The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book by Robin Wood

Review by Crystal Sage 

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love my Robin Wood Tarot deck? Well, I really do. Since it was released in 1991, I have used this deck almost exclusively. It was the first tarot deck that actually "called" to me (all you tarot-junkies know what I mean.) That is not to say I havenšt used other decks. However, this is my "home base," so to speak. I keep coming back to it.   I'm on my third copy of the deck as of this writing (not replaced from wear, but from two separate soaking accidents).  I've concluded that this deck attracts water, and I try my darnedest to keep it safe from all sorts of moisture and cups influences.

So, ever since I obtained the deck, I've wanted a book to go with it. Ask anyone who has this deck, and they'll tell you the same thing. For nine years, faithful users of the Robin Wood tarot waited patiently (well, according to Robin herself, some NOT so patiently).

Well, I'll tell you right now it was worth waiting for. Robin has a wonderful, down-to-earth writing style that makes reading through this book remarkably fun and entertaining, as well as very informative. Several examples of these fun aspects can be seen in the very beginning of the book.

The Forward is one page, with four words on it: "All Right. You Win."  The footnote goes on to explain how she has endured years of people bugging her and nagging her to write this book, and that they finally have won. 

Chapter Two is entitled "The True History of Tarot" and is also one page, with two sentences on it: "The true history of the tarot can be told in a single sentence. No one knows, and does it really make any difference?" She then goes on to Chapter Three entitled "History Theories," which contains a pretty thorough but easy to read explanation of probable Tarot origins.

Robin gives us lots of background on the history of her deck as well, even including numerous sketches of several cards as they were in progress, as well as scrapped and alternate versions of cards. She even gives a Symbol glossary, with common and not-so-common meanings of the prevalent icons used in the deck, as well as a selection of spreads and a scattering of mythical stories and pagan lore which has been a big influence on her and her magical background.

The meat of the book is her explanations of her own cards. This is where the book really shines, in my opinion. Each and every card, not just the Major Arcana, is described in GREAT detail. Each card starts off with a short overall description, and a key phrase for the card. She then goes into great detail about just about every aspect of the card, explaining why she used certain symbols, at times even comparing her symbols to those in other decks, and pointing out difficult to spot details that youšd probably never notice unless you read the book. I was amazed as I read along, going through her descriptions, holding the card up, and saying, "Wow, why didnšt I ever see that before?"

As an example, here is an excerpt from the description of the Page of Cups:

                            In her right hand, the hand of the intellect, she holds an ornate cup.
                            The cup, of course, is the feminine symbol, and also stands for the
                            emotions. In her case, it's gold, with a silver mermaid on it. 
                            (Honest. Look closely.)  The mermaid is silver to show that she is
                            completely at home with her emotions and her intuitive side. This
                            comes across both in the silver (intuitions and the "unseen") and in
                            the form of the mermaid herself. How much more at home in the
                            water can you get while still retaining your humanity. I made the
                            cup itself gold, to balance the silver mermaid. Gold, of course, 
                            represents the sun and the "seen" world.

I have found myself more than once smiling broadly at her associations and chuckling at her observations, and there were many "aha" moments with this book.

If you have the Robin Wood deck, you MUST get this book. There is no question. If you donšt have the Robin Wood deck, this book still has enough wonderful and useful information in it that you might want to obtain the
book anyway, though once you do that, you'll WANT the deck. Trust me.

This is also a great book for anyone who is an artist. She gives some very useful artistic insight and techniques that she discovered while creating her deck, and one could only benefit from her experience, including the
logistics of getting the deck published and all the angst it entails.

You can buy the book at any bookstore, order it over the internet, or order it directly from Robin Wood herself.  If you order it from Robin, shešll even sign it for you! You can't get much better than that! Check out her site.

The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book by Robin Wood
Publisher: Livingtree Books
ISBN: 0965298418
Softbound, 264 pages