The Heart of the Path


The life, the path, the work
is a broken heart ripped out,
pinned bleeding on a tree.

This poem was written after doing a reading with the Wildwood Tarot. The question focused on guidance for inspiration. To mirror this I created my own spread, designed in the shape of the three dots and rays of the Awen. The Three of Arrows was the final card I drew, atop the middle ray.

The given meaning of the card is ‘Jealousy,’ ‘a tension of emotions between people.’ This is one of the rare instances where I see little relation between what the image speaks to me, and the reading points in the book.

Now, as when I’ve had this card before, it seems to represent sacrifice. Three arrows; a threefold sacrifice. Firstly, to the oak; I see this tree as an oak, possibly the Trysting Oak in Greencroft Valley, symbolising my commitment to my local area. Secondly, to the World Tree, to the oak as the door between the worlds and my task of learning to walk between them. Thirdly, to the wider domain of the wildwood. For me this is what remains of this land’s true wilderness, its residual memories, the enchanted woodlands of the fay and primeval forests of the otherworlds.

This card also represents conflict. In my quest for inspiration I continuously face the struggle of striking a balance between the need to stay true to myself, my land and gods, and to produce work that is acceptable, and with hope publishable, within wider and more literary communities.

Perhaps this is the ‘tensions of emotion between people’? This could have negative connotations or, on a more positive note, tension can be productive. I think of William Blake’s words, ‘without contraries is no progression.’

A further meaning that unfolds is that the card represents the capacity of the archer to shoot true, thrice, striking straight to the heart. Could this represent the effect of a good poem?

The heart is also on fire. This could symbolise immanent destruction, the flames of inspiration, or both. The Awen is a contradictory, all-consuming force.

I try journeying to the scene. At the foot of the tree sits an old wolf. In its branches are a robin and wren. They do not communicate but I sense they are offering their silent support. I turn to the oak and see the features of its dryad clearly in each strong limb, in its firmament of branch and leaf. In a voice like wind crashing through its boughs, it speaks words that turn the grove grey; this is the heart of the path…

* The artist behind The Wildwood Tarot is Will Worthington.

4 thoughts on “The Heart of the Path

  1. Clearly a significant reading for you and your interpretation of the image makes sense in the context in which you have been living and being and working. The message from your journey sent shivers down my spine.

    Nothing to do with your comments, perhaps, but nudged me to consider that I would picture jealousy as I do fear not as something bright burning but as a dark poison invading the heart, or some dark monster consuming it with delight.

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