Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
The Book says: The Imaginer shows the seascape of Manannan, the Irish God of the Otherworld and of the Sea. Like Odysseus, he is courteous and cunning, a companion to our soul’s seafaring. He issues invitations to his realm to those who are worthy to seek his rich treasury. The golden-oared boat is an authentic image of the vessel used by those who made the immram or heroic voyage to the Blessed Islands of Manannan. Under the light of the moon, within the rhythm of the tides and currents, we discover our deep harmonious self.
Keywords: Imagination; latent powers; attunement to the rhythms, tides and patterns of one’s life; unconscious influences; dreams and visions; introspection; creative conception; pregnancy.
Reversed: Illusions; fear of the unfamiliar; inflexibility and impatience with natural rhythms; mental disturbance, magnification of worries and problems.
TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card speaks of the soul journey to the center of ourselves. Irish myths and legends offer several stories of heros’ voyages to a number of mystical islands before finally returning home, changed forever. Manannan also serves as the gatekeeper to the Otherworlds and he guides and guards these lands. We cannot visit these islands without Manannan’s approval. In his role and lord of the seas he also can help us cross the waters of emotional turmoil that arrive in our lives.
This card reminds us that even when we feel we are most alone in this voyage to the center of ourselves, we are not alone. Whatever one chooses to call one’s greater power it is there for us – guiding and guarding us on our journey. It is an opportunity for healing and growth, crossing over to a new level of emotional growth and introspection. The Imaginer reminds us that while the journey may take us to uncharted territory and unfamiliar places, we can safely make the journey and reap it benefits. But first we have to get passed our fear of the unknown and our worries about what is hidden along the journey.
I’ve been working with this deck on and off for several months now and thought it was about time to write a review. In the interests of transparency I will confess that I consider Ellen a friend however I don’t believe that will impact my impression of this deck.
I was privy to the fact that Ellen was working on a Dark Goddess themed tarot a few years ago. I remember chatting with her about the project and what goddesses might fit the energies of various cards (not that I’m in any way implying I influenced the creation of this deck). I thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to see how Ellen manifested this concept. It was worth the wait.
The deck is a traditional Tarot deck with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into 4 suits – Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The court cards are Amazon, Siren, Witch and Hag. Ellen tapped into goddesses from a wide range of world cultures – Irish, Norse, Aztec, Inuit, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Indian and more. In the companion book (which I highly recommend purchasing if you get this deck), Ellen writes about each individual goddess’ mythos as well as what it might mean if she appears in your reading and some ways to connect with her energies. Ellen’s art is classically simple with a palette that uses bright and neutral colors to create engaging images that are rather unexpected in a deck devoted to dark goddesses. It’s a refreshing break from the moody, gothic-inspired dark decks that are out there.
One of the things I find intriguing about this deck is that many of the goddesses included are not traditionally thought of as “dark”. For example Gaia, Nut and Baubo come to mind as goddesses who might not be considered dark. However when one looks at the myths and legends connected to these goddesses it becomes clearer that even the brightest goddess has her dark side. This makes sense when you consider that even the sweetest, kindest humans have their dark sides too.
I’ve been working with this deck for several weeks now as part of a personal journey. Each day that I use it I come to appreciate its energies even more. I’ve always been drawn to dark goddesses, in fact I consider The Morrigan one of my matron deities. This deck has helped me grow more familiar with these dark goddesses as well as introduced me to some with whom I was totally unfamiliar. Would I make changes to this deck? Of course I would if I had created it – then again that’s true of most decks and in no way detracts from Ellen’s accomplishment. She has managed to bring the darkness into the light and allow us to explore and connect with its energies in ways that are not frightening or threatening. She has helped introduce these powerful, awesome goddesses to an audience that might never have learned about them otherwise and can now work with their energies to heal, grow and explore their own internal darkness as well as help guide others. If you have any interest at all in working with goddess energies then I strongly recommend adding this deck to your collection.
Today I began working with the Celtic Wisdom Tarot by Caitlin Matthews. I have a strong fondness for this deck because I love the theme of Celtic myths & legends (especially when they are done by someone who knows her stuff) and the artwork (although a bit rough around the edges) draws me to it.
Today I simply asked my guardian spirits for some guidance. In response to my request I drew the Courtship of Knowledge reversed (aka 3 of Pentacles) crossed by the Combat of Skill (aka 5 of Wands) reversed. Once again I find myself in a world of blocked, untapped energies. That isn’t a bad thing (maybe they’re finally reaching a place where I can tap into them and utilize them to my best advantage). However it can be a frustrating thing for me.
So if I consider what they are telling me I would see the Courtship of Knowledge card reminding me that I need to continue opening lines of communication with my spirit guides; getting better acquainted with the divine. I know I have been sadly neglecting my spiritual life lately and this card is a reminder that needs to change. It’s in my best interests to do this not to satisfy or impress anyone else.
The Combat of Skill reminds me that things are not always what they seem. This image represents the story of the sons of King Eochaid and their quest to become his successor. While on a hunt/quest to decide their fitness to rule, each brother is confronted by an ugly hag who requests a kiss. Each denies her until the youngest son, Niall (Eochaid’s son with his concubine Caireen) agrees and embraces her. She then turns in to a beautiful woman – the Goddess of Sovereignty and grants Niall the right to rule after his father. This tale is a reminder that what is worthwhile is not always attractive and alluring, at least not at first. It also reminds me that if I don’t face my fears I’ll never conquer them.
So if I want to overcome the challenges and obstacles that block me I need to face my fears and regain some connection with my spirit guides and the divine. I’m sure this will prove to be a lifelong process but I have to remember to keep moving forward.