How to be a hermit

How to be a hermit

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At a time when so many of us are experiencing some measure of isolation, it is hard to fathom the choice to live in extreme confinement in the middle of the urban bustle. But hermits were once unremarkable features of England’s cities.

The 13th-century traveller entering London from the north, at Cripplegate, would have walked within yards of a hermit’s cell. There were also cells at Aldgate, Bishops-gate, Temple Bar and Cornhill, as well as many others beyond the city limits.

These hermits — more properly called anchorites or anchoresses — permanently enclosed themselves in cells attached to churches in order to live a life of prayer and contemplation. (The word comes from the Greek anachorein, meaning ‘to retire or retreat’.) In their cells, anchorites lived a life of extraordinary restriction. They had a small window which looked on to the church, another which led on to a servant’s parlour (through which they could receive food and get rid of waste) and a third on to the churchyard or street, from which they could dispense spiritual counsel. They were otherwise confined to a single room for what could be decades.

Life as an anchorite began with a death. After processing from the church as the choir sang ‘In paradisum deducant te angeli’ — traditionally sung as a body is conveyed to a grave — the recludensus(novice recluse) would arrive at the cell and climb into a ready-dug grave, where they were sprinkled with earth — ashes to ashes, dust to dust — before the door of the cell was bolted. When they died, they would likely be buried in this very grave. Life inside the cell was one of sensory deprivation, with limited light, fresh air, conversation or laughter, and devoid of touch or exercise.

To volunteer for this life is almost un-thinkable now, but there were around 200 anchorites across the country in the 13th century. Women outnumbered men by as much as three to one. Perhaps the most famous English recluse was the anchoress Julian of Norwich, who was enclosed in a cell in the heart of Norwich. In 1373, before she was enclosed, she had a near-death experience which culminated in a series of 15 visions of God. She recovered and lived for around another 40 years. Soon after her experience she composed her Revelations of Divine Love.

The work is important not simply because it is the first in English that we can be certain was authored by a woman, but also because she was a writer of exceptional quality. Her prose is characterised by its elegant rhetorical structure. In spite of this it never feels scholarly or obtuse; instead it is a work of clarity and empathy. Given the privation of her life, the work is strikingly, almost radically, hopeful. She never explicitly refers to her enclosure. At one point she writes that ‘this place is pryson, and this lyfe is pennannce’, but she was likely referring to her life on Earth, rather than the confines of her cell. Her work is instead suffused with optimism, exemplified by her most famous line: ‘All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’ Julian’s work is a message of hope in darkness, which speaks to us across the centuries.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Every winter, I turn into a modern-day hermit. It’s a practice I’ve come to accept about myself, even though it goes against the social norms and peer pressure to always be doing something. I’ve learned to make the most of these times, and I feel there are so many spiritual benefits to being a hermit.

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Turning Inward

I ride the line between introversion and extroversion, but when winter comes, I’m more of an introvert. This feels right intuitively for me. Over the years, I’ve learned to honor that.

Having this down time during the darkest time of the year lets me turn inward and delve into what really matters to me at the time. It helps me own my magic and spirituality more than any other time of the year.

Unique Spiritual Experiences

While I usually have a lot of spiritual experiences when I’m outdoors among people in warm weather, I have plenty of these experiences during my hermit time too.

This time alone helps me become better at my ritual techniques, altar decoration, and spirit work. In other words, I have unique spiritual growth spurts that wouldn’t have happened if I were, say, at the brewery with fifteen friends.

Fewer Home Cleansings

Another benefit to hermit time is that, with fewer visitors, I don’t have to cleanse my house as much. I’m pretty sensitive to energies, and I’ve learned that my house is very attractive to spirits. I find myself cleansing up to twice a week in the summer. With only my energy brewing in my home, it can get very cozy and comfortable.

Time and Freedom To Get Weird

When I can steep in my own energy, I inevitably find inspiration in that flavor. In other words, I get weird, and I love it.

I associate winter with explorations into new fashion, ideas, music, expression, dance, and other activities. When I really let go in my own direction, I usually find unique inspiration that informs my creative projects. Which brings me to my next benefit…

Creative Projects

Being a hermit means I have more time to hunker down into my creative projects. For the past several years, every winter, I start writing a book. Last winter, it was Intuitive Witchcraft, and this winter, I finished Air Magic. Before that, I wrote some fiction.

