Some themed decks can be a bit of a struggle when it comes to actually reading them. Or, if not a struggle, they may have a steep learning curve. Not so with the Pagan Cats Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010). While undeniably cute, this deck is very clear and readable 🙂
Take the Sun card. A ginger cat basks on a wicker chair in a lovely garden. The chair has a lovely, red cushion, and is surrounded by sunflowers in front of a stone wall. The sun above has the wavy and straight lines found on the RWS version of this card, as well as a cat’s face within the circle of the sun. The sense of joy, growth and energy is definitely there, though the idea of renewed innocence is perhaps missing. Yet, isn’t there something always innocent about a cat, with its clear and simple outlook on life?
As for the Court cards, these are very strong, too. They add lots of little twists, while remaining true to the archetypes. For instance, the Knights all still ride an animal, only they aren’t horses. The Knight of Wands rides a leaping fox, indicating his fiery nature and willingness to stick his nose where it may not belong. The Knight of Swords rides an owl, seeking wisdom, yet he creeps up over the owl’s shoulder – wanting to move forward as fast as possible, even if that means putting himself in the front line.
And here, with the Knave (Page) of Swords, we see a cool, grey cat with his tail wrapped lightly around a sword: he is not overly attached to his ideas yet, still willing to explore. In the sky above, birds fly up high, representing the perspective our thoughts can give us. The sword leans against a rock, reminding us that we need to bring our thoughts back down to earth in order to actually manifest them.
The Aces are rather different from RWS tradition, bringing a more clearly pagan focus. For instance, the Ace of Wands shows a ginger cat sitting amongst the bright red new growth that sprouts out of an old tree stump. Regeneration, energy, growth and the fire of creativity are all suggested here.
Looking at the Minors, these are a nice blend of traditional ideas and more modern, pagan ideas, all with a cat perspective added in. For example, on the Four of Pentacles a cat sits on a red cushion atop a box decorated with some material things a cat would enjoy: a jug of milk, a fish to eat, a bird to catch, a butterfly to chase playfully.
The Ten of Cups, my random draw for this overview, shows a cat family. Instead of a rainbow in the sky, a rainbow flag drapes over a window sill. The cats are inside, clearly at home, rather than standing outside a house. The adult cats twine together, while two kittens play together with a ball. The sense of family and happiness is clear, yet the rainbow drape also suggests gay pride (a broadening of perspectives on ‘family’) and the idea of chakra balancing (which helps with feelings of confidence and contentment).
Altogether, I really enjoy this deck. It is playful and sweet, with a gentle take suitable for even the most squeamish or prudish: swords through a pillow in the Ten of Swords, and no obvious nudity. Yet, it retains a symbolic depth that makes it both easily readable and capable of giving powerful readings. Chapeau!