A conversation on one of the tarot forums about whether the Druid Craft Tarot is “mean” prompted me to run it through my “Tell Me No Lies” personality-profile deck interview.
The top row is the Wands row, indicative of the deck’s vitality and spirit; the second row is the Cups row, showing the deck’s fluidity and sensitivity; the third row is the Swords row, expressing the deck’s eloquence and directness; and the bottom row is the Pentacles row, conveying the deck’s solidity and reliability. (Note that reversals are not useful for this analysis.)
The Wands row here holds the Magician, the 2 of Wands and the 5 of Cups; the deck may talk a good fight, but it has a “glass jaw.” The Cups row contains the Prince of Wands, the 3 of Cups and the 3 of Pentacles, encompassing Fire, Water and Earth, not the most cooperative elemental match-up; expect some clumsy footwork when dancing with this deck. The Swords row has the Devil, the 5 of Swords and the King of Pentacles; The Devil will lie and the King will swear to it, with the 5 of Swords defying anyone to contradict them. The Pentacles row offers the 8 of Swords, the Ace of Pentacles and the 7 of Pentacles; Air and Earth are elementally antagonistic, so the two Earth cards that would normally be completely at ease here have to watch their backs, distracting them from delivering the goods.
The left-hand column describes “First Impressions,” or the face the deck presents to the observer upon first encounter. The series runs top-to-bottom, Wands (Energy); Cups (Heart); Swords (Voice); Pentacles (Substance). These cards provide a stand-alone snapshot and are not paired individually with the cards in the next column. The most compelling thing about this column in the present spread is the two Major Arcana cards – the Magician and the Devil – telling me that the deck is willful and something of a contrarian. Asking it “touchy-feely” questions will probably make it bristle.
The Magician in the Wands position indicates that the deck is strong-willed and is going to have its say regardless of what kind of message the querent is seeking from it. Remember John Candy as “Mog” in the movie Spaceballs telling Lone Star “When you’re right, you’re right. And you’re right”? But here it’s the Magician talking to himself.
The Prince of Wands in the Cups position implies that empathy is not this deck’s strong suit; even though the 3 of Cups in the next column tries to “make nice, I’m not buying it. This guy is too self-assured to compromise.
The Devil in the Swords position “speaks with forked tongue,” never giving a truly straight answer. There is always a “side-bar” conversation going on, and if you don’t have your eyes, ears and mind open to it you may miss something important.
Speaking of closed minds, the 8 of Swords in the Pentacles position is parsimonious with practical advice and would rather not communicate at all. You would have to pry her mouth open to pull her teeth.
The center column shows the deck’s usual “manner of speech” and “conversational tone.” The vertical sequence is the same as before.
The 2 of Wands in the Wands position is forthright to a fault and wants only to get its point across. No waffling allowed.
The 3 of Cups in the Cups position attempts to be affable but it can’t get that Prince of Wands out of its head.
The 5 of Swords in the Swords position is argumentative and stiff-necked.
The Ace of Pentacles in the Pentacles position is convinced that it has all the answers and doesn’t want to debate the issue. Take it or leave it. It’s inflexible nature reminds me of the old Popeye cartoon character’s motto: “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.”
The right-hand column displays something of the deck’s overall nature; the cards are read in combination with the middle set to provide a more ample description of the deck’s potential. The vertical sequence is again identical.
The 5 of Cups in the Wands position is more prone to regale the querent with imaginative tales of woe than to offer inspiring counsel. It could easily pose as Bob Dylan singing “Desolation Row.” All that adding the 2 of Wands to the mix will do is dial up the humidity and make the yarns more lurid.
The 3 of Pentacles in the Cups position is one of the better cards in the spread, especially when paired with the 3 of Cups in the previous column. If the reader approaches the deck with a light touch and the proper utilitarian attitude, some good may come of it. Think finesse rather than forcible extraction.
The King of Pentacles in the Swords position is stern and unabashed in his pronouncements: no frills and no nonsense. Joining this King to the 5 of Swords invokes a sour attitude to boot.
The 7 of Pentacles in the Pentacles position is more interested in taking inventory than in lending a helping hand, and the “tough nut to crack” that is the Ace of Pentacles doesn’t even get a rise out of it. This card spells “unfinished business” and is not about to get on with it when a new challenge is being waved in its face. The Pentacles in this deck seem particularly dour, and there are three of them in this column. With the 5 of Cups at the head of the parade, it’s liable to “rain on your parade,” telling you things you’d rather not hear, and then show you the door.
There is absolutely nothing progressively “Neopagan” about this deck that I can see; it looks like old-school to me, “red in tooth and claw.” There is no question that it is tough as nails and a little short on “sweetness and light,” but it seems more stern and unforgiving than mean. There are no miracles in it’s universe, and it won’t tell you that water can be turned into wine unless you have the horsepower to make it happen. Maybe it’s a “thing” with pagan decks, but this one conveys a “masculine” vibe in the same way I found the Tarot of the Old Path to wander away from its feminine roots. None of this bothers me since I don’t expect gauzy visions of rainbows and fairies out of my decks, but those who are sensitive to harsh (or at least somber) overtones might want to stay away.