Away with the Birdies!
Today I thought I’d introduce you to the Court Cards of the Secret Language of Birds Tarot by Adele Nozedar and Linda Sutton (artist).
Before we talk about the Courts in this deck, you will see that this suit, Cups, is entitled Coppe. Adele pays tribute to the Italian 15th century origins of the Tarot (as we currently understand them!) and each suit and Major is named in Italian, but fret not, the accompanying book has it all in English too.
Each suit is allocated a bird; for the Cups it is the Kingfisher, as you can see.
The Court structure has been re-imagined by Nozedar and we see the Page/Princess role now taken by the Queen and the Knight/Prince role is now filled by The King. I can see your eyelid starting to twitch – is that confusing the hell out of you, dear Thothites? 🙂
The two high profile roles that had belonged to the King and Queen have now been transferred to the God and Goddess of the suit.
The reason for the inclusion of a God and Goddess is that birds have always had associations with the divine because they can fly right up there to the highest heavens and commune with the Gods themselves. They have also been associated with Divine messsages and interaction with us in mythology (eg Leda and the swan) and also in biblical stories – the Dove and the Raven in the Noah’s Ark story for example.
By adding the God and Goddess elements, Adele reminds us of those divine links between the birds and us and the birds and the Gods, and us and the Gods.
Adele and Linda have sneaked in the occasional famous face too – and here you can clearly see the young Elizabeth Taylor….and I’m pretty sure that I should know that other dude next to her – Is he Dylan Thomas? That’s who provides the quote that opens the section on the King of Cups, so that’s who I’m plumping for! *complete philistine face*
To marry bird augury, one of the most ancient forms of divination, with Tarot (the most popular!) is, I think, inspired! In the accompanying book, Adele gives many interesting details of the mythology of the birds and how it’s an appropriate symbol for each card.
The Kingfisher symbol transforms into the Feng Huang – the Chinese equivalent of the Phoenix as it enters the realms of the gods. This transformation also takes place as the bird rises towards the Gods in the other suits too.
And you will see that the Court structure doesn’t end with the God, but the Goddess! I like the idea of concluding the Courts with a Goddess and not a God – keeps it fresh! *high fives anyone passing*
So – what do you think of Adele and Linda’s Coppe Court Cards? As ever, I’d love to hear your comments!
Published by Schiffer. Words Adele Nozedar. Art Linda Sutton
You can find our more about Adele’s work here and Linda’s work here
Joanne · 16th June 2012 at 7:40 pm
A "dear Thothite" responds: Actually, makes perfect sense. In the Tree of Life story in Duquette's book on the Thoth, the King/Knight and Queen in the story of the descent of divinity into matter could actually be classified as God and Goddess since they live above the Abyss that separates the divine from the material worlds. The Prince and Princess in the Thoth are located below the Abyss line, so it works.
Lisa Hunt and Co. placed the Goddess last in the Shapeshifter Tarot also, which I thought was cool, but those did represent particular Celtic Goddesses. Looks like from what you say that all the birds transform into the Phoenix when they get to the God and Goddess realm, is that correct?
Actually, I think it would be fun to have an all-bird symbolism for a deck. So many species and contexts, as well as the traditional mythological associations…
alisoncross · 18th June 2012 at 11:43 am
So glad not to have caused any confusion Joanne, lol!
Not all the birds transform into the phoenix, but they do all transform into other birds. For example, the Wren of the Pentacles transforms into an amazingly decorated owl, the skylark of the Wands becomes the Berunda (a creature from Hindu myth).
That would be a very interesting concept for a Tarot, going to give it a go?!
Inner Whispers · 16th June 2012 at 5:38 am
Gah, I've been bravely resisting this deck for months, and now here's another temptation… I really like the God and Goddess idea, do they actually name particular deities for each suit? And I had thought "birds are all related to Air/Swords, how's that gonna work?" but I can definitely see the link between Kingfishers and water. *wanders off to take a look at more images*
alisoncross · 18th June 2012 at 11:40 am
No, the deities are not specified – they are simply the God and Goddess of the suit, Chloe.
The Pentacles are wrens
The Wands are skylarks
The Swords are seagulls