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Celtic Dragon Tarot
 
© 1999
Credit D. J. Conway and Lisa Hunt

Celtic Dragon Tarot

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The CelticDragon Tarot

Creators: Lisa Hunt (artist), D. J. Conway (writer)

Year/Publisher: 1999 / Llewellyn

Availability: Amazon / Llewellyn


Credit

D. J. Conway and Lisa Hunt

Copyright

© 1999
From the album:

Celtic Decks

  • 5 images

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Taken with Canon Canon PowerShot SX710 HS

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Jewel

   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

The Celtic Dragon Tarot

By Jewel

 

The Celtic Dragon Tarot, by D. J. Conway and Lisa Hunt, was published by Llewellyn in October 1999 as a deck/book set and is still in print today.  This was the second of many successful Tarot collaborations that Ms. Conway and Ms. Hunt would share.  Work on this deck began in 1997.  It really is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since this deck was originally released!  Having read Ms. Conway’s book Dancing with Dragons and being a fan of Dragons and all things Celtic in general I had to have this set.  Not to mention I was simply mesmerized by Ms. Hunt’s illustrations.  The idea for this deck came to Ms. Conway as she was writing Dancing With Dragons (published in 1994).  Of all the D. J. Conway/Lisa Hunt decks this one is my favorite.  Dispensing with what Ms. Conway calls New Age looks and designs” she and Ms. Hunt chose to focus on immersing us into the world of dragons and of the Celts and their rich symbolism.  As Ms. Conway notes in the preface of the companion book “It seemed natural that medieval clothing and castles should be part of this Celtic, almost Otherworldly atmosphere.”  And what a magical and wonderous world it is set within landscapes of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

 

Ms. Hunt’s water color paintings of the cards are simply breathtaking.  When I look at these cards I am transported to this world.  The experience reminds me a lot of when I played World of Warcraft I felt like I was a part of that world, they put me in a sort of trance where I can easily become one of the characters or interact with them and dragons on the cards which really enriches my reading experience on an intuitive level.  The colors are soft but rich and deep as the context.  Though the deck is not entirely borderless, the painting fades into the neutral light gray and white marble border as the images are not framed otherwise.  The card titles are in black print at the bottom of each card.  The faces and positions of the people and dragons are expressive and emotive which assist the reader in understanding the meanings of the cards.  Equal attention and detail is given to the Major and Minor Arcana so the deck is seamless artistically which is always a plus in my book.

 

The one thing that threw me off a bit about using this deck, as it does with all D. J. Conway/Lisa Hunt decks, is the elemental correspondences of Wands/Air and Swords/Fire.  The elemental correspondences of these suits is one of those long held Tarot debates, but when I see a decks is Rider-Wait-Smith based I do expect to see Swords/Air and Wands/Fire.  If I am being honest, that is my preference when it comes to elemental correspondences because it is what I learned with and what I use.  Before I go any further, I want to address this debate in a very simplistic way for the sake those to whom this elemental debate is new, or are confused by it, that might read this review.  There is a basis for either set of correspondences (Wands/Fire, Swords/Air or Wands/Air, Swords/Fire).  If you think of it from a practical point of view swords are forged in fire, and tree limbs (often used to represent wands) do blow in the wind, so I do get it.  It is logical.  The flip side, Wands/Fire Swords/Air comes from the passion expressed in the Suit of Wands which ties it to Fire, and the communication, intellect, and thought represented by the element of Air which is sharp like a sword.  So, one set of correspondences is logical while the other is metaphorical.   Granted, that is how I keep it all straight, but Ms. Conway has a more sophisticated explanation based on magick in Chapter 1 of the Companion Book “This association has always made more sense to me than the reverse, since Wands are primarily a mental ritual tool and Swords are an energy of action tool.”  Neither is right or wrong, and both have validity, it all boils down to personal preference.  How do the Wands/Air – Swords/Fire correspondences throw me off?  Well, I end up seeing a blending of both in both suits and it muddies them for me.  I use elemental correspondences when reading and apparently, I am not mentally ambidextrous when it comes to this!

