Tarot of Delphi | J D Hildegard Hinkel | Review
Another beautiful Tarot birth, midwifed through the process by the astute backing of many Kickstarter supporters! The tag line for this project was ‘Know Thyself’ which is inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, but it could just as easily be ‘Know thy Neo-classical artworks’!
This is a 79-card deck (with an additional card permitting a choice between two Empress card styles) based on the sensuous and sumptuous classical visions of Victorian and Edwardian artists. The card-stock (and lift-top box!) is of excellent sturdy quality and the glossy cards slip over each other beautifully. The deck measures 3.07″w x 5.04″h and comes with a small accompanying book 66 pages long.
Looking first at the 22 Major Arcana cards, we mostly have the traditionally titles with five exceptions:
X (Wheel of Fortune) is renamed Threads of Fate
XII (Hanged Man) is now The One Torn Asunder
XV (The Devil) becomes The Siren
XVI (Tower) transforms into Shipwreck
XXI (The World) is renamed Garden
Keywords for these renamed cards are familiar to those who work with RWS decks. So, no hardship there!
The Minor Arcana suits are as expected: Wands, Cups, Swords, Coins and the cards are fully illustrated throughout.
The Court Cards are completely restyled as Devotee, Artisan, Hero and Enchantress. These titles perfectly lend themselves to the style of artwork used but don’t translate directly across to traditional ranks (Page, Knight, Queen, King).
Let’s look at the Courts in their ranks:
These characters are the courts ‘most devoted to what the suit represents’.
Each of the card descriptions comes with details of the painting/artist and Hinkel’s observations about the card, rounded off with some useful key words.
As an example, the keywords for the Devotee of Wands (The Priestess – J W Godward) are: “a guardian, protector, privacy…. gestation of creative ideas…. secretive”.
The Artisans are those characters ‘most able to use their suit’s qualities in productive ways’.
Looking at the Artisan of Cups (The Roman Wine Tasters by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema) the keywords are include ‘appraising, discernment, cultivated, objectivity’ etc which can easily be linked to the qualities in the painting used, but again, like the other ranks of the Tarot of Delphi, doesn’t obviously translate to any particular traditional rank.
These characters are ‘the energetic, living expressions of the suit’. What would these be – Knights or Kings? Kings are those who walk the talk, but the Knights are more energetic about their business, so again, a very individual take on a court card rank, not a straightforward rank exchange.
Let’s look at the Hero of Coins (Hercules wrestling with Death for the body of Alcestis – Lord Frederick Leighton). The keywords here include ‘bold, adventurous, vigour and vitality’ which can be easily applied to the character in this image and won’t be a chore to commit to memory.
Meet the ‘conscious application of the suit for desired ends’. This level of mastery sounds almost Kingly, but I would be doing Hinkel a disservice if I said that the Enchantresses equated to Kings. They are, in fact, very much their own women and our final look at the Delphi courts dips into the keywords for the Enchantress of Swords.
This is Sybil by Lord Frederick Leighton and in the accompanying book, Hinkel explains the Sybil’s role and importance in the ancient world. Keywords here include: Sagacious, Piercing, Erudite, Prescient.
So, what do I think of the deck?
I think that the paintings chosen are beautiful and the eye devours each card greedily.
The accompanying book illustrates the suitability of the painting and it is easy to see the connection between the RWS interpretations and those offered by Hinkel. It also contains a couple of spreads and many pages of image credits.
I do, however, find the courts slightly tricky because of their unique structure. This is an issue that will lessen over time as one become more familiar with the Devotees and their compatriots. Beautiful deck for readers experienced with the RWS, tricky (in the courts) for a beginner.
Do you have this deck, what do you think of it? I’d love to hear your opinions.
You can buy the deck here: www.tarotofdelphi.com
*** Due to copyright restrictions, this deck is not for sale in the UK ***
*whispers* but you COULD get it delivered to a lovely US friend who will then post it to you ;-D
The Tarot’s Court Cards are my specialist area. They talk to me.
Not LITERALLY though ….