Inner Whispers

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Inner Whispers

Lounging naked on a beach as a Tower moment? Come on, Tarot of Delphi!

BF-Delphi-Overview1There is no doubt that the Tarot of Delphi (J.D. Hildegard Hinkel, 2014) is beautiful.  The card stock is firm and fairly thick, without being overly glossy or unmanageable.  The backs are black, with an orange, organic pattern to them, and a border with leaves in the corners.  I’d have preferred a dark, chocolate back, which would have been more fitting for the tan borders around the card images, but hey, that’s just my view.

As for the images, these are all taken from Victorian neoclassical art.  The advantage of this is that they are artistically excellent.  The downside is that they are not entirely consistent, either in terms of artwork or regarding sizing.  So, the borders are sometimes quite different sizes, depending on how square or rectangular (or even in one instance round) the images are.  You can see this difference between Temperance and the Shipwreck (Tower).

The latter shows one of the factors about using neoclassical art: although there is a clear RWS influence to the choices, sometimes the images are very far from tradition.  If you know your classical art, this will definitely add layers to your interpretations.  If not, there is a learning curve, though the booklet is good at explaining the choices.  Or you can just interpret the cards intuitively…

BF-Delphi-Overview2Still, even intuitively I can see how a Shipwreck is a Tower moment – losing all you had, stranded far from all you know and love.  Not that the image really shows that sense of loss, it looks a bit more like an advert for the Isle of Lesbos.  Other cards are even less apparent.  For instance, the Nine of Swords which we saw on Monday makes more sense when you know the scene is from Pompeii as the volcano was exploding.

The Ace of Wands certainly works fairly well.  The woman’s clothes are a fiery orange/red, and she holds a flaming wand, as well as having a wild cat skin to suggest power.  And the Two of Swords looks sufficiently pensive, with plenty to ponder in all those scrolls at her side, immobilising her til she can think things through.

BF-Delphi-OverviewCourtsAs for the Court cards, these have been renamed Devotee (Page), Artisan (Knight), Hero (King) and Enchantress (Queen).  I rather like these titles, though some people may be less keen on the fact that three out of four Devotees are female, while all the Artisans are male – neither here nor there with gender balance.

In terms of the actual images, many work well, while others are perhaps more idiosyncratic.  Take the Hero of Cups.  To me, he doesn’t look very heroic.  The booklet explains that he is a skilled raconteur (which I do see as a King of Cups trait).  Still, without the explanation what I see is a young guy chatting with his mum and sister…

I also find the Devotee of Swords more Knight-like than Page-like, but once again, that’s a personal impression.  At least the images do give plenty to work with symbolically.

The bottom line is that, while beautiful, this deck doesn’t resonate with me right now.  Maybe next time I dig it out…

8 Responses to “Lounging naked on a beach as a Tower moment? Come on, Tarot of Delphi!”

  • Carla

    You’re getting a lot more out of this deck than I am. Not for me. I haven’t seen an image yet that said either ‘tarot’ or had a resonant meaning for me.

    • I’m surprised, Carla. I would have thought that Enchantress of Wands might reflect well some of your views of that lady 😉 And the Two of Swords is very close to tradition, other than the absence of two swords…

  • This is one of the many decks I’ve seen with beautiful art that seems to be forced into a tarot framework. I bought it for a friend who is an art lover; the deck was top quality but it seemed better suited for an oracle to me.

    • I don’t know, I think the meanings generally fit the tarot base if you read up (or know) the art’s background. And as you say, the quality is very good 🙂

  • Yep, I see the challenge. Also why Kat Black took the collage route with her medieval Golden Tarot: although some of added objects look a little awkward in the images she created, she uses them to provide symbolic continuity with the Tarot system. I see similar “what is this about?” Questions with my Hidden Realm Tarot, and I have the same challenge with my own tarot project using just NASA pics of the universe.

    I do think the Tarot of Delphi might work for me, though, because I’m already very familiar with the mythology and history depicted.

    • Those are some good points, Joanne. Knowing the mythology behind the original art adds layers of meaning. And collages can look forced, sometimes. I guess it’s just necessary to accept that no deck will work for everyone… 🙂

  • Hi,
    Thank you for your honest review of my deck, the Tarot of Delphi. The title does seem a bit rude, however.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Hilde,
      Thanks for dropping by, and I’m sorry if the title offends you. As I said in another comment, as a deck creator you may have to accept that not all your choices will work for everyone. While I’m not prudish, nudity does bother some people, and that particular image is quite striking and very far from tradition – something for people to be aware of.
      Kind regards,


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