The Wild Ones!
This week my blog posts have focussed on animal court cards – the Rabbit Tarot, the Ferret Tarot and now, the daddy of them all, the Wildwood Tarot Courts – every one of them a stunningly represented animal native to Northern Europe.
The deck, created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, is a reimagining of Ryan’s earlier and (these days!) hugely sought-after Greenwood Tarot, with Chesca Potter. In this new deck, the artwork is by Will Worthington (Druidcraft Tarot, Greenman Tree Oracle, Druid Plant Oracle, Druid Animal Oracle).
We have the standard ranks of Page, Knight, Queen and King – but the suits themselves have been renamed – Bows for Wands, Arrows for Swords, Vessels for Cups and Stones for Pentacles. That ‘Bows’ association may stump you for a moment until you remember that bows are not just for firing arrows, but also used for making fire and turning wood.
Having your entire court comprised of animals can be wonderfully freeing – you are not limited by those old associations for physical attributes, but, on the other hand, you need to do a certain amount of anthropomorphising to help you to apply them to living, breathing people.
The entire Wildwood fits into a complex Wheel of The Year layout (which you can see in the accompanying LWB and the watermark image on the Wildwood Tarot website (www.thewildwoodtarot.com). All we need to know about it here is that, unlike the Thoth family, even the little Pages have their place in the grand scheme of things. Which is nice because they tend to miss out on all the fun, yet they’re allllll about the fun!
Lets look at the Arrows (Swords) first – each of the courts is represented by a bird – which ties in nicely with the element of Air. But don’t go fooling yourself that all birds = Arrows. Birds appear in other suits too. The accompanying book attributes these cards to the season of Spring
As you can see, the Page is a tiny close-to-the-ground bird, the Hawk represents the fast-moving Knight, the regal Swan represents the Queen and the vibrant fisherman Kingfisher represents the King.
Bows, or Wands as they are traditionally known, are represented by land creatures. This suit is associated with Summer and the element of Fire. The Page is represented by the close-to-the-ground Stoat, the wily Fox as Knight, the fertile Hare for Queen and the fast-moving adder for King.
Here we have the Vessels family and as you can see they are all associated with water – which is handy because that’s the element associated with them too! We have the playful Otter as Page, the speedy, slippery Eel as Knight, the instinct-driven Salmon as Queen and the patient Heron as King. The Vessels are associated with the mists and mellow fruitfulness of Autumn.
Stones, representing Pentacles, has land creatures – and is associated with Earth and these characters occupy the Wheel of the Year around Winter. The shy Lynx is our Page, the wild Horse is our Knight, the protective Bear is our Queen and the leader of the Stones pack is the Wolf.
For some excellent information on how to work with the Court Cards of the Wildwood, please visit their Wildblog where Caitlin Matthews has created some unique exercises and insights to these fascinating, but tricky courts.
You can keep up to date with what’s happening in the Wildwood by visiting their blog or their website – www.thewildwoodtarot.com .
What do you think of the Wildwood Courts – like ’em? Love ’em? Loathe ’em?!
This deck is published by Eddison Sadd (Connections publishing). Created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, artwork by Will Worthington
** EDIT** Eddison Sadd is now known as Eddison Books 20/4/17