Tarot of Delphi Reviews

The Tarot of Delphi is a fine art deck composed of original Neoclassical art from the Victorian era. The 78 cards are populated with Greco-Roman gods, heroes, enchantresses, oracles, and legends. It also depicts daily life, art, and the cultures of the ancient world.

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Created by J.D. Hildegard Hinkel
Tarot Deck - 79 Cards - Self Published 2014



Review by Lori Lytle

I first visited Delphi, Greece, when I was a starry-eyed Classical Studies undergrad. Of course, I had read about the site, studied it in class, and had long been fascinated by the stories of the Pythia, the Priestess at Delphi who proclaimed oracles that were respected by all in the Ancient World. This study, however, didn’t prepare me for the majesty and presence of this place. That visit to Delphi was my first experience of really understanding how a site can be inherently sacred, how people can be instinctively drawn to the energy of a place, and how there is much more going on beneath our feet and above our heads than we are aware of.

So, when I heard about the Kickstarter campaign for the Tarot of Delphi, I immediately felt that this was a natural combination, a concept that made sense on many levels and would produce something meaningful. Because of my personal connection to the subject matter, I contacted the deck’s creator, Janet Hinkel, to ask how she came to focus on Delphi specifically and the Classics in general for her Tarot deck.

To paraphrase, Ms. Hinkel told me that when she began the process of creating her deck, she started by putting together images from several different genres, but she kept returning to the Neoclassical images. She became captivated by the Classics, and obsessed with pairing the myths, legends and history to the meanings and stories of the Tarot.

Ms. Hinkel also explained that the Pythia provided a potent symbol around which to organize her artistic and metaphysical ideas, that, “As a feminine symbol of spiritual power, the Pythia is not confined to the female role in fertility, making her prominence in the patriarchal Greco-Roman world even more extraordinary. As you know, she was the preeminent oracle of Ancient Greece, with influence far beyond, and was even located at the navel/center of the world! I believe the Pythia, as an archetype of deep and ancient spirituality, continues to offer valuable lessons.”. The Pythia herself appears on the High Priestess card in the Tarot of Delphi (John Collier’s Priestess of Delphi, 1891.).

Ms. Hinkel’s philosophy and approach to this deck really resonate with me. She honours both the tradition of Tarot as well as the ancient religions and mysteries, and gives recognition to the powerful women and ancient Goddesses who were often given a lesser or supporting role in the Greek and Roman myths and histories. She does this elegantly, with balance and without ignoring male/God energies.

The Tarot of Delphi is curated with fine art from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, including works by three female artists. All of the paintings are Neoclassical in theme, depicting scenes from the history, literature, art, architecture and religion of Ancient Greece and Rome. On a practical note, the cards and instructional booklet come in a sturdy and attractive box, and the cards themselves are a little larger than average but still easy to shuffle, printed on durable cardstock.

The deck, which consists of 79 cards (there are two versions of the Empress), follows the RWS tradition, with some fitting adaptations in light of the subject matter. With the Major Arcana, for example, the Wheel of Fortune becomes the Threads of Fate, depicting the Moirai or Fates who spin, measure and cut the threads of life. The Devil becomes a Siren, one of the beautiful but dangerous creatures who lured seafarers to their destruction with their enchanting song. I find the image of the bold and notorious Medea casting a spell (by Anthony Frederick Sandys, 1868) on the Magician card particularly striking and appropriate.

The Tarot of Delphi uses the traditional Minor Arcana suits and corresponding elements, but in order to better align with the culture of Ancient Greece and Rome, the Court Cards have become Devotee, Artisan, Hero and Enchantress. One notable image is the Enchantress of Cups, depicted as the powerful witch, Circe, embodying the power and destruction that can result from raw and unfettered emotion.

Ms. Hinkel’s descriptions of the cards in the accompanying booklet are beautifully written, evoking the mystery and magic of the Greco-Roman tales while providing clear and useful Tarot meanings and keywords. She emphasizes throughout that Tarot is a multifunctional tool, useful for problem solving, examining personal behaviour patterns, inner growth, and almost as an aside, divination. This approach again follows the philosophy of the Temple of Delphi, which was known for the inscriptions it bore, “Know Thyself. Nothing in Excess”.

The Tarot of Delphi can be used for meditation, or simply for the enjoyment of viewing the images and thinking about how you react to them, the impact they have on you, and what that may mean on a deeper level. I felt very comfortable using this deck for readings, and found that I could connect easily with the images selected by Ms. Hinkel. This deck inspired me to revisit my love of the Classics, and I am so happy to have found a deck that combines that passion with my passion for Tarot. I highly recommend the Tarot of Delphi to Tarot readers of all levels and to those who appreciate Neoclassical art, Classical history and ancient mythology.

Lori Lytle is a professional Tarot reader based in Toronto, Canada and the founder of Inner Goddess Tarot. Her email and in-person readings focus on empowerment and personal growth. Visit her website and blog at innergoddesstarot.com.



