THE ANIETH DECK
Below are the cards and an explanation of what is on them, the symbols, the plants and animals, and their significance in the books.
The Ace of Cups (Cuacha) is a picture of a Hazel adept, covered in blue dots, for the first level of the body is a point and the color blue. He is in a coracle, pouring a coupt of water, holding up one finger. In the front are the water plant of a cattail and a blue gentian. In the back are hazel and willow trees, the willow for water, the hazel connecte to the salmon and also a water tree. The sign is a round sign made of willow leaves. The ogham is the number one.
The Ace of Wands (Batai) is associated with the second level of emotions. His has a two forked beard, has two fingers pointing down, and has two roe bucks behind him. His color is red, and his face is covered with red lines. Behind him are the holly tree and a birch tree. In front of him is a wand of fire with mistletoe wrapped around it and plants of mullein and bracken. Throughout the books, the holly is associated with wands, but the silver birch is tied to the roe deer and the number two and level two. The sign is an opposing pair of holly leaves forming a line, for opposition and extremes. The ogham glyph is one.
The Ace of Blades (Sceana) is another Hazel adept with his face covered in yellow triangles for the third level of the mind. He is shown with the plants of blades, all spiny or needled or yellow: teasel, dandelion and nettle. He is surrounded by pine trees, connected closely with this level. He is visited by three hoodie crows, an oracle, trickster bird associated for a long time with riddles and wind magic. This suit is full of birds.
The Ace of Stones (Clocha) is associated with Spring and green and social interaction. He holds out four fingers and has his face decorated with green diamonds. His necklaces and bracelets are four, and his beard is done up in four knots. His lap is covered with strawberry blooms and he sits on a large stone in front of a young oak tree. At the base of the stone are more berries and clover. His glyph is a four-fold oak to make eight.
The Ace of Cords is a woman making cages and masks and baskets. Her hair is done in the hazel style of netted with ties. She is outside of time and outside of the hazel specialities shown by the markings on their faces. She is the center. Behind her is a white swan with goslings. She has trapped a duck in her cage of hazel. Her sign is the ash leaves of five.
The deuce cards are all of two animals, either facing off, or playing, for this level is the first outward expression of body, emotion, mind, action and the spirit. The Two of Cups depicts two otters knotted in play. The Two of Wands shows a Scottish wild cat kitten investigating a shrew in front of an ancient holly tree. The Two of Blades shows two herons, for the heron was the first bird to bring the alphabet, like the ibis of the Egyptian Thoth. The glyph shows three pines. The Two of Stones is a lynx and a kitten in a pine, but against a green mountain scene for the family is part of the social interaction of this suit. The Two of Cords (Snatha) shows two hares challenging each other in a dace under the moonlit sky in front of an ash tree. As you can see from the Ogham glyphs, we are counting upwards.
The Three cards show some of the scenes from the Anieth Books. The Three of Cups shows the Oracle, Lonrach, one of the Rowan clan with two Ash maidens in attendance. They are daning in a sea of bellflowers. The Three of Wands shows a crow in an alder tree in autumn. Although a trickster bird, the blackbirds are also tied to the fiery emotional side of Wands, for they are carrion birds and birds of war. The alder tree was long held in reverence by the Celts as a "tanist" tree or a tree of sacrifice because the sap is bright red so it looks like it is bleeding when cut. The Three of Swords shows Teig bearing a three scrolled messages, for he is a scientist and of the mental suit of air. Overhead are three ravens. The Three of Stones is a picture of Ellie and Valon playing a game like chess, betting with feathers, for gaming is one of the chief interactions of humans. The Three of Cords shows three women of the Ash Clan, or perhaps three Fates spinning flax in front of an ash tree.
The Four of Cups is a picture of a frog on a lily pad. The frog was a symbol in Europe of sorcery, often shapeshifters and witches. The frog here means change or the shift from an adolescent to an adult. The lily also shows that with its roots and stem invisible, appearing like magic above the waters. The Four of Wands also depicts the end of girlhood in the holy marriage of Morga to the Quicken King. The Rowan is another red tree of emotional power, it is also known as the quicken tree. The Four of Blades shows Korutos, a foreign commander in his yellow clothing showing a junior officer. He is asleep, being investigated by Faol a notorious shapeshifting magus and Morga's son, Manwen. The Four of Stones shows a goat upon a wall. This goat is wild, and is also know as an ibex, that lives in the mountains of Europe. The Four of Cords shows Luaith, a Lynx shapeshifter, whose name means "gray." She prepares poison in her mortar and pestle while Lorg Arinn watches. She is about to kill a king, acting in the role of the woman who heals and kills.
