The Tarot of Trees by Dana Driscoll is deck I was very much on the fence about. It is lovely, with bright colors and gorgeous trees (I’m a tree hugger by nature). I wondered, though, if I’d be able to read with it. Dana has swapped the seasonal associations of the Cups and the Swords and it was enough to make me pause. I’m still not sure why it catches me the way it does, as I am very much a proponent of listening to the deck and hearing its intentions, but I have to catch myself and pay attention.
Let’s dig in to the deck and see what’s what.
The deck is small, measuring 2.5 by 3.5 inches, making it perfect for easy shuffling. I’m a riffle shuffler, and after a few minutes to get used to shuffling a small deck again, I appreciated the size. The cardstock is nice, smooth, and just thick enough that I won’t worry about using it. The images are glossy, but not overly so. The card backs have a lovely tree that, to me, represents the world tree, with its roots reaching just as deep as its branches reach high making it an easily reversible deck. It comes in a lovely tuck box, with the edition of the deck printed on the bottom. Mine is first edition, however the third edition includes a new card. Regeneration. The guidebook is very large and thorough. Although, my edition has quite the typo in the table of contents. The wands are listed twice, replacing the pentacles at the end of the book. I’m fond of quirks like this, so it just makes me smile a lot.
Let’s begin with the majors. There is quite a bit of twisty business in these cards. The way the High Priestess twists up and twists down is the most blatant ‘As above, so below’ I’ve ever seen. For me, that hits home. The pomegranates, and the moon, speak to the changing and hidden parts of our own psyche. The Hermit depicts a tree on the side of a mountain-ish place, alone except for its lantern. Here are more twisty bits in the clouds, and in them I see the movement of life around us while we work alone on our whatever it is. The only thing in this card that catches me is the greyness. Not all situations of time spent in contemplation and self-care are grey areas, although I imagine that the intention was to focus on the light of that lantern. The Inverted Tree replaces the Hanged Man, and I love it. Getting to the root of the matter, guided by intuition, sums up this card nicely. Trust and a changed perspective, looking into all that we hide from ourselves. Finally, the Wheel of the Year shows us all four seasons atop a rainbow-colored wheel. This card often gives me the hissy fits, and it’s nice when I can just love the imagery of this card.
The minors are color coded, and seasonally represented. Cups are spring, depicting love and newness, buds, tender moss, and blossoms. In this suit, the Ace shows our tree blossoming on top of a chalice. Not overflowing, but full and enough. Enough is an important word here, as we so often don’t give ourselves enough. This is a gentle reminder that enough (time/love/respect/care/space) gets us a lush and fertile habitat that breeds love and the confidence to set ourselves on top of that chalice. From ‘enough’ we have room to give. I also pulled the Nine of cups. She’s holding her treasure in her branches, but she isn’t hoarding it. She’s holding it. There is a big difference between those two things. Holding means enjoying, reaping the fruits of our labors. The Ace of Wands and the Five of Wands bring us summer, and its heat. This Ace perfectly captures the anything is possible-ness of this card. Sun is shining, grass is green, the air is still, possibility is everywhere and encouraging you to be the architect of your own change. The Five of Wands gives us the opposite. There is too much, to many possibilities, too much to navigate clearly. The twisty business is back in the tops of the trees, showing us the movement that happens when our thoughts can’t seem to settle.
The Ace of Swords, and the Three of Swords, show Autumn with its change and death themes. Movement is present but seems slower, the twisty bits are larger, fatter. The Ace shows us a sword, and it’s so big! Almost as tall as the tree, twisty bits in the leaves, new ideas swirling through. This is the moment when we grasp a new idea, concept, the power of our words. Those moments often mark the biggest changes to who we are. The Three of Swords sees a tree that has been carved into a heart, but the it still bleeds when pierced. This seems to be an excellent example of how we often find ourselves believing our hearts to be prepared and guarded from betrayal and pain and find that we are not as safe as we thought. The Ace of Pentacles and the Three of Pentacles bring us to winter, and the quiet, stark landscape we find there. Winter hides many things, that’s true, but what it illuminates is often the very thing we should be paying attention to anyway. I love that the Ace has its roots exposed. What better way to illustrate shadow work, or the work we undertake when we focus on our self/home/family/money? The Three shows three branches coming together with pentacles embedded, and it is just quietly beautiful. Still, and soft, and a lovely canopy that might gather snow, and might also be unnoticed as one walked by. Gentle beauty is often unnoticed and so rewarding when we finally look. I always think this card is about the appreciation of beauty, as well as the creation of it.
The Court cards I’ve pulled are the Page of Cups, the Knight of Wands, the Queen of Swords, and the King of Pentacles. The Page shows us the fullness of young love, that feeling of almost but not quite being overwhelmed by the exhilaration of emotional attachment. The Knight finds us in the middle of the road, looking ahead or looking at how far we’ve come. Either way, this tree is fully present in that moment and ready for the next. The Queen is so firmly wrapped up in her own words that while she appears to be fluid in her twisty branches, she is actually quite firm in her thoughts. Change does not come easy to this one. The King shines from his heart, everything goes through that big, strong center before it hits the tips of its branches.
My introductory reading was the Eight of Swords, the Lovers, and the King of Swords. This deck will help me find my way through the times when I don’t trust my own thoughts, and will be a good and honest partner to me. I appreciate that. All in all, I think this deck is intuitive, and I enjoy not having humans to interact with here. You can find more information about The Tarot of Trees on Dana’s website, www.tarotoftrees.com, and you can purchase the deck here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Herbdance