As The Wooden Tarot by Andy Swartz has become my favored deck I have decided to create my own handbook for this deck. Although this is a stunningly beautiful deck, sadly it does not come with it’s own handbook. You can view and buy The Wooden Tarot here.
This page will be updated on a near daily basis. I will be using my ‘Card a Day’ readings to build up this page, but I will expand upon it over time.
Here we see the skull of a wolf that has an eye and is drifting away in shards of feathered bone. In the wolf’s jaw is the Moon with water/saliva running down it.
The Moon is the eighteenth tarot card in the deck. This fits with the Saros eclipse cycle of the Sun and Moon – the balance of light and shade chasing one another as the moon travels through space. The number 18 also brings us back to 1+8=9 – the energy of the Hermit. This encourages us to spend some time alone and journey within, in particular examining the nature of your shadow self and how it projects on to the world. It can be a daunting task at first, but understanding your shadow can mean you have less fear and anxiety in general.
In the Rider Waite tarot deck, The Moon looms large in the sky with rays and dew drops floating down over a landscape governed by two large, closed off towers that sit either side of a river that runs down to the sea. On one bank is a wolf. On the other is a dog. In the sea is a crayfish. The dog and the wolf represent the tension between our tamed selves and our wild. In The Wooden Tarot, the wolf has their jaws ajar and drooling over The Moon in their mouth – but not biting. For now they are acting tame and almost protective, but their instincts for the wild are there. And with their eyes on you they are watching how you sit with the fact you have no control here other than to surrender to the guidance of the Moon. As you work to come to a place of peace with the shadows and the unknown, they are seeing if you can stay true to yourself and resist the urge to give into your fears.
The Wolf with his jaws around the Moon could also relate to the Norse Myth in which the wolf Hati chases the Moon across the sky. He will only succeed at the time of Ragnarok: the end and rebirth of the world and all the Gods and Goddesses. In this moment the wolf has caught the Moon but is not biting down. But he could. And that is the level of uncertainty and fear that can come when The Moon tarot card appears in your spread. That is why maintaining self care at this time is so important. While you may not have a lot of control over the situation around you, you can work to take care of you. The Moon is also linked with mental health. If you are living with mental health issues, these can be exasperated at this time so make sure to seek support if you need it and keep up to date with medications, sleep and a healthy diet. This advice stands for anyone who gets The Moon card. Emotions are amplified at this time and thoughts are probably scattered. Be careful that you are not letting your imagination run away with you and be on guard for accepting illusions. Try to keep a clear mind and weigh the facts, but you may simply just have to accept that you don’t have all the information yet.
The two Towers in the Rider Waite deck are said to symbolize an illusion of safety. That same idea is represented here as the Moon is perched between the wolf’s jaw. The wolf is is a skull, seemingly not alive and therefore not a threat, but the presence of saliva and the eyeball indicate that security is just an illusion. Going forth under the light of the Moon demands you trust, be aware and stay safe, but trust. You may find yourself out of your comfort zone but as the old saying goes, the best way out is through. It might be scary but it is also the best place to grow. Take the opportunity to do some internal work.
The water that runs down from the jaws and the Moon peeling away in dew and beams shaped like Yodh indicate that this is a time of emotions, illusion, and even deception. You are asked to move through this darkened journey with the aim of seeking balance and a deeper connection with the mysteries of the universe and collective soul. As your subconscious and shadow self start to slowly unfold and messages come through from spirit, you may be finding yourself getting carried away with fantasy or imagination. As such, taking the time to ground and cleanse yourself and your energy at the moment will be beneficial to seeing your way through this murky period. Now is not a time for big decisions. Now is the time for surrendering to the flow and observing yourself and those around you. You are being offered the opportunity to gain a lot of wisdom about wisdom about yourself, but you must do the work to discover it.
With Pisces ruling this card, visions, psychic abilities, dreams, creativity etc., are all at their peak. Trust your intuition and explore these visions, dreams and creative sparks far and wide. The energy may veer towards being somewhat manic at times, that is why is it important you try and find a creative outlet to manage this effectively and avoid any big decisions for now. You are in the dark. The facts will slowly start trickling. It will be best to make decisions again when you have all the information. It is not unusual to find that the truth is the opposite of what you had assumed. This may be a positive or challenging thing to discover, but when it comes into the light you will be able to make solid and informed plans about moving forward.
If you are in a situation where you do have to make decisions, try not to make them when you are emotional. With the Moon in the wolf’s jaws and lots of water flowing through, it’s likely there will be a lot of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. If you have friends or family you trust, or even a psychologist or counselor, now would be a good time to seek out their support and opinions. While inner work is a solo journey, you don’t have to be alone the whole time to do it. In fact, knowing that you have love and support can make it a lot easier, especially when there might be times you are feeling lost.
With Pisces as its ruling sign, the Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. At its darkest this can be a very scary card warning of hidden enemies, mental illness, alcoholic blackouts or addiction. Although I do not subscribe to the link made between madness and art, in the tarot, The Moon suggests that you will be feeling particularly creative and psychic at present. Your dreams will be stronger than usual and you may even receive psychic visions. Expect some mental breakthroughs, astonishing creativity, powerful magic, and strong intuition.
Some people thrive under the darkness of the Moon and surrender quite easily to uncertainty. Other struggle with this place, and that is completely understandable. Because the energies can be quite wild, think about channeling your energy into something beautiful. Beauty can heal.
Here we see the God of Blooms. The Gods in the Wooden Tarot represent the Aces. I wont be ascribing gender to the God cards. The triangle here is pointed downward indicating both the receptive energies of this card and the alchemical symbol for water. The amber eye is cast slightly down as mist and waves curl around their shoulders. They are dressed in muted blue and green robes as their hands (understood to be the hands of God in the traditional Rider Waite deck) maintain the hand gesture for Varada Mudra; the hand gesture of wish granting and mercy, and the other of what appears to be drawing water/blooming lotus. Hovering between their hands is the traditional flower of the Ace of Cups: the pink lotus (supreme lotus), bursting with more water.
