Sunday, July 29, 2018

Deck Review: The Wildwood Tarot

I was fairly skeptical when this deck was first suggested as a good fit for me, but as much as I love
the Llewellyn I should have known better. I'm an avid collector of decks; however, over time I've found myself getting bored with the artistically stunning, but mythos lacking decks. I know many readers prefer decks which visually stimulate them for intuitive readings, but I generally prefer decks which offer a narrative.

Unfortunately with my reading style and deck preferences requiring more learning time, I felt that my habit of collecting was beginning to dilute my readings. It was time to take on a deck with more meat, and when I began working with The Wildwood Tarot, I was not disappointed.

At the point that I purchased the deck, I had not yet found my spiritual path. I have since joined a Druid Grove, and I was delighted to see how in tune the Wildwood is with my current spiritual journey. I regret delaying getting to know this deck for so long!

Creation

The deck was created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews with illustrations by Will Worthington. For fans of The Greenwood Tarot, the Wildwood is a re-energized version of this popular and out of print deck originally illustrated by Chesca Potter.

Cost

I found the deck on Amazon priced so affordably there was no way I wasn't at least giving the deck a shot. As of the time of this posting, the listing I purchased from was $13.34 USD. Normal retail is $19.95 USD.

Physical Attributes

The deck comes in a book-sized box, which I always find handy for storing the book and deck together. My one complaint is that it is a thinner box, which you have to split the deck into half in each section. This is simply a personal preference, but I enjoy how decks such as the Wild Unknown and Linestrider hold all the cards in a single slot and still have room for the book. Considering how affordable the deck is, I view this as an incredibly minor complaint.

The actual size of the cards was manageable. I can't claim to have especially small hands, but I certainly have delicate woman fingers. I was able to easily shuffle the cards and found them manageable for spreads. Overly large cards tend to not only be difficult at the shuffling stage, but also when trying to create larger readings. 

I also found the cards bent well, but not too well, for the shuffling. Yes, I'm going to tarot hell. I casino shuffle my cards. Because of this, I find it particularly important for the cards to be a reasonable size and sturdy. Though I love my Shadowscapes deck, I have found the material the cards are printed on are not withstanding my rough shuffling very well over time. I have not worked with the Wildwood for very long yet, but I foresee the deck maintaining its fidelity over time.

Art

Will Worthington has illustrated other popular decks such as The Druidcraft Tarot, but I find his work much more impressive within the Wildwood! Each image is wonderfully detailed and brilliantly eye-catching. The backs of the cards are a gorgeously deep forest green with a white outlined Celtic Tree of Life.

Each image feels like it was taken straight from a storybook which is what I enjoy most about the deck. Though I love the beauty of cards which each feel like a stand-alone piece of art, I love decks which use the images to allow a narrative to unfold in a reading much more. I believe this is my English degree surfacing in my reading style, but so be it!

Companion Book

I absolutely love when a deck comes with a full companion book—especially one which doesn't assume you already know how to read tarot. I felt the book offered information in such a way that both beginners and more experienced readers could learn something new by reading the introductions. 

I particularly love the explanation of how the deck functions around the wheel of the year. This approach to the Major Arcana was new to me and proved to be an incredibly insightful  addition to my reading. Being based on the wheel of the year, this also demystifies any qualms you may have about conflicting tarot timing techniques and which to apply. 

The explanations of the cards were full with keywords and connected legends for further research. I find this makes checking myself much easier as I'm familiarizing myself with a deck. I'm always disappointed when I receive a large book to accompany a deck, but it's full of the author's own narratives. This unfortunately makes it hard to just do a quick check if each time you have to reread the story to grab the main points for the card. I prefer to be given the key points and allowed to create my own narratives. However, this is once again just my preference.

Deck Interview

For many of us, this is the most important part of a deck review! What's the personality of the deck? I was incredibly awed by what the spread revealed.

