Hmm. Turns out it’s spelled DruidCraft. I had always thought it was Druid Craft. Ah, well. Live and learn.
I had planned to get this review out a week or two ago, but the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.* Truth be told, I just don’t have much to say about this deck. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not bad. It doesn’t upset my sensibilities as a reader. But I just find it kind of… Vanilla? Boring? Uninspiring?
The cards are, for the most part, standard RWS images set in the pre-Christian British Isles. Anyone familiar with the RWS system will have no trouble reading this deck, and anyone just starting out with Tarot will have no problem using this deck in conjunction with any intro-to-Tarot book based on standard Rider-Waite symbolism. In fact, I think that’s precisely my problem with this deck. It feels dead to me. I don’t get any sense of the beauty or vibrancy of Tarot from it. The pictures are pretty, the images are standard, but it doesn’t feel like it has its own soul. There is nothing about this deck that grabs me by the ear and screams “Hey! I’m the DruidCraft!”**
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a traditionalist with Tarot, through and through. I simmer with quiet rage every time a deck creator decides to change the meanings of the Major Arcana or the names of the suits in the Minors. But each Tarot deck is a living thing, and somehow that sense of life is inaccessible to me in the DruidCraft Tarot.
As with the Wildwood Tarot, the deck is rife with Pagan symbolism, so Pagan Tarot readers who are comfortable with RWS imagery but want a deck more aligned with their religion may find the DruidCraft Tarot quite appealing. There are a couple of changes made to the Major Arcana, in keeping with the deck’s Pagan theme. The Devil is now named Cernunnos. Temperance is the Fferyllt. The Wheel of Fortune is a woman casting a ritual circle.
I’m being too harsh on this deck, I know. I think my expectations were too high, because this is such a wildly popular deck in the Tarot community. People love this deck, and I was expecting something truly extraordinary. Because of all the hype, I was underwhelmed upon opening the deck and actually holding the cards. On its own merit, seen without the bias of my expectations, the DruidCraft Tarot is a good, solid RWS-inspired deck. It has clear imagery and lovely artwork, and is a good working deck. In particular, this would be a wonderful Tarot deck for beginner readers.
I’m also being harsher in this review than I normally am. Even with decks that I strongly dislike, Sam I Am,*** I have a habit of pulling my punches in the reviews. Part of this is a sunk cost fallacy on my part: All of the decks I review here have been purchased with my own money, and I don’t currently have enough disposable income to make those purchases lightly. When I buy a deck and don’t love it, I still feel a strong need to find some redeeming qualities in it, in order to retroactively justify to myself the expense of the purchase.
Most of it, however, is a compelling need to be nice. All Tarot decks, even the ones I don’t like, are the product of months (often years) of hard work, emotional and financial investment on the part of the deck creators. I always feel crappy trashing someone’s passion project.
So let’s be absolutely clear. This is not a bad deck. As I said at the beginning of this review, nothing about this deck upsets me. It just doesn’t move me at all. That is an entirely personal judgment, and not at all a reflection on the objective quality of the DruidCraft Tarot. As is evidenced by the deck’s mass popularity, there are a lot of Tarot readers who feel differently than I on this matter. So if you look at these card images and they take your breath away, by all means, buy this deck. In terms of its workability as a functional Tarot deck, I think it’s quite strong, and you’ll likely get great, clear readings out of it.
Personally, I think of this deck kind of like mashed potatoes. It’s fine, and I’ll never object to having it on my (dinner or reading) table, but it’s bland. Unless you load it up with garlic and butter,**** I’m not going to be excited about it. It will never be the first thing I reach for when there are bolder, more enticing options available to me.
This review was a bit one-note, and I apologize for that. I really wish I had more to say on this front. Nevertheless, please, please do not let my personal lack of enthusiasm for this deck discourage you if you think it’s something you would like. The imagery is so damned clear, and I expect this is a good deck to have around for client readings. I also think this is probably one of the best beginner’s decks I’ve ever encountered. It’s just not one that I expect to use in readings for myself.
*I actually didn’t know the second half of that expression until I Googled it just now. I’d been in the habit of saying “the best laid plans of mice and men…” and then letting my voice trail off. Turns out we get the expression from a poem by Robert Burns. The more ya know.
**I have the exact same feeling about the Robin Wood Tarot. It’s fine. The imagery is pretty clear, the artwork isn’t terrible. But the deck feels dead to me.
***Examples include the Dark Fairytale Tarot and my recent review of the Wildwood Tarot.
****Please note: I strongly discourage coating your Tarot cards in butter. This is an extended metaphor. Do not butter your decks. Garlic, on the other hand, is fine.