Conditions of the Contract Spread

This spread was inspired by a section of In Search of Women’s Passionate Soul (pg 72), where Caitlin Matthews talks about the contract with one’s daimon/genius/animus. I designed the spread based on some common characteristics of fairy tale (ie. archetypal) contracts: Three is a magical number in fairy tales; characters are often required to do or remember or overcome three things. These are the conditions of the contract and they must be done in a specific order, exactly as stated.

In addition, there is almost always one thing that the character must absolutely not – under any circumstances – do. This is usually something deceptively simple that the character has a 50/50 chance of remembering and adhering to. When they don’t remember, it causes the quest to be delayed and further hardships to cross their path. Anyone with less-pure motives attempting to follow in the heroine’s – for it is usually a heroine – success, inevitably ignores the “do not” and suffers horrible consequences.

The top row is laid out to represent the Three Things Which Must Be Done and the bottom row is a single card, representing The One Thing Which Must Not Be Done. I’m using the Wildwood Tarot to demonstrate the reading, assuming one is entering into a contract with one’s creative other.

Do or Do Not, there is no Try… wait, wrong story!


[1] 6 The Forest Lovers

Marriage is a contract! Step one: enter into the contract, or at least show that you’re seriously interested in a committed relationship with your inner genius.

[2]  2 of Arrows

The second condition is confusing, largely due to the disconnect between the artwork on the card and the accompanying text in the book –

This is sadly a problem with the kit – it happens often. I don’t rely on the book, but I like to read it to see what I might be missing. After all, it was designed with intent and I would like further insight into that intent. When I read gross errors such as – in this card – “Above her head are the uneven scales… skewed by false judgements…” (which would make sense for “Injustice”, but these scales are even) and “The bow is broken and useless through prejudice and misuse” (it is very definitely not broken), it leads me to think there is either a case of sloppy editing or poor communication between the writer and the artist (or both). It’s like a bug in computer code and makes me question the reliability of the cards in getting the right message across. There’s a conflict in meaning, you know? –

Anyway. Going by the art, this is a card of exact and perfect balance; finding the internal still-point. To me, the blinded woman is always a prompt to turn inwards and listen and the crossed arrows pointing in and down emphasise the direction in which the mind should be working -> listen to your heart. The final clue is her foot on the bow – no. action. geddit? Her head is tilted upwards, sensing the scales where it is shown that “the truth (feather) is worth its weight in gold”. This is a card of trust (she has dropped her defenses). I give this one a tentative CHECK for now (I am sure I will be re-evaluated!)

[3] Page of Arrows

Lastly, the Wren. There is a lot of very beautiful symbolism surrounding the wren and I had no idea what a powerful animal it is in Celtic mythology (ancient and ongoing). Some of what the wren stands for include: shared duties between male and female; daily progress; happy & kind heart; witchcraft; the Oak King and psychopomp. The Druids considered the Wren ‘supreme among all birds.’ It was the sacred bird of the Isle of Man, formerly a shrine of the dead and the dwelling-place of the Moon Goddess who cared for pagan souls. According to the guidebook, “Study and application brings wisdom and understanding …”


13 The Journey

Oh har-de-freakin’-HAR. (This was the week that Morty was making an appearance every day, sometimes twice for good measure!)

I didn’t even get a chance to think about this card (especially showing up as a “do not” when it had been “do do do” all week) before the phrase, “Don’t eat dead things” was in my head. I’m thinking, “don’t rehash the past; move forward”.

And, more simply, don’t give up. Change hurts; success is right around the corner at the point where it becomes most painful.

*Update* to the above idea based on a more recent experience – The crows represent my yuckiest of shadow parts and they are eating the embodiment of wild power (which I should not let happen!) I told certain parts of myself that enough is enough the other night and encountered an angry, flapping, blackness. What’s got two thumbs and needs to do some Shadow work? This guy.

So that is my contract and what it is. Think I’ll check in periodically to see how I’m doing in fulfilling it. Can’t have the label drop me!


12 thoughts on “Conditions of the Contract Spread

  1. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I hadn’t noticed all that about the Justice card, although I’ve had it come up in readings and read the book’s description. Sometimes I rush through readings and miss (I’m sure) a lot.


    • submerina says:

      See how confusing – that’s the 2 of Arrows, not Justice! It’s supposed to be _IN_justice, but the visual says anything but. I think I might have to trim this deck… *DUN DUN DUUUUUUH*


  2. Thalia says:

    So I opened that book up to page 72 and started reading and it hit me really really strong—no, no, you’ve got it the wrong way around. It’s not do, do, do, *don’t*, it’s do, do, do and *do.* The ‘mistake’ is absolutely crucial in fairy tales. Think Psyche spying on Eros, or the heroine in East of the Sun, West of the Moon spying on her bear-turned lover; or even Beauty’s abandonment of the Beast in their tale. Without the ‘mistake’ their relationship remains on a shallow surface level, with the heroine’s lover either invisible or disguised. To break the spell and get to the deep truth of it, you have to make that ‘mistake’. There has to be that crisis of faith, so you can come back sure of yourself, as yourself, ready to look Love in the eye.

