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.
In the beginning the Tree’s meanings seemed so obviously positive to me that for quite a while I didn’t even consider negative implications. But actually there are quite a few!
The Tree at first glance seems to suggest exclusively productive, positive, issues and goings-on. And considering that we humans are physical beings, and that as such our bodies are of the utmost importance, the attention to our body and to our physical needs which the Tree represents is indeed most often a very good and important thing, especially if it is accompanied by understanding and respect for our biological reality.
The slow but constant growth the card represents is hard to see as anything else but a good thing as well, and “thriving” seems to be positive almost by definition.
If the querent is going through difficult times or is a daydreamer, or wont to fall in the trap of ideological woo, the Tree advises pragmatism, the adoption of a calm(er) attitude and a realistic, more materialistic view of life. If the querent is unsettled, unstable, fickle, it would be a very good idea for them to find out what roots them, where they belong – for rootedness, and having a strong sense of belonging, can bring a lot of serenity, steadfastness, and robustness, to our disposition.
The Tree very well suggests unproductive, negative issues and goings-on if we consider that for some people what begins as paying attention to their body and its needs turns into an inability to focus on anything else. If the Tree appears in a reading for such a person it can be seen as alerting them to something very negative, unproductive: their unhealthy obsession with parts of or all of their body, or with specific body functions, or with their physical state as a whole.
I mentioned above that growth, and thriving, is hard to see as anything else but a good thing. But if that which is growing or thriving is something bad, unwholesome, unwelcome (e.g. a parasite – metaphorically speaking -, a sense of shame, or corruption) the Tree represents nothing good!
And while rootedness and a sense of belonging are good things they can also become so strong that they make it difficult or impossible to change or move, even when that would be the healthy thing to do. In that sense also the Tree represents something very negative. It can represent cognitive and intellectual inflexibility: an inability to rethink.