WRITTEN BY: Chloe Hill
Chloe Hill is a TABI member with a beautiful deck – The Mythic Tarot. She offers a highly insightful and detailed analysis of how this deck handles. You can also explore the deck further as Chloe takes part in the Interview With My Deck.
These cards have been with me since I began tarot card readings in my teens, twenty years ago. Recently a new version has arrived and you can only get the print I have reviewed here second hand. The older version is still my favourite. Personally, I prefer the originals for style and design.
When I first started using tarot, I found the Rider Waite deck did not resonate with me as easily as the Mythic deck. The Mythic deck presents a comprehensive integration and interpretation of the tarot through the stories of ancient Greek Mythology. The authors; Juliet Sharman Burke and Liz Greene, describe the Greek Mythology as the underpinning of narratives in western culture. Greek mythology expresses archetypes that we can use to explore inner psychological experiences familiar to everyone. As does the tarot, essentially, though the flavour of this deck is ancient mythological figures.
The cards are stylised, with slightly two dimensional imagery of the pantheon of gods, goddesses, mythical figures and heroes and heroines of Greek mythology. An Earthy palette of colours is used and fine details embellish each image. The characters appear, illustrating a moment in an Ancient Greek story that also corresponds with a tarot card meaning.
For example ‘the 8 of cups’. Its’original meaning is ‘moving on from a situation and new beginnings’. In the Mythic deck, the card depicts Psyche descending in to the underworld at night under the instruction of Aphrodite, to complete a task that will reunite her with her love, Eros.
She leaves behind a stack of 8 cups behind her to symbolise the tasks she has already completed for the Goddess… with some trepidation. No one can survive entering the underworld so she goes with a sense of giving up, of letting go maybe even grief.
The symbolism has kept the original suits of wands, pentacles, cups and swords. Tricia Newell, the artist has maintained wands as fire and swords as air. All the higher arcana keep their original titles such as ‘the Devil’ ‘Judgement’ ‘Hierophant’ but the imagery is replaced with illustrated versions of the Greek gods.
I have particularly liked this deck because original higher arcana cards that I struggle to interpret such as ‘The Devil’ and the ‘Hierophant’ have a more palatable symbolism. For example, take ‘the Devil’ -depicted as Pan, god of nature. The original sinister, slightly satanic imagery is removed and the meaning comes to be more about our animal instincts, unconscious drives and needs. The Hierophant which in its original form speaks of the traditional values and codes of established institutions. It becomes Chiron, the wounded healer, teacher and guide who symbolises higher learning.
The set comes with a hard cover book, detailing with each card in three stages. The first section explains the Greek mythical tale that the card depicts. Secondly, it describes the inner, psychological meaning of the Greek myth. Thirdly, the book describes the divinatory meaning of the card. If you want to do a quick reading with the cards and you are learning by the book, you can skip the full explanation and just read the divinatory part. Or if you want to take your time, you can pick one card and read the entire dissertation. The books moves in a flow of stories portrayed in each suit, so to read for example, the whole suit of wands is to follow the stories of Jason and the golden fleece; as he appears in several of the Wands cards. You can learn a little about Greek mythology at the same time if you were to choose to read from cover to cover.
The cards themselves are about a standard sized tarot card and fit in my hand nicely, however, something some have complained about is the thinness of the cards. They are not that durable, nor shiny, and mine have become quite weather-worn over the years. (Which I like- it gives them character) Whether the new deck print has remedied this or not, I cannot comment, but if you are searching for a second hand pack, be warned, they are quite thin.
I find the clear imagery and stories present in the cards make for easy reading, I can always see meanings and situations in the cards that I can talk about. If you have learnt with the Rider Waite deck and are looking for something new, yet still keeps some semblance of the original meanings then you may enjoy this pack, though it will take some getting used to as the imagery is often very different even though the titles have been kept. For those with an interest in classical mythology this may also be a nice addition to a collection.
The Mythic tarot Book: A new Approach to Tarot Cards
By Juliet Sharman-Bruke and Liz Greene
Illustrator: Tricia Newell
Published by Simon & Schuster