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18/9 The Hermit #9
TEMPLE artefact #20
#9 The HERMIT final version, art by Rian Hughes
9. THE HERMIT
KEY WORDS – WISDOM, CONTEMPLATION, INNER JOURNEY
This one is perhaps the simplest image so far!
Our Hermit presents a quiet and austere image of contemplation, sharing a cross-legged, meditative pose with the knight on the Chariot. Where the Chariot showed a cosmic traveller, the Hermit’s journey is inward, alone, into the depths of the Self.
A robed and hooded figure in a lotus position sits behind a LAMP on the floor. We see only the slit of the hood. No face.
The robe is mauve-purple.
The lamp light casts the Hermit’s looming shadow back across the DOOR behind him as if he has THREE HEADS (to suggest a mastery of the unconscious mind we recall the traditional images of the 3-Headed Hound of Hell Cerberus).
The door is a modern echo of the one in Holman-Hunt’s Light of the World and also the lamp in the hand of the figure in Blake’s frontispiece to Jerusalem. It’s the titular Golden Lamp from the song by the Tourists etc etc The Lamp emits a clear light with rainbow edges, pure radiance splitting into glitter and spectrum at the perimeter.
In his right hand, the Hermit holds a tall STAFF – which is a hotel STANDARD LAMP with the shade off to reveal the naked bulb. It intentionally resembles a SPERM cell. The filament in the bulb resembles the Hebrew letter ‘YOD’. A SNAKE coils around the upper half of the staff licking toward the light.
We can see that the Hermit’s fingernails are wild and spiralling overgrown curlicues – hinting here at HOWARD HUGHES who haunts this image as the modern version of the Hermit. His right holds the staff, his left sits upright in his lap.
On the door handle hangs a hotel sign – DO NOT DISTURB – the Hotel name on the tag, although pretty small I’m sure can be read XANADUUM BEACH RESORT & MARINA (auspiciously enough for our purposes, Hughes spent the last four years of his life in the penthouse of the Xanadu Beach Resort & Marina!).
The door is slightly AJAR…
The walls and carpet are green shades.
It’s notable that the declining Hughes employed Mormon bodyguards – is there then some way we could have the Do Not Disturb tag engraved on GOLD to hint at the Book of Mormon’s origins with the GOLDEN PLATES allegedly unearthed by Church founder Joseph Smith at the behest of the angel Moroni? The plates, written by the prophet Mormon described a fantastic prehistoric civilization in the Americas.
Continuing the theme, our figure wears over his robe a breastplate or lamen into which two bright circular lights have been set – these are the Urim and Thummim, ‘Nephite interpreters’ ‘seer stones’ or esoteric ‘spectacles’ Smith wore to translate the plates. The breastplate also has the astrological sign for Virgo displayed centrally like a discreet superhero emblem.
The atmosphere is contained, focused, condensed, directed.