Departure, journey, change, wanderlust

About the meaning: All my interpretations of the Ship start with the fact that ships used to be the means of transport for long distance travel. While, as usual, I elaborate a bit on the traditional meanings, my general thrust is very close to them on the whole. Only business, commerce, which traditionally are important meanings of the Ship, I reallocate to the Fish.

Departure / good-bye / absence: This first dimension of meanings is about the very first part of a voyage: the departure. The Ship represents farewells to me, the saying of good-byes, and actual departures. It can stand for the act of leaving something or someone behind. As the representative of someone or something else, the Ship can stand for something which is missing, for someone who has left. It can mean that a relevant person is absent, or, less spatially and more mentally or socially thinking, who is going their own way.

Journey / (ad)venture / distance / not there yet: A ship is a means for going on a voyage. Thus, actual journeys, actual travelling, are often used meanings of the card traditionally. For me personally, for the type of questions I ask the cards, they aren't often productive, though. I have found it more useful to interpret the Ship as any type of venture I embark on, especially ventures which don't lead me to new places literally speaking but metaphorically speaking. In that sense, the Ship not just represents actual adventures to me, but also adventurousness as a disposition. Another important traditional meaning of the Ship is long distance, and internationality. Again, while I feel they are both very appropriate symbolic meanings of a ship, I only rarely find them applicable. So I usually interpret "distance" metaphorically, too. From this angle, the card can be saying that I'm not there yet, that there's still a considerable gap between where I am now and where I want to be. In relationship readings, the Ship can represent long-distance relationships. But it could for example also be saying that there is an emotional distance between the parties concerned, or, that they have quite a long way to go yet until they are truly, intimately, on the same page as a couple.

Change of environment / to change something / exploration: So, a ship is a means to travel. Why do we travel? Sometimes we go on a journey just to "get away". In this sense, the Ship is about a need for a change of environment. It can, for example, be suggesting that it would be a good idea to move to a different country. Less literally thinking, it suggests to do things differently. It could stand for leaving our nest, for a change of job, or even for the attempt to change an unproductive habit. Basically, the Ship to me represents changes that we make; changes that we ourselves set in motion. It stands for the attempt to do things differently, to do new things. Closely related to "doing things differently" is exploration. Often, we don't go on a journey to leave something behind but because we want to explore the yet unknown. In this sense, the Ship represents anything related to exploration: not just experimental probing but also research, investigation. It can even stand for the simple act of looking for something or someone we have lost or whose whereabouts we don't know. And it can stand for anything which is foreign to us, new.

Atmosphere of departure / wanderlust / lack of commitment: The Ship can represent not just journeys we are already on or at least about to embark on, but also the unbearable wanderlust we develop, the itchy feet we start to feel, when we stay put for longer than we should. The Ship can represent the atmosphere of departure which sometimes develops long before we actually leave. Consequentially, the Ship might be an indication for someone's unwillingness to stay, for the inability to settle down comfortably. In relationship readings it may represent the unwillingness to commit - not because of a lack of love or respect but because of a sense that "there is so much else to discover yet!". In this sense, the Ship can represent someone who won't stay with us.

See also the annakblogs article >> So, is the Ship a positive or negative card?

About the Image: Because to me the Ship is a lot about change that we ourselves set in motion I decided against depicting the ship from an outsider's perspective, but instead from the sailor's perspective. The viewer is right inside the ship, travelling in it, possibly even steering it themselves. They are either just about to leave their home waters, departing into the open ocean, or coasting along a foreign shore, about to explore it.
The reason why I chose a rather cold, northern setting as background is partly a matter of personal taste, and partly irrespective of that, and more complex. Firstly, I simply feel drawn to the north - Ireland, Scotland, the Scandinavian countries, and Iceland. These countries have a raw beauty that touches my heart more than any other kind of landscape, which awakes wanderlust in me more than anything else does. So when I think of making a journey I always think of these countries first.
But secondly, when I researched ships in the course of history, I happened upon the Vikings. The Vikings were, in their high time, the most adventurous boatmen then known. With their agile but strong wooden longboats they even went as far as North America, long before Christoph Columbus reached the South! So I thought it very fitting to paint a wooden ship resembling a Viking longboat, and a landscape that might well be Greenland.  
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