I love reading what search terms people use to find my blog. A day or two ago, someone searched on “being a hermit in everyday life.” I had actually been thinking of writing a post on this, but never did because I didn’t think anyone but me would be interested. So, this is for that reader that searched for this post before it was written. I hope you are still around and like this post, created for you but with the anticipation that if you and I want to be hermits, maybe others do, too…
From the time I was little, I wanted to be a hermit. My life’s goal was always to live by myself in a little cabin on a mountainside, spending my days gazing at the sky, gathering herbs and flowers, and writing pieces that I would somehow send out into the world without leaving my cabin (kind of like blogging on a computer!). Of course, it hasn’t worked out that way. Being a hermit has not been considered to be an appropriate career choice for several hundreds of years. In fact, I think that hermitry fell out of favor at just about the same time as women have been persecuted for being healers and witches, oddly enough, or not.
To me, being a hermit does not mean being anti-social or even just going to live by yourself, Thoreau-like. It means being the stillpoint around which the rest of the world revolves. A hermit is someone who makes a mission of being in that place of solitude and contemplation where the voice of all beings and the earth can be clearly heard, where what is really happening and the intentions of people and institutions are obvious, where visions come to land like so many crows on a tall tree and where the future is not commanded by the past, where creativity flows and can be imbibed with your morning tea.
Being a hermit means is a courageous calling because it means sacrificing the security of being part of society, however painful that may be at times. It is waking up every morning without a day’s worth of activities to distract you from whatever you need to face in yourself at that moment. Being a hermit means actually believing that thoughts are things and have value, that contemplating goodness and beauty can make it come about, that the human mind is a thing of value apart from the economic goods it may command the body to produce.
In short, a hermit is the status quo’s worst nightmare. Can you imagine an entire profession of people whose job it is to think clearly apart from the strictures of society? Who are not beholden to the community for basic necessities? Who do not care if they are thought of well by others? Who can look at themselves in the mirror each morning without fear or regret because they are accustomed to seeking out their true selves every day? No wonder you cannot major in hermitry at universities and there is no way to make your living from being one.
In fact, it is almost impossible for most women to be hermits in today’s world. We have family responsibilities to parents or others even if we have no children. Most of us marry. We do not make the kind of incomes that allow us to save enough to be financially independent early in life. We are taught to distrust our instincts and our thoughts and not to look too deeply into ourselves.
Yet, hermits are needed now more than ever. We need people who see clearly and are willing to speak about what they witness. We require envisioners to help us steer clear paths to a kinder and ecologically sustainable world. The re-emergence of the Sacred Feminine gives me hope that, perhaps in our grand-daughters time at least, we will love and nurture our hermits. Hermitry is a talent that will be valued when action is not considered the only way to solve a problem, when power comes from integrity within and not only the ability to coerce others, when people are valuable for their sacredness within rather than their economic benefit to others.
Still, if we see being a hermit as a way of looking at the world rather than a way of living, we can still be hermits. We can make time for solitude and contemplation in our lives and not give it away everytime someone asks to do something for them. We can make an effort to make decisions and witness people and events in a way that relates only to our values instead of what is considered valuable by society. We can spend time in prayer, or contemplation, or meditation, or simply having faith, and genuinely believe that these are activities that change what happens in the outside world and are worth doing.
I am a hermit and I always will be. Solitariness is what comes natural to me. It is something I have fought all my life because preferring to be alone was always somehow a bad thing, an indication of something wrong with me. Today, I choose to be a hermit, a time-honored, valuable way of being.