“Why a Fionavar Tarot Deck? Well, I got the idea when I was playing with the notion of designing myself a Tarot Deck just for fun’s sake. As I pondered what theme could be interesting to use I amused myself with comparing the symbolism of the Major Arcana cards to characters in The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. The more I thought about it, the more they seemed to fit, and the idea just wouldn’t leave me alone. Said and done, I sat down and sketched the motives for the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, and decided I liked them enough to finish this project. What you see below is the result.” – Sara
0. The Fool
Character: Diarmuid dan Ailell
Description: The Fool is symbolic of the human spirit at the beginning of the great journey of life. The Fool symbolizes the inner spirit of creative nonconformity, adventure, and a desire for wisdom. At all times, he represents the potential to be a complete and independent person with fearless originality.
Reasoning: Before everyone get mad at me for naming Diar ‘The Fool’, I think it’s important to point out none of the Tarot cards should be read literally. This card represents a carefree, original person happy to take on any challenge. Admittedly, that does sound like Diarmuid, doesn’t it?
1. The Magician
Character: Loren Silvercloak
Description: The Magician’s presence in a reading points to strength of will, a willingness to face risks, initiative that will lead to success, and triumph. The Querent is challenged to go forward and use his/her skills and intelligence to produce change for the better. The magician advises that you can “make the magic happen”.
Reasoning: This card speaks for itself; what other magician to choose from Fionavar than Loren? On this card he stands beside his Source, holding the staff of Amairgen.
2. The High Priestess
Description: With this card, a pure, exalted and gracious influence enters the matter in question. It represents education, knowledge, wisdom, and esoteric teachings. It can represent intuition or foresight, spiritual revelation and may refer to events that are influenced by an unknown positive force.
Reasoning: Once again, the choice for this card is pretty obvious; Jaelle is the one High Priestess in Fionavar. This is a spiritual card, symbolizing the mystical, female side of magic, and that goes well with the ancient power of the Mother.
3. The Empress
Character: Jennifer Lowell/Guinevere
Description: The appearance of the Empress in a Reading suggests that creative inspiration and/or significant, meaningful productivity are available to the Querent. The Empress’ presence may indicate fertility, motherhood, or marriage. Domestic stability, sympathetic honesty, maternal care and protection are also possibilities.
Reasoning: As Guinevere, Jennifer is the Queen, so I say she makes a good choice for the Empress. The birth of Darien also agrees with this card’s symbolizing motherhood.
4. The Emperor
Character: King Arthur
Description: The Emperor may represent a person of authority who is intelligent, experienced, confident and reasonable. It may indicate a primary male influence. The ability to fulfill plans and use mental control over the emotions.
Reasoning: Arthur as the Emperor is a natural choice, especially with Guinevere as the Empress. Just as she symbolizes the essence of the female does he stand for the male.
5. The Hierophant
Character: Kevin Laine/Liadon
Description: The Hierophant emphasizes power which is gained through spiritual insight more than worldly strength. This is the card of spiritual leaders and healers or those devoted to service.The Hierophant speaks to the inner strength gained by letting go of pride and self glorification.
Reasoning: Maybe not an obvious choice, but I think it fits, nevertheless. The Hierophant can stand for difficulty, learning through living – or a religious ritual. The sacrifice of Liadon is the most ancient of those. Traditionally he has two followers on the card, and the white boar and Cavall made sense to choose.
6. The Lovers
Characters: Lisen and Amairgen in the sacred glade
Description: The appearance of the Lovers in a Reading symbolizes all of the aspects that can be good in a relationship: for example, union, pleasure, happiness, respect, bonding, ties. While many times the Lovers does, indeed, indicate a marriage and/or a love affair in progress, it can also serve to inspire brotherly or sisterly love and/or to point to a favorable business or professional liaison.
Reasoning: The lovers of legend, Lisen and Amairgen, suited this card in every way. Bound to each other by both love and the bond of Magician and Source.
7. The Chariot
Character: Shalhassan of Cathal
Description: With the Chariot, a trying situation can be mastered and controlled by understanding opposing forces and bringing about equilibrium and oneness. Self-control, individual effort and endurance will bring an end to troubles.
Reasoning: Well, Shalhassan did bring the Cathal chariots of War to the battles, and he did indeed believe in self-control and effort. This card shows you’re on the right track, and have made the right decisions in the past.
Character: Kimberly Ford
Description: Strength indicates a woman of great inner strength. The presence of Strength in a reading symbolizes the ability to overcome sorrow and pain, as well as the ability to use patience and gentleness as a solution to problems.
Reasoning: This card usually holds a woman and a lion, but I figured a dragon would serve the same purpose. Kim does have great inner strength, even without the physical power of the Baelrath, and she is a compassionate nature at heart.
9. The Hermit
Description: The appearance of the Hermit in a Reading portends a meeting with someone who will greatly inspire and/or someone who will pass on his knowledge and/or protection. The presence of the Hermit reminds the Querent that the seeker of knowledge must be both curious and humble.
Reasoning: Ysanne lives alone in her cottage by the lake, suiting the role of a wise hermit very well. As the description above also hints, she passed on her knowledge to Kim, first through Eilathen, then with her very soul.
