|Name :||The Green Witch Tarot|
|Author :||Ann Moura - Kiri Ostergaard Leonard|
|Publisher :||Llewellyn Publications|
|Tradition :||Tarot Rider-Waite-Smith|
|Packaging :||Rigid Case / 17.6 x 11.9 x 5.3 cm / 6.7 x 4.7 x 2 in / Satin cloth case|
|Deck :||78 cards / Plastic-coated, glossy and gold-plated on the edge / 11.8 cm / 4.3 in x 7 cm / 2.7 in|
|Handbook :||Booklet of 232 pages in B&W|
|Reverse side :||No, the backs of the cards are not reversible.|
|Switch of 8/11 :||Yes|
|Universe :||Gaïa / Nature / Plant / Animal , Magic / Wicca / Druid / Shaman|
|Use :||Prediction , Personal development|
The deck of cards is delivered in a cloth case in a box with its booklet. The box is solid with thicker than average cardboard. The idea is original to accompany the game with a golden cloth bag, however it will not protect the cards as well as possible. The cards are of normal thickness for a "mass-market" product. Note the presence of a golden edge, which will tend to stick during unpacking and will require careful removal of the cards.The box is small compared to competing tarot cards, but large enough to avoid having it with you at all times. This is where the cloth pouch may not be very protective if the tarot often travels with its owner.
With 12 centimetres high, the cards are rather large, it can be difficult for a person with small hands to shuffle the deck horizontally, in such a case, shuffling the cards vertically will be necessary.
Ann Moura alias Aoumiel is American, living in Florida. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master's degree in Art History. She says she has been practicing "green magic" for more than thirty-five years. She has inherited knowledge of pagan practices and magic from her mother and grandmother, both from Brazil and Spain. She claims to be descended from a Celtic-Iberian tradition. She has written several books on magic, religion and neo-paganism. She also teaches witchcraft. The green magic tarot, "The green witch tarot" in English, is to date the only tarot she has created.
For more information about her, visit her website at http://www.annmourasgarden.com
The author quickly gives a history that includes approximations (import of the tarot by the gypsies, Court de Gébelin had a fortune-teller's salon, evolution of tarot interpretations within the Masonic lodges). Obviously, Ann Moura read authors like Papus or Eliphas Levi, but stopped there in her historical research on tarot. It is perhaps unfortunate that she is kept in mind the legends that still run around on the origin of the tarot.
Ann Moura then reviews the 4 suits of the game: Pentacles, Wands, Athames (swords), Chalices (Cups) associated with the 4 elements Earth, Fire, Air, Water. For the Athames (Air), I was surprised to read that they talk about ambition (rather concerned by Fire), fear (rather associated with Water). Even in the Wands (Fire), they also talk about studies (which I would attribute more to Air). The reader should be warned that in relation to the tradition of Astrology, it is common to read notable differences of interpretation among the authors of tarot cards based on the Rider-Waite-Smith.
The author then quickly talks about rituals to consecrate her game, meditations to center oneself, art and how to shuffle the cards and cut the deck. But these few pages are too short for a novice, and they are useless for an experienced practitioner. Given Ann Moura's background and knowledge in this field, it would have been welcome if she had talked more about these magical and meditative practices.
Ann Moura devotes about 4 pages to describing each card of the Major Arcana. One page presenting a B&W copy of the card, unfortunately often illegible, requiring to have the cards in front of one's eyes. Then 2 pages are devoted to the interpretation of the card, and a last page is left empty to write personal notes. The explanatory text is quite long, describing the symbols and details of the picture. At the end of the page, there is a brief summary of the meaning in a few short sentences, and finally key words for normal meaning and reverse meaning.
For each card of the Minor Arcana, 2 pages are used, with a copy of the image and an explanation on one page.
One fact disturbed me when I read the book. The author speaks clearly about the different meanings of a card with head up and the same card on reversed way. Off the back of the cards is not reversible, and Moura does not explain her choice. How to read reversals when their back are not reversible? Of course I have my own answer. But the beginner reader is left without a solution.
