Can you tell me more about the Merlin Tarot Deck?

By insightful | retired

Insightful Question:

Does anyone know of or has had dealings with the Merlin Tarot Deck? I can’t remember off the top of my head who designed it.

The problem is I am having trouble reading them.

I am still learning the tarot and I have done some accurate readings for my best friend over the phone with these cards but doing a reading in person is difficult.

The minor cards have little explanation as to their meaning and when I do a reading I am sometimes getting conflicting “feelings” as to what is meant.

I would really like to “stick it out” with this deck because I do feel so drawn to them but I don’t want to eventually stop reading (or learning to read) the tarot altogether because of this deck.

Insightful Answer:

Well, you certainly picked yourself a challenging deck. You don’t say whether or not you also received the book that accompanies the cards. If I remember correctly, the Merlin Tarot is one of those “theme and system” decks that uses the life and experiences of Merlin as illustrations on the cards. In order to get the most from this deck, you need to put yourself into the Merlin “mind set” and follow the Merlin “system” as set forth in the book.

I love the artwork on this deck, but it does not have traditional images on many of the cards. In particular I remember the Major Arcana card of the Hanged Man. There’s a whole explanation in the book about why the man is hanging from a tree, over a ravine, with his head in the water. It took me a couple of days of living with that card to understand all that was going on with it.

And that’s why it’s challenging. It’s a good meditation deck. A good deck to “enter the picture” and interact with the characters and scenery. It isn’t necessarily a good deck for readings and I sense it’s one of those decks that is for personal use only. (Mine doesn’t like to be shared. It’s for my energy only.)

I hope that helps you out a little. Try putting the deck under your pillow for a couple of nights and see if it will communicate with your dreams as to what the cards mean and how they would like to be used.

Of course, I had to go prowling through the collection to find the Merlin deck. I had forgotten that the Minor cards were illustrated as pips using keywords, no elaborate illustration. I had also forgotten that the Major cards were renumbered to the author’s system (ie. The Moon, usually #18, is numbered 1, and Empress, usually #3, is numbered 20). It doesn’t really make a difference to the meaning of the card, but when one is used to a certain sequence it can be a little confusing to change.

The cards are sequenced, according to his book, after the path number he assigns it to on his Tree of Life. Which is, and isn’t, like the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Same basic pattern, slightly different interpretation. He has the Major cards divided into three worlds, three wheels, ascending (internalizing) trumps, and descending (externalizing) trumps.

The pip cards are in suits of Birds (air), Serpents (fire), Fishes (water), and Beasts (earth), with beautifully illustrated (by Miranda Gray) court cards of Page, Queen, Warrior and King. I think if one is just beginning to explore Tarot, it’s difficult to use a pip with a single keyword. An illustration gives a broader base for interpretation of a card. The 7 of Birds (Swords/Air) is labeled “Dishonesty”. Which is accurate as far as it goes. But it doesn’t give the intimation of sneakery, misdirection, and disguise that an illustrated 7 of Swords depicts.

You might want to work with just the Major cards for a while. There is plenty of imagery there to give very good readings. And use the Minor cards to clarify a Major card. I guess I’m going to have to play with these again for a while and see what happens.

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