Aug 312011

I have spent the last month playing with Emily Carding’s Tarot of the Sidhe. (Sidhe is pronounced Shee) It’s an interesting and creative deck not unlike Ms. Carding herself.

The deck follows the standard tarot format with a few exceptions. Pan replaces The Devil and The Elder replaces The Hierophant. The suits are Dreamers/Air, Warriors/Fire, Dancers/Water and Makers/Earth. Pages are Princesses and Knights are Princes. In the ‘little white book’, which is actually black, Ms. Carding has written extensively about the Major Arcana cards. Each card gets an explanation followed by Artist’s Notes explaining the image and symbolism in each card along with the inspiration for the various components of the image. The Minor Arcana are each given a four line poem followed by keywords.

The deck itself is printed on very sturdy stock and after a month of being handled the cards are still fairly stiff. They are a nice size giving plenty of room for the images to be clearly seen within a generous black border. The back of the cards are solid black with a large central image of the Great Glyph of the Sidhe. This glyph is also present in each of the Major Arcana. Shiffer packs this deck and its book into a sturdy box that is more than adequate to house this deck for a long time.

I find the artwork rather striking. It is bright and dark, primitive and complex, cheerful and frightening, not unlike the Sidhe it represents. As a reading deck I had some challenges early on and I had to change the way I read in order to work with this deck. That’s not a bad thing. I purchased this deck last winter and had done nothing with it. In the intervening months I kept coming across it and told myself it was foolish to spend money on a deck and never even get acquainted with it. August is a down month around here and I chose to use some of that downtime getting to know the Tarot of the Sidhe.

The best way to learn this deck is one card at a time. Don’t try to read them just study the image. As you let go of the keywords in your head and the preconceived meanings you associate with each card these cards will tell their story. Each time I revisit a card I get a deeper and sometimes different spin on the story. Some cards are still keeping their secrets. Here’s what I do know: these cards would be great for meditation and they are fantastic at weather readings.

My birthday is August 28th. My husband was planning to barbecue dinner for me. I invited my son up from the city and planned a nice end of summer evening with my husband and children. Early last week there was concern about Hurricane Irene and some uncertainty about her track. I asked the Sidhe what weather I could expect for my birthday. I pulled The Hermit.

This was kind of jarring. The Hermit on this card is kind of creepy. I generally like The Hermit in most decks and it is the card for Virgo, my sun sign. This guy is kind of ominous. I live in New York. We haven’t been hit by a hurricane since Floyd 1999. Until I pulled this card I wasn’t really concerned about Irene. Look at this card. The Hermit is very serious and pointing toward a distant hill. I live on a hill in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. There is also the red sun and sky in the direction he’s pointng. “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning” is an old seafarer’s rhyme that warns of impending bad weather. And while those clouds could be moving in or moving out, I asked about how concerned I should be regarding Irene. I took it to mean the clouds are moving in. He’s in a boat in the water and between him and the shore there is a giant spiral. It is the Great Glyph of the Sidhe but it looks like the wind pattern of a hurricane. Then there is the nature of hermits to consider. They are alone, isolated from the rest of the world. By their own choosing, yes, but isolated nonetheless.

So what happened? I waited a few days and sure enough Irene was making a beeline for the Northeast. All the projections put her path right on top of us. I cancelled the visit with my son because I was concerned he wouldn’t be able to get back to the city for work on Monday. That turned out to be the right move. New York City shut down their public transportation at noon on Saturday. Irene landed here as a slow moving tropical storm. The wind and the rain knocked out our cell tower and I was without service for three days. So I had no interaction with the outside world except over the internet and that was spotty. We didn’t have our barbecue and didn’t leave the house all weekend. Our county has been declared a disaster area. There is widespread flooding, bridges and roads were washed away in the storm and the flooding afterward. I haven’t ventured too far from home since then because of the road damage and flooding. I’d have to say this card was pretty spot on.

All in all this is a very interesting deck. I don’t see it becoming a deck I use to read for others but I won’t be putting it back in storage either. I think it’s going to take some time to really get to know these cards and I think it will be worth the effort.

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