Ann Moura proposes 4 drawing strategies. First, the very popular draw of the "Celtic cross" (here called witch's circle!) in 10 cards. Then a simpler 5-card draw of the "elementary cross" is suggested. A "wheel of the year" draw of 24 cards is shown in only one page. The information on this draw is so synthetic that even a confirmed practitioner can have difficulties to understand the organization of this draw, especially since no example is given for any of the 4 draws. Finally the last draw is a "mystical pyramid" in 7 cards which is nothing else than a past, present, future evolved draw.
Representation of the card JUSTICE (8/11), I like this representation by a raised stone, revealing an imposing, cold, unshakeable aspect that can be justice as a state apparatus or organization allowing social peace. The labyrinth invites us to think that reaching the truth at the center is a real challenge. The inscription "HARD NONE" is another reminder of the win-win concept where everyone can benefit from it. No one should feel wronged in the verdict of justice.
However, I am surprised by the presence of daisies symbolizing (according to the author) truth, authority, harmony and communication. Similarly, in an astonishing way, the spider is a symbol of power, wisdom and balance.
Representation of the DEATH (13), I appreciate here to find another image of death. This image conveys a notion of departure without return, close to the primary meaning of the card: Transformation. The hole is a good idea, since it refers to the inner unconscious, and therefore speaks more of an inner (and not physical) transformation. The name of the card "the lord of shadows" remains however a little negative, I find, I would have seen more a "guardian", a "passer" rather than a lord. I would have preferred to speak of "cycles" rather than "shadows".
Representation of the JUDGMENT card (20), this card avoids the appearance of the angel announcing a judgment that could be perceived as terrible, and projecting the consultant into an uncertain unknown. Here, the name of the card and its image, speaks not of a terrible event evoking the end of the world and the times, but rather of the event happy to reap the fruits of his work. In this, I love this card. On the other hand, other aspects of the JUDGMENT are overlooked in Moura's approach: rebirth, faith, transmission are not evoked by any symbol or detail on the image.
Representation of the WORLD card (21), this card seems to flow from source, a figure of the same style is used in "The Wildwood Tarot" for this same card. I like that through the branches of the tree, we can see the different seasons of the year. The 4 seasons evoke an immutable cycle, much more eloquent than the figure of the woman at the center of a laurel wreath in the classical representation. The serpent symbolizes wisdom according to the author. Personally, with its open mouth and the apparent hooks, I find it rather aggressive, meaning more of a danger or a warning according to me.
Replacing the card of the BATTELEUR/MAGICIAN, this card surprises me enormously. Indeed, usually the meaning of the first card of the Major Arcana is a person at the beginning of his path. This character has a sense of initiative and moves forward, but he also has a lot to learn and must develop his talents in the making. On the other hand, in this tarot, the witch is already accomplished because the author teaches us that she uses her knowledge and experience. Moreover, she represents at the same time the virgin, the mother and the old woman.
I understand even less this meaning because another card called "the crone" already exists (for 8 - STRENGTH). There are double meanings between these two cards. In addition, there are two other cards, THE HIGH PRIESTRESS (2) and THE HIGH PRIEST (5), which show the same scene: a person standing in front of his cauldron adding an ingredient to his preparation. Even for the experienced practitioner, it is difficult to discern the symbolic differences between these 3 relatively similar representations. One solution may be to ignore the images and stick to the usual meanings of the Rider-Waite-Smith.
This card proposes a common representation of FORCE (8/11) detailing a person accompanied by a lion. Of course, I have nothing against this usual archetype. However, I wonder about the relevance of proposing the lion as an emblematic animal that can symbolize strength and self-confidence. This tarot is set in a Wicca and rather Celtic universe where the lion is not necessarily the first animal we would have thought of. Moreover, in the first historical "Tarot de Marseille" tarot cards (Noblet - 1650 and Dodal - 1701) it is a bear that accompanies the woman (it will later be replaced by the lion in the tradition of the Tarot de Marseille). If in the past the Bear had already been used for the FORCE, it seems to me welcome that it is also used in this tarot in place of the lion.
