giovedì 18 settembre 2014

The Merlin Tarot

I bought this deck months ago, on ebay, because it's quite difficult to find it these days. Designed by R.J. Stewart and illustrated by Miranda Gray in 1988, it is based on the life and prophecies of Merlin as narrated by the  medieval historian Geoffrey of Monmouth.
This is a pip deck and hence the presence of numbers and the importance of numerology instead of the suggestive power of images might make it less appealing.
Also it strongly differs from traditional decks.  First of all three cards have been renamed: The Guardian (The Devil); The Innocent (The Hierophant) and the Universe (The World); and the order of the Major Arcana is a completely new one, reflecting the universe as conceptualized by Merlin. The 22 Arcana has been divided in seven groups of three cards - Worlds, Wheels, Enlighteners, Liberators, Redeemers, Givers, Sharers - plus the Universe as One Manifest Reality. 
To make an example, the first group is formed by The Moon, The Sun, The Star as the three worlds of experience and knowledge. 

The suits have been named according to the animals inhabiting the four elements, hence we've got Fishes (Cups); Beasts (Pentacles); Birds (Swords); Serpents (Wands). Though there's no illustration on the card, there are captions highlighting the overall meaning of it. I've chosen the combination below (Seven of Beasts; Two of Serpents; Two of Fishes) as a talisman for self-exploration through focus, the ability to discard something and make choices, liberation as a final aim. In the companion book the creator underlines the connections between the Major Arcana and the numbered cards of the Minor and thus nurturing the concept of tarot as a whole system of interwoven correspondences.
He then identifies polar pairs among the Major, as The Hermit and The Innocent; The Magician and the Priestess; Death and The Emperor and so on.

In the description of the Trumps we find also a short lists of beings represented by them, from human to ex-human and ultramundane, spiritual creatures. To mention this blog's favourite beings, fairies, are represented by The Moon, The Wheel of Fortune and The Magician, while nature spirits and elementals are aknowledged under The Priestess' influence, though my personal view is that she has something to do with fairies as well.
I especially like the description of beings linked to The Hermit: "Supernatural consciousness withdrawing from individuation. Also relates to certain innerworld beings who choose to remain as guides or inspirers of understanding, rather than cross into the void beyond being".
The Hermit is here the old wise Merlin himself  that brings in his hand not the well known lantern, but a transparent egg containing the red and white dragons of the legend.

Finally court cards - Page, Warrior, Queen, King - are connected to seasons and elements in a Great Court Circle, encompassing the whole year. Here you can see the Page of Beasts whose keyword is amenable, accompanied by a watchful red fox. I found this deck highly mental and generally more useful for personal meditation and study than for readings and divination.

What further enriches it is the detailed book, in which towards the end there are notes on the employments of tarots in minor arts: Divination, Farsight, Personal insight; and major ones: Meditation, Visualization, Contemplation, Pattern making and Story-telling. Tarot patterns, the author explains "are primarily magical rituals", through which a universe is recreated after its dissolving during random shuffling. Our interpretation, I would add,  is what assembles the elements in a sometimes cryptic, difficult, but always infused of potent thruths, tale of the world.

Further information

Here's a link to an interesting review I found on a blog:

5 commenti:

  1. Beautiful deck. I suppose you can write a lot about it in this lovely journal. I like to be challenged by decks with different structures or cards too (Chrysalis, Mary El, Wildwood etc)
    I hope you can get a lot of insights from this deck when starting out on your journey with this gorgeous Hermit

  2. Hi! Can I have the link where you bought this I don't trust some eBay sellers

  3. Thank you for taking the time to write this thorough review. I just received the deck via eBay yesterday sans companion material.

    Looking at the deck--the court cards made sense immediately as well as the first several majors, then I began to get a bit lost.

    I'd like to have a book, it's not clear, though, which one is the "right" one and they go for $50 and up (some of them).

    Can you recommend which book to look for? I'd really appreciate it and I'm willing to pay what I have to in order to learn the system.

    I want to make a comment on eBay sellers in response to Patricia above. The seller I got my deck from had 99.5% positive feedback, of course I would prefer 100%. I received the deck exactly as promised in 48-hrs from several states away, well-packaged. I had communication with them prior to sale and they were absolutely polite. I think eBay and PayPal have a guarantee these days that's very protective of the buyer. Sometimes I have occasion to read member forums and I see sellers stating that eBay is overly protective of buyers. I've probably purchased twenty decks this year on eBay and had one issue where the box got damaged by USPS and the seller replaced it. Hope that helps!

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