12. bound



suspension – gift of the self – break from the world – reversal

12. bound

This card is called ‘bound’. First of all in its meaning of ‘bound to do something that you are not yet doing’. You know you will, later on. But for now the figure in the box is still suspended in time, wrapped in an active state of waiting. Obviously she is also ‘bound’ in the sense of ‘restricted’: the box is limiting her actions, and the way she can relate to the world. This is an isolation that has been voluntarily taken up, a space and time in preparation for what is to come. We could also understand this as a preparation for the big ‘bound’, the jump or leap of faith, letting go of everything we think we know and accepting what will present itself as the necessary outcome of the waiting. This is a ‘bound’ of irrational faith, a jump into an unknown future. For now still suspended in the unknown.


In Bound we see a woman upside down in a cube in the middle of the city. She is there, vulnerable, for anyone to see. But she is also separated from everyday life and has even chosen to take a reversed perspective on it. Next to her in the box is a plant, which could also be a phallic growth pushing up in the opposite direction to hers, possibly representing a fertile vine growing through the box, pointing out both the masculine and feminine character of this androgynous card. But it could also be an indication of a feminine resistance to a paternal order. In the sky we see the eagle, that stands for a change of perspective, a view from above that puts all in its relative place acknowledging it for what it’s worth. The eagle always stands for the connection to the spiritual and the divine, and in Bound it points to the spiritual work that has been undertaken, and that will guide the journeyer onto another plane of consciousness.

Bound is a card of surrender, or sacrifice. You could see the figure’s position as one of the foetus in the womb, already reversed but still waiting for its birth into the big unknown. Bound’s sister card is Care, and in that sense you could say that Bound is the outcome of the maternal care for the environment previously planted, and now blossoming into an attitude of self-effacing openness to the world, a readiness to take up one’s position in it. We could also see the upside-down position as a reversal of the usual order of the body which has the head as the ratio on top conducting the rest of the edifice, whereas here this vision is reversed: the head is no longer ruling, but becomes receptive to all other kinds of bodily signals that are produced.

Bound is the card that indicates the gift of the self to the world, the moment the ‘I’ loses its self-importance and is ready to give without speculating on the return on its investment. This card indicates the selfless transformation of the worldly ‘persona’ into the more ‘spiritual self’, connected in compassion to the world and everything in it. For this kind of rebirth a spiritual break is needed. A period of deepened engagement with the self that will eventually be played out in the world. In the form of a political engagement, a spiritual calling, the taking up of social responsibilities, or the realization of an artistic trajectory. These realizations are not products of the will to possess, to own or to grasp, but on the contrary, they come from an active readiness to accept one’s role in the world, even if it was not the one we projected for ourselves.

Historically we know a lot of spiritual, and political leaders initially had difficulty taking up their positions. They felt they were not ready, not equipped, not strong enough to ‘come out’ of their box into the full light of their societal responsibility. In this sense the box indicates a much needed incubation period, in which the message has to sink in and find a concrete form. But this is not a heroic card, not the card of major figures like Ghandi or Joan of Arc, muddled mystics like Simone Weil or deluded revolutionaries like Don Quichotte or Ulrike Meinhof only. Bound also speaks of the countless selfless workers in social care, in engaged politics and spiritual practices, that at some point gave up their previous perspective on life to start thinking out of the whole instead of the ego-produced center.

In a reading this card might mean that it is time for you to rethink your current position, turn it upside-down, and reformulate everything you think you believe in from another point of view. After Play this should not be so difficult. But now really take the time to let what you observe and understand sink in, and produce its consequential outcome. Organize this break from daily life attentively; try to find a space to grow, ban all distractions, and listen to what announces itself in the silence.

On the negative side this card might tell you that it is time to free yourself from bounds and limits you are ignoring. These might be generational: the influence your (grand)father or (grand)mother play in the way you perceive yourself. Or they might take the form of unaddressed feelings of self-doubt, causing you to be insecure and unable to fully embrace your potential for greatness. These feelings will inhibit you from taking on your social responsibility because any kind of engagement on that level seems unattainable to you. If Bound comes up in your past, this means that you are restricted by your your (family) history and the unresolved traumas that are still keeping your hostage. If Bound is placed in the future, this means that now is the time to start to restructure your relation to yourself and your loved ones, and transform your self-esteem by creating other, loving relations in the world through the selfless gift of your time and attention to the people or causes that need it.

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