The “LWB” Version


Traditionally, mass-manufactured tarot decks have been accompanied by a small leaflet or booklet containing the meanings of the cards. These booklets often contain little detail, including a short introduction to the deck, keyword meanings for each of the cards, and perhaps a spread or two at the end. In tarot circles, this is referred to as the “little white book” or LWB (although often nowadays the books are neither little nor white.)

This is the “little white book” version of my interpretation of the Wooden Tarot. As I finish the card descriptions, I will paste the keywords here. As you can see, these ended up looking a lot like keywords you’d see in most standard tarot decks in the Waite-Smith tradition–proof that A. L. Swartz really meant it when he said that you can just use any book on the Waite-Smith deck to interpret the cards. If you want to see how I got from the image on the cards to these keywords, just click on “The Wooden Tarot” page and find the card you’re looking for.

I realize that this page is rather long, given that it will contain descriptions for all 78 cards, I recommend using the search function of your browser to find what you’re looking for. On a PC, type Ctrl + F and on a Mac type Command + F and a little search box will pop up. Then just type in the name of the card you want. (The search function is a life-changer if you don’t already know how to use it.)

Suit of Stones

God of Stones

God of Stones

Keys: a new idea for a creative project; an epiphany–not just an intellectual realization, but a new insight about our life’s purpose; pure sexual energy, intense attraction to another person

Reversed: creative mania–lots of energy, but nowhere to focus it; or an idea or project that is a nonstarter; the God of Stones reversed is generally a “no”; lack of sexual desire; sexual incompatibility

Two of Stones

Keys: creative or spiritual breakthrough; beginning a creative project or spiritual path; optimism; faith in one’s own strength; the power of coalition

Reversed: getting cold feet about undertaking a project, job, or spiritual practice; a scattering of energy–something takes the wind out of your sails; stagnation because of a lack of new ideas or influences

Three of Stones

Keys: actually embarking on a creative project, new job, or spiritual path; gathering resources for a creative or spiritual endeavor; turning inward, trusting that you have what you need within you to get the job done

Reversed: feeling unfocused or indecisive; taking on a project without necessary resources or training; committing to something even though your heart isn’t in it

Four of Stones

Keys: celebration, particularly communal celebration; togetherness with family or friends; a group of people who see beauty or the good in the same thing

Reversed: (Traditionally, this is one of the very few positive cards whose positive meaning is not changed in reversal.) counting your blessings; gratitude or happiness after a period of separation or trial; deepened appreciation of the good things in life because they have been threatened

Five of Stones

Keys: locking horns; playful rivalry; being challenged to articulate your stance or prove your strength; healthy competition

Reversed: a dispute about something small that is being blown out of proportion; inability to take criticism; refusal to listen to people who have different opinions; unable to differentiate between competition and enmity

Six of Stones

Keys: victory; independence; recognition for one’s accomplishments; a victory for oneself as well as others

Reversed: delayed success or a partial victory; not being recognized by the community for one’s achievements or a victory that is not in line with the values of one’s community

Seven of Stones

Keys: standing up to a challenge to your values or integrity; maintaining a sense of self-worth in the face of setbacks; not backing down; feeling embattled; defending (or being) the underdog

Reversed: being worn down by challenges; questioning yourself or your values because they are being challenged overwhelmingly; being the victim of gaslighting or crazymaking; giving up

Eight of Stones

Keys: swiftness; many things happening quickly all at once, especially with employment or a creative project; labor on something finally coming to fruition, everything falling into place

Reversed: things moving ahead too quickly to keep tabs on; losing control, dropping details or responsibilities; OR (depending on the context of the reading) being stuck; a situation that can’t move forward; timing is wrong

Nine of Stones

Keys: strength; resourcefulness–as in, having many spiritual or creative resources at hand in the face of a challenge or crisis; responding to challenges from a fortified, secured place; defending oneself successfully

Reversed: over-use of strength; reacting to events with unwarranted defensiveness or hostility; feeling insecure and over-compensating with displays of power and authority; thinking too much of one’s own credentials

Ten of Stones

Keys: something that is both a great joy and a great responsibility, like having a child or a job with a lot of authority; being able to keep things together, but only with a great amount of work; “living the dream”–and all of the burdens that come with it

Reversed: being crushed under burdens and expectations; the realization that a hard-won accomplishment or possession does not bring happiness; not being able to keep up with responsibilities; being forced to drop some things

Page of Stones

Keys: creative or spiritual apprenticeship; artistic imitation; the beginning stages of a creative idea; trying out new ideas or techniques without having mastered them

