Review by Solandia
"At a time when we seek a closer connection with the natural world, this beautiful deck invites us to celebrate the earth and the rhythm of the seasons."
The DruidCraft Tarot is hardly the first Druid or Pagan deck on the market, but a point of difference with this deck is that its creators are well grounded in their topic. Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm and artist Will Worthington are all active in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a group based in Britain and one of the largest international Druid groups. Together they have created a well-researched and compelling, if romantic, Tarot deck of lush natural scenes.
The DruidCraft Tarot suits are standard Swords, Wands, Pentacles and Cups, with Princess, Prince, Queen, and King court cards. Three major arcana cards have changed titles: Lady and Lord instead of Emperor and Empress, and Fferylt for Temperance. While not exactly a Rider-Waite or Thoth clone, the DruidCraft Tarot draws on the same sources of Golden Dawn and western magical tradition. It combines them with Celtic and Druidic Pagan traditions, and builds on other Pagan and Celtic decks like the Sacred Circle, Arthurian, Merlin and Celtic Wisdom.
Celtic and British history is also a passion of the artist, Will Worthington, who created the Druid Animal Oracle and the Green Man Tree Oracle. The costumes, tools, furniture, weapons and landscapes have all been designed from historical sources and painted in egg tempera and natural materials. The rich and vibrant scenes of the DruidCraft Tarot are fantasy, but have been made as real as possible. In the words of the artist:
In the painting of these Tarot images I have tried to create a feel for a people in their environment spanning the years from the time of the Classical Druids to the early medieval period, when the Arthurian tales were developed.
Some cards looked a bit fairytale-ish and the perspective of the human figures can occasionally be a little wavery, but others cards are stunning. My favourite cards from the DruidCraft are the Death card; the Six of Wands, with a sombre yet triumphant atmosphere; the Ace of Cups lush with growth and fruit and overflowing with water; and the Eight of Cups for its gorgeous composition and colours. The luminous colours do appear a little duller in print than the same images on a monitor, but that’s a natural result of the differences between viewing on screen and viewing in print. It should be noted also that the art features some nudity, both male and female, and full frontal in case of the Hanged Man – on whom gravity is exerting its natural force.
The DruidCraft Tarot set includes the 78 cards and a companion book enclosed in a sturdy and secure cardboard box. The cards are much bigger than standard, almost over-sized and hard to shuffle, though the large size means it is easier for the reader and the querent to see the images without peering at the cards to make out the details. The backs of the cards are mostly but not uniformly dark brown with thin gold line borders: the colouration does vary a little between the cards, and the shades of brown aren’t all the same.
The companion book, ‘The DruidCraft Tarot’, is comprehensive and attractively laid out. The organization is different to most Tarot books, as the meanings for the cards are ordered with the Court Cards first, then the numbered pips, then the majors, designed as an intentional progression from the lesser to the greater mysteries. The back of the book contains basic instructions for using Tarot cards (it has a spiritual focus, but doesn’t make it mandatory in order to use the cards), six Tarot spreads, sample readings, and further reading/resources.
The attention to detail in the DruidCraft Tarot set is very commendable. Even the typeface used on card titles and in the book was created, letter by letter, especially for the deck. The card imagery is richly coloured and thoroughly researched, its creators are knowledgeable and passionate about Druidry -- and in a spread, the cards cover the table and seem like windows to a beautiful otherworld. The DruidCraft Tarot is a complete and ideal set for the Pagan, Wiccan or Druid-oriented Tarot beginner as well as the more experienced reader, and is definitely one for the collector.