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The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck review

The Major Arcana

I received the Herbcrafter’s Tarot as a birthday present last year, and I am so glad that this deck has come into my possession. I love this deck, and will take the rest of this blog post to break down all the key details about this deck. If you would like to purchase this deck or learn more about it after this blog post, you can click this link, which will take you straight to the Herbcrafter’s Tarot website (this is not an affiliate or promotional code or link). The deck was written by Latisha Guthrie, an herb / kitchen witch, teacher, and homesteader. The artwork is by Joanna Powel Colbert. She has created the Gaian Tarot, the Pentimento Tarot, and also teaches workshops and retreats related to the craft, the Goddess, and more.

What is immediately clear about this deck is that is created with a true knowledge and love of herb-crafting. You do not need a previous knowledge of herbs in order to use this deck. You will need to be invested in learning about the herbs. Each card in this deck relates to a specific herb (the one exception being the World card, which I will get into here in just a bit), so if you aren’t invested in learning about, or using herbs, this probably isn’t the deck for you.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot is so beautifully made. The cards measure 5″ x 3″ which makes them a decent size. The paper has a nice glossy sheen which makes them easy to shuffle. The illustration for the back of the card has a very different feel than the front of the card. To be honest, I am not in love with the illustration for the back of the card. It feels disconnected from the gorgeous artwork of the cards themselves. The artwork is reversible if your cardback to match your reversal preference. I don’t mind if the image is non-reversible because I still don’t know the particular card chosen until I turn it over, but there many who want card-front and card-back to match.

If you choose to keep the deck in its box, the material has some heft, and will keep your decks well-protected. The green string allows for easy access of the cards, and the guidebook fits snug at the top, making a substantial tarot set. If you choose to put your cards in some other container or bag, I would recommend keeping the guidebook. Normally, I tend to forget the guidebook for my tarot decks, but this deck brings in so much more information, that I find it worthwhile to keep the guidebook on hand.

The guidebook is packed full of information that speaks to the formation of this deck, the intention of the herbs used for each card, and how those herbs are handled or grown in nature. These intentionally chosen herbs also relate heavily to a more numerology-based system of reading. As you can see in the picture below, the herbs chosen do not merely reflect the identity of their corresponding tarot card. They correspond to the numerology and to the herb in nature, and how it is used. Working with this deck and this guidebook will give you a good understanding of herbology, numerology, and tarot, all within one tarot deck!

The perimeters for the tarot, herb, and numerical correspondence in nature.

One of the other main differences is the titles for the Minor Arcana. Instead of staying with the elemental object (swords, pentacles, etc.) for each suit, the Minor Arcana are named in relation to the elements themselves: earth, fire, water, and air. The elemental token that is featured in the minors are:

Air/ bolines

Fire / mortars and pestles

Water / kettles

Earth / baskets.

Three of Earth / Raspberry, Eight of Fire / Ginger, Four of Air / Lavender, Two of Water / Mallow

Each of these tools are needed to participate fully in herb-crafting. The elements also take on an additional layer of understanding to help with learning and skill acquisition.

Air = learning, fire = creating, water = nourishing, and earth = giving.

This is somewhat similar to a more traditional understanding of the tarot and the elements.

Air / Swords = the mind: thoughts, brainstorming, ideas, and communication.

Fire / Wands= the spirit: creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and ambition.

Water / Cups= the heart: connection, understanding, compassion, emotions.

Earth / Pentacles= the body: production, tangible, sensory, and environmental.

One of the final differences is the court card titles have also changed. Instead of Page, Knight, Queen, King, the court cards are now named Hija (daughter), Adelita (Warrior), Madre (mother), and Curandera (healer). Each of these titles bring similar energy to the more traditional court cards, but also represent the transformation of energy that comes from the different thresholds of the herb path. Each court card shows an image with outstretched hands, and shows how the herbs are handled differently as you progress through the court rankings.

Hija of Fire / California Poppy, Adelita of Fire / Cayenne, Madre of Fire / Thyme, Curandera of Fire / Damiana

The picture above has the four court ranks for the element of Fire. The Hija of Fire may be my personal favorite card of the deck. The Hija sits on her blanket, adorned with incense, costume jewelry, California Poppies, and she is both witnessed and protected by her stuffed tiger. She is undertaking the path in a way that is both playful and imaginative. The Adelita of Fire carries the tradition of her people’s medicine by crushing cayenne to make fire cider. The Madre of Fire keeps a whole-hearted and fierce spirit to create and use ingredients that fill her hearth and home. Finally, the Curandera of Fire teaches the power of love and intimacy, healers in their own way.

