (a) Justice and Strength (b) Death and the Wheel and (c) the Hierophant and the Star. Triangle (a) shows the property of the Hermit in leaving the material behind and following a just path as dictated by conscience. (b) shows the regeneration or resurrection of a new state from out of the ashes of the past, while the remorselessly grinding wheel reminds us of the willpower which has to be exercised. (c) shows us the need for learning and the initiative in conception.

The Path is a reflection in Daath (that sphere of no symbols, which is all symbols) of the Magician. Here we have the Magician's skills being acquired beneath the robe. It is one of the sex paths centred about Daath. The Fool setting out, becoming learned ecclesiastically (Hierophant), learns the power of magic (Magician), balances the spiritual and material (Chariot) suffers his conscience (Justice) and becomes the Hermit.

It is a Path parallel to the Emperor and this possibly gives us our best analogy. The Hermit is to the spiritual what the Emperor is to the material, i.e. he tries to rule it but there are obstacles which he has to take into account and forces he must accept. Indeed, he makes the best of it in the long term.

Chesed is described as the sphere of the Masters. A Master is one of the grade "Adeptus Exemplus", i.e. one who is exempt or free from the limitations imposed by the worlds of material and form. A Master has no need to reincarnate. Here the rule of God's love applies - God's will: "Love is the Law - Love under Will". "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law". A far different meaning from the base interpretation of "do what you like". A Master is a tutor rather than a teacher. Orders are not given, but information sufficient to enable the pupils to develop themselves under human free will. The Sephirah is known as "mercy", because it is in the centre of the pillar of that name. However, "love" is equally a good name and it has also been called "majesty" and "magnificence". It has Jupiter as a mundane chakra. Jupiter is the great benefic of astrology. So these properties of the Sephirah have to be learned, i.e. to illuminate rather than order your pupils and conversely from illumination to organise yourself and develop.

Tiphareth is called "beauty". It is the sphere of God's creativity, of sacrifice and benefit. It is the sphere of the Child, the King and the sacrificed God. It is the sphere of crucifixion. It is a sphere where life is dedicated to the service of the spirit. This is the sphere of devotion. The Saviour came into the corruption of human existence on earth to show mankind the way. He was one in a line of Hermits. Tiphareth shows us the very high standard demanded of Hermits.

If we look at the Major Arcana, it is numbered 9. Almost invariably it depicts a cloaked figure carrying a lamp and a staff. There are 3 folds in the cloak, 3 flames in the lamp and 3 sections to the staff. The cloak or mantle shows 3 things:

1. Self Possession
2. Discretion
3. Silence

The lamp, similarly:

1. Reason illuminated by science
2. Learning
3. Knowledge

And the staff:

1. Help from nature
2. Strength and Boldness
3. Daring

Consider then the hidden figure of the Hermit, be it male or female, it is virginal. The Hermit knows the symbolism of all religions and abstains from, or practices any of them, without hypocrisy or impiety, but remains secret on the subject of supreme initiation. The Hermit may be prosecuted but never conquered, poor but never abject or miserable, and melancholic but not dejected or despairing.

Sometimes the Hermit has a bird perched on his shoulder - the bennu bird or phoenix, showing the immortal spirit. Occasionally he carries a book indicating the need for knowledge and wisdom. In some versions, he is near an open window. Remember Peter Pan flying out of the window? A Moon is sometimes shown indicative of a cyclic nature in intuition. In another version a crystal replaces the lamp, indicative of purity, wisdom, intuition and knowledge. One version shows the star and crescent (the Portsmouth coat of arms) indicative of striving for paradise.

The correspondences allocated to the path are varied, but not exclusive. The accepted correspondence is Virgo - the analysis, the dedication, the studious communication of the Hermit. Some link the Arcana to Leo, to Jupiter and to Sagittarius. Certainly the strength and courage of Leo are needed; the expansion and tutoring of Jupiter, and the versatility of Sagittarius. Pisces is often quoted, possibly because of the religion of the past age, but certainly relating to the silence and withdrawal. Aquarius, the sign of the New Age is also quoted, possibly indi­cating the deep hidden ability within the cloak.

Initiation preserves and perpetuates magic by silence. The Piscean influence. The Hermit, however, does speak - not to disclose but to lead others. Man's destiny is to create a useful self - a man is the son of his works. Many feel called but few are chosen. Men who master themselves may master others. Masters have to observe the discipline of the hierarchy.

An initiate respects the hierarchy before all things that he loves, and maintains order, respecting all sincere beliefs, cherishes all marks of immortality in faith and of redemption by charity. These being synonymous with discipline and obedience. In short, "ye have one father, one master and ye are all brethren".

A candidate for initiation at Thebes or Memphis:

1. Abandons life and liberty entirely to the Masters of the Temple;
2. Advances resolutely through unnumbered terrors, real or imagined;
3. Leaps fires, swims waters and walks or seesaws over precipices.

The candidate gave blind obedience in perfect trust and in perfect love. In return he received, or rather learned, goodness (horror of evil), morality and wisdom.

The Hermit is the Path of Spiritual Thirst; it is a solo trip in every sense. The Hermit goes alone and finds truth. Everyone's truth is different, but the Hermit finds he merely conducts the energy of the divine. On completion of the Path he reaches spiritual ecstasy. Within oneself is the seed which fertilises the virgin.

Most cards show a human form, but this might not be honest. So one final card can be examined. This is a representation where geometric symbols replace the human form. It is abstract symbols which are likely to be seen in a path-working; indeed, the symbols may be more abstract than this - being shafts of colour, geometrical crystals, perfumes, tastes or music.

The Church licensed Hermits who took vows of chastity and poverty and retired to live alone in meditation, disturbed only by per­formance of certain duties. The duties were usually to help others and typically would involve acting as a guide over difficult river fords or mountain passes.

Prior to this, Hermits had been primarily found in desert regions of Egypt and Syria. Commencing in pagan times, holy men lived practicing great austerities which were emulated by early Chris­tians such as the Saints Paul and Antony in AD 250. At first the rules were truly based on Eastern ideals of physical asceticism. The desert Hermits grouped together in what was called a laura -a few primitive cells around a small oratory. This was indeed the form of the Celtic rule.

In Jungian psychology the Hermit is the animus, i.e. the father teacher and wise old man - the King, the Sage. Indeed, Jung tells us a great deal about the Hermetic state in "Psychology and Alchemy" - that isolation by a secret; results in animation of the psychic atmosphere, activation of the unconscious, and produces illusion and hallucination in which ghostly shadows flit about in place of people.


To be continued...