Winter creative projects feel so cozy, especially if you have a cat or a dog beside you, a space heater running, and a cup of tea steaming up the air. There’s something so mystical about staring out the window at snow or a frozen landscape, and finding inspiration in the blankness of it all.

Creativity feels so wondrous to me, like I’m a part of a flowing waterfall of ideas, images, and feelings. Taking time to honor this important part of myself feels indulgent and productive. Creativity is also what much of my magical work is all about.

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Seasonal Green Witchery

Like my garden, my outdoors work fades when the frost hits. In winter, there’s not as much yard work and gardening responsibilities. This means that I can take a break from my green witch responsibilities. It gives me time to plan my garden and buy supplies to prepare for the coming sun and warmth.

Magic Time On My Time

The holidays can be especially busy. Trying to fit in a Yule celebration can feel overwhelming, especially with planning to see several different family members and friends.

Fortunately, being a hermit means I can celebrate on my own intuitive witchy timing. My own cycles are celebrated when it feels right.

The Joyous Return

Perhaps one of the best things about having a seasonal hermit time means that when I do return to the world, I’ve missed it so much and long to return and have fun. I always look forward to getting back out in the world, full of new ideas and inspiration.

There’s definitely just as much magic in connection–its just a different kind. Speaking of which, I’ll be giving a lot of lectures and workshops this year! Check out my events page for my schedule. If you see me, feel free to say hello. I love meeting new people and talking about witchy things.

For another great article on hermit time by my friend Gwyn, check out her article Middle Winter: Working With Hermit Energy.

The vocation to the eremitic life is an ancient one, recently revived and recognized within the Church as a way of living out consecrated life as a solitary. The words “hermits, anchorites, and recluses” describe persons who are called to live the essence of this life, that is, life lived in stricter separation from the world. Stricter separation is the defining characteristic of this vocation, and both supports and is supported by the hermit’s assiduous prayer and penance.

What is a diocesan hermit? “A hermit is one … dedicated to God in consecrated life if he or she publicly professes in the hands of the diocesan bishop the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond, and observes a proper program of living under his direction.” – Canon 603

At the present time, there are no diocesan hermits living in the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls and we are not accepting candidates.

Q. What is the preparation process like?

A. For the diocesan hermit, the process is long and involved because it is a vocation lived out according to a rule of life created by the hermit that is approved by the bishop. A hermit typically begins by living a life of solitude under the direction of his spiritual director. The hermit then needs to begin to discern whether he is called to this way of life, and if so, whether he will live privately as a hermit or will seek canonical status as one.

Over the course of a few years, it is recommended that he write out a rule of life. This rule of life is something which must be worked out by lived experience and specify exactly how the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and a life of solitude and penance are to be observed by the individual hermit. No two rules are identical as the circumstances of each hermit differ. In addition, details must be ironed out pertaining to practical matters such as health insurance, financial support of the hermit (the diocese is not obligated to provide financial support and so hermits typically should have a source of income compatible with their eremitic vocation), and other matters.

After living his rule of life with the tweaks that come from lived experience, the hermit who feels he is called to become a diocesan hermit may petition the bishop to become a canon 603 hermit by turning in the necessary paperwork. Typically, there is a period of mutual discernment between the hermit and his bishop if his bishop is open to the vocation. The bishop may decide to allow the hermit to make temporary profession (for at least 3 years), and may eventually admit him to final profession if it is apparent that the candidate has a genuine vocation to the eremitic life.

Q. How long is the process for becoming a diocesan hermit?

A. Usually a hermit has lived in stricter separation from the world for a few years before approaching the bishop about becoming a diocesan hermit. Creating and then adapting a rule of life based on the individual hermit’s lived experience is an essential component of this process and can take years to develop. Because the bishop is the hermit’s superior, not all bishops are ready to take on the responsibility of having a diocesan hermit in his diocese. While there is no typical time frame for a hermit to finally arrive at profession, many bishops would probably call for a minimum of at least 3-5 years of discernment. Many hermits have waited much longer than that for profession.

Q. Is there any book I can read on this vocation?

A. We recommend the book, The Vocation to the Eremitic Life, by Sr. Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA. A copy of this book is available for people within the Diocese to borrow from the Vocations Office. This is a hard to find book, but some have reported success in purchasing it directly from the FSPA community in LaCrosse, WI.

