Friday 26 August 2011

Review: The Wildwood Tarot

The most amazing tarot reading I ever had was done for me using a deck called The Greenwood Tarot.I was astounded at the accuracy and insight of the reading, but I was also enchanted by the imagery of cards themselves.

Sadly, I learnt that The Greenwood Tarot was one of the rarest decks ever made. Long out of print and reaching prices of many hundreds of pounds second hand, it was pretty much the Holy Grail of tarot collectors. It was well out of my reach.

Then, just recently, a new tarot deck by Celtic history expert John Matthews and Mark Ryan, co-creator of The Greenwood Tarot, was released. Called The Wildwood Tarot, it has new and original artwork, by druid Will Worthington, but uses the same inspiration as the earlier deck - the natural world of forests and woodlands, the animals and birds that dwell there, the changing seasons and a pagan sense of connection to the ancestors and the spirits of the land.

Publisher Connections says on its website: "For many people today, woodlands are the last vestiges of an ancient world in which we had our beginnings. Such places are full of archetypal beings, from the more familiar Robin Hood to the shadowy Green Man. To walk in the wildwood is to take a journey back to the time where deep ancestral wisdom still resides, and where our partnership with these characters and creatures is as natural as breathing."

In a reading, the querent (the person asking a question) takes the role of a wanderer making a journey into the great forest. The characters, creatures and aspects of nature shown on the chosen cards are the guides or challenges they will encounter on their quest for an answer. They not only represent people and situations to be faced in the real world, but also the spiritual, mystical and psychological forces at work that can influence the outcome.

The book that comes with the set explains that The Wildwood Tarot system is based on cycles of nature - the "Wheel of the Year" as pagans call it. Our ancient forebears who existed when the land was mostly covered in forest had to live their lives by this pattern, following migrating herds of animals, gathering fruit and berries when they were ripe and finding shelter during the depths of winter to await the return of the sun and the promise of spring's renewal.

The cards of the deck take us back to this time to realise that, although we may live in modern cities, our basic spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological needs have not changed. We all want to find our place in the world, and a safe and happy passage through life with good companions along the way.

A guided meditation is included at the end of the book. It is a powerful visualisation, which takes the form of a journey through the wildwood, from spring through to winter, and introduces all archetypes depicted on the cards along the way.

I am really glad I have a copy of The Wildwood Tarot. It is a deck I know I will get a lot of use out of for many, many years to come.

The Wildwood Tarot can be ordered through Amazon.

Mark Ryan is a singer, actor and writer. He starred in Robin of Sherwoodand has written a graphic novel, The Pilgrim.John Matthews is an internationally acclaimed expert on the Celtic tradition. In 2003 he was the historical advisor to the film King Arthur and shared a BAFTA award for his work on the accompanying educational DVD. Will Worthington's previous artwork has appeared in The Druid Animal Oracle Deckand The Druid Craft Tarot Deck.
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Petra said...

Oh, the Wildwood Tarot looks amazing. I have Egorov Tarot which I got as a present 7 years ago. Recently I bought The Druid Craft Tarot which is also illustrated by Will Worthington :)

Dr Zei Tarot Card said...

This is such a magical deck. I have done a 4-part review of this Wildwood Set on my blog; though, not originally in English, images would be fine.

Anonymous said...

bought the set for 20$ from Barnes and Noble, and most places online want 30-50$ for it.

very amazing deck, artwork is incredible. the book is so-so, first 4 chapters are pretty much full of useless info.

Miraselena said...

"Bad Witch," trying to contact you about the Wildwood Tarot Workshop coming up in Nov 2012. There was one in the UK in April and now, both Mark Ryan and John Matthews are coming to Atlanta, GA (USA). A magickal weekend, for sure.

Badwitch said...

You can email me on I am always happy to list UK-based pagan events on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great review. I just ordered a new Wildwood deck on Amazon and can't wait to see those lavish drawings up close. Thanks for helping me find it!