Win The Byzantine Tarot!

Win The Byzantine Tarot!

The Byzantine Tarot GIVEAWAY!
We have TWO copies to be WON!

COMMENT or LIKE the post on facebook to be in with a chance of
receiving a copy of The Byzantine Tarot

Remember to LIKE the page!

❣️ Prize draw ends 14th June 2018
💛 Only open to UK Postal Addresses

Listen to interviews with creators John Matthews and Cilla Conway, they talk about how
they came up with the idea for the deck and how their collaboration came about.
Particularly the authors go into detail about:
The Tower
Six of Swords
Knight of Staffs
Ace of Cups
Countess of Coins

PART 1 – John Matthews
PART 2 – Cilla Conway


Win the Byzantine tarot




Interview with Cilla Conway on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 2/2)

Interview with Cilla Conway on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 2/2)

Cilla Conway is an intuitive artist who works primarily with the concepts of archetypal energies, alchemy and metamorphosis. 

In collaboration with John Matthews, she created The Byzantine Tarot, published in June 2015.

This is the first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire. This sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art. Cilla Conway and John Matthews talk about how they came up with the idea for the deck and how their collaboration came about.

Cilla explains a few of the cards:

  • The Tower
  • Six of Swords
  • Knight of Staffs
  • Ace of Cups
  • Countess of Coins

Watch here!

Get to know the Knight of Staffs, the Countess of Coins and the Ace of Cups in this video. Grab a cup of tea and sit down with Cilla and Steve chatting about tarot.

Listen to Part 1 here- Steve Nobel with John Matthews

Download to listen on the go.

Subscribe so you never miss an episode!

We publish a new podcast every 2 weeks on interesting Mind, Body, Soul and Health topics

Cilla Conway Interview transcript
for those who prefer to read:



Steve:   Hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel. Today I’m speaking with John Matthews and Cilla Conway on The Byzantine Tarot: Wisdom from an Ancient Empire.

Cilla Conway is an intuitive artist who works primarily with the concepts of archetypal energies, alchemy, and metamorphosis. She’s the co-author of The Byzantine Tarot, published in June 2015 in collaboration with John Matthews. And her website is

Steve:   Okay, so hi Cilla. Thank you for joining me. Can I ask you, what drew you to this project? Why Byzantine Empire?

Cilla:     It was quite a strange set of coincidences. One of the guys at Watkins where I used to work, had this postcard on the wall which was of Elijah, it was an icon. And I just though, my god, that’s the Tarot hermit. So I asked him if I could have a copy and he gave me the postcard. And I had this in my mind, you know, this is the start of a new Tarot deck, because projects do seem to address themselves to me like that.

And then when I met John at this launch, I said, “I’m thinking of doing a Byzantine Tarot,” and he said, “Oh, I’ve been thinking about that for ages! But if you’re doing it I can’t do it.” And I said, “Well why? Because I’m a painter and you’re a writer. Can’t we pool our resources?”

Steve:   Great. Was it challenging? I mean, just getting all the art from these images, or were they fairly easy? Is there a lot of art to draw upon?

Cilla:     There’s a huge amount of art to draw upon, and I went to Istanbul about two or three times, found this absolutely amazing church, which is now a museum. It’s off the beaten track, you really have to travel to get there. And they had a book, so I used the book a lot, and of course all the mosaics and stuff like that as well.

Steve:   I’ve been asking John about some of the images on the cards and I’ve picked these five cards. Now, the first one, the Tower card. Can you say something about the artwork there?

Cilla:     Yeah, that one I did a sort of conventional tower first, but I kept on seeing this little sculpture again and again and again, of this guy sitting in a pillar. He’s quite a fixture in Byzantine, not iconography but legend, because he wanted to withdraw. So he went along and he built himself a 10 foot pillar, but people then started coming and talking to him, and his tower would get higher and higher and higher and eventually ended up as 40 foot high. Don’t ask me what the snake is, I’m assuming the snake is temptation.

Steve:   Yeah. It’s a beautiful image. It looks like some ancient mage under the sun really there. It’s amazing.

Cilla:     Very striking image, that’s why I wanted to do it.

Steve:   Well the other card I’ve got is the Six of Swords. Now this one, I’m not sure if it’s been drawn of gained from some older piece of art. Well, John told me it was a soldier returning, but this looks like someone’s painted it from an older piece.

Cilla:     I copied, not completely straight, but I copied every single image in the whole deck-

Steve:   Right.

Cilla:     From the mosaics and from the other work that I found in this chapel. So if you know your Byzantine art, you’ll see the references everywhere.

Steve:   This is a beautiful image, and I love the kind of striking purply, lilac in the background. And the sky looks this kind of terracotta. It’s a beautiful colouring.

