I would like to introduce the Robin Wood Tarot.
Robin is an immensely talented illustrator, and in 1991, published her very special Robin Wood Tarot Deck. She has also written and published an accompanying book, (“Robin Wood Tarot: The Book”) which came out in 1998. This extremely readable deck is one of my favorites for everyday use. It’s clarity and brightness make it a superior teaching tool, and because of this, it is the one I use in my entry level classes. I love the detail and nature based focus of the cards. The people have wonderfully individual faces, with expressions appropriate to the situations shown in each card scenario.
The book features the uncolored pencil drawings, and in each entry she explains her design decisions and personal take on each card. The interpretations are a bit sketchy, but she explains that her reasoning for this is that reading is a highly individualistic art, and each person’s interpretation is bound to be a bit different. Added to this is the fact that nowadays there are scads of books on interpretation, so if that is the main purpose of wanting a book, there are loads of others to choose from. Whether or not I agree with this approach is irrelevant- they are her designs, and she was certainly entitled to write whatever she saw fit concerning them. I love theses cards, and I enjoy the explanation of how she chose each symbol and color, and what they meant to her when she was creating them.
Today is May Day, and many Pagans celebrate Beltane today, so I thought it fitting to give a full reading for the coming season, using these special cards and my own personal variation on the Celtic Cross layout. I did not present a specific query, but just asked for guidance in a general way- and this is what I got:
A beautiful youth with fair hair and a sunny smile holds a staff topped with a crystal that radiates spreading rays that seem to almost sizzle on the card. The scene is suggestive of dunes, with distant mountains, and the figures wears an outfit with a pattern of flames along the hem.
Wands are traditionally ruled by fire, though there is a movement in some quarters to change Wands over to Air, and instead have Swords as the Fire Suit. Nonetheless, in this particular system, Wands represent Fire, and the forces of Inspiration, motivation, activity and movement. They are a real get up and go signal. Pages represent young people and children, they also stand for vitality, idealism and resiliance. Oftentimes, when Pages are in a reading, they indicate messages, news, new information, or the type of input that creates change in a situation. The Page of Wands is especially notable for that kind of energy. There is an old expression: “To light a fire under someone” meaning to get a person up and moving, quickly, without a lot of explanations or persuasion. This is the bearer of big news! A dynamic jolt of information or motivation that causes the recipient to jump out of their chair and shout!
Next, crossing it, is another page, the Page of Cups.
The suit of Cups is ruled by Water, and is associated with issues of emotion, intuition, the surfacing of ideas from the unconscious into the conscious, and reflections or “mirroring” This is a much subtler realm of influence, harder to pin down or define, but very powerful never the less. Consider the power of rivers that carve canyons a mile or more deep: this is a force to be reckoned with. It is a deep-seated, instinctual creativity that pushes it’s way up from the depths, something rooted in the heart and the backbrain, that seldom shows itself until the time is ripe. The Page of Cups again can represent a message, something that has been brewing for a very long time, deep in the heart. The figure holds up a chalice, from which a radiant leaping fish is emerging. A palette with many colors of paint indicates creative and colorful potential in a developmental stage here, and the scene shows a peaceful ocean surging beneath skies touched with sunrise hues.
Many readers interpret a crossing cards as an opposing force, but I don’t think this is necessarily the case. I often see the crossing card as a moderating force, something that alters the central issue, certainly- but not always in a conflicting way. I feel that is the way of it here, that a sudden change -represented by the Page of Wands- has uncovered a hidden issue that has been fermenting under the surface for a long time -represented by the Page of Cups. The fact that both the cards are Pages, to me seems to indicate that the issues are not highly developed, and exist mostly in potential. No plans have been drawn up or details worked out, it’s all still new and raw. Whatever is at hand is most likely completely original, unprecedented, and innovative. (Very exciting!)
In the past position, we have the Knight of Cups, Rx (reversed)
Usually Knights represent forces of movement, or the personalities of young adults. Cups, in reversed positions often refer to persons who are experiencing grief, depression, illness, or who are overwhelmed by a sudden onslaught that floods their immediate circumstances, and drowns them in more turmoil than they feel able to handle. Conversely, they could be indulging in emotional drama, wallowing, or being hypochondriacs. They could be dealing with addictive behaviors, or could be “swamped” in a pattern or circumstance they don’t know how to get out of. Usually when I see the Knight of Cups Rx like this, I see someone who started out with a great splash, but got himself stuck in the mud, perhaps a victim of poor planning, who dove into the shallow end of the pool. I am reminded of the 60s, a time of great social change and innovation, where a great many who had ideas and talent of great potential, got stuck in the party circuit, and though they originally set out to change the world- wound up accomplishing little more than inventing the beer bong.
Possibly, some of the ideas now surfacing existed in potential in the past, but were buried in the sands below the surf-line. Present storms have come along, and uncovered them again.
All ideas need support, and until they get that support, they could languish -like the proverbial starving artist- in obscurity. So many new and worthy ideas have fallen by the wayside and been abandoned that it’s easy to get discouraged and give up hope. The 5 of Pentacles shows that while this negativity and suffering is taking up all the attention in the foreground, support is available and within reach; all the people in the scene have to do is turn and look, and ask for the help they need. It takes guts to knock on the door, it takes guts to ask, but the help is there for the person who is able to muster the nerve and push to do so. Five coins in the window suggest that a clever person could improve their chances of getting a positive response by pointing out the profit that could come in the future for those who help in the present. The placement is in the Recent Past, so the source is already close by. Look around, and pay close attention to what you see, it’s around here somewhere!