This card represents the HANGED MAN in a very classical way. However, one sentence caught my attention in the book, where the author writes: "the oak king becomes a fetus in the womb of Mother Earth" (p67). In the historical depiction of the Rider-Waite-Smith, the man is chained up and his back is pressed against a tree trunk. It is difficult to imagine a fetus. However, in the Tarot de Marseille, the hanged man is traditionally suspended by a rope from a beam that is supported by two tree trunks on either side of the man. Here we have an image that can symbolize a fetus (the man) in the womb (the 2 trees and the beam) connected by the umbilical cord (the rope). Given Moura's inspiration, it is a pity that she did not choose this representation of the Tarot de Marseille.
This is probably the most unusual card in the game, replacing the DEVIL's card. Here, the card is named THE NATURE, as it evokes the theme of choice and its possible repercussions (exact quote p79). I find it difficult to understand the relationship between Nature and the consequence of a choice. Nature can represent life, fertility, harmony, well-being, there are many possible meanings. But the theme of "choice" evokes for me the capacity to decide, the necessity of compromise and to assume the consequences. In relation to the DEVIL, I think that Moura wanted to speak of "temptation", and particularly of being tempted between one choice or another. However, this theme is usually the one of the card L'AMOUREUX/THE LOVERS.
Similarly, the image appeals to me, we see a man laying a jawed trap on the ground under the gaze of a bear. Who's supposed to make a choice, the man or the bear? The author tells us that the bear has a choice between partying with the faes behind him, or moving forward and risking getting caught in the trap. Rather than choosing, isn't it more a matter of avoiding danger, of taking the safest path? Later in the book, we understand that Moura evokes the problem of alienation (willingly undergoing a situation or preferring to get out of it) which indeed generally corresponds to the central theme of the card LE DIABLE.
Here again, the author seems to want to stick to the traditional meanings, but their staging and image setting leaves me cautious, not to say doubtful.
As a whole the Minor Arcana takes up the representations and meanings of the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, adapting the illustrations to the world of green witch. The images are sometimes very close to the original form, such as the 2 of Pentacles. Other representations are more original and depart from the tradition, but keep the same meaning, like the 3 of Pentacles. And rare cards have a really different meaning, like the 2 of Athames, probably because the author found the original image too hard.
At the opening of the game, one is seduced by the beautiful illustrations of the game (it's a question of taste, but I like them). One can regret however that certain symbolic details are not very visible (for example the man's ouroboros armband on card 6 - THE LADY AND THE LORD). The atmosphere of the illustrations is soft, perhaps even peaceful, with characters who smile quite often. No doubt this is one of the reasons why this tarot is popular.
When studying tarot, the reader may be disturbed by the symbolism used, one may or may not agree with the author's points of view. Perhaps Ann Moura could have deepened her study of tarot whether it is Rider-Waite-Smith or Marseille. Indeed, reading her bio, we can guess that she is not a tarot reader by profession. An in-depth work would have allowed her to propose symbols that are both original and closer to the usual conventions (if one is tempted to say that this was her goal).
Since the author has inherited a culture of pagana or shamanic tradition, I would have liked to read her teaching on a magical use of her tarot, through rituals, spells or other meditations. Certainly, she has written several books on Wicca practice and the booklet explaining her tarot is not a work for that. But if she had devoted a few chapters to teaching Wicca methods or practices, these pages would have been of great value.
Finally, the beginner will be delighted to have in his hands a deck of cards that is pleasant to look at. Unaccustomed to the mysteries of tarot, he will undoubtedly be able to quickly familiarize himself with the symbolic imagination of the author.
On the other hand, an experienced reader may be surprised by the iconography used. Convinced by the universe of the game and the beauty of the images, he will adapt, otherwise he will quickly pass his way to other tarot cards.
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