Monday, 19 December 2011

John Matthews | Between The Darkness and The Light | Poem


(A modern Christmas Carol) 

 It is within the darkness and the silence
That the magic of Christmas starts;
Somewhere between the glimmer of lights
And the first breathless moment
When children come
Stumbling like new-born angels
Into morning light.
Within the darkness and the silence
We sit, watching wonder
Burst into form; where we
Enter the ringing silence
In which the first bells of Christmas
Sound the music of the soul;
Where the morning joy begins
With a single carol
To a half-forgotten tune.
It is here, between the darkness
And the light,
That we wait, uncertain,
Seeking the moment
That challenges us to believe
In a freshly minted miracle
Born every Christmas Day. 


Dear Friends and Fans of The Wildwood Tarot.
As the scared stillness of  the Winter Solstice draws near, I would like to wish you all a happy, blessed and restful time. May all your dreams and desires find fruition in the coming year. If you like secular Christmas carols you'll find my own offering, beautifully set to music by David Seitz and performed by the St Joseph Valley Camerata from Misawaka, Indiana. Thanks to Alison Cross for spending ages on getting the words and music to sync and setting them so magically with snowy images. 
Thanks to your enthusiasm the Wildwood Tarot continues to break records for sales, and Mark and I plan to celebrate this by holding workshops and other events in 2012. So, if you’d like to explore the depths of the wood even further, watch out for upcoming announcements...
Yours, from the heart of the Wildwood,

Monday, 12 December 2011

Caitlín Matthews 2011| Wildwood Courts | Vessels

We reach the third suit of the Wildwood Tarot Courts.  Today explore.....

VESSELS – Autumn 

KING of  VESSELS      Heron
The heron stands patiently on one leg for a fish to swim by. Herons are supreme fishermen, living near rivers, lakes and estuaries.  Their huge size, with a wing-span as wide as an adult human’s armspan, is no disadvantage for it has grace in the air and in the water. No-one who has seen them in flight ever forgets the spectacle of their M-shaped wings and the long legs stretched out behind.  It perches on its nest at the top of bushes or trees.  Since the native crane rarely visits Britain’s shores, the Heron takes its place as a bird of mystery and oracular divination.  Behind the heron is a hollow yew tree, the longest living tree in the whole of Britain, often growing to huge girth as its centre slowly hollows out, until the hollow centre can be big enough for several small children to stand inside, while the tree is still growing older and stronger.

As a person in your life: The loving and generous King of Vessels is a way-shower and mentor whose tolerance gives him a peaceful demeanour.  Very often he is the catalyst that helps groups and gatherings to gel, for he gives a place to each  individual.  His consideration for others derives from an innate compassion. As a friend, he is respectful of your space, giving you the freedom to explore what your heart teaches. Can be weak or ineffectual or inclined to milk situations for pity.

As an aspect or process: Using diplomacy.  Keeping a broad-minded perspective.  Promoting equality.  Offering support.  Standing as sponsor, godparent, referee. Moody or melancholic.

As an event/happening:   An exhibition, art-show or creative display. A support-network or help-line.  A scandal or cause célèbre. Dependency.

Questions: Where is tolerance needed?  Who is depending upon your support?  What is your loving duty here? What needs nurturing or fostering?

QUEEN of  VESSELS      Salmon
The Salmon struggles upstream to the source of the river where it was first spawned, in order to spawn a new generation.  The salmon’s amazing journey from fresh-water to the sea and back again at  the end of its life is one of nature’s marvels.  The upstream climb to its spawning ground exhausts the fish, but still it struggles to come home in order to give life to its descendants. Above Salmon’s head is the hazel tree with the nuts ripening. In Irish legend, the salmon of wisdom swims in the pool of Conla or the well of Segais in order to eat the nuts that drop from the hazel-tree. Hazel is the tree of wisdom, and its properties include cleansing the blood and healing skin conditions.

