All about archetypes: The Sage

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In this blog series, I’m exploring the link between Jungian archetypes and the major arcana of the tarot deck. To read more about it, check out my introduction article, which provides context for my thoughts, a tiny bit of background on Jungian archetypes and tarot, and information about the first archetype pairing, The Innocent (Jung) and The Fool (tarot.) I also wrote about The Lover (Jung) and The Lovers (tarot) and The Ruler (Jung) and The Emperor (tarot.)

Today, I’ll be examining the Jungian archetype of The Sage and the tarot card The Hermit.

The Sage and The Hermit 

In Jung’s archetypes, The Sage is a seeker of wisdom and knowledge. The Sage wants to understand life’s mysteries. This archetype often crops up as a mentor figure, a mystic, or someone who guides the main character in their journey, providing wisdom and insight. Think of Gandolf in Lord of the Rings or Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. These wise figures provide guidance to the main characters in their quest for knowledge. The Sage is often kind, even fatherly, but they can also be harsh, aloof, or closed-minded. They tend to have a strong sense of morality and don’t always handle it well when someone approaches something in a different way, or when someone disagrees with them. They’ve worked hard for their wisdom, and depending on their viewpoint or motivation, they might be stuck in their ways.

The Hermit is a card that tends to represent inner guidance. It will often appear in a reading when one is seeking new knowledge or understanding, of oneself or an external situation. It is a cue to turn inward and be introspective, to retreat into a private world of self exploration. It can also cue the reader to turn away from material possessions–something that is of no meaning to The Hermit–and seek answers within.

The Hermit tarot card is a picture of a man with a long white beard, shrouded in a gray cloak. He carries a lantern to illuminate his path and a walking stick to help guide him. The background of the card is sparse, simply a vast gray nothingness. The Hermit is not focused on his surroundings; he is focused on himself and the journey ahead.

How to use The Sage and The Hermit in your writing

As we see in the examples of Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Sage is not frequently the main character. Rather, they offer support on the main character’s journey. The Sage is a character with a rich interior life, but not always a lot of outward action, so they are not always the most interesting characters to follow for the duration of the story. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but as you plan for a character using these archetypes, you should give thought to how they serve the story.

Take a look at a picture of The Hermit. He holds a lantern in front of him. What is your character’s guiding light? Look at his long beard. How did your character gain their wisdom? Look at his stick. What moves them forward?

The Sage, according to Jung, is on a spiritual journey and is seeking knowledge. How does your Sage character continue to gain knowledge, evolve spiritually, or self reflect? How do they pass this wisdom on to your main character?

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Molly Stein-Seroussi


Molly is an author, screenwriter, blogger, and brand manager for New 32 Productions. They are passionate about sharing content that helps filmmakers live a more productive, informed, and well-balanced life. They live in North Carolina with their spouse and way too many dogs.

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