Friday, 6 May 2011

The Bow Spread

On Monday I start the fifth term of a six term Masters course, about which I’m not currently feeling very motivated.  So I decided to use the Wildwood Tarot to look at the situation.  I’m using the Bow Spread from the companion book to the deck.  This is also the spread which John Matthews, one of the co-authors of the book, will be presenting workshops on at both the TABI and UK Tarot Conferences this year.

The positions represent:
1)  The Significator - What is the issue about?
2)  The Bow - What is my focus on the issue?
3)  The Conscious Limb - What do I think about the situation?
4)  The Unconscious Limb - What do I feel about the situation?
5)  The String - What drives the issue?
6)  The Fletchings - What guides the solution?
7)  The Arrowhead - What is the outcome?

I was rather taken aback by the cards I dealt on this one!  Recently, Tarot in a Teacup came up with a True Self reading, and dealt three Majors for it.  This was picked up by Magic Mentha, who also was dealt three Majors.  I found it a bit off-putting - if I didn’t get Majors, would that mean my true self is rather mundane and boring?  Still, rather a lot to take on board with this reading - six Majors and an Ace!

1)  What is the issue about?  1 - The Shaman

As well as traditional Magician abilities to manifest, to focus will and bring ideas into the physical world, I also see the Shaman having a healing aspect.  This fits well with the situation here - I am studying to be a psychotherapist, to try to help empower people to explore their life and hopefully cope better with it.  

However, one of the issues is that I’m not really feeling the manifestation side of this card at the moment.  I’m supposed to be working on a research protocol, a class presentation, and a number of essays, but what I’ve done most of the last week is manifest around the Wildwood Tarot, writing card explorations that I’ve posted on the TABI forum, poems and daily draws I’ve blogged about, readings, some of which I blogged, others which I didn’t.  Lots of manifestation, but not for my course!

2)  What is my focus on the issue?  17 - The Pole Star

Where can I apply my skills to connect with the heart of the issue?  I can apply them to the questions of guidance and hope.  In terms of working with clients, I see this being about helping guide them and helping them reconnect with hope, which is what the course is all about, and a large part of the skills we are trying to learn and practice.  

In terms of me, though, I need to keep my goal clearly in mind, as my guiding star.  Not to fulfill others' expectations, though hopefully I will do that along the way, but to learn and be able to work as a guide for others in their distress.  Manifesting what I need to for the course is a stepping stone to being able to register as a fully qualified psychotherapist, but I need to keep the end goal in sight and not focus on the stepping stones, or I’ll just trip over them ;-b

3)  What do I think about the situation?  4 - The Green Man

Here’s where part of the problem resides.  I’m not very happy about this particular term, as it’s focused on Existential Psychotherapy.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I find existential thoughts very interesting, but my problem is that I find the British Existential School to be rather Emperor-like - lots of rigid rules about the way things should be done, and some power issues about nothing else being quite up to standard.  What this card suggests to me is that I need to look more at the natural laws here - what does existential thought actually contribute, according to my ideas, rather than how I am told it should be seen.

4)  What do I feel about the situation?  Ace of Arrows - The Breath of Life

I feel quite inspired by the ideas that are involved, it’s just the structure around them that I struggle with.  I also feel inspired by the work that I’m actually doing.  In this card we see the mouth of the Uffington Horse, a guardian between the worlds of life and death.  Given I’m working in a bereavement centre, this feels very appropriate.  I feel stimulated, challenged, and often inspired by the work.

5)  What drives the issue?  9 - The Hooded Man

The Hooded Man, as someone who studies and examines, is a great card for a reading on further learning.  It points out again that ultimately this course is about what I can learn, rather than what I will be taught - an important distinction.

My drive to study and seek knowledge, can help improve my motivation.  For example, I think that examination of archetypes, explorations of my own feelings, and readings for and by others contribute to my understanding of emotions and how people look at existential questions.  Therefore, psychotherapy and tarot are not in any way antithetical.  I have to keep sufficient focus towards the course I’m doing, but it doesn’t mean I need to give up my own search for deeper understanding through both the course and through other means including tarot readings and path working.

6)  What guides the solution?  2 - The Seer

Love this card!  So, what guides the solution is honestly listening to my intuition, accepting that it is important.  I often find it easier to tap into my intuition through tarot than with no structure.  Perhaps that suggests that I could think about creating structures for myself within the psychotherapy context - for example, practicing mindfulness and grounding with and between clients.  This is one of the areas where the British Existential School has quite rigid ideas - you should just be with clients, without preconceptions or techniques.  So, I shall have to discover my own way here.  

Also, in terms of the aspects I have to manifest for the course - essays and so forth - I need to make these true to my inner knowing, not just academically acceptable.  If it’s not something I can stand behind at a fundamental level, I will not be motivated to manifest it.  Once again, this takes me back to the Green Man issue - I cannot be forced into others' patterns, but must find ones which feel natural to me.

7)  What is the outcome?  14 - Balance

What a positive card for the outcome!  This gives me hope that I can find a balance between the requirements of my course and my own inclinations, values and beliefs.  It may not always be easy to strike this balance, but the potential for growth and learning will be worth the effort it may take.

So, any interpretations, suggestions or advice would be very welcome...


  1. With all those majors, wow. Very charged issue. I think it important, your insight on the Green Man card. To me this seems to be the crucial balance shifting awareness, or more accurately the balance re-creating point in your read on it.
    It sounds like the reading really tied some things together for you.
    I'd be interested in hearing how it turned out for you.

    1. Hi Jeffrey,
      Funny to revisit this so far along. Truth is, I got hung up on the rigid strutures and doctrines of the existentialists and some of the academics generally, and had my first dissertation proposal rejected as too "out there". Haven't yet managed to get around that and finish my second proposal. So, too much Hermit, not enough Balance! :)