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The Wheel of the Year Tarot beautifully and cleverly incorporates the setting and sensibility of the seasons. The combined symbols of seasonal holidays and traditional tarot enhance each other, making for a very beautiful deck that is a delight to read with.
The Wheel of the Year Tarot is one of the most cleverly designed pagan-based decks I’ve ever seen. Both the Major and Minor Arcana seamlessly incorporate the theme in a way that enhances the traditional meanings and expresses the theme.
My test for whether a deck is a true RWS-style deck is this: if the images are viewed without text, titles, or numbers, would a RWS reader be able to tell what cards they are? Using that yardstick, then these cards to remain true to the RWS tradition.
The suits and the courts are particularly fabulous. Each is assigned to a Pagan holiday and season which is expressed in the images by setting and sensibility in a way that adds to rather than fights with or detracts from the RWS meanings.
The Cups are associated with Imbolc and Ostara, and consequently with spring. The Wands are connected with Beltane and Litha, and obviously with summer. The Pentacles represent Lughnasadh and Mabon with a clear autumn feel. The Swords are assigned to Samhain and Yule, and cover the winter months.
It doesn’t hurt that these are the associations that always made most sense to me, although I know many readers favor other associations.
There are two cards I’ll talk about here. There is a charming touch of the old European flavor of interpretation in these cards. It is slight, but clever. The 9 of Cups is a delightful image of a happy group of people on a picnic. Glasses are raised and smiles abound. In the foreground is a close up of a leaf. Perched on the leaf is a ladybug. In the US, it is said that ladybugs are lucky. If one lands on you, you can blow it away and get a wish. One of the old fortune-telling meanings of the 9 of Cups is that it is the Wish Card.
The other card is the 8 of Wands. In modern decks, we mostly see just eight wands moving quickly through the air. However, in European decks I’ve noticed there is a focus on receiving a message (as well as the usual fast-moving events). This deck shows that interpretation by including a hawk or falcon with a message tied to its leg.
The Majors are very archetypal and completely free of any calendar structure. I like this a lot, as it lacks the feeling that so many themed decks of have of forcing correspondences on the cards that simply do not make sense. Instead the Majors are designed to incorporate seasonal images and symbols in ways that enhance the traditional meanings.
There is, alas, one very unfortunate card. Sadly, it is one of my favorites: the 3 of Cups. This one shows three young ladies holding aloft three strangely sturdy-looking chalices. They stand near a newly hatched duckling and look as if they are about to bash its brains in rather than toasting its birth. Just slightly creepy. This is probably a good thing or the deck may very well be perfect and I don’t think that is allowed.
The art is beautiful. The images are clear and evocative. It is easy and lovely to read with; it has become one of my favorites.
Name of deck: Wheel of the Year Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Name of accompanying booklet: Wheel of the Year Tarot
Number of pages of booklet: 63 (14 in English)
Author of booklet: Maria Caratti
Available in a boxed kit?: no
Reading Uses: General
Artistic Style: illustrative
Theme: Pagan holidays
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes
Does it have extra cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits?: No
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards?: No
Why was deck created?: To view the tarot through the seasons.
Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck: Any beginner book, such as Tarot for Beginners.