Cilla:     The funny thing is … you know, I live in Italy now. And I’ve just realised that the mountains that I pained in the background, are more or less, with poetic licence, very similar to the mountains that I look at every single day now, but I’d never seen them then.

Steve:   Oh right. Northwest Tuscany aren’t you?

Cilla:     Yeah.

Steve:   I’ve been there’s, it’s a beautiful place.

Cilla:     Absolutely gorgeous.

Steve:   Now the Knight of Staffs, there’s a kind of very Grecian look about this one. This guy … I said it’s mini harp, but John reminded me it’s a lyre. It looks like something out of ancient Greece this one.

Cilla:     Yeah. This is probably me doing poetic licence. The figure would have been drawn from Byzantine art, but I wanted a slightly creative figure for the Knight of Staffs. This is just one of my things. And so I put the lyre in and I have no idea if they had lyres, I’m hoping they had lyres, but you’re right it does look Grecian.

Steve:   It looks like snowdrops by his right foot, is that significant? Or creative licence again?

Cilla:     Creative licence.

Steve:   Okay, okay. I don’t know, it looks like something … compared to the whole image, the snowdrops are quite striking I think.

Now the chalice, the Ace of Cups, now this is absolutely beautiful and it looks kind of very, I guess Byzantine or Orthodox Christianity.

Cilla:     Orthodox. Yeah definitely.

Steve:   Where did you get this image from?

Cilla:     Big book on Byzantine art. They had a couple of huge exhibitions in London, and I got the books on both of them, and I found this image in there, just thought it’s so beautiful, I’ve got to use it for the one of Cups. And then John said that it was the image that he always imagines the Grail to be, so that was quite a nice sort of coincidence.

Steve:   The last one, the Countess of Coins. This one is really beautiful, I really love this image. It looks almost like slightly mediaeval as well, doesn’t it?
Cilla:     Yeah. But again, Byzantine woman, I probably changed the background to the buildings because I wanted it to fit in there. But she would have been taken straight from Byzantine art. Oh, I know who she is, she’s Catherine, Saint Catherine, she had a big wheel. So you know, you don’t really want to put that in there.

Steve:   Oh right. She’s holding a … well kind of holding a large coin, so I suppose there’s kind of a similar sort of thing.

Cilla:     Yeah.

Steve:   How did the two of you work? There was one other Tarot deck where there was a very famous one, the Crowley one, where you had Crowley with all the meaning and then you had the artist and they went backwards and forwards for about five years I think. Was this kind of bouncing backwards and forwards with imagery and meaning?

Cilla:     It did bounce back and forward, but poor old John more or less had to put up with what I did, because I would look at it and I’d get some ideas, then I’d draw it up and I’d send it to him. He’d say, “Yeah, yeah, great. This is what the meaning could be.” There were a couple that he said to me, “Really, you can’t do that.” The Knight of Swords, yes, I copied from an icon, and he said, “You just couldn’t kill a dragon like that. The staff just doesn’t work or the sword doesn’t work.” And I was like, “Okay, but fine, that’s where it is.” So poor old John had to more or less put up with what I did.

Steve:   No, it’s amazing. Just looking through the book, there’s some amazing images here. And if anybody’s drawn to this piece of history, as John said it’s very good for dealing with complicated issues because it draws upon the Byzantine imagery and worldview.

Cilla, thank you so much, and thank you John for joining us. And all the best with this project. I’m going to be using this deck and playing with it for sure. So thank you so much. All the best.

Cilla:     It’s a pleasure, thank you very much.

The Byzantine Tarot

John Matthews and Cilla Conway

The first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire, this sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art.

The Byzantine world, which lasted from 330 to 1453 CE, combined the elegance and power of Rome with the opulence and splendor of the Orient. This combination brought about richness in the world of art, literature, and spirituality that has seldom been equaled. Yet it also has a mysterious resonance, and it is to this world of emperors and empresses, saints and sinners, faith and miracles that the creators of this dazzling new tarot have turned, capturing the Byzantine vision, magic, and enchantment.



ISBN: 9781859063910

John Matthews on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 1/2)

John Matthews on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 1/2)

This is the first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire. This sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art. 

John Matthews talks us through how he came up with the idea for the deck with Cilla Conway and what the Byzantine Tarot can bring us. John explains a couple of the cards:

The Tower 
Six of Swords
Knight of Staffs
Ace of Cups
Countess of Coins

The Byzantine world, which lasted from 330 to 1453 CE, combined the elegance and power of Rome with the opulence and splendour of the Orient. This combination brought about richness in the world of art, literature, and spirituality that has seldom been equaled. Yet it also has a mysterious resonance, and it is to this world of emperors and empresses, saints and sinners, faith and miracles that the creators of this dazzling new tarot have turned, capturing the Byzantine vision, magic, and enchantment.