Q. Can a diocesan priest become a hermit?

A. With the bishop’s permission. It is extremely rare for a diocesan priest to receive this permission to live out this particular vocation. The life of the hermit is contemplative and should not involve much clerical ministry because essentially it is very similar to the life of the contemplative religious who observe enclosure. (Strict enclosure is not required of hermits, merely “stricter separation from the world”.)

Q. Is a diocesan hermit a lay person?

A. If a diocesan hermit is a priest, he is would be both a member of the ordained state and a member of the consecrated state. If the diocesan hermit is a non-ordained man or a woman, the hermit would be in the consecrated state upon profession in the hands of his or her bishop (or delegate) according to the norms of canon 603.

Q. If I become a hermit, will I be able to attend Mass daily?

A. Some hermits are called to intense solitude or their circumstances are such that daily Mass attendance is impossible due to distance or other factors. It is customary for diocesan hermits who have the permission of their bishop to reserve the Holy Eucharist in their hermitages.

Q. Do diocesan hermits wear a habit?

A. It depends entirely on the hermit, his/her rule of life, and his/her bishop. Some find it helpful to wear a habit in the hermitage but when they go grocery shopping or run other errands, to wear normal attire. Others find it better to wear appropriate lay (or clerical) clothing all the time. The cowl can be a meaningful symbol of the hermit, but its usage will depend on whether it is implemented by the hermit after consultation with his/her bishop.

Q. Must I be a diocesan hermit to live the life of a hermit?

A. A lay person (or priest or religious with permission) may live out the life of a hermit without seeking canonical recognition. Such a person may choose to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit in leading a life of stricter seclusion. This is admirable when done in a healthy, balanced way, and preferably under the guidance of a prudent spiritual director. In such a case, the hermit is not recognized in law as being a diocesan/canonical hermit, and should not present himself/herself as a Catholic hermit.

How to be a hermit

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At a time when so many of us are experiencing some measure of isolation, it is hard to fathom the choice to live in extreme confinement in the middle of the urban bustle. But hermits were once unremarkable features of England’s cities.

The 13th-century traveller entering London from the north, at Cripplegate, would have walked within yards of a hermit’s cell. There were also cells at Aldgate, Bishops-gate, Temple Bar and Cornhill, as well as many others beyond the city limits.

These hermits — more properly called anchorites or anchoresses — permanently enclosed themselves in cells attached to churches in order to live a life of prayer and contemplation. (The word comes from the Greek anachorein, meaning ‘to retire or retreat’.) In their cells, anchorites lived a life of extraordinary restriction. They had a small window which looked on to the church, another which led on to a servant’s parlour (through which they could receive food and get rid of waste) and a third on to the churchyard or street, from which they could dispense spiritual counsel. They were otherwise confined to a single room for what could be decades.

Life as an anchorite began with a death. After processing from the church as the choir sang ‘In paradisum deducant te angeli’ — traditionally sung as a body is conveyed to a grave — the recludensus(novice recluse) would arrive at the cell and climb into a ready-dug grave, where they were sprinkled with earth — ashes to ashes, dust to dust — before the door of the cell was bolted. When they died, they would likely be buried in this very grave. Life inside the cell was one of sensory deprivation, with limited light, fresh air, conversation or laughter, and devoid of touch or exercise.

To volunteer for this life is almost un-thinkable now, but there were around 200 anchorites across the country in the 13th century. Women outnumbered men by as much as three to one. Perhaps the most famous English recluse was the anchoress Julian of Norwich, who was enclosed in a cell in the heart of Norwich. In 1373, before she was enclosed, she had a near-death experience which culminated in a series of 15 visions of God. She recovered and lived for around another 40 years. Soon after her experience she composed her Revelations of Divine Love.

