Posted by: Nyxks | December 17, 2007

The Celtic Mini Tarot

The Celtic Mini Tarot
By G. Gaudenzi and S. Tenuta
Llewellyn, 2005 $9.95
ISBN 073870601-9
Review by Daven

Normally I review books. But occasionally while I’m looking through Llewellyn’s offerings in their catalog, I come across something else that catches my interest.

So it is with the Celtic Mini Tarot.

I missed the Celtic Tarot, the tarot deck that this was related to and extrapolated from. Apparently to make the mini tarot, they simply scaled things down.

The size is right just 44mm by 80mm (1 3/4 inches by 3 1/8 inches), small enough to be packed anywhere, but large enough to do spreads with. To get a good idea of the size, take your credit card, and cut it in half lengthwise.

The symbolic information in the Major Arcana is limited, and it will be necessary to know the meanings behind the cards, since the visual clues other decks provide are few and far between.

For example, there is a card depicted on the deck’s box. A beautiful redheaded woman in a tartan, with a pink over-robe and wearing a torc, is depicted. In the background there are four other women and a flowering tree. I was at a loss to figure out which card it was. I thought “High Priestess”, possibly “Strength”, or “The Empress”. It turns out that card is “Judgment”. It could be The Star or Temperance just as easily.

Strength is a young boy wrestling a dog. (Okay, this one could be CuChulain wrestling the Hound and beating it). The Hermit is a smith working at his anvil (Goibniu or Govannon perhaps). Justice is a druid reading a standing stone. The Fool is an elf (I think); The Wheel (of Fortune) is a man sitting at a round table in a pub.

In other words, this is not a classical configuration for a deck. If that is what you are expecting, you are going to be greatly surprised and I would expect you will have some difficulty reading these cards. You will need to download the supplemental interpretation booklet available at

These visual images, in my opinion, just don’t work for the cards they are supposed to represent. My wife, while looking through this deck after I looked through it said, “I guess the reason why these people are on here is because they are all wearing tartans?” I can’t really say I disagree with her assessment.

The artwork is somewhat disturbing, but it could be my well-known fear of clowns that is prompting this. The Empress looks like a fat giant, and the art is such that everyone looks like they wouldn’t be out of place at the Cirque du Soleil. It would have been very helpful if the cards had identified the Celtic Deities they were portraying. The Emperor looks like a fat peasant, but he has a spoon sticking out of his belt. That relates him (in my mind) to The Dagda, father of the Gods and chief deity (pretty much). Mind you, his club is missing if this is actually who it is supposed to be, and there is no other associations, but the concept fits the Emperor. According to the additional information, my hunch was right.

The texts that are on these cards is tiny. It is about 8 pt to ensure they could fit six different languages on the cards. The included pamphlet is also next to useless, those who know what they are doing will probably discard it.

With, 6 different languages in this book, only 6 pages are concerned with each translation, and one spread is described. At the end of each translation of this book there is a link to the web where an expanded instruction book can be downloaded.

The Minor Arcana however, are standard easy to glance at and read. ANY tarot reader who has as little as ten minutes of reading experience should be able to pick up these cards and accurately read the Minor Arcana.

The Court Cards are changed just a bit, as the Page becomes the Knave. Could be confusing since the progression is now Knave, KNIGHT, Queen and King. You may mistake the Knave or Knight for the King if you are glancing at the cards quickly. Additionally, those who relate Swords to the Air will be thrown off, since in this deck, they are related to Fire.

I do like the artwork on this for the Minor cards. The Formori are depicted as being associated with Wands, the Tuatha de Dannan for the Pentacles, the Fianna in the Chalices and the Ulaid associated with the Swords. The illustration on the back of these cards is beautiful and really striking.

I looked at the downloadable expanded booklet, and it does what I was complaining about, it actually describes the relationships of the Major Arcana to the myths, although the Empress is supposedly the Morrigan. It has a new spread that I will be looking at closely to verify its usefulness in actual practice. The problem with this download is a spur of the moment reading with this deck is difficult to impossible until the download is completed. Skip it and you could be in big trouble.

Overall I think I like this deck. It’s pocket sized, and it should probably be put in a bag or small box to protect it for transport since the paper box it comes in is inadequate for that job. I’m going to give this 3 1/2 stars out of 5. This makes it a good investment, but not one that is an absolute must-have. If you collect tarot decks or want to have a travel-sized deck, you may really want to take a hard look at this deck. I’m not advising it for new readers. This deck is for the intermediate and advanced reader since the relationship to the Deities is not that obvious when looking at it. Additionally a through grounding in Gaelic/Irish Mythology is also very useful.


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