Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remains from a Celtoid-Hippy Dark Ages

The Complete Merlin Tarot: Images, Insight and Wisdom from the Age of Merlin

Historical Significance: Low
Artistic Appeal: Moderate
Symbolic Resonance: Moderate
Evocative Potential: Moderate

This was one of my first decks.  It appears to be out of print at this time.  Overall I liked it and used if for quite awhile.  I was drawn to it out of an old interest in the Arthurian tales--after reading Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1), etc.

The trump cards are decently executed color paintings, and better than many decks currently out there.  The images feel very earthy.  They give one a sense of a kind of hippy-Celtic dark ages.  The standard suits are replaced with Birds (Swords), Serpents (Clubs), Fish (Cups), and Beasts (Coins).  The pip cards are simple flat diagrammatic line-drawings on single-color backgrounds.

Complete Merlin Tarot

I liked this deck at the time because it resonated quite well with Mary Stewart's portrayal of Merlin as a type of late druidic, post-Roman prophet, his nebulous prophetic power tied to the old traditions and to the earth.  The symbols are a bit of a mix.  They maintain only a fleeting formal relation to the classic occultist decks.  There is a fair amount of celtic imagery incorporated but not as much or as well thought out as one might expect.  My biggest complaint with using the deck for divination is that the pip cards are so "flat" in their look and feel that they don't really evoke much when reading with them.  One is left to rely on the written explanations.  The accompanying book is somewhat detailed and expands on the themes of the cards fairly well.

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