Aces are in my view both the beginning and the end of every suit. They are the spark and seed of energy and life from which all things end and return. They are raw and unformed. They have a basic nature (in this case, water and emotion) but it is up to you and the choices you make on your journey to shape them. They provide the surge of energy, hope, passion, inspiration and feeling. They open doors to different possibilities, unlock different potentials and offer new paths to different futures. However it is up to you to harness that energy and guide it. But no ace, element or direction is without pitfalls. That is why it is important to be aware of the element you’re working with so you can navigate it carefully when times get rough.
The re-conceptualizing of the aces as Gods is particularly fitting as the hands in the ace cards were always considered to be the hand of God. And in the Rider Waite deck, the chalice that it was holding was considered to be the Holy Grail that was overflowing with five streams of water representing the five senses. The chalice was an offering of wishes and joyous emotion, the lotus is no different.
The God holds a pink lotus flower between his hand gestures which stand for granting wishes and summing water and lotus. The pink of the lotus indicates its supreme nature – the highest sought after of all lotus in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. As above, wishes and joy are coming to you, along with a surge of emotion. What will you do with these gifts? The lotus flower is rich with meaning and symbolism. It is a beautiful flower that grows and floats atop the water, and more often than not that water is stagnant. Lotus reminds us that to emerge from the bog of our lives it most often isn’t rage and brute strength that sees us victorious, but rather calm persistence. Egyptians saw as death and rebirth and fertility and creativity. The very first flower. Buddhists see them as the chakras. Bhudda used the lotus to purify and achieve beauty, peace and harmony. The important lesson of lotus is not getting bogged down in water, it thrives on emotion and creativity. It lets the currents pass by as it floats and grows, focusing on purity and beauty. It teaches the lessons of transcendence, grace, clarity, victory, promise spirituality, dreams, hope, strength, compassion, transmutation, magick, and the lessons and cycles of life and the healing power of beauty. And that beauty can be messy, or that from great mess can emerge beauty and purity. It teaches us not to judge and to find our many, many blessings within the hidden places.
The God of Blooms is often associated with love, wishes and fertility – as indicated by the lotus he is holding out for you and the hand gestures. Don’t be surprised if you find a deep connection growing with another individual. Remain aware and thoughtful, don’t relinquish your boundaries that keep you safe, but consider opening your heart to new possibilities. Whatever the situation, love will be at the heart of it. It will either be a swell of romantic love or some other kind of love – it can even be a creative love. Something that makes your heart soar. As with anything creative and loved filled, this is also a fertile time. It can mean literal pregnancy or fertile with potential. Either way, opportunities are opening – and quickly. The God of Blooms is fast moving energy and anything that is meant to be will happen within a week or so.
Even if you are not feeling any swell of love or creativity yet, a seed has been planted that will grow into either love, a creative idea, psychic gifts or a vibration of attraction that draws gifts and opportunities from other places.
Lotus is very much about dreams and developing intuition and psychic skills. If you are an empath you might find this skill also starts to open up and strengthen as you journey with the God of Blooms. Don’t be surprised if your skills of divination skyrocket and you dream a lot more.
Just make sure to look at how your emotions and psychic gifts are working for you in your life. Are there any blocks you need to clear? Do you need to forgive? Reconnect? Ground? Cleanse? How can you regain balance and peace at this time? Although your emotions may be flowing outward you might find you need some time alone. Self expression is important at this time, especially for you emotions. Finding a safe outlet for what your feeling will help you surf the upcoming currents.
Whatever happens, now is the time to be connecting with spirit and heart. A time of deep compassion for yourself and others. Don’t push too hard, allow yourself and that around you to go with the flow, offer any guidance and direction with love. Love is your power now. From love abundance, creativity, relationships, joy and success will flow quickly.
Eyes are another symbol with a wealth of meaning. I interpreted the eyes on the Gods in the Wooden Tarot as being a third eye, of sorts. Quite literally, the Eye of God – his watchfulness, authority, divinity and judgement. The eye of God here opens up a new ways of seeing consciousness, the cosmos, across dimensions and new directions. Eyes often stand for prophesy. Essentially, the eye of the God of Blooms is looking out over your journey through the suit of water. They see all the possibilities and the different paths you can take. But they will not interfere. Simply observe. But even observation can guide you just through knowing that you are not alone, you are protected and you are loved… you ARE love. Eyes are also the gateway to the soul, the seat of creation, beginnings and the start of love.
As you are offered this great gift of love, inspiration and joys feeling and energy, try to be both mindful of your souls journey and how you would like to develop through life… and also enjoy the hell out of it. This is a truly beautiful card and The God of Blooms is a truly loving and wise companion. All those dreams, wishes and hopes you have held close to your breast now have the opportunity to make them happen. Make sure you stay grounded and see the beauty in the journey. Don’t fight the flow too much and joy will be yours.
Upright: Love, compassion, inspiration, fertility, connection, beauty, wishes, dreams, surge of emotion.
Reversed: Stagnant, short sighted, repressed emotion, fighting the flow, a need to cleanse, emotional turmoil.
Here we see a partially budded rose that has been plucked and is fading.
Four typically is the number of balance, foundation, enduring, working with the flow of nature and of nature itself. While this may seem contrary, four also stands for change (the four seasons), but it is your ability to progress through those four seasons, and learn and harvest from each of them that gives you balance and the tools to create structure and foundations in your life. It’s important with all fours that you understand you are the master of your own destiny. In astrology four is linked with the fourth house and Cancer and stresses the importance of family, security, nurturance, feeling and a loving safe home/sanctuary.
The four of blooms is the inversion of this four energy. The rose has been picked and left to wither rather than being allowed to reach full bloom. It’s energy is stagnant and stuck, the flower is still coiled tight in on itself. You may be feeling detached from the world and missing out on offerings from both the material world and from spirit. This has left you unhappy and defensive. Make sure to ask why you are rejecting these offerings, plucking the rose before it came full bloom and not watering it so that it withered? Is it because these offerings are not suited to you, or because you are afraid of what will come after if you accept these offers? Fear of success can be a deeply held fear that masquerades as outward defensiveness. And that is okay. Success does demand a high level of responsibility that we don’t always have energy for, especially if we are fighting our own internal battles. But it’s important to look at what your goals are and what you want your life to be and what you are willing to sacrifice to get there.