The Ace of Swords is the epitome of the Air Principle, and as such stands for the realm of Ideas, Communication, Reasoning, Logic, Plans and Negotiation. I am reminded of the uses of a Power Point presentation in persuading a team of backers to help with a project. It always helps to polish an idea to the point where it is taken from the realm of “just talk” to a real possibility. If just some of the details are worked out, it has a much better chance at being made manifest in the light of day. Backers don’t want to be presented with an idea that both starts and ends with “Wouldn’t it be nice if…”
They want to know “why and how, and what would it cost if… ” and more than anything, they want to know if you can really pull it off. This card stands for getting all that very clear in your mind, and figuring out how to communicate that as effectively as possible. The fact that it’s an Ace- well, that right there is the indication that idea is first-rate. It may not be solid gold- (that would be the Ace of Pentacles) but it is solid stainless steel, with a scalpel-sharp double edge, and rings like a bell. The placement is the Immediate Future- so there’s no time to waste. The window of opportunity will be open for a limited time, and there’s no telling how long that opening will be there. You need to be ready for it, so that as soon as you spot it, you can move on it. Make a plan, figure out how to implement and present it -even if it’s not yet clear to you exactly who you are going to present it to- you need to be able to showcase your idea as the brilliant, innovative gem it is.
The further future position is occupied by the 7 of Wands, so take heed to this one detail while you’re still in the planning stages: protect your idea! Document it however you can, because you need to be able to defend your right to your idea. You will have the advantage if you do so; the card shows the figure, though outnumbered, stands on higher ground. Establish that higher ground before you start sharing your idea around- it surely will become an issue, (as always seems to happen these days with any idea that has tremendous earning potential.) Also, you may find that you will need to have persistence in promoting your idea. Your initial attempts my not be received as well as you might hope. There might be design problems, high materials costs, or some unforeseen obstacle that you didn’t anticipate. Don’t let that stop you; push on and move forward. Defend your idea with all your skill and energy- it’s worth it.
In the Hopes Position, comes the Major Arcana card- Judgement.
This is a very auspicious placement of a very powerful card! The powers that be are very likely to decide in your favor, and you could find yourself rising like a phoenix from the flames, reinvented as a brand new, very shiny and victorious self. Nothing will ever be the same again! Forces much larger than any single individual will soon move to sweep things along, and you could find yourself propelled into a whole new level of play.
In the Fears Position, we find the 9 of Wands. The struggle has been long and hard, and for the time being, there is a period of uneasy peace. Note that the figure in the card is not too comfortable, but has been injured, and keeps a sharp eye out for signs of trouble. Have a care- this is a time to both develop and protect your idea, but not to talk about it with the people around you. They may seem like your allies today, but everything is a matter of convenience and the expedience of the moment. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone is ultimately on your side. All too often, people are very willing to try to co-opt an idea that is not their own, and will try to take advantage of you. Be careful who you trust with information during this crucial formative stage of development. Be ready to promote it to the right people, but make sure you have adequate documentation to prove that it’s your intellectual property.
By the same token, you are urged not to try and go it alone. While you are working hard, you need the support of Friends and Family. Times like these frequently require long hours of hard work, during which it’s easy to neglect your health and well-being. It’s important to have some kind of support system in place. You don’t have to share all the details of what you’re working on, just get some folks to help you with the routine chores of living, and to keep you from feeling too isolated. It would help to have someone you can trust completely to practice your presentation with, but the majority of your support team doesn’t have to know any more than that you are tired, hungry, thirsty or discouraged, in order to be of real help to you.
The outcome is the 7 of Pentacles. I think of this card as “The Gardener” and also as “The Waiting Game”. You plant your seeds, you tend your crop, weeding and watering, fertilizing and cultivating, and you hope to have a bountiful harvest if all goes well…but you can never feel entirely sure until the fruits have ripened, and you’ve gathered them up. Even then, the barn could leak, and rot set in. You need to be patient, and try to anticipate problems, and solve them before they happen- but even with all that, you need to be willing and able to stand back and wait. That’s the hardest labor of all! Trying to harvest the crop before it’s ready can get you a supply of fruit that’s not fit to eat. You can ruin your results with this behavior. Take a long deep breath, and exercise some self-control. Hands off the crop until it’s ready!
But there’s also the human factor…the backers who may try to rush you, or conversely clients who may try to use delaying tactics to wear you down. When you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”, and the reports have been submitted…and you have to wait for others to make up their minds…it can drive you crazy when the people you’re negotiating with will try to use this to against you. They assume you are desperate, they try to get you to sign your precious brainchild over for less than what would keep a mouse alive…Don’t fall for it! Have patience. Plan for this period earlier in the process- be ready to outwait them. Your idea is worth all the time it takes at this stage. Rest and meditate above all stay calm; this is the time to take care of yourself while you wait for your reward.
Blessed Be, on this lovely Beltane Sunday
May Your Garden Bloom Brightly, and Bear Much Fruit!