This Card Reminds Me of That Wildwood Tarot

Daily Draw July 3rd, 2011

I received the Wildwood Tarot last week and was amazed at the number of cards I loved, so I am going to do my usual visual comparison of a new deck. Some people do deck “interviews” but this is what I do. One of the great things about any deck with illustrations by Will Worthington, is his attention to detail on animals and birds. I have a great many decks I could have pulled cards from for comparison of this, but I decided to keep it to the ones that popped into my memory.

The first decorative object my husband and I bought after getting married 35 years ago was a framed picture of a Kingfisher. It has some foxing on the paper and the frame is falling apart but it is still hanging in my living room.

Naturally, the Kingfisher on the King of Arrows in the Wildwood is one of my favourites, and it reminded me of Susan Boulet’s beautiful painting of a kingfisher.

There is a paper model you can make of a kingfisher on this page. You need to download the patterns to cut out plus the instructions in separate PDF files, but the links are on this page. I often make paper models or paper dolls to go with my cards.

Herons have always meant a lot to me. I am awaiting the publication of the Gaian Tarot in its mass market edition, because the heron in the Death card from that deck just hit me right away months ago and I wanted it, wanted to work with it. I was so pleased to see a heron on the King of Vessels from the Wildwood, they are the most peaceful birds to watch; immediately calming in their majesty and slow, graceful mystery.

A while ago some cards depicting weaving came up in one of my daily draws and here it is again on the Wildwood Wheel card. I taught myself how to do basic weaving and bought myself a rigid heddle loom last fall, and I love to see weaving references pop up on cards. This is an Iron Age loom, reminding me of the rich history of weaving in the world and a book I bought called Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times.

In the accompanying book to this tarot it states: “The loom waits for the skilful hand of the unseen weaver to complete the pattern of possibilities and potential that constitutes fate and chance.” I like that idea of completing the pattern with this card. I also think anyone who creates will understand the cycles of creativity, which are like a wheel turning, even when we don’t want it to turn.

This one is self-explanatory. I’m sorry Will, I couldn’t help myself, it was the hair.

And speaking of hares, I found this card interesting as it depicts female hares. I often generalize and feel that male animals are the ones who have rituals like this; it reminds me of springboks or deer fighting, and cats will rear up and box each other like this if they are really angry with each other. It also reminded me very much of a card from the Tarot of the Animal Lords.

Yet another beautiful bird card that instantly reminded me of a well-known quilt artist and a wallhanging she made many years ago. I had a copy of it in a calendar once, and it was burned in my memory. White cranes often do a little dance, they are known for it in the way herons are known for the stillness of their fishing stance.

I like the contrast and clarity of the illustrations in the deck, the light, the colours, saturated but somewhat subdued on some cards. The snow and wolf on this card reminded me of the intense Fenris Wolf and its legend from the Fantastical Creatures Tarot. That wolf was the card that caused me to buy that deck, and similarly, the Wildwood has lots of mythology in it, which is always appealing to me in decks.

And here’s another one that spoke to me! I was given a lovely figurine of a lynx about 30 years ago for Christmas and it is displayed with my cat figurine collection. It came to see its new card friend and have a chat. Then they went out and ripped a rabbit apart and gnawed on its bones and sucked out the marrow. Such is the reality of life. I like the realism in this deck, the nod to the often cruel or frightening aspects of nature.

These two were very similar, and the contrast of the birches in the Wildwood card is so vivid and exciting. I can almost smell the snow in this one. We have woods behind our house and I have often taken photographs of the birches in winter while walking my dogs.

I knew this card reminded me of some of Mindy Sommers’ work in the Luman Deck, but I had to browse a bit to find the right card I held in my mind’s eye. There is something about the light and the colours in these two cards that match in my mind. I am so tired of Moon cards and spooky women and menstruation references, so this is greatly refreshing. In the book Mark Ryan refers to “…the nutrient-rich swamp full of potential energy and creative power.” There is also a heron on this card and some crows. Crows are spooky and otherworldly and I can hear their calls when looking at this card, and the swamp goes so well with the other card, both are gorgeously evocative images. Creative power IS a journey, the birth of something incubating just under the surface.

What ramble would be complete without a reference to Dante? My beloved Dante weaves himself into everything meaningful it seems. When I saw the Ten of Bows card it took me right to William Blake’s image of Dante and Virgil ascending the mountain to get to Purgatory. Ascension is often accompanied by burden and responsibility, but there is light on the horizon, burning through cloud.

I usually wrap these things up with a scan of my favourite card from a deck. This is the one that immediately hits me visually, without any second-guessing about archetype or meaning. I can hear the water splashing and continually moving, oxygenating, rebirthing itself, as we must. I never owned the Greenwood Tarot that was the precursor to this one. Frankly, I am baffled at all the comparative nonsense and complaining that goes on when people discuss the two decks. This is today, this is the deck today, we are back to realism and the world as it is. I have great respect for Mark Ryan in realizing this—look where he’s flowing, onward, over and through.

This visual study only touches the surface. I have read most of the book and I like the meditative approach to these cards. It is not surprising since John Matthews was involved in some of the writing with the Wildwood. His Hallowquest deck also takes a meditative approach and the original deck with the black archway borders, pulls you into the card. I had a most unusual study of the Seeker in that deck, and felt like I was in a movie I was pulled so far into the scene during a meditation. The clarity of it has stayed with me, the magic of that canyon below me is there forever.

This deck is going to be like that too.



4 thoughts on “This Card Reminds Me of That Wildwood Tarot

  1. I absolutely loved this post! What a delight to read! You brought to my attention many details I had missed in the Wildwood Tarot. I love how the deck is full of animals, specially birds, that I love. I just miss the owls… the deck should have owls, lol!

    The comparisons were very interesting, and I am glad you took the time to share these ideas, because they definitely expanded my own view of the cards.

    And yes, Mermaid Cher rules! 😉

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