Watch here!

Take a good look at Cilla Conway’s artwork on the Byzantine Tarot cards, timed so that you can see what John and Steve are talkng about.

Download to listen on the go.

Subscribe so you never miss an episode!

We publish a new podcast every 2 weeks on interesting Mind, Body, Soul and Health topics

For those who prefer to read, here is the interview transcript:



Steve:  Hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel. Today I’m speaking with John Matthews and Cilla Conway on The Byzantine Tarot: Wisdom from an Ancient Empire.

Now John has been a full time writer since 1980, has produced over a hundred books on myth, faery, Arthurian legends, and Grail studies, as well as books of short stories, poetry, and books for children. He lives in Oxford, England with his wife Caitlín who’s also a writer, and a white cat named Willow, and his website is There will be a link going out with this podcast.

So hi John.

John:  Hello Steve.

Steve:  So John, how did this all come about?

John:  Well it was interesting, because actually it was because I was doing a launch party for an earlier book at Watkins bookstore in London, and Cilla was there and we got chatting. We’d run into each other a couple of times before, but we didn’t really know each other well. And we just got talking and I happened to say, “One thing I’ve really always wanted to do was a Byzantine Tarot,” and she looked at me and she said, “But that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

So after a few moments awkward silence we just kind of went, “Well, why don’t we just do it together?” And it worked very well. Because Cilla is a fantastic artist and has a really deep understanding of the style of the period and the place. And I have quite a good knowledge of the history of Byzantine. So you know, we put it together and hey presto.

Steve:  Well, I did actually read about the Byzantine history several months ago. Amazing empire wasn’t it? The power of Rome combined with the opulence and splendour of the orient. Now, can you just say something about why is the Byzantine world so important?


John:  Well it’s a kind of matrix point really, as you said it has elements if the Roman world, it has elements of the oriental world, and particularly of the belief systems of both places. Because of course by this time the Roman empire is nominally Christian, and so you have a very strong Christian focus in the great cathedrals like Hagia Sophia and so forth. And it brings those two streams together in a very powerful way. And also the literature, the literature of the east and the literature of the west really combine here into something wonderfully elaborate and picturesque.


Steve:  Now I’ve read in the Tarot book that you say the Byzantine world became synonymous with the idea of complexity and chicanery, from its early days. Can you say something about that?


John:  Yeah, well I mean the Byzantine court is very famous for being immensely complex. You had categories for everything, you had people in charge of who put what on the table, who cooked it, how it was cooked, who dressed in what, who could speak to the other person. Very hierarchical. And there was a great deal of evidence of backstabbing and climbing, people trying to climb the ladder through the court to be part of the emperor and empress’s entourage.

The whole complexity of the thing has become in a way synonymous with very complex political manoeuvring. To this day you still get people talking of political situations as being very Byzantine, implying that they’re complex and sometimes devious. So that’s the kind of energy that comes out of the place.


Steve:  Yeah. Now, I know John that we chatted before about this deck and you said it’s very good for complex issues. What I’ve noticed with Tarot as I’ve used them over the years is different decks have different flavours and are good for different things. What kind of issues have you used this deck for?

John:  I think I said that, I said that it was good for complex issues, because of the very thing that I just described. The whole complexity of life at court and the Byzantine world in general. So I find that this is particularly good for those kind of everyday issues that we come up with, like problems in the workplace, sometimes problems at home, but more often to do with exterior forces if you like. So if you’re having a particularly hard time at work, if you are running into problems with your neighbours or your landlord, that kind of … very good for legal problems for instance. I did a reading for someone who was having horrendous legal problems, and it was really very pointed and clear. So that kind of thing.

Steve:  Right. Now, the Rider-Waite deck kind of set the associations of the Minor suits in stone didn’t it? The swords or air and the ones of fire and so on. But you’ve kind of got different associations. Could you say something about your suits?

John:  Well we do still have swords. Staffs instead of staves. Cup is still a cup. And the coins are still coins. So basically, they’re still the same sort of courtly associations that you have in the standard right away to other well known decks of that kind. But what we did do was to make them reflect the particular emphasis within the empire itself. So there’s a very strong emphasis on money, there’s a very strong emphasis on power. There’s a very strong emphasis on warfare. There’s a very strong emphasis on love.

So you’ve got all of the … so the traditional meanings are there, but we applied them to the world of the Byzantine Empire, which as I said, was very complex and there were lots of interactions between people. So we’ve got each of the suits reflects those specific meanings. So anyone who is familiar with Tarot finds this deck very easy to work with. Because although we have applied it, if you like, to the world of Byzantine court, people still recognise the imagery and the meanings that would come from a standard Rider-Waite style deck.

