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Old English Tarot
by Maggie Kneen

Old English Tarot - XVIII - The Moon The young girl I was would have immediately fallen in love with this deck. I had a Medieval Women engagement calendar, pictures of dragons on my walls, and wore scrunchy leather boots in an attempt to go far back in time to a place of impossible daydreams. I stare out of windows less often now, and the pictures on my walls are by Chagall and O'Keefe, but I still felt a familiar pang when I opened this deck and looked at the cards. I felt like that young girl again. The familiarity brought a sense of joy.

Inspired by the Luttrell Psalter, a medieval illuminated manuscript held in the British Museum, the cards are a joyous telling of medieval life, and are decorated with beautiful borders and backgrounds. The artwork is comfortable, friendly, inviting and fun. It also exhibits a talented blending of color, shading, and a unique style. Throughout the deck birds, mushrooms, crops, dragons, horses, fruits, wagons, rabits, castles, men, women and children all make an effective and appealing appearance.

I very much like the people in this deck. They seem to be fully involved in their activity, whether it is playing a harp, tending an orchard, sharing a goblet of wine, raising a sword to a dragon, or simply sitting. Their faces express emotion easily, but not passionately. Cards with negative meanings do not depict them strongly. For example, the Five of Coins shows trees empty of leaf or fruit, and the Eight of Swords shows a face looking out from a stone prison, but the pictures themselves are not demanding or frightening. They continue to carry with them some sense of lightness and joy, Old English Tarot - Ace of Batons a feeling that all will be okay. I think this is a positive element of the cards, especially for those who might see an unpleasant image and react too strongly to it. We have to remember when reading tarot, that we create our own existence and the cards simply point out possibilities; they give us something to think about. The negative meanings are obvious through these cards' pictures, but the positive is still a realistic possibility as well.

I have already kept this deck aside as a definite favorite, to be used often, for myself and others. This is due to personal taste of course, but the deck is highly usable. The traditional nature of the pictures and the historic feel do not steal any power from the deck. I have found it to be highly intuitive in readings, offering specific answers and insights to all of my queries. I find some historic decks to be bland in character and lacking a specific spirit. In this Old English Tarot, Maggie Kneen has taken her inspiration from the historic, and has effectively created a modern deck with her favorite aspects of illuminated manuscripts. It feels both old and new, distinctly appropriate for us today. It has definite character, and a spirit that is present but not overwhelming. Additionally, the quality of the artwork is consistent throughout ~ it is always excellent. If you like the art here, you will likely love the whole deck.

Accompanying the deck is a standard little white booklet, in which Kneen introduces her cards and explains her love of illuminated manuscript and tarot. She has a lighthearted and warm approach, and her card meanings are traditional and straightforward. The Celtic Cross is also provided.

Old English Tarot - Knight of Cups Old English Tarot - VIII - Strength Old English Tarot - Ten of Coins


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Card artwork by Maggie Kneen







All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2019