Druidcraft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Art by Bill Worthington

Review by Saskia Jansen

 

If you would like to order this book/deck set, click here.

  

I would describe this deck as Paganism meets Rider Waite (RWS). Anyone familiar with the RWS Tarot, will be able to work with this deck, although this deck is not just a mere clone: the Druidcraft Tarot is unmistakably pagan. The name refers to both Druid lore and the Craft (Wicca). Imagery from both these paths is used in the deck, yet neither completely dictates the theme. If anything, the deck is more a combination of these and other earth-based religions, which gives the user much more freedom. It also makes it very attractive for those who are interested in paganism in general.

 

The Druidcraft Tarot is published as a deck and book set. It comes in a large cardboard box. The cards are big and measure 3.54 by 5.90 inch. The card backs are reversible.  The book is 192 pages thick and gives us some short general information about the pagan paths and stories used in the deck. After this, it proceeds to give us clear and informative descriptions and interpretations of the cards. The book makes for an interesting read. Even people who are more interested in paganism then tarot will find that this book has plenty to offer.

 

I used the expression "Paganism meets Rider Waite," but that is not a fully descriptive term. Even though the imagery is very recognizable, it also is quite different from the RWS. There are some substantial differences in a number of cards. Several Majors have received a name change. The Empress and Emperor are called the Lady and the Lord, and the Hierophant is the High Priest.

 

Some differences are very minor, such as the lion on the Strength card being replaced by a wild boar. In the Druidcraft, the Hermit is not alone, but accompanied by a wolf, just as Merlin was according to Pagan lore.  

 

Other cards, like the Wheel, are very different. It shows a Priestess of the Goddess casting the circle of life on a beach (at top). In the background, we see a cave, symbol of life, death and rebirth. I personally really like this image. The Death card is also significantly different from the standard imagery. Here we find the Goddess as the Crone at Samhain. She is shown at the end of her life, overlooking a dolmen and a river, also symbols of death and rebirth.

 

Temperance has been renamed The Fferyllt. The fferyllt were alchemists in the Druidic tradition. The Devil and Judgment cards have also been renamed, respectively as Cernunnos (the Horned One) and Rebirth. The imagery of both these cards is very pagan-oriented.  

 

The Minors are a bit more RWS-based and mostly use imagery of early European cultures. I recognize Norse, Celtic, Germanic, and Scottish clothing and symbols. By doing this, the authors have made the deck not only representative of one particular pagan path, but of many.

 

The Two of Wands is represented by ‘the Long Man of Wilmington,’ a chalk hill figure created by the Beaker folk, predating even Celtic times. The man on the Eight of Wands looks like he is either Scottish or Pictish. The Three of Cups shows three men instead of three women, an interesting and nice variation. The Seven of Cups reminds me very strongly of Narcissus, even though his garment is not Greek. The image of the Ace of Swords is taken right out of the Arthurian Legends and the Seven of Pentacles deviates from the standard imagery by showing a druid cutting a branch of a tree with his scythe. Princesses and Princes have replaced the Pages and Knights.

 

You can read more about the Long Man of Wilmington here and here.

 

All in all, the Druidcraft Tarot is really a very nice deck. The art is good and the symbology is recognizable enough so that even beginners can use it. The overall pagan theme is portrayed beautifully, without pointing at one particular field. I recommend this deck for everyone who is interested in paganism and tarot, as well as providing an attractive RWS-alternative for beginners.

 

The Druidcraft Tarot can be ordered from the Druid Grove. It was originally released in Europe in October 2004. I have even seen some translated versions (French, German, Dutch) on the market already. The U.S. release will be in May 2005.

 

If you would like to order this book/deck set, click here.

 

Saskia Jansen is a tarot collector and reader from the Netherlands. She bought her first tarot deck in 1996 and has been hooked ever since. Her main interest is in historical Rider Waite Smith decks and clones, and is the proud possessor of a Roses and Lilies Pamela-A Tarot. Her collection currently contains more than 600 tarot decks.


Review © 2005 Saskia Jansen
Page © 2005 Diane Wilkes