Be careful of getting seduced by the beauty and safety that exists in withdrawal and stagnation. The rose may look beautiful in it’s dry state, but it’s not growing and never will.
When we get this card we must asked what led to the withdrawal? Why have we decided to pluck the rose, keeping it’s energy bound tight before allowing it to bloom? It may be that you are hurting and nursing wounds. You could be scared. You may be plagued by doubt or worry. It’s likely you are masking these feelings with a stoic exterior but this is cutting you off from the care and change you need. What do you need to heal? What do you need to break the routine you have found yourself in? What do you need to do to connect with you again? What will it take for you to re-engage with the world and grasp opportunity with both hands?
Let’s turn that rose into beautiful potpourri, incense, mojo bags or, return it to the earth to feed more roses in your garden. Either way it is time accept things as they are, to let go of what no longer serves you and think about how you can move forward. The person who is hurting you most at the moment, is you. You need to get out of your own way and look around you at the offers being handed to you – these offers may not all be material. The rose is a very spiritual flower and indicates that spirit is seeking connection with you at this time, but that connection depends on you.
In the original card, the four of cups has a man sitting cross armed under a tree looking discontent as he stares down at three cups whilst missing or ignoring the cup being held out to him from spirit. This card is sometimes called ‘grass is greener’. The rose has literally been plucked from the field only to show that coveting energy rather than enjoying it as it is, will only lead to unhappiness and decay.
In the tarot, the rose is the symbol of balance. This rose is sick and decaying. It is on its way to change but by force rather than by the natural flow of life and death. You have cut off you potential because you have failed to see a wider perspective. Change and flow will still occur but only once you have come to a place of acceptance, have looked inward to connect with yourself and spirit and learned the lessons that are required at this stage of your life’s journey. This process may take some serious time alone in which you meditate and explore your inner world and connection to spirit. Don’t fret over time, as you do this inner work, the opportunities will stay the same and wait for you to make your decision.
However, you are in a relationship or concerned about a relationship, there is time to salvage it but time is running out. It may be worth communicating that you need sometime to do some work on yourself so that you can be authentic with them, but even during this conversation you may be required you to come out of yourself and connect with the world and this person again. You have love in your life. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t get caught up in the grass being greener. What you want isn’t always what you need.
Upright: stagnation, dissatisfaction, boredom, irritation, willful blindness, distraction, self-absorption, self-destructive thought patterns, rigidity, fear, hurt, isolation.
Reversed: breaking self-destructive thought patterns, self-awareness, going with the flow, acceptance, open mindedness, movement out of the rut, getting out of your own way, healing, self forgiveness, energy flowing again, finding balance slowly.
This card also reminds me of ‘The Sick Rose’ by Blake. A poem based around existential dissatisfaction.
Here we see five tree stumps. They have been cut off nearly at the base. One has a tree hollow and they are all covered in moss. Of note is the fact that they all have limited above ground root systems for trees of this size.
In the Rider Waite deck this card is represented by a man mourning three spilled cups and ignoring two standing cups behind him. In the Thoth deck this card represents disappointment and emotional crisis. Fives in tarot typically indicate a crossroads. A challenge has presented itself causing emotional and spiritual upheaval, but in that challenge a solution has also been presented. It can be hard to see that solution through the chaos and the emotional pain and loss. Either way, change is coming and it can be extreme for example spiritual poverty or material wealth. Five also indicates the ‘fifth’ element – spirit, the heart of what unites us. Fives ask us to look at what it is that unites our being? What unites our physical and spiritual elements? It is time to slow down while you navigate these rocky waters of change and consider these questions. As you mourn, make it purposeful. What does it mean to let go of this? How can you move forward? What have you learned in hindsight?
The trees that have been cut down were mature and by the looks of it, healthy trees. There are no blooms or signs of new life. Something you were working towards or hoping for hasn’t come to fruition. It has been cut off at the base. This card is not prescribing how you must feel but rather is an invitation to mourn what is no longer growing so you can move past it and see how much still remains. Feelings that may come up for you now is disappointment, despair, self doubt, confusion, feelings of being lost, directionless or hopeless. You may have lost faith in someone you trusted or even yourself. There could be a very real fear of ‘lack’ or there being nothing left. Be careful, there is a time to mourn and a time to move on. Do not get lost to the sadness.
Tree-stumps have often signified death. They are often used as tombstones and can be seen throughout popular culture in scenes depicting death. However, as much as losing these trees is a great shame and a great sadness, you now have a wealth of material in terms of wood and the moss is still growing. Moss is a hugely important plant but often overlooked. It lives in the dark and damp, generally on the forest floor. It has male and female aspects that rely on water to carry the spores – no animals involved in reproduction at all. It has varied uses around the house from bedding to cleaning. Most importantly in the past certain mosses were used for bandaging and some mosses still have medicinal properties today. However their strongest association is with luck, money and tranquility. In short, there is still life and there is still hope, you just have to take the time to see it, and look from another angle. In short, you need to move past your emotions of sadness and look for another way.
As much as this card represents loss and sadness, it also presents an opportunity to exert self compassion and an open mind. Try and forgive yourself, see what you can learn from this situation, assess your own expectations and directions, and try a different perspective. Hope is slim, but it is there and ready to help you heal and move on.
Upright: disappointment, loss, sadness, despair, unbalanced, grieving, change, upheaval, narrow mindedness.
Reversed: two extremes either moving on, or a refusal to move on. Either way, the grief is working towards its natural end and a new path is opening up even if you can’t see it yet.
Here we see a mauve lotus flower with dew sitting on it’s leaves and a crystal ball or jewel, perhaps even a pearl or moon, at the center. Surrounding the flower is a rainbow.
Tens are a symbol of cycle completion both on a spiritual and physical plane. Whatever emotional journey you have been on is coming towards its end. For this moment, you are in a good, joyous and idyllic state. Enjoy.
