This week’s Harrow card, The Tangled Briar, is a card that appears slightly foreboding at first. On the card itself, we see a mass of thorny vines and overgrowth covering the ground. In the center, a lone, tattered skeleton scarecrow rises up. Tied to its shoulders is a large sword. The sky appears to be overcast, as the skeleton looks slightly washed out.
The Tangled Briar is a card about obstacles in our path, but it is also about what lies beyond those same obstacles. The Briar itself is a dangerous thing, thick and dense, seemingly insurmountable. Within it, however, lies what we seek, and it is only by braving the tangled vines that we can attain it. The card is from the suit of Shields and corresponds to Constitution, the ability that covers endurance, especially if it’s physical.
The card is aligned Lawful Evil, which may lead us to believe that the Briar is a vicious or cruel thing. The Briar itself, however, is not inherently malicious. While it does hold danger, and trying to traverse it is a definite risk, the Briar also gives up the treasure at its heart if we are able to persevere. Indeed, should the card show up misaligned, the vines of the Briar represent not a danger but a hope for the future; the focus is not on the Briar itself but on the treasure it holds.
The best way to describe the seemingly dual nature of The Tangled Briar is by relating it to the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The prince of the story must make his way through a forest of thorny briars to reach the castle where Sleeping Beauty herself lies waiting. In many version of the story, the briar is created by the wicked fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty, laid down as another obstacle to block his path. In the version by Charles Perrault from 1697, however, the briars are created by the good fairy — that is, the one who tried to reverse the wicked fairy’s curse — as a way of protecting Sleeping Beauty from all but the one destined to wake her up. In both cases, the Briar is definitely an obstacle, but they vary wildly in the intent behind them.
The Briar has existed for many years, and it holds all the deeds of the past, no matter if those are failures or successes. The key to traversing it is to forge a new path that is built on the past but does not mimic it. The Briar has seen many people try to cut through its dense foliage, and it holds the memory of every trick and tactic people have used against it. The Briar encourages us to be inventive, rewarding ingenuity that is informed by experienc
Kyanite is an excellent stone to carry with us as we navigate through our own Tangled Briar. Kyanite continually refreshes itself, so it does not need to be cleansed. It can transfer this quality to any stones it’s carried with as well as to the person carrying them. It helps to open the mind to receiving new information, encouraging us to discover new ways of using old information, and it is a great aid for lucid dreaming. Onyx, on the other hand, is a great stone to bolster our strength and resolve. Whereas kyanite works on a psychic and high-consciousness level, onyx helps us stay strong, centered, and focused, giving us the perseverance and willpower to continue going deeper into the heart of the Briar itself.
Bright blessings, and may the cards be in your favor.
The Harrow deck is part of the Pathfinder RPG and is a fun alternative to a traditional tarot deck both for those familiar with the game, or those looking for a different framework for divination.