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 in discussion you might want to read up on its meanings before you continue with this article.
Both as the representative of a person – a child, or at least a very young person – and the representative of the core topics “small size”, “inexperience”, and “beginnings”, the Child is a rather ambivalent card. The presence of the person it represents, and the core topics, can all be experienced as positive or negative, productive or unproductive, depending on the context of the reading.
As the representative of a person, the Child represents productive, positive, issues and goings-on especially if you have a positive relationship with the young person the Child represents – and if this person is well and happy. In such cases, when the Child turns up in your reading, you’ll be happy to find this person represented there. You’ll be glad to see that they are thriving, or, if they are in a bad place right now but it is in your power to make the situation better, the cards surrounding the Child will help you realise what you could do to help them. Even if you have a negative relationship with the person, their presence in your reading could still trigger something very productive. It might help you think about the reasons for the negativity, and you might be able to open yourself up enough to figure out how you could make the relationship with them better.
As the representative of the core issue “small size” (and possible derivates, like “delicateness” or “vulnerability”) the Child represents productive, positive goings-on if small size in the context of the reading is a good thing. For example, it might turn out that problems you thought were huge are in fact rather small and easy to overcome. Or, the Child could help you understand that you’ve been unintentionally but repeatedly hurting someone because you didn’t realise that this person was quite delicate (and thus needed to be approached with more gentleness than you had been showing). And usually, acknowledging our own vulnerabilities is also very healthy, even if it doesn’t quite agree with our ego. It helps us to not put ourselves in situations in which we are too likely to get hurt.
In some contexts, even inexperience is a good thing. Yes, inexperience usually means that we lack expert knowledge. But another important implication of inexperience is that we also lack preconceived notions, that we have no prior bad experiences and are thus able to look at a situation unbiasedly, without fear. The Child might be suggesting that it would be productive to approach something with the mind of a child: openly, playfully, and putting aside prior bad experiences.
As far as beginnings are concerned, it is often highly productive to start afresh, or to stop being stubborn and just take the first step (e.g. towards reconciliation). And often the Child points to the beginning of something that we welcome and thus experience as something positive, something that we’ll want to nourish so it can develop further.
As the representative of a person, the Child represents destructive, negative, issues and goings-on especially if the young person the Child represents is unwell or unhappy and it is not in our power to make them better in any significant way. In that case, the Child’s presence in our reading might well feel quite negative, because it makes us sad, reminds us of how helpless we are. And because there’s nothing we can do, it might also be a non-productive card in such contexts (although probably not destructive as such). If our relationship with the person the Child represents is extremely negative, unhealthy, we might resent their presence in the reading so much that we are unable to turn it into something productive – unable to let it help us figure out how to make the relationship better, healthier. And if it’s not so much the case that the person the Child represents is very young but that they are actually an adult who is immature, or at least wont to act childishly, this is also something that (in most contexts I can think of) has to be considered an unproductive thing.
As the representative of the core issue “small size” the Child can represent negative and unproductive things if small size in the context of the reading is perceived as a bad thing. For example, the Child might warn you that a financial/emotional/etc. profit you were envisioning is likely to be much smaller than you were hoping for. Contrariwise, the Child can hint at the belittlement of something that in fact is a rather big deal. Belittlement is never productive as it is intrinsically tied to the denial of the truth. And while it is good to acknowledge one’s vulnerabilities, and while it is normal and not necessarily unhealthy to be vulnerable in some ways, in quite a few contexts the Child might be saying that right now our vulnerability (or, a specific vulnerability) is unnecessary, dangerous, unhealthy, and that we need to work on overcoming it.
Likewise, in many contexts “inexperience” is a bad thing. For yes, while inexperience often means that we can approach things more open-mindedly, with fewer biases, it also means that we lack (possibly essential) expert knowledge and might be in serious danger of mucking things up, and that we are also easily deceived or exploited.
As far as beginnings are concerned, if that which is beginning is something unhealthy – if, for example, the Child represents the early stage of a process of abuse – then it represents something negative in this regard as well, something unwholesome that needs to be stopped before it can develop further. And from a slightly different perspective, the Child could also be suggesting that something is done (or is happening or being expected) too early.