A Year in the Wildwood By Alison Cross Foreword by John Matthews Available from Book Depository, £17.87 with free postage (at time of writing) ISBN 9781519066084 E-book available for Kindle, priced £7.99
Alison Cross’s guide to The Wildwood Tarot has gained a new lease of life in its recent publication as a paperback. For fans of the 2015 e-book who have been asking for a hard-copy version, it means the companion is finally available in its most useful format.
A Year in the Wildwood is essentially a workbook and, as such, it seems sensible to have a physical volume to keep with the deck, in which to scribble or attach notes.
Its arrival has brought my shamefully neglected Wildwood Tarot off the shelf and into constant use as it guides me step-by-step through the Wheel of the Year system at a pace that gives me chance to absorb the magic in the cards.
While the deck’s official guidebook is indispensable (and authors John Matthews and Mark Ryan produced an official workbook in 2017) I feel Alison leads me into a deeper understanding of the lore of ancient forests of Arthurian legend and Celtic/Druidic tradition.
She achieves this by presenting the cards in chronological order as they are assigned to the Wheel of the Year, so they can be worked through week-by-week — starting at any point on the calendar from Arrows (Imbolc to Beltane), through to Stones (Samhain to Imbolc), not forgetting the intervening solstices of course.
This means that the seasonal energies become integral to the meaning of each card, providing significant signposts to interpretation, and leaving this student feeling as though she has been given a map to a maze…or a wild wood!
Alison clarifies and simplifies the meanings of the cards, allowing many of them to reveal their secrets by “speaking” for themselves, and asking the reader questions that prompt contemplation, and further exploration. There is also an exercise which covers each segment of the Wheel.
Throughout the book, Alison’s card descriptions cross-reference others in the deck featuring the same or similar symbols. She has also included a section of Secret Paths, taken from Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone’s book Tarot Tips, which adds layers of meaning where repetitions appear.
Physically, the 177-page book is a handy volume with lovely large print and plenty of white space on which to make copious notes if desired. Mine is already heartily defaced with my own insights!
I am finding that combining the immersive style of A Year in The Wildwood with increased time in the natural world is a really effective and enjoyable way of understanding a deck I had feared was going to end up as a beautiful shelf filler.
Prospective buyers may wish to check out the Wildwood Tarot’s Facebook page for more information about the book’s content. *** Alison Cross is a former chair of TABI and has worked with the creators of the Wildwood Tarot for many years. She is also the author of Tarot Kaizen, and you can find her at www.tarot-thrones.com