The work is important not simply because it is the first in English that we can be certain was authored by a woman, but also because she was a writer of exceptional quality. Her prose is characterised by its elegant rhetorical structure. In spite of this it never feels scholarly or obtuse; instead it is a work of clarity and empathy. Given the privation of her life, the work is strikingly, almost radically, hopeful. She never explicitly refers to her enclosure. At one point she writes that ‘this place is pryson, and this lyfe is pennannce’, but she was likely referring to her life on Earth, rather than the confines of her cell. Her work is instead suffused with optimism, exemplified by her most famous line: ‘All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’ Julian’s work is a message of hope in darkness, which speaks to us across the centuries.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Keeping to yourself and staying private has never been regarded as a good thing with the labels over the years of loners, introverts, hermits, etc.. Society likes to poke fun at the ones who choose solitude instead of attending large group activities. But, as it turns out, society tends to get things wrong from time to time.

According to scientific research , most of us choose to spend our time alone simply because that is one of the ways we can unwind. Sometimes, isolation is the fuel we need in order to face the world. So, if this is what you find yourself choosing most of the time, then the moment has come for you to accept yourself and take it in stride. Here are ten signs that will prove you are a ‘loner’ and you are doing just fine:

  1. You are aware of your need to be alone and you embrace it.

One of the most calming moments in your life was when you finally came to terms with the type of person you are. It might have taken you a few years or maybe you knew it right from the beginning. But, the most important thing is that you finally stopped making excuses and stopped trying to force yourself to be something you’re clearly not. And, you have seen how your life has become so much easier ever since you fully accepted yourself.

  1. You realize your time is important and don’t want to waste it.

At first, it can be a frightening thing to say ‘no’ to activities you don’t want to do. It is tempting to want to please everyone but, at the same time, it is extremely hard. You’re basically choosing someone else’s happiness over yours; that’s surely not fair. Therefore, it is very rewarding when you finally gather up the courage to put yourself first over somebody else’s needs. You should understand that your time is valuable. And, it should be spent doing the things you actually want to do.

  1. In spite of being a loner, friends can still rely on you when they need to.

Despite your need for alone time, you still come through when your loved ones need you the most. You make it a point not to miss significant life events like birthdays or graduations ceremonies, or the harder times like breakups or fights. Even though you’re probably not going to show up for the parties, it means that much more to people when you send them a personal message that expresses your feelings in the most loving way possible.

  1. You are perfectly comfortable with being by yourself most of the time.

While most people would easily get bored or even cranky if they were left alone, you, on the other hand, thrive the most when you are by yourself. You cherish every second of it and take it as an opportunity to fully decompress from the stress of daily life. In fact, spending time alone is how you gather the energy and strength you need to continue to conquer the world.

  1. You accept that people will never understand why you avoid their company.

Your family and friends will never truly understand why you avoid them for days sometimes even weeks. They will even criticize your lack of social engagement. They will probably say it’s not healthy when it actually is and will exhaust you with their constant need for communication. Don’t worry. Deep down they care for your well-being and they mean well. Try, at least for their benefit, to give them a little bit more time with you.

  1. You overthink sometimes but that’s a good thing.

Loneliness can be a great muse and your creativity will likely reach its potential when there are no distractions around. While turning your brain off can sometimes seem impossible, it is worth seeing what all those seemingly random thoughts can lead to.

  1. Your professional life has benefited immensely from this lifestyle choice.

Some people think of groundbreaking ideas while surrounded by others and exchanging thoughts. It is just as common when others do not work in the same way. The world’s greatest minds did not really need anybody else’s input when they were on the brink of making life-changing discoveries.

  1. You are still compassionate and care deeply about the world around you.

Even though you might seem cold and indifferent to the world around you, there is a soft and caring side underneath all of that. You might choose not to get involved, but when you do, it is definitely for a cause you deeply believe in. And then you are capable of focusing all your energy and resources in achieving a good outcome.

  1. You sometimes surprise people, and that’s an advantage.

Just because you prefer silence and being alone with your thoughts, does not mean that you never crave the company of others. Sometimes you get a really good feeling and a boost of confidence, and that will likely lead to you making a few spontaneous phone calls and organizing a night out that will surely take everyone by surprise.

  1. When you finally go out, you know how to have a great time.

We all need a good laugh and a few drinks with our besties once in a while. ‘Hermits’ are definitely not an exception. Most of the time, it’s the quiet people who know how to have the best time. And, when that happens they will always leave everybody else stunned by their sudden lack of inhibitions.

As a person who prefers to be on her own most of the time, I can honestly say that it definitely made me more self-sufficient and less dependent on others. It can be a great feeling to know that you do not need anyone to fulfill you or make you feel good. However, it can be equally satisfying to share your time with the people who are often missing your company.

