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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Interview with The Wildwood Tarot (by Zanna)

(To read my review of this lovely deck, click HERE.)

When I was very young, I lived on a street called Wildwood Road. At the end of the road was a wooded area with a creek. I loved to walk to that creek and wander through the trees. When the creek was dry, my friends and I would hike its entire length, pretending we were explorers or detectives or woodland spirits.

It seems appropriate to travel in my mind to that wooded creek for my interview with The Wildwood Tarot. I sit on a tree stump and listen to the sounds of the forest as I wait to see who will appear.

I do not wait long. A burst of flames in the middle of a nearby clearing startles me, and I rise to greet a wild-looking figure holding a tall, unfinished bow stave in each hand. It is from these staves that the flames arise. The TWO OF BOWS stands before me. I feel like backing away, but I decide to hold my ground. This seems to please the wildman.

"Your confidence is to be commended," he says. "For you will need to be brave and bold if you wish to read with The Wildwood Tarot. You cannot shrink from decisions, nor can you allow your energies to flare unchecked. If you are prepared to balance and manage these energies, you may proceed with this interview."

I sense that this is a situation in which "he who hesitates is lost," so I take a deep breath and assure the wildman that I am prepared to do what he describes.

He nods curtly. "Then you may ask your first question."

How would you describe your essence or essential energy? 
"My essence or essential energy is primary and primal, masterful and magical. I walk between worlds and I travel through time. My tools are a roebuck skull rattle (Air), a stone knife (Earth), a smoking bundle (Fire), and a hollow antler-tine cup (Water). I reach into levels of consciousness that defy human understanding. I use my magic with intent. I bring inner working and meditation to life in the physical world as I apply wisdom from the otherworld to everyday reality."

Which card do you feel reflects my essence or essential energy?
"Your essence or essential energy is represented by the dance of three white cranes among three goblets -- one golden, one green, and one white. This is a dance of joy, connection, and celebration. In your case, this energy is often hidden or suppressed, for you fear the pain you may suffer when it departs -- which it will do. Yet in every case, joy will return again. This is what you must understand. Life moves in cycles within you and without you. You may feel "safe" when you block or repress emotions, but these emotions are still with you, and they will express themselves one way or another. Allow yourself to join the joyful dance of the cranes, knowing that you are strong enough to weather any letdown that may follow."

What story do you hope to tell me?
EIGHT OF BOWS (Hearthfire)
"I hope to tell you of the warmth, light, and friendship available to you through the shared consciousness of the human spirit. You are never alone. Security and harmony dwell in the midst of any gathering of kindred spirits, whether this is a physical gathering or a spiritual one. I hope to tell you a story of personal peace and collective well-being."

What should I not expect from you?
FOUR OF BOWS (Celebration)
"Do not expect me to take the place of human connections and camaraderie. I know that you tend to be reclusive and might wish to dwell too long in the otherworld, within the images on my cards. But this is not the best thing for you. Revisit my answers to your previous questions, and you will understand more."

Which card most closely represents us as a team?
THE JOURNEY (Trump 13)
"We journey together into the darkness, by the light of a full moon. As a team, we are the circling ravens and the horned skull; we are death and life; we are endings and beginnings. Together we can reveal illusions for what they are, lay to rest that which is no longer useful, and journey forward into the light. Together we celebrate the past even as we turn toward the future."

One by one the images fade, until I am left again with just the wildman and his flames.

"Decisions," he says. "Every turn, every twist, on every path requires decisions."

With a whoosh and a crackle, the man and the fire vanish. Soon the wooded creek also disappears into my memory.

The Wildwood Tarot
By Mark Ryan and John Matthews
With card illustrations by Will Worthington
Published by Sterling Ethos (an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.) 
ISBN 978-1-4027-8106-3

Thursday, May 26, 2011

REVIEW: The Wildwood Tarot

Every time I try to tell myself "NO MORE TAROT DECKS" I see a new deck that calls to me. The call of The Wildwood Tarot was loud and insistent, and I am glad I responded.

The Wildwood Tarot is a reconception of The Greenwood Tarot, which was published in 1996 by Thorsons and is now out of print. Whereas The Greenwood Tarot was a collaborative effort by artist Chesca Potter and actor/writer Mark Ryan, The Wildwood Tarot was created by Mark Ryan, author John Matthews, and artist Will Worthington.

Matthews describes some of the differences between The Greenwood Tarot and The Wildwood Tarot as follows: "In its new form, the vision is still mostly Mark's, but here and there we have worked together to enhance the imagery and meanings of the cards, added substantially to the Minor Arcana, and generally made what was already a dynamic Tarot into something new, to reflect the most ancient worlds of the forest and those who dwell within them."