The Five of Cups shows five bats, another animal closely tied to witchcraft and shapeshifting, which is body magic. Bats were associated in Europe with vampires, or creatures who tried to make themselves forever young by sucking the blood of humans. Anything undead or unnaturally young is closely tied to body magic and the suit of Cups. The Five of Wands shows five rooks on the skull of a fallow deer in front of an ancient rowan tree. The rook, another black scavenger, was also associated with emotional conflict. The fallow deer are tied to the other birch tree of Europe, the river birch. The Five of Blades shows Luaith as a wolfhound, tricking the other wolfhounds away from her lover. In this picture she barks at a pine marten. The Five of Stones shows five lynx kitten in a holly tree, with one kitten looking on. The meaning of the card is competition, which is certainly what these kittens are doing, competing for dominance in a family. The Five of Cords is a picture of Arn Ri, the Thorn King, with his spiral and the totem statues behind him. There is one white owl. This figure in this position is a wizard of time and nets people up on his ticket of briars.
The Six of Cups shows six grey seals, or selkies, as they are called in the British Isles. The selkie is another shapeshifter, closely tied to the sea, usually in the form of a beautiful woman who returns to the sea. The Six of Wands is another family of otters, notorious clowns and very family oriented. Many of the animals and trees appear in different suits in different positions as they are tied to the individual meanings of the card itself. The Six of Blades is another picture of the astronomer, Teig, and his owl-shaper friend, Tyllu. He is at the observatory at Taranhai a college of one the Nine Nations. The Six of Stones depicts a beaver, once common to Europe, eating an aspen tree. The aspen is called the "trembling" tree and closely tied to Christ and the sacrificial hero of this suit. The beaver is a builder, a hoarder, and an animal that symbolizes work and accomplishment. The Six of Cords shows a spider weaving a web on an ash leaf. The spider is another symbol for all of the craftswomen goddesses like Athena, Freya and Brigit. The Ogham glyphs have changed because the Celts counted in fives and twenties.
The Seven cards begin to be more oppressive in their outward expression. The Seven of Cups is for gluttony, and who better to show this than the brown bear when the salmon are running. The Seven of Wands shows seven people walking down the avenue of trees to the Island of Oblivion. The Seven of Blades shows a long-eared bat in the moonlight surrounded by moths. The Seven of Stones (theft) shows a wolf stealing a leg of an animal from a bear who is already distracted by a honey bee nest. The bear is closely tied to the oak tree in European lore, and the bee is always associated with work, communication, flowers, spring and pollen. The Seven of Cords shows an Ash maiden sewing shirts for the enchanted seven swan brothers.
The Eight of Cups shows water that is fetid and "stuck", but acts also like a mirror for the fox, an animal closely tied to the willow tree. Although a kind of trickster, the fox was known in Europe for acts of seduction, and is another shapeshifter. The Eight of Wands shows a raven eating rowan berries. Again, a trickster bird, but also a carrion bird and a bird of the emotional states of power and will as well as a bird of the mind. However, the long-eared owl, here on the Eight of Wands is always a bird of the mind. This own sits in a wild cherry or plum tree, tied to the Thorn King. The Eight of Stones shows an oak tree next to a standing stone marking a border or a trailhead. The Eight of Cords shows women weaving again, this time making rush flooring. The woman in the back is stripping withies for making baskets.
The Nine of Cups shows nine killer wales herding herring into a spiral. The Nine of Wands shows the serpent boats of the Summer People and Teig in his coracle with Tyllu. Any kind of fire is usually associated with Wands, emotions and red. The Nine of Blades depicts the Nine, Fallow Doe shapeshifters, all daughters of the White Doe. The tree is an upside-down tree, often heard of in European lore. The Nine of Stones shows two chamois fighting for dominance. The Nine of Cords shows the Ash King Raol, trapped by the Ash Clan in a hopeless battle where they were burned alive.
