78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm On A Boat!
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” ~William Shedd

Sometimes when I'm listening to my iPod I can't help but hear a tarot card shout out through a song. The other morning this song came on my random shuffle and all I could think about was the Three of Wands.

WARNING: Probably NSFW, liberal use of the f-bomb will ensue if you choose to view this video

Are you laughing? I hope so. I was. Hard. That song is from The Lonely Island's debut comedy album "INCREDIBAD"(C) Universal Republic. The Lonely Island is Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone. I love it because it's contagious and perfectly captures the excitement of something simple. To me, the 3 of Wands means a lot of things, but one of its meanings is having one's ship come in. The most basic meaning of the idiom is that something very good has happened to you. Most often it is used in terms of financial wealth, but in tarot the suit for this ship's homecoming is not pentacles but fiery, passionate wands. It's that playful, passionate energy that I see in that video.

Other similarities to the card have to do with the number. In the beginning of the video, the prize is a boat ride for three.  Three is a pretty low number, but it's a first completion or achievement. How exciting to get to the point in one's endeavor when you can sit for a moment and just enjoy what life has brought to you. Make you want to jump up and down and shout, "I'm on a BOAT! Look at me! I'm on a BOAT!" It's a card of adventure, strength, commerce, and of approaching life with a "Let's Go!" attitude. The ship symbol  is commonly seen in rock carvings as far back as 5000 BCE. It can be found on funeral stones, in graves, and was believed to be one of the vehicles to reach the afterlife. You've probably heard of the mythological Charon who ferries dead folks over the River Styx on what? A boat. Boats have long been the most prolific symbol of good luck next to the dragon in China.  Boats take you places, bring things to us, allow us to cross an otherwise unnavigable ocean in order to expand our horizons.

The image of the ship or boat is featured in other RWS tarot cards as well.  The 2 of Pentacles shows ships on rough waters behind the dancing figure.  The 6 of Swords is all about a boat crossing water.  There is a ship in the distance behind Death.  The King of Cups shows a ship in the water beyond him as well.   Don't "miss the boat" in the cards because if you do, you miss out on some key symbolism in the reading.  Boats offer safe passage over water -- the element in tarot that represents emotions and the deep psyche.  They allow us to be in the water without being overwhelmed by it.  From a safe distance we can plumb the depths of our own emotions and the emotions of others and the situation, allowing objectivity while still being involved. 

In dream interpretation boats are usually indicative of something going on emotionally, depending on the condition of the water beneath the boat.  Various words and phrases seem to come up time and time again when discussing boats or travel by boat.  Words such as "involved","carried along","emotionally excited","having a good time","current" and "waves". Boat dreams are often linked to emotional excitement.  When we become excited by a project, a book, or something currently happening in our lives, boats may feature prominently in our dreams.  It makes sense.  Boats carry us, push us farther, propel us, inspire our imagination.  Wands do the same thing.  They inspire, propel, activate and recharge us.  Sometimes getting carried away is the only way to get there.

I guess that's what I really like about that video.  Silliness aside, it provokes a sense of wide-eyed excitement over something relatively commonplace.  Being on a boat is something not everyone in the world experiences and yet this is about more than just the boat ride itself, but about finally achieving something, reaching a small but significant pinnacle in one's life, seeing one's reward and reveling in it.