Lotuses represent rebirth beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality and higher consciousness, and eternity.The fact that it is covered in dew gives us a hint of a new day dawning, that is another journey is on the horizon so enjoy this bliss for now. It also indicates a time rich with feel-good emotions. Given that all the colors of the chakras are there we can expect there to be a feeling of well-being, fulfillment and harmony across all levels of life and the body. At this moment all things are aligned. Rainbows are also a sign of gifts and fortune. Good things are coming to you. All your hard work is paying off. Make sure to keep your eye out for opportunities in love and business.
The jewel, crystal ball, moon, pearl whatever you wish to call it, at the center of the lotus to me represents spiritual wealth, connection and roundedness. On top of feeling fortunate at this time you are probably also feeling more connected than usual to spirit, you may be experiencing an sense of expanded consciousness. This state has been facilitated by the stability and groundedness that has come from completing your current journey. Allow yourself to bask in the wholeness, emotional fulfillment and happiness. Your dreams have come true and now is the time to delight in that good luck. Make sure to be grateful for your blessings and share them with your loved ones.
Loved ones, family and home are central to this card. It is generally associated with a happy home. There is harmony, celebrations and even travel. However I feel that the presence of the lotus extends the meaning beyond family to speak to a happiness and stability that starts with spirit, works it way up through the emotions to then flourish through the other areas of your life. If you are looking for love – the outcome looks promising.
Finally, when this card appears in your spread, particularly in the Wooden Tarot, listen to your heart and instinct carefully before taking your next step. You have grown beautifully. Trust in your gifts and intuition to guide you as you move forward. Follow your bliss not the herd.
Upright: happy home, dreams come true, stability, love, connection to spirit, alignment of values and life, balance, completion of journey and/or goals, emotional fulfillment.
Reversed: broken home, unhappiness, disconnection from spirit, disharmony, intuitive blocks, bad luck, instability, emotionally drained.
Here we see three antlers (did I mention I love antlers? Because I love antlers.) crossed and forming a triangle. The top two points have what look like smoky quartz pointing in both directions. At the bottom there is a faceted amber stone also pointing inwards. (The felt into the card and instituted the identity of the stones.)
The number three is a powerful number across cultures. The symbol of three is the triangle. We exist in the third dimension as such, three is an important number in magick workings. Things are often done in threes in order to see them manifest in this dimension.
Three is associated with working together, over coming duality to multiply and cooperate to create a whole greater than the sum. Energies are coming together in this card to create, express, manifest and move forward, largely through the power of nature, love and healing and indicated by the presence of the antlers.
Three is also a complete, prime number. In math is linked with completion and strength. It is whole and marks the passage of time in that it has a past/beginning/birth, present/middle/life, and future/end/death. This is also why three is associated with the moon. The moon has three primary phases. Lunar animals are often depicted as three legged.
Three represents harmony, foundation and stability – as basis for things to grow and manifest. The power of three is the basic structure of the world when understood from many magickal standpoints: heaven/sky, earth and water and thus is a very protective number. However, the threefold law can’t be overlooked, especially when linked to the three of stones. As explained below, this is a high energy card, a lot of energy is coming to the you, but the energy is only as positive or negative as you have been putting out in the world. So making sure you are aware of this relationship is vital.
The three jewels here might also be seen to relate to the Three Jewels of Buddism. These are the Buddha (new perspective and own Buddha nature), the Dharma (teachings, compassion and wisdom) , and the Sangha, which is the community who follow the teaching. What is your spiritual path? How can that connection help you and those around you?
The combination of amber and smoky quartz indicates we are dealing with the lower/base chakras – powerful and grounded. Smoky quarts is for grounding, protection and transformation of negative energy into positive. It can help healing and aid understanding. A fantastic stone for manifestation and as it is facing both ways we can assume you will see growth inside and out. Amber is another big protector and healer that contains ancient wisdoms but for all it’s power is very gentle and calming. All of the energy of the crystals are pointing inwards and the triangle itself is also pointing towards you, as such we can see that a lot of energy is coming to you. However, this energy won’t disrupt, it will be harmonious and balanced and aid you towards your current goals. People around you will also be eager to work alongside you.
The antlers are those of a deer who is about three years old but as with all antlers still represent connection to the higher self and spirit. There is a connection with nature, regeneration, fertility, love, the forest, faeries, the moon, generosity, instinct and a grounded, authoritarian masculine power (only male deer grow antlers and in the original tarot card we saw a man looking out over the ocean at his ships coming in.) This is a great power moving forward so long as you don’t get ahead of yourself, arrogance and a lack of foresight can be a massive downfall when working with this much energy and possibility for manifestation. There is a lot of protection here, but it can only work with you as you make your decisions.
While it is positive to have the number three present and pointing towards you (lots of incoming energy) it also means the triangle itself is balancing precariously. Take a moment to be proud, but you need to keep working to keep things in balance with those around you and to achieve your goals.
As this energy and opportunities come to you, be aware that as with all change will come challenges, be prepared to accept help from unusual sources but be sure to keep your boundaries firm and keep in contact with the higher planes. Your guides/totems etc., all are present and ready to work with you. Use the instincts of the deer, extend those antlers and become aware of all the opportunities that are surrounding you right now. Make sure you stay open minded and communicate clearly with those around. Plenty of people have plenty to offer you at the moment – but that is why you need the power of three and the crystals to keep yourself protected as you work through what opportunities are best for you. Make sure to keep scanning the horizon and keep a long-terms view – at least a year ahead.
Take time out to ground every day. With all this energy buzzing about, you’ll need it.
Now is the time to keep working towards your goals, things are, or will be coming together very quickly. Keep planing, setting goals, looking after yourself, and working hard. Don’t be afraid of thinking BIG and BOLD. You can get there whether your goals are spiritual, business, personal or study. If you have been thinking about travel it is likely you will be heading overseas very soon.
Upright: manifestation of new projects e.g., jobs, spiritual path, study, travel, social gathering; energy coming in, reaping what you sow, harvesting resources for a creative or spiritual tasks; trusting instincts, courage, grounding, working with others, visionary, magick.
