Working with the Wooden Tarot: The Gods

by Marianne in ,


I recently wrote about taking on a little tarot study project - namely, the Wooden Tarot. This enigmatic deck has been in my collection for a while, but it has only been recently that I've been game enough to spend some serious time with it. It's unique and strange, and deserves some close attention. When I started out, I decided not to impose a particular structure upon my study with this deck. Instead, I'm going to follow my whims. I think it's what the Wooden Tarot would want. 

My first whim has led me to look at the Aces, or Gods, as they are described. Just look at them.

Aren't they spectacular? So, so odd. I can't get enough of them! 

The more I think about it, the more I realise that this is a perfect representation of Ace energy. If Aces are the perfect representation of the energy of a suit, what better way than to depict them than as Gods? Similarly, Aces are ephemeral. They're potential, amorphous ideas waiting to be given form by our thoughts and actions. What are Gods but formless notions that we give shape to through our devotions? 

The Gods show us the descriptors of the four suits - Bones, Stones, Plumes, and Blooms - and clue us in to the symbolic cues we might find as we work through the Minor Arcana. Not only that, but they offer elemental associations for the suits, if we just peek over their shoulders. Bones are earth, Stones fire, Plumes air, and Blooms water. Their triangular heads also give us an indication of the energetic correspondences of each suit - pointed upward for the outwardly-focused, active, yang energy of Stones and Plumes, and pointed downward for the inwardly-focused, receptive, yin energy of Blooms and Bones.

Strange as they are, I find these Gods have a very nurturing energy. Those monastic robes and steady, cycloptic gazes seem to suggest that these fellows are gentle guides, ready and waiting to shepherd us into the world of their chosen suit. In a way, they remind me of a cadre of junior Hermits. They hold their elements in their hands, but lightly. They're ready to pass these batons on to the traveler who comes their way, seeking guidance. They're the gatekeepers, ready to usher us into the work of Bones, Plumes, Stones, and Blooms. Now, we just have to take hold of their creepy, delicate white hands, and let them show us the way!

What do you make of these strange fellows? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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