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Rowena (Australia)

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Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot: Discover the Magic in Nature
Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot: Discover the Magic in Nature
by Poppy Palin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchantingly wild., 1 April 2012
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On first sight I recognised Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot as a lively and colourful storyteller's oracle, and indeed the accompanying book is titled Stories of the Wild Spirit. As the author emphasizes, this was never meant to be a traditional tarot deck. There is no unifying mythic theme (such as in Celtic or Norse decks), no astrological or kabalistic symbology. Those looking for an adapted version of Rider-Waite (as many modern tarot decks are) will be disappointed. While the Wild Spirit deck keeps the 78-card structure, the suits are named only by their element and a keyword, and the Major Arcana have been radically re-imagined. Though some of these cards bear echoes of traditional decks, Poppy Palin's inspiration comes from nature, earth-based peoples and the fey realms, depicting forces and influences much older than Waite or 15th century European tarot images. They reach to the fairytale-loving child in all of us, when our imaginations ran wild and we could embrace many worlds in one.

The book may frustrate readers who want clear-cut, succinct cues to interpretation. You'll find nothing like `a tall dark older man with money' or `a long journey by water.' Instead, each card bears the story of a fictional person, a part of our inner selves, or a step on our spiritual unfolding. This is an oracle deck that would appeal to readers gifted in intuition and imagination, or those who want to develop these faculties. Some reviewers have suggested that the Wild Spirit Tarot is not a good beginner's deck, but I see it as a wonderful deck to get the intuitive juices flowing.

Apart from a few minor missteps, the art work is masterful. To my eyes, the busy checkerboard background in Rebirth visually drowns the main figures. In a few cards (Nest and Hovering) figures slip off the edge of the image to rather awkward effect. But otherwise the art is consistently pleasing and eye-catching, and with equal emphasis on the Major and Minor suites. Faces look like real people one might meet and the animals, birds and fey folk are lovingly delineated. The back design of this deck is an attractive organic mandala, mirror-imaged to conceal reversals.

Personally, I have no problem with the changes to the Major Arcana. To me, the young spirit rising from a pair of old boots perfectly expresses Transformation, as the 20th card is called. And of course the traditional Devil is a Fiddler, whose music is irresistible even if (or because) it flirts with danger. It also teaches us to laugh at our foibles and the serious-faced world. Source, card 17, goes beyond the usual interpretation as hope and wish-fulfillment, to express reconnection with the Divine within, and with each other. My favourite card of all is 6, Soul Mates, in which both lovers look directly outwards including the reader in their embrace.

The book and deck set have recently been reprinted, but in limited edition. The book itself has been rewritten and redesigned. If this you're after this set, you might have to snap it up or search for it second hand. It well deserves a wider re-issue.

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