Reversed: energy being drained, unfocused, indecisive; energy blocks, lack of vision and or opportunities, lack of resources or confidence, feeling scattered and ungrounded, committing to something even though your heart isn’t in it, fearful, retreating from others, the energy going out is not constructive so very little is coming back, lack of planning and goals, out of sync with nature, a sense of security but at the cost of moving forward.
As a side note, here is a fun article on the psychology of shapes!
Here we see four horns holding up a garland of red crystals that I have intuited as garnet.
This has always been one of the more straightforward and joyous cards to interpret and the same stays true for the wooden tarot. The horns in this card are from the Addax. The Addax (otherwise known as the white antelope) is an antelope from the Sahara. However, it is now critically endangered and only survives because of its success in captivity. They are largely nocturnal and herd oriented, led by the oldest female. They find protection in their numbers and survive through their uncanny ability to track rain. They are also homemakers. Although they are nomadic, migrating in hunt of food sources, they will create sand burrows when they arrive at a grazing location. The social nature of these antelopes and their ability to survive against the odds certainly brings to mind the preciousness of family and home (however YOU want to define those things) and the importance of celebrating those aspects, especially when there is success in that area – which would be NOW!
The endangered nature of the Addax indicates that you have been through a lot to get where you are, and have worked hard to establish these new foundations. You have compromised, adapted and perhaps sacrificed a lot to protect what is most precious to you. You are aware that everything doesn’t last forever. That is why it is so important to replenish your reserves and celebrate what is closest to you at this moment. Even the horns themselves look like streamers or dancers – alive with the joy of whatever event, success or personal achievement has occurred.
All of the above ties in perfectly to the meaning of the four of stones which is primarily celebration, success, foundation and a happy home. It has also been linked to marriage because the original card echoes the image of a Jewish wedding ceremony.
The garnet also ties in beautifully here as it is both a root and heart chakra stone. As such it is very good for balancing and is often used to help the flow of kundalini. Garnet is used to help alleviate negative emotions, lift energy, strengthen imagination, bolster self-esteem, will power, and help with creativity and imagination. However the primary uses of garnet are love, and business success. It is often referred to as a ‘seed stone’ because it often has the colors of a pomegranate. This reminds us that while it is important to celebrate our successes, the job isn’t done yet. There is still a ways to go. Remember to keep some of that energy aside for the next part of the journey to help these seeds of love, happiness and security grow.
Finally, four is the number of balance, foundation, enduring, working with the flow of nature and of nature itself. The energy of four sits well in both the spirit and the physical world and often is associated with the otter and stresses the importance of knowing and owning your roots. While this may seem contrary, four also stands for change (the four seasons), but it is your ability to progress through those four seasons, and learn and harvest from each of them that gives you balance and the tools to create structure and foundations in your life. In astrology four is linked with the fourth house and Cancer and stresses the importance of family, security, nurturance, feeling and a loving safe home/sanctuary. If you have been looking for a new home, it’s likely it is on the horizon.
It’s important with all fours that you understand you are the master of your own destiny, all decisions you make will come back to you, whatever seeds you have you have you must care for, whatever successes you have are yours to celebrate. All of these factors are important to understand as you move towards the energy of five – the breakthrough change, crossroads and transformation. Now might be a good time to make peace with those around you. You’ll need energy as you move ahead.
Upright: celebration, celebrating with family/friends; marriage or other significant family/friend event, wedding, new home, foundations, balance, success; people coming together to help build then celebrate, harmony, completion, satisfaction and harmony. Acknowledging your strengths and all you have worked for, celebrate them and own them, you’ll need to be aware of them moving forward.
Reversed: lack of harmony, a threat on home or family, feeling unbalanced, not celebrating your strengths, not owning your strengths, instability, flightiness, feeling disconnected from those around you, a feeling of nothing to look forward to, if they are celebrating they have lost sight of the journey that still lies ahead, uncertainty in relationships, family and the home. Movement may need to happen before positive change can happen. A sense of sadness.
Here we see three antlers clashing. This is one of the more straightforward tarot cards to read. It symbolizes conflict leading to change. The conflict might come from competition, from like-minded individuals, an expansion of business, a loss, or even from within. Regardless of where this conflict arises from, the five of stones asks you to stop wasting energy on butting heads but rather use all that energy flying around (and this is a HIGH energy card) and use it to look at where the differences lie, what you can learn from it, where your boundaries are, how you can adapt and how you can move forward. This will be a time of profound change so there is no use fighting that, rather look at how the ‘problem’ can potentially be the ‘solution’. There will be both gains and losses at this time and it is likely both will help you, in time.
Upright: conflict, tension, competition, wasted energy, change.
Reversed: Negotiating conflict,clear path, goal focus, energy focus, change.
Here we see a card that very closely resembles the original Rider Waite deck. The Eight of Stones has what looks like eight citrine wands flying through the air. Their tips are dark orange and fade to white.
Eights in the tarot are about owning and mastering your own strength, structure, limitations, and getting creative. Citrine carries the power of the Sun and is one of the few crystals that doesn’t accumulate negative energy, rather dissipates it, as such it never needs to be cleansed. It promotes creativity and helps clear obstacles. That is one of the key messages of the Eight of Stones: challenges are falling away, you are free to realize your dreams but things will be speeding up so be ready to direct your energy carefully. The time to act is now. If you have been thinking about travel, it is likely a short, whirlwind trip will happen. Just remember to stay grounded and still think carefully before you act.
Upright: travel by air, swift action, creativity, a time to pursue goals, activity, high energy, movement.
Reversed: blockages, delays, frustrations, opposition, stagnation.
Here we see the symbol for a waxing moon (also known as the maiden) crowned by a lemniscate and cradled by two half closed wings.
The Rider Waite deck image has a blindfolded woman holding crossed swords with an ocean behind her and a waxing moon above.