So, do you agree with these reasons? Or, do you think there are some we forgot to mention? Don’t hesitate to share your experiences as a proud ‘loner’ in the comments.

Caring for a praying mantis, butterflies, stick insects and beetles

Hermit crabs are definitely not insects, but they are a very nice pet for the invertebrate enthusiast! I keep five of them and they are a lot of fun to watch.
This page will tell you a bit more about hermit crabs in general and how to keep them.

About hermit crabs (Paguroidea)

Hermit crabs are similar to lobsters and live inside shells of other animals, mostly shells of sea snails. The back end of their body is soft and fragile, this part is protected by hiding inside a shell. There are around 500 species of hermit crabs described.
Hermit crabs are born in the ocean where they live as free swimming larvae. Most species develop into true hermit crabs in the sea and will remain there. Other species will continue the rest of their life on land. These are the land hermit crabs and they are the most common hermit crab to keep as a pet. Land hermit crabs still need the sea to obtain salt water and to reproduce. This page only deals with land hermit crabs and not those that live permanently in the sea.

Appearance of land hermit crabs

Hermit crabs have 10 legs, of which the first pair are claws. The next two pairs are made for walking and the rest of the legs are used to stay inside the shell. Hermit crabs have two eyes on small stalks and have two antenna-like structures (called antennular flagellum) to feel the surroundings around them.
Land hermit crabs come in many colors, depending on their species, age and environment. Most species are brown-gray in color but there are also bright red / orange species.

Behavior of land hermit crabs

Land hermit crabs can be seen walking around in their enclosure day and night. They are quickly startled by movement or vibrations, causing them to retract themselves completely into their shells. But after a short while they show up again to continue what they were doing. When you pick a hermit crab up and softly blow air into its shell from a distance they will show themselves again.
Hermit crabs shed their skin by molting. They do this in a moist environment, generally by digging themselves in sand or soil. So when your hermit crab digs itself in you should leave it alone to allow it to molt.

Enclosure and decoration

Land hermit crabs need an enclosure that is big enough to house all of them. It is hard to say what a proper enclosure is, because hermit crabs differ in size a lot. Obviously, bigger hermit crabs need more space than small ones. There is no need for a lid on the enclosure as long as there is nothing to climb onto to get out of the tank. However, when you keep the enclosure in a very dry place a lid can help to maintain high humidity inside the enclosure.

On the bottom of the enclosure you need to place a thick layer of sand or soil, around 8 cm thick. It should be a little thicker than the largest hermit crab in the enclosure. This soil is used by the hermit crab to dig itself into to molt. Do not use soil with added plant nutrients, pine tree needles or very acidic soil. Coco-peat, made of coconut fibers, is also very good to put in the tank as a substrate but mix it with sand. Mix the coco fibre with sand in a ratio of around 1 part fibre with 5 parts sand.

Land hermit crabs like a place to hide under. You can give them some dry leaves, tree bark or some wood to hide under. Pieces of wood or stone are used to climb on. You can make it even more interesting with wooden stairs or fiber nets. For decoration you can also place moss and real or fake plants in the enclosure. The real plants could be nibbled on a bit but generally they can survive pretty long in the enclosure.

Water: salt and fresh water

Water is very important for land hermit crabs. They need both fresh water and salty water to survive. The need fresh water every day but can do without salt water for about a week. Supply them with fresh and salt water in two separate cups or small trays. Make the salt water by mixing 1,5 teaspoon of salt on one cup of water (around 7 grams on 220 ml water). Do not use kitchen salt, but buy actual sea salt meant for sea aquaria. This has all minerals and metal ions in it that are also present in ocean water.

The water dish should be deep enough for the hermit crab to submerge itself. Best is a dish with a gradient, so the hermit can choose how deep into the water it will go.

Food and feeding

Land hermit crabs are easy to feed as they will eat almost anything. You can feed them with raw fish, cooked chicken, cooked beans, cooked peas, cooked corn, nuts, fish food, apple, banana and other fruit. Do not feed them avocado, this is poisonous for them.

Environmental conditions for pet hermit crabs

Land hermit crabs need a humid environment. The soil on which they live should always be moist and you should spray with water every day.
Hermit crabs like a tropical temperature, between 24 and 28 °C. In the night you can allow it to cool down to about 18 °C.