Steve:  Now I’ve picked five cards just to get a kind of understanding myself of the deck, so I’m just going to ask you to comment on the meanings of these cards. Now, the first one is from the Major and it’s the Tower card. And this is beautiful image of looks like some kind of mage dressed in blue, standing on a tower with a great serpent weaving up towards him, and there’s a kind of sun radiating down overhead.


John:  Yes. Anyone who’d familiar with the standard meanings of Tarot, will know that it’s usually the lightning struck tower or sometimes the falling tower. It always represents a break in life, a change, sudden and unexpected and sometimes shocking. We wanted to find something different because there wasn’t an exact parallel anywhere that we could find in Byzantine iconography. So Cilla came up with this one. The character standing on the top of the pillar is an old saint called Saint Simeon Stylites and he spent the last 40 years of his life sitting on top of a pillar, and people would send food up to him and everything else would be sent up or taken down. And so we liked this idea of the solitary figure who is sort of holding out against the world on top of this pillar. And then the serpent represents the sudden and unexpected break, the change, and stress if you like, of an unexpected turn of events.

Steve:  Powerful card, yeah.

John:  It’s a very powerful card isn’t it? Yeah, I love it.

Steve:  So the next card John is the Six of Swords, and here’s, looks like a kind of traveller or pilgrim on the road, an old … I’m not saying he’s an old man, but a guy with a staff. There’s these six swords buried in the ground, and behind him there’s a town with these kind of purple mountains.  Lovely image actually.

John:  It is a lovely image. Well he actually is not a pilgrim, he’s a soldier returning from the wars. All of the swords feature people who are involved in the army in some way or other, in being soldiers. So here he’s coming home, presumably after long years of service or after an intense battle. And he’s heading for home. And somewhere in the distance there, in the little village or town, is someone waving to him, waiting to welcome him home. Presumably his wife.

But the swords are there because whatever he does, he can’t quite forget the fact that he was once a soldier, or still is a soldier, and that reminds him of the world that he comes from.

Steve:  Yeah. I can just now see a little figure kind of waving.

John:  There’s a woman waving from the walls I think. So soldier coming home from war, you could say if you wanted a short version.

Steve:  So next one I have is the Knight of Staffs, and here’s a man sitting on what looks like a rock, playing a kind of flute, and beside him is another mini harp type of thing.

John:  Yes, it’s a lyre. 

Steve:  Lyre.

John:  Yes again, well in this case the staffs as I said, has to do mostly with the courtiers who attended upon the emperor and empress in the court. We do know that there were a number of wandering musicians who would go from place to place, rather in the same way that the bards did in the Celtic world. And they were musicians, they could tell stories, they would write and read poems, sing songs. And they were entertainers in fact. So this one, the Knight of Staffs is a performer, an entertainer, someone with the subtle qualities that such people have.

Steve:  Next card is the Ace of Cups. Now this looks a really beautiful Byzantine chalice. Is this an image from a real chalice?

John:  Yes it is. It’s one of my own favourites actually. It’s one of the number of such objects, cups, vessels, cauldrons and so on, round the world that have been at one time or another associated with the Holy Grail. So it is rather important, because there is a strong association of Grail mythology with Byzantine. There’s even a story that the Grail was taken there at one point and kept within the city, but it vanished after the city was sacked by the Turks in the sixth century.

We wanted something that would suggest that Grail imagery, the sense of the peace, there’s a dove of peace flying down into it you’ll see. And there are fish underneath it. It’s kind of floating over the water. And we’ve got the fish of peace, [inaudible 00:10:12], and the dove of peace descending into the cup. So yeah, it is a very powerful image.

Steve:  And the final card is the Countess of Coins. Beautiful woman sitting in what looks like some kind of courtyard, dressed in kind of gold and peach coloured clothing, and holding a large coin in her left hand.


John:  Absolutely, yes. I mean this is another … you’ll notice that as you go through it, that there are so many rather wonderful characters here that were mostly taken from actual Byzantine iconography. Cilla will talk about this I know. She really represents the, I would say the ladies of the court if you like. Even although in the Byzantine Empire as in the rest of the ancient world, women were not equal to men, they did have a very powerful role. And married women control their own diaries, and often came with their own households. So they were in positions of quite considerable power. And the Countess of Coins is really, she guards the power and the bounty within the Guild to operate it within the court. So she’s a very powerful courtly figure.

Steve:  Beautiful. Well John, it’s an amazing deck, beautiful book and fantastic cards. So thanks for talking and I wish you all the best with the project.

John:  You’re very welcome. Thanks a lot.

The Byzantine Tarot

John Matthews & Cilla Conway

The first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire, this sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art.

