The Hermit Mite

Not too long ago, a friend sent me a link to an article, along with the text of the article in the email.

Here’s the article as I received it:

“Acarologists in Argentina are currently at work to understand the mysterious workings of the Hermit Mite. This tiny creature hijacks pain receptors and perceptual capabilities of humans. They infest and feed on the skin, fat, and muscle of their hosts, who are unable to understand that anything untoward has come to pass, even as their are consumed by the parasite. They feel no pain. They look in the mirror and see no problem.

The parasite also protects the host from outside infection, producing its own approximation of antibiotic. When the parasite infects individuals actively engaged in social life, the effects are quickly observed by others, friends, family, coworkers. In these instances, the problem is dealt with. However, when the host is isolated in some way, the problem does not become obvious. Hermits have been found afflicted with the parasite for perhaps decades. Their flesh has been almost entirely consumed, but they appear to be in otherwise fine health.

Strangely, their devotional and spiritual lives appear to be augmented by their infestation; they achieve an intense concentration during meditation, and tests are currently underway to establish whether or not some reports of whether or not they can actually communicate a tangible sense of calm to others. Early evidence indicates that a few minutes in the same room with infested individuals lowers cortisol levels in test subjects.

Another curious fact; as has been observed in some aphids, the Hermit Mite is capable of a photosynthetic-like process, and when the host is thoroughly infested feeds the body energy from the sun in an almost direct process. Through unknown mechanisms these hermits can generate an observable light. They glow. None of the individuals observed have died prematurely—they routinely live to 80 or 90 years of age.

In situations where the hermits have been ‘cured’ of their infestation, they have all demanded to be re-infected. Despite their concerns, citing the extreme effects of the wasting disease, the scientists and medical professionals involved with the research have not been able to see a reason why they should not be allowed to pursue re-infection. Some of them, after spending time with the hermits, have even chosen to infect themselves.”

I found the article very interesting, but received it early in the morning, read it before breakfast on my phone, and was unable to pursue any further research into its details. Several days later I remembered the article and went back to it in my email. I clicked the link ( and found that it directed to much more prosaic article about hermit crabs and mites.

I now felt a strong curiosity about why my friend would send me this apparently fanciful email. I’ve long known about his interest in ascetic lifestyles and mystical tradition. I replied with questions about this little fable and its meaning. I waited for a response. As my friend is eccentric and not entirely dependable, I gave him over two weeks to respond. When I heard nothing, I sent another email. I waited another two weeks. Still nothing. I called him. His number had been disconnected.

I called his girlfriend to learn that she was now his ex-girlfriend, and that they broken up around the time I’d received the first email. In the ensuing conversation I found out two things: that she held nothing against him for the breakup, and that he’d left the country. When I asked where he’d gone, she told me he’d flown to Argentina.

The Hermit Mite

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