With the ten cards, the signs of oppression peak, beginning with the Ten of cups showing saturation, by a wild pig swimming across a bay with a sky full of gulls. The Ten of Wands shows the ritual burning of effigies of the King and Queen of the Summer Nation just before their people rose up in rebellion. Three ravens talk about the burning. The Ten of Blades show Teig being taken prisoner to serve as a priest in Zelosia. The Ten of Stones shows Ellie trapped in a prison, the Ten of Cords shows the red deer (elk) stag king.
The Muse cards all represent shapeshifters in their shaping. The Muse is a card that shows an adept of this particular magic. The Muse of Cups is the Salmon King, the Muse of Wands is Fuilteach of the Alder with a raven smoking mugwort. Mugwort, a dream herb, is seen in the front and an alder tree in the back. Fuilteach's arm is changing into a tree. The Muse of Blades is Tyllu of the Own Clan. The Muse of Stones is Dubh, son of the Oak King, whose mother was Elder. He is changing into an Elder tree, another tree tied with the oak and with spring and the fertility of this suit. The Muse of Cords is Luaith or Gaupe of the Lynx people.
The Protector cards all show warriors of some of the Clans. The Protector of Cups is of the Willow Clan by her white hair and tattoos. She fights with the "s" spear and is surrounded by foxes and willows. The Protector of Wands is of the Holly Clan, showing the fire spears of the fighting Cuilinn. He is surrounded by ravens. The Protector of Blades fights with arrows and is of the Silver Birch Clan. She is surrounded by deer. The Protector of Stones is of the Rowan Clan, a clan that fights with stone shurikens. He is surrounded by ducks and stands in front of a rowan and a beech tree. The Protector of Cords is the Ash warrior, Nimheadas, whose name means "poisoner" who fights with bone string darts.
The Queen Cards, or Agent/Transformation Cards represent some of the Queens of the Nine Nations. My definition of a Queen is a pregnant woman, or one who is transforming matter into life. Cups is represented by the Swan Queen, Ornait Glenacca with the aspen trees and bellflowers behind her. Wands depicts Tamiu Veldonacca, the Wolf Queen of the Moon Nation, with her wolves and a holly tree behind her n a field of poppies. Blades is represented by the Cat Queen of the Fire Nation with her three cats in a pine tree. Stones depicts Nathathara Gwaranacca, the Serpent Queen with the arching briar of the Summer Nation. Cords shows Ula Druacca the Elk Queen with five ponies and a antler of an elk behind her.
Instead of King Cards showing power, I wanted to show the aspect of the father, which is teaching the next generation. These could be Kings (Chiefs) but they could be any father, who is made a king by his children. Cups shows Kirg Anglenacc with his firstborn son, Niall. Wands shows a father playing a drum while his children dance to the light of two fires. Blades depicts a man teaching his sons to carve wood using a stone, Stones shows a man teaching his children weights and measures for commerce, and Cords shows an Ash man fixing nets with his children.
Finally we get to the fifteenth cards, or the Sage cards, which, for me, are a representation of the perfect adept of each of these spiritual path. The Sage of Cups is represented by Bán Eilit, or the White Doe, surrounded by the antlers of her lovers. Willows and her mortuary house is behind her. She is a Baba Yaga character, both adept in shape changing, but also a crone character attending the dead. Her cauldron shows her cannibal side. The Sage of Wands is a picture of the Raven King, Bleid Abrannan. He dances the Raven Dance in front of an old alder tree on top of thirteen raven skulls. Ravens fly around him, seeming to burst from his chest. in this Dance, those Ravens who could not survive the night were eaten by the Alder. The Sage of Blades is another picture of Arn Rí, the Thorn King, who could never speak without riddling or questioning. He sits with other Thorns turned to trees, his hair in bloom showing his thoughts to be flowering. He is wrapped in his briars and has his owls. The Sage of Stones shows Rúnda as Ruis of the Elder, a Clan of healers. Her hands are decorated so that all may see that she has healing hands. The Sage of Cords is the great Nion Naoú, or Ninth Ash, the Ash Mother casting her net of living stars. If you remember from Norse mythology, the ash tree was the world tree, or the center of the galaxy, its roots reaching into the underworld.
