Tuesday, 17 April 2018


Circle Network Book Review: Hallowquest - Tarot Magic and the Arthurian Mysteries by Caitlin and John Matthews 254 page book to accompany the Arthurian Tarot Cards by Caitlin and John Matthews. 

This book contains black and white scans of each of the tarot cards in this deck, each of the Greater Powers has an extensive explanation, with archetypal and divinatory meanings, and there are comprehensive write-ups on the Lesser. The template for this deck are the Celtic myths and early mediaeval stories of King Arthur and the Round Table. Spear, Grail, Sword and Stone are the 4 Hallow suits and each have traditions, correspondences, archetypes of Kings, Queens, Knights and Maiden of four castles all described in a good level of detail. 

Each card is a doorway to the Otherworld. Rituals, exercises, games, meditations and shamanic journeys provide complete initiatory system, a new way of using tarot which deepens understanding and experience. Correspondences between titles and traditional tarot is provided, such as The Seeker in the Wasteland is The Fool, Marlin is the Magician, The Lady fo the Lake is the High Priestess, Guinever is the Empress, Arthur the Emperor. It is possible to use this as a workbook. The work was inspired by Gareth Knight's Servants of the Light course.  There are chapters on ethics, the language of symbolism, information on the 'Matter of Britain' and who Arthur was in myth. Users will need to work with the deck and study the material. It is important to know the storyline presented. 

I have chosen  ‘Merlin' to illustrate the beauty of the artwork and the depth of explanation. This card is numbered 1 and shows Merlin as a mature and centred man of influence and power, preparing the way for Arthur. Above his head are red and white dragons, locked in combat. Behind his right shoulder is the crumbling castle of the unworthy King Vortigern; behind his left, is a dwelling, created for him by his sister with which to see the heavens. He is looking at a map which is laid out a stone table with the four Hallows, the Sword, Spear, Grail and Stone Chessboard. Merlin was born of an earthly mother and Otherworldly father, giving him knowledge of both physical and non-physical realms. He does not use his power to manipulate but to balance and mediate, to intuit and take wise action. It was foretold that the safety of Vortigern's castle could only be achieved if the blood of a child with no father was sprinkled upon the foundations, and this put Merlin in great danger. However, Merlin proved that the crumbling castle was due to the warring dragons.  

Card IV is titled ‘Arthur’, a card of leadership, authoritative energy which wields power for the benefit of all, organisation, community and self-sacrifice. The image shows Arthur, as a combination of a dark-age battle lord, God hero of the Romano-British and caring Christian King. He is sitting on a stone throne on a mountain top. He carries a dragon flag and his sword, Excalibur is resting on his lap. A Cornish chough perches nearby. As Arthur leads his army into the underworld of Annwn to rescue Gwenhwyfar from her faery abductor, he encounters the Goddess of Sovereignty. He must accept her challenge and avoid pursuing his own desires. When he is dutiful, he receives support from the Goddess and, as she is his Foster Mother, she instructs him in the ways of Kingship and life wisdom. Her promises for this commitment is that she will provide him with a wife and receive him on the last day of his earthly life and deliver him safely to the isle of Avalon.

I enjoyed this book and it enhanced the use of the Arthurian Tarot deck immensely. Fabulours artwork and rewarding depth of tarot philosophy. Review: Wendy Stokes

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