Face Up Tarot: the Wickerwoman


My lover has tears in her eyes. We’re at a nutritionist’s office. A functional medicine worker is talking to my muscles and, much to our surprise, getting very clear answers. Decades ago I wouldn’t be in an office like this, banking my health on the woo. But with illusions of certainty shattered constantly in my life, I know better than to blindly accept or disregard anything, regardless of lineage – Science or otherwise. Lately, I play outside the bounds of reason. Usually, I play alone. Googling and crafting my way to health and hoping for the best. This was different. Me on a table listening to a stranger say things about me that no stranger should know. My love looking on, hope and love streaming out of her eyes. Not me though. I’m more the curiosity and caution sort.

I have a longstanding habit of not admitting vulnerability. It comes from a combination of things, the short summary being that I, like most people, spent a lifetime believing stories about myself that I didn’t tell. You know the ones. Different is dangerous. Authorities can’t be trusted. Everyone is counting on you. Maybe you’ve sampled the guilt soup, the strong facade, and the illusion that no one notices. Maybe you know what I mean.

This week I saw holistic health folks. I wanted to know if there was a kind of medicine I can still submit too. I wanted to see if I could allow someone to help me heal. They gave me supplements. They gave me a short list of food to eat and a worn out arm. The left one. The one that always looks heavy when I see it with my third eye. They gave me a plan and permission to take care of myself. No. Really. Even if it meant separating, slowing down, and keeping it very simple. Permission to do even more of what I was already doing. They named the physical parts of me that are calling out for help. I felt better.

Then I felt worse.

A burning in my throat and belly
with the volume turned up.
The subsequent doubt, distrust, and fear.

I gave it a voice by pulling face up from the Raven’s Prophecy Tarot.

What am I feeling right now?

One pass through the deck yielded 12 cards. Funny how there are always more cards when my thoughts are a jumbled mess. Feelings clamor for recognition. Thoughts trip over themselves, drunk on being, acting out of character. I pull face up to sort myself.

I start by eliminating the cards that don’t belong. Rest goes – 4 swords. This feeling I have right now is not restful. Even though it needs to be. Next I get rid of emotional dwelling – 5 cups. This feeling is about the physical and only marginally deals with the past. This is the last cup. It fits. It tells me that my emotions live off in a tower, safe from even my own prying eyes. Next I get rid of the thought dancer – page of swords. Comfortable deviation. This page often feels like home to me and right now, I do not feel at home.

Do I still have too many cards?

Which seven should go? Which five? Victimhood and isolation or shame and blame? It’s a tough choice. Both the images work, showing movement, fragility, maybe a hint of regret. Painful change. Yes. These things are a yes.

In the end I could only get it down to nine cards.


The spread is shaped like a wickerwoman, something meant for sacrifice by fire. The Tower, a raging bonfire in the Raven’s Prophecy, sits over the gallbladder. Just like the real fire in my body. Even though I had no idea where the gallbladder was just one week ago. The card found it’s way there anyway. That’s where it belongs. And just like that, the shape of the spread morphs the meanings of each of the cards I’ve consciously chosen. They go from what I’m feeling to what I’m feeling in my body.

The queen head is my voice burning like a beacon in my life. I am expressing constantly. Flexing new muscles. It taxes me. Literally burns a hole in my throat (and its chakra). Acid reflux. Weakened thymus. Letting me know that while I am able to do and say more, I must learn how to eat and heal more to balance the new growth.

The sevens are the arms of the woman. On the left, one hand does the awkward dance of deciding what fires to protect and which fires need to be extinguished for the greater good. This hand is my surface awareness of food-related pain, guilt, and my constant comparison between the me that burns bright without impairment and damaged me. The one whom I don’t know very well. Vulnerable me. Living consciously small…or else. On the right hand, my subconscious. Slowly seeking the light. Toiling in spite of doubt and seeking the support and resources of the five coins.

The other side of the coin – the 5 swords asks why can’t I do this by myself as I’ve always done? The fives and sevens are the ‘doing’ row. Deeper truth on the right. A fight with illusions on the left. Because that’s what ‘doing’ feels like right now, fives and sevens.

In my gut two fires rage. One that heals and will end the world as I know it – the Tower. The other is being extinguished and it’s about time. Nine old ways of being, nine habits, all passing away. Restlessness paving the way to genuine rest – 9 swords. The rest of having cleared out limiting beliefs. The rest of excavation.

Beneath the gut-fire, grounding earth. I ground toward my body’s fullest potential in the Ace of coins. The fullest physical potential – a concept I barely relate to but walk toward anyway. With the tiny steps of a seedling, reaching toward a warmth greater than mine. It’s time to feel as at home cradled in the earth – page coins – as I have dancing in the clouds.

What supports me in this time of remaking?

I pulled the 10th card face down.

Ace of Wands

Move on to the next bonfire. Trust this one to run it’s course. Seven embers float in the card, echoing the sevens in the spread and also The Tower. This ace whispers ‘let your potential consume you.’ It reminds me of my decision to finally get help. So that I can write, eat, sleep, and create one day without pain, at full blast. I heal to make room for the full potential. I acknowledge that there’s room for more than settling for the lowest wrung. For the small embers of the past. Healing needs to be my cause. My raison d’etre for now. My inner fire is at stake.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js“Fuel of the seedling”

What would your “wickerman” look like? What would it say?
Comment below. Or #faceuptarot

Those who know my site may have noticed that I’ve slowed to a crawl. Know that my work is far from done. Please keep in touch. And look forward to a newsletter from me that announces that I’m healthier than I am right now. <3

Featured Deck: The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot

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  1. This is really powerful, thank you for sharing.
    About a month ago, on the new moon before the one just past, I drew face-up cards for healing and understanding – not a wicker woman but more like a path, or a roadmap, to get from where I was to where I want to be. Just like you describe here, I didn’t consciously realise what I was doing until it was ready for me to see. It helped gave me the courage to take the first steps, and to figure out what I needed to learn to make it work.

    • Siobhan says:

      Thank you for saying so. Especially since rereading this piece, I can remember how far I’ve come and that things did improve. I wish the same for you. 😀

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