Whether designed to recognize a winter holiday, created as a gift or used as a reflective hobby, wreaths can take on many themes and incorporate a variety of materials such as fruits, twigs, leaves, paper, fabric or wire. They need only to hold to the shape of a ring, and sometimes loosely at best.
Tarot-themed wreaths are a craft that can enrich those who love to create, those who may be daunted by the system of traditionally 78 cards and archetypes known as tarot, or those who may wish to deepen their relationship with the cards.
Tradition and floral considerations
While the laurel wreath from Greco-Roman times is associated with Apollo and all he signifies (such as achievement and victory), a tarot wreath may be whimsical and simple. Following cues from the ancients can be rewarding when beginning the construction of a tarot wreath, and one may wish to choose leaves, fake or genuine, that embody a particular god (for example, oak leaves for Zeus and wisdom), or flowers that connote a certain meaning according to the Victorian language of flowers, or those of other cultures.
The favourite flower of the winter season is the poinsettia, for example. Aztecs associated poinsettias with purity, while a more modern take is that red, white, and pink poinsettias represent success, good cheer, celebration and mirth.
Consider embodying the passage of time on your wreath. For instance, poinsettias are also the birth flower of December. Capture a whole year or season with a flower for each month, or recognize one person or family through birth flowers. There are also state and country flowers and trees that may spark your imagination.
Wreaths for the home
A kitchen wreath that incorporates the fragrances and associations tied to herbs is another route. As for spices, cinnamon sticks may be an ideal choice for a wintry wreath. It has many symbolic meanings, including spirituality, success, healing, power, psychic powers, lust, protection, and love.
Cinnamon is a member of the laurel tree family, and its oils were once used as perfume in the bedroom. Ginseng is one of many other options for the bedroom if you wish to use natural sources but avoid blooms because of allergies. This root is believed to provide protection, healing, and enhance beauty, lust, love, and wishes.
For a spiritual sanctuary or room where one practices healing or psychic work, corn might be a good choice in a wreath. It symbolizes protection, divination, and luck.1 A husk is probably easier to work with. Dandelion is said to help with calling spirits, divination, and wishes.
Wreaths as crowns
Wreath crowns have also been known to help establish the status of the wearer. Any focus, including a desired status such as “tarot rock star,” can inspire the construction of a tarot wreath. The crown or wreath may be built to reinforce an understanding of major arcana or particular suits in tarot, and inspire a special item to be worn by the king or queen of cups, wands, swords or pentacles at any appropriate gathering.
Keep in mind the dimensions appropriate for a wreath that is a crown. A wreath placed on a door can be larger. You’ll want your work to fit comfortably on the wearer.
Wreaths for winter and the major arcana
The activity of making a tarot wreath can enhance Winter Solstice or Yule and have magical ties. The project can easily acknowledge the major arcana when divided into 21 days, or symbols for Winter Solstice. The wreath itself may represent the wreath on The World or the zero of The Fool. When given this approach, the 22 major arcana cards are reduced by one or two, depending on whether the wreath creator wishes to incorporate both The World and The Fool as the wreath itself or not.
Each card you wish to include in a tarot wreath holds the potential for adding small trinkets (see below for suggestions). If inclined to go to shopping for items, determine the items most needed and take a list along to the hobby or grocery store. Don’t forget to check the condition of your glue supplies before heading out.
One approach is to examine each card and create your own associations for each archetype. Feel free to use the list below as an example or starting point. These items may be hand-drawn, made with construction paper, or cut from newspapers or magazines. Remember that they should be fairly small to fit the scale of your wreath, and light so as not to weigh it down. Consider how your wreath will be used used — will it hang on a door and need to withstand some force and movement from time to time? What’s the best adhesive? Will someone wear this creation?
The following are a few ideas drawn from the tarot cards. You may come up with your own suggestions as well. Let us know in the comments below!
The Fool: A red feather, white dog or the wreath itself
The Magician: A stick (wand) or infinity symbol
The High Priestess: Paper wrapped as a scroll or pomegranate seeds
The Empress: A heart with a Venus/female symbol on it, wheat, a baby
The Emperor: A square with an Aries symbol on it, a sceptre and orb
The Hierophant: Keys
The Lovers: A piece of chocolate, a rose, or a crossroad
The Chariot: A wheel, hero’s cape
Strength: An infinity symbol or lion’s head
The Hermit: A lamp or a mountain peak
The Wheel of Fortune: A fortune from a fortune cookie, lotto numbers, your birth date
The Hanged Man: An eye, to represent a change in perspective and the correlation with Odin
Death: A bridge, a coffin
Temperance: Two cups, a flower, coffee mug, tea cup, pot for cooking or cauldron
The Devil: Chains
The Tower: Lightning, a brick, stick figures tumbling
The Star: A star
The Moon: A moon
The Sun: A sun, the symbol for the sun in astrology
Judgement: A trumpet
The World: The wreath itself or purple ribbon, as in the next paragraph
If this is a decorative project, consider making room for more symbols by draping a thick purple ribbon across the wreath, from the top edge across to the bottom, like the scarf around the figure in The World card. This ribbon can host more symbols or simply serve as an accent.
