The Hobbit Tarot: A Review

The Hobbit TarotThe Hobbit Tarot

U.S. Games Systems, Inc. 2012

AuthorTerry Donaldson

ArtistPeter Pracownik

ISBN:  978-1-57281-677-0

(Introduction)  “In a sense, the journey of Bilbo Baggins is perhaps rather like our own journeys, with a tendency to cling to what is known, a disdain of change, and an unwilling hero who gradually finds within himself qualities he never knew he had.

Where shall this story start, you ask?  Why, from the beginning of course, with The Fool, also known as Bilbo Baggins.

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”  ~Bilbo Baggins – Lord of the Rings~

The Fool - Bilbo Baggins

This 78 card deck brings the much loved story The Hobbit, to life through the beauty and genius of the Tarot.  Twenty-two Marjor Arcana and fifty-six Minor Arcana, are based on the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith structure, which include four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, Coins) and four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, King).  Real as well as mystical creatures appear throughout, along with a cast of colorful characters including Dwarves, Elves, Men (humans), Wizards and Trolls, just to name a few.

The Hobbit Tarot

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, will probably readily recognize these four characters.

  • Gandalf as The Magician:  Gandalf is sitting on a rock (earth), beside a lake (water), holding his staff in his arms (fire), at his feet a lunar sickle (air).
  • Beorn as The Hermit:  Seen here as a man, he stands with a great axe in his hands.  Tall, powerful, even as a man, let alone when he would ‘skin-change’ (shape-shift) into a great black bear.
  • Gollum as The Hanged Man:  Gollum scuttles across a lonely terrain hunting for food. On the ground we see he has already captured, and killed, two fish for his meal.  (I thought he liked them ‘raw and wriggling’)
  • Smaug as The Tower:  The Dragon Smaug, in great wrath, emerges from his lair spewing fire to wreck revenge for the disappearance of the cup from his immense treasure, that Bilbo took.

You will see these characters show up again throughout the deck.  For instance, Beorn is also the Page of Coins, but there he appears in Bear form and Smaug is also, quite fittingly, The Devil.

The Hobbit Tarot

These three, The Empress, The Chariot, and Temperance, are all non-traditional images for their particular archetypes, at least the one’s I’m used to seeing.  For help in understanding them I turned to the booklet.   The Empress:  Bilbo and Gandalf are united in the deepest bonds of spiritual love with their fellow Companions on this great Quest.  We are, here in this place, reminded of the tremendous power of spiritual and earthly love, which has motivated life itself, and expressed itself in innumerable forms.

The Chariot shows the Companions as they push on with their quest, their combined power enabling them toward their common goal.

Temperance though is the one that really had me stumped.  Here we see Bolg, who was the leader of the Goblin army, and he harbored a great hatred for the Dwarves.  With a host of Wargs and a cloud of bats, Bolg gathered an army throughout the Misty Mountains.  At the Lonely Mountain, Bolg led his army into battle against the Men, Dwarves, and Elves.  The Goblins were defeated (Bolg was killed by Beorn) with help from the Eagles and Beorn in his Bear form.

Still stumped?  Divinatory Meaning:  Looking into the past in order to understand the present, moderation, healing, unifying opposing trends. In a reading, this card tells you that by diluting down your indulgences, and exercising temperance, you will achieve the best from a situation. When we are able to resist the pull of opposites, and balance contradictory desires, then we will be able to move forward more smoothly.  Ok, I can live with that.  :)

The Hobbit Tarot

The card backs are reversible and depict the Ring of Power with it’s sinister writing–“One Ring to rule them all”.  The Six of Cups shows Gollum in his cave with the ring before Bilbo arrives and finds it.   The Wheel of Fortune shows Bilbo and Gollum in the cave engaged in a riddle contest.  *{Bilbo Baggins: A box without hinges, key, or a lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.   Gollum:  Eggs! Eggs is the answer.}

“Here in this underground cave, by this pool of stagnant water, the immense power of the Ring, which now lies in Bilbo’s pocket, is unfathomable.  This card is a reminder of the power of chance, of the whimsical nature of the Fates, granting fortune for good or ill upon whomsoever, and wherever, they will.”  (pg. 14) 

The Hobbit TarotSpeaking of the booklet, it’s 95 pages and includes an introduction, three original spreads, biographies on both the author and artist, the divinatory meanings for each card (upright and reversed), and a description of the images.

The deck is printed on sturdy card-stock with a sleek matte finish so that they shuffle easily.

A beautiful deck that I know I will enjoy using for many years to come.  (Note to self…Must get the Lord of the Rings deck soon too!)

So now, where will the journey end?  No one can say for sure, and although Bilbo was a reluctant adventurer, adventuring he did go.

“We hobbits are plain, quiet creatures. Adventures make one late for dinner.” ~Bilbo Baggins.  *Quotes from the upcoming movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 2012.

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The Hobbit and all characters and places therein are trademark properties of Tolkien Enterprises.