The Druidcraft Tarot
by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington
There are two major streams of Western Pagan tradition that most of us are familiar with to some degree: Wicca and Druidry. Both earth-based, with origins in the British Isles, they share many commonalities - namely, reverence for the earth, seasonal celebrations, using a magic circle in ritual, and acknowledgement of the elements Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Despite the similarities, there are sure distinctions, especially when looked at in a historical light, and modern practitioners have often felt uncertain about choosing between the two when making a spiritual commitment. "Druidcraft" brings these two major paths together, forming a cohesive religious approach that bridges differences, while retaining respect for both, and allowing the practitioner to learn from a larger spiritual or magical background.
Authors Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm are leaders in the Druidcraft community, both initiated into Wicca and Druidry, and have both written and taught extensively on these subjects. It follows that The Druidcraft Tarot
would offer a uniquely comprehensive and detailed introduction to tarot, Druidcraft, and the ways of Wicca and Druidry as well. Presented in a traditional tarot format, and based somewhat on traditional tarot imagery and interpretation, The Druidcraft Tarot
is a solid tarot offering, while being something entirely more as well.
What I first noticed about The Druidcraft Tarot
was its focus on learning - learning about myself, and about the world I am living in. Any tarot might do this, of course! But Druidcraft
invites the reader to learn about himself in his wholeness, as well as himself as a part of the whole, through very direct and reflective yet straightforward guidance. I believe one of the greatest qualities of this set is its own sense of wholeness, or completeness. It has its own very strong sense of identity. It is a very able teacher, and has the potential to be a very effective tool in one's spiritual or magical practice.
This tarot is designed within the context of Wicca and Druidry, and all of its lessons are presented within this context as well. For those who are pagans - practicing or simply pagan at heart - this is terrific. It is an affirming experience, to use these cards. We feel rather at home with the Magician of The Druidcraft Tarot
, for example, as he stands before Stonehenge, a place many of us have merely daydreamed about. We readily see ourselves as the people in these cards - drawing a circle in sand, blending herbs, honoring spirits, or just sitting at one with nature. The life portrayed within these cards is the life of our own soul - a deep connection to and resonance with nature.
Also reflective of these pagan paths, are some of the cards' titles. The Lady and the Lord take the place of the Empress and Emperor of standard decks, the High Priest instead of the Hierophant, and Rebirth for Judgement. Two of the Major Arcana titles that particularly stand out and might require a little extra reading, are XIV - The Fferyllt (in the place of Temperance), and XV - Cernunnos (for the Devil). A Fferyllt, the book says, is a "...Druid alchemist, who combines the powers of fire and water to create harmony, balance and transformation." Cernunnos, as many know, is considered to be Lord of the Animals, or the Wild Hunter. The connection between Cernunnos and the traditional card of the Devil is clear in this excerpt: "It teaches us how to live effectively in the material world without becoming trapped by the glamour and illusion offered by a world obsessed with wealth, status, sexuality and violence. The card points to the dangers of over-indulgence, of being obsessive, greedy and abusive, and yet it also hints at the enormous power that is available to us if we can free ourselves of the thrall of the material and sensual world and yet still live both fully and creatively within it."
All of the cards of this deck have power - artistically, symbolically, and spiritually. The cards of the Minor Arcana are just as meaningful and inspiring as those of the Major, and indeed, have been presented first in the book. I like the reasoning behind this: "The bird which signifies the Druid is not the eagle, or some other large and impressive bird, but the wren - the smallest and humblest of birds - known as Drui-en in Welsh. This serves to illustrate the idea that the smallest, or apparently least significant, has great meaning and power, and so we have decided to follow Drui-en's example, presenting the apparently smallest and 'humblest' cards first: the sixteen court cards, followed by the forty pip cards, which together make up the fifty-six cards of the Minor Arcana." This manner of learning about the court cards, then the pip cards, and finally the Major Arcana cards actually does seem to help us focus more attention on learning about these "smaller" cards than we typically might.
Every court card and pip card is given a list of keywords, an introductory description, meanings, and reversed meanings. In addition to those sections, Major Arcana cards are also explained with the "significance" of the card, and a specific message from the card. Having used these cards for many months now, I must say I have found the meanings presented in the book to be intriguingly appropriate for my own readings. Also provided in the book are six unique spreads, sample readings, and helpful information on conducting readings, as well as getting to know the cards.
This is one of the better sets I have seen and used in a long time, and due to its subject matter, attractive artwork, and focus on self-knowledge, it works incredibly well for me personally. And I would recommend it not only for being such a successful tarot set, but as a genuinely comfortable introduction to Druidcraft, or earth-based spirituality.
Card artwork by Will Worthington
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