The Byzantine world, which lasted from 330 to 1453 CE, combined the elegance and power of Rome with the opulence and splendor of the Orient. This combination brought about richness in the world of art, literature, and spirituality that has seldom been equaled. Yet it also has a mysterious resonance, and it is to this world of emperors and empresses, saints and sinners, faith and miracles that the creators of this dazzling new tarot have turned, capturing the Byzantine vision, magic, and enchantment.



ISBN: 9781859063910

WIN a copy of the NEW Moon Oracle!

WIN a copy of the NEW Moon Oracle!

Out Now!

We are celebrating the release of the updated and reissued MOON ORACLE by Caroline Smith & John Astrop by giving away a FREE PACK!

It is very easy to be in with a chance to win a deck, simply:

  1. Like our Facebook Page
  2. Like, comment or share the ‘WIN the Moon Oracle’ image on our page. (It will be pinned to the top of the page)

And that’s it!

  • 1 Post like / reaction = 1 Entry
  • 1 Comment = 1 Entry (multiple comments only add up to one entry.)
  •  1 Share = 1 Entry

So if you do all three you will be entered 3 times!

Prize draw closes on Wednesday the 28th of March 13:00 and the winner will be announced on 29th of March

Open to UK residents only. Further T&C’s at the bottom of the page.

The Moon Oracle

Caroline Smith & John Astrop

This original, easy-to-use divination system and practical introduction to lunar astrology allows you to align your life to the fluctuating rhythms of the Moon and make in-depth, multi-layered readings, using a combination of lunar cards.

The deck includes 72 powerfully illustrated oracle cards featuring dramatic figurative and symbolic imagery, representing the 8 phases of the Moon (in each of the four astrological elements), 12 Moon goddesses and 28 Moon mansions. Consult the Moon tables in the book to pinpoint the exact phase of the Moon and astrological sign it appears in to shed light on the present state of your question, then refer to the suggested reading methods and detailed card interpretations for guidance on the best way to proceed.


  • You MUST comment, like or share the specified post to be in with a chance of winning –
    • 1 POST LIKE / reaction = 1 Entry
    • 1 POST COMMENT = 1 Entry (multiple comments only add up to 1 entry)
    • 1 POST SHARE = 1 Entry (So if you do all three you are entered 3 times!)
  • Only open to UK residents (for postage purposes! The pack will be posted to you.)
  • One winner will be selected at random from all the entries.
  • The prize is one pack of the updated Moon Oracle, containing a paperback book and 72 cards.
  • This competition is not affiliated with Facebook.
  • This prize draw is run by Eddison Books Ltd. Our decision is final.
  • Prize draw ends Wednesday 28th of March at 13:00. Winner will be announced on the 29th of March on our Facebook page.
Beginner’s Guide to Tarot (Podcast)

Beginner’s Guide to Tarot (Podcast)

Interview with Juliet Sharman-Burke

Beginners Guide to tarot Author Juliet Sharman-Burke talks to Steve Nobel

Steve Nobel Interviews Juliet on her book ‘Beginner’s guide to Tarot’. They discuss specific cards in the deck, from the High Priestess to the Seven of Swords, Juliet shares some tips for beginners and having her preconceptions challenged by the cards in front of her.

If you’re a first-time tarot user, then this is the pack for you. The Sharman-Caselli deck has been specially designed for the novice, with every card illustrated in clear and distinctive style, using imagery inspired by classic decks. Getting to know the cards is easy and fun, following Juliet Sharman- Burke’s user-friendly teaching method. Juliet introduces the Minor cards first, along with practice layouts, before moving on to the Major Arcana. Before long, you will be using all 78 cards of the complete deck, and will progress from beginner to expert tarot reader in no time! This is the definitive deck to use as you begin your journey of discovery through the tarot.

Watch the Video, have the specific cards shown to you as she explains them:

Download to listen on the go:


Beginners guide to tarot cover OWN the Beginner’s Guide to tarot

► Illustrated Book and Cards
ISBN: 978-1859064061

► Just the deck (and booklet)
ISBN: 978-1859061718

Use the ISBN numbers to order from all good Book Shops!


Juliet Sharman-Burke is a practising psychotherapist and noted authority on the tarot and astrology. She has written several books on the tarot, and is co-author of the bestselling classic deck The Mythic Tarot.

Giovanni Caselli is an illustrator with a passion for the classical world, its literature, art, symbols and myths. His characteristic style is the perfect medium for the tarot, where colour and detail have symbolic significance.

Prefer to read? See the transcript below!

ace of pentacles


Steve: Hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel. Today I’m speaking with Juliet Sharman-Burke on the Beginners Guide to Tarot. Now, Juliet was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and believes her early years in that beautiful land full of myth and beauty shaped her love of stories and the stars.

