The Hermit

I recently had dinner with a friend who I had not seen in several months. She apologized for not trying to arrange a get together with me sooner, but that truthfully, she was feeling like a hermit.

I laughed and said I was feeling the same way. It’s very true. All year I have avoided much social contact, trying to stay at home as much as possible. I have truly become a hermit!

The Hermit

The above image is the traditional one used for The Hermit card in the tarot, in case you’re wondering. I chose this image for this post because I have been using a card pulled from a tarot style deck as a daily focus, so the ideas behind the tarot have been on my mind.

Now, don’t start thinking I’m weird and crazy, stay with me here! I have become a hermit, staying at home working in the studio daily, avoiding the contact and influence of other people. But some days I find that I need something to get me moving in another direction or to start a fresh piece of art and drawing a card with a thought has really helped.

Some days I feel guilty for avoiding the outside world, and it’s usually those days that I find my daily card is even more important. It’s kind of like a mini meditation. Pull the card, enjoy the image, think about the message and then think again about how the message is going to influence how I work today or what I need to create.

I do yoga and really enjoy the freedom in my mind that I get from focusing just on my breath (and holding that impossible pose!), but my daily card and mini meditation is more than that. It’s difficult to be an artist (lol! but you knew that already!) , and it can be difficult to keep going and stay focused when you’re alone and wondering “what now?”, so doing something that completely brings my mind into balance, even for a second, has been a great joy. I’ve found that it is something I look forward to each day.

For me, becoming a hermit, and finding my daily focus, has been such a great blessing this year. Perhaps in the future I’ll want to have more contact with people or friends, but for now I’m growing so much creatively and artistically that I can’t see changing this routine.

So I wonder, how do the rest of you deal with balancing the outside and inside worlds? Are you hermits, or gregarious social butterflies able to fit in art any time? Do you need intense focus and solitude or do you require the energy of others to keep going?

Everybody is so different, but I wonder if artists as a group lean one way or the other. Or maybe I’m just a weirdo. LOL. That’s what my family always thought! 🙂

8 Responses to “The Hermit”

  1. 1 Mandi September 28, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve been busy doing all sorts of little things so I haven’t had time to check in here, but I’m so glad to see that there are others who understand where I’m coming from!

    I love being a hermit right now. I’m very very very lucky that I have just my husband (and 6 cats and 3 dogs) to watch after, so I can devote my free time to what I want to (which right now is an obsession with tied shibori). But I do rush home from the gym every morning to make my husband breakfast while he parks his butt at the table to wait for it, same at dinner time, so I know that I fall into the trap of dropping what I’m doing or planning to take care of him. If I had children I know I’d never have time for me (which is of course why I’ve chosen not to, it’s something I recognized in myself a while ago).

    I drew a great card the other day that told me as an artist, I am just beginning on my path, and that I have time to grow and not to pressure myself to do it all now, but to enjoy the journey!

  2. 2 Natalya September 28, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I am a wannabe hermit. I am a stay at home mom who wishes she could just lock the door and create until I was ready to come out. I love my children very much and feel guilty admitting this… but it’s true. But for now I am a naptime and school time hermit. Another two years and I can be a kindergarten time hermit, aaahh the possibilities…

  3. 3 Olga September 28, 2007 at 6:27 am

    I too think of myself as a hermit these days. When I started working seriously in textiles I could not get enough of classes and exhibitions, but soon, once I sorted out what I wanted to do for myself I have become much more picky about what shows I go to see. I no longer even look at technique classes unless there is something I do particularly want to learn to use for a purpose. The end is more important than the means. And sometimes I avoid exhibitions because I do not want to be influenced at that particular point.

    As I have got older and more focussed on my own work rather than working with people I have become less tolerant of small talk and less and less able to produce it myself. It is difficult now because my mother has come to live with us, and she sees no-one else and wants to know every last boring detail about my life and everyone else’s. So now I wish that I was a hermit!

  4. 4 June September 27, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Hi Melanie,

    Oh please do chime in. That’s what we’re here for. Your references are valuable for all of us — and I think you are right about men’s conditioning. The real problem is that some people would do better in different gender roles but find themselves tied to one that doesn’t work. If we are very very lucky, we can break those ties and live as our “temperaments” require.

    I have been one of the lucky ones.

  5. 5 Melanie Hulse September 26, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Melanie, again. I should mention that I found my way here (ragged cloth) from Jane Davila’s blog (chary sprouts). I hope you don’t mind my chiming in.

    I recently attended a workshop with Seena Frost, who wrote Soul Collage. The book describes a meditation process she developed that relies on, first, creating collages on 5-inch x 8-inch pieces of mat board using magazine clippings; then, second, using the collaged images as a kind of personal tarot deck.

    Developing the cards was a profoundly provocative process, extraordinarily freeing — and using them as a focus for meditation and such like has been fruitful. And, not to omit, it is a wicked amount of fun. You can see some of the cards at

    Just thought I’d toss that into the mix — make your own ‘tarot.’

    On the “singular focus” thing allowed to men. Perhaps it’s well to remember that having that societally sanctioned singular focus “allows” men to have sole (oftentimes sole) responsibility for the financial well being of several people and the security of property. (Barbara Ehrenreich has an interesting book on this topic — called something like “Hearts of Men.”) I expect that responsibility takes a great deal of focus.

  6. 6 Diane September 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    “Meanwhile society allows the men to go to work with singular focus.”

    That’s my husband. The house could be burning to the ground and he’d be oblivious, working on his sideline business. Meanwhile, I’m trying to generate income from my art, find a safe, affordable appartment for my dad, and cooking and cleaning. Fortuantely, my kids are grown or I’d really be a wreck!

    Yup, I’m a hermit too. That’s what the “leave me alone” skirt is all about.

    BTW, it’s cool that you use the tarot daily. I have lots of decks mostly because I love the images and doing one card a day would be so much easier than a spread. You’re not weird at all!

  7. 7 Kristin September 26, 2007 at 9:50 am

    I think most artists need some hermit time — that’s when we have time for the introspection and questioning from which mature art springs. I also suspect that innability to have “hermit time” is why there aren’t more reknown female artists. Men have the time to commit to their art. Women must always try to find balance between art and the rest of life. I think the percentage of women who choose not to have families in order to focus on their art is probably much smaller than the percentage of men that do, and therefore the pool from which the select few geniuses rise is proportionately smaller. I’d love to hole up in my room like a hermit and try out the ideas bouncing around in my head, but there’s meals to be made and kids to be picked up from school and laundry to be washed and pets to be fed and and and. Meanwhile society allows the men to go to work with singular focus.

  8. 8 June September 26, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Mandi (it is Mandi, isn’t it?)

    I think artists are as varied as the general population — and I think that our lives have rhythms, different time periods in which we need more — or less — interaction with people.

    I found it interesting that you use the Tarot card to key your day off of. I do some of that myself, days being pretty much open to any interpretation until they’ve gotten underway. So starting with one direction sometimes helps focus me a bit.

    The odd thing about humans is that each of us thinks we are weird, but we are almost all outward conformists. It’s the paradox of thinking, I believe. We think a lot, and about a lot of different subjects, but when we interact, we are more directed. So we know that inside ourselves is the great weirdo, while externally, we tend to look sort of normal.

    Every family thinks all its members are weird — or as my mother used to say — “Everybody’s crazy but thee and me — and sometimes I wonder about thee.”

    The question of balance is far more difficult than deciding whether we are normal or weird, though. It’s something that requires actual action on our part to achieve.

    Speaking of which, I’m going out to the studio to balance my thinking with some art making.

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