Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm | Interview

Published by Alison Cross on

Whose favourite Druidcraft Tarot card
is this, The Princess of Swords?

Hot on the heels of the Carr-Gomms’ highly successful Druidcraft video-conference sessions  hosted by Linda Marson at GlobaI Spiritual Studies, I was very honoured when they both took time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions for Tarot Thrones about the Druidcraft’s wonderful Courts.

Me (A):  First of all – thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog!  You are a Tarot duo that I have admired ever since I laid eyes on the DruidCraft 🙂

Philip and Stephanie (P&S) “Thank you! And now we can start a mutual admiration society because we’ve discovered your blog and love the way you’ve given it the focus of the Court cards, which – as you know – is of great interest to us and starts off our book and the training we’ve developed that we’re calling Integrative Tarot.”  

(Ali: more on this powerful Integrative method in a future post!)

A: Quite often the Court Card section of a Tarot deck can be a real disappointment: very little thought or symbolism seems to be included in the cards.  Not so with the Courts of the DruidCraft who are exquisitely detailed characters both in the artwork and on the written page.  You and Stephanie put great emphasis on the Court Arcana with the Druidcraft – what prompted you to do that?”
P&S: “The Hanged Man perspective! Looking at things in a completely different way – turning things upside down and inside out, certainly helped. When we worked on the DruidCraft Tarot, after looking at hundreds of decks, dozens of books, we noticed exactly what you have said. It’s as if the authors and artists focus on the amazing Majors first, then the pips, and by the time they reach the courts they’re exhausted and don’t seem to give the same level of attention to them. What convinced us was not turning things around and saying – “if everyone finishes with them, let’s start with them,” as a sort of attempt to be different or unique. No – it was because we realised that the Courts represent the Tarot’s own special typology – just as astrology has twelve, the enneagram nine types, and so on, the Tarot has sixteen. And when I remembered that the most commonly used personality typing system in psychology is a 16 fold one – the MBTI – that clinched it for me, particularly since the MBTI evolved out of Jung’s four-fold typology which correlates so beautifully with the principles of Druidcraft. Later I discovered in Mary Greer & Tom Little’s book that various others had made correlations, which was fantastic.

“But the story goes on, because at that time I was working on the book in New Zealand. Steph was in Sussex, Will was in Manchester, the publisher’s art director was in London. Steph and I were skyping about the project, and emails were whizzing between all of us. A friend in NZ had trained with a teacher called Glynn Braddy who used the four elements as a key part of his teachings. This friend talked at length to me about his teachings and in particular about the different facial and body types associated with the elements, explaining that predominantly airy people had thin faces, aquiline noses, and piercing blue or grey eyes, while Earthy types were more likely to be stocky, with round flat faces,and so on. I relayed this information to Will, and so we have very consciously delineated differences between the Court figures of each suit. 

“Incidentally, Glynn Braddy seems to have influenced a number of people, including Stuart Wilde, and an internet search will reveal comments such as:

“Glynn Braddy, an Australian, was another lecturer who was particularly brilliant and of course controversial (almost all the greats are). Some considered him a metaphysical genius with his ability to combine science, nutrition, philosophy and metaphysics in his teachings. His mind traveled over a vast landscape. I use the past tense because I don’t think he teaches anymore but I attended a few of his workshops and they were in a league of their own. I use the information I learnt from Glynn on a daily basis.” James Wild. Leon Davis has produced a novel based on his four element teachings: ‘The Seasons Within’  as has Geof Spalding with his book The 33rd Sage .

A: I e-mail interviewed  Mary K Greer (for my blog) and we spoke about the Personality Profiling that she and her colleagues did in her wonderful Understanding The Tarot Court and she said that they couldn’t agree on how to allocate the 16 types to match the 16 personalities of the Tarot Courts.  Do you think that this is because the Courts aren’t people, but facets of people’s character?”
P&S “No I don’t think so. When you go into the subject of personality profiling and typology it becomes really quite complex and subtle – as it should do! After all we’re all quite complex contradictory creatures! And so I think it would take a lot of work to refine our understanding of the correlations between the MBTI types and the Tarot types, and maybe it isn’t an exact correlation anyway. But I think this requires more research and it’s rather nice to know that not everything has been discovered and worked out! I hope one day someone with a few years on their hands – perhaps a psychology graduate with a real interest in typology – will tackle this and let us all know their findings.”
A: “Yes, that would be wonderful!