10. Wheel of Fortune
Description: The Wheel of Fortune symbolizes the cycles and seasons of life, the repetition of history, success following failure, growth and evolution. Current events will lead to better situations, greater wisdom. The past holds clues to
Reasoning: The Wheel of Fortune is traditionally decorated with various mythological amd magical beasts, so I chose four such creatures from Fionavar for this card. On top is Darien, with Lökdal in his talons, representing air. Down on the right is the Soulmonger, and to the left is black Avaia, representing in turn water and earth. Below them is Imraith-Nimphais, with her fiery spirit.
Character: Dave Martyniuk/Davor
Description: The appearance of Justice in a Reading portends that fair judgment will accrue to the Querent. Whatever that judgment may be (e.g. a raise or promotion, a major purchase or expenditure, a pending court case, a legal settlement, etc.) the Querent will be favorably dealt with.
Reasoning: I chose Dave here for two reasons. The first is he is actually in law school. The second is the items he carries; his axe makes a good enough replacement for the sword Justice usually carries, and Owein’s Horn can, with a little bit of imagination, be considered the scales of fate.
12. The Hanged Man
Character: Paul Schafer/Pwyll
Description: The presence of the Hanged Man in a Reading oftentimes indicates that the Querent has accepted a difficult situation and either has made or will be called upon to make necessary sacrifices.
Reasoning: Another rather obvious choice. The Hanged Man is usually depicted hanging upside-down from a tree, and at least the tree part fitted Paul very well. The deeper meanings of the card also fits the character, I think.
Description: This card indicates that a major change or transformation is about to take place. This change may be traumatic and unexpected. This change also opens the way for a positive new beginning. Also indicates death and rebirth usually related to consciousness and lifestyle.
Reasoning: Owein and his shadowy Hunt mean death to every living thing in the Weaver’s worlds, and so they must remain bound. When released they do really bring traumatic change into the Tapestry.
Description: The presence of Temperance in a Reading serves to advise the Querent that discipline and self-mastery will lead to successful conclusions. Temperance assures him/her that a balanced approach means that projects will be completed on time while orderly changes are occurring.
Reasoning: Why Galadan as Temperance? Well, if you have the ‘self-mastery’ and ‘discipline’ to pursue a single goal for a thousand years I think you fit the bill. Besides – Galadan is my favorite character. I had to sneak him in somewhere…
15. The Devil
Character: Rakoth Maugrim
Description: The Devil represents all that is evil and dark in our existence. He may symbolize sadism but more often indicates a total or degenerating disregard for human life.
Reasoning: Another very obvious card. I don’t think I need to elaborate my reasonings behind this to any greater length.
16. The Tower
Description: The Tower portends a catastrophe or catastrophic event – one which, in many instances, precipitates through the forces of nature. But, while the Tower is never a good card to draw, its presence may serves to remind the Querent that the catastrophe need not be a disaster.
Reasoning: The collapsing Tower symbolizes a dramatic event, an era coming to and end; that suits the fall of Starkadh after Maugrim’s death rather well, doesn’t it?
17. The Star
Character: Lauriel the White
Description: The Star usually signifies a time of new hopes, splendid revelations of the future. Indicates insight and inspiration, courage and enlightenment from the spiritual self. May also show the healing of the body and mind.
Reasoning: The brightest star in the skies of Fionavar is the one named after the mild Lauriel, the white swan the lios alfar love. She was a natural choice for this card.
18. The Moon
Situation: The War Moon
Description: ‘A serpent rises from a small pond, next to which a wolf and a dog howl at the silvery full moon’. The central themes of The Moon, are “Shadows”, “Illusions”, and “Deceptions”. The Moon symbolizes a situation in which the Querent has only himself/herself to rely on. It’s appearance can indicate a danger and deception from outside forces or it can indicate the presence of hidden enemies and/or false friends who pose an imminent/immediate threat to the Querent.
Reasoning: The Moon that shines most clearly in memory after having read the Tapestry is the red War Moon of the Goddess. The wolf and dog in the description of the card tempted me to mix things together and depict the battle of Galadan and Cavall in the same card.
19. The Sun
Situation: Drought’s Sun over Paras Derval
Description: The Sun represents good health, freedom, happiness, and enjoyment of life. Its presence in a Reading portends a bright, wonderful future. The Sun can be seen as the first joyous glimpse of success.
Reasoning: As with the Moon, the Sun that is remembered from the Tapestry is the bright sun of the drought when the Five are first brought to Fionavar. Note, though, that in Tarot the Sun is a very bright and positive card.
Description: An angel surrounded by clouds blows a trumpet as the dead rise from their graves, their hands outstretched toward Heaven. Judgement symbolizes an inner awakening or the revitalization of thoughts and feelings which are/may have been thought to be dead.
Reasoning: The ‘rising dead’ in the description reminded me of the reborn prey of Ceinwen’s hunt, and she holds life and death in her hands in her dealings with Dave.
21. The World
Description: This card signifies well earned recognition, achievement, reward, a time of prosperity, security and joy. May also indicate a change in residence, travel, completion, success and liberation.
Reasoning: Finally, the last card. Once again the choice is very obvious, and also a kind of farewell tribute to the world we’ve traveled through this deck.