So what does this have to do with this Obi-Wan Kenobi-looking guy? The Hermit represents mastery- notice the two things he carries in this picture. First, a staff, symbolizing his dominion and rule over his own mind and his own life. Think of the staff more like a scepter- a symbol of rulership, such as a king or monarch would hold. The second is a lantern. The job of the lantern is to illuminate- to show things hidden, in this case aspects of the mind and of the self that the Hermit might have been unaware of- bringing the unconscious to the conscious mind, revealing things not only about the Hermit himself, but about the world around him. The Hermit appears to be outfitted for some walking, so the lantern will also illuminate the path he's walking on, and the staff will support him on his way. Being a Major Arcana card, the Hermit refers more to this process of discovery rather than a specific person who is doing the discovering. It's a call to enlightenment, if that doesn't sound too New Age-y. When this card appears in a reading, it points to a need to examine yourself, and the opportunity to fearlessly examine one's own life- bring things to light that in some cases we'd rather forget. But when you do this, use it as an opportunity not to beat yourself up for shortcomings or failings, but rather to use your mind like that proverbial mirror- reflect, and from reflection, learn and develop.
But on to the Oxherding Pictures. There are ten, and we can examine them one at a time, to see how they parallel the Hermit's journey.
special thank you to www.buddhaphoto.net for the pictures on this entry.