If I was to pick a card as my Favourite, I would choose The Hermit. The AET Hermit is a favourite among all Hermit cards I know. It seems the most constant with its instantly recognisable symbols. A caped sole figure with a lamp or light, away from society in a cave, the Woods or desert. The figure seems to be searching for the spiritual experience or some greater Truth- seeking that inner light.
How does The Ancient Egyptian Tarot present these concepts?
Enter Isis in the guise of Thoth. Here the The Hermit is shown in a green hooded cloak. This green cloak alludes to Osiris who was originally known as the God of Nature, symbolised by the cycle of vegetation. Over time he became the God of the Dead. He civilised Egypt by building towns, making laws, was overseer of Temple building and taught mankind how to make bread and wine. Once all this was accomplished he embarked on a great Journey, civilising the lands he travelled through, dispelling ignorance. This indicates the guide or teacher aspect of the Card.
One is not quite sure whether it is Osiris or Thoth presenting themselves in this card, so as the identity is concealed- another aspect is portrayed-that of concealed mysteries. If you are unprepared you will find things concealed from you.
How can we discern Thoth in the Card? Who is Thoth?
Thoth is the Egyptian Moon God, who presided over scribes and Knowledge. He was called 'Lord of the Sacred Words' Thoth was Osiris's Scribe. He helped at the burial of Osiris.He helped raise Horus, Son of Osiris. Thoth succeeded Horus to the throne of Egypt and reigned peacfully over Egypt for three thousand years- then he became the Moon. The Greeks called him Hermes.
He is depicted often by two sacred animals. The animals were not worshiped, their qualities were associated with a deity. The deity of Thoth was associated with the qualities of the Baboon and the Ibis. The three Baboons in the card indicate Thoth. The Baboon is a fine example of the way Ancient Egyptians made observations of the natural world, and incorporated that into iconography of their religious beliefs. At Dawn Baboons have a habit of sitting up on their hind legs with their front paws raised, in order to warm their bellys in the suns morning rays. This upright posture, with arms and hands raised in front of the face, was adopted as the posture of adoration to the Gods by Man.
Virgo is this cards sign and is ruled by Mercury- a Mercury symbol is the Apes of Thoth.
Well I hope this explanation starts you on your Hermit Journey- I have not yet mentioned the Underworld or Yod the secret Fire of the Lamp or that tantalising little fruit I think is a Pomegranate at the edge of the Abyss....or spells from the Pyramid Texts. In your search for Foresight and Wisdom may you 'leap and sit upon the wing of Thoth' ~Rosanne


Hi Rosanne ~

I agree with you. This is a beautiful card.

From what I understand, the first eight cards of the Major Arcana introduce us to the major Gods. From what I also understand (from other books) there were three major creation myths, although they are all blend in with each other. I am going to post another post which explains this particular creation myth so that people may be able to see one explanation of where it all fits in. To understand this deck one needs a high tolerance for ambiguity :) - an aspect of the deck, I love actually. Nothing in life is ever black and white.

However, in this deck the Hermit is actually the beginning of the cycle which describes the Osirian resurrection. Osiris inherited the kingship of the earth from Geb, God of the Earth who produced four children with Nut, Goddess of the Night. The other children were Isis, Seth (Set) and Nephthys. Osiris and Isis ruled together until Seth got jealous and murdered Osiris. Osiris was apparently trying out a new coffin when Seth shut him in it and set the coffin afloat on the waters of the Nile, thus drowning Osiris. When this occurred conflict entered the world

Isis retrieved the body but Seth again seized it, dismembered it and scattered the parts all over Egypt. Isis retrieved every part of the body , reassembled it and brought it alive long enough to conceive their son, Horus. Osiris then left the earth to become ruler of the Underworld. From "The Egyptian Book of Living and Dying" by Joanne Fletcher .

Barrett implies that the Hermit card can represent a few things, as you indicated, Rosanne. It could represent Osiris before he entered the Underworld (the hole in the ground) or it could represent Isis at the beginning of her search for Osiris. The image could represent someone guiding or someone searching. The Hermit is both the path and the goal.

Yours is a beautiful post. Thank you.



Thank you MoonGold, I had not thought the Hermit as the start of the Osiris Cycle, even tho the abyss is in plain sight. I can think of the Hermit in a new light. I will look forward to your thread about The Myth of Osisris.

