A Year In The Wildwood

Today marks the anniversary date of when The Wildwood Tarot entered my life.



The Wildwood Tarot comes attractively packaged in a sturdy box, with a 72 card deck and a 162 page accompanying guide book.


I have dabbled in tarot ever since I was a teenager, but having never connected to a deck that truly ignited my intuition, I was always dependent on divining the card’s message from thier accompanying books. Realizing I was ready to take my tarot reading to the next level, I decided to invest a substantial amount of research into finding a deck that spoke clearly to my soul… When I stumbled upon The Wildwood Tarot, it was love at first sight!

A deck that sings brightly to the Pagan heart!

The Wildwood Tarot by Mark Ryan and John Matthews is a reimagined version of the original  Greenwood Tarot, with illustrations by Will Worthington. I was immediately drawn to the artwork, steeped as it is in Pagan and shamanic traditions, evocative of the Neolithic Era and the Bronze Age. While the images take thier cues from the Celtic cultures of the British Isles, the traditions represented in the artwork share enough common ground with my own Nordic heritage that I felt an instant connection to the visual language of the deck.

The Wildwood has since become what I like to call “the deck of my heart” – my passion for this deck is almost legendary in the online tarot communities which I participate in, and this is for good cause – I find the deck to speak so clearly, as to be bluntly literal at times! While The Wildwood Tarot is especially attuned to spiritual enlightenment or personal growth, it also advises with equal honesty and wisdom on questions of a more mundane variety.



Knowing how much I love this deck, my husband surprised me with a beautiful handmade wood box in which to safely house it.


The Wildwood Tarot is not your average tarot deck:

Although the deck is built upon the RWS tradition, there are notable differences, and those expecting to plunge right in and read the cards as they would a RWS clone may find themselves lost in the wood. This is a deck that takes considerable study, but rewards those who are willing to approach tarot in a different light with a depth of wisdom unique to The Wildwood’s earthy theme. Besides the book that comes with the deck, there are a few other resources to help folks get up and running, including an excellent e-book by Alison Cross that explores the deck as it appears on the Wheel of the Year. There is also an online study group on FB where members are invited to share thier thoughts and experiences with the deck.



While based on the RWS system, The Wildwood has it’s own unique spin on tarot, and features representatives from the animal kingdom as the court cards, major arcana that diverges from the ordinary, and Bows, Stones, Arrows, and Vessels as the suits.


“Read the book, meditate with the cards, then put the book away and do your own thing. ” – Mark Ryan

While the listed resources are excellent methods for learning more about the Wildwood, I feel that the very best advice comes from the introduction of the book that accompanies the cards themselves, as quoted above. Understanding the basic concepts and ideas of the cards, meditating with them, and then doing my own thing is a practice that I have taken to heart in all of my tarot studies, no matter which deck it is that I am working with!

The Nitty Gritty:

The Wildwood Tarot is based on the RWS system, but takes it’s own spin on the suits, courts, and major arcana. Cards are placed at designated stations around the Wheel of The Year. Certain cards offer a full departure from the traditional RWS interpretations. The guidebook is insightful, with an environmental perspective on many of the entries. As The Wildwood Tarot is reimagined from The Greenwood Tarot, certain details in the guidebook describing the depictions of the cards are inaccurate and should be dismissed – this oversight does not affect the notes on interpreting the cards. Some people have trouble working with the animal court cards; studying these animal’s natural behaviors along with thier totem meanings is suggested to gain further insight.

The cardstock is average for a commercially printed deck. Personally, I would like to see a deluxe edition of this deck produced on cardstock that does greater justice to the wonderful artwork. The box is sturdy, and convenient for safely storing the cards. The cards are not designed to be read using reversals, but do feature reversible backs. The major arcana follows the continental system, with Justice (The Stag) being at key 8, and Strength (The Woodward) being at key 11 – this is often confused in online reviews of the deck.

Where to Purchase:

The Wildwood Tarot  is available online from Amazon, or check with your local occult/metaphysical shop and ask them to order it in for you!