The Wild Unknown Tarot
The tarot is a (mostly) standardized set of 78 cards which reach the length and breadth of the universe and help readers hear messages that The Universe would like to convey. A tarot deck is a tool that, through artistic sensitivity and discipline, a reader can answer questions posed by themselves for a personal reading or for another person for business or pleasure. The standard modern tarot deck is based on the Venetian or the Piedmontese tarot. It consists of 78 cards divided into two groups: the major arcana, which has 22 cards, also known as trumps, and the minor arcana, which has 56 cards.
Lots of Choices
Your choice of tarot deck is very personal. Heck, you may even have made your own out of index cards at some point. Many people have drawn/painted/collaged their own decks which can be a rewarding exercise in focus and imagination. Doing so, crystalizes the cards' meanings and messages in one's mind. However, just like how the cards act as a "liaison" to the unseen world, an artist's rendering of the cards can speak to us as well.
Many like the earlier Palladini deck for its relatively simple, striking images and avoidance of distracting symbols packed into the frame. Some get deeply into the symbols from various mystical traditions, while others seek out decks that use more culturally and racially inclusive imagery. In general, each artist works directly with their own subconscious to create their own symbolism. This "language of the soul" describes the very real existence of each “card” as a distinct and universal part of consciousness.
There are literally hundreds of decks to choose from. Some, we suspect, are made as much for entertainment as for divination. The Star Trek deck, the Salvador Dali deck, and The Kilted Rubber Chicken deck come to mind. The Electronic Republican Tarot is a satirical deck that adopts American political figures: The Emperor is Ronald Reagan, Death is Richard Nixon, Theodore Roosevelt the Six of Arms, and the Star is multinational corporations!
"Witch" Deck is Right for You?
We enjoy the humor and lightheartedness of those above-mentioned decks and appreciate that tarot doesn't have to be morbidly serious. However, we assume you're looking for a deck that speaks to you and through you, rather than a joke deck to give to a friend as a funny gift. If you want to add some enchanting, witchy energy to your readings, we offer The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck by Kim Krans. It features 78 cards filled with intricacy and mystery. The 200+ page guidebook makes it easy to use and interpret the cards, give readings, and delve into the themes and images of the tarot. Originally hand-drawn and self-published by Kim in 2012, the deck and guidebook landed on the NY Times Bestseller’s list when it was published by Harper Collins in 2016.
Kim Krans is a visionary and prolific creative artist who received a BFA in drawing, an MFA in mixed media, and an MA in depth psychology and creativity. She is influenced by a wide range of mystical traditions and describes herself as a shapeshifting, multidisciplinary artist who creates doorways to the imagination and to other realms. She says that her job is to make portals so beautiful that people can't resist and slip through them without realizing it. Kim is very interested in the power of images, the power of ritual, and their combined ability to transform the individual and the world.
As one of our customers recently put it: "You will get some of the most honest, cannot-ignore-the-message readings from this deck. I'm a big fan of Kim Krans and the Wild Unknown, and this deck is no exception. Truly wonderful artwork that captures the spirit of the card, explanations that make sense for modern life... a great deck. Extremely well thought-out and put together. A go-to deck for me when I need the truth and need to not run around the bush to get it."
About the Wild Unknown Tarot Deck
The images on the Wild Unknown Tarot (WUT) cards are simple, yet there's something intriguing and evocative about them. Some may seem like they're the opposite of traditional depictions. Yet when you sit with them you realize how potent, and on point, they really are. They incorporate all the raw, primal, honest energy of nature, not a sanitized, airbrushed version of nature. When you or a client are ready to face the deepest truths, this is the deck; it gets right to the heart of the matter. Below are some of the cards that, for us, demonstrate the uniqueness of this deck.
For us, the Wild Unknown Tarot version of The Fool really captures what we said above. Rather than a man about to step off of a cliff, the WUT Fool is a baby chick perched on a branch with one foot stretched out. As he is about to step off, he is not concerned with yesterday or tomorrow, rather The Fool is immersed in the now. The Fool reminds you to place your attention here, in the present moment. We especially love how the WUT's version of The Fool depicts youthful innocence and bravery.
This compelling image conjures up the timeless conundrum of the Fool: are you naïve, about to leap unprepared into disaster? Or are you filled with a spiritual trust that The Universe will support your leap? The Fool asks you to tune into your primal instincts instead of over thinking. The Fool is also a reminder that there are no right or wrong decisions. The most important thing, the Fool might advise you, is to say YES to life in whatever way feels expansive for you. To the baby chick, everything is new and amazing.
The Magician is archetypical yang energy. Traditionally depicted as a man with one hand pointed towards the sky and one hand pointed towards the ground, he invokes the spiritual axiom “as above, so below.” This WUT Magician is a leopard, proud and alert. It has a powerful stance and its gaze is focused, sizing up its surroundings, not with any urgency, but with a natural awareness of all that is at work around it. Surrounding the leopard are rays of orange and yellow light, colors that convey active energy and vitality.
The Magician speaks to the power of concentration. Cats, in general, are well known for their patience and power to concentrate on prey. When a cat misses the mark, it doesn't dwell on what it lost. Likewise, instead of looking at what you wish you had, The Magician invites you to pay attention to all that you actually have. Just as the leopard doesn't hang about waiting for life to happen, The Magician invites you to happen to life!
