Tarot of Delphi | J D Hildegard Hinkel | Review

Published by Alison Cross on

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:

The Devotees

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

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.

The Heroes 

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.

The Enchantresses

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

Alison Cross

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


Molly Alkashef · 7th April 2016 at 6:45 pm

Is anyone willing to please please please help me find this deck or is willing to sell their's? They are sold out online πŸ™

Electra Tarot · 9th March 2016 at 11:16 am

I absolutely adore this deck. It really rings true with my emotions and intuition. I interpret the courts on the fly without even trying to link them to RWS (this would be hopeless). My favourite is the Enchantress of Cups, Circe Invidiosa by Waterhouse, such a mysterious and dark painting (I saw it at the Gallery of South Australia and it chills you to the bone). Luckily, in Australia we have quite a few neo-classical paintings as those were deemed too uninteresting for the Brits at the time.

I'm still struggling with the Godward-standing-ladies paintings though, they all look the same in the end …

Check out my blog for more analyses of Tarot of Delphi : ) http://www.electratarot.com

Inner Whispers · 14th December 2014 at 6:25 pm

I thought people in the UK couldn't buy this deck for copyright reasons, or has that changed? Have to say, I'd definitely do the easy swap to traditional ranks rather than trying to learn a whole new system of courts :/

    Alison Cross · 15th December 2014 at 8:17 am

    I've sent off a quick e-mail to Tarot of Delphi to see whether those copyright restrictions are now sorted out. I bought mine and had it posted to a friend in the US and then the friend posted it to me in the UK. Sneaky, eh? Will post here when I receive a reply πŸ˜€

    Inner Whispers · 15th December 2014 at 11:21 am

    How very Page of Swords of you! Actually, that fits with this Devotee of Swords, sneaking up under cover of his shield πŸ˜€

    Alison Cross · 16th December 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Hildegard has replied – it's not for sale to the UK because of copyright restrictions. I've amended the post to include this info at the end πŸ˜‰ *goes off to sharpen her little sword* πŸ˜‰

    Inner Whispers · 17th December 2014 at 7:57 am

    Ah well, do me good not to buy another deck πŸ˜‰

Lisa L · 12th December 2014 at 4:12 am

I've taken notice in this deck that Hinkel appears to be using a number of Victorian era artists works, such as John William Waterhouse's "Circe Invidiosa" for the deck's "Enchantress of Cups", and incorporating them nicely.

    Alison Cross · 12th December 2014 at 10:09 am

    Yes, fully-illustrated throughout with these lush Neo-classical paintings πŸ™‚

Joanne Sprott · 12th December 2014 at 2:19 am

Fascinating. I've always loved the romanticism of the neoclassical artists, and can see where one could find enough paintings with the right symbolism to make a deck, but, yes, the courts are quite tricky. I'll have a think on this one before taking it on.

    Alison Cross · 12th December 2014 at 10:09 am

    The artwork is really gorgeous. I suspect that most people using it will end up equating Devotees with Pages, Artisans with Knights, Heroes with Kings (or vice versa for those last two!) and Enchantresses with Queens.

Las Magas · 11th December 2014 at 3:07 pm

Hi Alison! Excellent review! It helps me a lot! I have this beautiful deck and I am adding these court people πŸ™‚ Thank you and Muchas Estrellas!!!!!

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