"The Well Worn Path deck is designed to present and reveal the symbolism, meaning, and teaching that are the far-reading roots of modern Paganism and the Craft. The images in this deck depict the spiritual and religious concepts that were the foundations of European Paganism as once known to our ancestors." -the authors
Bestselling Wiccan author Raven Grimassi and High Priestess Stephanie Taylor have teamed up with award-winning Pagan artist Mickie Mueller to create a unique oracle called The Well Worn Path. More than just a divination kit, the 40 cards and 216-page guidebook serve as an introductory course on the Old Ways, and creates portals for mystical exploration, pathworking, magical alignment, and solitary rituals. The authors write in a sensible, gentle, and wise voice, like mentors on the Well Worn Path.
There are four different uses for each card in this kit:
Meaning: This section describes the basic meaning at face value.
Teaching: This section reveals the spiritual teaching or religious significance of the concept presented in each card.
Alignment: This section contains a guided imagery intended to promote a greater depth of awareness. Each card contains part of an ongoing story that will take you through a mystical journey presented on all 40 cards.
Ritual: This section demonstrates how you can use the cards to perform your own solitary ritual, which is ideal if you require privacy or have limited space.
I was immediately intrigued by the engaging art of artist Mickie Mueller, which is what initially drew me to the Well Worn Path. However, not being Wiccan, I had wondered if I would really be able to glean relevant Guidance from this deck. Having an affinity for earth-based spirituality and a familiarity with Tarot, however, proved to be the only background I really needed to use this deck effectively. Cards depicting the Pentacle, Moon, Air, Cauldron, Crone, Harvest, The Old Ones and Reincarnation are but a few of the familiar symbols and archetypes. Admittedly, some of the religious aspects were lost on me (for example, the Eight Fold Path card and the Cakes and Wine card), but most were recognizable to me in terms of symbol and practical spirituality. Other card themes include Familiar Spirit, Handfasting, Law of Three, The Rede, Broom, Summerland, Hearth, Voice of the Wind, Mother, Book of Shadows, Athame, Mother, Wheel of the Year, and so on.
The Guidebook contains three spreads: The Cauldron Spread, the Pentagram Spread and the Crossroads Spread. After experiencing a troubling situation, I thought I'd try the Pentagram Spread using the Well Worn Path cards. I was truly amazed at how relevant they were and how they "spoke" to my situation-especially the Words of the Magus card which advises "to know, to will, to dare, to keep silent". The Guidance I received was clear, confirming, and comforting.
At the end of the Well Worn Path Guidebook, there is a section on solitary rites, including the Rite of Inward Journey and the Solitary Full Moon Rite. The authors also explain how to use the card images for personal ritual, such as walking with the Greenman.
One thing I noticed, however, is that the Table of Contents is off a bit. For example, the Pentagram Spread is said to begin on page 18, but it really begins on page 20. Also, there is a typo in the Table of Contents: The Solitary Rull Moon Rite (R instead of F in "Full"). This isn't a big deal as far as the usefulness of the kit, of course, but it bugs me when I see a major publisher allow editing/typographical errors in an area as prominent as the Table of Contents.
Another thing that I must mention: I tried doing a one card reading a few days ago, and picked the Cakes and Wine card. While the message of integrating feminine and masculine energies made sense to me and imparted wisdom, I was a bit grossed out at this passage:
"...The cakes and wine are the divine offering versus the mundane meal. Here the wine is the menstrual blood of the Goddess, the essence of the cycles of life..." If you only have a passing interest in Wicca/Paganism and are a bit skittish about all the "womb" talk, you may not be too thrilled with the Well Worn Path.
The card backings feature a beautiful wooden door, as if beckoning the reader to discover the mysteries within. The 40 cards are of slick satin finish and are the same size as the cards from Llewellyn's recent releases (e.g. The Quest Tarot, Revelations Tarot, etc.) The Well Worn Path box set also comes with a cardboard box to store your cards, as well as a black organdy bag.
If you'd like to deepen your knowledge of Wicca and Paganism through pathworking, reflection, divination, and ritual, the Well Worn Path would make a lovely spiritual tool. Those who are not Wiccan may still be able to use this oracle, especially ones who are comfortable with goddess and earth-based spirituality and those familiar with the Tarot.
(To see 6 card images from this deck, visit the Reviews--Decks section at [...])
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)