    You may already be there, of course, and I’d wager that’s where you’ve been for a while, since Death keeps coming up for you. This isn’t necessarily linear, trust me (a daimon who looks like a mad time-traveller will really hammer *that* one home).

    Though now I’m thinking how in Eros and Psyche she looks on Eros (the ‘mistake’), and *then* has to perform the three tasks (for His mother). The journey properly ought to come first, I suppose, else the three tasks are out of order.

    And yes, there’s rather a lot wrong with that Two of Arrows, though I like the art. The feather of Ma’at should get weighed against a heart, the seat of the soul, not something as vulgar as money. That kind of strikes me as icky, though I understand the idea of gold as something precious. Still, it’s kind of weird. Also, is she pregnant?


    • submerina says:

      You. are. a. GENIUS! :D

      And you are absolutely correct about the *DO* and about how the mistake comes before the journey. DOI! Call myself a lover of fairy-folk-tale-mythology… *tsk tsk*

      In that case, been there, done that, and he is the proof. It’s after I “checked out” (and came back alive) that he returned!

      3 cheers for Inspector Thalia!

      (I don’t think she’s pregnant, just the way he shades that region of the female anatomy. Many ladies in the deck look pregnant and the Ancestor has something wonky going on in the boob region.)


      • Thalia says:

        Oh crap I wasn’t even thinking of what was going on with you in October. But you’re right; aside from ending up in the ER with a stopped heart and having them zap you back to life, I don’t think the journey there and back again is going to get much more literal and obvious than what you went through. So yeah, been there done that all right. Wow.

        So then what are your three tasks? First one, yeah, I’d say you’re there. I’m such a sucker for a handfasting, though that tree makes me laugh; it’s all dressed up and festive too. The Two of Arrows, though? I always see the Two of Swords as stasis and balance, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s the eye of the storm, and while that may be a good respite, sooner or later that storm will have to be slogged through. As for the Wren? Do they have wrens where you are? I’ve got a couple in my yard. Pugnacious little things; these tiny adorable little birds with the bravery of a lion who are very keen on telling you all about it. I seriously think a wren could totally peck you to death if it had a mind to. Granted, it would take a while and you’d be all oh but it’s sooooo cute!

        You, by the way, you, have got me looking at Tarot again. Starting with Cups and going up through them all to six court cards. I’ve got this idea in my head now and it might just come out and you’ll be all to blame, just so’s you know.


        • submerina says:

          Most important thing first: If you are looking at tarot again, does that mean “using” – in which case, good for you – or “designing” – in which case HOORAY FOR ME!!! – ? I can’t wait in either case, to be honest :)

          As you know, the handfasting happened (and there was a tree!) The other two are a little difficult… No wrens here; nothing but magpies, crows and sparrows (which are great, but I could do with a little more variety). I just loooove the idea of a wren killing with cuteness XD Maybe it’s about being brave? That would tie in with “flying”. Oh, I guess it will all unfold at its own sweet pace.


      • Thalia says:

        Yes. Good for me and hooray for you. I mean we’ll see. But it wants out real bad right now.

        I’d say wrens are about bravery without consideration for size or apparent disadvantage or even cuteness. They really just kinda don’t care. They’re WRENS, dammit, and they’ll get RIGHT IN YOUR FACE about it and don’t you forget it!


  3. Cat says:

    Even if the Justice/Two of Arrows thing seems to have been cleared up, I still would like to shed some light on the discrepancies between Wildwood Tarot book and deck (and they ARE there – e.g. the Archer). You see, the book is pretty much a reprint of Mark Ryan’s book for the Greenwood Tarot. And the Greenwood cards created by Chesca Potter DO match these descriptions for the most part.
    Unfortunately, no one seems to have bothered to check carefully if the book still makes sense with the new images drawn by Will Worthington…

    And: ewwww! I never noticed the strange boob of the Ancestor – and now I can’t un-see it. It’s probably good that I never got a copy of the Wildwood. I’d send so much nasty feelings towards that deck, it would probably just give me nasty readings in return…


    • submerina says:

      Thank you for clearing that up! I knew about the Greenwood “kerfuffle”, but didn’t realise that the book had just been basically re-used. That’s a bit weird, really. I don’t have a prior connection to the Greenwood, so I’m able to enjoy this deck for itself, but I understand how other people could be less-than-pleased with how it was created. You definitely want to avoid nasty readings ;)


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