John Matthews | Camelot Oracle
In the first part of this two-hander, I spoke with Camelot artist, Will Worthington, with the focus on the portraiture and artwork of the new deck. Today it’s the deck’s author, John Matthews who chats about Camelot.
few weeks ago I was talking to you about the Tarot of Nostradamus and
here we are again, talking about another new publication – The
Camelot Oracle. Do you ever sleep?
What’s that? I’m just a workhorse; I work all the time. Can’t
remember the last time I had a holiday. No, wait, I did
on holiday to the Orkneys two years ago with some very dear friends.
I remember I spent the first week trying to get used to not doing
anything, then I did a bit of work on a children’s novel I was
writing; then it was time to go home!
most days, sometime as late a 2 am, then sleep a bit longer in the
morning, then start again…..In fact, there are three new projects
just about to come out. The
Lost Tarot of Nostradamus,
which you mentioned, was finished last year, but got held up,
and it’s only just released. Then there’s the Camelot
which is due any day; then there’s a third deck: The
Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine,
which is something I’m sure we’ll be talking about some other
time. That’s due out in November. But really this is not because
I’ve written and completed three big jobs in one year (though in
fact I did do two other things as well as working on a documentary
film I’m making for my own production company), but because there
were various problems with the printing, so they all ended up coming
out of the same time.
already have the Arthurian Tarot under your belt and many other
Arthurian-inspired publications – including the Ladies of the Lake –
what prompted the creation of the Camelot Oracle?
been using The Camelot Oracle as a teaching device for several years.
I used to draw a map on a flipchart, and put in the places and what
was found there; then I’d tell people about the characters – little
summaries of their lives – and invite participants to select one of
these characters to journey with. It worked so well, that I started
thinking: wouldn’t it be great if I could have a permanent map and
information about the characters that anyone could work with. That
was the beginning. I put it together in such a way that we had cards
with the characters on, and the map of the Lands Adventurous, which
is where all the magical things from the Arthurian legend take place,
in a huge forest. The publishers loved the idea, and it didn’t take
much persuading to get Will Worthington involved, because this is the
theme and subject that brought us together in the first place. He and
I have always loved the Arthurian legends, and when I suggested to
him that we do this project he jumped at the opportunity. The
results, as you’ll see, are amazing. He’s given us 40 portraits
of the most familiar and extraordinary characters from the Arthurian
legend. It’s not hard to think how one great it would be to select
one of these to be a champion – someone to go along with you on an
blog is about Court Cards, do the characters in the Camelot Oracle
operate like Court Cards? If so, are there any direct
correlations between the citizens of Camelot and the citizens of the
isn’t really a tarot in any sense of the word. The idea is that you
take one of the archetypes as a champion, a companion on the quest.
Then you take another one to be your challenger. Then you set out on
your journey; your champion goes with you, your challenger awaits
your coming, and has a question for you, a challenge. You answer to
that, and the direction the path you take, and where it leads to,
generates the Oracle. So the characters in the Camelot Oracle are a
little bit like the courtiers in tarot in that they can be interacted
with, and can help you find answers to issues.
Can the cards be used as, say, a card of the day…. Or other quick spread (eg whose energies help/hinder me today)?
me about the Path cards?
Path cards are intended to act as either randomly chosen or selected
pathways to a particular place. So you might take one path leading to
the castle of the Grail, or another to Lancelot’s Castle of joyous
guard, and in each case this represents a different reality and helps
you find an answer to your question.
does the Camelot Oracle bring to the divinatory table that other
decks do not?
think what makes The
original is the opportunity gives all those who use it to actually
interact directly with extraordinary archetypal characters from the
Arthurian legend. Who can imagine not wanting to go with Arthur
himself, or Guinevere, or Galahad, or Boars – or any of them, on an
adventure. Not just any adventure, but one that will actually help
you discover truths you did not know, answers to issues that may be
troubling you, actual advice from the great heroes and heroines of
the Arthurian world?
I love them all. I think inevitably my favorites have to be Arthur
and Guinevere; but I also have a special affection for Palomides, the
Saracen knight – there’s something about that amazing face, the
hawk on his wrist, his costume, that really inspires me. Plus of
course he’s a great character anyway, though not so well known are
some of them.
is your favorite character in the deck and why?
I have to say really it’s all of them. But if I answered the
question in a different way by saying who my favorite character is in
the Arthurian legend, then I would have to say Merlin. He just has
everything. He’s a magician, a seer, a poet, and a warrior. What’s
not to like?
are you currently working on and what is your next publication?
afraid the list is quite long! Partly this is again because of delays
between books getting finished and actually getting into print. Right
now I have just finished working on the Oracle
of Dr John Dee,
which has amazing art by Will Kinghan, who did the Steampunk Tarot
and a couple of other decks that I’ve created. This is going to be
again quite different from a tarot, but involves all of the many
disciplines that the amazing Dr Dee practiced. Then I have a couple
of children’s novels, featuring a character called Henry Hunter,
who’s a kind of young Sherlock Holmes crossed with the Young
Indiana Jones. He solves mysteries using his intelligence and
knowledge of books! It’s a departure for me, but I’m looking
forward to seeing how they go, because if they go well I have a whole
series worked out. I’m also just working on a short book about the
history of shamanism. And if I survive all of those, there are a
whole bunch of other projects in the wind – including a couple more
with the amazing Mark Ryan. So plenty to look out for.