My order of the Cathar Tarot arrived today and I’m so excited to be reviewing it here for you.
The presentation is superb with a sturdy, beautifully printed sleeve from which the box is drawn by using the silk ribbon attached. The book mirrors the sleeve design and is illustrated with typical Carcassonne scenery under a sky lit by golden stars. I’ve been to Carcassonne several times; the countryside is beautiful and verdant, and the old town speaks to me in a voice that is at once joyful and sad. This deck has a similar effect on me; and I haven’t even touched the cards yet!
The authors’ names appear on the front of the box and on the front of the sleeve; John Matthews and Wil Kinghan. The booklet itself is printed onto heavy cardstock and the feel of it is immediately comforting and intriguing. Apart from the indications of the meanings of the cards, the booklet tells a little of Cathar history and relates this to the tarot. The descriptions of the cards are both clever and informative. The majors described relationship to the Cathars themselves is, I think, the key to this deck and the pips and courts have been given strong but easily relatable meanings; beautifully written and fitting well with the artwork. I can’t wait to read the whole booklet; but it is time to explore the cards.
A small disappointment to this otherwise perfect presentation is that the cards have to be tipped out of their nest; the silken ribbon from the sleeve is not replicated, which I thought a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, the cards do not disappoint in any way; printed onto stiff cardstock and faced and edged with golden colour. Shuffling them suits my hands and turns up the seven of swords on the bottom of the deck and the lady of swords on top.
The booklet gives ‘light’ and ‘dark’ interpretations to the cards and, to me, the suggestion is that the deck should be read with upright and reversed cards. For those who prefer not to use reversed cards I think it would be ok to look at the relationship of all the cards in the spread to decide if the reading itself is primarily dark or light; I haven’t yet sorted the deck as I usually would so all of the cards remain upright. Swords can bring light and truth to a reading but they can also bring battles which cold be seen as reflecting the Cathar existence; which seems appropriate for this first taste. In any case, I’m kind of glad to have turned up two swords cards; I relish a challenge. The artwork is extraordinarily beautiful, if just a little ‘religious’ for my personal taste; but there is no denying the symbolism and I look forward to doing a ‘proper’ reading in due course.
To the two swords:
The story attributed to the seven tells, amongst other things, of coming through a period of darkness and the indications from the lady are of acceptance, of perceptiveness and of subtlety; I would definitely like this lady on my side. Taken together, it seems to me that these cards are a well-suited pairing; the seven’s long road may only be made better by the help and support of those around them and the lady brings qualities that they will need to move forwards.
I intend to explore this deck fully as I use it in spreads and postings and I hope you will enjoy reading these. In the meantime, I am extremely reluctant to put these beautiful cards away and I would say that this is a deck which will appeal to everyone who is open minded and who like to explore the connections between the esoterism of tarot and the myths of religion. The richness of the artwork is a triumph but may not appeal to readers who prefer the stripped back symbolism of other decks; but it would, in my opinion, certainly deserve a place in any collection with pretensions towards completeness.