Learn all about the hermit archetype, including its definition, characteristics, examples, and how it relates to the Sage archetype.
What is the Hermit Archetype?
The image long associated with a hermit is of a person living in isolation in a mountain, desert, forest, or cave at one with nature, often on the outskirts of a settlement.
Whilst this does apply to the hermit archetype, the archetype itself is broader than this.
Rather, the hermit is associated with social isolation, though not necessarily to the degree of physical isolation the image described presents, in combination with wisdom, self-knowledge, and a connection to the natural world.
The hermit is also a natural introvert and introspective who enjoys time spent on their own to think and create.
Hermit Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- Every hermit has their own ‘hermitage’, whether that be the traditional cave, hut, etc, or a particular space in the world such as a room in their house which they use to escape to in order to enjoy solitude.
- Retiring to this space is not a deliberate act of rejection of the world on the part of the hermit – rather, they need the space, solitude, and time for reflection which this brings in the way that most people need water.
- It provides the hermit with nourishment essential in order to navigate their way through life.
- Silence is vital for the hermit – they find great comfort in the complete absence of sound and in a lack of any action both on their part or around them.
However, if left unchecked the natural instincts of an archetypal hermit can mean they develop into a recluse, defensive, and wanting nothing to do with the outside world or anyone who inhabits it.
Agoraphobia can set in, as well as a tendency toward passing judgment on others who do not live the same lifestyle and a deep distrust towards humanity more broadly.
The hermit can be cold in those they are forced to cultivate some relationship with, such as family members, and selfishly guard their needs above those of others.
Hermit Archetype Examples
Some examples of the hermit archetype from history include St Simon from the Christian tradition, the “Hermit Pope” Celestine V, Julian of Norwich, and Peter the Hermit. Modern hermits have included Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau.
Further reading on the Hermit archetype includes:
- Consider The Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit Life – by Paul A. Fredette and Karen Karper Fredette
- A Simplified Life: A Contemporary Hermit’s Experience of Solitude and Silence – by Verena Schiller
- Hermits: The Insights of Solitude – by Peter France