Tarot for the
Green Witch by Ann Moura
Review by Ron Hogan
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Tarot for the Green Witch is the fifth book in Ann Moura's "Green Witchcraft" series, and though you don't need to know much about her version of the Craft, which she describes as "grounded in Nature and the immanent Divine," to understand her take on the tarot, it certainly won't hurt, particularly in dealing with the Major Arcana. Moura has assigned most of the Majors new names with a neo-pagan influence as follows:
0 The Greenman/The Fool
1 The Witch/The Magician
2 Drawing Down The Moon/The High Priestess
3 Earth Mother/Empress
4 The Horned God/The Emperor
5 Drawing Down The Sun/The Hierophant
6 The Lady and The Lord Of The Wild Wood/The Lovers
7 The Battle Wagon/The Chariot
8 The Crone/Strength
9 The Holly King/The Hermit
10 The Wheel Of The Year/The Wheel Of Fortune
11 The Standing Stone/Justice
12 The Oak King/The Hanged Man
13 The Lord Of Shadows/Death
14 The Sidhe/Temperance
15 Nature/The Devil
16 The Wild Hunt/The Tower
17 The Star
18 The Moon
19 The Sun
21 The World Tree/The World
She does not, however, actually design cards to go along with these new titles, but draws upon images from five Llewellyn decks (the Robin Wood, the Buckland Romani, the Nigel Jackson, the Sacred Circle, and the Witches Tarot). Most of the time this isn't a problem--most Empresses look enough like Earth Mothers to get by, but there's a jarring disconnect between the image of the Tower and the description of the Wild Hunt as "the liberating Rade (ride) that travels in the night sky... stirring sudden changes through their shocking passages." Readers who are more interested in the tarot for divination than Craft might also find some confusion in her associations of neo-pagan holy days and instruments with the Majors (for example, the Hierophant with the Book of Shadows, or the Lovers with the Sabbat of Beltane). Those who do practice the Craft, however, should find her grafting of Craft themes onto the cards thematically consistent, though I cannot fully address what particular use such associations might have in divination (although Moura does raise the interesting possibility of using upright and reversed Aces in determining the timing of divined events).
In dealing with the Minor Arcana, Moura's neo-pagan assignations pretty much apply just to the suits rather than to individual cards. As she does with the Majors, she offers a descriptive interpretation of the card, followed by interpretive keywords for uprights and reversals. The majority of the decks she chooses use variants of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) imagery, but in some cases, interestingly, she chooses cards that offer alternative imagery. (See, for example, the Ten of Staves and the Two of Swords, both from the Nigel Jackson deck, or the Three of Swords from the Witches Tarot.) For readers who are familiar with only one deck, this approach offers challenging new perspectives--and Moura's recommendation to place cards from your deck on top of the illustrations as you consider each card adds even more potential for insight.
After running through the meanings of each of the cards, Moura takes on the concept of spreads, emphasizing the connections between cards--and saying, ultimately, that once you know what the positions in a spread "mean" within that spread's context, you no longer actually need to do the layout. (For aesthetic purposes, however, and for the benefit of querents, most readers would probably want to keep their spreads intact.) She also provides one-line summations of interpretations for every possible two-card combination in the deck--e.g., "Drawing Down the Sun/9P: Accomplishment/self-esteem found in traditional venues."
Moura has a slighly freewheeling approach to divination, emphasizing the importance of individual intuition over rote meanings, creating "a lucid sequence of events and impressions" out of the images shown while always "[reading] it as you see it." This is slightly contradicted by the book's later emphasis on numerology: not so much on the "meaning" of numbers in the Minor Arcana, although she does raise that issue, but in her discussion of "life patterns," what Mary Greer calls the Personality, Soul and Year Cards. Invoking this mechanistic cycle is particularly dubious given Moura's underscoring, in the section on the tarot's history, the lack of sequencing numbers in the 15th-century Sforza deck's Major Arcana. (That section also has a great passage where she outlines the pagan imagery in the Sforza decks...and how later decks "softened" those images so they could be interpreted in Judeo-Christian frameworks, including those ceremonial schools that were created primarily in response to the dominant Judeo-Christian paradigm.)
Despite the new Green Magic connotations Moura gives the Majors, and the traditional elemental assignments to the suits (Fire/Wands and Air/Swords, for those who keep track of such things), I'm personally skeptical about the extent to which this book's approach to reading the cards "honors earth-bound spirituality" beyond the fact that the author is a self-described Green Witch. The Judgement card may relate to the harvest festival of Mabon, but the Five of Cups doesn't pick up any new meanings beyond regret. Still, the overall approach, and the discussion of individual cards, is well thought-out and will offer insights to those who simply want to use the cards for divination, as well as those who see them as potential components of a spiritual tradition.
If you would like to purchase this book, click here.
You can read another review of this book here.
Tarot for the Green Witch by Ann Moura
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Ron Hogan has no particular connection to Tarot, other than owning a couple of decks, but he has interviewed hundreds of authors, including Rachel Pollack, for his website.
© 2003 Ron Hogan
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes