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John Bauer Tarot


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Many years ago, I met this Swiss artist whose name now eludes me, an old, VERY interesting woman, and she spoke very matter-of-factly about the small folk. Stuff like how you couldn't take your cows beyond a certain height in the Alps, or the fairies would throw them down. And she told me a story about being lost in the woods as a child, in the mist, and being shown the way back by an elf. She couldn't describe it; she only saw a sort of pulsing light and heard a voice, and couldn't even tell if it was male of female... She could have been pulling my leg, but I don't think so.


Anyway, I was duly enabled by EmpyreanKnight, Master Enabler Extraordinaire, and got it a while ago. I'm with you in that I'm not sure it will be a reading deck for me, as the fairy tale archetypes do feel kind of shoehorned into the cards instead of organically integrated. But it's still stunning, and I'm willing to give it a chance, or even keep it anyway.



I loved your story FLizarraga. What an interesting encounter. It is almost as if you had met one of the small folk in person.  I'm loving the Bauer tarot so far. I've deeply enjoyed the recent couple of readings I've tried with it. I think it is a profound deck, and the shoe-horning really doesn't bother me. I love the new spin on the meanings it brings.



I'm glad you enjoyed the story, Firemaiden!

To be frank, I have not spent a lot of time with the deck, so the shoehorning bit is just what I seem to get from what people say.

You mention that it goes with many songs in your repertoire --are you referring to Wagner, lieden, Grieg...?

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Yes FLizarraga ! songs of Grieg and Sibelius. A wonderful Sibelius song in Swedish - "Näcken" about a nordic mythical water diety : a beautiful, naked young man with a violin who lures unmarried women to their drowning death. Also a song in Norwegian by Grieg, "the Water Lily", which speaks also of same creature : "Nøkken" in norwegian-  Bauer drew the Näcken/Nøkken many times :





Djup stod färgen på fura på sten,

Furor och stenar, de kasta skuggor hän

I skummande silver och gull.


Sitter på stenen i skuggans breda famn,

Svartlockig gosse, så bleknad som en hamn,

Och trevar med stråke på sträng.


Neckens gullharpa spela opp en dans,

Gigan går efter och mistar all sin sans

För elvkung med silver i skägg.


Gossen var blott min egen fantasi -

Necken var forsen, som brusade förbi

Och stänkte sitt skum på min kind.



The Nixe (Sibelius song)


Deep (dark) stood colours on fir tree  on stone,

Fir-trees and stones, they cast shadows

sparkling with silver and gold.


Sitting on stones in the shadows' wide embrace

a boy with black curls, pale as a ghost

and drawing his bow over the strings


Nixie's gold harp a merry dance doth play,

Harpers fast follow, till cometh on his way,

before the Elfking with the silver beard


The boy was just my own fantasy

The Nixe was the torrent roaring by

and splashing its foam on my face.



Med en vandlilje (Grieg)


Se, Marie, hvad jeg bringer;

blomsten med de hvide vinger.

På de stille strømme båren

svam den drømmetung i våren.


Vil du den til hjemmet vie

fæst den på dit bryst, Marie;

bag dens blade da sig dølge

vil en dyp og stille bølge.


Vogt dig, barn, for tjernets strømme.

Farligt, farligt der at drømme!

Nøkken lader som han sover;

liljer leger ovenover.


Barn, din barm er tjernets strømme.

Farligt, farligt der at drømme;

liljer leger ovenover;

nøkken lader som han sover.


Se, Marie, hvad jeg bringer;

blomsten med de hvide vinger.

På de stille strømme båren

svam den drømmetung i våren.



With a waterlily


See, Marie, what I bring you

the flower with white wings

brought by the calm waves

heavy with dreams in springtime.


Would you welcome it by you

fix it on your bosom, Marie

its petals wish to hide

the calm and deep water


Be careful, my dear, of the current

that dream is dangerous, dangerous,

the Nixe is pretending to sleep

the waterlilies play above him


Child, your breast is the current

that is a dangerous dangerous dream

the waterlilies play above

the Nixe pretends to sleep


See, Marie, what I bring you,

the flower with white wings

brought by calm waves

heavy with dreams in springtime



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