 

The deck is comprised of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana, and 56 Minor Arcana.  The imagery of the Major Arcana is quite different from the RWS, yet they beautifully capture the meanings of the cards perfectly within the context of the theme of this deck.  Two Major Arcana card names are changed:  The Hierophant becomes The High Priest, and The Devil becomes Chains.  Strength is at position 8 and Justice at position 11.  The Minor Arcana (numbers 1-10) closely follow (though there are some variations) the Raider-Wait-Smith (RWS) system. The Court Cards follow the traditional RWS naming, Page, Knight, Queen, King.  Along with the Aces which all have hatching or just hatched baby dragons in their nests, the Court Cards are one of my favorite parts of this deck as I can discern personality in them making them easier to understand in readings.

 

The cards are typical Llewellyn card stock of the day which is a little bit thicker than that of their decks today.  I have no problem with the cardstock then again, I am not overly fussy about this either.  After years of riffle shuffling and such they have held up very well, they do not stick nor clump. The cards measure about 46.5” x 2.80”, a great size for all sized hands.  The backs of the cards are light gray and white marble look with a circular Celtic design that contains three dragons.  Though the card backs are reversible, Ms. Conway notes in the Companion Book that the deck is not designed to be used with reversals.   I say, if you want to use reversals go for it!

 

The deck comes with a 218-page companion book written by Ms. Conway broken into the following sections:  Preface Creation of the Celtic Dragon Tarot; Acknowledgements; Introduction The Magick of Dragons; Chapter 1 Using The Celtic Dragon; Chapter 2 Guide to the Cards; Chapter 3 Major Arcana; Chapter 4 Minor Arcana; Chapter 5 Tarot Layouts; Chapter 6 Dragon Tarot Candle Spells; Chapter 7 Meditations; Bibliography; Appendix A Candle Colors and Uses; Appendix B Stone Powers; and finally an Index.  The Guide to the Cards, Chapter 2, is short and sweet, it provides key words for all cards sp great for jogging your memory if you get stuck.   Chapters 3 and 4 provide the descriptions of the cards that include a large black and white image with the same keywords from Chapter under the image.  Then you have a brief explanation of the card and the divinatory meaning, overall a little over half a page to page on each card.  Chapter 5 has the spreads and includes the following:  The Expanded Celtic Cross (13-cards), Influence of the Elements (5-cards) “used to clarify weak areas that may be contributing to problems”; Past Life, Present Influence (9-cards) for problems with which we wrestle in this life have their roots in other lives.”; and Path to a Goal (11-cards)

 

This is a fun deck to read with.  As I noted earlier it is easy to get swept into the world offered in this deck, so the readings have a storyteller and magical quality to them.  At times it is like watching a movie or experiencing an epic.  I do occasionally struggle with the Wands and Swords due to their elemental attributions because the imagery is very similar to the RWS Wands and Swords, yet the elements are reversed.  That is why I get a blend and the suits become muddied for me.  If you do not use elemental correspondences in your readings this should not be a problem for you.  For those of us that do, we have to see the familiar image yet look at it from a different elemental perspective.  But bottom line the deck is very readable, and it does follow the RWS, so if you are comfortable with the RWS or RWS based decks, you will be fine reading with this deck with the only challenge being the elemental perspective of the Wands and Swords suits.  The deck dos not shy away from the darker or harsher messages and is good for all kinds of readings.  The Companion book has some interesting added information on Dragons, Candle Magick and such, but overall from a Tarot perspective it is not as good as the companion books that come with many decks today.  Aside from the brief sections on the cards there is not much else there tarot-wise.

 

This deck is beautiful and readable.  I would recommend this deck to fantasy and dragon fans, intuitive readers, and I think fantasy writers would also love this deck as it brings a rich world in which to create short stories or novels.  If you like castles and the European Medieval period, from a fantasy perspective, then you will like this deck.  The symbolism in the deck is Celtic and Dragon based but I would not call it esoteric, so those of you wanting an esoteric deck, this is not it.  If you are looking for diversity, you will find Dragon diversity but not human diversity as the deck is set in a Medieval Celtic landscape.  There is no nudity in this deck.  Aunt Fifi really likes this deck as she likes readings where it all comes out as a story.  I think she finds the readings to be like her own personal adventures into the world of these wonderous Dragons.

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