Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and bookstores every month. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks as well as published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgment intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck reviewed.
The critical review of a deck for askAstrology involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion text of the deck, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot by Poppy Palin.
The Waking of the Wild Spirit Cards
From the back cover of the book:
This companion to the Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot deck is a journey through the Otherworldly realms of archetypal figures from a mythical and mystical age. Instead of lists of keywords and short divinatory meanings, each card in the deck tells its own story. The stories told by the characters of the Major Arcana have their roots in fairy tales, myths, and legends long forgotten, while the stories of the Minor Arcana are snapshots in spirit time.
While this free-spirited deck retains the structure of a traditional Tarot deck, descriptive titles replace the traditional Tarot names of the cards; the Emperor becomes the Lord of the Wild – Strong Spirit, while the Lovers become the Soul Mates – Blessed Union. The cards of the Minor Arcana are divided into four elemental suits of earth, air, fire, and water.
The deck has striking images that perfectly capture the merging of fantasy and earthly magic.
The card stock of the deck is high quality and will hold up with regular, even heavy use. The cards are larger than standard playing cards, but not so large that they are hard to hold in your hands. Because the card stock is some of the thickest available, the cards can be a little stiff and hard to shuffle when you first get them out of the box. Over time and with regular use, shuffling will get easier.
Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The deck artwork is visually accessible, and the creator provides keywords and phrases on all the cards, making it very easy to understand and interpret the meaning of every card. As you can see from the sample cards, the artist’s imagination is wonderful. The deck does an excellent job of capturing the fantasy and earth magic themes that are valuable even today. Below are some sample cards and their meanings.
Major Arcana 10 – Dance of Life: Web of Fate
From the companion book:
“To mend, to tend, to bend, to love, as it is below and so above.” Round and round we go, weaving the web, working the pulsing red thread of life. We sing and we dance as part of the motion, filled with emotion because we are together. Our oneness is uplifting; it adds purpose to our activities; to be isolated would make us grieve, for the natural way is one of unity. (99)
Knight of Air – The Storyteller
From the companion book:
Gather round and I will tell you a tale, spin you a yarn, and weave you up tight in my spellbinding sagas. Once upon a time there was a charismatic man who found he could hold people’s attention by telling stories about days gone by, or lands that never were. (213)
Ace of Earth – Seed
From the companion book:
I am a new beginning, the little seed of potential, the marvelous possibility of growing something beautiful in the world. I am here in the dark place, putting out shoots, slowly feeling my way toward the light with pale fingers. What will I be when I grow up? I dream I will be green and golden, stretching up and out to my full potential. I will have roots in the dark soil and a face turned to the sun. I will be a living reality, in the world. For now … I just imagine. Here in the earth, I sigh. (195)
Explanation of the Cards
The booklet is full of rich stories and interesting details. It has a section About the Wild Spirit Divination Pack, a Preface, and Introduction. Part One covers the Major Arcana and Part Two covers the Minor Arcana.
Each card of the Major Arcana gets several pages of text. And true to the claim on the back of the book; these pages do not include keywords or divinatory meaning, just the story of each card. The storytelling continues with the Minor Arcana, just not as lengthy or in as much detail. Descriptions are about a page long.
As a professional reader who started reading cards for pay in 1992, I can say that this deck is excellent when it comes to reading for clients. You will not have to memorize any of the cards because you can readily or easily rely on the images and keywords to make the meanings very clear. And, this theme is for everyone, so you can use these cards anytime and in any setting.
I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, admiring the artwork, and professional use. This deck has one of the best designs for public and professional work. The guidebook that comes with the deck is different since it does not offer reading spreads or the more traditional guidance for the cards. Even so, it does provide over 280 pages of content
The deck is visually accessible and beautifully drawn, and one that I will give a high rating, five out of five stars. I have used the deck in public settings and private consultations. The cards provide keen insights and clients appreciate the excellent archetypal designs and fantasy themes.