New shells

It is crucial that land hermit crabs can change their shell when their old one becomes too small for them. You need to place a few new shells in the enclosure so the hermit crabs can change whenever they want. When you do not supply enough shells the hermit crabs can fight over shells or even kill one of their kind to take over its shell.

This is a nice video about changing shells:

Breeding hermit crabs

It is not possible to breed land hermit crabs as they need the ocean to do so. Consequently all hermit crabs you can buy are caught from the wild.

Keeping to yourself and staying private has never been regarded as a good thing with the labels over the years of loners, introverts, hermits, etc.. Society likes to poke fun at the ones who choose solitude instead of attending large group activities. But, as it turns out, society tends to get things wrong from time to time.

According to scientific research , most of us choose to spend our time alone simply because that is one of the ways we can unwind. Sometimes, isolation is the fuel we need in order to face the world. So, if this is what you find yourself choosing most of the time, then the moment has come for you to accept yourself and take it in stride. Here are ten signs that will prove you are a ‘loner’ and you are doing just fine:

  1. You are aware of your need to be alone and you embrace it.

One of the most calming moments in your life was when you finally came to terms with the type of person you are. It might have taken you a few years or maybe you knew it right from the beginning. But, the most important thing is that you finally stopped making excuses and stopped trying to force yourself to be something you’re clearly not. And, you have seen how your life has become so much easier ever since you fully accepted yourself.

  1. You realize your time is important and don’t want to waste it.

At first, it can be a frightening thing to say ‘no’ to activities you don’t want to do. It is tempting to want to please everyone but, at the same time, it is extremely hard. You’re basically choosing someone else’s happiness over yours; that’s surely not fair. Therefore, it is very rewarding when you finally gather up the courage to put yourself first over somebody else’s needs. You should understand that your time is valuable. And, it should be spent doing the things you actually want to do.

  1. In spite of being a loner, friends can still rely on you when they need to.

Despite your need for alone time, you still come through when your loved ones need you the most. You make it a point not to miss significant life events like birthdays or graduations ceremonies, or the harder times like breakups or fights. Even though you’re probably not going to show up for the parties, it means that much more to people when you send them a personal message that expresses your feelings in the most loving way possible.

  1. You are perfectly comfortable with being by yourself most of the time.

While most people would easily get bored or even cranky if they were left alone, you, on the other hand, thrive the most when you are by yourself. You cherish every second of it and take it as an opportunity to fully decompress from the stress of daily life. In fact, spending time alone is how you gather the energy and strength you need to continue to conquer the world.

  1. You accept that people will never understand why you avoid their company.

Your family and friends will never truly understand why you avoid them for days sometimes even weeks. They will even criticize your lack of social engagement. They will probably say it’s not healthy when it actually is and will exhaust you with their constant need for communication. Don’t worry. Deep down they care for your well-being and they mean well. Try, at least for their benefit, to give them a little bit more time with you.

  1. You overthink sometimes but that’s a good thing.

Loneliness can be a great muse and your creativity will likely reach its potential when there are no distractions around. While turning your brain off can sometimes seem impossible, it is worth seeing what all those seemingly random thoughts can lead to.

  1. Your professional life has benefited immensely from this lifestyle choice.

Some people think of groundbreaking ideas while surrounded by others and exchanging thoughts. It is just as common when others do not work in the same way. The world’s greatest minds did not really need anybody else’s input when they were on the brink of making life-changing discoveries.

  1. You are still compassionate and care deeply about the world around you.

Even though you might seem cold and indifferent to the world around you, there is a soft and caring side underneath all of that. You might choose not to get involved, but when you do, it is definitely for a cause you deeply believe in. And then you are capable of focusing all your energy and resources in achieving a good outcome.

  1. You sometimes surprise people, and that’s an advantage.

Just because you prefer silence and being alone with your thoughts, does not mean that you never crave the company of others. Sometimes you get a really good feeling and a boost of confidence, and that will likely lead to you making a few spontaneous phone calls and organizing a night out that will surely take everyone by surprise.

  1. When you finally go out, you know how to have a great time.

We all need a good laugh and a few drinks with our besties once in a while. ‘Hermits’ are definitely not an exception. Most of the time, it’s the quiet people who know how to have the best time. And, when that happens they will always leave everybody else stunned by their sudden lack of inhibitions.

