The DruidCraft Tarot combines the nature spiritualities of Wicca and Druidry in a beautiful set of large-size cards. Created by well-known Druids Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm and artist Will Worthington, who also created the Druid Animal Oracle.
I was stunned with the humanity in this deck. I think the large size of the cards showcases the rich tempera paintings. I believe the format captures the richness of the beautiful colors. I like the way the character of each card is caught in a moment in time--not like a portrait or a stage setting, but as if they were doing an everyday act.
When I showed others who like to read with Celtic-theme decks, they took two hands to handle each card and a moment each to look at each card. It's a rich, inviting deck and I consider their lingering study a high compliment to the art. Will Worthington has done this level of work with the Druid Animal Oracle as well. I also like the use of beautiful sky backdrops, natural forest settings and animals that populate the scenes.
I've read some people feel more connected to this deck because their heritage and framework come from European roots. The reason I connect to this deck is a choice I made in a dual path of study that enjoys a Western framework as well. I don't see the DruidCraft characters necessarily as Pagan Europeans from the British Isles--I see them as human beings following a naturalistic path that warmly interacts with their setting. A beautiful tarot deck can do this for others, no matter what heritage they spring from.
I like the book and believe that the writing and reasoning behind the deck shows an excellent system. I've owned the Merlin Tarot by RJ Stewart and the Hallowquest Arthurian Tarot by John and Caitlin Matthews and do agree these decks from the twentieth century provided an excellent step to introduce links between tarot and Celtic-theme studies. I continue to find value in my Hallowquest Arthurian deck and books. For me, the DruidCraft goes another step beyond these other decks.
I like the introductory seven pages, then the next seven pages of explanation. The Court Cards and numbered minors are laid out as the Outer Mysteries according to the Wheel layout on page 13 of the book. The Court cards are discussed from pages 16-36, then the pip cards are next, from Ace through Ten on pages 41-90.
Every card has a small snapshot in a sepia-tone. The pretty sepia is also the color of the text and is easy to read.
The Druidcraft book first introduces the court cards, then the numbered minors. Each court or number group has a brief introduction with suggested key words, then each card is described on an individual page. They are listed by the order of wands, cups, swords and pentacles. The courts are known as Princess, Prince, Queen and King, then the number cards are discussed from Ace through Ten.
The Wheel layout on page 13 also lays the Majors as the Inner Mysteries. From page 95-166, each major is discussed with keywords and meanings for upright and reversed positions.
From pages 166-189, further discussion of the deck use and sample layouts and readings. From 190-192, a good list of resources and background material are also suggested.
I've had the deck for about four weeks and am still slowly 'getting acquainted' with this as a companion deck. I believe it will read well and over time, become one of my favorites. Right now I am very pleased with the Swords courtiers and find the Majors and Minors equally interesting.
In some reading decks I dislike when some are renamed or if a great deal of characters lack clothes, because it limits the ability to read for others. In this deck, I find the card designs fit the theme of the deck.
I find this Celtic-themed deck a very unique and fresh alternative in a field where it seems there's at least two or three new Celtic-style tarots every year. I found the deck so intriguing from discussions and scans, that I could not wait for it to come out in the USA. I ordered the deck and book as soon as it was available through booksellers from the U.K. and gladly paid the shipping price.
The DruidCraft Tarot invites us on a journey to explore the traditional Tarot in the context of ancient Druidic tradition. We are led into lush green forests where we can commune with the trees and flowers, and experience the beauty and power of nature. Animals important in the Druid tradition meet us along the way.
Artist Will Worthingtons paintings are a visual feast of color and form that seem to glow as they come alive with story. The images most often follow the traditional RWS, but have far more depth and character. The symbolism that has been changed or added to is brilliantly executed and meaningful. There are several cards that are renamed, but the transition seems easy and natural once stepping upon the forest path.
You can almost see the trees breathe and hear them speak. Im convinced there is much wisdom they will unfold during the course of study and readings. The court cards have figures dressed in different plaids making me wonder if these also are purposefully placed. My sense is that although there is much information that the cards seem to contain upon first glance, there is just as much more yet to be revealed, and that study would be very rewarding.
The beautiful book that accompanies this deck skillfully bridges many systems showing their essential unity and universal truth. The inclusive point of view shared by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm makes the experience of studying and using this beautiful deck so much more meaningful to me.
In the book, the minor arcana cards are divided and listed by number rather than suit. There is a page of writing on each number along with Keywords and a Message. Each numbered card is then individually delineated. There are several useful and interesting diagrams showing the relationship of the 78 cards to the inner and outer self, the Seasons of the year, and Seasonal Celebrations promoting conscious continuity.
As practicing Druids themselves, the authors have much to share about their tradition. What they share is both informative and inspiring and adapts itself well within the tarot format enriching the experience.
I'm finding that Druid Animal Oracle (also by the Carr-Gomms and Will Worthington) is an excellent accompaniment to this deck. In the first reading I did, several animals showed themselves in the DruidCraft cards. I then picked the same animals from the Animal Oracle in order to better work with and understand these energies. This exercise also seemed to deepen the meaning of the DruidCraft cards. In the readings where an animal was not pictured on any DruidCraft card, I chose a card from the Druid Animal oracle to work as an ally
forward very much to further exploring this deck and believe it will
remain a favorite.
"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.