For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:
- Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
- The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
- The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
- The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
- The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
- The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
- Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)
To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog or scroll down and click on Animal Tarot Time under CATEGORIES.
Let’s look at how THE HERMIT is portrayed in seven different animal decks.
Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
FIREFLY (“Spiritual enlightenment. The spark of inspiration. The light within. Being a light for others. Believing in the magic of life.”)
The guidebook that accompanies this deck describes the firefly as “representing the light within and flashes of great spiritual insight and inspiration,” making it an excellent candidate to play the role of The Hermit. We often focus on the idea of solitude and introspection when we discuss The Hermit, but equally important is The Hermit’s willingness and ability to “hold up his lamp” to guide others through the darkness. On the card, fireflies have gathered “in great number in order to show you just how magical life can be.”
The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
MANTIS (“Sometimes waiting is the best way. Sometimes removing yourself, if only for a short period of time, is the best way. Then we turn and head to the light and step into its brilliance…”)
On this card, The Hermit stands in the light, holding the sun between his antennae. Knowing that the light (sun) will always rise again, we can look forward to the light’s return after time spent alone in darkness. Leeza Robertson mentions a story told by the Bushmen of the Kalahari, in which the Mantis puts himself to sleep in order to dream a solution to a situation or problem. By the same token, we sometimes need to allow ourselves the time and space to contemplate something so we can approach it with a clear head.
The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
OWL (Keeper of the Light): “Peer deep; find illumination within.”
Brunke’s keywords for this card are “solitude, introspection, enlightenment, wisdom.” The owl’s ability to see in the dark creates a meaningful link between this creature and The Hermit, who holds his lantern aloft to help guide others. Owls are solitary birds – no noisy flock for them! They have long served as symbols for wisdom and the inner realms of our psyche. Like The Hermit, the Owl encourages us to explore the “darkness within” as well as the outer landscape.
The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
OWL: “Silent Wisdom, Vision, and Guidance”
Ted Andrews refers to the Owl as a “creature of the night,” with night symbolizing the “darkness within – the places where great secrets and great treasures are hidden.” The fact that owls fly silently reminds us that there are times when we benefit from being silent and introspective or from being silent while listening to what is being said around us. Owls have acute hearing as well as keen vision both at night and during the day.
The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
THE HERMIT / Cernunnos: time to reflect, contemplation, solitude
Cernunnos was a Celtic god also known as “the horned god.” He was typically shown with all kinds of forest animals, each of which symbolized some aspect of Celtic power. Hunt writes that when The Hermit (Cernunnos) appears, it is a reminder to “take the time to engage in quiet reflection… to learn more about yourself… to become more in tune with nature.” The goal is to “become more acquainted with a deeper aspect of your inner being.”
The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
RED PANDA: “peace, knowledge, contemplation, solitude, discovery, adaption”
Of this card, Joanna Cheung writes: “He is in search of introspection, finding solace in solitude, away from society, away from culture, order, and custom as he travels on a journey of personal discovery.”
A quick internet search reveals that red pandas are solitary except during the breeding season. While it is fun to see this unusual choice for The Hermit, I have to say I don’t find much about the red panda that makes it a great choice for this card.
Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)
BLACK BEAR: “wisdom, spiritual search; abandonment, solitude, hidden enemies”
I think the black bear is a really great representative of aspect of The Hermit that deals with withdrawing, solitude, and turning inward, given that bears typically hibernate for several months during the winter. Black bears tend to be solitary animals, with the exception of mothers and cubs.
To summarize, we have:
Firefly – 1
Mantis – 1
Owl – 2
Cernunnos – 1
Red Panda – 1
Black Bear – 1
In a way, I am a bit surprised that no one chose the hermit crab, but in any case, all of these are interesting and creative choices. Personally, I think I am leaning towards the Owl as the best choice.