As a person in your life: The Queen of Vessels is tender-hearted and kind.   She is sensitive and intuitive, and has a wide romantic streak.  She has a psychic or empathetic ability that can see into your condition, making you feel comfortable or maybe unsettling you with her enchanting vision. As a friend, she makes the best confidante, resonating with your emotional condition, for her words are guided by the heart. While she can cherish and care, she can also be over-protective or smothering. Can also leave herself open to other people’s needs or abuse.

As an aspect or process: Proceeding virtuously. Being emotionally mature.  Taking on or beaming out projections. Captivated by illusion or being impressionable.

As an event/happening:  Comfort. Psychic perspectives. Dreams or visions. Security issues. Intrigue. Unworldliness. Over-sensitivity. Self-sacrifice.

Questions: What do you most resonate with here?  Where are you leaving yourself open or unguarded? What is enchanting you?  What do you need to devote yourself to?

KNIGHT of VESSELS        Eel  
The Eel swims soundlessly up the stream as the sun sets. Overhead the birch tree shades the stream. On a nearby rock, the engraving of an Iron Age sword is imprinted. Eels have the most mysterious life cycle and make the longest journey of any of the court card beasts. Spawned in the Sargasso Sea near the Bahamas, the young, transparent elvers make their way across the North Atlantic to European river-mouths. Making their way between water-courses, they often wriggle overland to find another waterway. When they are mature as silver eels, they return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.  The birch tree was one of the first native British trees to emerge from the ice after glaciation. Its numerous properties include detoxification and tonifying of the whole nervous system.

As a person in your life: Knight of Vessels is a charming, cultured and gallant person. Sensitive and imaginative, he takes dreams seriously and can pen a verse or song for any occasion.  He runs on a high emotional current.  As a friend or lover, he is attractive and congenial to be with, exploring the shores of love and friendship imaginatively.  Can be a seductive, smooth-talker who plays the field, or an addictive personality who plumbs the very depths in order to be immersed in his own illusory fantasies.

As an aspect or process: Emotionally cogent. Discovering how to merge with a concept or find accord with a person.  Promoting harmony. Exploiting an emotional situation. Cheating on someone.

As an event/happening:  A reception or welcoming. Compliance or accord.  A quest. A union or merger. Introspection.  Fantasy.

Questions:  What is the nature of your contract? What are you getting access to? Where are emotions running high?  What needs to be expressed sensitively?

PAGE of VESSELS            Otter
The Otter peers out watchfully from a rocky perch overlooking the fast flowing river. Above him are the branches of the willow tree while in the crevice of the rock grows Hart’s Tongue Fern.  Otters are the most accomplished, balletic swimmers underwater.  They have to clean their fur in fresh water after being in salt water, so you will see them coming or going from a river or estuary,  at dawn and sunset.  Their playful gambolling is a delight to watch.  The Willow Tree is a source of salycilic acid, and the natural alternative to aspirin.  The Hart’s Tongue Fern grows vigorously in damp gorges and rocks in the shade. It cleanses the internal organs of obstructions, clears the eyes, heals wounds and reduces fever.

As a person in your life: The Page of Vessels is a good sharer who applies himself to things with deep intuition.  He is reflective and  joyful by turn, making him playful and a delight to be with.  As a mediator, he can help facilitate resolutions.  He is a loyal friend who is both cooperative and supportive.  Can be emotionally vulnerable, easily swayed or selfishly absorbed in his own troubles.

As an aspect or process: Contemplating things with a considerate heart.  Learning trust.  Serving with love. Refusing to listen. Living only in the imagination.

As an event/happening: Meditation. Forgiveness. A blessing. Stories that support the soul.  Conflict resolution. Fair play. Abandonment.  Fawning and flattery. Jealousy.

Questions: Where do you need to let your feelings show?  Who is getting closer to you? Where do you need to let beauty into your life?  What deeper trust is being asked of you?

copyright: Caitlín Matthews 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

Caitlín Matthews | Wildwood Courts | Bows

In this second blog post exploring the four suits of the Wildwood, we explore.....