I have been thinking about how I view this card in a reading. I realised in the main I see the querent coming out of seclusion, back to the world, not the need to withdraw; I often see the teacher more than a guide. I have often seen Thoth in the card regarding books. I realised I very often see 'the Dark night of the Soul' here more than in other Decks.

Historically, Ancient Egypt was thought to be the respostory of Tarot or the springboard. This has proved not to be true; I see however the richness of myth that gave rise to that idea. These cards draw me in to a world I love, of Gods and breathtaking landscapes of the imagination. I too could be seduced into thinking 'did The Tarot rise here and travel on to Italy and France?'.... Hmmm ~Rosanne


Rosanne ~

What follows is my own opinion, based on rudimentary knowledge really ~ I think the Gods were so important to the Egyptians. They lived with an explanation of life and the universe that is much more connected with the Gods than we do today. In one sense the images and myths we use every day in our Tarot decks were so much a part of their lives that the whole of life was a *Tarot* or mythological journey of a different kind.

The walls of the pyramids were covered with images, as were the ordinary paraphernalia of every day life. It is unknown in our society unless we create that environment in our own lives.

We need myth, icons and rituals today. Their disappearance is a sign of spiritual angst and emptiness - so I believe. I think the Pope's funeral was a classic example of that. People from all over the world watched it. I listened to it on the radio and found it beautiful. But this is a diversion.

I think it interesting that Barrett suggests the dual role for the Hermit - the path and the goal. Have never heard this before but it is so logical.

Blessings ~


Interesting posts you two. Thank-you!!

I am still trying to get to grips with the different gods and myths surrounding this deck but was intrigued to find out about the baboons. We often see different deities associated with different animals but I have never heard of the baboon/deity association before!

I read in my little book about gods that Thoth invented hieroglyphs and writing. He was also concerned with numbers and so as 'reckoner of the years' he was also thought of as the Lord of Time. This is interesting as its not the first time I have seen the Hermit connected to time. He often carries an hourglass in which case I often read the card from a time perspective.

I love the saying given by Clive Barrett for this card 'Where I am, so may you be' . Working with it will, I am sure, help develop its full meaning. It insinuates, as you say Moongold, that the hermit is the path and the goal.

With regard to the fruit - as I see it all the symbolism in this card is aimed at securing a safe passage to the underworld. Anubis stands on guard to protect the dead on their journey. Thoth was known as God of the Dead so I wonder it its there to provide sustenence.

Is it a pomegranate? or what? Pomegranates symbolize fertility, death, and eternity all relevant to the myth.


I see the Hermit as an aspect of Tahuti, or Thoth, but this is due to my own personal biases. The Magician in this deck is represented as Thoth. (One of the epithets of Thoth was the Great Magician.) For me, any type of magic will necessarily involve effecting change both within and without. The Hermit, to me, is the aspect of Thoth effecting change from within, or settings things right internally, before attempting to cause change in the outer.

I also find it significant to find the Hermit in a cave. Is this the same cave found on the 9 of Swords and the 9 of Pentacles?


Interesting questions about the cave.

The cave is always associated for me with mystery. There is a sense of both darkness and security - caves as shelter. But in this the cave shelters the doorway to the underworld and for Barrett this seems to symbolize the unconscious.

The underworld was the night for the Egyptians and I guess it is during the night that we are most likely to directly encounter the unconscious through dreams.

Caves or caverns have particular meaning for the next life. Apparently ordinary mortals had to pass through 12 caverns, remembering the name sof the gateway Gods before they could successfully enter a new life. As a student of Thoth, SweetIsTheTruth, you might know more about this than me.

I don't personally have a sense that this cave is the same as in 9 Swords or 9 Pentacles - notice the 9's - but there may be connections I haven't seen.


Moongold said:
As a student of Thoth, SweetIsTheTruth, you might know more about this than me.
I know little to nothing, which explains my earlier concerns regarding my views on the cards.


Well, we discover as we go along then. :)


I noticed that there is a theme of Numbers throughout the Deck SweetIsTheTruth. Your example of the Hermits cave, the caves in the Nines is repeated. I will read some more about caves in the History books. I also find this Deck quite Thothish.~Rosanne