The Wildwood Tarot is a beautiful deck that is quite different to any other tarot deck I've come across. Though there are parallels with a traditional tarot deck, it is based on the ancient archetypes of the English wildwood in pre-Celtic mythology; however there are many cultural commonalities with other indigenous systems. If folklore is your thing, this may well be the deck you've been looking for.
Structurally there are still 78 cards with 22 major arcana cards, but their names, and therefore their meanings, have changed to reflect the theme. As an example card three, instead of being the Empress, is the Green Woman. She is still depicted as being pregnant, but she represents the fertility of nature and the connection the querent has with the spirits of the land upon which they live as much as she represents potentiality. Looking at card 15, which would normally be the Devil, we have the Guardian, challenging us to face our fears and really look at ourselves honestly as we journey through the dark to self discovery.
The minor arcana are in the equivalent suits of arrows, bows, stones and vessels. Each court card is represented by an animal, for example the king of bows is the adder, the queen of bows is the hare, while the rest of the minors have key words on them that are reflected in the artwork
Looking at the physical deck, the cards are 3" x 4.75" so a bit wider than many traditional decks, and as such may prove a little harder to shuffle for some people. The cardstock is actually a little thicker than many decks, which gives them great durability but again may add to the trickiness of shuffling them. They are not heavily laminated. The artwork is beautiful, and they have a plain white border, so maybe you could trim the width if you wanted to, though the card number and character is written in the bottom border. The card backs are plain in a deep forest green with narrow white border and so do not reveal if the card is upright or reversed.
In place of a LWB it comes with a lovely 160-page paperback guide book explaining all the cards in depth, including the character's cultural and spiritual significance, and a section on how best to work with these intriguing cards and a selection of spreads designed specifically for this deck. The introduction is really informative and gives you a great framework upon which to build your knowledge and understanding of the cards. Mark Ryan looks at such subjects as archetypes and gender, and how science is helping us to understand our place in the world from an evolutionary perspective, and explains how the Wheel of the Year influences not just the deck but also ourselves as living creatures.
This is a great tarot deck to have in your collection as it really focuses on your psyche and your spiritual journey; I find it is wasted on readings of a more mundane nature because they ask you to look inwards rather than outwards. Yes, that is where tarot really excels, but not all clients realise this and sometimes we just need to ask the everyday questions without wanting a deep psychological analysis. While this may not be a deck you use all the time, it is certainly a beautiful and incredibly powerful tool to have both in your collection and in your arsenal as you work on your self and shadow-self.
The Wildwood Tarot is by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, with artwork by Will Worthington, and is published by Connections Book Publishing Ltd.