The Hermit is by far one of my favorite cards in the Fey. I agree that it´s pretty claustrophobic. I usually see it more as a self discovery card. Going inside your subconscious and trying to make sense of the whole mess. The Universe here is not below the mountain but inside the Hermit.
Recently I finished a posting on the "21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card" threads. My chosen card for the last portion of my studies there was the Hermit. The Fey Hermit is quite different from many other Hermit cards --- as are many of the other Fey cards.
What I had noted relative to the exercises done there was that the Hermit was looking/exploring within a confined area that offered little of use. Yet within sight of all of those inner stairways were a number of doors --- each of which might lead to almost anything that offered more to explore, more answers and more questions. The message of this card was not the inner searching of ground well covered or an area which offered little that was fruitful, but the decision to make a decision or a choice, any choice so as to bring much that was new into your life. Newness and discovery can't often be chosen but must be entered into with openness and curiosity.
Unlike the Waite-Smith card wherein the Hermit is either looking in barren places, seeking solitude, or acting as a beacon for others to find, the Fey Hermit is about being at the cusp of having to make a decision in order to actually make progress, to break out of his limitations without expectations.
What do other Fey Tarot users think of this card? Dave
I'm not really speaking about the Fey Hermit or the RWS Hermit.
But here is smoething I have thought about the card itself, when "designing" decks.
Most Hermit cards (like RWS) are focused on the figure of the Hermit.
The landscape is barren not because it needs to be, but because it's almost like the Hermit figure is suspended in a no-place.
Other Hermit cards try to create a context to his solitude and add a background that has an importance into the card.
Is there just one kind of solitude? One kind of isolation? One kind of light in the darkness?
I found out that I tend to prefer decks where the Hermit is moving further from his archetype [THE Hermit] and more to AN Hermit, in a "place". As for the Fey, I sometimes think of that card as the labirynthe of mind (the hermit mind? or mine? or whatever).
The Fey Hermit (figure) reminds me of the fool in his face and demeanor. There is wonderment, curiosity, light be directed to the subject and his immediate space, a sense that he is at a pause point --- not grasping the situation at all but still curious, mesmerized. While curiosity might indicate thinking, in the case of the Fool and the Hermit, it more a mental taking in of the situation, as if there is yet to be a sense of logic or a path of reason to put into motion.
If we look at these two cards as having similarities as well as their own uniqueness, the Fool might symbolize (in part) a pause of discovery, while the Hermit may also represent a pause but also a need to assess the situation and make a decision. Where there is no need to make a decision for the Fool, who is starting on his journey, there is a need for the Hermit to make a decision because his journey will lead nowhere unless he does something.
This begs the question, "What card will represent the next step of making a decision and then facing the consequences of moving forward? Are we dealing with a cycle here? Dave.
PS for caridwen; I still find your Scandinavian mythic spread (Caridwen's Web) fascination and highly useful. I thank you for sharing it.