And oh, Miss Jeanette. She's running full-tilt at the line between male and female on an opposite and equal vector to Lafayette: she's a witch, a wizard, a hobbling crone, a beautiful girl. Hairless, in a witch's robes, carrying the Hermit's lantern. He's like this. In the background is a wasteland: just beyond the wasteland is a mountain range. Diogenes the Cynic walked the earth day and night, barking like a dog, with his lantern bright even in daylight, looking for an honest man. It was more important to tell the truth than to stay sane. The Hermit is the old woman who gives us the maps and weapons for our journey.
By cross-sums she is woven with the Moon, who stands at the threshold of the darkness and churns the waters. But every guardian of a threshold is also an obstacle, don't forget: from one angle a strange angel guiding you to Heaven, and from another something dark and terrifying. Until you learn to tell the truth; until you learn your true name. In the old days, three men with animals' heads would come into your tent and rip you into pieces, put you back together with a diamond in your head. Now, see: Sookie and Bill and Jason and Amy and Lafayette and Tara and Sam are making new ways of doing it, new recipes and new rituals. The Hermit is the moment in which we're given time to obey the Oracle's only demand, γνῶθι σαυτόν, and the way that truth rips itself through your skin and your bones and never, ever stops.
"You showed up. I figured that demon of yours wouldn't let you. You must be Tara. I'm Miss Jeanette. You ready? Fully prepared body and soul for this exorcism?" If we do this, we did this. "I didn't eat anything all day, like you said." And has she made her peace? Tara stares at Miss Jeanette, and her mother asking if it's going to hurt. "Of course it's gonna hurt. It's like childbirth. Except the demon don't want to come out, and it ain't your body that could get ripped up, it's your soul." She is so beautiful it's distracting; she is so crooked and broken and strong. Tara is scared. "In the olden days, folks paid my grandmamma using tobacco and livestock. But today it's cash. In advance." Tara takes it out of her purse, scared to touch her, and hands her the money under a full silver moon. "That demon will not inhabit you after tonight," Jeanette swears, and puts the money in her purse. "Let's get this shit over with," Tara says, earning herself a look from those eyes, deep and deeper, before Miss Jeanette leads the way through the forest with her lantern, through the dark passages, on crooked legs, to a bus. Inside, it's all bones and stones and living leaves of ivy, dead things and alive, no boundaries between the inside and the outside, because nature's all we have. Lettie Mae undresses in the candlelight, before the eyes of long-dead skulls.