Much the same symbolism can be read from the card above. There is infinite potential here for you and new beginnings, but now is not the time to rush. Part of this situation is still in darkness. You need more information. This will come with both the passing of time, and your expanded willingness to see. You need to open your mind and become more observant. However, even if you don’t like what you see, you need to hold on to your current level head and keep your thoughts and actions balanced. Now is not the time to rush in or act on instinct. Those wings you have are powerful and gift you with great freedom but will only work when you can stretch them and keep them balanced. But with these wings curled in, you may be feeling indecisive and stagnant. It is highly possible that you are at a stalemate with yourself or another. You need to change your way of thinking and seeing and gather more information so that you can either come to a compromise, agree to disagree, or find a way forward you hadn’t considered before. You may even be feeling torn between two ideas that you think you can’t reconcile. You can and you will. Trust your intelligence and take the time to slow down and really consider and research your options. You’ve got this.
Hiding in the shadows and pretending like this isn’t happening will not help you. And while you might think turning a blind eye keeps you impartial, it also keeps you stagnant. Stop trying to please everyone. It is likely that when you make your decision you will upset people or even yourself, but it will be short lived and is better than staying stagnant. Just make sure to keep compassion in your heart even when you are acting from a place of logic. Now is not the time for unnecessary conflict or drama. If you stay still, you will just grow to feel agitated and may miss opportunities that you know are within your reach. You can feel them there, lapping at your heels. What are you afraid of? What truth don’t you want to see?
The number two in tarot is associated with balance, receptiveness, choice, duality, contrast, identity, gentle negotiation, crossroads, expanding consciousness, partnerships and at times, extremes – usually in the pursuit of finding identity. It can also be the number of creative and psychic initiation depending on the choices you make and what your karma is.
Open your eyes and your mind. Trust yourself. Unfurl your wings and make your decision from a place of knowledge and logic. You future awaits.
Upright: Indecision, choices, stalemate, blocked emotions, rigidity, turning a blind eye.
Reversed: Conflict, lies, confusion, information overload, the beginning of movement but is it in the right direction?
Rest. Rest. Rest. Rest.
Here we see a male Mallard Duck with two eyes on one side of its head swimming away across the water leaving a trail of six feathers.
In tarot the sixes are the calm returning after the chaos of fives. You are working towards balance and have likely found a solution to your questions, but that does not mean that solution comes without losses or costs. Here we see the duck swimming away to quieter waters and leaving problems behind, but in leaving the chaos behind, he has lost parts of himself. These were parts he had to lose in order to move on, but it means you are probably grieving and sad. You know the path you are taking is for the best and protects your inner child, all your instincts have lead you this way, but it was not an easy choice. And don’t think by exiting an unhealthy situation that you are being a coward and running away. Sometimes the best thing you can do is leave.
Gentle on you. Give yourself time to grieve. Keep moving but focus on balancing your inner and outer worlds with equal care. Two eyes stands for focusing on the inner and outer worlds and this plane of existence. However, it does indicate you could still only be focusing on one side of your journey – where you have been. You may be ruminating about it. Don’t. Where you are headed is a better situation for you. Look towards your destination as hope and joy lies there. However, also take some time to look at your own thoughts and beliefs, working out what to leave behind as you make this journey. You don’t need the extra baggage. Use your newly clear mind to take decisive action.
You may find that this card indicates an actual journey over water.
Upright: Journey away from chaos. Hard decisions. Trip by water. Regret. Moving towards better things.
Reversed: Stagnation. Despair.
Here we see four barn-owls crowding around. The top center owl has a third eye, making up nine eyes in total.
Owl medicine is strong. It is magickal and powerful. It allows you to see more than others as well as see and communicate with the otherworld. Owls are made to traverse the dark and are incredible survivors due to their keen instincts and wisdom. They are knowledge seekers and keepers. They know the secrets of the universe and can see into human souls. They peel back the lies of the world to uncover deceit and deception. Owls are also intimately connected with change, transformation and death. And they travel freely through the dreamscape.
At this moment you may be feeling overwhelmed. See how the owls are crowding in and that the central owl has a third eye, open and staring outward? It’s likely your mind is flooded with thoughts and worry. When you dream, your fears crowd in and you slip into nightmare.
It’s possible something has happened and you are hurting or grieving. Or you are simply finding yourself overwhelmed with life at present. However, because owl is associated with death, change and transformation, some of your stress may be linked to feeling the rumblings in the universe that indicate a big change is coming.
No matter the cause it is highly likely that most of your stress is psychological – caused by your owl thoughts. While that doesn’t diminish your pain or its importance it does give you the power to work with them. It would be redundant at this point to say ‘don’t worry’, rather it may be more helpful to think about the idea of ‘surrender’. Life is a series of ups and downs. This moment is simply a down. An up will come again soon. Sometimes it is important to feel pain and let it out in order to move on and heal. The trick is not to indulge it. Give yourself a set period of time to cry, scream, express whatever fear or upset is plaguing you. Once your time is up, treat yourself to a task that would normally bring you joy or at least a sense of calm and know that owl medicine is also linked with very, very strong protection and rebirth. You are loved. You are safe. This too will pass.
As for any disrupting events happening around you, take note of what you can and can’t change, do your best, but maintain self care. You are your priority right now.
Even though you may not be feeling a sense of love at the moment, the earth’s love and the universe’s love is a constant. Trust that as you move through these shadowy feelings. Do what you can to get out of your head, maybe get active and get out in nature, or catch up with friends.
An incredibly useful meditation and mindfulness exercise for releasing negative or distressing thoughts is below. Your mind is a powerful tool, it can both work against you and for you. In this short video you can see how your mind can help heal your mind and in turn ease your heart.
Upright: anxiety, rumination, grief/regret, self-hatred; depression; insomnia.
Reversed: facing fears; new perspective; facing fears instead of running away; allowing feelings to flow, letting go, preparing for change, honoring the place of pain in healing.
Here we see a sparrow shot in the chest and killed, cleanly, by ten arrows.
Sparrows represent thoughts, ideals and levity. They speak to the importance of keeping a light heart so you can fly higher. While sparrows are productive birds they are also hyper-vigalent and very protective, their safety comes from flying and moving in large numbers.
