The Wooden Tarot & The Earthbound Oracle by Skullgarden

Portland Local Altar PDX Tarot and Oracle Decks by Skullgarden

Every new season begs for new readings! With several creative divination decks available at Altar, we have selected two that are perfect for the Spring season. Two of our favorite complementing decks from artist A.L. Swartz (Skullgarden) are The Wooden Tarot and The Earthbound Oracle, both unique in application and excellently interpretive in their own designs. For this example, I will be utilizing the popular ‘three card spread’ to reflect the past, present and future.

Read on for an in depth look at two beautiful dark naturalist decks!

The Wooden Tarot

The Wooden Tarot is a specialized deck due to its minor arcana suit-casting of bones, stones, blooms and plumes, rather than one’s typical wands, pentacles, cups and swords. Here also the human archetypes of the major arcana are depicted as fantasy wildlife and dark naturalism. I absolutely love this difference in imagery, as tarot reading is meant to be individually interpretive in itself. All of the images in this deck are beautifully surreal, airing an essence of colorful fantasy and detailed simplicity. The art of this deck is created through acrylic painting on wood, each imaged a reproduction of an original painting.

Portland Local Tarot Card Skullgarden Earthbound Oracle Altar PDX

The question applied is, “How can I remain authentically creative in all aspects of my career as a means to produce the best work I can?”

The three cards that I pulled for this reading are The World, God of Stones and The Magician. 

The first card in this format represents the past: energies and events that have already taken place, but continue to affect me. In other words, “How is my past holding me back, or helping me move forward?” Because I drew The World card, which represents completion, integration, accomplishment and travel, I feel that my past has helped me understand and see the infinite rewards of positive effort in improving myself and those around me. Perhaps the work I have done in the past has created a strong base for me to seek out what I wish to presently work on. This is especially accurate to my drag performance experience thus far. From when I first started drag to now, I have been given a growing feeling of accomplishment. I have met so many different types of people, all caring and friendly with positive intention. The number of events in which I actively perform at have increased, allowing myself to explore myself more thoroughly and discover more about the type of art I truly enjoy. That being said, lessons were learned, as life isn’t a collection of all positive successful experiences. The fusing of the trees surrounded with an abundance of clouds and the waves of water at the base of this card's image express these necessary integrations, as the doorway depicted in the vegetation of the trees portray coming opportunities and my newly present connections.

Portland Local Altar PDX The Wooden Tarot Deck: The World, The Magician, and God of Stones

The second card in this spread allows me to understand what is current: the energies I face presently and the opportunities and challenges that surround me. Happy to pull the God of Stones card, this card means inspiration, power, creation, beginnings, and potential. The image of the god levitating the stone between its hands represents a spiritual opportunity or offering that is being made, as the flames and antlers that grow out of its all seeing eye mark growing progress. Definitely a positive thing, I currently have been experiencing many chances and opportunities to grow in my own career. Nonetheless, the notion of levitation this card poses in imagery reminds me of the necessity of balance - knowing when to work and when to play. Knowing when to be social and when to instead turn focus on myself.

Portland Local Altar PDX Skullgarden The Wooden Tarot, Aura Amethyst Quartz

The third and final card depicts the future: the outcome of the inquiry presented, the direction things seem to be moving in, and what I am wanting. For this position, the card I received was The Magician. A card that symbolizes power, skill, concentration, action and resourcefulness, I definitely feel The Magician is an excellent indicator for anyone’s future. As it makes sense to use one’s intellect and logic to the best of one’s ability, in moving towards the best possible outcome, it is also something that I do wish to maintain continuously. The Wooden Tarot interpretation of The Magician is a magical butterfly - the symbol of the butterfly accurately showcases the world of spirit and humanity. Birthed in a cocoon from the power of the Universe, and channeled into a full bodied being in the physical plane, the infinity sign on this card shaped by a growing branch is eternity itself. This card tells me that I must continue to use the resources available to me, in order to grow and achieve what I want; to use my mind, body, heart and soul to achieve proper manifestation. A reminder to live life at the fullest, to take every chance given.

The Earthbound Oracle

The next deck I would love to share with you is The Earthbound Oracle. Also full of colorful, interpretive imagery, an oracle deck has no suits and no structure for what ‘should’ be contained in the deck. In other words, it is a deck of cards with interpretive illustrations for broad description titles - and that’s it. It is up to the reader to interpret these signs as they see fit. Instead, The Earthbound Oracle contains familiar and compact subject matter; easy to understand, yet complex enough to draw multiple meanings for any type of situation. These cards represent concepts both concrete and abstract such as wealth, labor, time, and resistance.

The questions applied for this reading will be, “How can I develop more positive, meaningful relationships that are both existing and coming in the future?”

Again, using the three card spread, I pulled Toxic, Time, and Transformation.

The first card, Toxic, to me immediately represents a past relationship. And it was exactly as the card tells me: toxic. This relationship (although not entirely the others’ fault) without a doubt negatively affected my health and outlook on life. This relationship continues to affect my current energy in the sense that it is a reminder for me to discontinue those toxic habits or tendencies. Of course, learning from my mistakes is a benefit to being better now. The card image is beautiful in itself, with vibrantly colorful vegetation, though poisonous in its own nature. Perfectly describing this past relationship: it was concerningly pleasurable, it also impaired my own decision making. It is a warning and reminder to stay away from those who manipulate, especially at the sacrifice of their own well-being.

Portland Local Altar PDX Skullgarden Earthbound Oracle Deck

The second card pulled, Time, here represents my present situation. As time allows events and thoughts to pass, it also allows us to grow. In order for me to heal from that toxic relationship of the past, I need time. This card is wonderful in its imagery, the hourglass is surrounded by the signs of the Zodiac, showing that time waits for no one, and impacts everyone. As it hovers over the image of the mountain, days and nights go by, represented by the moon and the sun on each side of the peak. This card tells me in order to make new meaningful relationships for the best of both parties, I must first let my older one pass, as patience is key.

And finally, the Transformation card. As transformation means thorough or dramatic change, I feel that once time passes the amount it should, like the metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal, a spontaneous change will induce. The image on this card exemplifies the cycle of a caterpillar evolving into a butterfly. No only that, it subtly symbolizes death as well: the leaves on the branches falling and turning orange. Alternatively, flowers begin to slowly bloom. As any thing or being transforms, death is as present as rebirth. Thinking to all of my past relationships, there have been some that failed. But not all of these relationships were toxic. Whether they were romantic relationships, or good friendships, some relationships inevitably reach an end. And if I find it worth it, I say, “This first relationship has ended. Would you like to start a new one?” As this card suggest, transformation can be a wonderful thing.  

This reading exercise has let me explore and understand further that we grow absolutely: the past, present and future mingle, pulling us in every which direction, backwards and forwards, or sometimes fixed. We do not necessarily progress chronologically, as our choices lead us to multiple dimensions. We consist of layers and rapidly renewing cells; as constellations, leading us through differing paths.

I hope this blog post encourages you to explore your own readings, to shed some light on your own goals and plans for the coming Spring season. And I hope these readings have inspired you to learn about these two different but harmonious decks, come to the shop to look through them when your own wish to understand becomes apparent!

(Images by Altar PDX)