The Major Arcana
In my long studies of Western Mythology, in particular the work of Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell, I realized that the Major Arcana was four spiritual paths that interconnected and became story archetypes. The first of these paths, the Path of Water, is the bride's story. I go on about this at length on other pages.
The bride's path in the Tarot deck begins with the Fool, and progresses to the Holy Marriage, here depicted as the Hawthorn Queen with her owls dancing around the May Pole. The Ogham letter is "h" but the sound is also a "w" sound. This card is known as the Hierophant in Christian decks. The lovers are standing before an ancient apple tree and the word in Gaelic is related to that for heart and coupling. The next card is that of the Empress, shown here by LiHara Druacca as the Ash Queen. The next point on the bridal path is the journey into the dark as the Empress consumes her own children (or stands accused of it) having become the dark queen or the stepmother. She is judged and this card is the Justice card. Shown here are the feathers of Maat, and the panel of men who accuse the bride. After death, or a near death, the bride takes on the aspect of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, here showing as Temperance with Morga and Fann with the moon willows.
The hero's journey needs little explanation. The path begins with the fool card and goes to the card of the chariot, a card representing the contest or the game, but also the vessel to the "other" world in which the hero must compete for the elixir to take back to save the kingdom. He is helped or hindered by fortune, here showing as Lucia and a circle of cards and the Celtic word "rotha" or wheel. If he wins the kingdom, he becomes the Emperor, or the power of might (Smacht). He wears the royal blue and is represented by the eagle and oak, both trees of Zeus. As his power grows, his trust is corrupted and he, too, turns on his own people. At the end of his reign, in ancient days he was sacrificed to cleanse the land of the bad luck he had taken up into him. The Hanged Man represents this holy sacrifice. Here the king is hanged upside down on the world tree of the serpent. He is resurrected in his son, represented by the sun card, since a generation in old Europe was 19 years or one-third of the metonic cycle of the sun. This card is the elder tree, or the last tree in the Ogham alphabet.
The trickster's tale is familiar to most, but an unfamiliar spiritual path. It is the path of the shaman, who is able to call the birds to his aid, figure out the secret languages of the other world, and invoke spells to harm or help. This is the wizard's path, but also the path of the most government officials. It begins with the fool, and then jumps to the other world, where the Magus hears the call of blood and must go into the world to effect justice. Here the Magus is the wolf and the rose of the mighty shaman shape-shifter, Faol. The Magus always falls into darkness where he rules Hell as Hades. The Devil is his King guise, but this card represents his boredom where he tricks and pricks people with riddles and impossible tasks. He tempts them and teases them like the magpie or the thorn. His domain is death and the death card is a gate where people pass from one world to another. "Marbh", the Gaelic word for death, is related to mortal, but also marvel. The kingdom of hell must always fall, represented in the Tarot by the tower, for it is a kingdom of arrogance and babel. Here stands a woman on a wall with the lightening behind her that will surely strike. After his kingdom is shattered and his good taken, the rich king become the wandering hermit, lighting the darkness of ignorance.
The witch's way is also spiritual path not represented by much in the way of story, but well-known as the "only" spiritual path. It is also the path of artists and scientists, all people who must give up the world to follow a calling. Usually these people have some god-gift weighing on them. Begin with the fool again, but the witch's story also begins in the other world, where the gate opens and she is sent into the world on a mission against the clock. She is the High Priestess, here shown as Edna Shields with her mother's book. She is weighed by the moon, one moment full of talent, the next full of darkness. If she can journey the ups and downs of the moon, she gains great strength, seen here in this girl with the great wolf. But her strength as it grows attracts war to her, for she is the weapon, or the source of magic itself, the familiar used by the wizard, the scientist used by the dictator. The word here for war means the end of a generation, or the war of doom, or the Last Judgement, as this card is known in the Christian decks. After everything is destroyed, she shines forth to recreate the world, as the star, or Gula pouring the waters on the desert.
The fool begins the journey, it splits into the paths, which if all are walked, becomes the world, or Aeon.