The Arthurian Tarot - Review by Michele Jackson

If you would like to purchase the Arthurian Tarot Book/Deck set, click here.

This is a theme deck, with the theme being the Arthurian Legend. The art is very good, with each scene being surrounded by a black arched border which gives one the feel of looking through a window or gateway into the scene. The colors are good and the scenes are quite detailed. The artist, Miranda Gray, also drew the Beasts of Albion deck. The cards measure 4 5/8" X 3 1/8". The Major Arcana have been renamed to fit the Arthurian Legend. They are:

0 - The Seeker VIII - Gawain XV - The Green Knight
I - Merlin IX - The Grail Hermit XVI - The Spiral Tower
II - The Lady of the Lake X - The Round Table XVII - The Star
III - Guinevere XI - Sovereignty XVIII - The Moon
IV - Arthur XII - The Wounded King XIX - The Sun
V - Taliesin XIII - The Washer at the Ford XX - The Sleeping Lord
VI - The White Hart XIV - The Cauldron XXI - The Flowering of Logres
VII - Prydwen    

The Minors are also laid out differently - specifically the Aces represent the four Hallows of the Grail Legend, the two through nine represent the landscape of the Hallowquest, the tens represent one of the four Courts of the Hallows which are castles, while the court cards (King, Queen, Maiden and Knight) represent the courtiers who live in the castles. The scenes on the Minors do not have people in them (in keeping with the idea of representing the landscape) and usually do not have the prescribed number of suit symbols in the scene. One must rely on the cards name which is written in the bottom border. The suits are:

Sword Swords
Spear Wands
Grail Cups
Stone Pentacles

Like any theme deck, the ease of use depends on one's familiarity with the theme. There are many versions of the Arthurian Legend, and it is doubtful that those familiar with the legend will agree with all of the assignments. Caitlin and John Matthews have researched and written extensively on the Arthurian Legend. The Arthurian Tarot is sold as a deck\book set. The deck and book are provided in a slip sleeve case with a well in the bottom for the deck.

The book that comes with the deck (Arthurian Tarot: A Hallowquest Handbook) is fairly detailed. It begins with an introductory section which describes the way the deck is designed and how to get acquainted with the cards. The Major Arcana have the scenes described as well as a fairly robust section providing background information about the character or scene, and is followed by the "Archetypal Meaning" and the divinatory meaning. The Minor Arcana also have a description of the scene, but the background information is much shorter, consisting only of a few sentences in most cases. A divinatory meaning is provided as well. There are no reversed interpretations provided. A section on how to read is followed by several spreads designed specifically for this deck as well as the Tree of Life Spread. This is followed by a chapter containing the divinatory meanings of all of the cards designed to be a handy reference. There is an excellent bibliography. Although the images are very different from Waite-Smith and its clones, the interpretations of the cards appear to be based on the Golden Dawn interpretations, which would make the learning curve less steep for those familiar with Golden Dawn derived decks. There is also a second book available for this deck: Hallowquest: Tarot Magic and the Arthurian Mysteries.

I recommend this deck for those who are interested in the Grail Legend.

You can read more information about the authors here.

See more cards from the Arthurian Tarot.

If you would like to purchase the Arthurian Tarot Book/Deck set, click here.

The Arthurian Tarot
ISBN: 0-85030-843-7
You can order this deck from:
US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford CT, 06902, (800)544-2637, Fax: (203)353-8431


Welcome to the Arthurian Tarot. You hold in your hands a Tarot which is uniquely native to the British Mysteries. The images which appear on the Greater Powers depict characters or major themes from the Celto-Arthurian legends; the images which appear on the Lessor Powers depicts the land of Britain itself. On the back of each card is depicted the Goddess of Sovereignty - the Goddess of the Land herself - with the empowering objects of the Quest: The Sword, Spear, Grail and Stone.

Sword Six

Description: A quiet sunny river winds through a willow copse. A sword stands in a barge which is moored nearby.

Background: After the many trials and difficulties of the Grail knights, a ship appears mysteriously to bear Galahad, Bors, Perceval and Dindrane further upon their quest.36

Meaning: Success after trouble, safety and protection; a journey; new perspectives; difficulties and blockages are cleared as a result of perceptive thought.

36. Matarasso, P.M., The Quest of the Holy Grail, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1969

Images copyright Miranda Gray, Excerpt copyright Caitlin and John Matthews, 1990

Review Copyright 1998 Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes