Right from my first encounters with the Tarot, I’ve found it to be an incredibly rich and mysterious tool. Whilst it can be used for a myriad of purposes, I find its most powerful use is as a way to engage in a dialogue with our own inner world. This is, of course, especially so at this time of the year – a time which calls to us to be still and quiet, to turn inwards, to nourish and heal and replenish our own personal resources.
There is one card in the Tarot which, in itself, embodies the archetype we need to call upon for this process, to confidently navigate our inner world – the being who brings a light to guide the way inwards – the Hermit, or in the Wildwood Tarot, the Hooded Man.
Don’t be fooled into associating popular 21st century cultural images with this archetype – this is no smelly old person with cats! He, or she, is wisdom personified!
Quieten your mind; slow your breathing; notice how straight away some of the tension you’re probably carrying begins to ebb away. Imaging that you, too, are rugged up – cloaked against the cold of your own anxieties and doubts; you, too are carrying a light which cannot ever be extinguished, even when you’re asleep, or, just like now, as you slip into a different state of consciousness.
I find myself moving forwards in my imagination, as I gaze at the image. There is a softer light coming from the door in the tree, and it casts a soft glow on the snow before my feet. It does seem to be quite inviting – so I take my lantern and walk towards the haven of the tree.
There is indeed a fire within this space; it’s warm, and still, and completely safe. There are rugs on the floor, and a cosy chair. I feel completely at ease in this space. Its definitely still got the feeling of a tree, but unlike any tree I have encountered before. There is every shade of green, from rich moss colours to an almost steel grey- green; and there are golden browns, rich russet tones – every possible colour of autumn. It’s as if the life force of the tree itself is spread out before me, sharing itself, seeping into my very marrow.
As I relax more and more, I feel myself sinking into my chair. I’m certainly not asleep, but I am very, very relaxed, and moving into yet another layer of consciousness.
And so I gaze into the fire, and simply allow myself to be here, in this beautiful and nourishing place. The warmth of the tree’s life force itself is seeping into my heart. There is a gentle hum – I couldn’t say that I can actually hear it; rather I can feel it, through the soles of my feet. I can only say that it feels like the spirit of the tree itself. And then it begins to make sense. This tree is of course a sentient being – it has its own spirit, its own knowledge and wisdom, born of eons of experience. I can seek its wisdom, and it will share it with me, willingly…. even lovingly, if I listen and trust that the language it uses is known to me. It’s known to all of us – that language of the eternal – it shapes itself in symbols, in images and music, poetry and stories, rather than in the letters of our everyday language. And it’s this language with which the spirit of the tree sings to me.
It’s difficult to describe how reassuring this experience is. In a way, it’s reminding me of things I know that I know, deep down. It’s even reminding me of who I am, and on what I can rely. It’s a mysterious experience, but completely secure too.
If you wish to, you, too, can travel into the heart of the tree, or for that matter, into any space which speaks to you as a source of wisdom. You may wish to meet ‘The Hooded Man’ himself, as a being who speaks to you, and of whom you can ask questions. You may wish to visit an ancient library, or an old house, another civilisation on another planet, an island in the middle of an enormous lake, a hut on the top of a mountain, or a cave at the bottom of the ocean.
The point with the Hooded Man (or the Hermit if you prefer) is that you take the light of your own consciousness with you – to lead you to a source of infinite wisdom and guidance, and that exists anywhere which feels ‘right’ for you, according to your paradigm.
I’ve chosen this card in particular because I’ve found that so many people are looking for nourishment at this time of the year – to replenish their depleted resources after a busy year. Do take yourself to a quiet and still place, both in your outer world, but more particularly, in your inner world. Simply allow yourself to be in a safe and warm place, and see what comes to you – it may not be words. In fact, it’s more than likely that it won’t be words.
Just be certain to come back slowly, and to take some time to connect again with your physical location. Dig your heels into the floor and take some slow, deep, breaths. Walk around when you’re ready to, and have a drink of water. And know that you’ve met someone deeply significant in your life.