|Lucia Mattioli, Fairy Lights Tarot|
Tarot is a journey and one that always make me think first of a poem by William Butler Yeats, The Song of Wandering Aengus, published in the book The Wind Among the Reeds (1889).
Here the protagonist, Aengus, is either the Irish god of love or the Fool, starting his travel through the hazelwood of knowledge and self-discovery. What he will find there is a peculiar kind of love: he will meet his heart's desire, his opposite and then he will have to pursue her in order to be a full person - the individual that truly finds and touches his own soul through the search for the loved and long dreamed other. The innocence of the Fool/Aengus is enlightened by the fire of imagination first, then from love, seen as the energy of revelation. The final image showing the apple trees of Sun and Moon, represents the marriage of the opposites, but it also can be read as a hint to the wonderful western garden of the Hesperides of Greek mythology, where the golden apples of immortality grow. Maybe immortality is just this gift: the full experience of one's soul.
Here's the poem:
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
According to Yeats in The Celtic Twiligth, The Fool is also the Fool of Faery, the Amadán-na-Breena, maybe the wisest inhabitant of Fairyland, and surely the most powerful, together with the Queen.
In the Golden Dawn Tarot he is represented as a naked child, picking a golden fruit from a tree, and accompanied by the usual dog, which is black and wolfish in this specific representation. Innocence, new experiences, imagination, but sometimes also self-unawareness, uncontrolled fantasy and self delusion, in a few words a strong potential that need to be understood and managed, are to be read in this card, embodying all the dangers and the dreams of the free individual at the beginning of the path. The dog is either the guardian or the animal soul of the Fool. In this case the black dog makes me always think about the folkloric tradition according to which a black dog might be the soul of a dead person.
One of my favourite Fool, is the Wildwood Tarot's one, renamed The Wanderer, as Aengus in the poem. This Fool is a young woman, ready to cross a rainbow bridge, reaching the other side of the wood. It is a highly positive image, highlighting the potency of personal imagination and self-confidence and also the need to believe in oneself in order to recognize a personal path. The bridge might not be there or vanish in a few minutes as the rainbow: you have to strongly believe that is the courage of your first step to create and make it solid.
Finally, I'm going to end this quite long post with a spread that I created using the imagery of Yeats' poem. I tried it yesterday with some interesting results.
THE HAZEL WOOD (10 cards)
0. AENGUS: card representing the questioner.
1. FIRE: the issue, the reason to move in the wood.
Cards from 2 to 5 represent the Path from the World into the Wood.
2. WAND: what I need to bring with me
3. ASHES/SCATTERED TWIGS: what I need to leave behind
4. TROUT: what I will find
5. TRANSFORMATION: what I will learn
Cards from 6 to 9 represent the Path out of the Wood and back into the World.
6. EXPERIENCE: what I need to be ready to lose
7. APPLES: what I will gain
8. MOON: the spiritual influence/guidance
9. SUN: the others/ who is actually supporting me
10. YEATS' card, that is FATE, things and happenings surrounding and influencing the issue beyond myself.