It is time to break away from the flock and find your own path. The number ten in tarot is an ending. This cycle of ideas and the direction you are walking is over, but probably not because you chose to finish but because an outside force brought you down to ground. It is possible that you have been hurt and betrayed by people close to you. Their words have wounded you and put an end to a dream you had. You feel defeated. This card is very much associated with feeling like a ‘victim’ and that you are powerless. Perhaps your reputation has also taken a hit. While it may seem that everything is dark and heavy at the moment, there is no more pain to come. This is most definitely the dark before the dawn.
Also remind yourself that although you feel powerless, you are not. Surrendering and trusting is a power – so is keeping on going. If you can, take this hit and wound with grace and trust you can rebuild without those who wounded you. This ending was very important so that in the very near future your spirit could be free to pursue something that in your heart of hearts you know is healthier for you. That said, the lessons and wisdom you have gained from walking this path will serve your future endeavors.
Also, if you look closer at the bird, it has been shot in the front, not the back like the traditional card. As such, this indicates that you knew the ending was coming even before you were attacked by those around you, you just didn’t want to face the possibility. All this tells us is how deeply embedded the ideas and beliefs were (despite the fact they were no longer serving you) and why it took the brutal force of an outside force to bring you down.
The ten of plumes is much like Death. It is a sudden and abrupt ending. In this case it is most definitely not a physical death but a death of ideas. You have exhausted all avenues of this area of development. Take time to recoup and rest, stop ruminating on these ideas, turn your attention elsewhere or even take a small break away to reset your mind and direction.
Upright: ending, betrayal, crisis of belief and thought, hurt, dark before dawn.
Reversed: surrender, letting go of hurt and loss, learning from the past but moving on to new ideas, letting go of thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve you.
Here we see a cat’s jawbone split in two, missing an incisor and possibly a slipped joint on the left – the same side of the missing tooth. (I have identified this skull as feline after years of working with and cleaning bones and skulls.) The bones are crowned by an unbalanced lemniscate.
Twos in tarot are linked with duality, choice, balance and instinct. After the initial surge of power that comes with the ace, the twos are linked to the upheaval this surge of energy can cause and the need to decide how to handle and balance this energy and what direction to go with it. The two of bones is no different.
The cat is rich in symbolism. They are renowned for being linked with magick, shape-shifting, mystery, unpredictability, secrets of the otherworld, intelligence and cleverness, the supernatural, watchfulness and most importantly for this card: protecting the home, instinct and resourcefulness.
Given that the jawbone is split, uneven, and that one side is missing a tooth, and that we are dealing with the energy of earth and a two, we can consider that there are conflicting interests. A jawbone needs to work together in order to assist eating, digestion and even cleaning (aka self care and nourishment.) It is these basic, grounding tasks that are of primary importance right now – home, finances, work, paying bills, eating well, sleep etc. Balancing your energy and fiances is a must, but there are choices to be made. These choices may be very practical (what bill to pay) or decision that maintain harmony around the home (when to speak, when to stay silent.)
You may have started a new business venture or are on track to achieve a new goal. But your attention, heart and soul are divided between two competing interests. Balancing these and taking care of yourself whilst you find your rhythm is important. Change is constant but not everything lasts forever. So while you work on this balancing act, make sure to take care of your energy.
Change is upon you or soon will be. It’s important to stay flexible and watchful. It is a juggling act between competing demands. While you can’t keep this juggling act up forever, it’s necessary for now to ensure balance and security. It is also a wise choice not to keep all your eggs in one basket at this point just in case one plan falls through. You’re doing well, your eyes are on the multiple balls
Mistakes have been made in the past (the missing tooth.) Did you made these mistakes with good intention (protection) or were you biting off more than you can chew? Either way, now is the time to learn from these mistakes and apply that wisdom as you strive for balance and walk forward.
Any carnivore with a missing incisor can expect to face problems in the near future (they don’t grow back). When you get the two of bones, it can signal big change and disruptions in the near future. Stay flexible, watchful, cunning and ready to adapt. Don’t be afraid to take risks but always make sure to care for you and your own first. You need a roof over your head and food in your belly before you can afford to take any big risks. However, the jaw does symbolize ‘willpower’ – think carefully about how you wish to direct your energy. You can navigate big change to your advantage if you keep an open mind. But be aware, jawbones can also mean stress – what are you holding on to that is effectively holding you back?
Upright: flexibility, staying grounded, balancing the material, choices to be made.
Reversed: unbalanced, in denial about choices that need to be made, not taking care of the self.
Here we have what appears to be the bones of human hand but with six fingers.
The number six is largely connected with harmony, balance, security, beauty, love and the idea of being present and conscious about your place in the cycle of life and death – no matter how secure… or not, you are. This is because much like the Rider Waite card that pictured beggars and nobility, we can’t reasonably tell if this hand is the hand being generous and sharing its bounty or reaching out to receive alms.
Either way, there is a transaction of energy here. Either you have enough to share and may need to do so in order to balance your own energy. Or perhaps you are in need of some funds or other kind of bounty and need to speak your truth and ask for help.
Trust that the money, energy, love… whatever it is you require, is there. There is more than enough to go around and in this case (as evidenced by the sixth finger), the sharing of energy and fortune will be just.
However, if you are in the position to give, don’t be frivolous with your generosity. Give what you reasonably can without jeopardizing your own security and remember that wealth is not only measured in dollars but love and presence. Also be careful of not becoming prideful or smug because of your wealthier position. We have all been in positions of need from time to time.
If you are in the position where you need to ask for help, ask honestly and without shame, but also without expectation. No one is obliged to help you but at the same time, we all need a hand now and again. Also, make sure that this is a short term solution. It is always better to develop self sufficiency as soon as you are able. Dependency, desperation and submissions won’t help you grow in the long run.
Trust that the universe provides and that there is enough to go around, but make sure you put in the work to capitalize and build on that awareness to help yourself and others.
Upright: Stability, wealth, beauty, sharing, generosity, rebalancing energies, what is needed is provided.
