I have been working with the DruidCraft Tarot since I first bought my deck in 2004. The powerful images (which draw on Britain’s landscapes and ancient past and embrace both Druidry and Wicca) have helped me through the best and worst of times, and also helped guide many of my clients.
I’ve spent so many hours working with this wonderful deck that questions have arisen – about subtle details, names, and influences. I was delighted to have an opportunity to ask the deck’s creator, Philip Carr-Gomm, some of my questions.
Magic of The Court Cards:
For me, the outstanding achievement of this deck is the court cards. For many people, these are the hardest part of the tarot to really connect with – yet the DruidCraft Tarot contains 16 distinct people, each one perfectly capturing the essence and energies of the card.
So what helped Philip and co-author Stephanie Carr-Gomm and artist Will Worthington, create them so perfectly?
“Many tarot books start with the major arcana with all the massive archetypes, follow through with the pip cards and then seem fairly exhausted by the time they get to the court-cards- because designing a deck is just such a massive undertaking.” says Philip. “For that reason, I wanted to start with the court cards first, rather than see them as an afterthought. My background in psychology was another reason I was drawn to start with people first.”
In his thirties, Philip took a BSc degree in psychology at University College London, and then trained in psychotherapy for adults at The Institute of Psychosynthesis and began a private practice. With this background, perhaps it’s no surprise that the court cards are the real star of this deck. Just talking to Philip, I could sense his genuine love and fascination for people, but I was still curious – how did he manage to get each court card so perfectly reflective of the energies it represents?
The answer was surprisingly simple. They correlated the four suits with the four elements, then reflected the relevant element in the person’s facial features and body type.
Philip explains: “So we have a family of air types in the swords, each with aquiline features and penetrating eyes. Earth characters, in the suit of Pentacles, have rounder faces, larger eyes and stockier figures, and so on for the other two elements.”
However much I love the DruidCraft deck, the Princess of Cups has always seemed slightly separate somehow. Very beautiful, reflective, and connecting with nature – but there is not the usual indication that she is creative, which is so often included in other decks.
It turns out that this card was painted before any of the other cards. In fact, the painting was originally created to capture the beauty of autumn. The card was the inspiration for the whole feel of the deck, and then became the Princess of Cups. Now I understand her importance, and I admit to loving this card more than I did previously.
Who is Philip Carr-Gomm in the deck?
I asked Philip which court card he associates with, and he knew straight away. “I see myself as the King of Wands.” If you’re keen to find out which court card you are – or would like to find out a little bit more about each of the 16 personality types of the Tarot, then there is a fantastic questionnaire in his book “The Book of English Magic”.
Difference to the Rider-Waite
The DruidCraft Tarot is an eclectic deck. Some cards are very reflective of the Rider-Waite deck, others are changed completely, even in name. I was curious about this and asked why.
Philip explained the deck was designed for simplicity and ease of use. As the Rider-Waite is the most well-used deck, he used it as a base for their deck, with the intention that people could pick up the deck and start reading with it easily.
“We wanted to create an easy-to-use deck that would stand the test of time. Names were only changed if we felt it was necessary,” he says.
Talking to him, I got the feeling that he only made changes to card names and structure if he really felt it enhanced the deck and helped the reader. I love the fact that he seemed to think more of the users’ experience of the deck than his own creative visions…To read the entire interview click here.