Tarot of Northern Shadows - Review by Vanessa Beeby

After a short introduction, the book moves straight into individual explanations of each card, beginning with the Major Arcana. The pages for each of these 22 cards contain a black and white picture, associated sign/planet, associated element, written description, representation, meaning and reversed meaning.

The picture of the card is small, roughly 1 inch by 2 inches. It's big enough to remind you of the card without taking up a lot of space. The associated sign/planet and associated element are listed in italics at the top of the page. The meaning and reversed meaning seem to be identical to that in the LWB.

The "representation" for each card is a small paragraph summing up what the card stands for. As an example, here's the entry for The Moon:


This is a card of intuition, psychic sensitivity and the unconscious. It is also a card of delusion, carrying the message that we should not deceive ourselves or be deceived by others."

The written description usually begins with the myths/history associated with each card. Sample origins include Norse mythology, The Mabinogion, or tradition. After this background information, the card is described, explaining the main figures and the situation they're in. Finally, if any of the figures in the card were portraits, the name of the model is given along with a few words about him/her. The written description of the major cards ranges from half a page to a full page in length.

The book then moves to the minor arcana. The pages for each of these cards contain a black and white picture, written description, meaning and reversed meaning. The written description for these cards is about half a page in length.

The book is a small one -- the card entries take up most of the 134 pages.  However, the last 13 pages cover the following topics: Creating the Right Atmosphere for Readings, Card Spreads and Interpretation, The Celtic Cross Spread, The Witches' Circle Astrology Spread, Howard's Six Card Spread, The Tarot as Art, Card Back Design, Bibliography, About the Artist, About the Author.

Overall? The bulk of the new information is the written descriptions of the cards. However, these descriptions are useful. Though brief, they give enough detail to make it possible to do additional research on a specific card or topic.

Sample written description:

"King of Swords

Vintios the Celtic god of winds is depicted here because this arcanum is ruled by the element of air.

Here we see Vintios with his dark hair blown back and a silver band encircling his forehead. His sword is held diagonally in a chain-mailed hand.

Below the sword blade, an aerial view of Chepstow castle can be seen. This is the earliest stone-built castle in its original form to be found in Britain.

The face of Vintios is that of the artist's friend John Sawyer who aptly expresses the authoritative personality of the King of Swords."

Tarot of Northern Shadows
Author: Howard Rodway
(Artist: Sylvia Gainsford)
Publisher: AGM AGMuller
CH-8212 Neuhausen
ISBN 3-905219-29-8

Vanessa is an American living in Scotland. She purchased her first tarot decks three years ago, but has only seriously studied the tarot during the last year. In that time she has collected over a dozen tarot decks and even more books on the subject. In her other moments of free time she can be found playing her tenor viola da gamba (a Renaissance stringed instrument) or working on one of her many craft projects. However, free time is scarce as she is usually kept very busy in her role of mother to a delightful little boy.

Text 1998 Howard Rodway
Review 2001 Vanessa Beeby
Page 2001 Diane Wilkes


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