Snow and green shoots – an Imbolc tarot reading


Imbolc blessings!

Since I began to learn more about tarot – and especially started using the Wildwood Tarot, which is based on the Pagan wheel of the year, I’ve enjoyed an increased awareness of the ancient seasonal turning points that our ancestors celebrated.

Last week came Imbolc – the coming of spring – on the 1st February.


I enjoy saying the word and how unfamiliar it feels in my mouth. Old Irish, according to Wikipedia (sorry, I do know it’s not the font of all knowledge), meaning ‘in the belly’. The pregnancy of ewes. Spring lambs on their way! Snowdrops coming through and daffodils to follow.

This year though, Imbolc was quickly followed by a LOT of snow. Or at least here in the South Pennines there was a lot. My mum apparently has rain and my brother hail but there you go – here it’s a snow-white winter wonderland, and about time too. I just KNEW that we wouldn’t end winter without a good old blizzard.


Feels like a good time for a little self-reading.

I’ve been feeling irrationally angry for a while now – every little thing frustrating me, my patience at minimal levels. I’ve also felt dissatisfied, like I’m on the edge of something I’m unable to reach, and this is making me aware of my lack, like a sprouting bulb which just can’t quite reach the surface of the soil and break through into the sun.

So I’ll ask the question: as winter gives way to spring, what can I embrace and what can I let go of in order to let my nice new green shoots come through?

Naturally this feels like one for the Wildwood Tarot

1. Where am I now? – The Great Bear (Judgement)

The initiate has been laid to rest, covered by earth and stone, and now waits to be reborn, guarded by the shamanic sentinel of the mound.

Yikes. But it rings a bell. I am reminded that this is a time for self-assessment. What I like with this Wildwood take on Judgement is the ‘waiting’ part, telling me that although that moment of judgement, understanding and rebirth is important, so too is the period where we are tucked away in our tomb, undergoing change, absorbing lessons, getting ready to be reborn.

Behind the Great Bear I can see the plough and the northern lights – I want to reach them. So I am encouraged to allow this process to happen, rather than resisting it, making excuses against it, as I have been for several months.

2. What should I focus on? – The Hooded Man (The Hermit)

Ah jeez, not him again! It’s time to tuck myself away and do some self-improving study. I know I need more time alone – it’s getting it that’s proving the problem! I’m always to ready to hear the clamour of the world, to be distracted from self-improvement or tackling the issues that lurk in my spirituality. But as the Great Bear tells me, it’s high time I took this step. Time alone can provide me with the space I need to think and feel and know what this ‘rebirth’ should be.

3. What can I leave behind? – The King of Stones / Wolf (King of Pentacles)

The protector, the providor – the generous and respected king of my material world. As previous readings have confirmed for me, I’ve been getting comfortable, perhaps sedate, allowing this figure to tell me I have all I need, have worked hard for it and should now relax and enjoy my good fortune. In my heart, I know this is not true. It’s time to move on from this thinking – I need to be challenged, I need to work harder, I need to invest in my health and in my creativity. The Wolf’s pack mentality, the putting the pack before the individual – this is not sitting comfortably at the moment – I’m getting a message here to strike out alone.


My reading makes a great deal of sense, of course.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I got what I needed to hear. As always, it’s acting that poses the problem. There’s a real loneliness in this reading I think – a feeling that if I am to follow its advice I will experience that sad, true, ringing echo that solitude can bring. But I feel that I need to hear it.

Meanwhile the snow will melt and green shoots will sprout and lambs will gestate and spring will begin – 2012 will be well underway. Will I keep up with it and move into the warmth of spring, or remain snuggled, head bent, coat-wrapped against a winter that is coming to a close?

Cards and quotations are from the Wildwood Tarot, created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews and illustrated by Will Worthington.


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  1. Omer says:

    I picked up Wildwood Tarot as my new deck on Friday and was waiting for Imbolc to use it for the first time – that was before I saw this post! It does feel very appropriate.

    My cards were: ten stones (home) – journey/path to find balance and growth, which travels through finding a home, six bows (abundance) – gratitude, warmth, rewards of hard work, patience, sharing, a call to let those motivate me instead of the search of what I don’t have, and king of stones (wolf) – which I interpreted as leaving behind winter, loneliness and challenges to fit into a pack, as well as communication challenges.

    Thanks for the great spread!

    • Beth says:

      Hey Omer – thanks for sharing your reading! Wow, what strong-feeling, beautiful cards. This feels really solid to me, you know? As though you’re emerging from a time of hard work and responsibility into something much warmer, much more you.

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