Tarot of the Secret Forest + Notes
This deck finally came in two days ago! Whooooot.
I am absolutely fascinated by this deck. After reading the little white book, I discovered that the cards don't have a traditional back cover. There are two very different worlds in this deck: you have the world of the secret forest: lush and wild with green, populated by the tiny creatures and spirits in the microscopic world where beetles and butterflies dwell in the depth that is normally imperceptible unless you pay close attention. It's a fantastical world that exists in silence and ambiance. (I mean, we normally don't really think about the bugs that are crawling quietly in the grass, right?)
If you flip the cards over, you have a very different world: a stark, monochrome version of the secret forest world. It is a much simpler, harsher, and darker reimagining of the green forest world. The brushstrokes are impressionistic, coarse, minimalist and powerful. When I look at the art I picture how this would impact on a reading--and my current thoughts are that the art style really brings the attention to the "moment"--a moment of change, of shock, of trepidation.
There's also this feeling of profound disconnection and contrast--it's very interesting and paradoxical because while there is a sense of certainty and decisiveness being emanated from the ink strokes, there is also the sense of unreality because there aren't enough colours and details. It's very dream-like--the way that each card is being stripped down to its bare essence that doesn't need colour to add any meaning to it. It's like the nakedness and simplicity of it are enough.
THE MAJOR ARCHETYPES
Another thought that occurred to me was that the concept of the tarot is also very intriguing. Usually, with tarot we attempt to capture this universal archetypal world--there is a feeling of grandness and mystical transcendence to it. It's like some kind of symbolic inflation or something. But this deck, conceptually, is already very distilled. It uses insects to capture the grand archetypal energy. It's very cool because the Secret Forest is usually a place where we tend to overlook, and to seek insight or some revelation we would look up towards the sky and beckon an answer from the boundless universe, but the Secret Forest connects us to a different kind of reality--a reality that comes into being and focus when we truly look, pay attention, and zoom in. There is a vivid richness distilled in each of the card in Secret Forest and I look forward to working with this deck in the future.
THE MINOR ARCANA
For me, the minor arcana of Secret Forest is truly the highlight of the deck. The major arcana is absolutely beautiful, but the way the four suits become manifested in the world of the lush Secret Forest, riddled with their respective elemental energies, animal totems and colours--I find myself transported into a different realm. Like Alice eating tiny mushroom slice and finding herself staring into an entirely different universe.
The Suit of Cups: Drenched in Moss
The Ace: a blossoming flower floating on the water surface, fluid and vivid
Green like spring; delicate, soft, fresh and sensual
Themes of birth, gestation and fluidity
So close, yet so far: the incredible depth of a single moment or sentiment
Flowers, fish, and scenes by the water
dreamy, warm and wondrous
Interestingly I am not as drown to the suit of cups as I normally do with other decks; it could be that I have entered a phase in my life in which I am drawn to passion and practicality as well as clear communication--fire, earth and air are primary elements in my reality right now, transition from a mostly "water-based" way of living that I was in before
The Suits of Wands: Adventures in Maroon
The Ace is of course represented by the flaming salamander: intention and motion distilled into this creature, into a moment of focused stillness. Throughout the suit of wands you will encounter many members of its amphibian kin
Foxes and weasels, gazing into the starry sky or a pond of shining stones
Themes of swiftness, motion, potential, and growth
The suit of wands is a story in motion, the grand opening of a marvelous journey, a tale in the process of being written
A whimsical 10: a tortoise burdened by the bamboo shoots and various vegetation sprouting off from its shell--poor thing, but it does capture the theme of slowness, trudging, and weight quite well
The Suit of Pentacles: Standing on Amber Ground
The Ace: a rock lifting centipede emerging from earth
Richness of landscape, micromovements against a backdrop of stillness, earth (duh)
Small moments that are of majestic quality
Creatures closely connected to the earth: earthworms, snakes, and the deer
It's like the landscape speaks for itself: a lonely shed, the forest trees against shooting stars and the moon, butterflies flying up an aged stone staircases; fruits and petals slowly hang down from the branches
A profound and ancient silence
A fruitful 10: sweet juicy plums (I think they're plums) hanging down from the branches. Pretty self-explanatory, no?
