Journeying is an archetypal human experience. I often feel the call to adventure as Winter turns to Spring, the urge to get out of the house and experience home on the road. Staying in one place for too long so easily and inevitably becomes a stagnant routine. Emerson said: “The problem with traveling is you take yourself with you.” It’s true that you can’t rely on a change of setting to take the place of inner dynamism, but I would rephrase Emerson’s aphorism to read, “The problem and possibility of traveling…” Traveling can be a change of scenery to distract from inner stagnation, but it can also be a secular pilgrimage, a voyage of discovery and transformative rite of initiation. Travel can bring you into contact with other cultures that can give you perspective on your culture and conditioned assumptions. There are so many forms of travel, inner, outer, international, interdimensional… but pick your traveling companions, if any, with great care! If you haven’t observed a person under acute stress you may not know who they are and may be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised.
Wilderness sojourns are a particularly powerful form of travel. It is all too easy to spend most of your incarnation inside a series of rectilinear enclosures forever cocooned by all the conveniences of technological civilization. But there is something in the human spirit that longs for the depths of the forest, desert canyons, mountain tops, oceans and caves. Life is not meant to be lived always indoors, surrounded by plasterboard and wires. Get out into the sunlight and sleep under the stars. Life is a journey; so don’t film the whole movie of your life indoors, lit by electric light. Answer the call to adventure!
It is also possible that this card could refer to an intense and metamorphic inner journey. The Wanderer would also apply to new situations (a new job, social situation) even if this doesn’t mean geographical change. Finally, we are all on a journey, traveling through human incarnation from birth to death. The core of the Wanderer’s stance is relevant, therefore, to any human life.
See I Ching Hexagram # 56 “The Wanderer” From the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching:
When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances, therefore he should not give himself airs. He must be cautious and reserved; in this way he protects himself from evil. If he is obliging toward others, he wins success.
A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore he must take care to remain upright and steadfast, so that he sojourns only in the proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good fortune and can go his own way unmolested.
From Sarah Dening’s The Everyday I Ching:
The current situation is temporary. Do not let yourself get too deeply involved. Be prepared for change. Avoid making a commitment to any particular person or situation. Consider this as a time when you can gather information, expand your horizons and make discoveries about yourself and others. Be practical and willing to adapt to whatever changes may occur. When meeting new people, be respectful but also cautious at first and a little reserved. Associate only with those whose motives you feel you can trust. Do not compromise your self-respect in an effort to win acceptance. If you are sincere and courteous, the right people will assist you. Be sure to express your gratitude to anyone who gives you a helping hand. Where possible, be helpful in return.
An opportunity for personal growth
You are wandering in unfamiliar territory without a map. Your journey is about exploring new ideas and possibilities, perhaps even a new identity. You will be quite safe as long as you observe certain ground rules. Whatever the situation, treat it as a learning experience. Most importantly, be self-reliant. Because circumstances could change at any time, you cannot depend too much on others. This means that your only true security lies within. You are therefore thrown back on your own resources. This gives you an opportunity to develop your ability to cope with the unfamiliar. If you can be at ease with yourself regardless of circumstances, you will respond to whatever happens in the most appropriate way.