  1. What is your most important characteristic?
    The Wildwood didn't hold back and presented The Guardian as its primal force. This deck intends itself to be a challenge. It will not be easy to master, and I will have to face my own fears to master it.
  2. What are your strengths?
    Another heavy hitting card, The Journey, surfaced to drive home the nature of this deck. The Wildwood's take on Death, the Journey is about facing the inevitable—facing fate and emerging stronger.
  3. What are your limits?
    The Queen of Stones discloses this deck is not one of earthly matters. It goes deeper and it will not pamper you along the way.
  4. What are you here to teach me?
    I was startled by the appearance of the the Three of Arrows offering a new perspective on a card we know well as disappointment. Within the Wildwood, this disappointment is delved into further and uncovered to grow from jealousy. This deck will teach me to get to the source of problems, gain a different perspective, and it will help me clear my emotional insecurities.
  5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?
    The Ten of Stones entreats me to make this deck a part of my home, my practice, and my family.
  6. What is the potential outcome of our relationship?
    The Wheel assures me that over time, I will learn to work within the threads of fate. That which is out of my control, I will learn to weave myself among the threads carefully. That which is within my control, I will learn to weave into a beautiful pattern.
Please tell me about your experiences with this wonderful deck if you currently use it!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Exonerating the Devil for Mardi Gras

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. ~ Oscar Wilde
There are a lot of tarot cards with a bad reputation. Some deserve the cringe that comes unbidden which we carefully try to hide. For others, it's possible that we are letting our knee-jerk reaction to a traditionally 'bad' concept overtake us. The Devil, impish as ever, maintains his tarnished reputation gleefully. But is this reputation one that's well-earned? Or one we've attributed to the goatish little Capricorn card, making him more scape-goat than devil-goat?

The Devil from Deviant Moon Tarot

In our Daily Tarot Discord Community, we have what I cheesily named Holiday Ambassadors. I could not resist signing myself up for Mardi Gras. Being somewhat native to the area heralded as the true home of Mardi Gras, I felt it appropriate to be the ambassador of the holiday. However, as I searched for information to share I realized Mardi Gras was as misunderstood as The Devil.

As I searched, I discovered so much conflict on whether the holiday was Christian or Pagan in roots. I even discovered conspiracy theories stating the holiday was never Pagan, but rather that churches wanting to discourage the revelry began rumors of its Pagan roots. What better way to prevent heathenry than to call it heathenry, amiright? To make this search even more fun, I found that the official Mardi Gras page considered disparaging the heathenry of the French Quarter during Mardi Gras season to fulfill the requirements of a page devoted to history and tradition. That's right. The official site dedicated its history page to promising visitors that the exhibition of breasts is not a Mardi Gras tradition and proceeded to blame the tourists.

As a society, we're taught to distance ourselves from our more licentious and wanton tendencies. Tourists who could easily research parade routes and know that the larger, more elaborate parades do not run through the narrow streets of the French Quarter, somehow find themselves surrounded by strip clubs, gay bars, and huge ass beers because it's Mardi Gras. They leave and report to their friends, "Mardi Gras made me do it." Or, "I saw so many crazy people, but I didn't partake." Sure ya didn't. That's why you went to exactly where the parades weren't. ;)

The very nature of Mardi Gras is a last hoorah before Lent. Regardless of its ancient associations, its current purpose is to celebrate from Twelfth Night until Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Lent is a time of sacrifice, of releasing from our lives that which we have become too dependent. Mardi Gras is to partake until we are forced to stop. Historically, Mardi Gras has been paralleled with Saturnalia as well as Bacchanals. There's a dotted line to the Feast of Fools as well, but none quite line up to the timing of modern day Mardi Gras, leaving it primarily either a Catholic or secular celebration until firmer associations can be uncovered.

The great lengths some go to distance themselves from the extravagance and excess of the celebration, reminds me of the intense reaction The Devil often evokes. Addiction as a meaning gets tossed about more fervently than plastic beads at Mardi Gras. Certainly, there can be too much of a good thing. Desire is a fickle and dangerous mistress, but there is so much more there! The chains don't bind. The Devil himself appears more amused than harsh in most cards. In other renditions, such as the Shadowscapes depiction, the devil isn't even paying attention. More than likely, you invited yourself to his festivities. The key is not overstaying your welcome.

