The Sacred Circle Tarot Deck                                                                Review by Michele Jackson

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

This is another photo-collage deck. A collaborative effort between an artist and a writer, it combines photographs and drawings. The creators started working on it over fifteen years ago, but found that they were unable to complete the project. With the advent of computer graphics programs like PhotoShop, they decided to resurrect the project, this deck is the result.

The deck is very Pagan in feel and the designers state that the deck is based on the British Pagan Tradition. The cards are larger than average at 5" X 3 1/4".   The art is very good. The creators made use of special effects and filters to their advantage. The suits are Swords, Wands, Cups and Discs. The Court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Page. Several of the Major Arcana names have been changed as well as their numerical sequence:
scircle.jpg (11966 bytes)

The Court Card correspondences are also different than from the traditional. The King represents the quintessence of the suit; the queen the mutable qualities; the knights, the fixed qualities; the pages, the cardinal qualities. All of the Pages are male. Swords are air and Wands are fire. Each card has a central scene within a border with cornerstones. The Major Arcana have a stone border embellished with flora and fauna which figure in the symbolism of each card. The Swords have a sky border with yellow cornerstones bearing knotwork. The Wands have a border of flames with a border that is described as red, but that looks brown in my deck; the Cups have a border of water with blue cornerstones and the discs have a border of earth and stone with a green cornerstone. The entire card is bordered in black. Each of the Minor Arcana has a key word in the black border on top and the name of the card on the bottom. The same holds true for the Court Cards, with the exception of the King, which has the suit element in the top border. Some of the key words are reminiscent of the Golden Dawn meanings, but others are not. The creators specifically state that they are trying to move away from a cabalistic basis for the cards (see excerpt). The Minor Arcana are pips, but the creators use the layout of the suit symbols and the background to evoke the card meanings. The images are fairly simple and clean, so this deck does not have the busy, somewhat frenzied feel often seen in collage decks.

The Sacred Circle Tarot is sold as a deck/book set. The 300+ page book begins with some background information on how the deck was created, followed by some information about the British Pagan Tradition. A brief description of the deck is next. It includes a quote on the origin of Tarot that posits Tarot is from "...the storytelling traditions and images preserved by the travelling entertainers, originally the bards or filid of Celtic culture."  This will be probably be news to most Tarot historians. Six spreads are provided. Some are new, but there are also a few standards like the Celtic Cross. A section on using the cards for meditation and spiritual development describes the deck creators take on the Fool's journey. This section will help in understanding why the Major Arcana changes were made. Some correspondences are also given in this section. The Section on the Major Arcana begins with a brief description of the scene. This is followed by a fairly detailed explanation of the symbolism. The explanations refer to the myths and lore of the British people. Upright and reversed divinatory meanings are provided. As previously mentioned, some of these will be familiar to experienced Tarot readers, but others will not. I found the Major Arcana to be more traditional than the Minor in divinatory meaning. The divinatory meanings are followed by a description of how the card relates to the Fool's journey.

The section for the Minor Arcana is divided by suits. Each suit section begins with a listing of various correspondences for the suit. Each card has a brief description, a section on the symbolism (though shorter than those for the Major Arcana), and upright and reversed divinatory meanings. The entire book contains a great deal of historical information. However, there is no bibliography or reading list, which is hard to understand in a book of this length and with this amount of detail. Overall, I like this deck. I think most people will be able to read with it right out of the box.

I recommend this deck for anyone who is interested in a Pagan oriented deck. The deck is well laid out, the art is good, the book is interesting and the key words should shorten the learning curve even though the meanings are often non-traditional.

See more cards from the Sacred Circle Tarot Deck

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

The Sacred Circle Tarot: a celtic pagan journey [sic]
by Anna Franklin (book) and Paul Mason (illustrations)
ISBN: 1-56718-457-X
Publisher: Llewellyn


The Sacred Circle Tarot is a seventy-eight card deck drawing on the Pagan heritage of Britain and Ireland, its sacred sites, and symbolic imagery from the tradition. We have tried to make this a truly Pagan deck and remove some of the Cabalistic and Christian iconography that has crept into tarot over the centuries.

Themed decks are very popular and a number have appeared in recent years that use imagery from different traditions (Nordic, Celtic, Greek mythology, etc.). However, it was our aim to formulate a deck that not only draws on ancient traditions but is of immediate relevance to the modern day practitioner. We felt that the deck should not only be beautiful, but useful; not only useful, but beautiful, using key symbols to unlock the deepest levels of Pagan teaching.

Four of Wands

The card shows four wands within a circle, making a spinning wheel.

The Symbolism

The four wands of this card join together to form an eight-pointed wheel which spins. This is the symbol of the ever-turning seasons - from seeding to harvest to seeding again - in the Eternal Return. The eight points represent the eight major festivals of the Pagan year.

Divinatory Meanings

The Four of Wands indicates that you have put a lot of hard work into a project and are now starting to reap the rewards. You have earned a rest but will soon have to start work again. However, you should be wary of rushing things, pay attention to detail, and make sure you have enough support and financial backing to see things through to completion.

On a personal level, this card indicates that the demands of a relationship will ease off and will become more happy and harmonious. For the unattached, romance is in the air.

Reverse Meanings

The Four of Wands reversed in your spread indicates that though the completion of a project is delayed by various obstacles, there is no need to worry as it will soon come to a successful completion.

The Sacred Circle Tarot Book pg. 6, 202 - 203

Images and text Copyright 1998 Anna Franklin and Paul Mason

This page is Copyright 1998 by Michele Jackson