This book compliments the information in the book that accompanies the Greenwood Tarot cards. I have expanded upon the explanations of the minor arcana, court cards and the Wheel of the Year lay out. The superimposition I have made between the Greenwood Tarot and the Wheel of the Year is not incidental or artificial; it is an important rediscovery, I believe the Wheel of the Year was the underlying system for the original tarot decks.
Tarot designs emerged in various forms in Italian courts in the late Middle Ages. Originally they were commissioned for the rich, being hand painted and gilded. With the invention of printing they could be produced for the general public. Tarot cards are the product of a medieval need to explain and unify the workings of the world, religion and the state. Thus a Knight and Queen, Judgement and the Hierophant are in a pack as well as Strength and Justice. Some of the original decks included the four elements and signs of the zodiac. It is only the wheel that unifies these disparate archetypes.
The seasonal cycle of the Wheel of the Year was the basis of the Christian year and feast days, which in turn was overlaid on the pre-Christian sacred year. A complicated system of symbolism and calendrical observation based on the eight-fold division of the year is evident in the Boyne Valley monuments (Newgrange, Knowth) Eire c3,800 BCE. There mounds and stones are aligned to the solar and lunar rising and setting times of all eight festivals.
It is obvious that to an earlier hunting and gathering culture, subtle observation of seasonal change was essential for survival. The tarot is subtitled the ‘pre-Celtic Shamanism of the Mythic Forest’. This means that I have traced the origins of the archetypal figures in the tarot back to their pre-historic roots; taking what is most ancient and updating it, so that it is relevant to the contemporary world. It took me four years to research and recreate the Greenwood Tarot; I lived it day and night. I was continually struck by the importance of the tarot as a unified system, a wonderful map, combining and explaining psychological states, deities, archetypes, and the natural world. The Greenwood Tarot is a form of eco-psychology, a modern shamanism. I believe in magic, in wonder, in the extraordinary that can occur when one’s heart is open to possibilities.
The tarot cannot predict the future ‘set in stone’, but it can clarify future possible outcomes should one approach life in certain states of mind; one is not a victim of fate, the outcome of most readings can be changed by a change of attitude. An in depth study of the tarot will give you profound insights, and help you live in harmony with yourself and the world around you, enabling you to bridge the distant past and the near future.
All the cards are based on European images; apparent similarities between our deck and other ‘native’ mythologies are because of similarities in early climate and lifestyles. For instance the continent that is now the USA had Ice Ages like Europe with the same prehistoric animals, i.e., mammoth; Przewalski horses and cave bears. A human in bison skin and horns was painted in a French cave (Chauvet) c. 28,000 BCE, echoing the contemporary Native American sacred bison dancers.
The Greenwood Tarot aims to give a coherent European shamanic system so that there is no need to steal imagery from other cultures.
The Online Greenwood Tarot Handbook