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Sacred Circle Tarot - The Symbolism

The Sacred Circle Tarot was my first attempt to restore Pagan symbolism to the tarot in a way that speaks to, and is of use to, modern Pagans (something I realised more fully in The Pagan Ways Tarot, twenty years later). The imagery of the cards was designed to work on a number of levels, not only for divination but also to facilitate spiritual development and as an aid  to meditation.

A symbol or image can convey ideas much more profoundly than any number of words and explanations; it appeals to the psyche on all levels. The subconscious mind communicates in the form of symbols and is the messenger between the physical and the spiritual realms. Symbolism is the universal magical language.

In the native British magical tradition, each plant and animal has a place on the wheel, a magical connection within the web of being and a spiritual lesson. These feature strongly in the imagery of the deck:

APPLE: Immortality, the Otherworld, the passage of the Sun, fertility, harvest.

ASH TREE: cosmic axis, link to all the realms.

AUTUMN: Maturity, harvest.

BADGER:  Strength, power, tenacity, will, tradition.

BASIL HERB: death and immortality.

BAT: initiation, transformation,  new viewpoint.  

BEE: Great Goddess, regeneration, inspiration, eloquence, divine messenger.

BERRIES: Plenty, sustenance, nourishment, fruition, abundance.

BINDWEED: constriction, dangerous obstinacy.

BIRCH: New beginnings, renewal, growth, purification, fertility, cleansing.

BISTORT: vernal equinox, serpent power

BLACK: Rejection of the ego, possibilities waiting to be realised, anticipation. Contrary aspects: weak life force, illness, vulnerability, poor self-image.

BLACKBERRIES: goddess power, harvest, fruitfulness, fairies

BLACKTHORN: cursing, black magic,  increaser of secrets, strength, protection.

BLUE: Healing, spiritual development, protection, calm, teaching. Contrary aspects: complacency, spiritual dilettantism.

BLUEBELLS: Gods and spirits of the woodland, fairy magic.

BOAR: winter solstice, courage, fruitfulness, strength.  

BONFIRE: Light, warmth, eternal flame of spirit within, purity, cleansing, sacred centre.

BOOK: Knowledge.

BORAGE: courage, bravery.

BROWN: Earthiness, sexuality, practicality, environmental awareness. Contrary aspects: dullness, greed, selfishness, laziness.

BULL: Power, strength, might, vitality, virility, fertility.

BUTTERFLY: Cycles of life, change, spirit, the soul, renewal, rebirth.

CAULDRON: Transformation, womb of the Goddess, occult knowledge, initiation, renewal, rebirth..  

CAVE: Powers of the underworld, womb of the Goddess, place of death and rebirth, mystery.

CENTAURY: healing, altered consciousness.

CHERVIL: healing, initiation, immortality.


CHILDREN: Promise, hope, new beginning.

CINQUEFOIL: magic, altered consciousness.

CIRCLE: Wholeness, completion, eternity, absence of time and space, Deity, everlasting love. Divided circle: the balance and harmony of such divisions uniting.

CLOUDS: Difficulties, worries, clouded judgment.

CLOVER: triple goddesses, the sun wheel


CORN DOLLY: Spirit of the grain, harvest, offering.

CORNFLOWER: gifts of the harvest goddess.

CRANE: Su, writing, knowledge, inspiration, poetry.

CROWN: Power, legitimacy, victory, triumph, honour, glory.

CUP: Nurture, womb of the Goddess, emotions, feelings, love, replenishment, regeneration, inspiration, element of water, spiritual fulfilment, compassion.

CYPRESS: mourning, death, endings, evergreen tree reminder of the incorruptible nature of the spirit.

DAFFODIL: Spring, growth, joy, youth, beauty.

DAISY: Their old name 'bruisewort' indicates their efficiency in treating bruises. For the Celts the daisy was a symbol of light and Belenos, the god of the sun.

DANDELION: Solar energy, strength, life, vitality, cleansing.

DOG: Companion, guardian of thresholds, the hidden self.

DOVE: Hope, purity, peace, aspiration.

DRAGON: earth energy


EAGLE: authority, royalty, power,   upperworld

EARTH: Material realm, practicality, manifestation.

FERN: threshold,  midsummer, protection

FIELDS: As you sow, so shall you reap.

FIRE: Divine spark, creative and destructive power, energy, transformation, passion, ambition, inspiration, illumination.

FISH: Creativity, fecundity.

FLOWERS: Joy, beauty, blossoming.

FOX: Cunning, knowledge.

FUNGI: Intoxication, inner vision, shamanic travel.

GORSE: Spring, hope, positivity, personal strength, well being.

GRAIN: Nourishment, harvest, plenty, abundance, reward of labour, the power in the earth, the corn god and his mystery of death and rebirth.

GREEN: Fertility, prosperity, growth, creativity, the natural world, regeneration, beauty, harmony. Contrary aspects: envy, dissipation.

GREY: Uniformity, dullness, mourning, sadness, depression.

HARE: Renewal, lust, sexuality, fecundity, reproduction, freedom, energy, creativity.

HARVEST: completion and resolution.

HAWTHORN: Conception, fertility, coming of summer, lust, sexuality, flowering.

HAZEL: wisdom, knowledge, poetry. In ogham the hazel is coll, one of the seven chieftain trees.

HEATHER: Otherworld travel, outward spiral of initiation, midsummer.


HOLED STONES: Goddess womb, healing, fertility

HOLLY: Fire, light, warmth, masculine strength, potency.

HORSE: Fertility, sovereignty, power, swiftness, faithfulness, strength, journeys, travel, partnerships.

IVY: Immortality, death and resurrection, expanding consciousness, Divine intoxication.

