You can read an introduction to the light & shadow series and find links to its other installments >> here! If you aren’t yet familiar with my interpretation of the card you might want to read up on its meanings before you continue with this article.
The Ship is probably one of the cards which at first glance seem rather neutral with a strong positive bias. All of its main meanings – departure, journey/exploration, change, and wanderlust – seem, in many contexts, to be welcome things. But if you look at bit closer, positive and negative implications, productive and unproductive mutations of the main meanings, will start to look a lot more evenly balanced.
The Ship suggests productive, positive, issues and goings-on as long as change, the experience of the unknown, and being on the way, are experienced as a good thing. In such contexts the card represents welcome adventures.
If the Ship in our readings represents for changes that we ourselves make, this will in almost all contexts also be something we experience as something positive, and almost definitely productive, healthy. Especially if we have thought about things before acting, and if we are acting without pressure from the outside, the Ship will represent changes which we make eagerly, confidently; changes that are good and important to make – or the general ability to make productive changes in our life.
The Ship can represent a person who is very open to trying new things, open to explore, or a person who isn’t dependent on one specific location, or very few specific familiarities, in order to feel steady and happy. And finally, it can stand for a person who is able to leave when it’s time to.
On the other hand, the Ship suggests unproductive, negative issues and goings-on if the querent is a very unsettled person or someone who cannot assess risks realistically. In such cases the Ship represents dangerous adventures; foolhardy, irresponsible experimenting.
While we might experience making changes ourselves empowering it doesn’t necessarily follow that the changes we make are good and healthy. If the Ship is drawn for a person who is wont to make rash decisions, or to act before they have the necessary knowledge or skill, then the Ship might have to be read as a warning that for this person now might be the wrong time to make changes.
Furthermore, the Ship can warn us that our inability (or unwillingness) to stay put or maintain the status quo even for a little while is becoming harmful. The Ship can represent someone who gets bored with anything and anyone as soon as they have become familiar with them; someone who can’t stay put even if they would like to, someone with serious commitment issues.