Speaking of the imagery, Joanna Powell Colbert’s artistic rendering of each card is simply stunning. Her images are so detailed and intimate, that it really feels like a part of time was captured, not just the herb. Each image feels so heavenly, that you can almost smell what’s on the stove, feel the sunshine, or test the nearby water. The artwork is so beautiful and important, but one of the other reasons I really recommend keeping the guidebook is because Latisha Guthrie’s description for each card is informative and easy to understand. Her writings detail how you can either begin or reinforce your herbal path with each herb, and benefit from each card you turn over. It is not a mere guidebook; it is an informative text for the herbal path.

If you have a decent understanding of herbs or numerology, this may be a decent deck to learn the tarot on. If new to all practices, I personally would not recommend learning on this deck, only because there is so much information that comes with this deck. By fully learning tarot through a more standard or straightforward deck, there isn’t a need to learn both herbs and tarot at the same time. However, that is merely my personal opinion, and I am sure that for many people, this deck would create full expansion in their beginning practice.

This deck has been a recent go-to for bringing in an understanding of garden magic and kitchen medicine. I would give this deck a 5/5, it is simply that beautiful, and that useful. I am getting loads of ideas for teas and tincture I want to create. I am gaining a deeper respect for the earth under my feet, and all that comes forth from its foundation. If you want to learn more about herbs, numerology, or gain more knowledge from the expertise of two powerful women who have walked this path for decades, this is a great deck to invest in.

The World begins a new chapter: awakened, alive, vibrant and gazing forward. There is a palpable readiness.
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Archetypes

One of the decks that I have chosen to work with for the monthly cards is the new Archetypes deck from The Wild Unknown. I love this deck (and will be posting a detailed review for you to see this deck in depth), but to be clear, a tarot deck is filled with archetypes. An oracle deck is filled with archetypes. The whole world is filled with archetypes. You do not need this specific deck in order to work with archetypes. Like Kim Krans says in the guidebook, there is no one creator of archetypes.

This deck is one of the most beautiful decks I possess. If you want to work with an Archetypes deck, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Archetypes are created for and by the collective; that is precisely what makes them an archetype. This deck merely includes the archetypes that Kim Krans felt most connected to in her artistic rendering. The reason that I chose, and want to work with, this deck for the entire year of 2020 is because archetypes are meant to be opened, shared, understood, and integrated. However, as we begin to open the door to the Desert (the archetype for January) it is important to know and understand what exactly an archetype is.

http://www.dictionary.com defines archetypes as:

the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on
which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.

(in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought,
image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.


This means that each archetype once started as on original form of itself and took on an identity that transcends the form. Archetypes are steeped in the psyche of the collective, across culture, location, or time. This means that archetypes are therefore steeped in the individual’s psyche as well. Archetypes can take on various layers of form or understanding, but the core identity of the archetype remains the same.


For instance, if I asked you to draw an image in your mind of a witch, what form does it take for you? If I were to mention a female deer, do you see the doe as a victim of the hunt, or as a radiant earth-mother? Both themes exist with the archetype of the doe. The hunt and persecution of a female deer (Bambi anyone?) can then unfold to other archetypes. The gun is often an archetype for male domination and sex (Freud is the most well-known for attributing these phallic archetypes to the idea of male regeneration and women with penis envy). The archetype of the orphan comes in when the Bambi’s mother has been shot down because Bambi is now left alone in this now cruel world.

There is often an overt sexual tone to the archetype of the hunt as well. The pursuer and the pursued match each other in raw visceral energy, opening the door to both themes of violence and sex. I recommend reading the poem Pursuit by Sylvia Plath (a poem written right after she met her future husband, the daunting, charismatic, and unfaithful Ted Hughes) to see how the archetype of the hunt mirrors both themes of violence and sex, predatory
and prey.

I have seen readers post their opinion of Pursuit as one of the most erotic poems Plath has ever written. I would agree with this statement, even though the erotic nature of this poem also exposes a masochistic, shadowed side of eroticism.


Archetypes create the way for more archetypes. The archetype of the temple gives way to the archetypes of prayer, candle, healer. The archetype of the ruler brings up the archetype of the crown, the throne, the castle. What this means is that archetypes are fluid, born of the collective perception, but understood through symbols, images and stories. Archetypes arise from the psyche in a way that can show a connection of understanding to the collective narrative. This connection often anchors and comforts us, because it gives us an outline that we can
identify within ourselves.

Do you, or do you know people who like to see which Disney, Star Wars, or Superhero character they get on a Facebook quiz? Those are archetypes. They may not be the most accurate, more based on algorithms that honest answers, but it can be comforting to know that your answers reveal an archetype that speaks to you. In fact, while doing some research for this blog post I came across the Jungian Archetype test. You can take it by clicking here.