She’s lived most of her adult life in London, but her memories of Africa have never faded. She became interested in Tarot in the early ’70’s and this interest soon became a passion. She’s a practising psychotherapist, an authority on tarot and astrology, having written several books on the tarot, and is the author of the Mythic Tarot Deck and the Beginners Guide to Tarot. Welcome to you, Juliet.

Juliet: Hello, thank you very much. I’d just like to say, Steve, that I co-authored the Mythic Tarot with Liz Greene.

Juliet Sharman Burke Books

Steve: Well, I’m sure a lot of our listeners would have heard of Liz Greene, she’s a very famous astrologer.

Juliet: Yes.

Steve: Can you just say something about your journey into tarot. How did you get involved with it?

Juliet: Well, it started when I was about 17, 18, and I just came across a book randomly and picked it up. It was, I just sort of was drawn to it, and it was a book with tarot cards and an explanatory book interested in astrology, through another friend just chatting about astrology, and then became more and more interested. Then finally, I started studying with Liz, with Liz Greene, at the Faculty for Astrological Studies. She introduced me, or reintroduced me to myth, because I was always fascinated by myth and fairytale from my childhood. I just started reading around the subject, and in those days, it was, there weren’t very many books on the tarot that were comprehensible, and there weren’t that many decks either. There was the Rider Waite deck, and then the old decks, and I, in a way I wrote a book to try to help myself understand it. I wrote the book that I wanted somebody else to write for me, because I couldn’t find like that in those days.

Since then everything’s changed a lot, and there are more tarot books than you can shake a long stick at, but in those days there weren’t. How did I get interested in the tarot? Just by, I think it was really I have to say by chance, and wanting, I think I, I think the title of the book was Tell Your Future in the Tarot, and I thought, “Well that’s a nice thing to know, my future.” Of course, I discovered that you don’t actually get to know your future, you get to know trends around your future. It’s not predictive in a very A, B, C way, but I found it fascinating that was happening when I was doing readings for friends, things I thought I knew about them were being contradicted by what the cards were saying, and that was quite fascinating to me. I realised that it wasn’t, that the cards were actually telling me things I didn’t know. I’ll give you an example.

I was, a friend of mine had just got married and had spent about a year and a half, two years, doing up her house with her husband, and she said, “Would I look at her cards?” Because she knew I was sort of a novice and practising, and I said, “Yes.” When I looked at the cards, I said, “Oh, it looks like you’re supposed to be moving, but you can’t be, you’ve just moved into your new house.” She said, “Well, actually I’m about to leave my husband, so, yes, I am moving.” I said, “Okay.”

Steve: Right.

Juliet: It was an example to me of how my preconception about somebody was, “Oh, well they can’t be moving because they’ve just moved. That doesn’t make sense.” Actually, I didn’t know the backstory, so the cards were telling me something I didn’t know, and that was quite a lesson.

Steve: Let me ask you something about this idea of fate and choice and probability. Our fate’s not written in the stars, such a thing. We have choice, don’t we?

Juliet: Absolutely. We definitely have choice, and the cards don’t tell us what we, what will happen, they suggest something about the influences that are around us at the time. This particular girl had, there was movement, there was moving, there was change, and some of the cards are sort of, they do quite specifically say things like change of residence, but it can be lots of things other than just a simple residence. It’s a movement, something is changing, something is happening. Now, we can’t get yes-no answers, “Will I be rich? Will I be successful?” All those sort of things. We have to, the tarot is like a weather forecast, an emotional weather forecast of where we are at the time, and there are opportunities and influences that are around us. They can be very energetic or quite passive, and we can use the tarot to see what we should be doing. It’s a bit like when the weather is great, we go outside. When it’s not so good, we stay inside, and we adapt ourselves according to the prevailing circumstances.

How I would, that’s how I use the tarot, as a guide, and also as something to, if you like, stimulate the unconscious patterns, because I think we know a lot more than we know we know. The other funny thing about the tarot, is that actually we don’t really want to know our future, we think we do, but we don’t. What we do want to know is, “What should I do at the moment because I’m lost, I’m confused, I’m feeling at a crossroads, or I’m just plain miserable? What can I do to help myself through this?” It’s where the tarot and indeed astrology can be useful, because it can give us a sort of a, and images through the tarot can give you an image of where you are in life, and that stimulates some sort of creative response rather than what will happen. I mean, if anybody seriously thought about being given a complete forecast of their life, at 21, if somebody told you, “By the time you’re 60, these things will have happened to you,” you’d probably think, “You know what, I don’t want to bother.”

Steve: Yeah, for sure.

Juliet: Through relationships, jobs, all the things that you were getting excited about, and then they fail, or they, you really wouldn’t want to know.

Steve: Yeah. Can you say something, Juliet, on this connection between tarot, astrology, psychology, they kind of weave in, and even numerology, they kind of weave in and out, don’t they?