The card which appears before The Devil is Temperance—the Sagittarian card of integration. Temperance is about balance and allowing an ebb and flow of self through self. There are no barriers between the many aspects of self. Your Id, Ego, and Superego flow in harmony. Each are given proper expression when appropriate. The Devil's party is an appropriate time for your Id to roam free for a short time. However, in order to let him out then you must partake in something which is most certainly a Mardi Gras tradition—mask your Ego.

By obscuring your identity, you in essence free yourself from the watchful eye of your superego. Your ego can gracefully deny responsibility, and your id's deepest whims are set free. In many ways, the mask becomes your true face. The impulses you repress and hide from society are able to spring naturally to the surface. However, be sure to remember the card which follows The Devil—The Tower. Stay too long and you will be thrown forcefully out. You don't have to go home, but you most certainly can't stay here!

Ultimately, when The Devil appears it may be that you have chained yourself to pleasure, but there is just as strong of a possibility that you need to unchain your desires. Let your hair down and release the wildness in you that has been repressed, locked away in the dark spaces of yourself.

Find Your Inner Devil

Shuffle your deck however feels right. Or be super naughty and shuffle it casino-style. One time won't hurt it. When you're ready, go looking for The Devil. Yes, you heard me. Seek out that puckish card. The card immediately before will be the mask you wear everyday, or the face you present to society. The card immediately after will be what the mask hides that wants to surface. This is something that if you repress it too long may surface in ways that are unhealthy. Look at the card following this one as well to identify ways you can express your hidden self in a healthy way.

With no further ado, laissez les bon temps rouler!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Learning to Even: Revisiting the Lunar Eclipse Reading

During an August tarot challenge, one reading has haunted me—begging me to uncover what it really means to me. The reading I did for myself on the Lunar Eclipse left me baffled and somewhat petulant, angry even. Why did I feel so indignant over a reading I didn't understand?

I've written before on frustrating readings. Sometimes we get an answer we just aren't ready for, and keeping account of past readings in order to revisit them when we're ready proves fortunate. It wasn't until recently that this one began clicking into place.

I'm a speaker. I always have been and always will be, but over the last year I've denied myself of the one thing that makes me feel whole—the one thing I feel I contribute to the world. My throat chakra has been muffled and dimmed, and I've allowed it. It's left me feeling incomplete, out of balance, and unsure how this happened.

At least that's the narrative I tell myself to make it okay. It's a narrative I've allowed to excuse the exhaustion I feel standing at the base of a seemingly insurmountable bluff. I see the work ahead, the mound of words required to overtake the mass in front of me. I sit down. I shut up. I can't even.

This isn't my first rodeo with blogging. My history as a blogger has been storied and sordid, starting in the secretive realms of a private DeadJournal, to the shameful and mostly unfortunate (albeit semi-popular) stint as a MySpace blogger. Both of these iterations woefully unaware of audience. Both painfully narcissistic, a hollow echo of my self-importance shoved into a world hungry to devour my overly personal sharing. I was young and naive. It took a while for me to figure it out, and eventually I tried again with a blog which maintained the personal elements, but embraced sharing the line where my soul meets with the rest of world. The blog had tone, a consistent tone, which reflected only a facet of who I really am, but no consistency in topics or scheduling. It was just me sarcastically shouting at the world about my mundane trials of life. Those trials could have been brought into a broader scope to intersect with a community that I never looked for, but existed in segregated batches across the web.

Because I stood alone, I died on that hill alone. I'm not the first woman to learn that lesson.

Throughout two different challenges I took part in, multiple readings pointed me toward taking back up that mighty sword we call a pen (or keyboard really). I've feigned and parried around the idea, writing posts that stick strictly to the designated topic, showing glimpses of a real human, but maintaining a safe distance. I don't want to reveal the source of the pain that has lead me to this healing path. I'm now more like an old warrior who teaches and helps others to find and use their sword, but mine is safely stored away.