“I very much enjoyed the two sessions that you and Stephanie did with Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies and was impressed by the two sets of questions that you had developed to help people work out which suit and rank best represented them.  Do you think that one’s answers (and therefore Court personality card) to these questions will change, depending on the nature of the question that the sitter is contemplating?”  

(Ali:  Those two sets of questions will go up here on  m’blog, with full permission from P&S next week!)

P&S “That’s an interesting idea! The questionnaire as you know is very basic – but despite that it seems to often be quite accurate. I tried it last night on my mother and daughter – both Geminis – and they absolutely refused to go for one answer in each section. It took ages of saying ‘Yes but if I put a gun to your head which would you choose?’ before we could work out their types and I think they got a good fit. Your idea suggests that if – for example – you were struggling with an emotionally upsetting issue and you were feeling particularly vulnerable, you would be more likely to choose a statement that related you to a Cups Court, while if a day or so later you were wrestling with a practical or financial issue you’d be more likely to select a Pentacles court. I guess that’s certainly a possibility. One way around that would be to do the questionnaire separate from any reading, and to do it several times over a few months. If you consistently came up with the same Court I think it would be pretty accurate. “
A: “My favourite card is the Queen of Wands – I love the expression on her face, the billowing fire, her pose, the cat beneath her throne…..THAT wand!  Which Court personality card is your personal favourite – and why?”
Philip: “I love the Princess of Swords. In the original paintings the egg tempera blues of her dress and cloak are just stunning!”
Stephanie: “I really like the Prince of Wands – he looks so joyful bounding along on his horse, over rolling waves of grass, he’s just having so much fun!”

My favourite DruidCraft court card alongside Stephanie’s favourite!
A: “We’ve had to wait a very long time for dedicated DruidCraft workshops to materialise – will you be running any more?”
P&S:“We weren’t sure how a webinar would go – but we found that it’s a great medium to teach Tarot because the cards are a visual tool and therefore a visual medium like a computer screen is perfectly suited. And in addition, being able to interact with participants AND have it all recorded so students can go back over the material later is fantastic. So yes we’ll be doing more I reckon!”
A: “I’m very interested in the creative process between deck authors and deck artists, can you tell me how you and Will Worthington went about creating these expressive cards? Did you send very detailed remits as to what you wanted to see in the images or did Will have a lot of creative leeway?”
P&S: “For most we sent quite detailed briefs, but for some we said to Will ‘Why don’t you go ahead and just see what comes to you, as long as you have these two or three symbols/elements in there.’ Most of the time we agreed, but occasionally we struggled together but that’s good – that shows creativity is taking place. Giving birth isn’t easy after all, is it? It was definitely a joint process, for instance – ‘Death’ which we absolutely love, was our vision, which Will executed brilliantly. ‘The Wheel’ on the other hand was Will’s inspiration – and it’s fantastic, one of our favourite images!”

A: Thank you so much to Philip and Stephanie for taking the time to answer all these questions! I hope that your interest is piqued by the Integrative Tarot style mentioned.  You can find out about the 16 personality types in much more detail in Philip’s book: The Book of English Magic, pp 45- 465

See the full range of books by Philip Carr-Gomm:
Read Philip’s blog:
Find out more about OBOD:

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


Inner Whispers · 15th May 2014 at 8:03 pm

As the creators of one of my favourite decks ever, it was interesting to read what they had to say. Though as a double Gemini, I think I'd also be "well, maybe this or that, or the other depending on the day" with the questionnaires 😀

Alison · 12th May 2014 at 9:26 pm

Kept my interest all the way through as well! Really interesting…

Cat Dubh · 20th March 2014 at 8:54 am

Fabulous and lively interview, Alison! I usually loose interest half way through interviews but this kept me engaged and informed all the way through. Many thanks!

    Alison Cross · 24th March 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I'm so glad that you enjoyed it – it's tricky when you have a gazillion questions that you want to ask, but don't want to have loads of scrolling for your reader lol!

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