First things first:
The box: sturdy cardboard box with a top and bottom, top part (lid) slides in nicely. This is my favourite type of package. Standard boxes which are softer tend to wear and tear with use. I also don’t like to buy separate boxes or bags for decks, so this type is ideal.
The manual: 92 pages, featuring all the 78 cards in full colour. Text by the author with a foreword by Rachel Pollack. Happy to say, this is not a standard LWB but a mini book, which also has a sturdier feel to it. Before going into card meanings Ellen introduces to us the Minoan culture and world. After the card meanings section there are two spreads based on the deck. “Selected Sources” ends the book, which is a nice thing to have in case one wishes to find out more about the Minoan culture.
The cards: 78 cards, slightly larger size (14 x 7,6 cm) compared to the usual. All the cards have a blue border, with card titles in white. Non-reversible card backs feature a labrys (a double-headed axe used for ritual and ceremonial sacrifices) against a red background.
0 – Lily Prince 11 – Balance
1 – Priestess 12 – Hanging Woman
2 – Oracle 13 – Ancestor
3 – Goddess 14 – Flow
4 – God 15 – Ecstasy
5 – Singer 16 – Shipwreck
6 – Lovers 17 – Star
7 – Chariot 18 – Moon
8 – Strength 19 – Sun
9 – Visionary 20 – Transcendence
10 – Wheel of Life 21 – The World Tree
The four suits: Earth, Sea, Sky, and Art
Court Cards: Worker, Priestess, Master, and Mistress
While it would be easy to connect the four suits of the Minoan Tarot as Earth/Coins (or Pentacles), Sea/Cups, Sky/Swords, and Art/Wands, it is probably better not to do so. The same goes for the Court Cards. Based on the card meanings in the book, it is possible to make a connection and find similarities e.g. between Sea Three and the Three of Cups (Golden Dawn tradition), whereas with Sky Three and the Three of Swords (GD) that would not work so well. With the Court Cards the connection or associations between the Minoan deck and RWS / Thoth / GD works better, or is more in unison. But once again, I recommend not doing this. If you are using the Minoan deck for a reading, then why not focus on really using it, merging yourself with the images, instead of thinking “oh what is this card in my Thoth deck..”? The Minoan Tarot certainly can stand firmly on the ground without any support from other systems, tarot or not.
The images of the Minoan Tarot are full of power. They draw you in, and command a different way of thinking, even feeling. This isn’t any fantasy land where you can escape to, but a real culture which existed a long time ago, and which can offer a lot of information to us, provided we choose to listen. As an avid fan of C. G. Jung and analytical psychology in general, I am reminded here of Temenos (Greek word for a sacred space surrounding a temple or an altar), of which Jung writes: “[a protected] temenos, a taboo area where he will be able to meet the unconscious.” Footnote further explains: “A piece of land, often a grove, set apart and dedicated to a god.” (Psychology and Alchemy, Vol. 12, 1953. p. 53)
The cards of the Minoan Tarot form a temenos in 78 pieces. While this could be said of any tarot deck in general, I would argue that the Minoan deck does this exceptionally well.
I have visited Crete only once and that was over 10 years ago. But I do remember the impact of the place. The sea and sky felt somehow closer to you, and there was this feeling of freedom and happiness which I haven’t witnessed anywhere else. You could sense that in the locals, too. From the Heraklion Archaeological Museum I brought back a replica of the Snake Goddess (as Ellen writes in her book, “[this image] may be the most familiar Minoan artifact from New Palace Period”), which has ever since been standing on my altar as the centrepiece. Every single tarot deck is in itself a school of thought, and the Minoan Tarot “shows that a lively, peaceful, sacred, and technologically advanced society is no fantasy, but a part of our history.” (Minoan Tarot, p. 5) With every reading you perform with this deck you also learn more and more about the Minoans, who arguably had a much healthier relationship to nature and to life in general than we have today. Like the herb Dictamus or Dittany (Origanum dictamnus, grows only in Crete), the Minoan Tarot can help you find a healthier relationship with yourself and with the world around you.
So what do the cards have to say about it? When does the Minoan Tarot work particularly well, to which kind of questions would it suit best?
“VII The Chariot
On a painted stone sarcophagus from the New Palace Period, the Goddess drives a chariot drawn by griffins. With the body of a lion and head and wings of an eagle, the sovereign of beasts and the sovereign of birds together, griffins are especially powerful and majestic creatures, as they harness the powers of both Earth and Heaven. Yet the Goddess does not strain to hold the reins on the magical beasts. Her control is effortless. The griffins await her will.
The earliest and most enduring land transport on mountainous Crete was an ox-drawn wagon with solid wheels and no separate front axle. But the Mistress of the Chariot drives the latest and swiftest of vehicles, the “war chariot” with spoke wheels. With this power under her direction she may go wherever she likes, and pause along her way when she wishes. She embodies freedom. The Lady of the Chariot challenges one to take command of the journey.
Messages from the Chariot
Confidence brings progress and progress reward.
Harness your most noble aspirations with your most passionate dream.
Worry less about how you get there, but know absolutely what you strive for.”