Juliet: They’re all tools by which we can try to contact probably more unconscious, or things that we don’t process in a very rational way. That they get us in touch with, I suppose if you want to put it this way it sounds quite grand, but the greater mysteries. Things that are really quite hard for our conscious minds to process, because our conscious minds are quite small. Our unconscious minds are pretty enormous. It’s trying to unds-, I think it’s trying to get in touch with the larger, the luminous, the mysterious, in a way that’s actually possible.

Because the astrology narrows us down to time, when planets moving through, you sort of get an idea of, “Well, this particular transit’s going to take six weeks or maybe a couple of years.” We get an idea of time through astrology, and the quality of time through the planets and the aspects that the planets are making. With tarot, we get images which help us to imagine things, and to understand things, and that’s where I think story is so important and why the mythic tarot and the myths around tarot and astrology are so important, because they give us a story to think about.

Steve: Now, let me ask you something about the Major Arcana, in this deck, the Beginners Guide to Tarot, because these are really describing archetypal forces. I did pick up one before this interview, the High Priestess, and this is a woman dressed all in white, holding a bunch of flowers, and on the background there seems to be two pillars, one black, one white, with a crescent moon leach, with what looks to me like an apple on the background, it’s kind of a drape between the pillars. What is this card depicting?

Juliet: Well, the High Priestess is the, it’s the new moon, it’s an aspect of the new moon. She symbolises the virgin, she symbolises potential unfulfilled, she symbolises the beginning of something, but it’s something quite unconscious. It’s almost as though it hasn’t come to fruition. Obviously, the virgin is the, is an image of something which has, which is potential unfulfilled as yet. Full moon, is potential fulfilled, and you see that in the card of the Empress, who is fertile, who is pregnant, who is about to give birth. Whereas the High Priestess symbolises something which is around in the unconscious, but as yet not actually surfaced.


It’s a sense, almost like a pregnancy, where you know that something’s happening, it’s not quite ready to come to light yet. There’s a sense of creativity which is bubbling away under the surface, but it’s not actually, you don’t quite know how it’s going to manifest. In the same way as when you’re pregnant, you don’t exactly know what sort of baby you’re going to have. Even if you had scans and that sort of thing, you still don’t know what sort of baby it’s going to be, until it’s time for, or when at which point it reveals itself. When the High Priestess comes in, up in a reading, it means that there is sort of lots of intuitive understandings of what’s going on, but nothing is absolutely clear.

Steve: Now let me ask you about the four decks, or four suits, where you’ve got swords, wands, cups and pentacles. Now the first one I’ve got here, can you say something about the swords, and also the card I picked was the seven of swords, which is a, which look like a young man running away from a tent carrying seven swords in his hand, and looking quite jubilant, and there’s a blue sky with clouds behind him and this purple banner fluttering in the breeze.

Juliet: Well, the four suits are the, correspond pretty much to the four elements in astrology, so earth, fire and water. The seven of swords, the swords is the air suit, the suit of air. It’s the thinking function, so it very much relates to how we actually think and how we go about thinking, and the seven of swords is a card which suggests that whatever is going on for you at the moment, you need to think quite carefully about how you pitch it, if you like.

You don’t necessarily say everything that you think, you’re quite, you have to be quite careful how you go about saying things, or presenting things to people. You need to be mindful of what’s going on. For instance, if you are about, if you’re employed and you decide that you’d like to change your job, you don’t actually tell your boss that you’re going for an interview. You go for the interview and then you tell them later. Do you see what I mean?

Steve: Yeah. I do, yeah.

Juliet: Those times where you, it’s sort of you’re not being necessarily entirely dishonest, but you have to be quite careful how you phrase things.

Steve: The next suit is wands, which I guess is fire. Then I picked a card of the four of wands, which is a, it’s a very yellow, orangy-yellow card, with a man under four kind of poles holding up a reef, and there seems to be in the distance some kind of castle, and a very yellow skyline. Now, what about this card?

Juliet: Let’s see. This is the card of, it’s a sort of a celebration. The card looks a bit like people celebrating. There’s a lot of, it’s the sort of thing where you achieve a certain amount of success.

It’s the beginning, it’s the, it’s not the end result, but it’s certainly a good start on your journey to some form of creative endeavour, because the wands are fiery and they represent sort of creative endeavours. There’s a success, there’s sort of good opportunities. It’s the beginning, but it’s very encouraging.

Steve: Now the next suit is cups, which I think is water, and I picked the three of cups, which is, it looks like three young maidens kind of dancing together with flowers in their hair, holding up three golden chalices. It looks kind of hap-, a celebration of a different kind perhaps.

