I dearly love the Wildwood Tarot, and have been enjoying the process of taking the "unusual" cards (where meanings tend to - or seem to - divert from the traditional) and making connections to the more "standard" concepts associated with them. Today the card is the 7 of Vessels, which correlates to the 7 of Cups. The latter is often considered to represent living in fantasy, the need to buckle down and make a decision, seeing what you want rather than what's truly there, idleness, being overwhelmed by options, even in some cases being distracted or delayed by momentary flights of fancy that may prove harmful in some way. So let's see what the 7 of Vessels has to offer.....
7 Vessels. Mourning – The skull sits in the crook of an ancient tree, with seven vessels of various shapes and sizes sitting before it. We're off to a great, bewildering start! :-D
In a way this card brings to mind a person who has wasted away due to living in a fantasy rather than in reality. There’s a feeling of a life spent wishing and desiring, rather than doing and making. The cups in this card are dry, like our opportunities dry up when we don’t take advantage of them. Nothing lasts forever.
Mark Ryan, John Matthews, Will Worthington
Sterling Ethos, 2011
It also can symbolize the sense of mourning involved in making a dream come true, or realizing that a dream isn’t possible. Sometimes it’s easier to live in our fantasies where we can have whatever we like, or can be anyone we choose. When we have to ground ourselves and think realistically, it can be a painful process.
This reminds me of a close friend of mine who was thoroughly enjoying planning her wedding, and the early months she’d have in her marriage. She had to leave the country and fly to live with her fiancée in a brand-new place, which was very exciting. But when D-Day came (the day she had to board the plane) she broke down and couldn’t go. She wanted to get married, had invested a lot of time and energy and emotion into planning, but she was suddenly paralyzed by fear when she was suddenly face-to-face with “the rest of her life.” She'd spent happy months imagining what her new life would be like, but in the end she was terrified to leave her old life behind and brave the new reality coming her way. (She did end up working through it, and finally did change the ticket and board the plane).
Similarly, when we have illusions about a relationship, or when we become side-tracked by fleeting desires, it can be painful to face the truth or the consequences of our actions. Our “bubble is burst” and a change takes place. We can no longer live in blissful ignorance, there’s no going back.
Finally this card brings to mind the sense of honoring those who have come before – it doesn’t get much realer than our ancestors who struggled and sweated and toiled away in order for us to have the opportunity to be born.
The spirals and lighting bolts painted on the skull could represent the great circle of life, of the Universe, and those "ah hah" moments where we break through haze and make the decisions that need to be made.
So at first, the images combined with the keyword "mourning" seem so utterly unrelated to the traditional understanding associated with this card that it may initially present a sort of block or deterrent. But in the end, it simply provides deeper layers of the experience:
The death and rebirth of people, opportunities, relationships, lifestyles, dreams and desires, goals and plans, the never-ending Wheel.