Reversed: abandoning a project or spiritual path early in the process because of challenges that seem overwhelming; being unsure of oneself; jumping into something too fast without a proper foundation or proper enthusiasm; being so hostile to criticism or feedback that progress is impossible

Knight of Stones

Keys: very focused creative or spiritual energy; a burst of inspiration that leads directly into action; innate talent or enthusiasm; infectious energy; championing a cause

Reversed: scattered energy; the inability to commit to a spiritual path or see a creative project through from start to finish; a great amount of talent mixed with lack of practical skill

Queen of Stones

Keys: creative maturity; an artistic or spiritual figure who mentors others; not letting creative or spiritual pursuits diminish quality relationships with friends and family; nurturing inner fire

Reversed: relationships and creative/spiritual pursuits somehow out of balance: a family situation that stifles one’s inner fire, or neglecting relationships in order to pursue one’s own path; arrogance in one’s accomplishments; unwillingness to help others

King of Stones

Keys: unbreakable will; being able to carry a project through to the end; the “fire in the belly”; never giving up.

Reversed: a Captain Ahab-like tendency–obsession with accomplishing a goal no matter the cost; focused on ends over means; burnout

Suit of Blooms

God of Blooms

Two of Blooms

Keys: connection; mutual understanding; unconditional love; interdependence; being seen and valued for who you are; realizing that you can’t do it alone

Reversed: confusing love with obsession or possession; loving or being loved only conditionally; refusing to see commonality; doing it on your own, no matter the cost

Three of Blooms

Keys: spending time with loved ones; feeling emotionally fulfilled in relationships; having fun; deepening friendships

Reversed: spending time with people who don’t have your true interests at heart; shallow friendships or relationships; not spending enough time with friends or family; imbalance in the give or take of relationship

Four of Blooms

Keys: apathy; withdrawal; risk-aversion; boredom; stagnation; wasted potential

Reversed: dissatisfaction with stagnation; wanting to take the first steps toward a goal; realizing that new ways of being or thinking are possible; gaining understanding of self-limiting or self-destructive patterns

Five of Blooms

Keys: disappointment; loss; grief; depression; sadness that must run its course before new growth is possible

Reversed: refusing to grieve or sit with feelings of sadness; conversely, a period of grief that is coming to a natural end

Six of Blooms

Keys: sharing pleasures with friends and family; acting skillfully in maintaining relationships; being generous and patient with loved ones when they are challenging; getting perspective on what is truly important when it comes to relationships

Reversed: emotional conflict or discord; forgetting why you love someone in the first place; refusing to see eye to eye on issues; keeping the blinders on

Seven of Blooms

Keys: overblown feelings; fixated on ideals of love and relationship, rather than reality; getting yourself stirred up emotionally over something that won’t happen–like getting a crush on a celebrity; investing emotions where they are not wanted or will not be reciprocated

Reversed: disillusionment; choosing to withdraw emotional energy from somewhere and invest it in something healthier; realizing when enough is enough; getting out of a bad relationship

 Eight of Blooms

Keys: seeing things in perspective; diminishment of something that once nourished or excited you; walking away from people, habits, jobs, hobbies, or anything else that no longer support your emotionally

Reversed: clinging to a relationship or emotion that feels stale; seeing, but not following, signs that it’s time to move on; staying in a bad or stifling situation for a reason that makes sense: financial stability, keeping the family together, being a caregiver

Nine of Blooms

Key: happiness; a wish fulfilled; emotional contentment; having a strong circle of friends and family; may mean smugness or ignoring the suffering of others, depending on context

Reversed: getting what you want, but it turns out to be disappointing or destructive; dreams deferred; realizing that something you wished for is no longer worth it; setbacks in the pursuit of a goal

Ten of Blooms

Keys: self-esteem; healthy, loving relationships; being emotionally generous; putting emotional intelligence to good use; emotional stability and fulfillment

Reversed: emotional disconnection with others; relationship difficulties on a small or large scale; lack of self-esteem; longing for loving relationships, but not wanting to work for them

Page of Blooms

Keys: quietly carrying a great amount of sensitivity and passion; shyness in meeting new friends or lovers; an inexperienced lover; quiet, delicate beauty

Reversed: being unsure of how to handle strong emotions; emotional immaturity; sensitivity causing one to fixate in unhealthy ways–such as in self-hatred or by seeking revenge; emotional dependence rather than interdependence