Juliet: Yes, it is. Very often the cups is the, it’s an emotional, it’s feeling. There’s an emotional celebration, it’s often linked with occasions like weddings or big family celebrations. It’s a time of, the three, the number three usually represents some sort of an initial completion. It could be, quite often it’s around weddings, or, yeah, the celebration of a relationship. It’s a sort of an initial, it’s the beginnings.

Steve: It’s a beautiful card. The last suit is pentacles, which I guess is earth, and I picked the two of pentacles. A young man looking up at these two flying, it looks like coins almost, and in the background are two ships sailing away.

Juliet: The two of pentacles is, it’s juggling, it’s, the twos are the sort of the starting of a journey, and sometimes it’s juggling money, it’s juggling resources, sometimes it’s borrowing Peter to pay back Paul. It’s quite energetic and it’s quite positive, but it means you have to move around quite quickly financially. It’s lots of action in order to get to a more stable point.

Steve: Now this deck is designed specifically for beginners, so I guess as a teaching guide and tool.

Juliet: Well, I think the, I mean it’s designed as a deck of its, in its own merit. The book is very much designed for beginners, but the deck is, has its roots, or its imagery is not dissimilar to that of the Rider Waite. The colours particularly have been chosen in order to link up the, that you’ve got the blues for the cups, the golds for the pentacles, but also the pentacles, which is an earth element, have got lots of greenery, lots of natural things, and they’ve all got little mice or rabbits to link them up to the natural world.

Whereas the water cup, the water suit, cups have got fish or mermaids. The fire has got salamanders, which are the famous lizards that live in the heart of flame. The swords have got things like birds and butterflies to connect it with the air. Little sort of visual aides to connect the cards with the elements.

Steve: Now, have you got any tips for beginners? If somebody is completely new and wants to learn the tarot, what few things would you say are essential just to bear in mind?

Juliet: I think the most important thing is to get a deck that you really feel comfortable with, that you like the imagery of, and to spend a long time looking at each card. You can do guided imagery with them, so you can take a card and just look at it, and then close your eyes and imagine entering into the card, imagine dialoguing with the image, with whatever’s on the card, whether it’s a person or an object.

The most important thing is to get very, very comfortable with the cards so that they’re so familiar to you, that the minute you mention the card, something is called up for you. It’s really important to actually, I mean it takes time, and you have to allow yourself the time to do it. You have to allow some time to let the images get imprinted on your brain, if you like, in your memory. And practise. Practise, practise, practise. Sometimes it’s quite good to choose a card each day and say, “What does this car represent? Will this be the kind of,” like you just picked five cards randomly, didn’t you?

Steve: Yeah.

Juliet: Just now. You might actually spend some time really thinking about what those images mean and what they’re trying to tell you for right now, and see where that gets you, see how that actually translates, see whether that makes any sense to you.

Steve: Yeah. Well these five cards feel wonderful. Not all the imagery of course in tarot decks are wonderful, they can be warnings as well I suppose.

Juliet: Well, I think there’s always the dark and the light. I think whatever, wherever you are, the thing is it’s a moving feast. You never get there, you never arrive at the point, because if you did you’d be dead. It’s an ongoing journey, and we’re always coming up against the same, similar difficulties, and then we get through them, but we always approach them, or we always meet them in a slightly different way. I think that’s what the tarot teaches us.

One of the big things about the tarot, and particularly you see this is in the Major Arcana, is the idea of balance. That’s why the High Priestess is sitting between two pillars, one dark, one light. She’s in the centre of that, so she represents holding the two forces of, if you like, dark and light, good and evil, night and day. The opposites, holding those opposites together so that you don’t have one or the other. I think at the moment our culture tends to be very split, and we tend to go into one or the other. Dark, light. Love, hate. Rather than actually knowing that they always exist, and our task is to hold them together.

Steve: Now my final question, Juliet. I know you’re up to a few different things, could you just say something about what you’re up to in the world now?

Juliet: Yes, I’m just, at the moment I’m doing some online beginners courses with, for a Chinese astrology school, and the Chinese are very interested in learning Western astrology and Western tarot. I’m doing a course on the mythic tarot for them, which is quite fun.

Steve: Well, Juliet, all the best for your work, and thank you so much for chatting with me today.

Juliet: Okay. You’re very welcome. Nice to talk to you.


OWN the Beginner’s Guide to tarot

► Illustrated Book and Cards
ISBN: 978-1859064061

►Just the deck (and booklet)
ISBN: 978-1859061718

Use the ISBN numbers to order from all good Book Shops!

Click to open in Amazon

Interviewer Steve Nobel is a book mentor, coach, an author of five books, and an online publisher.

Eddison Books is a book packager and publisher based in London. Their specialist topics are books in Mind, Body, Spirit; Personal Development; Health; and Parenting.

Follow Eddison Books online to be notified of new books, decks and podcasts.