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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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Working on the world, your visions, and yourself

Top (left to right): 3 of Swords, 3 of Pentacles, 3 of Cups. Bottom: 3 of Wands

The 3 of Wands is all about stepping into your present to forge your future. This means that you need to merge yourself with the larger energies also present. It is fair to say this is not an easy task when in creation. It can be easy to look on others both close to you or distant and see where their lives have stacked up in a way yours might not have yet. This is something that we often see talked about with social media. We should remind ourselves that what we see is a highlight reel, and not always demonstrative of someone elseโ€™s life as whole.

While this is a great point to make, it can be hard to times to remind ourselves of that when we are feeling buried under the weight of what we think must or should do to improve our lives, and the world. In order to engage with the world, work on the world, make a mark on the world, we must also engage with ourselves, work on ourselves, make a mark on ourselves.

For this reason, I think it is important to be reminded of the fact that in the traditional Rider-Waite Smith deck (and even here in my deck: the Ostara Tarot), the 3 of Wands is the only three to show a solitary figure. The 3 of Swords shows no figure, just a heart pierced through and through (worthy of its own post). This correlation shows that the 3 of Wands is often an isolated undertaking. The figure goes from the looking out of his balcony, to being in the action, adorned with a new vision, a new wand, new clothing, and a new headpiece.

So, what does this all mean? I think it means that when it comes to engaging your visions, making your mark on the world, and finding yourself in the process you have to remove the noise from others. That does not necessarily mean that you cannot heed any advice from someone you trust, nor does it mean you cannot ask for help when needed. What it does mean though is that at the end of the day, you have to rely on yourself and your skills. You have to be willing to trust in yourself, and when needed, to remove yourself from the constant chatter of society at large. The dialog with and from others is extremely important, but if it leaves us doubting and questioning the work that we do, it can lead to becoming a very toxic conversation.

Because the 3 of Wands is the card of the month, seek to deepen your own understandings of what is workable and do-able for you and your place in the world by creating some intentional silence. Work on what it is you want to see happen and remove your eyes from the google page to see if it has been done before, unless you looking to research, check facts, or give credit where credit is due. Work on your visions by acting as if you are in a relationship with them, because you are. Give them time to develop into something wonderful, or something no longer worth the effort. Trust that your needs can fit in there without too much force, and when needed your basic needs must come first from time to time. Work on the world by letting that silence be an invitation to listen to what the world needs. Let the work for the world be a resounding drum that comes from your own beating heart. At the end of the day, you and only you, can create your visions into something tangible and external. Only you can create that which you seek.

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Being Honest

9 of Pentacles from the Wild Unknown deck

If I could break down my thoughts this week regarding the 9 of Pentacles reversed, it would be this word: reveal. The word reveal in this context means to take time to reconnect and return to the things we love, or the things we love to do. The beautiful thing about the 9 of Pentacles reversed is that it shows us that we are capable of providing for ourselves the abundance we seek. We are capable of soaking in the sensuality of living in presence to our surroundings. That is not to say that we need to be like this all the time, nor does this card show that we need to relinquish all material possessions.

The 9 of Pentacles reversed is more about intention, and taking to time to find presence with the things around us we love, want, or need. There is a level of true honesty that comes with the 9 of Pentacles reversed. There needs to be honesty about what we have, what we need, and even what we want. There also needs to be honesty about how we reveal this physical abundance to ourselves, and how we use it.

When it comes to being honest about what we have, this means that we need to be able to identify our needs. Like in the picture, the nest may not be as grand as possible, but it is secure and made with love. It holds the precious state of creation without shape. It holds a vibrancy that could make the Sun swoon. Yet, these worldly treasures are so simple. It is about what could be, and how to get there. If the resources used are wrong, those fragile circles would succumb. If it was too grand, that may not have been a wise investment of energy. By naming our needs our needs, we recognize by default our time and space presence. We recognize that through our needs is a space for intention and construction.

We also need to be honest if we are buying, consuming, or using things because we truly cherish them, or simply because they were on sale, easy to get, or fulfilled an idea. We also need to be honest about we want. Do we want something in our home because it is pretty? Do we want to experience something that may be out of budget because we can’t stand the idea of not having the experience? Do we have the means to get that which we want? Again, it is about honesty and intention. If there is something you want, or something you want to do, that’s great. The 9 of Pentacles reversed is simply there to provoke and ask: how and why?

I mentioned in my free newsletter (which you can find under my FREE OFFERINGS TAB) that there is an element of sacrifice and surrender to the 9 of Pentacles reversed. Sacrifice is not a bad thing, but in our consumer-driven society, it is painted as such. Sacrifice here means reconnecting to purpose and priority. That means that perhaps you have something you really want, but you may need to sacrifice that morning cup of coffee, or that night out on the town. If your morning cup of coffee or a night out with friends beats what you want, there is nothing wrong with that.

