Tarot for the Green Witch
A primer on the use of tarot for divination, that looks at all cards of the major and minor arcana. Aimed at practitioners of Wicca and Green Witchcraft.
By Ann Moura
Book - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
"Tarot For The Green Witch" is part of the Green Witchcraft series from author Ann Moura - a solitary practitioner whose heritage was passed down from her Mother and Grandmother. She encourages everyone to take what they will from her writings - to add whatever they find helpful to their own personal spiritual journeys. I found this book to come from a very caring heart - a heart that wants to share her legacy with all who will listen.
My feeling about this book is that it was definitely written for the Green Witch practitioner - exactly as the title states. I feel that a reader not on the Wiccan path may not understand this version of Tarot, as Tarot takes second place to the Craft. There is one teensy thing that occurred throughout the entire book that irritated me no end. And yes - it is a foible of mine, but here it is - the word Tarot is written as tarot - no capital letters. I realize this is a choice centered issue - but in a book about Tarot, this was a major irritation for me.
This book is intended to be a primer on the use of Tarot for divination. Moura discusses the meaning of the Major Arcana, and how the cards relate to the reader and to their lives. She discusses the four suits, their meanings, and the meanings of the cards within them, how to read the court cards, how to prepare for and do a reading, and issues such as multiples of the same card number within a reading, what to do with reversals and how to read the Aces as timing. In her presentations on the cards, she uses black and white scans from five different Tarot decks: the Nigel Jackson Tarot (Nigel Jackson, Llewellyn Publications), the Sacred Circle Tarot (Anna Franklin and Paul Mason, Llewellyn Publications), the Robin Wood Tarot (Robin Wood and Michael Short, Llewellyn Publications), the Witches Tarot (Ellen Cannon Reed and Martin Cannon, Llewellyn Publications) and the Buckland Romani Tarot (Raymond Buckland, Llewellyn Publications).
In the introduction, Moura states that she views the Tarot as a Pagan form of divination. Personally - I see the Tarot as a form of divination - period. Pagan, feminist, mythical - there are many overlays on current Tarot decks - but they are all using Tarot as a form of divination. She also differs from most Pagan practitioners in that she assigns the element of Fire to Wands and Air to Swords, where the Pagan Tarot world usually assigns Fire to the Swords and Air to the Wands. Neither way is wrong - as she emphatically states, it is up to the reader which system that they use, and that they are better off coming to an understanding of one system or another and staying with that, regardless of which deck they are using.
From the book:
"My method of reading cards draws upon the influence of the natural theme of Witchcraft, so the archetypes reflect the seasons of the earth, the Sabbats and mythic pattern of the story of the Goddess and God of nature. because my path is Green focused, that is to say, grounded in Nature and the immanent Divine (not dealing with deities of law, rulers, priesthoods or warriors), the way that I read the cards is centered on the energies of the earth."
Moura encourages the reader to think about what Tarot reading is to them, and to develop a Creed before beginning their studies.She does present a short section on Tarot history, so that the reader has some idea of how Tarot developed. I cannot agree with all of the presentation, but it is well researched and well presented.
Moura also discusses how to consecrate a new deck, meditations and Pathworking and reader related issues, such as charging for a reading. She lays excellent groundwork here for a beginning reader - not overwhelming them, but giving them a gentle "heads up" as to issues that they may want to pay attention to in their studies and practices.
Before I start discussing the card presentations - I have another small quibble: Moura does not include astrology, Qaballa or numerology in her presentation. She does deal to a slight extent with numerology, in that she discusses multiples of cards, but neither the mundane nor the esoteric meaning of the numbers is ever discussed.
Moura also downplays the role of the Fool's journey in the Tarot. She agrees that the Tarot is cyclic by nature, but she feels that although the archetypes that make up the Major Arcana are valid, they occur in our lives on a random basis. This is of course true - but how can you know where you are without a thorough study of the entire journey?
