the runic tarot odin ullr and hel

Runic Tarot Deck Interview

runic tarot cards

The Runic Tarot, published by Lo Scarabeo, arrived this weekend and I have been familiarising myself with it. The cards above are some of my favorites from the Major Arcana. However, as much as I want this deck to be absolute perfection (the artwork is!), it’s lacking conceptually and I feel this is due to a lack of understanding of the Norse Myths by the deck creators. But today, it’s finally time for the Runic Tarot Deck Interview so let’s see what the cards have to say for themselves!

I won’t be doing a full review in this post since I already posted a preview HERE. In the preview post, you will also find a video that shows all the cards. We’ll get to the actual deck interview shortly. First, allow me to vent on behalf of the gods…

Hel is NOT Happy…

There is only one deity that has power over all nine realms… and no it’s not Odin–it’s Hel! Yet Hel is not featured on one of the Major Arcana cards. As the natural ruler of all dead (even those destined for Valhalla have to first pass through her realm), she should be represented on the Death card. Instead, we have her representing the 5 of Cups. Well, at least they got it right about her not being happy.

As anybody who has studied the history of Northern Europe knows, Hel is a more ancient deity than any of the Aesir. Snorre’s recreation of her as some kind of half-monster was brought about to be a good fit with the Christian idea of hell and to scare people into converting to Christianity.

Additionally, the rune associated with Hel is Hagalaz and it would have been a better fit for the Death card than Ansuz, the rune representing Odin. Hagalaz is often associated with The Tower and that is where we find it in the Runic Tarot. Though I don’t disagree with that, I do find it odd that they chose the Anglo-Saxon form of the rune instead of the Elder Futhark version. This shifts the meaning from disaster to protection.

…and Neither is Odin

Odin would have been the natural choice for the Hanged Man, of course. The concept of sacrifice is very much illustrated by The Hanged Man and from the Odin mythos that Odin sacrificed himself to himself, hanging on the tree for nine days and nine nights.

Instead, we have Ullr in the Hanged Man card, along with the Yew Tree Rune, Eihwaz. I agree that there is a connection between Eihwaz and Ullr. His bow is made from a yew tree and he lives in a yew tree grove (Ydalir). However, as a representation of Yggdrasil and shamanic initiation, which is often the meaning of Eihwaz, the connection with Ullr feels like a forced fit.

It would just have been much more natural to place Odin as Arcanum XII, along with Eihwaz (with Eihwaz representing Yggdrasil). The two cards I would have chosen for Odin would have been The Magician and The Hanged Man. I would have placed Heimdall on Arcanum XX since it is he who blows the horn at Ragnarök.

The Runic Tarot Deck Interview

runic tarot deck interview

Describe yourself in three words or less. King of Wands

RT: Visionary and Action-Oriented

2. How would your best friend describe you in three words or less? 5 of Cups

RT: Friend in need

3. What gift do you bring? Queen of Wands

RT: Confidence and charisma

4. What do you expect in return? The Chariot

RT: To keep moving forward on the path of the Völva with confidence. To keep to the middle path and not fall into black-or-white thinking.

5. How can you help me serve? The Star

RT: I inspire strength so that you in turn can inspire hope.

6. Is there anything else you would like to tell me about yourself? The High Priestess

RT: In spite of my shortcomings, I think you’ll find I’m the perfect companion on your path as a Völva. Any gaps, you can always fill in for yourself!

Me: Yeah, I agree. I love working together and look forward to having much fun with you!


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