First of all, the title. Many people know Llewellyn as a publishing house specializing in esoteric subjects such as Tarot. What is less well-known is that the man who founded the publishing house about a century ago was Llewellyn George, a Welshman who had emigrated to America and subsequently become a passionate explorer of hermeticism and other matters. This tarot is, in a sense, a tribute to this man. Not by depicting his biography but by plunging us into the culture from whence he came, the powerful, poetic, myth-laden culture of Wales, replete with deities and heroes and strange beasts.
The deck is comprised of the usual 78 Tarot cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minors, the latter of which are divided up into suits of Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. The images are 78 watercolour paintings by Anna-Marie Ferguson who has also written the handsome and very helpful companion book.
The Minors are very reminiscent of the Rider-Waite system as far as imagery goes; the superb and highly atmospheric Majors are less so, yet still remain true to the symbolic meanings. Whilst the Minors depict daily life, the Majors introduce us to the deities and heroes of Welsh mythology. Peredur is The Fool, Gwydion, The Magician, Llew Llaw Gyffes, The Sun. And so on. There is no sense of contrivance : Ferguson understands both the Tarot and the mythology very well, and has married them together beautifully.
How are these cards for reading ? Excellent. Anyone with a background in Rider-Waite will have little trouble. And I believe anyone fascinated with mythology would be delighted to work with them. I suspect I shall also use the Majors in particular for meditation and dreamwork.
Mention must also be made of the book. Each of the Major Arcana has a detailed three or four pages devoted to it, and the appropriate myth in full.
If you are new to Anna-Marie Ferguson's work, you may like to get her earlier Tarot LEGEND, based on the Arthurian mythos. She is also the illustrator of a new-ish edition of LE MORTE D'ARTHUR. Her misty, mossy, medieval landscapes really are second to none.