"Based on seasonal rhythms and ancient festivals, The Wildwood Tarot gift set draws inspiration from pre-Celtic mythology and shamanic mysteries. This stunning new deck introduces us to classic forest archetypes--including the Green Man and Woman, Archer, and Blasted Oak--and explains how to use them as a meditation system, divinatory oracle, or reference. Will Worthington's powerful pagan images connect us with a long-lost world that can help us make sense of our own."

The deck follows the Rider Waite model, with 78 cards, 22 trumps, and four suits.

The names of the Major Arcana cards differ from those in the RWS; however, many of the cards are similar to the RWS Majors. For example, Trump 0 is The Wanderer (rather than The Fool), but the figure on the card is "poised on the edge of a white chalk cliff," preparing to "step across the abyss and into the Wildwood beyond." The Wanderer "is ready to make the leap into the unknown -- all that is required is faith." Instead of The Magician as Trump 1, we have The Shaman. The other Majors are:
2 - The Seer
3 - The Green Woman
4 - The Green Man
5 - The Ancestor
6 - The Forest Lovers
7 - The Archer
8 - The Stag
9 - The Hooded Man
10 - The Wheel
11 - The Woodward
12 - The Mirror
13 - The Journey
14 - Balance
15 - The Guardian
16 - The Blasted Oak
17 - The Pole Star
18 - The Moon on Water
19 - The Sun of Life
20 - The Great Bear
21 - The World Tree

The suits of the Minor Arcana are Arrows (Air), Bows (Fire), Stones (Earth), and Vessels (Water). The King, Queen, Knight, and Page of each suit are animals. The subtitle for each Court Card is the name of the animal pictured on the card. The Ace through Ten of each suit are also given subtitles. For example, the Ace of Arrows is "The Breath of Life," the Two of Arrows is "Injustice," the Three of Arrows is "Jealousy," and so forth.

I find some of the subtitles to be particularly intriguing. For example, the Six of Stones is "Exploitation." I generally think of the Six of Pentacles as representing generosity -- giving to or receiving from someone else. The card traditionally shows a wealthy person giving money to a poor person. "Exploitation" confers a different twist. Both of the figures on this card are begging. A broken rake lies on the ground behind them. Damaged, abandoned bee hives sit on stones in the background. This card is about the human race's exploitation and overuse of non-sustainable resources.

The human beings depicted on the cards are shown, when fitting, as neither male nor female. This was done in order to make the various archetypes accessible to everyone.

Although slightly larger than regular playing cards, these cards are easy to handle at 4-3/4 inches by 3 inches. The stock is sturdy. The finish is glossy. The backs of the cards are deep forest green. White borders surround the images on the faces of the cards. Card titles and subtitles appear in black at the bottom of each card. I am pleased with the quality of the printing. The images are sharp and clean.

The 160-page book that accompanies this deck is well worth reading and studying. It features two prefaces: one by Mark Ryan and one by John Matthews. An Introduction by Mark Ryan is also included. The write-up for each card is accompanied by a small picture of the card. The text and images inside the book are dark green. Quotations from such notables as Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, and Carlos Castaneda are inserted at appropriate intervals.

On page 26 we see The Wheel of the Year, which underlies the Wildwood Tarot system. For each Major Arcana card, the authors describe the card's Position on the Wheel. This is followed by Description, Meaning, Reading Points, and "Roots and Branches" -- a list of key words/phrases for the card.

For each suit of the Minor Arcana we are given a quotation, Position on the Wheel, Element, and Associations (key words/phrases). For the individual Minor Arcana cards, we are given Description, Meaning, and Reading Points. Court Cards are also given a set of key words/phrases called "Tracks and Pathways."

The last section of the book is called Finding Your Way: Working with the Deck. Several spreads are included. I especially like The Pathway Spread, which explores The Issue, Action to Avoid, and Action to Take.

I have been a fan of Will Worthington's art ever since I acquired The Druid Animal Oracle deck many moons ago. He also illustrated The Druid Plant Oracle, The Green Man Tree Oracle, and The DruidCraft Tarot. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you may want to visit Will Worthington Art.

Not being a professional art critic, I can only tell you that I love Worthington's renderings of the cards in The Wildwood Tarot. The level of detail is delightful. The images are evocative, and each is unique in its own way, while maintaining a consistent tone and *feel*.