The Suit of Swords: Abstractions in Stone Grey Blue
The Ace: a sharp display of a moth with a hell of a butt sword
Penetrating clarity, starkness, nakedness, and at times--a sense of cruelty, which makes sense because truth can sometimes be harsh and ugly to look at
Hedgehogs, spiders, brambles and scorpion--this is definitely the dangerous and unforgiving part of Secret Forest
A striking 10: a spider (which is often a "demonized" animal in representations of nature and its living creatures...think Shelob in LOTR). When I first looked at it, it made sense to represent the culmination of airy energies with a spider, caught in a web with nowhere to go...it is time to face your end. But then the second time I looked, I discovered that ants are crawling on top of its body, climbing up its legs and paralyzing it. Nightmares really do come true.
Numerology in Secret Forest: Key Words and Common Themes
THE COURT CARDS
On a totally random yet utterly related note, I just discovered Lucia Mattioli also created Fairy Lights Tarot. (Subtext: I KNEW IT. As I observed the intricate details, the way the artist reinterprets archetypes and symbolisms of tarot...let me just say I put two and two together. I went to check the box of Fairy Lights and AHA!)
In this blog post, I won't be addressing every single court card in Secret Forest but I will introduce you to a few of my favoruite Courts (including a WTF moment I have had with Knight of Cups)
Page of Swords: the witty prick who won't hesitate to prove you wrong
Page of Swords is smart, clever--and he is honestly quite a smug. He's not afraid to engage in mental/verbal sparring of any kind and experiment with ideas and concepts. In Secret Forest, he is depicted to be holding two different swords and two different shields. This tells me that his knowledge is both rich and eclectic. He is very creative and on point when it comes to communicating and problem solving, as well as defending his ideas and position. He is confident, comfortable in his own shoes, and likes to challenge the status quo.
Knight of Cups: his heart is what he has to offer
Initially, I really did not know what to make of this card. It doesn't seem like the Knight of Cups is riding the fantastically floating fish; instead, it looks like he is walking down the hill no tip toes, awkwardly clenching the fish in between his legs and making his way down. In a way it is very endearing; he is not afraid to look like a fool to pursue his desires. Just when I was about to settle with this view of him, I showed this card to one of my tarot buddies, and she offered me an alternative perspective. She said that Knight of Cups seems to be desperately trying to hold onto his fish and trying not to fall. I looked at the card again: yes, it makes sense. The fish, absurd (as it is swimming in midair) and a creature of the water, most likely represents the heart and the unpredictability of its intentions. Knight of Cups always follows his heart and chases after his dreams; in this regard he can be quite self-absorbed.
Queen of Pentacles: she who beckons you and is ready to give
The way she sits, so poised and graceful, shows me that she is aware of my gaze, and that she welcomes anyone who is in need of warmth, comfort and nurture. Whatever you need, she is ready to provide. She will give you her help; she will listen to you, take care of you, and set you on your path. This is her greatest gift: helping you connect with your reality, giving you the sustenance that you require to continue your journey. Not only that--if you stay, she will give you a seed and teach you how to plant it so that it can grow. What she gives you is not merely aid; she invests in your future by teaching you how to get there so that you will not need her when the time comes. (She's the practical mama!)
King of Wands: the centre organ of his ecosystem
He never worries about finding his place in the world: he is his entire world that he carries with him always. Even from scratch, from void, from zero, growth spurts out of him: the pure foresting, pure creation. He alone is enough to sustain an entire forest. He is a solar organism that keeps everything alive. The forest needs him to thrive...and so does his subjects. He is part of the world around him...he grows. If he walks into a new place, the environment around him creates a space for him from sheer authority, sheer life, sheer fire and will. He cannot be pinned down, always on the verge of shape-shifting into something else--but always, always his grand self.