I followed the artist’s webpage for about a year before the Green Witch Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015) came out, so the artwork was never going to be a disappointment. I really love Kiri Østergaard Leonard’s warm colour palette and naturalistic painting style. And Llewelyn have done a good job in terms of the cards, which are of a nice quality and borderless.
Their packaging, though, seems ever shoddier compared to the quality of Schiffer boxes, or the new, improved packaging US Games have been using recently. The deck and book (on which more later) come in a pretty but not very sturdy cardboard box, with an oversized white card box offered as a storage receptacle for the deck if not stored in the original packaging. As if! I don’t know anyone who uses those boxes, which have no artwork and don’t even accurately fit the cards. Anyhow, the packaging isn’t relevant to many people, I just noticed it more as others (including self-published decks like the Fountain Tarot) have really been upping the industry standards.
On to the book. It’s a good quality book, like a novel, with greyscale scans of the cards, well-designed illustrations for the spreads offered, and plenty of information on the cards. I especially like that each card has a plant and animal included, and a section on the meaning of these. What I like less is the somewhat simplistic meanings sometimes given for the cards. The ‘witchcraft 101’ feel to it seems aimed at a ‘teen-youth’ market. I get that those starting on the path may be a large market segment, but hey, older witches have purses, too!
As for the cards, for the most part these are magical, intriguing and with non-traditional imagery emphasising pagan takes on traditional content. For example, instead of the fuddy-duddy Emperor, we have the powerful and whistle-worthy Horned God. He still represents well the idea of an organised approach to taking responsibility for those around us and our environment. Perhaps less of a father figure, he is still a strong, directing masculine force.
The King of Athames (Swords) is a good representation of the Courts. These cards have plenty of symbolism to help understand the archetype. And while the guidebook’s statement that this card is about legal matters seems a little overemphasised (he is so much more than that), the image does give the idea of a man of letters, someone who wields his wits with skill and experience. At first I was a bit taken aback by the ages of the Court cards, but thinking about it they offer an interesting perspective. The Pages (50-50 male and female) are young: kids to teens. The Knights (also 50-50) are a bit older: teens to twenties. The Queens are more like thirties to forties, and the Kings are fifties and up.
The Aces are gorgeous! I drew the Ace of Wands earlier in the week on Instagram, and adore the colours and symbolism. Equally, this Ace of Cups is beautiful, with its gently overflowing cup floating above a river with a wise salmon leaping from the waters, and lilies resting on the cup’s base.
And the rest of the Minors are fully illustrated, with expressive characters and lovely landscapes and backgrounds. There are a few that pressed my buttons a bit: the Nine of Pentacles shows a couple with kids! For me, it’s about an independent person/woman working hard for a nice material life, which has nothing to do with family. And it also confuses it with the Ten of Pentacles (though that card shows three generations, for the sense of legacy).
Anyhow, I drew the Two of Pentacles to discuss here. A man stands on one foot juggling two disks, with a farm barn behind him. I like the weather vane on the barn roof. A reminder that, even if we’re doing a good job of juggling different priorities, we may still have to deal with factors outside our control that could upset the balance.
The bottom line is that I enjoy this deck. I might wish for it to be a little less ‘pretty white girls and boys’: it’s not very inclusive. Still, it’s a good, readable deck with attractive artwork and a nice nature-based witchcraft theme.