The Hooded Figure on ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Is Not a ‘Lord of the Rings’ Character

Led Zeppelin released their fourth studio album in November 1971. The album is widely known as Led Zeppelin IV. After the album was released in 1971, some Led Zeppelin fans speculated that a figure on the inside of the album’s cover is a reference to The Lord of the Rings. However, the figure in question is actually a tarot reference.

A black-and-white photo of John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin referenced ‘Lord of the Rings’ in a song called ‘Ramble On’

Before releasing their fourth studio album, Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham were known as The Lord of the Rings fans.

J. R. R. Tolkien first created the story known in The Lord of the Rings with the book called The Hobbit, which was released in 1937. The author went on to release The Lord of the Rings in three volumes in the 1950s.

In their 1969 song “Ramble On,” Led Zeppelin include multiple references to The Lord of the Rings, and the song compares the members’ experience in the high-profile band to Frodo and Sam’s adventure in The Lord of the Rings book series.

“Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear/ How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air/ ‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair/ But Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her/ Her, her, yeah/ Ah, there’s nothing I can do now/ I guess I’ll keep on,” the band references in “Ramble On.”

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‘Led Zeppelin IV’ does not have a ‘Lord of the Rings’ reference

In 1971, Led Zeppelin released their fourth studio album. While the album was technically released without an official title, it is most commonly called Led Zeppelin IV.

The inside cover of Led Zeppelin IV features an illustration of a hooded figure holding a lantern. Because of Led Zeppelin’s past references to The Lord of the Rings franchise, some fans figured this illustration was also an ode to The Lord of the Rings.

However, the painting is actually done by Barrington Coleby and is a reference to the Hermit card from a tarot card deck.

According to Rolling Stone, the illustration “was merely inspired by a figure from a Tarot card. Page played the role of the Hermit during a fantasy sequence in Zeppelin’s 1976 movie, The Song Remains the Same.”

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What the Hermit tarot card means

Tarot cards have been around for centuries, but a deck of cards can be used for different purposes. Some decks are used for games, while others use the cards for divination through tarot card readings.

For tarot card readings, a card can be read as upright or reversed, with either changing the card’s meaning in a reading.

Typically, The Hermit card in a reading symbolizes a period of reflection. An upright Hermit card will have a more positive reading and symbolize introspection. Meanwhile, a Hermit card in reverse has a more negative connotation of being isolated.

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