Designing the more serious tarot cards to ensure they fit well in my Cosmic Sunbeam Tarot, a whimsical, colourful and uplifting deck, is always more of a challenge for any artist. Here I take a look at the design process I undertook for my latest card design, The Hermit.
The meaning of the Hermit Card in tarot:
Soul searching, retreat, reflecting. Going within. Quiet contemplation. Spiritual wisdom. Faith. Looking for the inner light. Withdrawing to do important inner work. Taking time out. Needing alone time. Enlightenment.
The design process: illustrating a pretty, whimsical and uplifting hermit Tarot card
A solitary and introspective card to get in any reading, making my deck’s Hermit card design fit within the uplifting and whimsical deck theme was a little bit of a challenge. I considered carefully whether I wanted to use the traditional symbolism (usually an older man in a hermit’s robe) as per decks like the Rider Waite, but decided against this, feeling it wouldn’t really work within the deck as a whole – I wondered if I could do something a little different.
Feeling introspective: Tapping into the mood of the hermit card
I was in a particularly serious, solitary and quiet mood at the time of creating this card. I felt this emotional state would allow me to better convey the Hermit card’s meaning, improving the overall design as well as helping me tap into a better understanding of the Hermit. It turns out this has been a great strategy through the design process as a whole, matching my own moods with the design of appropriate cards, often using my mood of the day to tap better into the card energies.
The hermit’s lamp – a beautiful light within
I decided to use the Hermit’s lamp as the main focus, as it presented the opportunity to make a feature of the beautiful star shaped light within, fitting with the aesthetic and pretty theme of the deck, thus avoiding the use of the serious, austere older male figure used in traditional decks, which I didn’t feel would work within the deck as a whole.
During the design process, I decided to use a symbolic but subtle “eye” shape in the background; I felt this was a nice way to imply the reflective and spiritual nature of the meaning of the card. It is often said that the eye is a window to the soul; the eye here is looking inwards, quietly observing and meditating on the nature of the soul, the meaning of existence; calmly searching for the light within.
A colourful yet reflective hermit palette
The colour scheme was a little bit of a departure from the other cards designed so far, using a darker, calmer blue / purple palette. I felt that the other bright pinks, blues and yellows previously used didn’t do the spiritual nature of the hermit enough justice! Blueish lilac and purple shades are often said to represent a spiritual nature, and I think they have added a beautiful serenity to the design.
The purity, spiritual achievement and wisdom of the Hermit’s journey
I also decided to add some other traditional elements of the hermit card: the staff, the mountains and the snow – deciding a cute little white bird would fit perfectly atop the staff. The mountains, snow and little bird represent the mastery achieved through the solitary journey of the hermit; the spiritual purity and the wisdom inherent within; whilst adding in some aesthetic beauty to the design. The inclusion of Saturn (top right) was a nod towards “Father Time” or “Chronos” (also known as Saturn) – often seen as the old man in some representations of the Hermit card.
about the cosmic sunbeam tarot:
The Cosmic Sunbeam Tarot deck is a forthcoming deck which is positively uplifting, whimsical and joyful, aiming to see a different side to the tarot that anyone can approach without fear and depressing themes common in so many decks. It is being launched on Kickstarter at some point in 2023/2024 – visit this page to see all the cards designed so far. You can also sign up to be notified when launch happens on the same page. Thanks for looking!