Wednesday 21 December 2016

Hello darkness, my old friend... Tarot Blog Hop Yule 2016

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from Ania M's blog or Aaron Lozano's blog.  Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether... It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you’re here!

This is the Yule Blog Hop, celebrating the Winter Solstice (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) that falls on December 21st – the solar festival sacred to the Old King and to the reborn ‘Sun Child’.  Solstice means ‘sun still’, and refers to the sun seemingly being at a standstill – its turning point, the ‘shortest day’.  Up to now, the hours of daylight have been decreasing, the nights longer.  As the sun appears to ‘stands still’, the Wheel of the Year seems to stop, and time appears to hang...but from now on the light will start to increase and days will lengthen.

At this time of greatest darkness (again, northern hemisphere bias, sorry!) our wrangler for this edition of the TBH, Joanne of CosmicWhispers, writes: "Winter Solstice was also a time to count the resources gathered during the previous harvest to make sure they would last, to look around and dig for hidden abundance beneath leaf and snow and soil, to know that all the bareness of tree and starkenss of landscape was just at time of sleep and not really death, and that life simply rested in preparation for another season of growth. we need to trust our intuition now more than ever since we can't see the abundance beneath our feet, in the living roots of the world."

With that in mind, she’s asked us to pick a card or cards, or develop a spread, that we think reveals a useful message from the Dark or Hidden realm of life. What can we learn from those messages as we wait for the return of the Light, and how do we find uses for the dark times in our own lives?

The Hooded Man (trmmed): ©Wildwood Tarot
THE card, for me, that represents this best is the Wildwood’s version of the Hermit, the Hooded Man.  The creators of the deck place The Hooded Man at the Midwinter Solstice, on their Wheel of the Year, a choice reflected in the (again, hemisphere bias at work) wintry scene, complete with holly and other evergreens, and a wren.  The Hooded Man survives the cold and darkness by drawing on his wisdom, and the strength he’s gained through what he’s experienced on his journey so far.  He can now withdraw, or perhaps even pass on the knowledge and wisdom gained to others in need.

The idea of evergreens being a constant throughout the year, and the qualities they imbue, seems to be a theme this year - not to mention Joanne's mention of living roots.  It just so happens that I took part in a midwinter gathering a week ago, where we called on the spirits of four evergreens to remind us of what we can draw on during the darkness.  I’ve borrowed from this idea to create the following spread.  

Spirit of Fir

Spirit of Mistletoe                   Spirit of Holly

Spirit of Ivy

Spirit of Fir:  A tall tree that, from a mountainside, offers views to the far horizon.  The smoke from its wood is said to purify and to cleanse.  Its gift to us then, in this time of darkness and withdrawal, is perception or clear vision – access to our own wisdom.

(moving clockwise...)

Spirit of Holly:  With its prickly leaves and hard wood, it offers protection.  When its wood is burned, it provides warmth and light during the cold months.  Its gift to us at this time is protection, but also the heat and energy we need to act, even during the bleakest times. 

Spirit of Ivy:  Associated with intuition, ivy needs the support of other trees or structures in order to reach the light.  Its constant spiralling around other trees echoes the search for spiritual understanding.  Its gift to us during the darkness of winter is to remind us of the importance of the support and companionship we can offer each other.

Spirit of Mistletoe:  Also known as all-heal, mistletoe grows on trees, suspended between earth and sky.  Druid tradition says you should never let mistletoe touch the ground… Its white berries symbolize fertility and growth.  Its gift is not only healing, but also the blessing of the seeds we nurture through the cold and the dark with good fortune and fertility.

I’ve then drawn a card from the Wildwood tarot to represent how I can use these gifts during the darkness (bearing in mind I’m just about to become unemployed again).  (All images copyright Will Worthington and the Wildwood Tarot)

The Pole Star
Ace of Arrows
Spirit of Fir/The Pole Star (17).  I breathe in the clear cold air of a starry winter’s night, and let the light of the stars show me a new path to take.

Spirit of Holly/Ace of Arrows.   The warmth of burning holly wood gives me energy to take that first breath, to speak the new idea and give it life.  
Queen of Arrows
Spirit of Ivy/Queen of Arrows.  It’s time to let go of some bonds, and seek out new companions on my next adventure.

Ten of Stones

Spirit of Mistletoe/Ten of Stones.  Subtitled ‘Home’ in the Wildwood, this reminds me how much ‘home’ – not so much a physical location but more to do with being with my family - gives me in terms of love and support. It’s/they’re where I go to heal.  And certainly, during the dark of the winter, the physical home and the comforts it offer are where I want to be.  Time to hibernate…

Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Yule Tarot Blog Hop. Please do come back sometime and read some of my other posts.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backward or forward through the list – Ania M's blog or Aaron Lozano's blog. The Master List can be found here.

Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections


  1. A lovely spread. Thank you for sharing how you got there! That's my favorite part. :D

  2. :) Aaaw, I loved it! Time for me to trim my Wildwood deck - how beautiful they are, and they are in total harmony with the evergreens, as well! My favorite part was the evergreens-part. :) I wish you Good Luck on your Path, Alison!

  3. Lovely spread, although I have love/hate relationship with ivy. I love the leaf shape and evergreen-ness, but I hate its persistence and the battle I have with the bloody stuff to stop it overwhelming various bits of the garden :D

  4. I echo the others, I loved the evergreen part!

  5. This is a great spread, calling in four evergreen sentries to watch over our time of darkness. Vision, protection, companionship, growth. Very nice positions. I think I'll give this one a try!