As a person who prefers to be on her own most of the time, I can honestly say that it definitely made me more self-sufficient and less dependent on others. It can be a great feeling to know that you do not need anyone to fulfill you or make you feel good. However, it can be equally satisfying to share your time with the people who are often missing your company.

So, do you agree with these reasons? Or, do you think there are some we forgot to mention? Don’t hesitate to share your experiences as a proud ‘loner’ in the comments.

What is a hermit?
A hermit is a person who lives apart from society. Traditionally, this has meant living alone and self-sufficiently, but not always. The word “hermit” is derived from the Greek eremia for “desert,” in reference to the Desert Fathers of the fourth century; and eremos came to mean solitary. The Latin equivalent is solitarius.

The term recluse is often taken as a synonym but it has a more behavioral sense to it, while the term “hermit” often retains its deliberate, even spiritual sense. For example, the famed eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica defined “hermit” as “a solitary, one who withdraws from all intercourse with other human beings in order to live a life of religious contemplation.” However, the American Heritage Dictionary defines “hermit” as “a person who has withdrawn from society and lives a solitary existence; a recluse.”

What is eremiticism? What is a cenobite?
Eremiticism is the term describing the way of life or system of being a hermit. The term is used to distinguish religious forms of living. A monk or nun living in a community of others, as opposed to living as a hermit, is a cenobite. Cenobite (as opposed to eremite) is derived from the Greek koinos, meaning community.

Why does a person become a hermit?
In every religious tradition, the individual has been advised to withdraw within the self, separate from the world, in order to achieve inner peace, if not insight. What has differed among these religious cultures is the degree to which this inwardness is permitted, even cultivated. Eastern cultures have encouraged, respected, even admired the decision to become a hermit. In the West, the primacy of social and external life has often opposed or put strictures and sanctions on hermits.

Are there other reasons for seeking solitude?
One need not be religious or spiritual to appreciate the ability to find space for oneself, to seek self-expression, and to be indifferent to or choose not to conform to the ways of the world. A spiritual tradition or culture has often been the context, but some individuals have created their own philosophical reasons for pursuing solitude. Others have discovered renewed creativity from limited periods of solitude. As long as solitude is voluntary, not forced by psychological illness or institutional confinements or oppressions, solitude has been universal.

What about people who live apart from society but seem to have “problems”?
Solitude must be an option based on a mature level of consciousness. Enforced solitude is not at all what we refer to here. Psychological and mental problems, social conflict, addictive and violent behavior, imprisonment, diseases – all have been factors in isolating people from society. Even voluntary solitude such as survivalism or egoism is not the solitude to which we refer. These concepts have no relation to the tradition of solitude and eremiticism seen over the centuries and across all cultures.

How can one be a hermit when daily life is so complex?
An Eastern passage describes the true hermit as one who can be in a crowd. Of course, that is not a literal eremiticism, but the point that matters is the consciousness of the individual. The responsibilities and entanglements of the world must be understood for what they are, from a philosophical or spiritual perspective. How to go about it?

Externally, simplifying one’s life is the best path toward peace of mind, and peace of mind is a prerequisite to solitude. At that point, solitude can begin to enhance and strengthen the conviction of how external things are precisely that: external.

In the Zen tradition, one is bidden to begin practicing (i.e., meditating) at once, not to begin by trying to analyze one’s responsibilities and entanglements and present life situation or predicament. Meditation will begin to put all these externals into perspective.

In the Christian tradition, one is bidden to give up what one has and follow the master, which is to say, the Way. The point here, as in Eastern tradition, is to simplify one’s life as soon as possible, and the results will begin to manifest themselves if the individual is honest. This process may culminate in solitude and eremiticism in a person so disposed.

In the philosophical tradition, one is bidden to identify with mind and nature and to observe the harmony of the universe as a wonder. Every philosophical tradition has been open to this sense of being, usually without hostility to spiritual tradition (distinct from institutions) because the philosophical tradition actively seeks the perennial in all wisdom traditions.

How many hermits are there or have there been? How have they done it?
It is the purpose of Hermitary to explore these questions and provide information. You are always welcome to communicate with us at the e-mail account listed on our home page. Thank you for visiting!

Regards,
Meng-hu