The High Priestess
While the Magician is associated with archetypical ‘yang’ or masculine energy, the High Priestess is archetypical ‘yin’ or feminine energy. Like the yin/yang symbol, these two cards are woven together, representing the spectrum of human experience. Both of these energies are equally essential to living an integrated, self-actualized life. The WUT High Priestess is a tigress, regal and dignified. Her expression seems both serene and alert, representing dark and subjectivity. The WUT High Priestess sits under a black sky and a crescent moon which is associated with feminine or yin energy. She asks you to tap into your intuition and speaks to the quiet magic of being.
In tarot, The Hierophant is a person, especially a priest, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles. But this card is not just about religion. A hierophant can also represent a bureaucratic person, related to educational systems, political affiliations, and any other philosophical ideologies. So The Hierophant can also be about any sort of group identity. Many of us don't connect well with the traditional depiction of The Hierophant, as he is often depicted as an imposing, solemn figure.
Not so with the Wild Unknown Tarot version of The Hierophant! A crow or a raven is perched upon a large key. His wings and feathers are ruffled, giving him an air of restlessness. His beak is open as he loudly caws out the answers to life's questions. Birds are often seen as spiritual messengers and the crow/raven is especially social, mischievous, and talkative. They often seem to be "having a laugh," as though they know something we don't. The WUT Hierophant wants you to look deeply into the locked areas within yourself, face them, and then have a laugh with your friends!
This is another of our favorites. It's not that we dislike the traditional depiction of The Lovers, but there is just something magical about the WUT Lovers card: A pair of geese flying in unison. There's a nostalgia that speaks to some deep yearning in our souls when we see geese on the wing. Our knowledge that geese partner for life is reflected in the harmony of their parallel flight and their matching markings. Although they maintain their own separate identities, they also fit together naturally as a pair. This card gives a sense that everything is exactly how it should be. The geese are effortless in their soaring. They aren’t flapping their wings frantically; they’re simply letting the wind carry them. This is a card of flow, ease, and grace.
Do you feel sorry for turtles? Do you say, "Awww... that's so sad!" when you see a Galapagos tortoise? Neither do we and neither does the Wild Unknown Tarot deck. Doesn't it seem like there is usually a hint of either melancholy or madness in traditional tarot depictions of The Hermit? Well, the WUT Hermit is a tortoise with a lit lantern on its back. Its feet and head are drawn in, but not in fear, in contentment. The Hermit senses that what he most needs right now can be obtained in the inner world while still peering out with a tiny bit of friendly curiosity.
Often, the Hermit is a timid character, but not the WUT Hermit. The orange lantern flame is vivid and confident. It is a beacon to focus on and represents the power needed to turn away from the expectations, opinions, and norms espoused by society. The Hermit teaches that you can cultivate this inner power through meditation, introspection, and self-discovery.
The Hanged Man
Try as we might, most of us find it difficult to escape the "ookieness factor" of bats. There is just something eerie and spooky about them. That's why the bat is the perfect creature to represent the Hanged Man. He represents radical acceptance. It's hard to imagine living in a dank, dark cave, hanging upside down all the time. But in doing so, you are required to surrender your ego’s need to control; you must see things from a different perspective. The Wild Unknown Tarot's Hanged Man is adept at seeing the world, and all of reality, from a different angle.
Bats hang upside down because their wings are not strong enough to take off from the ground. When they let go, they plummet through the air to gain airspeed. This takes a leap of faith and trust in oneself. This WUT Hanged Man knows that it is not the time to fly... yet. However, this card asks you to take the spiritually potent step of relinquishing control. You spend so much physical, emotional, and spiritual energy clinging to what you think is solid. Perhaps if you let go, you will connect with your power in unfathomably potent ways.
We couldn't end this brief introduction to the Wild Unknown Tarot deck without mentioning the Death card. To many people, death is “baaaaad.” But death in one form is really a beginning in another form. And besides, the Death card isn’t necessarily about literal death. It can be about transformation or change. It may point to a new beginning that will be positive in the long run, but difficult in the near term. For instance, getting a new job may be exciting, but saying goodbye to friends and coworkers may be difficult.
However, it could actually be about a literal death or a major, unwelcome change. That's why the Wild Unknown Tarot Death card pulls no punches. As a wise priestess once said, "There are some things you just can't make pretty." The image on the WUT Death card is that of the fading remains of a deceased bird. This card gives you the chance to examine your unexamined attitudes. The bird was beautiful and will be again. The cycle of nature, while sometimes rough, is also beautiful. And just when did we learn that “death is bad?” Could it be that a situation only seems horrible because of childhood programming, because of an unexamined attitude?
The WUT Death card reminds us that, like the beautifully fading bird, everything has a time and season. Making changes in our lives can feel like a death because we are scared of what we can’t control or fathom. It can be hard to let go of, "but it's not fair!" And sometimes we have questions to which there is no satisfying answer. This card helps you relax into the experience of not knowing; of not being in control. And it helps you to not take changes so personally because change is like death: indiscriminate and impersonal. It is unbiased, unattached, and dispassionate. Not taking change personally helps you relax into the situation and surrender control. It can help you see the beauty that you may have otherwise missed.
We love the Wild Unknown Tarot deck and Kim Krans' perspective on each card. It's at times fluffy and gooey while at other times serious and foreboding. Always it deeply touches on the animal spirit that runs through us all. The animal and nature themes will turn your inured ideas of tarot, like the Hanged Man, upside down. We know you'll love this expanded and cut-to-the-chase deck as much as we do!
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