Working with The Wooden Tarot: The Suit of Plumes Six to Ten

by Marianne in


It's been a little while since we revisited my old pal, the Wooden Tarot. I've had a lot of other posts I really wanted to get out over the last month or so, but fear not, I haven't forgotten this card-by-card series! Before we kick off this instalment though, you should definitely take a look at the forthcoming art book from the creator of the Wooden Tarot. If you're a fan of the Wooden Tarot, there will no doubt be much to love in this new book. It's available to pre-order from the artist now!

Ok, let's get to it. In this instalment in my series on The Wooden Tarot, we're moving right along into the next set of cards from the Suit of Blooms. You can find the post on Plumes Ace to Five here.

We discovered a painful scene of defeat and loss in the Five of Plumes, and I posited that the Six might offer some consolation. The Six of Plumes depicts a mallard swimming away, towards the horizon (such as this card could be said to have one). In his wake, he sheds unneeded or unwanted feathers, lightening his load as he makes his getaway. Traditionally, the Sixes of the Minor Arcana represent an opportunity to heal and grow after challenging experiences. I think this purposeful duck speaks quite strongly to that traditional meaning. Here is an encouragement to shed unnecessary burdens - painful memories, unhelpful patterns, limiting situations - and light out for new territories. 

In the Seven of Plumes, we have a raven, adorned with shiny beads, clutching an arrow in his claws. My initial impression of this card is of something tightly held, maybe hard won, and certainly not given up without a fight. Traditionally, the Seven of Swords speaks of theft, trickery, subterfuge. Perhaps this impressive bird has been collecting shiny objects that don't belong to him! In many mythologies, raven is a trickster, so it's no surprise to see him in this card. When this card appears, we're called to ask ourselves what is going on beneath the surface. Are we being fooled, or do we need to do the fooling? Luckily, like many of the critters in this deck, this raven's third eye is wide open, so we're called to use our intuition to sort trickery from truth.

I must admit, The Eight of Plumes didn't speak strongly to me when I first encountered it. It was only when writing my previous post about this suit that it became a little clearer. As well as being weapons, arrows are also representative of direction, movement, and momentum. Here we have an arrow that has become stuck before even leaving the quiver. Instead of the energy of this card flowing, arcing through the air like an arrow, it remains fixed, stuck at its starting point with no place to go. Sound familiar? The Eight of Swords challenges us to think of obstacles as opportunities, and to identify where our mindset might be preventing us from finding solutions and making progress. Here, we're called to notice when we're unwittingly sticking ourselves with our own mental arrows, rather than letting them fly. 

The Nine of Plumes is polarising in its effects. Emily of Dharma Eyes Tarot finds it to be super creepy, but when I saw it I was like "Oh cool, owls!!" I did find it hard to imagine what could possibly be troubling about a cluster of disembodied barn owl heads with three eyes. And then I thought just a little bit harder, and it clicked. Owls are creatures of the darkness, silent predators, with watchful, penetrating gazes. That does seem resonant with the insomnia, anxieties, and night terrors usually associated with this card. Even an owl apologist like me probably wouldn't be too keen to have my nightmares haunted by this parliament! I believe, too, that in some Native American mythologies, owls are considered to be death omens, which speaks to heavy, fearful quality that is traditionally associated with the ninth card of this suit. 

Finally, the Ten of Plumes, the bloody conclusion! In this card, the two visual signifiers of this suit - birds and arrows - meet in a painful convergence. This image is very similar to that which we find in the Rider-Waite Ten of Swords. The struggle is over, the battle has been lost. Is it wrong that when I look at this card, I think, "Well, at least you got stabbed in the front this time!"? Like its traditional counterpart, this card shows the moment of rock bottom, total collapse. While this little sparrow may not be rising again, this card always prompts us to ask, how do we accept this defeat, and start again? 

The more I look closely at this deck, the more I see the obvious references to traditional, Rider-Waite meanings, always with a unique Wooden Tarot twist. This has been a very interesting exercise for me - I hope you've also been finding it useful or thought-provoking. 

To that end, what are your thoughts? On these cards, or the Wooden Tarot in general? Let me know in the comments!

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