Knight of Blooms

Keys: passion; emotional loyalty; being honest about your feelings; acting on your gut, rather than waiting to figure out things with logic; being up front with how you feel

Reversed: overly-sensitive; wearing your heart on your sleeve and reacting sulkily or defensively when you get rejected; reacting with anger to feelings of vulnerability; holding grudges against other people and/or shutting them out because they–intentionally or not–hurt your feelings

Queen of Blooms

Keys: intuition; the ability to get along with a wide variety of personalities; strength in emotional support of oneself and others; emotional independence and self-worth; having good people skills/being good at “reading” people

Reversed: hiding away; pretending to fit in with unhealthy social situations; shutting others out–intentionally or not; being so secretive it hurts those close to you; being so so socially adaptable as to be without a strong sense of self

King of Blooms

Keys: emotional maturity–often on prominent display; wanting to make a relationship work; someone in a “provider” role for a relationship or family–orchestrating things so everyone spends time together and feels included; putting the greater good of a relationship above one’s personal feelings

Reversed: emotional coldness; being detached in a situation that calls for compassion; feeling hurt or embittered by past relationships

Suit of Plumes

God of PlumesGod of Plumes

Keys: an idea in its purest form–either a new idea or a thought experiment; the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake; a source of knowledge–anything from a gossipy friend to the library

Reversed: refusing to verify things factually; being in denial; ignorance

Two of Plumes

Keys: balance; fairness; tempering extreme ideas; balance of head and heart; making a decision or undertaking a project with a balanced perspective; neither extreme optimism nor extreme pessimism; sense and sensibility

Reversed: continually favoring one set of ideas or beliefs over another; dogma; unwillingness to meet halfway  on an idea; assuming that the same idea or procedure applies equally in all situations; losing perspective

Three of Plumes

Keys: pain; grief; loss; betrayal;

Reversed: obsessing or over thinking something painful that has happened; feeling stuck and unable to move on (Note: depending on the context of the reading, this card reversed could also mean a lessening or ending of pain)

Four of Plumes

Keys: slow healing; after-effects of trauma, recent or far in the past; moving slowly in grief; licking your wounds; cutting your losses

Reversed: readiness to move on; completion of healing

Five of Plumes

Keys: aggression; theft; domination; trickery; OR being on the receiving end of aggression or some sort of fraud–a good deal of damage has been done, but it’s best to learn your lesson for next time and be thankful for what you still have

Reversed: rectifying an injustice or striking back at an aggressor; a battle in which there may be no clearly right or just side;

Six of Plumes

Keys: leaving a painful situation behind; learning from past mistakes; sacrificing comfort or certainty for the great good; abandoning an idea, belief, or ideology that no longer serves you

Reversed: being unable to move on; operating from beliefs that are not helpful; stuck in outdated assumptions about yourself or others; making excuses for staying in an unhealthy or painful situation

Seven of Plumes

Keys: self-deception; trying to hide things from others; hypocrisy; leading a double-life; dishonesty–whether from malice or vulnerability–is somewhere in the situation.

Reversed: being (painfully) honest with yourself; coming clean about a situation; getting caught; seeing through someone’s ruse, or being seen by others

Eight of Plumes

Keys: being hamstrung, especially by self-hating or self-limiting thoughts and beliefs; self-sabotage; focusing on limitations rather than possibilities; turning against oneself

Reversed: clearly seeing through conceptual limitations; taking responsibility for your future; letting go of ideas that limit you

Nine of Plumes

Keys: haunting thoughts; regret or remorse; self-hatred; anxiety; destructive thought patterns; depression; being kept up and night by negative thoughts

Reversed: seeing things in broad daylight; getting a new perspective on a formerly troubling issue; facing fears instead of running away;

Ten of Plumes

Keys: dead end; crisis of faith in a person or belief system; feeling distressed or overwhelmed by knowledge or lack of it;

Reversed: moving on from loss; being able to enter greater truths by leaving old ones behind; realizing that a thought pattern or belief doesn’t serve you anymore

Page of Plumes

Keys: playing around with ideas; arguing for argument’s sake; precociousness; cleverness; a bright young person who may think they know better than everyone; working well with ideas in the abstract

Reversed: basically the same as upright, but with added conceit; someone who may get themselves into a dangerous situation because they think they know more than they actually do

Knight of Plumes

Keys: intellectual prowess–especially on display (if the Page is an undergraduate, the Knight is in grad school); cooly considering all options, but acting quickly and irrevocably once a course of action has been settled upon.

