In this imaginative new deck by Peter Pracownik and Terry Donaldson, Bilbo Baggins heads down the Royal Road of the tarot, following in The Fool's footsteps. The Tolkien-inspired version of the hero's journey is captivating, lively, and emotive. The cast of characters go about their business in their magically illustrated world, simultaneously ignoring the observer and seductively signaling to us that we are welcome to join them if we choose. Each card presents its own mythical world, offering insight, wisdom, and empowerment. Whether you use the deck for readings, for meditation, or just look at the pictures, this deck is a delight.
Pracownik and Donaldson previously collaborated on the highly successful Dragon Tarot and Lord of the Rings Tarot. This exciting new addition adds another star to their collection.
-- Anna Jedrziewski, on Tarotwise.com
The Hobbit Tarot is a 78-card theme deck, following the traditional structure of the Tarot, with the overlaid theme of J.R.R. Tolkien's work The Hobbit. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana are defined as the major mysteries/themes around which our lives orbit (birth, death, love ... things that are universal to all of us), while the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are said to represent situations and events in life. Traditional titles are kept for the Major Arcana, with Strength at VIII, and Justice at XI. Some of the cards in this deck evoke traditional Tarot well, some do not. The Magician is a card that works, but not in the traditional manner. All of the elements are represented, but we do not have the traditional "As Above, So Below" gesture, and the magician himself, represented by Gandalf, is older. The Hieropant, represented by again by Gandolf, works well. He is working with deep magic through the crystal on his staff, and the owl above him representing wisdom is quite appropriate.
In the introduction to the accompanying LWB (Little White Book), Donaldson notes that the world that constitutes "The Hobbit" is a world of gentle magic and mystery. He likens the journey of Bilbo Baggins to the journey that we all follow in life, clinging to what is known, with a disdain for change.
There is a very special section where spreads relevant to the Hobbit theme are presented, including The Ring of Gollum Spread (giving a great over-view/snapshot of where the Seeker is at the time of the reading), The Sword of Aragon Spread (an expanded Past/Present/Future spread), and The Arkenstone Spread (a spiral spread that is read in storytelling fashion). In this deck we see superimposed on the traditional Tarot a world of Elves, Dragons, Dwarves, Wizards, Trolls, and the occasional Human. This is a collectors deck for those that connect with the Hobbit theme, or those that like mystical, fantasy art. It is not a deck for beginners, and it is not a deck to learn from. As an addition to any collection, it is invaluable, as it stretches the imagination and brings new perspective to the world of the Tarot and the world of Bilbo Baggins.
-- Bonnie Cehovet, on The World of Tarot
Tolkien fans will delight to see Bilbo's adventures brought to life in this deck.
Those of you familiar with the Lord of the Rings Tarot deck will find a very different look in The Hobbit Tarot deck. Although developed by the same author/artist team, the cards are much simpler in presentation, without suit symbols or text descriptions. The result is a "cleaner" feel that draws you further into the story of The Hobbit, but presents challenges for effective reading. Because The Hobbit story has more the tone of an "adventure", in contrast to the epic "hero’s journey" so well-chronicled in both the Lord of the Rings and the traditional tarot, melding the story of The Hobbit into a tarot deck was likely a greater challenge for the developers.
The card backs are nicely done, with the elvish runes of The Ring inscribed in an octagonal grid on a dark blue background. The artwork in the cards is dominated by greens and blues of mountain and forest backgrounds. Characters and scenes are depicted in a mainstream fantasy style -- neither too cute nor too harsh. The space at the bottom of each card gives the card title, following the traditional RWS card names. This is important, because few of the cards give any other indication of the tarot relevance. While most of the Major Arcana depicts characters or concepts more or less appropriate to the card’s traditional meaning, some of them illustrate specific scenes from the book.
The LWB also includes suggestions for three spreads. Using one of these, I was surprised at how well the cards "read", in spite of the limitations described above. By letting the artwork speak for itself, without trying to interpret specific scenes from the book, it worked. However, some of the card messages would have still been incomprehensible to me without "hints" from the printed titles. This deck grows on you if you take time to work with it. Those readers who can relate to The Hobbit story as a model for life may resonate well with this deck for routine use. For others, it may work well for those special readings, which probe an "adventure" or pursuit of a specific goal. Certainly, it is a deck for Tolkien fans, and it will no doubt find a welcoming market once the movie is released.
-- Nancy Waterstone, in ATA Quarterly Journal
Since the tarot is itself a graphically represented journey, it is also a handy template for another archetypal grand story—The Hobbit—with all the characters and creatures found in Tolkien’s amazing tale. I read The Hobbit so very long ago…seeing Peter Pracownik’s wonderful illustrations and reading Terry Donaldson’s review for each card, many showing specific scenes, is a special way to both review and comprehend the journey of Gandalf, the Burglar and his Companions, while at the same time finding parallel signposts along my life within the tarot journey. Although small, the companion book is complete with the full set of interpretations, Hobbit references and with introduction, spreads suggested, and information about the author and illustrator. There are meanings given for card reversals; some more involved and others somewhat brief.
The cards are sturdy and long, with an intriguing design on the card backs of the rings of power, superimposed on an extended, modified, Kabalistic Tree of Life. The overall color theme is darker blues, with green and muted bright colors standing out. Each of the 78 cards is clearly labeled and there are many scenes from The Hobbit, including multiple variations of the same event. Human and other creatures, animals too, are rendered fairly realistically, with the artwork displaying a wonderful balance of figure/s and background scene.
I have enjoyed utilizing The Hobbit Tarot, experimenting with the suggested spreads—The Ring of Gollum, the Sword of Aragon and The Arkenstone Spread—as well as successfully finding that The Hobbit cards work in many other spreads (such as the Celtic Cross and the Horseshoe). A set of bright, spotted red toadstools are repeated in the foreground of a number of cards, and the dragon Smaug finds his way into the Tower, the World, the ten of wands, and the Devil. The standard suits are found with the variation of coins for pentacles.
As a storyteller, I love the appearance of the loved, and despised, Hobbit characters; Gandalf, Bilbo, Gollum, the Dwarves, giant Eagles, Wargs and Goblins, and so on. Court cards show generic figures—such as a woman from Laketown—and also at times named characters. Peter Pracownik’s art is described as visionary, and some of his creative graphic symbolism is shown, for example, as the Arkenstone appearing as a crystal with sacred geometry, the repetition in the sky of seven stars, a dark and silhouetted horse rider, rune inscribed stones and artwork showing specific swords—Orcrist, Sting and Glamdring.
I recommend this deck for its utility, beauty and as a fascinating companion to the great work of Tolkien, with The Hobbit being, like our own lives, an Unexpected Journey…
—Thomas Freese, author, art therapist, tarot reader, and clinical counselor