And while it's stored away, I'm sitting back and watching social media, shaking my head at the echo chamber of voices joining a parade I should be in. And yes, it's a parade. A parade of vulnerability where very few actually are accountable for their voices. The rest echo what others have said for decades in the safety of numbers. It benefits them to join the trend now that many have come before and lost tough battles. I feel like I'm staring into a maze of stripes with no clue who is who anymore.

The shadow that the lunar eclipse reading warned me of has been emerging.

I believe I partially struggled with the reading because it was a warning of a possibility—a shadow that could emerge if I didn't hold strong to my convictions. It was a possibility that was already showing it's ugly head, and I didn't want to admit it to myself. I've resigned from fighting for the things I believe in. I fear the slew of trolls. I abhor the tedious hours of explaining an opinion I know will not be popular. My opinions never are. I'm usually moderately ahead of the current acceptable conversation. It's the bane of being an early adopter of new ideas. I'm also tired of friends patiently waiting for me to be cut down in the front line then gleefully walking over my corpse with their newfound triumph.

The lunar spread was full of endings, tragic and abrupt endings. Those endings were final and exhaustive rather than hopeful and suggesting of fresh starts, but it was only a warning. It showed me a possibility for someone as spirited as I am if I allowed myself to slip ungracefully into the ugliest pile of no fucks given. This isn't the attitude to have. The attitude that should be emerging was revealed in the Solar Eclipse reading I (somewhat sloppily) did that same month.

The 10 of Swords and The Hierophant are beginning in my life. It's time to pull the swords out of my back and use them to make a difference in a rapidly changing climate. It's time to face the hard topics I want to cover with the energy of The Wheel and The Emperor. Ownership and strength of will are traits I must grab by the hilt, and will. I've got a lot of speaking to do this year, and I will—unashamedly.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Firecracker Spread: How I'll light up 2018

In 2017 I struggled through my share of challenges, and one particular deck challenged me the most—Shadowscapes. Though I could achieve fairly clear readings with the deck, it's beauty made me want to be able to go deeper with it. I toiled through the Vision Seeker challenge with it, and made it out the other side finally able to appreciate the deck. It's for this reason I chose this deck to kick off my first reading of 2018.

I'd be amiss to not do (and share) the Firecracker spread created for the New Year.

The Firecracker!
  1. Resolution — 3 of Pentacles (reversed):
  2. I'm a believer that a rising tide lifts all boats, and in that belief I've repeatedly extended myself at home and at work to help others in various ways from training people unwilling to be trained (but needed to be) to helping others achieve personal goals at the cost of my own. My time is filled with being a team player, and I've had to learn that if you help someone once, they'll remember the next time they need help. That sounds great on the surface, but what happens is you become the person everyone comes to when they want to be spoon fed. I've had to claw my own way up in life, and I've had to teach myself a lot of the skills I currently possess. Each time I acquire some new skill along comes someone who wants me to hold their hand through a Google search. Information may be free, but it takes time and energy to accumulate. This time and energy is a toll that has to be paid, and in this year I need to be firm on my boundaries and refuse to pay that tax on behalf of other people.

