All content and illustrations © Anna Franklin unless otherwise specified | Email Anna

Anna Franklin  Author & Illustrator Blog

Pagan Ways Tarot

The Pagan Ways Tarot is a fully illustrated 78 card deck which explores Pagan themes and mysteries through the Major and Minor arcanas alike.

Published by Schiffer

The tarot is often called ‘The Journey of the Fool’ and the cards give a rounded picture of human life, of who and what we are and the forces that shape us.

The Minor Arcana describes the outward journey of life and its lessons, while the Major Arcana describes the inward focus of the path of spiritual quest and initiation.

The stories of the Gods are threads in the tapestry of this deck, creating links between cards, between the Major and Minor Arcanas, winding between the outer and inner paths.

The Fool’s Journey is viewed not just as the mundane path through life, but the experience of spiritual growth from its first impulse to initiation.

For more on the cards, see The Pagan Ways Tarot  Facebook page here

The cards

Each card of the deck is fully illustrated with a god or goddess.

The accompanying book explores their symbolism, the lessons of their stories and the meanings of the cards.

Buy Amazon US Buy Amazon UK

In creating a new deck that changes some of the names, symbols and imagery of older decks, I’m followed a long and honourable tradition. This is an unapologetically Pagan tarot, and the ideas within it are based on the Pagan worldview, its symbols and teachings, rather than the Judeo-Christian imagery of older decks.

 Pagans recognise that the material world we perceive with our five senses is only part of the whole. There are unseen Otherworlds overlapping our own, populated by gods and goddesses, nature spirits and elementals, the conscious embodiments of natural forces and energies responsible for the functioning of the universe. For the Pagan, everything has a soul or spiritual essence.

Each card features a god or goddess. The stories of the gods are threads in the tapestry of this deck, creating links between cards, between the Major and Minor Arcanas, winding between the outer and inner paths. There are gods from many different pantheons to illustrate the fact that the concepts they embody are not restricted to one culture or period, but are universal ideas that embody mythological truths. The phrase ‘mythological truth’ is not a paradox. Myths are stories that give us clues to the nature of life, temporal and spiritual, manuals to the whole experience of ourselves and others.  Used wisely, myths initiate the individual into the realities of his or her own psyche and become guides to spiritual enlightenment.

I took the conscious decision not to depict deities in ‘national costume’ but instead to portray them in generic clothes, firstly to create a cohesive look to the deck, and secondly not to confine the ideas they express within any one nation or time. There are hundreds of thousands of gods and goddesses. Within a single pantheon the names of the gods are not always consistent as some deities absorb the titles and attributes of another with the passing of the centuries. Mythologies evolve and change, are absorbed and assimilated into other cultures. In the end, it must be remembered that we humans view the Gods anthropomorphically in order to identify with them more closely as concepts we can easily grasp, but in truth they are not limited by the forms we give them. As Joseph Campbell points out, they are ‘masks’ which serve as metaphors for an “inexpressible transcendence, the being beyond all being and the idea beyond all thought”.

While the Minor Arcana describes deities with specific names and functions, the Major Arcana illustrates the great archetypal energies. Both Arcanas describe a path of spiritual growth.

It will be seen that the eight major festivals of the Pagan year are reflected in the princesses and queens of the Minor Arcana. Princesses mark the opening of each season, while queens represent its zenith. The tides of the year weave a magical web which twines about us and binds the life cycles of humankind, animals and plants together. There is a balance of energy pouring into the land during the spring and draining away again in the autumn: a time to receive, a time to pay out. This is something not well understood nowadays, when darkness, death and winter are deemed to be evil and unwanted, rather than a necessary part of the whole.

The four knights represent the quintessential action of the suit, and the four kings its corresponding element in its purist form.

The tarot lends itself to the fourfold view of the universe recognised by shamans and mystics around the world: the four directions, the four elements, the four pastoral festivals, the four sun festivals and the four seasons. The suits of the Minor Arcana correspond to the four magical tools of the Pagan – the sword (or athame), the wand, the cup and the pentacle. Most modern Pagans follow the Golden Dawn system in which swords correspond to air, wands to fire, cups to water and pentacles to earth.  These powerful symbols encompass a universe of meanings within them.