She stands at the edge of the vision, alone on the open road, feeling a little unsure, balancing on a fragile web of seemingly meaningless coincidences that have brought her to this exact spot. She knows that in the most secret recesses of her soul, she has longed for this place all her life, but until right at this very moment, the knowledge had not yet become terrifying, the knowledge that life would never be the same again. It has been a time of turning inwards, a gathering of shadows, a long stretch of quietude petering out into whispers at the close of the shortening days, and she is unsure of what to expect.
Unaware of the darkness contained within her own uncertainty she steps purposefully out into a rocky, sunless and mountainous land, the narrow causeway upon which she finds herself, crossing a deep ravine, before winding upwards through the bleak greyness of the mountains. The breeze blows in like a wastrel from the north, shuffling across the empty plains, plucking at her clothes as she contemplates the way ahead. An unexpected figure confuses her, bearing a dog’s skull, borne atop a long staff. The shadowy figure invites her in some manner, with the set of his shoulders, perhaps suggesting that she should draw nearer, to view the scene from where he is standing.
The figure gives up his view to her and she sees that they are standing on a bridge spanning a deep ravenous gorge that is filled with a mighty surging river. Looking down from her high, lofty vantage point, a fascinating scene reveals itself far below, perhaps from some part of ancient China, for the boats seemed to be of that oriental design that she has seen in books and paintings. Countless boats pass up and down the river, all heavily laden with fruits, grain, produce of all kinds, some even have goats and chickens on board, it is clear that the land is fertile and productive. Turning away from the river, leaving the sentinel behind her, she heads along the gently rising road into the foothills of the mountains to begin a climb that seems to stretch away into forever; a dry, cool path, a vast and empty feeling.
Rounding the next bluff, she sees far off in the distance, a mountain monastery clinging to the edge of the cliff, closer to God than she will ever feel, she thinks, and the distance between her and her goal seems insurmountable for now. She bows her head to hide tears of frustration from the eyes of the empty world around her and the silence of all but the wind settles like a cloak, as heavy on her shoulders as her heart is heavy within her breast. The way seems long, and as she looks down, she sees the feet that will carry her, small and sturdy in their brown boots, joined by an even smaller pair, child’s feet in leather sandals. The boy appears to be about seven years old; his black curly hair and a face burned dark from the sun yielding up a friendly, trusting look that belongs to those who are well-loved and expect nothing less than welcome from the world.
He smiles at the her, eager to tag along on whatever adventure she is intent on, and he says that he will look after her shoes along the way, because it is a long way to where she is going. She accepts him without question, for in truth she could do with the company, and here, in this place, there is no one to tell her what to do. She is reminded of a dream that she had had the previous night, of a beautifully carved swallow, trying to escape from its prison of stone; but no matter how the swallow strained and struggled, it could not break free from the imagination of the sculptor who had created it.
The boy looks at her with his wide-open smile, unaware of the sadness of her thoughts, and she asks him what his name is, and the boy laughs and says that he doesn’t know what his name is, that he has no name, that he is himself. She laughs back and is reminded this time of something that she had read somewhere, in some place, in some book when she was searching for clues…“If I am not myself, who am I?”
She takes the boy’s hand, and they chat about this and that, heading into the slowly fading ochre of the rocky hills. She thinks about the swallow again, trying to escape from its creator and puts her free hand into her pocket, taking out a small iridescent swallows feather that she found on her pillow the morning after the dream; proof of a life somewhere else perhaps, or a sign to keep on trying at least. One step at a time will take them to where they are going, into the distance towards the lonely cliff-top monastery, closer to God than they have ever been.
The road calls, and it is time to seek communion with your deepest self, the “I” rather than the “me” which is the persona that we have developed from society’s perceptions of us as we have grown up. If you feel separated from your true identity then take this chance to journey inwards to reunite with that part that you have put aside. Your path may be lonely for a while, something which others may find difficult to understand.
IX The Hermit
The Zodiacal Trump of Virgo
The Prophet of the Eternal-The Magus of the Voice of Power.
My name is Joanna Grant, I am an Astrologer, Tarot Reader and Writer, who lives on the beautiful Beara Peninsula in the South West of Ireland. I can often be found at home, deep in arcane research, or practicing some new form of divination whilst burning the dinner! My children probably wish that I was “normal” but may well remember my eccentricities fondly when they come to face the challenges of their own paths. My long knowledge of Astrology leads and informs my practice, in offering guidance, empowerment and healing, helping others to lead a more authentic and magical life. You can read more about me here.