The 9 of Pentacles reversed is simply asking you to be clear about what and where your values are. If you choose to create a budget so you can afford what you want, then great. Again, it’s simply about clarity. I recognize here that my examples are exceedingly basic. That is because I obviously cannot presume to know what sacrifice will look like to each person. I am therefore using basic examples here to merely make the point. I am also using examples that I know I have confronted recently. I am constantly drawn to buying a tea or snack from the coffee shop at my school. When I realized how much I spending each month, it revealed to me how much I took for granted how far a few dollars go every day.

In my personal opinion, the reason why sacrifice can feel hard is because it is uncomfortable to say no to things. It is uncomfortable to be honest with ourselves and say that we need to do better, make better choices, or find more presence with the things we have. It can be really uncomfortable to place boundaries around a lifestyle we have grown accustomed to. But if that lifestyle is luxury wrapped in debt, we may need to be honest about it. It can feel uncomfortable to say no to things we really want, including experiences, but if they move us out of alignment with our purpose and priorities, it is a needed no.

When thinking about the word reveal, this card really gets to the bones of our structures. Finding presence with ourselves will reveal a lot. Listing where our abundance is, and being honest about sacrifices and boundaries is going to reveal a lot too. It may change some things too. Only you, and each person, knows where those lines lie. No two people will create the same nest, and that is a beautiful thing. No two people will have exactly the same values and priorities. Again, it is all about intention. What you do intend to do this month? What is your purpose? What are your priorities? Start to look at resources you have that be of service to you. Start to be honest about some needed sacrifices that may need to be made. In the end, come back to intention, and you will stay in alignment.

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Mother of Cups in the Dark

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There have been numerous words given to the Mother of Cups, full of praise and light, justly deserved. But there needs to be time given to the dark mother, the one in the corner, carrying wounds and weapons that haven’t been seen.

There are many reasons why it is important to go into the dark side of the tarot:

1.) There is no card in the deck that is strictly good or bad. They all carry the cosmos of light and trouble.

2.) There is no one way to “define” good or bad. Is a good card good because it makes us feel positive? Is a “bad” card the good one because it challenges us to grow and learn so we can honor our highest potential?

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The Mother of Cups promotes self-love, self-discovery, the need for boundaries, and a self-actualized encouragement to go deeper into what we love and cherish in this moment. However, despite these nuisances of deeper love and celebration, the Mother of Cups (just like any other card) has a dark side that reveals obstacles, troubles, or a need for change.

The Mother of Cups shows the beauty of self-love and love to others, but that doesn’t mean that everyone we are around is someone who will bring us joy. We are often required to be around others who we do not hold the best feelings for. This is not a shadow element, but how we deal with this can become a shadow element if we are unchecked in certain behaviors.

One behavior is shit-talking. This behavior does nothing but breed hostility. We are vocalizing our negative feelings,ย  but not in a way that reaches any conclusion or solution for growth. I want to be clear that shit-talking is not the same as venting. When we vent to someone, we are also not looking for any conclusion to be met, nor are we trying to make a point. We are simply letting out our emotions to someone we trust, or venting in a journal. When someone is trash-talking someone else, we are not trying to reach a solution, but we ARE trying to make a point of how bad this other person is.

When someone trash-talks another it is often because they would never express their feelings in a constructive way to the person involved. Obviously, this is problematic behavior. The Mother of Cup teaches self-love. If we are hurt or upset with someone that is okay, but it becomes problematic when we refuse to address the issue, and resort to bad-mouthing someone behind their back.

 

Another dark side to the Mother of Cups is the need for validation from others. If there is a need to be validated or approved by others, it can often be because of deep-rooted insecurities. The problem here is that the gratification for validation never promotes self-love because it didn’t through us or for us. It came out of a need to be enriched by the words of others, to be seen or in the spotlight. When we practice self-love, we are validating our own vulnerable nature, complete with gifts and flaws.

The urge to be validated can be seen in many ways. It can be seen in jealousy, that we want more validation that someone else. It can be seen in toxic comparisons, or in the need to be competitive with another person, to outdo them and shine brighter. Obviously, all of these are problematic because it fosters a negative outlook. It preaches that we don’t have enough, but it never encourages a healthy way to express our emotions.

Finally, the Mother of Cups is highly intuitive and nurturing. Because of these qualities, she is also prone to burn-out, creative dismantling, or emotionally worn. If the Mother of Cups does not take time to spend alone or with others who fuel her creative or emotional passions, if she is constantly fulfilling the needs of others while neglecting herself, she will burn out. Boundaries and the Sacred No are incredibly important for the Mother of Cups. She needs to be able to take care of herself so that she can serve others.

**Please note that I am not saying that these traits equal a bad person. We all hold and often can act on this dark elements at times. What is important to be mindful, and work to foster an environment where we are self-loving, and promoting love and honesty to others.**

Let me know your thoughts!

Much love Wolflings,

Ashlie