    In addition to setting my "team player" boundaries, I need to assert my own mastery in places where I know I possess mastery. I often find myself ignored when I try to assert my own knowledge, and in the spirit of being a team player, I go along with ideas that I already know won't work from experience. Trying something that's already been tried a dozen times without success wastes time that I could have for myself. It's an unfair cycle and the only way to make it fair is to balance the scales myself through setting boundaries and asserting myself.
  3. Obstacle — The Emperor:
  4. My way of doing things may not be everyone's cup of tea. As with any and every attempt at planning, I have to be able to navigate naysayers and know-it-alls. In some cases, they may mean well, but they simply are not respecting my own knowledge. 
  5. Ignition — The World:
  6. What drives me forward in everything I hope to accomplish is the peace of mind I have once a task is completed. There are a number of projects and responsibilities hanging over my head that remain incomplete. This has become a source of endless stress for me, and I would like to alleviate some of the negative feelings associated with these tasks left undone.
Sparkles!
  1. 4 of Swords:
  2. I have a lot hanging over my head that I need to accomplish. It drives my stress levels through the roof and makes me feel pulled in a million directions. Stephanie Law's version of this card reminds me that I can't do everything. I need to take a time out and meditate on what is most important to me. That one thing I need to pursue relentlessly until it is complete. The other items on my to-do list can wait. 
  3. The Chariot:
  4. I feel like this card reaffirms the lesson in the 4 of Swords. In this version of the Chariot, the driver does not hold the reins, but is in complete control. Essentially, she's a boss ass bitch and her movement forward is magical. Her steeds are unicorns born of the waves. The creatures of the deep rise up to watch and lend their assistance to her path forward. This relentless, but serene approach to power over life is something I should channel to realize my goals in 2018.
  5. The Hanged Man (reversed):
  6. Before I turned to tarot, I was active in my local pole fitness community. Seeing the reversal of the Hanged Man immediately made me think of the effortless power of surrendering a seemingly impossible position. At a glance, a well-executed pole move appears smooth and undemanding; however, it is anything but. All muscles are active and ready. In a swing from one position to the next, you are always ready to catch yourself. Transitions and drops appear dangerous, but with discipline and training are almost always safe.

    The confident movement and power of pole dancing made me feel as though I could fly! In 2018, I need to find that feeling again even if it isn't through dance.
     Image result for pole tricks
  7. The Lovers:
  8. A tricky card that has appeared for me many times in 2017, I believe in 2018 I need to actually learn the lesson this card has to impart. The Lovers is not just a card of relationships, it is a card of following your heart. Unfortunately, the heart can be a fickle mistress and along the way there is temptation. It's important to keep your eyes on your truest desire as you work toward it. This is the lesson I have to learn and carry into 2018. Once I prioritize and begin to work toward the goals I want to achieve, I have to quit allowing distractions and sideways paths into my life. Part of this comes from the lesson in the reversed 3 of Pentacles. I must be firm in rejecting the apple I'm offered if I want to see my goals realized.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Our Tarot Welcome to 2018

This year has been one of many changes and strides forward. One of the many new things 2017 brought into my life was the start of the Daily Tarot chat server. When I started really getting passionate about tarot, I found there was no one local to me to share my joy with. I found threads on Reddit and most pagan servers I belonged to at least had a divination channel. However, none of these outlets fully satisfied the community I was looking for, and so I decided that maybe I should just start my own.

I'm excited to start 2018 with the group of people who have gathered to chat about tarot. On top of this, we started yet another exciting activity called "Holiday Ambassadors" which I have the honor of kicking off with New Year's Day. In order to help bring our diverse community even closer, we have implemented Holiday Ambassadors as a program where one volunteer from our group takes the responsibility of putting together information about a holiday or cultural celebration and sharing it with the rest of the group. Being that this is for a Tarot chat, the ambassador also ties the celebration to tarot through a spread or other related activity.

Our New Year Tarot Activity

New Years is a time of resolutions and deciding a path forward. We've spent the last few months contemplating the past year and doing shadow work, but New Year is a time of fresh starts and exciting possibilities. On that note, I have created an activity for cutting ties with 2017 and heralding in 2018.

Tarot Reading

Of course we start with a tarot reading! I created this spread to help launch us into the new year like the firecrackers we are:

Meditation

After your reading, do a five to ten minute meditation. If you have soft music or others sounds you like while meditating, go for it. The goal of this meditation is to first clear your mind, then envision yourself cutting away the obstacles that would prevent you from achieving your goal. Envision what ignites you lighting the fire that sends you into orbit and imagine the possibilities ahead!

More New Year's Tarot Spreads

I hope you enjoy the firecracker spread, if you want to try some other great New Year spreads, check out these!

Little Red Tarot's New Year Spread

Wandering Fool's New Year Tarot Spread

Elemental Changes New Year Intentions

Mapping the Year Ahead

Fear of the New Year

Turn of the Year Spread

Here's to making 2018 amaze-balls!