Greenwood tarot deck

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Template:Essay-like Template:Primary The Greenwood Tarot is a tarot deck created by British actor/swordsman Mark Ryan and artist Chesca Potter. It incorporates Pre-Celtic symbolism (symbols and themes of pre-metalworking cultures before the migration of the Celts to Europe). Like a standard tarot deck, the Greenwood Tarot is 78 cards, organized in 4 suits, with 22 Major Arcana. The suits are similar to the standard deck. The minor cards all have overt titles printed on them. The court cards are all symbolic European animals. A few of the Major Arcana have been re-ordered, renamed, or combined, but all of the familiar figures and themes are present.


Ryan explains he first discussed with Potter the idea of a new Tarot deck in 1991, while he was working on the TV show Robin of Sherwood.[1]

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana in the Greenwood Tarot is based on the standard tarot deck. All 22 cards are represented, although the order has been changed to reflect a new narrative journey, several names have been changed, and the attributes of The Hanged Man have been reallocated between two of the cards.

Minor Arcana


The four suits in the Greenwood Tarot are: Wands, Cups, Arrows and Stones. The first two are the same as the standard tarot, the latter replace Swords and Coins/Pentacles with more pre-Bronze Age symbols. As with the standard deck, the suits represent Fire, Water, Air, and Earth respectively. Following the Wheel of the Year symbolism, they also represent Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter respectively.

Court Cards

As with the standard tarot, each suit has 4 'court' cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. In the Greenwood Tarot, these cards are represented by some of the many animals that were symbolically significant to the pre-Celtic cultures of Europe.

Wheel of the Year

Another innovation unique to the Greenwood Tarot was the realization by the co-creators that the cards of the classic Tarot could not only be rearranged to tell a transformative narrative, but that the themes also fit into the cyclic myths of the turning of the seasons, or Wheel of the Year.

Included with the deck was a chart that depicted a wheel of the 8 solar festivals, with the Court cards arrayed around the outside according to the season associated with their suit. The Major Arcana were stationed in pairs at each festival, with The Fool and the final 5 trumps in the center of the wheel. Each festival, starting with Imbolc was associated with a number, in that case Aces. Each festival in turn was associated with the next number, the 9's and 10's being connected with The Seer and The Shaman, respectively, in the center.

Each element (Fire, Air, Water, Earth), and therefore season in this system, is centered on a solstice/equinox solar festival. This is the most Celtic element of this 'pre-Celtic' deck. The seasons of the Greenwood Tarot peak on the equinox/solstice, rather than start at them. They begin instead at the Cross-quarter days, six weeks before the start of the modern/solar season. The difference between these two reckonings of the seasons is still felt today in Groundhog's Day, when divination of the groundhog's behavior determines whether Spring starts February 2 (Imbolc), or we have to wait through 'six weeks more winter' (Vernal Equinox).

Publication status

The Greenwood Tarot is currently out of print.


External links