Monday, September 16, 2013

10 Arrows = Instruction

In standard Tarot decks the 10 of Swords is a rather gruesome depiction - often a corpse laying on the ground, pierced through with...well....ten swords!  It's not a favorite to show up in a spread because it carries connotations of pain, difficult endings, perhaps even betrayal.

In the Wildwood, many cards are presented with non-traditional imagery, which at first glance can make a reader think "what?? This is so different from what I'm used to, how can I work with this?"  Upon meditation and consideration, however, many of the Wildwood meanings do intersect with the traditional meanings - just from an alternative perspective.  This is what I love about the Wildwood.

So the 10 of Arrows carries the keyword "Instruction" and shows an elderly man apparently teaching a young child (his grandson?) how to use a bow and arrow.  There is a tapestry hanging on the wall showing 9 Arrows in a circle formation.  Anyone thinking "painful endings" would be at least initially confused as to how the authors came up with this set of symbols.  But it's really not so strange.  Let's look a bit deeper....

Wildwood Tarot
Mark Ryan, John Matthews, Will Worthington
 Sterling Ethos, 2011

An elderly man is "instructing" a young boy.  He is dressed in brown, representing a return to the earth, the dying leaves of autumn.  His age represents the closing of a cycle.  The child is wearing green, the color of healing, peace, the new leaves of the springtime.  His age speaks of fresh starts, new beginnings.  That the older is teaching the younger brings to mind the lessons we take away from deeply challenging experiences and heartbreaks in our lives.  If we're engaging with spirit, with our pain, with the movement of the Wheel (represented by the circle of arrows on the the wall), we are changed by our hardships.  We take what we've learned and use it to move forward into a positive new phase of life, where we are less likely to repeat the past.

So I feel that the Wildwood 10 of Arrows simply shows the deeper, more mystical side of the major endings in our lives - the focus is not solely on the pain we've gone through, but the healing and new knowledge and understanding that comes along with it.

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