A few days ago, I received my copy of the Tarot of the Sidhe, a pack of cards by Emily Carding. Sidhe (pronounced Shee) is a Gaelic word that refers to the realm and beings of Faery/Spirit/Otherworld and this deck of radiant images conveys that flavour.
The Tarot of the Sidhe is structured traditionally: 22 major cards and four suits of 14 cards each. Justice and Strength are numbered in the continental manner with Justice as VIII and Strength as XI. The Hierophant or Pope has been renamed the Elder and the Devil has been renamed Pan since, in most pagan worldviews that I’ve encountered, there is no ultimate earthly spiritual authority and there is no such thing as an ultimate source of evil. The majors’ numbers appear at the top of the card and their names appear at the bottom.
Court/People cards are called Princess, Prince, Queen, and King. The four suits are named differently in accordance with a Knowing that Carding received one day in her kitchen. The Air suit is called Dreamers instead of Swords. The Fire Suit’s name is Warriors in place of Wands. Dancers, rather than Cups, make up the Water suit. And Makers, instead of Pentacles, carries the Earth energy. At the top of each minor card is the card’s name and on the bottom is a key word or phrase.
Executed in ink and watercolour, the Tarot of the Sidhe‘s pictures swirl with multiple hues and visionary themes. They are immediately appealing and engage my imagination, intuition, and creativity. This deck is most definitely NOT a Rider-Waite-Smith wannabe. Each image is framed by a black border, providing (for me) a sense of focus, a sort of doorway through which one can enter the scene. There’s a sense that the artist really entered the Sidhe and imported some pictures back with her.
The backs of the cards are black with a white spiral known as the Great Glyph of the Sidhe, itself a potent tool for reflection and discovery. This symbol also appears in every major arcanum. Last night, I took a shamanic journey with the intent to find out what the Glyph can teach me. I was told that it can be a portal to my multi-dimensional self/selves and multiple dimensions. It’s also a pathway to the centre of my soul, a route to my Core True Self.
The accompanying booklet is extremely helpful. It’s not the usual collection of blather that one sees about “this card means that”. For each card, Carding provides a poetic oracular utterance before one even reads a single card meaning — beautiful! These prophetic phrases can act as divinatory messages or the starting point for spoken ceremonial text. Each major arcanum is also given an Artist’s Note that describes what the image is about and even a bit about the process of drawing and painting. Useful layouts are also contained in the booklet (thank Life that the celtic cross spread doesn’t rear its head here!). There’s also a section on meditation and other uses with the cards.
I asked the Tarot of the Sidhe a question about itself: What is your true purpose? After I mixed the cards, it responded with the Warrior Ten (its traditional equivalent would be the 10 of Wands).
The Warrior Ten tells me that the Tarot of the Sidhe’s purpose is to be a bridge between the realms of the seen and unseen, sleeping and waking, night and day, dark and light, the unconscious and the conscious. It’s a tool for those who walk between the worlds and a means to honour the ancestors who have paved ways that allow us to be who we are and to do what we do. Part of the deck’s purpose might be to be under-appreciated so that it may subtly infiltrate the vapidity of our culture and prevent us from falling into its alluring pit. Its purpose is to serve the Greater Good, no matter what. The oracular message in the book reads:
Who thinks of the sacrifice as they cross?
Who weeps for knowledge of the bridge’s loss?
He knows the task is worth the pain,
His suffering is for a greater gain…
I heartily recommend the Tarot of the Sidhe as a tool for deep divination, personal discovery, and making dynamic shifts. If you enjoy using the tarot and feel a pull “to the waters and the wild” (Yeats’ words) of Faery, you’ll want to own a set of these cards. If you’d like to try them during a consultation with me, I’ll be very happy to pull them out and use them for your session.