In her presentation of the Major Arcana, she allots one page to each card. Included in the presentation is a black and white scan of the card from one of the five decks being used, a short general discussion of the card, the upright and reverse meanings and keywords. There is really no discussion of the archetypal qualities of any of the cards. It is also confusing to me that she has renamed the Major Arcana - but there is no specific deck to go with the names. They are as follows:
0 The Greenman/The Fool
1 The Witch/The Magician
2 Drawing Down The Moon/The HighPriestess
3 Earth Mother/Empress
4 The Horned God/The Emperor
5 Drawing Down The Sun/The Hierophant
6 The Lady and The Lord Of The Wild Wood/The Lovers
7 The Battle Wagon/The Chariot
8 The Crone/Strength
9 The Holly King/The Hermit
10 The Wheel Of The Year/The Wheel Of Fortune
11 The Standing Stone/Justice
12 The Oak King/The Hanged Man
13 The Lord Of Shadows/Death
14 The Sidhe/Temperance
15 Nature/The Devil
16 The Wild Hunt/The Tower
17 The Star/The Star
18 The Moon/The Moon
19 The Sun/The Sun
21 The World Tree/The World
The presentation of the four suits is the same as above: one page per card, a black and white scan, a short discussion of the card, upright and reversed meanings and keywords. It is interesting to see the emphasis put on assigning elemental qualities and their positions on the Wheel Of The Year - the cycles of of the seasons.
The interpretation for the Aces is a bit different from the traditional Tarot interpretation. They are still seen as seasonal, butt he discussion around them is a bit confusing. Moura also reads the Aces for timing, as do many readers. She does one thing a bit different: if the Ace is upright, the timing is assigned to the first month of the season. If the Ace is in the reversed position, the timing is for the second two months of the season indicated by the suit.
Court cards remain very much the same as in traditional Tarot: King, Queen, Knight and Page. They may be interpreted as people in the Seeker's life, or they may represent qualities or traits inherent in the Seeker.
Moura does not read reversed cards as such, although she has included interpretations for them. She encourages the reader to intuit the meaning of the cards from surrounding cards. She also has an interesting take on Tarot spreads - that once the meaning of the position for the card drawn has been determined, that the spread is not necessary - that the cards could well be laid in a linear manner and the reading would be what it should be. My thoughts on this are that once in a spread, the cards relate to the other cards in the spread - not just the ones directly around them. A difference of opinion is all this is - but it is a strong one!
Moura really has put a great deal of effort into making this a book that can be used as a tool for the study of Tarot. Aside from well done explanations of each card, she has put together charts with keyword meanings - and blank charts of the same so that the student can copy them out and fill them in with their own keywords as they develop them.
Moura does a great deal of Tarot interpreting by reading the cards in pairs. To simply show the student how to do this is one thing, but she has spent an enormous amount of time on a section devoted to showing how each card in the deck (Major Arcana, Court Cards and Pips) relate to every other card in the deck. I do not believe I have ever seen this done before - it is an absolutely amazing section of this book.
There is a short section at the back of the book where several different spreads are show: the Celtic Cross, Moura's own Tree of Life spread, the Wheel Of The Year, Mystic and Need A Change spreads, and a new version of the Elemental Spread (my personal favorite amongst all spreads) using cards representing the Elemental energies and cards that represent hidden influences on these energies.
The very last pages show how to use numerology in conjunction with the Major Arcana to reveal certain influences in your life.
While I may not agree with everything in this book (nor should I!), I feel that the presentation was well thought out, that the book was well written and that a Wiccan/Pagan student of Tarot could learn much here. A non-Wiccan/Pagan student would also find wisdom here, but might have a harder time taking it out of the context it is written in.
A last word ... I really enjoyed seeing the different cards from the different decks used as examples in this book. I love the Witches Tarot and the Buckland Romani Tarot, and got to see scans from decks that I don't currently own. Moura also makes the suggestion that the student place the card they are studying from their deck over the scan on the page - and that works wonderfully well!
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.