Review by Danusha V. Goska

"Tarot of Delphi" is a 79 card Tarot deck "created and curated" by Janet Denise Hildegard Hinkel. Hinkel illustrates her cards with paintings and watercolors by two dozen British artists from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, that is, from 1838 to 1913. The artworks that Hinkel has selected depict life in ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome. The cards are three inches by five, glossy, on sturdy stock. The artworks occupy the center of the card. They are surrounded by a narrow golden frame with ivy leaves accenting the corners. Surrounding that is a border pattern of pale beige and gray. The fully reversible backs of the cards are black, a muted shade of Persian orange, and gold. Bars at the top and bottom mimic Greek columnar elements; in the center of the card, vegetal elements meet in a cross pattern. The backs of the Tarot of Delphi are the most exquisite Tarot card backs I have ever seen.

The colors that dominate on the cards themselves are muted Persian oranges, russets, golds, and flesh tones, with stunning reds providing contrast, for example in the robes of the otherwise shadowed High Priestess. Some cards feature emerald greens and sapphires, for example the ace of coins, which depicts an ivy nymph intertwined with foliage, and the enchantress of cups, which depicts Circe in a peacock gown pouring jade-colored poison into a turquoise sea. The three of swords features the midnight blue of Electra's robe as she mourns her doomed family; the five of wands shows an ancient Greek maiden in a mineral-green robe playing an early form of badminton.

The artwork Hinkel has chosen is almost photographic in its precise details. It is so crisply rendered that I'm sure an expert could identify the very quarry that provided the gold- and gray-veined marble for the fountain in the six of cups. The many nude females are anatomically accurate.

Dressed in togas, armor, and peplums, or simply nude, characters lounge royally on expansive verandahs, play lyres, herd goats, drink from pottery kylikes, perform Pagan rituals, interact with gods, raise children, dance, flirt, embrace, bathe, breach the defenses of besieged cities, and plot to conquer civilizations. The Tarot of Delphi is a very beautiful deck.

There is an added attraction to its visual beauty. Janet Denise Hildegard Hinkle can write. The accompanying manual is small enough to fit in the palm of a closed hand. But this tiny volume is jam packed with well written prose that identifies each artwork, says who created it and when, and how the artwork in question relates to the card it illustrates. Hinkle educates her readers in the classics, and that is a very good thing. Readers will learn of the myths, like that of Orpheus, who entered the underworld to rescue his beloved Eurydice, and of history, including Rome's genocidal defeat of Carthage, and Queen Zenobia's resistance to Rome. Hinkle wastes not a single word in her stirring sermonizing on how the perennial lessons of the past can be applied today.

If I'm going to read with a deck, I want the pictures to be beautiful and deep, and these pictures are. I also want the pictures to be readily accessible to querents, and many of these are not. In a couple of cases, I wondered why Hinkel did not pick an illustration for another card. One of her two Empress cards (thus a 79 card deck) depicts Zenobia, alone, looking meditative, and in chains. A woman in chains would work better for the eight of swords than for the Empress. Narcissus illustrates the four of coins; Narcissus, as his name implies, exemplifies narcissism. Surely Midas would have been the better choice.

The five of swords, a card that depicts ruinous spite, is illustrated by a beautiful if remote woman holding back a curtain and leaning on a staff. This puzzled me. Upon examination, I realized that she was leaning, in fact, on an ax, discretely dripping blood. Aha! This was Clytemnestra, after her avenging the death of her daughter Iphigenia at the hands of her ambitious husband Agamemnon. It's the perfect backstory for the five of swords, but this illustration, as with many others, is not as readily accessible as I'd like.

I compare this deck to the sublime Victorian Romantic tarot of Baba Studios. That deck reveals a Victorian world populated by young people, old people, poverty, and ugliness, as well as shiny pretty people. The Ancients killed their own handicapped children, and many of their daughters, just for the crime of being born female. Roman soldiers, such as Hinkel's hero of swords, committed unspeakable horrors as a matter of course. The vast majority of the population in the Ancient World lived their lives under the heel of the shiny, pretty people in these cards. There was Aesop, Socrates Spartacus, and Thecla. Their struggles, whose tensions rent the Ancient World, are not in this deck, although, to her credit, Hinkel includes Diogenes, the wise beggar, as The Hermit. Thecla would have been perfect for Strength.

Too, I got tired of all the nude females, not because of their nudity, but because of their obvious status as underage eye candy. They all lack hair in their exposed privates, suggesting a youth that should be protected, not exposed. None of the nudes look like most of us look when naked. The Ancients valued physical perfection too much. Paganism in the real Ancient World was not always as harmonious as Hinkel depicts. Reservations aside, the Tarot of Delphi is a triumph, and Tarot collectors will want to add it.

Danusha V. Goska, PhD is a teacher and writer living in New Jersey. She is the author of Save Send Delete, a debate and a love story between a devout Catholic and an atheist celebrity.



