I've mentioned in a couple of posts in this series that I find the suit of Blooms in The Wooden Tarot particularly hard to get my head around. Something about those strange, eyeball flowers was making it difficult for me to pick up the story! Not that I have a problem with eyeball flowers, of course (if you do, this probably isn't the deck for you!). With a view to making friends, I'm going to explore this elusive suit in three parts. Today, let's look at the first five cards and see what we can learn.
Before we begin, I must warn you that I'm writing this on the eve of the Pisces Full Moon (which is now a whole full moon ago - this post has been ripening for quite a while!), and watery Pisces looms strongly in my chart. This is not intended to be an exhaustive almanac of card meanings, so much as me capturing my responses on the page as I spend time with each card. Prepare yourself for a meandering, unstructured, and (hopefully) intuitive ramble!
Every time I see the Aces, or Gods, in this deck, it strikes me anew how fabulous they are! Look at that wonderful God of Blooms! I've written about the Gods at some length previously, so I won't spend too much time on this fellow here. It is worth emphasising, though, that this card cues us in to the suit's concerns. The element of water, represented by the waves curling around the figure on the card, and the reversed triangle of the head, the alchemical symbol for water. We can also see the lotus blossom, floating above the God's hands, which signifies spirituality, intuition, the third eye. The God of Blooms clues us in to the fact that Blooms are analogous with Cups in more traditional decks. The Gods in this deck are so carefully and cleverly done, and they provide such a useful framework from which to interpret the rest of the minor cards in the deck.
That lotus flower also gives us a nudge about the visual symbolism we can expect to find in this suit. Plant imagery is central to the suit of Blooms (obviously!), which is interesting as plants are often associated with the element of Earth in the tarot (the Japaridze Tarot represents the suit of Earth as Gardens, for example). But, Earth isn't the only essential element in the garden, and I think it's quite original and interesting that this deck associates these images with water. Lotuses do grow in ponds, after all!
From here on out, I plead for you to bear with my poor botanical identification skills, and invite you to step in and correct me in the comments if I'm blundering!
The Two of Blooms looks, to my eyes, like the Australian native waratah, but I'm happy to take corrections on that from any flora experts out there. Maybe it's unlikely that an artist native of the American south would choose to paint a flower from the other side of planet, but you never know! In any case, whatever its official name, this flower depicts that quintessentially "Two" idea of balance, of mirroring, union, connection... all those notions that are central to the Two of Cups. The idea of partnership is strong here, because it seems that each flower grows out of the other. In that sense, this card is quite traditional. The lemniscate is an interesting addition, given that the Two it usually partners with is the Two of Pentacles, but it's nice to shake things up! The idea of divine balance and wholeness doesn't go astray in the context of the suit of Blooms, and I like it that this card applies that principle to emotional, intuitive, and creative life.
I really love the sweet peach blossom of the Three of Blooms! What a beautiful image. Those flowers do look like three fabulous babes, hanging out and gossiping on the branch. As in our Two of Blooms I can see the gesture towards traditional RWS meanings in these three companions. I love the addition of the ripening fruit, because I think that image takes this card a step further, suggesting that collaboration bears fruit that is greater than the sum of its parts. It's an invitation to join forces and give birth to something new!
The Four of Blooms immediately suggests a feeling of withdrawal, closeness, tightness, retreat. This rose certainly isn't going to open into bloom today! This illustration so perfectly captures the feeling of pulling inward, it almost seems as though this flower is holding itself closed. Again, there is a nod to traditional meanings of the Four of Cups - solitude, reflection, withdrawal - however I feel like this image conveys a sense of patience that the traditional card lacks. The RWS Four of Cups is often equated with obstinacy, a kind of brattiness in refusing to engage with the world, and while that could be at play here depending on the context, I think this reluctant rose's message is more about blooming in your own time. It's a little more nurturing, a reminder that flowers can't be forced to blossom. Sometimes we need a little quiet time before we're ready to show ourselves to the world!
After the flowers and fruits of the Two, Three, and Four, the Five of Blooms shows us a stricken landscape, stripped of life. There is certainly a sense of loss pregnant in this card - who knows what those five decapitated stumps might have been had they not been cut short? Like the spilled cups of the RWS Five of Cups, this card suggests an act of violence or a catastrophic mishap that is deeply felt. Given that we are working with nature images here though, it's impossible to forget that Fives are stages of challenge that can be overcome. Mother Nature is voracious, and a barren stump doesn't stay that way for long! With the right approach - perhaps a period of mourning to honour the loss, and some intentional maintenance - this field will bloom again. After the Five comes the Six, a card of healing and transformation. We'll see what form that takes in the next instalment of this series!
What are your thoughts on these cards? I'd love to hear your interpretations of these cards, any corrections or disagreements, and any other thoughts you might have! Please do share in the comments.
If you like the look of this deck and are thinking of adding it to your collection, you can order a copy from the artist here.