I love the Wildwood Tarot Deck. I really do. The artwork is exquisite. Vivid. Lucid. But I wouldn’t describe it as ‘familiar’. The deck is based on the Wheel of the Year: a calendar system based on European pre-Christian concepts and ideas.
When I first opened the deck, I felt like the Wanderer (the Fool in RWS), walking into an unknown world where nothing makes sense and I had to figure it all out on my own.
A majority of my tarot clients are women. And they LOVED LOVED LOVED the way women are represented in the Wildwood Tarot deck. Firstly – there are loads of them. This is not the case in more traditional tarot decks where beyond the Empress, the High Priestess and the Queens – we women are almost nowhere to be found.
Hmm… about that….
In the Wildwood Deck, women are not limited to royalty. There’s a fair bit of gender reversal in the major arcana. Even in the pip cards – there are way more women. There’s also a wider range of female archetypes. Women are less passive and dainty. They’re resilient and not silenced behind traditional gender roles.
The male archetypes – whilst still traditionally masculine, are very much in tune with nature instead of raging against it or being detached from it. A major theme in the deck is mankind’s relationship with nature and animals. The Rider-Waite Deck (RWS) doesn’t even come close to the Wildwood Tarot Deck in these respects.
Nevertheless, unlike the RWS where everything felt very intuitive, the Wildwood Tarot feels less so – which is a good thing for me as a tarot reader. I like learning and expanding my mind. The deck inspired me to think more about mankind’s present relationship with Mother Nature.
Having said that – the cultural context felt entirely foreign to me. I found it difficult to access the kind of depth that I could access in the RWS. The images in the Wildwood felt familiar yet forgotten. I’m a born-and-bred city girl and while I can and do appreciate (perhaps even revere) Mother Nature – I don’t have that close intimate bond with her.
Unlike the RWS – literature on the Wildwood Deck is scarce. If I didn’t have the book that came with the deck, I would have been entirely lost. When I did find supplemental reading, I wound up with a reading list that consisted of books on Paganism, Druidism and Wicca – a lot of which is revivalist in nature. I’m a tactile learner so I don’t like relying solely on books to formulate my understanding of a topic. I also personally don’t know anyone who practises ‘the Craft’. Never say never – but presently these are not practises or traditions that appeal to me.
Perhaps one day I’ll grow to truly appreciate the nuances of the Wildwood. Till that day comes: I believe that the Wildwood Deck is a nice addition to the RWS, but it could never replace it.