Reversed: Impoverished, selfish, impure intent, ego, poverty, debt.
Here we see eight vertebra of a spinal column. This would suggest the animal we are looking at is a sloth. Sloths have eight vertebra and are fitting animals for the eight of bones/pentacles. The spine is straight and without damage.
Eights are linked with strength and infinity in the tarot. But it is a strength that comes as a result of necessity, it emerges out of chaos and destruction. But a hard won strength that is developed slowly and purposefully with a mature mind both lasts and reaches towards the divine and assists the expression of the self. It is a strength that is creative and adaptive that is able to work with restrictions by bringing passions to heel and channeling them in new ways to achieve the desired goal.
You may have been through a difficult time and could be feeling defeated. The eight of bones is here to encouraging you to strip things down to the bare bones and keep going. You are on the right track even though progress may feel slow. Sloths are slow but persevere and are surprisingly good survivors precisely in part because of their slow movements and persistence. Their ability to live in the moment means they find the nutrients they need and are also less visible to predators. Also, they spend nearly their whole life living in the trees of the forest (the spine of the forest) and thus have a harmonious relationship with nature. They are also powerful swimmers (rivers being the heart of the forest) as such, it’s clear they can adapt as needed.
You are, or soon will be working towards a goal that will afford you stability, strength and flexibility in the future. This may be at work, at home, in your art, in your relationships, or work on yourself. It will be the backbone to the future you’re dreaming of. Your commitment and dedication, even in the face of adversity, will pay off in the long run. Keep your head down and focused, ignore the nay-Sayers. But be open to people who offer constructive criticism and input. Now is not the time to get caught up in fantasy and distraction. Be aware of ego. Don’t let your focus be distracted by feelings of pride and trying to please others. Even if what you are working on is at your place of employment, make sure to do what is needed to get the task done well, but don’t compromise the core of yourself. Find creative ways to stay true to you.
This period of your life is about building up your strength so you can stand tall and secure in your future and expand your life. Its is a strength that balances the spiritual and material to manifest real world gains.
Spines can sometimes been seen as rigid. It is important to hold your ground at present and stay on task, but the strength and life you are focused on building is to help you evolve, help carry the rest of your journey and go towards building your physical and spiritual wealth. That is why the sloths, like owls, have the ability to turn their head 270 degrees, to counteract any rigidity that may sneak in while you are busy rebuilding your reserves. The sloth has psychic vision and can see a wide range of perspectives, taking in all the information without feeling the need to rush in and act on it. This aspect of the card encourages you to keep an open mind while staying focused.
The spine is straight and undamaged. The vertebra are perfectly stacked. It is the core of your strength that takes time and commitment to keep strong and flexible. But sometimes being too focused can mean we not only lose sight of the bigger picture but we veer into worrying about perfectionism. Life is not about being perfect and neither is strength. Perfectionism is a weakness that can undermine your goals. Just keep going, you’re on the right path, you are building a great future and people around see it and you can feel it in yourself. It won’t always be such hard work. In fact, building a strong core like this means that your future will be easier and you can expand on it to a greater extent.
Upright: Apprenticeship, building strength, patience, focus, awareness, working towards the future, knowing your truth and building on it.
Reversed: Perfectionism, disorganized, unmotivated, directionless, scattered, knowledge without application, fear of achievement.
Earth Mother. Virgo.
Here we see the skull of a Saber-Toothed Tiger, the right tooth is broken off. Ivy, moss, and mushrooms sprout from the skull. As with all the Queens, the moon is behind.
The image of the bones in this case is older than the rest of the suite. They are weathered and covered in plants, not to mention the Saber-Toothed Tiger is from the ice-age. Bones are often associated with ancestors so thinking about who came before you and honoring that can be useful. The Saber-Toothed ‘Tiger’ is a misnomer. Most Saber-Tooth Tigers are not cats. However, for the sake of interpretation we will rely on the gathered evidence that suggests that they did, at times hunt like large cats – in packs of females and working together to circle and bring down their prey. So we know they work well together, create homes, provide for their family no matter the cost (see the broken tooth), and protects their loved ones and their territory. They can also be warm and playful when the area is secure.
The broken tooth might also indicate that The Queen of Bones has learned the hard way that confrontation, uncontrolled passion and violence is not the answer. Even if she did strike out defending her young. An important lesson for learning to get on with her King: The Woolly Mammoth who are typically prey for Saber-Toothed Tigers. This has made her generous, loving and someone who enjoys seeing people grow. She has an abundance to give now that her home is in the soil.
The moon indicates water and receptivity whilst the rightward facing direction equates with fire and active. The Queen is well-balanced, she has a grounded outlook.
The mushrooms (that we also see on the Three and Seven of bones) are important as they symbolize sexuality and fertility as they are the fertile parts of the organism, they also grow in the dark so are helpful sources of food (if not the poisonous kind.) In some cultures they are seen as representing immortality. Across most cultures they are seen as symbols of magick and the strange and almost a certain sign that other energies are around. They can also be used as pain relief, immune boosters and hallucinogens for shamans. Finally they are always symbols of change – something is decaying whilst something new is sprouting.
The Queen and the King of bones both have ivy. Ivy is the plant of the poets, peace and wealth. It is also a survivor, hardy and a sign of strength. But just as it can work to bind structure together, too much can bring the structure down. It is about knowing the right balance to apply.
Finally, moss is a hugely important plant but often overlooked. It lives in the dark and damp, generally on the forest floor. It has male and female aspects that rely on water to carry the spores – no animals involved in reproduction at all. It has varied uses around the house from bedding to cleaning. Most importantly in the past certain mosses were used for bandaging and some mosses still have medicinal properties today. However their strongest association is with luck, money and tranquility.
Upright: protection of family members and family property, responsibility, creating bonds between people, good business and housekeeping, peace, luck, prosperity, healing, mothering, fertility, abundance, love, sharing, caring, duty.
Reversed: overbearing; lack of self-care or too much self-interest; selfishness – not caring for those around you; obsession with social status rather than healthy family ties and spending, sadness and worry over financial stress, resistance to putting work in.