Deck Review – The Hermetic Tarot

The Hermetic Tarot  by Godfey Dowson

The Hermetic Tarot
by Godfey Dowson

The Hermetic Tarot

Based upon the Esoteric Workings of The Golden Dawn

By Godfrey Dowson

U.S. Games Systems. INC.

Firstly, let me give a big thank you to Psychic Bazaar for sending me a copy…

Now, I must confess that when it comes to my wish list, this deck has been in and out more times than a fiddler’s elbow… There’s the part of me that thinks that every tarot collection should have at least one black and white deck and then there’s the part that says… yeah… but I love colour so much, and I’ve already bought two black and white decks that ended up being coloured in… Will I be able to resist the urge to get the pencil crayons out…?

My copy of The Hermetic Tarot turns up and I am instantly smitten. On the box it says ‘The Hermetic Tarot’s esoteric designs emphasize the Golden Dawn’s astrological attributes with further sephirotic, angelic, geomantic, numerical, and kabbalistic elements. Now revered as a classic, this deck’s black and white artwork by Godfrey Dowson features intricate detailing that highlights the powerful symbolism’

It sounds like a deck for serious study and it comes with a 72 page LWB that is weightier than many and is filled with elemental, astrological and kabbalistic references and there is a rather nice section at the back, describing how to sit down with the questioner to perform the reading. Though I must admit to being slightly disappointed that the spread described is the Celtic Cross (not that there is a problem with the Celtic Cross per se… It is a classic for a reason) because, after talk of elements and kabbalah, it felt a bit of a mis-match and I would have preferred to have seen a spread such as the Tree of Life, or something with a more astrological feel maybe… but then I have no problem with seeking that out on my own time…

I slide the cards out of the box and  they feel pretty good in the hand and instantly it strikes me that the backs look like a magic carpet and I hear the deck say  ‘Where would you like to fly today?’

Magic carpet...

Magic carpet…

These are a nice shuffle… they glide and fly at a good pace in an overhand shuffle and they riffle neatly without fear of creasing or bending… I fan them out and I seek out the cards that make people shudder when I am out and about… I call them the Ruin, Death, Destruction… Here, they are -Ten of Swords, Lord of Ruin – XIII Death, Child of the Great Transformers and XVI The Blasted Tower, Lord of the Hosts of the Mighty.

Ruin... Death... Destruction...

Ruin… Death… Destruction…

They are intensely striking cards but I don’t feel that they will shock the crowd too badly… and I feel my main reading problem with them, will be down to the fact that I often read in dark places (that refers to the level of lighting or lack of in venues rather than the state of my soul…) and as such will not be able to see the full glory of all the detail that is packed in there.

I wonder how easy to read they will be, as I’m not the most studious of readers, so I turn to the courts, which follow the order of Princesses, Kings, Queens and Knights. I find 16 storytellers, these court cards have big personalities and are filled with tales of myths and legends and that Queen of Swords feels to be biblically epic and almost seems to cry out… Bring me the head of John the Baptist…

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And if the pictures don’t talk to you then the titles are certainly highly evocative… My imagination is immediately taken hostage by Princess of Pentacles – Princess of the Echoing Hills…

I’ve found it very hard to put this deck down and it is easy to lose big chunks of time just sat with one card… the pips fascinate me, particularly the pentacles where the images seem to swirl and move like optical illusions…



So… Is it safe from my pencil crayons? Yes… I think so…

Who do I think would enjoy this deck?

Most readers… I think there’s something in there to cater for a wide range of tastes, whether you are looking for some Geek Chic or you are a lover of the Random Ramble…

Give it a whirl.

And thank you again to Psychic Bazaar.

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