The Tarot of Northern Shadowsnorth5.jpg (11707 bytes)                                                                Review by Michele Jackson

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This deck is described in it's little booklet as portraying  "...the roots of Norse and Celtic belief along with the traditions and tales whose origins are lost in the mists of time - shadows of a familiar dream." The cards measure 2 3/4" X 4 5/8". The art is good. This deck was drawn by the same artist who did the Tarot of the Old Path. The Major Arcana have the traditional names except for the High Priest (Hierophant), and Destruction (Tower). Strength is VIII and Justice XI. The suits are Cups, Swords, Rods and Discs. The Court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Page. I found it interesting that the pages of the "masculine suits" (Swords and Rods) were female and those for the "feminine suits" were male. The Court depict various groups:

The Minor Arcana are also based on Norse and Celtic myths, as well as beliefs and folklore that are still in practice today. Despite these diverse sources, many of the cards put one in mind of the Waite deck and those familiar with the Waite deck will find the transition fairly easy. The cards have a central scene placed on a white background. There are no distinct borders to the scenes and the background is often left white. There is also a relatively large bottom border which has the card name in German and English and the card number. This gives the deck a rather distinctive look. The backs are also white with a knotwork design. There are a lot of animals in this deck and some shapeshifting. Runes are sprinkled liberally throughout. There are also elves and fairies.

The little booklet that comes with this deck provides a small amount of background information in the introduction. Upright and reversed meanings are given for all of the cards. The Major Arcana also have the elemental and astrological correspondences. The meanings are "traditional" - again, those familiar with the Waite deck will little problem reading this deck out of the box. I anticipate a separate book for this deck because the correspondences to Gods, Goddesses, myth and legend are not described. We are only told that the correspondences exist.   We are being teased so that we will want the full book to determine who is what. I was somewhat surprised by the combination of these two very diverse cultures in one deck. Each is certainly rich enough to have a deck of its own. But then, both cultures are very popular just now.

I recommend this deck for those who are looking for a Norse/Celtic deck. Unlike other recent entries in the cultural/tradition based deck arena, this deck will not require one to learn a whole new language and frame of reference if one is already familiar with the Waite deck or some other Golden Dawn based deck. 

Tarot of Northern Shadows
ISBN: 3-905219-12-3
Distributed by US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow S., Stamford CT, 06902, (800) 544-2637, Fax: (203) 353-8431

 

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Images Copyright 1997 AGM AGMuller



This page is Copyright 1998 by Michele Jackson