Sometimes, the only way to find the answers we seek is to go seek them out alone. To carve out sacred space for this search, to forsake the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and to be truly alone with our thoughts.
It’s intimidating, this kind of solitude. This kind of silence. It requires a huge amount of bravery and a resourceful spirit. It takes guts to be willing to face the chaos most of us carry inside us, and attempt to sort through it and make some kind of sense of it all.
The Platypus is a unique and endemic Australian monotreme (egg-bearing/warm-blooded). It is known quite famously for its duck-like bill (which is actually soft and fleshy, and used in echo-location), its ability to lay eggs yet raise its young on a milk-like substance, its beaver-like tail (used for steering in the water) and its venomous hind-spurs which are located only on the males. The Platypus is located in Eastern and South-Eastern Australia, it is primarily a fresh-water aquatic creature which feeds on underwater grubs, worms, shellfish and carrion.
The platypus is shy and usually solitary, and has only bred once in captivity despite sophisticated breeding techniques at zoos. It can softly call other platypi with a soft, puppy-like growl/croon. When mating, the two platypi swim in circles before copulating.
As an archetype the Hermit is someone who has done that sorting. There is a serenity and inner peace in this card, that of the philosopher or guru who has understood life through going within, like HD Thoreau, or Siddhartha. The figure of the Hermit is one we recognise easily from mythologies across cultures – the solitary cloaked figure who lives in the woods or on the mountaintop or in the house at the edge of the village, the wise one our hero must go to for advice, for a kernel of wisdom that will guide her on her journey.
When Bonnie spied Platypus, known to be such a solitary hermit figure emerging with her lantern she flew down to join the Frog on his lily pad. While Bonnie didn’t believe, for a moment, that she could engage in such solitary practice she was sure there were lessons to be learned from this shy creature.