Cattle Guard

I was driving down to the post office today (8 miles of gravel roads, right now they are a blend of snow, ice, mud, and blessedly dry patches) and as I slowed waaaaay down for the cattle guard with the extra bumpy crossing, I thought that it would make an excellent card in an oracle deck.

Card: The Cattle Guard


I live in a place where not only do the deer and the antelope roam, but so do the cattle. If you live near a ranch and don’t want cattle on your land, you’ll have to fence it in and either lock the gate or put up a cattle guard.

cattle guard

This nifty barrier was probably invented sometime in the early 1900s. The metal bars are far enough apart so that the cattle (or sheep or sometimes deer and elk) will not walk across. This keeps the cattle on one side of the barrier and stops them from roaming too far. It’s difficult to walk across – especially when its icy and snowy (I’ve tried) and too far to jump. Cars and trucks cross just fine.

Cattle guard closeup

As I drive down my road, I encounter four cattle guards, each keeping a particular herd of cattle in their own range. I still have to drive carefully, just in case there are some in the roadway just around the bend and out of my sight range – and the rancher doesn’t have to worry they’ll roam too far.

There’s one place where the roadway is still landscaped as if there was a cattle guard. But there isn’t. I (a relatively clever human) know this, and still, I slow down each time – then smile and shake my a head a little as I pass by. Fooled again!

The cattle are also fooled. They’ve been seen pooling up on one side of the non-existent guard. Everything these cattle have learned tell them that this is a place where they should not pass, they could get hurt. However, their eyes tell them it’s safe. They get confused and they muddle around, and generally err on the side of caution to meander off and find someplace safer to graze.


We do this over and over again in our lives. We encounter a person, a situation, an experience — something that looks like – that reminds us of – an old barrier that we are in the habit of avoiding. Instead of examining it more closely to see if it is safe for us now to move past the barrier, we follow the cows and graze someplace else. Someplace where we don’t have to try and fail, try and get hurt. Nope! We might be fooled but at least we’re not hurt.

If you get the Cattle Guard card in your reading it’s time to look more closely at the barriers in your life. Are you limited in love? Finances? Professional opportunities? A chance to travel? Get closer, put out your hand – is the barrier real or imagined? Would you be 100% safe to walk right on over that barrier as if it wasn’t there (ssshhh, it isn’t!)?



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