As you know, I’m fascinated by words. Here’s one that has multiple meanings: “hermitage.” Separately, it speaks to being at the hermit’s age when you may want to seek a hermitage. And, yet, The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is anything but a place for asceticism.
Will never forget my visit there in 1981 and the momentous film Russian Ark that gave the world a view into this fantastical monument.
As we get older, we may reach the “hermit age,” a time the Hindus call the “forest dweller” era when one lives a devoted life in seclusion in nature or in a place built for solitude. Originally, the first hermitages were located in natural caves, temple ruins, and even simple huts in forests and deserts.
More and more of us are seeking that kind of respite, but sometimes it feels a little sacreligious like this gorgeous hotel in Cuzco, Peru created out of a monastery, El Monasterio. We’ve seen a rise in new secular hermitages like this one, Eremito, in Italy. I trust my MEA partner Skylar Skikos’ taste when it comes to these places as he’s a big fan of the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California, a place I’ve visited when I’m nearby at the Esalen Institute.
Here’s a video of me contemplating the value of hermitages in Santa Fe, New Mexico.