Reversed: snobbery; intellectual deception; arrogance; choosing and acting on a plan, and clinging to it even when things go awry; someone refusing to admit they are wrong

Queen of Plumes

Keys: effortless intellectual achievement; displaying the intellect with grace and graciousness; helping others think through problems or express themselves intellectually; protecting oneself or others from intellectual condescension or belittlement

Reversed: showing off intellectually in an egotistical manner; using the intellect in a way that doesn’t benefit the community; refusing to help others or give them the benefit of the doubt if they don’t know something; being harsh and judgmental about what other may not know

King of Plumes

Keys: intellectual detachment; being an impartial judge; considering all your options; digesting a lot of information; solving problems creatively; powerful intellectual prowess

Reversed: aloofness; using the intellect to intimidate others; adhering to just the facts/the letter of the law, even if it is hurtful to others; using logic/intelligence to justify something that is acidic and poisonous, or using the intellect in an acidic or poisonous way

Suit of Bones

God of Bones

God of Bones

Keys: new home, possessions or financial opportunity; a benefactor; an epiphany about money, security, or wealth; encounter with a new standard of living or day to day routine.

Reversed: stuck in habits of spending and consumption; wasted opportunities; misuse of resources; lack of insight into the role of wealth or possessions in one’s life

Two of Bones

Keys: making do; dealing with fluxes of money or material goods; keeping goods and finances in tune; adjusting to changes in living situation, whether those be human-made or caused by changes in the environment

Reversed: in denial about changes; feeling stuck or unable to cope with them; losing balance with financial responsibilities, material possessions, or work situation

Three of Bones

Keys: cooperation; something greater than the sum of its parts; the first fruits of collective labor

Reversed: insisting on working alone, for better or worse; losing time or money because of lack of cooperation; types of cooperative work (like needless meetings) that are unproductive

Four of Bones

Keys: financial or material stability; the feeling of having enough; having a good home base or “nest” to return to at the end of the day

Reversed: miserliness; clinging to money or things; hoarding

Five of Bones

Keys: debt; homelessness; job loss; illness (especially with large hospital bills); or a great amount of worry about these things

Reversed: mending financial situation; accepting help from others; adjustment to a lower standard of living

Six of Bones

Keys: abundance; surplus; profit; charity; giving or helping with money or volunteer work; hand-made gifts

Reversed: financial insecurity; inability or unwillingness to help others in need; refusal to ask for or accept financial help; idle hands

Seven of Bones

Keys: fruits of labor; assessment; substantial but not long-lasting success; the transformation of a job or project–time to figure out the next steps; a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right

Reversed: failure; clinging to a job or project after it’s time to have moved on; rashly moving forward with plans

Eight of Bones

Keys: stability; steadfastness; studiousness; saving up for a rainy day; creating a strong financial foundation; diligently working to save money; building a house or making your own possessions; short-term sacrifice for long-term gain

Reversed: spending when you should be saving; laziness; working hard at something that’s not worth it; short-term gain with long-term sacrifice

Nine of Bones

Keys: wealth; luxury; fertility; living in a walled/gated community–literally or metaphorically; feeling unable to relate to other people because of one’s wealth or status

Reversed: buying luxuries you can’t afford; a step down from a luxurious life style in one’s standard of living; giving money away–voluntarily or involuntarily; obsession with status symbols

Ten of Bones

Keys: wealth; retirement; consumption; having an abundant mindset; no longer needing to work or worry about money

Reversed: conspicuous consumption; acquiring wealth for its own sake; always wanting more; having a scarcity mindset

Page of Bones

Keys: trying your hand at a new skill; bringing a sense of playfulness to work; learning from and cooperating with others

Reversed: perfectionism–not wanting to try something unless you can be perfect at it right away; not allowing oneself to benefit from the help or wisdom of others;

Knight of Bones

Keys: throwing your weight behind something; putting your nose to the grindstone; diligence; determined focus on accomplishing an objective; being methodical but efficient

Reversed: lack of focus, diligence, or energy; it might be time to take a break; a less logical, methodical approach may be called for

Queen of Bones

Keys:  protection of family members and family property; responsibility–the buck stops here; creating bonds between people; careful stewardship of resources

Reversed: smothering or domineering; lack of self-care; valuing property more highly than people; obsession with social status rather than healthy family ties and spending;

King of Bones

Keys: hearthfire; strong community and family bonds; happiness and harmony at home; generosity

Reversed: wealth at the cost of social isolation; lack of unconditional love or emotionally safe space; associating with irresponsible people, or with friends who are harmful to family or the larger community