Creator: Robin Wood
Number of Cards: 78 Major Arcana: 22 Minor Arcana: 56
Card Size: 2.76 x 4.61 inches
Publisher: Published by Llewellyn Publications 1991
Deck Tradition: Rider-Waite-Smith
Minor Arcana Style: RWS-Based Scenes
Card Back: Reversible
Companion Material: The cards themselves are accompanied by a little white book (LWB). A companion book is also available separately, entitled “Robin Wood Tarot: The Book” by Robin Wood.
First off, I will admit that I am biased because this has been one of my favorites deck since I purchased it in 1992. This is the deck with which I have grown as a reader and find that it always manages to teach me something new. This evocative deck is the creation of Robin Wood, a well known illustrator of fantasy art and books. In 1991, she designed her first Tarot deck, The Robin Wood Tarot.
The deck combines traditional Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) symbolism with neopagan symbolism. In the deck, Wood has removed much of the Judeo-Christian and esoteric symbols and replaced them with symbolism from earth-based traditions such as Wicca, resulting in a modern, natural deck that is easy to read. So while the deck is Pagan based, the Pagan symbolism interferes in no way with the reading and understanding of the images. It has been stated several times over throughout the years that non-Pagans can read with this deck without even being aware of the Pagan elements.
The deck uses wands-fire, swords-air symbology with the suits of the minors being Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. The court cards follow the RWS tradition of Page, Knight, Queen and King. The cards themselves come with a smooth, matte finish with a good quality card stock making the cards quite durable. The backs are reversible with a green and black celtic knotwork design. The numbering system of the deck uses standard numbers instead of Roman Numerals and the names of the major arcana cards are displayed inside of a white banner, adding a nice touch.
The art work is vibrant, vivid, attractive and energetic and at times, the cards seem to almost speak to you. Unlike some decks, I found the minor arcana to be just as beautifully illustrated as the majors – and the clarity of the artwork makes it easy to divine the meaning of the cards. There is a thin, white border around the cards which does not at all take away from the imagery. The cards are 2.76” x 4.61” inches and are easy to shuffle for those with smaller hands. In this deck, the Strength card is 8 and Justice is 11.
One of my favorite cards in the deck is the Death card. If feel that this illustration is a wonderful example of the card meaning – here you are, meandering down your path when all of a sudden Death stands right in front of you. He is blocking your way and pointing to another path, letting you know (in a not so gentle fashion) that it is time to make a major path change.
I like the imagery of The Devil card as well. Instead of the typical satan/demon-like creature with horns and hooves, we have instead a man and a woman in a long, dark tunnel struggling over a treasure chest of jewels, each pulling the chest in the opposite direction. At the end of the tunnel is sunshine and greenery. This card wonderfully illustrates the theme of greed and attachment to the material. The message here is that in order to escape the darkness, one needs to let go of those material concerns that are holding your back.
The imagery of the Judgement card is different as well. Here, we have a nude woman standing in a cauldron, the inside of which is engulfed in flames. Behind her, a Phoenix rises out of the flames. I really get a feeling of rebirth and renewal from the image here.
One of the minors that especially struck me was the 7 of Pentacles. In the RWS, you get a feeling of dissatisfaction, discouragement, even a sense of failure. The Robin Wood version is bit more optimistic. Here you see a farmer in his garden with a serene look on his face, as he examines his vines. In Robin Wood’s book, she states as some of the meanings: “Growth achieved through hard work. Surprisingly good news. Patience. Skillfulness, a handy person.”
I may have mentioned in previous posts that this deck is my main reading deck so needless to say, I find that it gives clear, concise, honest readings. Because of the clear imagery, intuitive readers will find this deck especially helpful as the images and characters tend to “jump out at you” during a reading. I find that the deck provides only the information that I need and when I need it.
The deck does contain some nudity (The Lovers, The Devil, the Star and Judgement) so you may wish to keep this in mind when reading for sensitive clients. Otherwise, I feel that this would be an excellent choice for beginners. I highly recommend this deck to anyone, regardless of religious or spiritual persuasion.
Additional card images are below:
You may wish to visit Robin Wood’s Website for additional insights into her work as well as purchase some of her marvelous prints.
Buy the Deck HERE