The Jolanda Witch Tarot: The Healing Art of Magic, by Rosie Bjorkman and illustrated by Hans Arnold
Findhorn Press, 979888500668, 78 cards, 400 pages, July 2024

I really enjoyed getting to know and working with The Jolanda Witch Tarot by Rosie Bjorkman and Hans Arnold. The symbolism is like the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, although the illustrations are charged with whimsy and fantasy. The guidebook is full of great wisdom, spiritual healing tips, and information on reversals, as well. 

Rosie Bjorkman is a Swedish woman who originally published this deck in Swedish  in 1997. Later, she began to translate the cards and text into English and worked with two different editors to perfect the language. Bjorkman is very well known in Sweden as “Jolanda the Witch” and loves to give tarot readings, workshops, and lectures. She has studied with several Native American tribes in America and a shaman in Siberia. She has also written a book on Shamanism, which is currently only available in Swedish. As a leading expert in “occultism and spirituality,” Bjorkman has also been a kundalini yoga practitioner for over 30 years. She currently lives in Solna, Sweden. You can learn more about Bjorkman on her website.

Hans Arnold (1925-2010) was a gifted artist and illustrator who is well known for his art that blends horror with fantasy and bright colors. Arnold was born in Sursee, Switzerland and moved to Sweden in the 1940’s. He illustrated fairy tales and articles, becoming a favorite in the science fiction community. I was interested to learn the source of this fantastical art that often depicts monsters and found this explanation on a website about Arnold:

“The horror illustrations are said to come from his way of conjuring his own fears. For God, the confinement and childhood in Sursee. It all started when Hans Arnold was a little schoolboy. He then met his first monsters in the form of his teachers at a very strict school. These memories were therefore carried with them later in life.”1

You may be interested to learn that Arnold also illustrated the Greatest Hits album for the Swedish Group ABBA.  For more information and to see examples of his art, visit his website.

The Jolanda Witch Tarot is a standard tarot deck of 78 cards with Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards. However, there is nothing standard about this deck. By working with Bjorkman, Arnold has created quirky, colorful illustrations of archetypal characters, animal guides, and other symbols from witchcraft and shamanic traditions.

Animal guides is a very general term that encompasses sea creatures, insects, dragons, reptiles, birds, and some mythical creatures from Arnold’s own imagination! For example, the 8 of Swords features eight hornets bearing down on a small family and it is a truly frightening image! The rest of the Swords illustrations feature real swords on each card.

The Wands appear as tree branches, carved totem poles, candles, columns, and other images.  The cups are the same across all cards, while the coins feature many different images or symbols on the coin faces. Minor Arcana cards feature the standard card line-up, except that Page is replaced by Princess and Knight is replaced by Prince.

Within the guidebook, Bjorkman includes astrological signs and/or planets that correspond to each Major Arcana card, as well as a Goddess for most of these cards. Key words are shown for every card in the deck. She includes what she calls “four subsections with the following titles: Herstory, The Art of Magic, Medicine for the Soul and Imagination … In Magic Nation.”2 Bjorkman also weaves in a personal story for some of the Major Arcana cards. For the Minor Arcana, the wisdom is similar, although the sections are shorter. Most of the pip cards include a focal word printed on the card.

I took the deck to my Friday Coffee & Cards group and the ladies loved it!  Several remarked about how the fun and whimsical illustrations softened the blow of the often hard-hitting guidance. One friend wrote to me during the next week and shared how the Sun and Moon Meditation for the 9 of Wands really helped her to “lie low for a while”3 and await a solution to a current situation in her life.  Another friend loved the detailed guidebook and took photos of several card entries.

I utilized the deck for a three-card reading for myself and drew these cards:

  • 9 Wands – Reversed
  • 8 Swords
  • Princess Coins – Reversed

Using Bjorkman’s beautiful guidance as a framework, I created the following journal prompts and affirmations for my personal reading:

How am I NOT using my strengths nor acting on ideas for my business? How am I distracting myself? 

I am relaxing into my success by changing distracting thoughts and focusing on my strengths. I am in the perfect position for this next chapter of my life!

This deck is an average size and is just a little larger than I like for shuffling with my small hands.  The cards are printed on nice cardstock that will stand up to repeated use. The cards and guidebook come inside a heavy-duty box with a fold over, magnetic flap. Bjorkman includes a table of contents with page numbers for each card, an introduction to the cards, a note about her own magical practices and information on how the book is structured. She also includes a Bibliography of books and online references.

My favorite card in the deck is the 9 of Wands. It features a female archer on the back of a horse who is jumping over nine animal totems. She is poised ready to shoot one arrow, while her quiver holds an arrow of the sun and one of the moon. I love her confidence and the keyword: Strength. 

Anyone with a basic knowledge of tarot and Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism will enjoy The Jolanda Witch Tarot.  The guidebook is so large and comprehensive that a novice reader may be put off by the sheer amount of information. On the other hand, a new reader could easily use this as a type of “tarot bible” for studying the myth and lore of the symbols, as well as the stories of the goddesses Bjorkman includes. Anyone interested in Shamanism will also enjoy this deck.  The “medicine,” tips and tools that the creator shares are so helpful to anyone wanting to establish a daily spiritual practice.  Bjorkman leaves us with this affirmation at the end of the guidebook:

“I love and respect myself in all my aspects. Others love me just the way I am, and those who do not love me do not know me!”4