Alternately, use one keyword for each card, like the word “choice” for The Lovers. Each card might be symbolized by a different sticker or pin, if you have a big collection already.
Or might each card work as a different ribbon? (More on this idea shortly.) Word or colour-focused wreaths can make lovely mandalas, too.
Bold or subtle
One of the fun and clever aspects of this art form is that a tarot wreath does not need to be blatant. The use of symbols only can disguise tarot associations if desired. However, a wreath made of actual tarot cards is a wonderful use of any deck, especially if you have an odd deck that has cards missing or damaged.
Actual cards may take different dimensions if the card stock can be bent around the loop or frame of a wreath. Or the cards may lie flat, possibly overlaying each other. As with any materials you choose, there may be the option to develop a flat or a more full creation.
Wreaths as altars
Again, with a symbol-only approach, the end result is rather subjective and a gift for another person can bear significance not immediately associated with the mystical. The evergreen branches common in today’s wreaths in fact represent everlasting life. This is something most people may overlook, and it may make the evergreen an appropriate choice for a wreath that has ritualistic purposes. What do you, the creator, wish to bring to life or sustain? Perhaps this can all be captured with flowers, plants, herbs, and their meanings.
Deepen the power of an altar with a tarot-theme wreath. One designed to honour an ancestor is just one suggestion. Your personal creation could act as its own subtle exterior altar for a door, and need not be limited to the major arcana. These wreaths can act as a visual meditation while preparing them and, much like a mandala, they recall intent.
This craft has magical applications, too. If someone wishes to rapidly obtain a home, perhaps they could find four matchsticks (four of wands), a coin to represent the ace or king of pentacles (use crayon or a fine-tipped marker on one side to draw a crown), and a paperclip to represent the knight of swords. Sharp objects on a wreath seem unwise, as they may fall from the wreath and cause injury — a paperclip is a possible choice for the swords because it conveys the idea of communication and thought.
If someone wishes to have visible intents, they may. However, as part of any ritual, these and other symbols based from tarot or any ideology can be affixed to the wreath and wrapped with ribbon so that no one sees the symbols.
Ribbons for ritual and tarot
Ribbon wrapping is itself is a powerful process with deep roots in Pagan practice. The colour of the ribbon can correlate to something found in tarot, perhaps the red robe of The Magician, or the white garb on the Strength card. In Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom Rachel Pollack writes that black is a colour of all potential, which makes it at once an exciting choice and a risky one, and brings to mind The Wheel of Fortune.
Another approach is to take the concept of a major arcana-only wreath and use a different ribbon for each card. The Hermit ribbon, for example, may have a design that resembles snowy mountain tops. The Death card could feature skulls and Temperance may host tea cups. A black and white gingham ribbon may bring to mind The High Priestess with her black and white columns.
Buttons and minor arcana
Buttons could also stand in for each card. Perhaps alternate between ribbons and buttons, and make use of a button jar. This is another way, too, of approaching the lesser arcana. One colour can be assigned for each of the four suits. For the ten of pentacles, one idea is to use a yellow or gold ribbon and add ten buttons to it, though ten knots may be far more practical.
Feed the birds
Consider creating wreaths as food for birds and squirrels, too — cranberries for cups, unsalted shelled peanuts for pentacles, pretzels for wands, popcorn for swords. Begin with a birdseed ring as the base, or construct the wreath around the bottom of a birdbath or a favourite tree.
Even the base of a maypole will work, or better yet, repurpose any wreaths that might already be incorporated on the maypole.
Outdoor critters will thank you and it can be a rewarding ritual. Bring about luck, protection, and encourage divination with the inclusion of corn. Consider banana for prosperity, potency, and fertility.
Wreaths for all occasions
Tarot wreaths may be adjusted to any season or purpose. How about a present for a tarot-loving couple or for a reader’s birthday? One could be made as a wedding or anniversary gift, with a mind toward special flowers. Wreaths may also be a touching way to mourn a loved one who has passed, including a pet. Funeral wreaths have existed since at least 450 BCE.
Crafting a tarot wreath may be treated as a meditative activity for those learning the cards, or as a gift to the outdoors, or a ritual for ancestors or the needs and desires of anyone involved in magical endeavours. Magical and meditative, this craft will hopefully inspire new ideas and connections in your life whether a tarot novice, veteran, or simply someone with a love for symbols.
Image credit: Hans