A reading done with my Wildwood Tarot deck, using my personality spread. The question: What defines the current state/personality of the environmental, political, and social world we live in today?
Essentially, an examination of the personality of the Earth, personifying it as a whole:
1. Central Aspect: Three of Stones – Creativity
The most important feature of the world’s personality is creativity; that is the quality that best defines it, and the quality most important to it. Creativity means the ability to innovate and create new things. It is the channeling of afflatus divine; the divine inspiration. The world best expresses itself through those that live on it; we all channel the Earth’s creativity in some form or another, whether it be through music, song, dance, ideologies, thoughts, philosophy, attitudes, actions, and beliefs. The world surrounds us all, and we all act as conduits for its energy and power. The presence of this card at the center of the spread indicates that the energy of the world flows around us and through us, much like the Neoplatonic and Kabbalistic theosophies; we are created from the superabundance of the world, eternally flowing from a bottomless cup, and we are all connected to the world’s energy flowing through us.
In a more literal sense, the world is also creative and an innovator. It’s survived for a long time, through several extinctions, large asteroid impacts, and so far even man’s predations on its surface. The spirit of the world is adaptable, and the planet itself will live on – but at what cost? With what change? The world could move on without us, finding creative ways to continue carrying on without humanity or other life. But at the same time, this planet was creative enough to give birth to life to channel its will. Will it give up that life so easily? It has come so far – and now it’s creations have become too powerful for it, and could very well destroy it; the world may have been too creative.
2. Influencing Characteristic: The Shaman
The secondary characteristic is that of the Shaman. The Shaman represents an understanding of all life on Earth; very fitting for the Earth itself. The world is a master of its own elements, and can manipulate the world to its will. This indicates a degree of predestination; does the world control all of our actions? How much of what we do does the Earth control? This card is also representative of the initiation of mysteries; the world opens its arms to all who live on its surface and shares its teachings and its mysteries. The world is the summation of all that came before it, the ultimate memory of the world (this concept comes up again in Position 6 in the World Tree). The Shaman is an active, guiding force, and the world itself is gently teaching us its lessons, and what happens when we do not have control of the elements.
In our pollution of the world and often (failed) attempts at taming the planet, we have shown ourselves not yet ready for those tasks. The Shaman present in the Earth tries to show us the ways, and is beginning, I hope, to succeed, as awareness about what we are doing to the Earth is raised. Similarly, in the social world, revolutions are taking place all around – the Arab Spring, uprisings in China, riots in London (though this was not really raising awareness for the most part), and Occupy Wall Street in the United States. People are becoming aware of how others have manipulated the elements for them, and now seek to take back control.
Combined with Creativity, the Shaman seems to indicate a sort of guided evolution and adaptation; it is not completely random, and there is some influence on the direction that the world takes. Maybe this influence is evolution itself, or maybe not. Humanity as a social group is certainly evolving, and this is not a random movement; people all around are guiding us towards a greater understanding of the world and ourselves. Taken together, these two cards seem optimistic.
3. Influence of the Past: Seven of Vessels – Mourning
An oddly appropriate card here; in the Wildwood Tarot, the card Mourning not only signifies mourning that which has passed on, but also being at peace with one’s past. The Earth has no regrets, and has come to terms with what it has done and what has been done to it. It feels no remorse for what it has done, but mourns over what has been done to it. The mourning of the Earth for what has been done to it represents the first step in its recovery, as environmentalist awareness rises throughout the world.
In terms of the world as the social sum of all of its inhabitants, the world’s mourning is being expressed in terms of the Arab Spring, stirrings of discontent throughout the world, and the Occupy Movements. The world is beginning to come to terms with its own past, in order to move forward; the evils of what has been done are being exposed and its results mourned, and all the while the world is beginning to move forward, seeking out a new path.
At the same time, this is also a card of conservatism, and honoring the past; the dead, traditions, and ritual. The placement of a card emphasizing the past in the position representing the influence of the past emphasizes the importance of the past in defining the world; history is hugely important in general, and learning from past mistakes – those which cause us to mourn – helps the world look to the future with wise eyes, able to forge the best path ahead. A mixed card; its pessimistic elements come in the form of the sadness caused by the wrongs done to the world – social and environmental – but at the same time, the world is able to come to terms with what has been done, mourn it, forgive, and move on. The time of mourning is in the past; it is time for the world to move forward.
4. Goals of the Future: Three of Vessels – Joy
Now that the world is beginning to put Mourning behind it, it can turn its eyes towards the larger goal: Joy. Joy is a very nice goal, and like Mourning, is in the Suit of Vessels, indicating that the world’s perception of the progression of time is in emotional terms rather than physical or mental terms; it is interesting that Stones did not come up in either of these spots. Joy represents communal celebration, the happiness coming with embarking on a new way of life, or welcoming home someone who has returned. This is exceedingly appropriate; the Earth wants to welcome back humans as members of its community, rather than forced by our own actions to be opposed to us. It wants to be full once again, and move forward on a different track, more in harmony with us and itself. The world seeks to heal, moving on from the Mourning of the past; and what better way is there to heal than through Joy? The world strives to reunite with itself, set a different course, and heal all of the wounds and rifts within itself and its social populations, coming together as one. A very sensible goal.