BOWS – Summer 

KING OF BOWS      Adder
The entwined adders upon the sun-warmed rocks are striving for dominance. When they mate, this entwining dance covers a wide area of ground. Adders are the only venomous snakes in Britain, but people are rarely bitten by them as sudden movement or vibration causes them to move away. After basking in the open sun, the adder will usually lie curled upon the ground in grass or heathland.  Each adder’s skin is distinctively unique, just as much as any human’s fingerprints are unique to the individual. Out of the rocks grows thrift, a plant with antibiotic qualities.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Caitlín Matthews | Court Cards | Arrows


Here are the Wildwood Courts with background on each of the animals. None of these definitions is definitive or exclusive.  We will explore the Courts in a variety of different spreads and practices until you are more familiar with the messages they can give. While there are no reversed meanings given in the Wildwood Book, every card has its own poorly-aspected as well as well-aspected patterns. The surrounding cards will often reveal these different aspects, but I’ve hinted at some of the extreme aspects here. Remember that court cards can represent people and qualities that are beyond age, race or gender.  At the end of the meanings are questions that may be helpful when it comes to reading the card in a spread.  Ask yourself or the querent these questions in relationship to the issue and discover how easy the card is to read!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Black Friday | Wildwood Special Offer!

Coolwater Productions is the official outlet for the Wildwood's three collaborators in the US.  Today is Black Friday in the States and Coolwater has a special offer on The Wildwood Tarot!

For only $19.99, you can purchase a copy of the book/deck set AND receive a postcard signed by all three of the creators!

This is your BEST chance to get a copy for your collection!

Here's the link - go and explore The Wildwood with Coolwater!

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Merlin's first public appearance!

By John Matthews

With art by Will Worthington

Really happy to announce that Will and I are about to embark on another collaboration – the third I think, or is it fourth? THE CAMELOT ORACLE is a card system – not a tarot - that allows people to explore the Arthurian archetypes, adopt champions and embark on adventurous journeys of self-discovery using the cards and a brilliant and amazing map created by Will and I. 

So at last we are working together on the subject that originally brought us in contact with each other: The Legends and myths of King Arthur. Will has an amazing and brilliant take on these characters, and I hope to supply the necessary archetypal and oracular references. The pack will be published some time in 2012 by Connections (Eddison Sadd) the wonderful publisher of The Wildwood Tarot.

More news as and when it breaks. But you heard it first here!

John Matthews 17.11.11

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Caitlín Matthews | Court Cards | Part 2

Following on from her work in Part 1, here are more exclusive exercises from Caitlín Matthews, focussing on the Court Cards of The Wildwood.

So are Courts just representative of people or can they be other things also?  In my reading of the other day, 6 out of 9 cards were courts: some of these were aspects of the client, but others were trends or work that she was engaged with. In this spread, you draw unseen one Major, Minor and Court card and read them in three different ways, permutating the cards until you’ve read them in all three positions.  This is part of the wisdom of what I call ‘sticking with the cards you first drew.’  And yes, we‘ve all groaned on turning over our cards and shameless stuffed them back in the pack and drawn some others, haven’t we?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Caitlín Matthews | Wildwood Court Cards | Part 1

by Caitlín Matthews 

Many of us working with the tarot find it hard to cope with more than one court card at a time.  For example, this morning I did a 9-card reading that had a staggering 6 court cards in it. How do you know when courts are supposed to be people and when they are events, or could they be pointers to personal traits within the querent?  If you get a King, does it only signify a man? Or could it be a woman or a process you are going through?  Arrggh! For some people, just one court card in a spread can bring up anxiety and lack of confidence.

Most tarot books have acres of words about the Major Arcana, much less about the Minor Arcana and almost nothing on the Court Cards, so it’s not surprising that we sometimes find them a little intimidating.  It’s like being huddled into a room with a group of people you feel you don’t know very well and made to make polite conversation. 

But when we play a card game, the court cards are the most important ones to have in your hand! When the playing card deck was assimilated with the 22 tarot cards into a 78 tarot card pack, the courts suddenly had a little less prominence.

