Nimue Tarot by Vivien Stewart Jones - Majors-Only Version
Review by Diane Wilkes

I wondered if the title of the "Nimue Tarot" was an indicator of it being yet another Arthurian tarot, this time from the perspective of an enchantress. Instead, I discovered that "Nimue" is the sobriquet for the deck's creator, Vivien Stewart-Jones. Still, the images have an other-worldly quality to them that is rather magical.

The deck comes with a Fool numbered "O" and an unnumbered Fool. The images are quite close; the only differences being that the numbered Fool walks on dark green grass (as opposed to sea green) and a sun rises near the precipice, whereas the Fool without a number is also without the imminent sunrise.

The Magician, with his starkly white skin and obvious blush, reminds me of the Jack Nicholson Joker in Batman. He holds a steaming beaker in each hand--no doubt the contents will destroy the face behind Michael Keaton's mask. The High Priestess holds a crystal ball instead of a scroll, and the Empress, oddly, wears a mask. We know not why.

But it's the Lovers card that first puts me in mind of magic: it depicts a couple in full, sensual embrace. The woman's hair pours down her back in long ringlets, conjuring Rapunzel, but her mate is no mere prince--he is a winged angel who is devoting himself to earthly pleasures with abandon. These supernatural lovers are enchanted--and enchanting.

The Chariot (above) is also no mundane vehicle, as it is steered by white dragons with wild red eyes. However, if you look closely at the image, you wonder if the chariot is going in reverse, as we see the carriage from the back, not the front.

The woman in the Strength card has locks as long and flowing as the gleeful lion by her side. The Fool returns as the Hanged Man, looking mighty grim, as if perhaps he shouldn't have been quite so blithe about that precipice.

Temperance is another magical card, depicting a woman whose flowing gown moves with an alchemical energy of its own. Both she and the Devil have large white wings, giving an angelic quality to this particular Lucifer. This card reminds us of the "fallen angel" angle. Coming from the vicinity of his phallus is a fat, winged snake who looks rather benign, akin to the serpent who chats with Harry Potter in the first movie of the series. (I must have cinema on the mind!)

The magical qualities of the Moon and the Sun are whimsically presented and look well as a pair. Both luminaries seem like they could appear in a children's book, they are such gentle and engaging representations.

The cards are thinly laminated and are both easy to shuffle and rather indestructible. The art is usually quite good, but occasionally rather uneven--for example, the Devil's face is a bit lop-sided, which lessens his requisite air of boding evil. The reversible card backs are mostly purple and have a yin-yang symbol at the center. A little white booklet (LWB) comes with the deck, but it does not specifically address the unusual imagery (for example, there is no mention of that mask in the Empress card).

At one point, this deck was sold on eBay for varying prices. As a Majors-only deck, it's a lovely one for collectors and I quite like it. I can't speak for the full 78 card version, as I have yet to see the complete deck.

Nimue Tarot by Vivien Stewart-Jones

  Yes No
78 cards   X
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI   X
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana X  
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Disks)   N/A
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions   N/A
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard
 (4 1/2" x 2 3/4")                                           
Larger than standard                                                X

Images 2002 Stewart-Jones
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes
On loan from the Brigit Horner Collection