JUNIPER: purification, justice and truth.

KINGFISHER: a moment of magic, a brief but significant connection with the Otherworld.

LIGHTNING: Divine intervention, message from a higher power.

LIZARD: light,  wisdom and divination, Otherworld secrets.

MAGPIE: balance, augury, trickster,  superficial glamour, omens and signs.  

MALLOW: love and fertility, death and funerals.

MAYPOLE: Phallus, cosmic axis, fertility, summer, celebration, joy.

MINT: ‘thought’, mental activity.  

MISTLETOE: Immortality, love, peace, healing, fertility.

MONKSHOOD: poison,  the underworld and death,  malevolent magic.

MOON: Cycles, time, psychic power, reflection, femininity, intuition. Waxing Moon – youth, potential, beginnings. Full Moon – motherhood, creativity, nurture, blessing. Waning Moon - winding down, age, death.

MOTH: a symbol of the soul and attraction to the light.   

MOUND: Connection with the ancestors.

MOUNTAINS: Attainment, aspiration, spiritual goals.

MOUSE: travel between the world of men and the underworld along secret paths, soul animals. Mouse shows you the way through the labyrinth and teaches you to access what you need.

NETTLES: (9 of swords) The nettle has a fierce sting, and may not be picked without paying the price of pain. Though it appears antagonistic, once assimilated it is totally beneficial, full of vitamins and minerals.  As such, it teaches the lesson of transmutation.  It is those spiritual and life experiences that are most difficult and testing which are the ones that make you grow most.

NIGHT: Rest, calm, peace, the unconscious mind.

OAK: Cosmic axis, as above so below, royalty, chief gods, druid magic.

ORANGE: Optimism, success, courage, bravery, ambition. Contrary aspects: conceit, self-importance.

OTTER: Lord of deep magic, otter guards many profound magical secrets. Otter catches the Salmon of Wisdom by being fluid and swift, not serious and ponderous.

OWL: Wisdom, sight that pieces the darkness, uncovering hidden secrets.

PIG: Underworld,  winter solstice, death, moon, hag goddess, devourer, initiation trials.

PINE TREE: rebirth, fertility, spring equinox

POPPIES: Fertility, plenty, abundance, sacrifice.

PRIMROSES: Spring Goddess,  poetic inspiration.

PURPLE: Strength, mastery. Contrary aspects: arrogance, domineering, mourning.

RAINBOW: Harmony, hope, happiness, bridge to the Otherworld.

RATTLE: Summoning spirit, awakening, communication.

RAVEN: Death, conflict, oracle, omen, foresight, shamanic vision.

RED: Blood, life, vitality, passion, energy, sex drive, protection from magic, the setting or rising Sun. Contrary aspects: aggression, anger, frustration, warning, danger, murder, cruelty, war, destruction, death.

ROBIN: Bringer of fire, protection, the sacred.  

ROCKS: Difficulties, obstacles.

ROOKS: omen, sacred to  Death Goddesses.

ROSE: Human and Divine love, the feminine, secrecy, healing, rebirth.

ROSEHIP: Fruition, motherhood

ROWAN: witchcraft, protection, divination and the dead.

SALMON: ancient knowledge and wisdom

SHIELD: Defence, protection.

SICKLE: Harvest, death, endings.

SNAKE: Fertility, healing, renewal, wisdom, life, death and rebirth into a new consciousness, fear, temptation, knowledge.

SNOWDROP: Purity, innocence, potential, promise.

SPIRAL: Life path, Sun path, death and rebirth, immortality.

SPRING: New beginning, growth, increase, opportunity, youth.

STAG: Fertility, potency, strength, solar animal, ancient knowledge, earth power, quest, change.

STAR: Illumination, direction, guidance, hope.

STORM: Troubles, emotional turbulence.

STRAWBERRIES: Mother Goddess, Midsummer, fairies.

SUMMER: Ripeness, increase, plenty, opportunity.

SUN: Expansion, growth, energy, creativity, the conscious mind. Rising Sun - new beginnings. Setting Sun – endings, transition. Noon Sun - full power, full expression.

SWALLOW: the transformation of the land  in spring, heralding the coming of the gentle rains which fertilise the earth, protection, joy.

SWAN: prophecy, music and poetry.  

SWORD: The element of air, mental activity, idea, knowledge, intent.

TANSY:  Immortality, spring equinox

TORCH: Enlightenment, hope, illumination.

TOWER: Strong structure, restriction, material possessions, guarding, imprisonment, crystallized thought, closed mind.

VERVAIN: magic, ancestor contact

WAND: The fertilising phallus, element of fire, creativity, life energy, the spirit, will.

WATER: Emotion, subconscious mind.

WATERFALL: Free flowing of emotions.

WEB: The pattern of life, thread of destiny, wyrd.

WELL: Underworld, womb, healing.  

WHEELS: Forward movement, progress.

WHITE: Purity, harmony, spirit, psychic development, the dispelling of negativity, purification, cleansing, tranquillity, protection

WILLOW: Feminine energy, water, emotions, inspiration, poetry, Moon magic, water magic, witchcraft, love, fertility, tears.

WIND: Challenge, change, adaptability, movement, spontaneity

WINTER: Maturity, rest, stillness, old age.

WOLF: Fierceness, nurturing, unconscious mind, dreaming, guide, new knowledge.

WOODPECKER: rebirth,  opener of the ways,  

WREN: Bringer of Divine fire, ancient knowledge, kingship, cleverness, sacredness.

YELLOW: Intellectual development, strength of mind. Contrary aspects: cowardice.

YEW: Death and rebirth.  

Sacred Circle Home Major Arcana Cups Discs Swords Wands Sacred Sites Depicted