Tarot of the Old Path Deck Interview

In doing my “courts and trumps” series of posts, I used one of my long-neglected decks, the Tarot of the Old Path. (I didn’t realize it at the time, but there is a good reason those court cards all look so haughty!) I had always felt that the courts in this deck are kind of strange, but with my recent penchant for using Shakespearean quotes in my tarot writing, I find that the deck as a whole is well-suited to the Elizabethan vibe. I decided to put it through my “personality profile” deck interview spread to see what insights I might gain into its style. This deck is sub-titled “The Magic Tarot of Female Energies and Wisdom;” as a fairly typical 20th-Century male, I can always use some of that (and if I forget, my wife is sure to remind me!)

As an introduction, I want to mention that this is an A.G. Muller deck from 1990, printed in Belgium, and the production values are excellent. The card stock is perfect, sturdy yet flexible, and the deck shuffles well. The artwork is nicely set off against the white backgrounds, which at first seem a little stark but soon grow on you. Some of the trump card titles are changed to reflect a pagan slant. I think I will be using this deck more frequently when reading for my theater friends.



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, although reversals are not useful for this analysis, I included them by default – it’s my normal mode – but won’t read them.)

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 read in combination with the rest of the spread. The most obvious thing about this column in the present spread is that all of the cards are Rods (Wands). The deck is so delighted to be let out of its box that it is practically shouting with glee.

The 5 of Rods in the “Wands” position suggests that the deck will present itself as a feisty and pugnacious companion, always ready to “throw down” when presented a challenge.  The Page of Rods in the Cups position looks a bit “smart-alecky” to me, like “Mr. Know-It-All” in the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.  It hints at “weaponized emotions,”  echoing the 5 of Rods. The Ace of Rods  in the “Swords” position suggests that the deck’s mode of expression will never be short on ebullient attitude. The 3 of Rods in the “Pentacles”position brings an enterprising diligence to its more mundane testimony. If this is a “feminine” deck, it certainly isn’t going to rest on its womanly charms.

The center column shows the deck’s usual “manner of speech” and “conversational tone.” The vertical sequence is the same as before.

The Knight of Wands in the “Wands” position promises a self-assured opinion on any question; the deck’s tone will be brisk and bright. The Ace of Cauldrons in the “Cups” position settles in and makes itself right at home; warm-hearted effusiveness is indicated. The 3 of Swords in the “Swords” position minces no words and may have a decidedly caustic edge to it. The 2 of Pentacles in the “Pentacles” position is perfectly poised in a dynamic way, showing none of the off-kilter scuffling sometimes associated with this card.

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.

Coupled with the Knight of Rods, the 5 of Pentacles in the “Wands” position suggests that the predictions of this deck could occasionally be “a day late and a dollar short.”  That overheated Knight may chew up the scenery but have little of substance to offer for his grandstanding. His testimony will bear careful sifting for any nuggets of practical advice. The Queen of Pentacles in the “Cups” position is patient to a fault and, joined with the Ace of Cups, is gracious and smoothly unperturbed, with not a hair out of place. The King of Pentacles in the “Swords” position knows the value of well-chosen words and isn’t prone to “diarrhea of the mouth;” its pairing with the 3 of Swords suggests that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and will pointedly say so even if he isn’t asked. The 2 of Rods in the “Pentacles” position in concert with the 2 of Pentacles makes for an harmonious melding of utilitarian pragmatism and boundless enthusiasm: wise words leavened with wit.

This spread exhibits pronounced “masculine” overtones that speak to the deck’s somewhat spartan directness and sternness; that low-key Queen of Pentacles/Ace of Cups combination may struggle to find its voice. But it will pay to find a still corner amid the clamor of all those flailing staves and listen closely for its quiet but compelling commentary.

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