I’ve been teaching tarot a long time, and you may have heard me say that I encourage you to trust your own intuitive take on a card before reading the book. I’ve also said that you should not assume that your own take on the card is wrong, if it’s different from what is written in the book. It’s important to develop your own relationship with the cards outside of what the deck creator intended.
However, the Herbcrafter’s Tarot is a deck where I strongly encourage you to read and use the companion book, especially if you are not already familiar with herbs and plants. The energy and message of the particular plant we chose for each card is just as important as the traditional tarot meaning. There are specific qualities assigned to the numbers, people cards, and elements in the HCT which will also enhance your understanding of the deck. (You can read all about it in the book!)
My co-creator Latisha Guthrie and I were inspired by our friend Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Dark Goddess Tarot to write three “pithy wisdom statements” (as we call them) for each card. Those three sentences appear first on each card’s page and are a kind of distillation of the wisdom of the card and the plant.
For example, for The Empress, Rose:
Be vulnerable, yet strong.
Nurture love and compassion.
See beauty and abundance in every stage of life.
Latisha wrote the book, and she did a beautiful job. It is full of heart-felt experience and wisdom. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Seven Ways to Get to Know the Herbcrafter’s Tarot
1. Go through the deck, pulling out the cards that particularly attract you. Write about the card in your journal, especially noting any personal associations you may have with the plant or other imagery on the card. Then look the card up in the book and notice any particular sentences or phrases that jump out at you.
2. Pull one card a day and write about the card in your journal; your own impressions first, followed by something you learned from the book. Be sure to notice any cards that show up more than once in a week or a month; those cards are calling you!
3. Do a “Getting to Know You” Spread.
My friend Deb Strom likes to ask a new deck these three questions:
- What type of relationship will we have?
- What must I do in this relationship?
- What will I receive in this relationship?
I would add a fourth question:
- How can I best serve the spirit of this deck?
4. Do an Interview Spread.
I first saw this spread on an Instagram post by Morgan Josey Glover, and I love it. She says that when she gets a new deck she asks it the following questions to set intentions for working with it. It’s a variation of a spread in Courtney Alexander’s guidebook to the Dust II Onyx Tarot.
- What is your main characteristic?
- What is your strength?
- What is your weakness?
- What is the key lesson you teach?
- How do you deliver your wisdom?
- What is the potential outcome of our relationship?
(Morgan posted a two-part video of her interview spread with the Herbcrafter’s Tarot here. Very fun!)
5. After pulling a card from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot, pull the corresponding card from the Gaian Tarot or another favorite deck to compare and enhance the meaning of the card.
6. Look at your Birth Cards to see which plants may be calling you as allies for further study and relationship. (For example, my Birth Cards are the Tower / Chariot. In the HCT, the corresponding plants are Mushroom and Cedar.)
You can learn how to calculate your own Tarot Birth Cards from our friends at the Tarot School here.
My friend Sara Galactica is doing some lovely work reframing tarot birth card “constellations” as ecosystems. Read all about it here.
7. Take a few cards that particularly call you and anchor them in the physical world by crafting with the plants. For example, for Rose, Latisha shares these suggestions in the HCT book:
Crafting with the Empress
Arrange rose thorns and petals together on your altar to cultivate vulnerability and strength.
Create a rosary out of rose buds, rose hips, or dried rose petal beads for love and compassion.
Celebrate the many stages of life by learning the remedies for each season of the rose: rose buds for childhood, full blooms for midlife, and hips for elderhood.
I’m sure you have your own favorite way of getting to know a new deck too. I hope these ideas are helpful!
(For a study of the Herbcrafter’s Tarot with the deck creators, we invite you to enroll in our self-paced course, “Witches’ Wisdom: Reading the Herbcrafter’s Tarot.)