This deck will appeal to people interested in what Mark Ryan calls "cultural and spiritual awareness of our relationship to the inner landscape of our mind" as represented by an "ancient, nature-based mythos."  A familiarity with the traditional RWS card meanings is helpful when using this deck, but be prepared to re-examine the implications and messages in the context of nature-based traditions and cycles.

(To read my interview with this wonderful deck, click HERE.)

The Wildwood Tarot
By Mark Ryan and John Matthews
With card illustrations by Will Worthington
Published by Sterling Ethos (an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.) 
ISBN 978-1-4027-8106-3

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Do I Want? (by Zanna)

Living Tarot (Ferol Humphrey, Director) recently posted a reading on Facebook using a 2-card spread that I just *had* to try. With all the hustle and bustle of getting ready to move across the country, not to mention the fact that I have many fingers in many pies, I thought maybe it would help me center myself to draw two cards asking (1) What do I want? and (2) How do I get it?

For this reading I was drawn to the Tarot of the Era of Aquarius (Designer, Artist: Marina Bolgarchuk. Country of Publication: Russia). The scenes and characters on these cards carry a distinctly "fantasy" feeling to them (as opposed to a "Russian Culture and Civilization" feeling).

While shuffling the cards, I meditated on the two questions. The following cards came forward:

(1) What do I want?
I tend to view Queens as being related to the element Water, and the suit of Swords as being associated with the element Air. What I want could be described as "Water of Air" -- a balanced blend of emotion and intellect, feelings and reason, heart and mind. The Queen of Swords has a discriminating mind, which I certainly desire, but she also can be seen as critical, particularly of herself. I really do want to be discerning and discriminating, yet I want to avoid using my Sword (criticism) as a weapon, especially against myself! Instead, I desire to use my Sword as a tool that separates fact from fiction, illusion from reality, and truth from falsehood. I also see this Water/Air blend as involving a balance between emotional detachment and emotional involvement.

(2) How do I get it?
The woman on this card strikes me as being not only old, but wise. She gives an impression of "the past" or "days gone by." She also looks a bit sad and a bit reserved, focused inward. With Cups representing emotions and the subconscious, I get the sense that the way in which I deal with my past internally will have a significant impact on my ability to get what I want. The past is the foundation on which we build our present and future. It cannot be ignored. It must be respected. But how much influence should it have? If I want to move forward and obtain what I want, I cannot dwell in the past or assign an importance to it that goes beyond what it deserves. I must not idealize or romanticize aspects of my past that I consider "positive", nor should I shrink from or overemphasize elements of my past that I consider "negative." The amount of power I give to my past is up to me. I need to reach a place of stability and harmony, as indicated by the number Six. I need to use my past to fuel my efforts in the present, to create my desired future. I need to emerge from my past and spend less time there than I currently spend.

Food for thought!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Journey through My Decks: 7 of Cups (by Zanna)

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the SEVEN OF CUPS from The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti (Llewellyn Worldwide).

"Cups filled with intriguing images hover
over the water. They have risen out of the
subconsciousness. You are faced with
many choices, opportunities, and dreams."
~ Barbara Moore ~

In the companion book for this deck, Barbara Moore tells us that in The Gilded Tarot, the suit of Cups is associated with the element Water, representing emotions, relationships, and creativity. She writes that Sevens commonly represent reflection, assessment, and motives.

The Seven of Cups offers high potential for inspiration but also for distraction. It may be appropriate to reflect on a situation and assess various options. However, we must be careful not to let this activity divert us from pursuing our chosen path or true course. We need to make a choice from the options presented and follow through. Otherwise all the lovely options remain mere "castles in the air" – possibility rather than reality.

Book T calls the Seven of Cups "Illusionary Success" and associates it with the placement of Venus in Scorpio. When we are completely taken in by enticing distractions, we may fall under the illusion that we are successful. We need to be aware of the potential for deception and error.

Barbara Moore does not discuss the specific contents of the cups on this card. What I see are symbols that relate to Air, Fire, and Earth. Water, of course, is represented by the body of water that covers the bottom half of the card. A quick glance at The Dictionary of Symbols by Jack Tresidder (Chronicle Books LLC) provides a few more ideas:
  • Candle flame: spiritual illumination
  • Fire: divine energy, revelation, sexual passion
  • Stars: supremacy, constancy, guidance, aspiration
  • Rainbow: optimism, bridge between supernatural and natural worlds
  • Bubbles: evanescence (especially of earthly life)
  • Dove: peace, love, hope
  • Ivy: immortality, tenacity of life and of desire