5. Unconscious Thoughts and Motives: The Mirror [Reversed]
The card of inner reflection. Again very appropriate when looking at one’s unconscious thoughts and motives. This card also seems to be at odds with the Shaman in Position 2, as the Mirror represents passivity and letting events wash over you, while the Shaman is a card of active manipulation. However, the Mirror is reversed; thee passive energy of the Earth and world has been blocked somehow; by harming the environment, by crooked capitalists (in the strict Marxist definition of the word) and corrupt politicians, or any other forms of oppression. Under its surface, the world is motivated by a desire for, above anything else, calm. This calm is impossible to maintain in the face of what has been done to the world, and so revolutions have begun acoss the Earth.
In its aspect as the Keeper and Initiator of Mysteries (a role the Mirror shares with the Shaman), the Mirror is also blocked. The Earth unconsciously lets other in on its secrets, but humanity’s blindness towards the Earth’s needs have made it impossible to truly for a connection with the Earth and the truth, which in this case is represented by the Mirror’s association with the Underworld.
The Mirror represents sitting back and letting your inner guide lead you through your life; essentially, letting your subconscious show your true nature. In this position of unconscious thoughts, this card is then very general; what influences the world’s unconscious thoughts and motives are… unconscious thoughts and motives.
The blocking of the Mirror also represents a blocking of the inner guide and the revelation of truth, indicating again humanity’s blindness in understanding the Earth, and a disconnect from the truth. This disconnect is not immediately obvious in all spheres of life – for example, in the social world, where many people are disconnected from reality through manipulation of the media – hence why the card appears in the unconscious position.
The reversed Mirror may also represent the Earth having trouble letting go; the people upon it are separate entities from it (though in this reading I am treating them as almost the same, the larger whole made from two parts). The Mirror involves a sort of surrender, and the Earth is unwilling to fully trust its care into the hands of humanity. This may be justified; the Mirror is a card also of patience, and its reversal means that patience may not be prudent. Perhaps drastic changes must be made to save the Earth and the world as we know it, environmentally and socially.
6. Conscious Thoughts and Concerns: The World Tree
An extremely appropriate card. This card indicates that the World is primarily concerned with, very obviously, wholeness and completion. This agrees with most of the other cards to so far. Interestingly, this is not reversed; that would match up even more well, indicating that the world is concerned with the breaking up of completion. Still, though, the world is concerned with completion, and bringing humanity together as one and revealing to them the hidden knowledge of the universe. This card also marks the end of a journey and the start of another, again hinting that the Earth and world is making it known that perhaps another path should be taken in its development; maybe it is time to use the knowledge we are gaining to move on to better places. The World Tree in this position also indicates that the Earth is forgiving, and its heart is open to any who turn to it; the world cares for every individual in it, as every individual is part of the larger whole. It serves as a reminder of the unity of the human race, and the futility of dividing ourselves up among nations. It urges us to remember who we are and our connection to everything else, in order to achieve harmony and truth.
7. Public Face: Ten of Bows – Responsibility
What the world wants us to know about its identity and personality is that it is responsible. It feels responsible for everyone living on/in it – after all, we are its children. It also wants us to know that it is carrying our burden; yes, we do harm ourselves often by our actions, but the world and Earth as a whole is hurt far more, and yet it still finds the ability to stay together and move onward. This card is placed in the position of conscious identity because the world wants its inhabitants to see its carrying the burden and emulate it; it urges us all to put our differences aside, bottle up our anger, and take responsibility for our actions. The Earth has already done so for too long, and we have prospered from the Earth’s ability to endure our maltreatment of it. Now, however, the time has come to learn from the Earth’s perseverance and suffer ourselves so that the Earth and world might be saved. We need to help shoulder the Earth’s burden.
8. Private Face: Five of Vessels – Ecstasy [Reversed]
What the world keeps hidden from us about its personality is represented by Ecstasy, reversed. The world keeps hidden its key aspect of spiritual awareness and fulfillment; the world has, in the past, been aware of itself, but now that awareness has been blocked by something – likely human actions affecting the social world. The world no longer is clearly defined, and does not know where it is going; turmoil is erupting across the surface of the globe, and the Earth is at a crisis – but it does not want us to know. It wants us to see its stoic endurance, and not its conflicted feelings and its lost of itself. The Earth no longer knows itself, and its spiritual fulfillment and ecstasy has been blocked. We pollute its surface and kill its children, and as can be seen in changing weather patterns that are beginning to prey on us all – the vicious 2011 tornado season, hurricane’s increasing in frequency, and similar occurrences – the Earth is no longer sure it wants to take it, and is no longer content; it has become unhappy, having lost its spiritual ecstasy.
The world has also begun to call others into its awareness through the above actions – the weather acts as the drums of the world, calling others to attention. Though inadvertently, the Earth is beginning to bring others into its fold, bringing it closer to spiritual ecstasy; for when enough people can become aware of the world around them, the world will be able to rediscover itself.
