This is an older deck, but it’s one I’ve been meaning to get my hands on for quite some time. The Green Witch Tarot is a deck designed by Ann Moura, the author of the highly successful Green Witchcraft books.* It’s a colorful Tarot deck printed with Pagans and witches in mind, adapting the classic archetypes of Tarot to fit a Pagan worldview.
First things first, I really like the artwork in this deck. It feels very classically Tarot, which I realize is an unhelpful description. There are certain decks where you look at the art and go “Huh, that’s very pretty, but it doesn’t really feel like a Tarot deck.” The images in the Green Witch Tarot, on the other hand, read like a Tarot deck from a mile away. They’re clean, readable, and colorful, in a way that I think makes the deck really engaging for querent and reader alike. This is clearly designed to be a beginner-friendly deck, and it works well for that purpose; the card images are fun to look at, and they lend themselves well to the tentative interpretations of a reader trying to find their footing.
Almost all of the cards in the Major Arcana have been renamed. I have complicated feelings about that. On the one hand, I do understand why Moura made this decision; she’s overhauling Tarot to make it an explicitly Pagan system, and she wants the titles of the cards to reflect that. On the other hand, and purely as a matter of subjective personal taste, I really dislike when decks rename the cards. I feel like the energy of “Nature” is wildly different from the energy of “The Devil,” and the same goes for “The Horned God” versus “The Emperor” or any of the other name changes in the deck. Changing the names of things always requires a change in their interpretation, although sometimes that change may be more subtle than others. (The shift from “The World” to “The World Tree,” for example, doesn’t ruffle my feathers quite as much.) I understand that Moura is working in a green witchcraft framework, and that there is no Devil in the kind of witchcraft she’s describing, so it may not make sense to include a card with that name. But nonetheless, I can’t help wincing a little bit at seeing the renamed cards. Once again, that’s totally just an idiosyncrasy of mine, and it’s a complaint I’ve made with many decks before. That doesn’t make the deck bad, it just means that I, personally, will have a harder time working with it.
One thing jumped out at me as I was flipping through the Major Arcana. This deck includes a number of figures representing the faces of deity in Moura’s green witchcraft. These are familiar Pagan titles, as, for example, we have the twinned God in the forms of the Oak King (the Hanged Man)** and the Holly King (the Hermit). We also have two of the faces of the Triple Goddess: The Earth Mother (the Empress) and the Crone (Strength). I actually rather like the association of the Crone with Strength, I have to say; I think it brings a different perspective to a card that’s usually depicted as a young girl. What surprised me, however, was that the third aspect of the Triple Goddess doesn’t seem to be represented anywhere in the Major Arcana. We have the Mother and the Crone, but no Maiden. I’m hard-pressed to imagine this was an oversight, so I assume that leaving her out of the deck must have been intentional on Moura’s part, but I’d be curious to know why.
The Minor Arcana are named Pentacles, Athames, Wands, and Chalices. The renaming of Swords to Athames is an obvious one, and works well to build the Pagan/witchcraft-specific Tarot world of this deck. On the whole, I quite like the Minors, which are strongly RWS-inspired. There are a few lovely details that help these cards feel more explicitly Pagan, such as the choice to change the church from the Five of Pentacles into a ring of standing stones with a bonfire.
There are a few places where the deck deviates from typical RWS symbolism, although generally speaking the interpretations given for the cards are still in line with RWS tradition. The Ten of Athames, for instance, doesn’t have quite the same evocative feeling of failure and betrayal that we usually see in this card, nor does the Seven of Athames immediately read as deceit and underhandedness to me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I suspect that part of the reason for it is that Moura wanted to soften some of the harsher cards to make the deck more friendly and approachable—especially for novice readers who might be intimidated by darker imagery. For the most part, the card images are recognizably traditional, but if you’re looking for a RWS clone, you’ll need to make a few allowances for the places where Moura’s vision deviated from the source material.
I really am struck by just how approachable and welcoming this deck is. I think it would be a fantastic first deck, especially for a reader who’s coming into Tarot by way of Wicca or related forms of Pagan witchcraft. Each card tells a story, and includes enough detail to spur the reader’s creativity and intuition, but without being so crammed with imagery that it’ll overwhelm an inexperienced reader. For those readers who are put off by the Christian imagery in traditional RWS decks (things like the Devil or Judgment), the explicitly Pagan nature of the deck will feel like a breath of fresh air. In that sense, this deck falls very much in line with similar Pagan-inspired decks like the Celtic Tarot or the DruidCraft Tarot.
I’m late to the party on this deck. It was published in 2015, was a smashing success, and is already an incredibly popular deck. This review, therefore, is more of an exercise in self-indulgence than something that will actually sway anyone’s opinion of the deck. Nonetheless, I’m glad I finally got around to buying this deck; it’s been on my wish list for a while, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s easy to see why so many people have fallen in love with the Green Witch Tarot. It’s an easy, straightforward, beautifully illustrated deck that makes Tarot easy to learn for witches and Pagans.
*Moura doesn’t market her “green witchcraft” as Wicca. That said, I have difficulty identifying what makes it non-Wiccan. She describes a Pagan religious witchcraft centered on the partnership of a (triple) Goddess and a (horned) God, with eight seasonal sabbats and monthly lunar rites. Her description of green witchcraft checks every box on my list of things that define Wicca. I don’t say this to throw shade; I’m genuinely puzzled. For those who might know Moura’s work better, is there something distinctive about the green witchcraft system that is supposed to make it non-Wiccan? Or is this just a matter of branding?
**This connection surprised me. I tend to think of the Oak King as a triumphant, joyful figure, and I was surprised to see him in the place of the Hanged Man.