Full disclosure, this was my very first tarot deck, if I recall correctly, and I’ve had it for years. So I do have a bit of a sentimental connection to this particular deck.
The Celtic Dragon Tarot is a deck designed to connect the user with the elemental energy of dragons, for divination, meditation and candle magick.
D.J. Conway, author of Dancing with Dragons and Mystical Dragon Magick, wrote the descriptions of each of the 78 cards, as well as the accompanying guidebook, while Lisa Hunt, the artist of The Shapeshifter Tarot, took these descriptions and created the beautiful artwork of these cards.
This deck is most definitely aimed at fans of Conway’s books, and those interested in Celtic-style Wicca. Some people who are used to reading the elemental correspondences associated with each suit may not appreciate the fact Conway has switched Wands to be associated with Air, and Swords to be associated with Fire, but this association makes sense if you’ve read about or practiced Conway’s particular tradition of dragon magick.
There are a few changes made to the Major Arcana, The Hierophant is now the High Priest, and The Devil is now Chains. Conway gives her reason for these changes: “Neither of the usual names applied to these cards have anything to do with pre-Christian Celtic spirituality”. These changes do not bother me at all, but it might have been a different story if this had not been my first deck.
Lisa Hunt’s artwork makes these cards very easy to read for me, the images are full of little details and are full of life. Even though I’ve had these cards for years, every now and then I spot something I’m convinced I’ve not seen before. This does make these cards wonderful for meditation, and there is a selection of guided meditations in the accompanying guidebook, with suggested cards for each one.
The guidebook itself is a decent sized volume. Every card gets a two page spread, with a black & white image of the card on the left, together with the card’s name and keywords, and a description and divinatory meaning on the right. I’m sure I could read these cards without the book, just by diving into the artwork and taking the meaning from what I see myself, but I do enjoy reading the description provided.
The guidebook also contains a few card spreads, an “Expanded Celtic Cross”, “Influence of the Elements”, “Past Life, Present Influence”, and “Path to a Goal”. With the exception of the 5-card “Influence of the Elements”, all these spreads are 9-cards or more, which might be tricky for newcomers to read. It’s a shame they didn’t put in a nice, simple 3-card spread to make reading spreads a lot less intimidating. I have to admit I have never actually tried any of these spreads, mostly because the thought of trying to read so many cards as a beginner was a bit overwhelming, so I tended to just used these cards for daily draws.
While I didn’t do much with the card spreads, the candle spells were a totally different matter. I’m pretty sure I’ve done each of them at least once over the years. Somewhere among my hoard (hopefully) is a notebook in which I’ve carefully copied each spell across, complete with my casting notes, my results following the casting, and various candle wax stains 😀 I wish I could find that notebook, but I’ve not seen it since I moved from Bristol.
Among the dragon magick community, when asked which of the dragon tarot decks I’d recommend for a complete beginner, I do tend to pick this deck due to Lisa Hunt’s artwork. I know there are some who avoid Conway’s work like the plague, but honestly if you dislike her that much, ditch the book and just use the lovely cards by themselves.
There is one downside to the card’s artwork, and that is the lack of diversity in the humans pictured, which will possibly put some people off using them. However given the time this deck was created, the fact it was created by two white, American women, and it’s theme being based on Celtic spirituality, it’s unsurprising that every person in this deck is white-skinned. As a white, British female, this does not really bother me personally (to be honest, I bought this deck for the dragons, not the humans!) but I felt it was worth mentioning.
The Celtic Dragon Tarot Kit is still currently in print, and is easy to purchase from Amazon and Llewellyn.com if you cannot find it in your local bookshop or metaphysical store. It is published by Llewellyn Worldwide (ISBN: 9781567181821) and retails for $34.95 US. (Please note these are not affiliate links.)