9. Public Desire: The Wanderer
The world/Earth wants us to know that it wants to start a new journey. It wants to to push away the burdens of the past, let bygones be bygones, and move onward – a theme coming up again and again in this reading. This, along with the presence of so many Major Arcana, indicate that powerful forces are shaping the world, and that it stands at a crossroads, on the brink of a new phase. If we look at Marx’s phases of history and then at the Occupy Movements, it is possible to read this card as indicating that the social world is ready to move past capitalist domination, and step off into the era of Socialism. However, I believe that this reading is of lesser importance in this card, and that the Journey or Blasted Oak would have indicated Marx’s Proletarian Revolution.
I do, however, believe that this card indicates that humanity is ready to move into another stage of existence; maybe not what Marx and historical philosophers envision, but something new. The Wanderer is poised on the brink of an abyss, ready to make a leap of faith. The world wants us to know that it is making this jump, and hopes not to fall of the cliff into an even worse state, but rather to walk upon the rainbow to a place in which a new journey can begin. The world/Earth is leaving behind its previous notions and striking out into uncharted territory, and hopes that its inhabitants share that desire. Do they? There’s only one way to find out…
10. Private Desire: The Seer
What the Earth doesn’t want us to know is that it’s lost. This is, again, like the reversed card in the Position of Private Identity; the world seeks to hide its insecurities to present a public face of responsibility. What the world wants is guidance and inspiration; but what inspiration is there other than the world itself? The world itself may feel lost, wishing for the Seer’s prophetic vision to help it decide where to go.
This card also offers the world some advice – use its experience and take the role of the Seer for itself! It has the experience and knowledge necessary to choose where to go and make its own future, rather than relying on others. It can channel its own power and use the personality of the Shaman – the Seer’s counterpart, appearing as the Influencing Characteristic in this reading – to influence the world to meet its goal of starting a new journey and regaining its state of harmony and union.
The world may also want to channel the abilities of the Seer and become her, rather than looking elsewhere for guidance and vision. The Seer tells us to go out and change the world ourselves, and maybe that’s exactly what we, as the components of the social world, need to do: go out and make change ourselves and act as the Seer for the sake of ourselves and the world.
The first thing I noticed was missing in this spread was any hint of exploitation; it just really wasn’t there. The only place it may have come up was in Mourning, as one of the various deeds of the past the world was injured and saddened by that it is trying to move past. Similarly, surprisingly few references to the environmental world emerged. This could be due to the environmental issues not being as important as the social ones (a claim which I do not believe – how can we fix our social issues if we don’t fix the planet that keeps us alive first), but I think it is more likely a product of my mindset as a student of sociology and history, and my scholarly focus on social issues over environmental ones (and following that, my lack of knowledge with regards to the environment). When reading the spread, I found myself making analogies to the social world more easily, and ended up interpreting the reading as the personality of the collective mindset of the world.
One other thing to note is my inherent pessimism popping up. Once I finished going through the cards, it became apparent to me that these cards could have been read in a very positive light, and I do believe that the readings hold a great deal of optimism. After much thought, however, I am going to go with my gut instinct and my negative view of the current world, as I do believe that these negative views are a result of the world’s reality. The cards also personally seem to be calling out to me and telling me that we can be saved if we take action like the world wants in the form of the Seer. As a whole, I see this reading as saying “Yes, we may be in a dark place, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel – if we choose to reach for it.”
This reading was also extremely general; it was interesting that a few cards representing the ideals of each Position in the spread showed up in the appropriate position. To me, this indicates a successful channeling of energies in the design of the spread, and also maybe a hint that I need to slightly adjust the meaning of the Positions so that they can tell me more. Additionally, there were lots of Major Arcana in the reading, which makes sense and again emphasizes the reading’s generalness; major forces are at play in the forces of the world, which itself… makes up a major force.
The reading was also dominated by Vessels. Looking at this from a cyclical/Wheel of the Year perspective, this indicates that the time of Autumn is upon us, and we are approaching Winter. We can sense the coming Winter coming, and emotions become charged and paramount; as we can see in the anger (the mishandling of emotions; blocked Ectsasy?) in the world right now. But if this is Fall… what is Winter? Will the events running through the world right now plunge us downward? But even then, it is important to remember that Spring will follow, and the world will be reborn – hopefully with us in it, and much the wiser for our experience. Ominously, however, there are no Arrows in this reading – perhaps this means that Spring will be a long time in coming.
The last point of interest is the lack of Court Cards. In a personality spread, I actually find this rather surprising; this indicates to me that perhaps the Earth’s personality is not strong, or at least doesn’t appear strong. At the same time, however, none of the cards contradict each other hugely, and most of them support each other; there is little self conflict in this reading. The world’s personality is, at least, defined, even if it has moments of self-conflict and doubt.
This was my first extensive reading with this deck, and I still have a long way to go before I master it (it’s a long way from my comfortable home in the Thoth Tarot), but it definitely is a very useful deck so far. Hopefully I will be able to in later readings incorporate more interpretations of the Wheel of the Year!