The Tarot of the Old Path (AGMüller, 1990) has the distinction of being one of the earlier pagan-themed tarots. And the book that accompanies it is full of useful information. That being said, I cannot find a great deal of warmth in myself towards it.
There are some absolutely beautiful cards in this deck, and it has been well thought out in terms of applying pagan symbolism in place of the Christian iconography and names found in the RWS, for example. As we saw on Monday, Judgement has been renamed Karma. And so too, here, the Hanged Man has been replaced with the Lone Man. Instead of ideas around hanging of traitors, this person chooses to stand (or dangle) outside of the usual bounds of society. His motley dress also implies this, connecting him with the motley fool who can speak his mind. I love the corvid on the branch above him, the butterfly at his side, the deer in the background, proud stag reminding us of the Green Man. There is also a spidersweb, a lotus blossom, and a mountain peak. The coins falling from the Lone Man’s purse remind us that in this situation material things may do us no good, we may have to sacrifice them. Yet his serene expression promises this time out, this sacrifice will be worthwhile.
The Knight of Rods (Wands), on the other hand, is an example of what I like less about these cards. Firstly, I don’t like his expression: it seems cruel and hard, and somehow misshapen. Secondly, there is no background – behind him is only white. I like the additional symbolism that a background brings, and many of the Minors have this blankness. I guess it allows an openness to imagine the background you find most fitting. However, given the medieval costumes and pagan symbolism the deck otherwise displays, I don’t think that creating backgrounds would have over-cluttered or ovely-determined the cards’ meanings. Personally, that separateness from the environment is a big downside, especially given the nature-based focus of much pagan belief. People do not exist in a vacuum or void, and seeing that in these cards is disconcerting, for me.
Not so in the Ace of Pentacles. Here we have plenty of nature, and other landscape and architecture to add richness to the card’s interpretations. The Pentacle itself seems to be part of a table, with horns at each corner: perhaps a sacred space for spell working. In front of it is a hare, prime symbol of material abundance and creativity. All around are clover leaves, and some other flowers. And a path leads from the table to a grand castle, promising material wealth if we follow this suit through to its conclusion.
The Eight of Swords also came up in one of my instagram readings this week. At first, I was unsure that I liked it. Perhaps strangely, the Eight of Swords is one of my ‘go-to’ cards in any tarot deck, a card that I always check because it feels important to me. I shall leave reflection on why that should be so to anyone who cares to consider it… 😉 In any case, I was surprised at the change of gender of the character here, given the RWS is generally male heavy, so any female character is one I am glad to keep. And I guess because I empathise with this card so much, I am used to seeing myself in it. In any case, the figure also doesn’t have a blindfold. This could be taken as their blinding to the ways out being purely internal (which works well with the card meaning). Certainly, he turns away from us and looks to the floor, unwilling to see anything beyond his restricted thoughts. Other than the grass he stands upon, though, we once again have a blank slate instead of landscape.
Overall, this deck has much to recommend it. However, it will not be joining my list of favourites.
And lest you thought I’d forgotten, the giveaway winner from last week is:
Congratulations, Debbie, and please get in contact. You can email me your address at info (at) innerwhispers.co.uk