Friday, 15 August 2014

Sacred Isle Tarot Overview

This week's deck has a real fantasy feel, I can just imagine it illustrating Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series...  Yet, there is something more elegant about these cards from the Sacred Isle Tarot (self-published, 2014).  Probably connected with the fanciful, almost dainty architecture of the palaces it shows.

The Emperor is a good example of this, with his fairytale castle in the background, more whimsical by far than the German castle it is based on.  He looks appropriately solid, on his pillar-flanked throne and holding a golden ankh and a blue globe that matches the turrets behind him.  There is a majesty to what he has built, or what he holds responsibility for.  His slightly fierce expression reminds us that he takes his work seriously.

Another serious man, though with a rather less extravagant castle, greets us in the form of the King of Pentacles.  His sumptuous robes are richly decorated in golden thread, and the colours about him are autumnal.  On his table are a golden pentacle, but also the abundant fruits of his harvest.  Elementally, he combines the red of fire with the brown of earth, a strong yet grounded leader.

At first glance, the Ace of Cups is very traditional: a spiritual being (here an angel rather than a dove) pours water into a cup which overflows into a beautiful sea or lake.  The swans hint at beauty and love, and the lotuses further suggest spiritual connection.  Yet, the clouds that boil around the angel are fierce, with lightning piercing the sky in the background, belying the calm of the waters.  Spiritual connection, overflowing emotion, and yet with the risk that an emotional storm could also come from these powerful feelings!

Finally, the Eight of Pentacles adds a nice touch to the apprentice working on his skills.  There is the suggestion of burning the candles at both ends, yet also the promise of what that effort can achieve: the impressive cathedral behind the young figure.

A quick word about the cards themselves.  The cardstock is a nice thickness, flexible and not too bulky, but seeming sturdy enough to last.  The cards are a little larger than most (8.5 x 13cms) and laminated only on the front, which lends them a slightly unusual feel.  Altogether, a charming deck, though not one for those who are put off by nudity.  Although not gratuitous, there are more naked, female pictures than in a traditional deck (for instance, in the Three of Wands), as well as both male and female full-frontal nudity on the Devil card.


  1. It does look interesting. I always enjoy these overviews as they give me a good idea of whether a deck would be good for me or not.

    My deck tastes are becoming more and more refined. I recently bought the Dugan Witches Tarot, which I hope to review eventually. It actually exceeded expectation but it is maybe a little too photo real for me to read with ease. I find I get more with something like the Dreaming Way, which I am using right now. I can't put a finger on why this is. It might be because there is less going on in the images.

    Nice to see well painted art here though :)

    1. Hi Steve, glad you enjoy these overviews, I wasn't sure if people would find them useful or not.

      I agree with you, I prefer a well-drawn but simpler image to photo realism. I thought the Dugan Witches Tarot was okay, but wasn't blown away by it. I think the Silver Witchcraft Tarot has more interesting ideas behind it. Will look forward to your review :)

  2. I love your overviews Chloe.This seems like a very readable lovely deck
    Did you know it is also available on Foolsdog?

    1. Well, I guess now the Foolsdog have a good tarot template, it's fairly easy for them to fit new decks into it. And apps are ever more popular :D