The Hermit IX.

April 24th, 2024

The Hermit IX
By Bonnie Tarantino

As I write this, I can feel that I am in my cave. I go there when I am tired, spent, empty. After coming out of three days of workshops and several overnight guests, I crawled back through the blankets and pillows and nestled in. I love it here. But the first time I visited my cave, it was dark, and I was very scared. I thought it was the end of my life. I retreated there, bruised and confused. All around me, echoing off the walls of the cave, were voices that doubted me, made fun of me, lied to me, betrayed me, and hated me.

Then someone threw me a matchbook. It hit me in the head, and I jumped, thinking it was a bat. But then a voice said, “Grab that.” And I did and sniffed it and realized I smelled the sulfur of possibility; I smelled the hope that only light brings.

So, I stuck one match and caught a glimpse of my cave. It was vast and, for a moment, beautiful. Then the light went out, and I desperately lit another match, then another. Then something bigger hit me in the head. I grabbed hold of it and deeply smelled the wax of bees, the smell of church, the smell of the advent wreaths, Sunday dinners, and the little candle of love lit for my first time. I lit the candle and melted the bottom of it till the wax pooled on the floor of the empty cave. I stuck the candle to the ground, sat back, and let my eyes adjust.

I took my first deep breath from the depth of my being. At last, for a moment, I was calm and peaceful. I felt this warmth come over me. For the first time I felt truly safe in the cave.

I noticed there was a shovel in the corner and realized there was a lot of crap in the cave. I shoveled and shoveled. Made two piles. This is mine. This is not. I put what was not mine onto the candle and made a bonfire of it. In the new bright light of it I sorted out what was mine and found some useful things. A journal, a pen, Alanon, therapy, and books like; “The Prophet,” “The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior,” “Creative Visualization,” and “Return to Love.” I read them all in the dim light and let my eyes grow wider and let my sight adjust. I shoveled out friends, family, and men who were not willing to heal or look at their stuff. I began to do yoga and found that as I did, the cave began to pulse with a light greater than my fire. I found Reiki and a chandelier switched on high above my head, revealing the temple I once called a cave. I polished crystals, burned sage, flipped cards, and made herbal tea. I moved into my own apartment. I gave up meat. Shamans, gurus, and medicine women came and sat with me in silence around my fire and taught me how to read the flames. Sometimes, a young man would find me there, touch me, kiss me, awaken, and dance with me around the fire, making the cave steam. Other times, women would come, and we would howl, tell stories, open wine, and make guacamole. Often, I cried and cried until the fire would go out altogether, and I would have to start again, scramble in the dark for my original matchbook. Gradually, I watched how the tears washed the ground down to a smooth marble. I mopped the floor with the truth till it shone until I could see my reflection.

And somehow, through it all, I had grown beautiful. Suddenly, I was a woman.

Then I heard a voice.
The voice of the hermit.
The hermit spoke low, steady, simple and true.
I listened. I watched
He held his lantern up and pointed. I began to see beyond the walls. I began to visualize, and hold steady a world I was willing to live in. A world I could thrive in and call my own. A place to gather.
Little by little, the walls came down.
Four pillars emerged, creating an opening for more people to join me.
A high school English classroom with my name as the teacher on the board.
My first yoga studio, “Room for Spirit,” in CT, which opened a portal to Reiki Master levels of learning.
A cottage on the property of Kernan Hospital, which I converted into a yoga studio thus opening the portal for a grant allowing nurses to learn yoga and Reiki.
A conference room in the hospital of the University of Maryland brought me up to the floors of Shock Trauma, where they let me lay my hands on the suffering, play my bowls and even snuck me up to the rooftop to dance the reiki symbols on the helicopter pad.
Karme offered me their studio and devotedly prepared the atmosphere by tending the sacred Agnihotra fires, which allured hundreds of healthcare workers to come and rest and heal. Here, I was supported in a way I never imagined. The fire grew and grew till it one day dimmed, then went out. This forced me deeper into the cave to find the hermit and begin again. After several years of following my diming light deeper, I carved out a new cavern, “The Barn.” Now, once again, people are finding me; people are walking gently down the slope through my gardens while fairies tickle their noses and ears. Respectfully, these new people take off their shoes when they enter, roll out their mats, and wonder what tools I will take out next from the back of this new deep temple with deep, mysterious caverns of consciousness.

When the Hermit calls you deep into the woods or deep into the cave, you may feel that you have lost everything, but in truth, it is the beginning of everything, not the end. The Hermit will sit with you in the deep quiet of your soul and wait till your voice whispers, “ I want…I require…I will…I must… I have decided.”

The hermit will hold its light to your candle and wait till you have the courage to tilt your ego into it, let it catch and burn, and then light your world on fire with what is left. The hermit is not afraid of the dark, for it knows that it is only from the dark that the truest and most potent light can emerge.

You will know when you meet the Hermit, for when you do, you will never feel alone again nor fear a place you have never been, for the Hermit is always there with tools to drop into your life while urging you, “Listen… yes.. listen to that…to that!”

And after a while, all you hear is your truth bouncing off the walls of every temple, cave, and dark place that begs for your light to enter. And then, after a while, it is you who starts throwing armfuls of matchbooks deep into the caves of others, whispering ever so gently, “Grab that.”

Join Our TR<i>BE