Friday, 4 November 2011

John & Caitlin Matthews | Hawkwood College | Stroud

9-11 December 2011- JESUS AND MYTH: A Gnostic Pilgrimage into Myth, Folk Belief and Paganism 
John and Caitlín Matthews with special guest, Mark Townsend

        'Myth is something that never happened but is happening all the time.'
                                                                  - Sallustius, Greek poet.
We invite you to join our 27th annual Hawkwood mythic showcase where we discover the how the roots of Gnostic, folk beliefs and Paganism all meet together in the myths surrounding Jesus in this winter gathering of our mystery school where all are welcome.
The director and writer of The Emerald Forest, John Boorman, once said that ‘Christianity is the imposition of a desert religion upon a forest people,’ but that is not quite true, since many of the foundational pagan myths that were drawn into the figure of Jesus derive from the myths of the green gods who die to rise again: Dionysus, Attis, Adonis and Osiris, which the Classical mysteries celebrate. The ecstatic cult divinities of the pagan world elide seamlessly into the one who called himself ‘the True Vine.’ We follow the track of that wild and free spirituality that leads to the heart of true knowing with one of the shepherds of the Western Mysteries.
This magical weekend includes the ritual, Finding the Oil of Mercy, based upon Gnostic myths, creating an opportunity to unite with ancestors and descendants through time and space in a healing communion of spiritual hospitality. The living myth that deals with the work of healing and reconciliation is a story needed in all ages: it tells of the individual’s pilgrimage, the soul’s story and the healing of communities and nations from the wounds of tribalism.
If Jesus meek and mild turns you off and Christianity is not your thing, then this course is for you as we explore the roots of this living myth with non-denominational and inclusive welcome, as well as some miraculous magic by Mark.
I have no dwelling; and I have dwellings. I have no place; and I have places.
I have no temple; and I have temples.  I am a lamp to those who see me.
I am a mirror to those who understand me.   I am a door to those who knock at me
I am a way to you,  a wayfarer. Now answer to my dancing!
From the Gnostic Hymn of Jesus
Caitlín and John Matthews have given a unique and hospitable winter course in December at Hawkwood for 27 years as part of their mystery school teaching in the Western Mysteries. Join us and become an honorary member of ‘the Company of Hawkwood’. This relaxed weekend is where friends and like-minded newcomers can meet together at this special time of year, to celebrate the season and bring the stories, myths and rituals home to the heart. Caitlín contributed to Mark's book, Jesus Through Pagan Eyes. For their books, courses, training, see
Mark Townsend served as an Anglican Priest for 13 years before resigning his membership of the Church of England in order to express his ministry in a far more eclectic way. While still a Christian Priest, he is also a member of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and The Magic Circle. He uses magical illusions and mythology to open up his audiences to their own deep inner magic and has taken his 'Soulful Magic' all over the world, performing to such diverse audiences as Roman Catholic nuns and Massai Warriors. BBC's 'Extreme Pilgrim,' Rev. Peter Owen Jones refers to Mark as a 'Priest at the Edge.'  His new book, Jesus Through Pagan Eyes is released in 2012.
BOOKING: Single: £276, Shared: £248 Non-res: £210. Please send a non-returnable deposit of £80 payable to HAWKWOOD COLLEGE and SAE for map and details, to Hawkwood College, Painswick Old Rd., Stroud, Glos GL6 7QW. 01453 759034 email:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

John & Caitlin Matthews | Workshop | Oxfordshire

The year is fairly flying in and we've whizzed through our sessions at Watkins Bookshop and the UK Tarot Conference, just this last weekend.

Here's another date for your diary:

Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire

Date:  29 October 2011 - 5.30pm

John and Caitlin will make a rare appearance together at  Crystal Moon, Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire on the 29th of October 2011. They will offer 6  slots of 30 minutes each for those who would like a reading with the Wildwood Tarot. Readings will take place between 2pm  and 5pm and the talk will begin at The cost will be £35 per reading.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mark Ryan | Melbourne Session

Mark Ryan will be in Melbourne, Australia on 25 October - and you can come along and spend an evening with him and The Wildwood Tarot.

