I'd like to occasionally feature actual readings on this blog, so I thought I'd try out this spread from the Wildwood Tarot book, as I haven't used it before and it looks like an interesting one. My work life is somewhat complex at the moment, so I've focused on that for this spread which the book describes as idea for situations that require a broad and comprehensive overview.
Position 1: Roots - The Knight of Bows, Fox (Knight of Wands)
Position 2: Branches - 7 of Vessels, Mourning (7 of Cups)
Position 3: East - The Knight of Arrows, Hawk (Knight of Swords)
Position 4: West - 11 The Woodward (Strength)
Position 5: South - 7 The Archer (The Chariot)
Position 6: North - The Queen of Bows, Hare (Queen of Wands)
Position 7: The Way Through the Woods - 2 of Vessels, Attraction (2 of Cups)
Position 8: The Wisdom of the World Tree - drawn only after reading the other cards
The first thing I notice about this spread is the patterns within it: 2 Bows court cards, 2 Vessels minor cards, 2 Knights, 2 majors, no Stones (Pentacles). In a spread about work matters, you could reasonably expect to see earth element cards like Stones or Pentacles. I think the fact that there aren't any here tells me that although I'm asking about work, this is not a mundane work-related question, but it's about what work represents for me in terms of my very essence and identity (the Bows), how I feel about work (the Vessels) and my stage in terms of life's journey (the majors and the Knights both suggest - in broad terms - being on the brink of something, being young in experience).
Taking the cards one by one more systematically now, I see that the Roots position answers "What is the root of the issue" and the Fox is, unsurprisingly, about cunning and being a good hunter. The book says "Determination leads you to success but sometimes at personal cost. Your life may change or enter a different path at any moment." I feel that this is about the struggles I'm having with finding the time and energy to solicit new work. I embarked on a freelance career almost a year ago, and have not branched out enugh in terms of finding new sources of work. This, I think, is the Fox's message to me: hunt more widely; work does not just come to you.
The Branches position has the question "What are the possibilities of the issue?" and I am somewhat dismayed to see the 7 of Vessels here, with its keyword of "Mourning". But then, reading the book's description of the card, it is not about loss (as I feared), but about mourning in the proper, most appropriate way. In some ways, I am damaged by my working past (the last situation which I left was not a positive experience), so perhaps the message here is that my new (and yes, although it's been almost a year, it is still very much new!) situation will be healing for me, and help me to mourn what I feel I lost.
The East position's question is "What do you take with you?" and the Hawk's answer is clearly about quick thinking and good ideas, which was certainly a reason for going freelance where I could work with my own ideas instead of toeing the line of others' ideas that I increasingly frequently didn't agree with. The book emphasises swiftness and subtlety and, as an Arrows (Swords) cards, this is related to the intellect, so I am happy to see that I can continue to create opportunities for myself that offer mental stimulation and challenge.
The West's position asks "What do you leave behind you?" and although on the surface, leaving The Woodward (traditionally Strength) behind may seem like a bad thing, I'm seeing this as leaving behind the need for so much strength, patience and dogged perseverance. In other words, this is a reassurance to me that I have taken the right step in leaving steady and secure employment that was literally driving me crazy.
The question in the South is "What do you hope for", and The Archer (or Chariot) in this position is perfect. The Archer rules her own destiny. Accompanied by her hunting dogs, she makes her own way in the world and is reliant on no-one else for her food or her wellbeing. Quite. The imagery of the bow (allied with wands - fire - in this deck) and arrow (associated here with swords - air) perfectly sums up the nature of my work, which requires creativity and intellect above all else.
The North addresses the issue of "What you fear", and the Hare seems a little odd here, as the Queen of Wands often represents business success and strong interpersonal links. Am I afraid of success? Ouch. I have been fighting many low-level health issues lately that have reduced my energies and made it very difficult to get on with what I need to, and I have felt at times like I'm almost sabotaging myself by being unable to work as much as I should. Hmmm. I am aware that procrastination can be about fear of really trying in case it's not good enough. Maybe there is an element of that in there. The cards are pretty good at drawing out what you don't always want to acknowledge...
The Way Through the Woods, answering "What enables you to engage with the issue?" also seems strange to be the 2 of Vessels (or Cups), so often a card of new love. Two things sprung quickly to mind: I need to love what I'm doing (so that is perhaps a way to help me carve out projects that I'll want to work on), and my husband can help me. I'm certainly already aware of how much his belief in me and support of me enables me to do mad things like leap into freelancing, even though that has meant risking our family's financial security (I'm the main earner here). Looking at the book meanings for this card, this deck seems to emphasise that spark of attraction as being instinctive, intuitive and natural, so maybe this is a message to use my intuition more in figuring out my workload and finding work.
And finally, The Wisdom of the World Tree - the hidden wisdom of the issue - is revealed to be the Ten of Stones, Home (10 of Pentacles). So much for no stones/earth/pentacles - and what a lovely conclusion to have to this reading! If I had any remaining doubts about the sanity of my choices (and I do; I'm not always sure how we'll meet the bills each month, but so far we always have...), this is the card to allay them. Tens always represent a kind of conclusion to the suit's journey, so the 10 of Stones is about a place of security, safety and love - whether that's a literal place or a figurative, mental place. The card reminds me that security is what most concerns me, but it also reassures me with its lovely calming depiction of home. And home for me has only positive connotations, I am fortunate enough to be able to say. We may not have all the latest material crap, but we are rich in terms of our relationships.
The Wildwood tarot is gorgeous, by the way, and highly recommended, especially if you are a pagan. It uses animals and birds for court cards (as you've seen!) and woodland archetypes for the Majors, and is beautifully painted by Will Worthington.
Note for the curious: until the end of August 2012, I worked full time as a middle manager in a college for 16-19 yr olds. When a restructure due to funding cuts arrived, I opted for redundancy to build on my writing career, having published a textbook and several teachers' resources, and contributions to various teaching websites. I now teach part time on a supply basis and am working on various educational writing projects, as well as some writing projects which are more about personal satisfaction but may one day lead to more pubishing (such as this blog: I'd love to write on tarot and spirituality; I also have various children's stories languishing on my hard drive which I hope could one day become books). My struggle is balancing the work that I know will pay (teaching, writing teaching resources) with the work I want to break into but doesn't yet have as clear a market. I do enjoy the educational writing, and the teaching, but don't want that to be all of me, if that makes any sense at all.
I'd welcome any further insights or comments on my reading :)