16: The Blasted Oak


The Blasted Oak is numbered sixteen of the Major Arcana in the Wildwood Tarot. Here, it serves to represent two cards that you would conventionally find in tarot decks that are clones of the traditional Rider-Waite style, like the Gilded Tarot. 16: The Blasted Oak combines the elements of the Tower and the Hanging Man.

The Hanging Man is customarily characterized by a man, hanging upside down. This positioning depicts behaviors that are inconsistent with those expected and taught by society. He is similar to the Fool, but the difference here is that the Hanging Man is not beginning his journey. He has already endured some great trial and has learned who he truly is. He is true to himself, thus he no longer needs the approval of his peers. The oak tree in the Blasted Oak, and the Hanging Man’s position in it, illustrates these concepts.

By combining the Hanging Man card with the Tower card, we change the dynamic drastically. The Tower signifies illumination, enlightenment and the destruction of old thought processes, outmoded ideas and behaviors. Oftentimes, you will see a man being flung from a crumbling tower that has been struck by lightning.

The Blasted Oak, therefore represents our perseverance over our obstacles and a deep understanding of self (the climbing of the tree), but even as we have liberated ourselves in a sense, we have still been bound here, by the barriers of our own beliefs, by detrimental behaviors or relationships, and now we are being awakened to those things.

The flash of lightning, the illumination we have needed, the sudden, painful experience that will deliver us to our fate, seems to be more harmful than helpful, but it burns away all prejudices, ill feelings, and confining thoughts. It illuminates and eliminates what no longer serves us and delivers us to our clean slate. It shows us where we have been holding ourselves back, and the pain of that becomes more unbearable than the pain of staying the same.

There is such beauty in the breakdown. Like the lotus, we have to fight our way out of the darkest, murky depths of our emotions and the constraints of our egos. We have to suffer the darkness to reach the light. This is the constant lesson of the universe.


Carl Sagan once said, “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

Those mysteries are constantly revealing themselves to us, and when something so deeply needs to be observed, circumstances will arise to bring us to these conclusions. It will be painful and it will destroy our every concept of ourselves, but it will continue to wake us up and show us the truth.

This card helps us to realize our greatest potential by teaching us who we are, what we are, and who, and what we are is so magnanimous that the average human mind cannot comprehend it. We are guided by our Source to the ultimate truth. As we begin to seek, we begin to receive.


“I heard the universe as an oratorio sung by a master choir of stars, accompanied by the orchestra of the planets and the percussion of satellites and moons. The aria they performed was a song to break the heart, full of tragic dissonance and deferred hope, and yet somewhere beneath it all was a piercing refrain of glory, glory, glory. And I sensed that not only the grand movements of the cosmos, but everything that had happened in my life, was a part of that song. Even the hurts that seemed most senseless, the mistakes I would have done anything to erase–nothing could make those things good, but good could still come out of them all the same, and in the end the oratorio would be no less beautiful for it.” 

– R. J. Anderson.


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