Organised in conjunction with The Tarot Guild of Australia, Mark will be talking about The Wildwood - and pretty much anything else you want to ask him!

Mark will have copies of The Wildwood Tarot for sale and to sign.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Mark Ryan | John Matthews | Watkins Bookshop Session

With the stealthy arrival of darker evenings and mornings, why not treat yourself to a reviving Wildwood Tarot session at Watkins Bookshop at 19-21 Cecil Court, London?

Mark Ryan and John Matthews, creators of The Wildwood Tarot, are making a one-off appearance at Watkins Bookshop in London on 11 October. 

From 1pm to 5pm they will take turns to give personal readings with their tarot. This is a unique opportunity since neither Mark nor John give regular readings anywhere in the world. So come along and be part of a once in a lifetime event! 

At 5.30pm Mark and John will give a free introductory talk WELCOME TO THE WILDWOOD, revealing some of the ideas and concepts in the Tarot. They will then be available to sign copies of the deck which can be purchased from Watkins.

To book a reading slot with either Mark or John (approx 30 minutes for £35), please contact

Monday, 12 September 2011

Mark Ryan | Choosing Oracles

Mark Ryan

The art of choosing, studying and applying any type of oracle for meditation or Counseling is a very personal and individual experience. 

Our relationship with the images in the tarot for example is a complex and mysterious interaction of the human psyche and the archetypal images that speak to the subconscious. The images of the Major Arcana of the Tarot reflect either profound states of the human condition or  types of universal personality traits found within all humanity. It is how we relate to and perceive these images and our emotional responses to them that is one of the keyelements present in the process of divination.

Monday, 5 September 2011

John Matthews | Creating a Tarot

John Matthews

A lot of people have asked me what goes into the creation of a tarot. Having done four decks now and worked on three oracles – I thought it was maybe time to give you all a creator’s eye view. 

First of all the situation differs a lot depending on what skills you have and who you are working with. If for example you are an artist then the only person you have to work with is yourself – and then the process is somewhat different. But if, as in my case, any drawing you do looks like a drunken doodle, then you need an artist. I've been very lucky to work with some of the best tarot artists in the world – namely Wil Kinghan, Will Worthington, Miranda Gray and Giovanni Casselli. 

Monday, 29 August 2011

Wildwood | Animation

We hope that you are enjoying, which has been set up as an official portal for all things Wildwood.  From there you can not only reach this blog and send questions to the three creators, but you can also see his wonderful animation of the archetypes of the Major Arcana.

Tell us what you think of it!

We've got a small poll up on the Wildwood Tarot website - would you like to see the Minor Arcana animated too? Just tell us what you want and we'll do our best to Make It So ;-)

Monday, 22 August 2011

SF BATS! | Mark Ryan

The Daughters of Divination are proudly celebrating their 20th anniversary later this month with a sparkling array of Tarot experts at the renowned event known affectionately as SF BATS.

Thalassa Therese has pulled together some of the glitteriest stars in the Tarot firmament - including Mary K Greer, Barbara Moore, Corrine Kenner, James Ricklef.....and Wildwood creator Mark Ryan!

If you would like to come along on 27 August to the Golden Gateway Inn in San Francisco and celebrate some Symposium Swellness  - for one day or both days - please get in touch with Therese.

For full details please visit the Daughters of Divination site here.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Wildwood is launched!

Saturday 30 April 2011 saw the trio of creative forces behind The Wildwood Tarot gather for the official launch in London.

Mark Ryan, John Matthews and Will Worthington appeared in Atlantis Bookshop to talk about this eagerly anticipated reworking of The Greenwood Tarot and sign copies of the deck for fans.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Welcome to the Wildblog!

Welcome to the Wildblog!  This is where you will find Wildwood articles and images written by Mark, John and Will.

But we need to know what YOU want to know about - so feel free to use the Contact Us page on the website to ask us questions - we'll do our best to answer them!

Posts will be made on a weekly basis, or thereabouts!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

John, Mark and Will