Last week I took a short vacation to the stunning North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. At one point, we decided to attempt a hike down a mountain through the woods on a hardly visible trail. We were warned that it was a hike for experts. After getting lost and feeling like we were in way over our heads, we left and headed for a State Park, with clearly marked and groomed trails. The experience was unsettling. And it made me wish I had tried harder to see my way through the wilderness, to find the path, to settle down and enjoy the beauty that was around me. But when strong emotions, such as fear, are triggered, they can override every other experience.
That experience reminded me of the Tarot of the Secret Forest, a unique double-sided deck. When I use this deck, I feel like I’m in the woods on an unmarked path. Luckily, in a reading, it is easier to calm down than when I’m in the woods on a mountain. In the middle of the fear and unknowing, secrets and treasures can be found, if we only look. When Lucia Mattioli created this deck, she was thinking about Japanese wisdom that says insects are born from decomposing vegetation and are therefore the precise thing that should be there at that time.
In a similar way, our present moments are created by the alchemy of everything in our lives at that moment. But often we cannot see the good or rightness in a situation; we just see the bad or are too afraid or worked up to see anything positive. We feel lost in a forest but wish to be in a lovely garden. This deck poses the question: where does the forest end and hidden garden begin? The spread below was inspired by the Tarot of the Secret Forest but can be used with any deck. The Hidden Garden Spread helps us understand that the dark forest and hidden garden are one. Only by slowing down and carefully examining things with our hearts as well as our eyes, can we see this truth.
- Trees: This is what you fear or don’t like about your situation, what you think is hiding your garden.
- Faerie: Something you should believe in and accept in your heart in order to see the beauty around you.
- Gnome: Something you can do to feel more at home in your situation and even to cultivate and to nurture it.
- Wild flower: Something of beauty or value that you either don’t recognize as such or that you are overlooking.
- Bramble: Something that you are obsessed about or fixated on in a negative way that is hindering you.
- Garden: The garden you will find when you open your eyes to the wonders that are already around you.
Compare cards 1 and 5, looking for a common theme. See how cards 2 and 3 help change the focus of cards 1 and 5. Relate cards 1—5 to card 6 for a full picture of the situation. If you are using the Tarot of the Secret Forest, try also flipping over cards 4 and 5 to see a different view of them.