Another article that really helps to showcase how influencing archetypes are is here. In this article, Jeffrey states that archetypes are patterns of behavior. Archetypes arise during certain situations depending upon predispositions, attitudes, and even perhaps nature versus nurture. These archetypes can, again, be broken down, into smaller categories or other archetypes to explain the complex and multifaceted nature of the
human experience or human psyche.


In looking at the archetype of the Desert, we can immediately pull on other archetypes to create a deeper understanding. For me, the Sun (another magnanimous archetype) is present. Many depictions of the Desert also show cacti or even the iconic bull skull. This archetype is one of harsh and fierce, but beautiful energy. The Desert is an archetype that speaks to survival and death. It also speaks to being lost, exposed, and lacking in some way.
I have gone in depth to the Desert in my zine which you can access by clicking here.


There is way to much to say about archetypes to be fully contained into one blog post. I would like to end here by saying that archetypes, however you hold to them or not, is something to be open too. Look to where the Desert, or other archetypes, are opening for you. Look to where archetypes are speaking to you, to an idea, or a pattern of behavior and see how the archetype resonates with you. Working with archetypes can be incredibly challenging, highly revealing, or sometimes comical and fun.

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Deck Forecast – 2020 (Wild Unknown Archetypes and Tarot)

The deck forecast begins at the very top of the table, with the Desert and the Hanged Man

For 2020, I am going to switch up the decks that I use. The Wild Unknown Archetypes decks is STUNNING. I cannot get over these cards. Plus, archetypes are meant to explored, discovered, understood, and utilized. This makes them the perfect deck for doing a monthly deep dive. The

Wild Unknown Tarot is the companion card, creating a layered message of what archetypal energy is present, and how to invite this potent energy into your life. Patrons will still receive a third card in their monthly card forecast. If you would like to become a patron, click the badge on the right hand side and join the dwelling!

For reference on how to tell upright vs. inverted, I pull every card with my right hand, and then turn each card over pulling from the left side. If I were to take these cards out of the circle, and place them in a straight line, I would then grab from the right side and move left if it’s on its side (horizontal). I hope that makes sense! It can be hard to tell when it is this kind of formation.

I tried to get a picture that did justice to the imags, while keeping the names visible. For clarity, here is the monthly forecast:

January: The Desert and The Hanged Man

February: The Shadow and the 8 of Swords inverted

March: The Eternal Child and the Tower inverted

April: The Poet and the Devil

May: The Castle and the 9 of Wands

June: Eros and the World

July: The Crone and the Mother (Queen) of Swords inverted

August: The Creator and the Ace of Cups

September: The Queen and Temperance inverted

October: Thanatos and Judgement

November: Aletheia and the 10 of Cups inverted

December: The Mirror and the Son (Knight) of Wands

So, that is the forecast for 2020. I am not going to lie, when I say the card pairings for January through April, I said to myself, “Here, we go….” That is not to say that the cards are bad or that I don’t like them. Cards like the Tower and the Devil have some of the most profound blessings, but they are not easy cards to grasp and hold. Those cards, and many others, can be incredibly daunting, and speak to growth in ways that are often uncomfortable or hard to bear at times.

Some things to note about the complete forecast: the year is divided into 6 major arcana cards, 4 pip cards, and 2 court cards. Major Arcana cards speak to great forces, forceful momentum, and encompassing shifts. When a spread, or here a forecast, is dominated by Major Arcana cards, that means that the year forecast is going to see a lot of transformation that is effective more on a grand scale of life, rather than dealing with the more minute details of the day to day. The Majors are archetypes unto themselves. They represent the macrocosm. Their energies are so large that, at times, it can be harder to feel their presence.

We have the 8 of Swords inverted, 9 of Wands, Ace of Cups, and the 10 of Pentacles inverted. With the majority of the pips and court cards falling to the Swords, we can safely say that the majority of the microcosm will be focused on the threshold of thoughts, communication, brainstorming, ideas, and narration. We will be looking into the mental faculties that gauge the energies, and how that logical clarifying accompanies the larger forces at play. The Court cards are the cards that speak to us between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Side note: I do not read Court cards as other people. I read them as the threshold between the majors and the minors. That means that July and December present invitations for a more intimate conversation about how to bridge yourself between the energetic forces and shifts available, and how to make energies available.

What are your thoughts on these card pairings? If you would like to download my free monthly ezines from 2019, do so by the end of the year. After that they will be getting deleted to make room for 2020 ezines. Much love to you!