Review by Danusha V. Goska

"Tarot of Delphi" is a 79 card Tarot deck "created and curated" by Janet Denise Hildegard Hinkel. Hinkel illustrates her cards with paintings and watercolors by two dozen British artists from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, that is, from 1838 to 1913. The artworks that Hinkel has selected depict life in ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome. The cards are three inches by five, glossy, on sturdy stock. The artworks occupy the center of the card. They are surrounded by a narrow golden frame with ivy leaves accenting the corners. Surrounding that is a border pattern of pale beige and gray. The fully reversible backs of the cards are black, a muted shade of Persian orange, and gold. Bars at the top and bottom mimic Greek columnar elements; in the center of the card, vegetal elements meet in a cross pattern. The backs of the Tarot of Delphi are the most exquisite Tarot card backs I have ever seen.

The colors that dominate on the cards themselves are muted Persian oranges, russets, golds, and flesh tones, with stunning reds providing contrast, for example in the robes of the otherwise shadowed High Priestess. Some cards feature emerald greens and sapphires, for example the ace of coins, which depicts an ivy nymph intertwined with foliage, and the enchantress of cups, which depicts Circe in a peacock gown pouring jade-colored poison into a turquoise sea. The three of swords features the midnight blue of Electra's robe as she mourns her doomed family; the five of wands shows an ancient Greek maiden in a mineral-green robe playing an early form of badminton.

The artwork Hinkel has chosen is almost photographic in its precise details. It is so crisply rendered that I'm sure an expert could identify the very quarry that provided the gold- and gray-veined marble for the fountain in the six of cups. The many nude females are anatomically accurate.

Dressed in togas, armor, and peplums, or simply nude, characters lounge royally on expansive verandahs, play lyres, herd goats, drink from pottery kylikes, perform Pagan rituals, interact with gods, raise children, dance, flirt, embrace, bathe, breach the defenses of besieged cities, and plot to conquer civilizations. The Tarot of Delphi is a very beautiful deck.

There is an added attraction to its visual beauty. Janet Denise Hildegard Hinkle can write. The accompanying manual is small enough to fit in the palm of a closed hand. But this tiny volume is jam packed with well written prose that identifies each artwork, says who created it and when, and how the artwork in question relates to the card it illustrates. Hinkle educates her readers in the classics, and that is a very good thing. Readers will learn of the myths, like that of Orpheus, who entered the underworld to rescue his beloved Eurydice, and of history, including Rome's genocidal defeat of Carthage, and Queen Zenobia's resistance to Rome. Hinkle wastes not a single word in her stirring sermonizing on how the perennial lessons of the past can be applied today.

If I'm going to read with a deck, I want the pictures to be beautiful and deep, and these pictures are. I also want the pictures to be readily accessible to querents, and many of these are not. In a couple of cases, I wondered why Hinkel did not pick an illustration for another card. One of her two Empress cards (thus a 79 card deck) depicts Zenobia, alone, looking meditative, and in chains. A woman in chains would work better for the eight of swords than for the Empress. Narcissus illustrates the four of coins; Narcissus, as his name implies, exemplifies narcissism. Surely Midas would have been the better choice.

The five of swords, a card that depicts ruinous spite, is illustrated by a beautiful if remote woman holding back a curtain and leaning on a staff. This puzzled me. Upon examination, I realized that she was leaning, in fact, on an ax, discretely dripping blood. Aha! This was Clytemnestra, after her avenging the death of her daughter Iphigenia at the hands of her ambitious husband Agamemnon. It's the perfect backstory for the five of swords, but this illustration, as with many others, is not as readily accessible as I'd like.

I compare this deck to the sublime Victorian Romantic tarot of Baba Studios. That deck reveals a Victorian world populated by young people, old people, poverty, and ugliness, as well as shiny pretty people. The Ancients killed their own handicapped children, and many of their daughters, just for the crime of being born female. Roman soldiers, such as Hinkel's hero of swords, committed unspeakable horrors as a matter of course. The vast majority of the population in the Ancient World lived their lives under the heel of the shiny, pretty people in these cards. There was Aesop, Socrates Spartacus, and Thecla. Their struggles, whose tensions rent the Ancient World, are not in this deck, although, to her credit, Hinkel includes Diogenes, the wise beggar, as The Hermit. Thecla would have been perfect for Strength.

Too, I got tired of all the nude females, not because of their nudity, but because of their obvious status as underage eye candy. They all lack hair in their exposed privates, suggesting a youth that should be protected, not exposed. None of the nudes look like most of us look when naked. The Ancients valued physical perfection too much. Paganism in the real Ancient World was not always as harmonious as Hinkel depicts. Reservations aside, the Tarot of Delphi is a triumph, and Tarot collectors will want to add it.

Danusha V. Goska, PhD is a teacher and writer living in New Jersey. She is the author of Save Send Delete, a debate and a love story between a devout Catholic and an atheist celebrity.








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