DECK REVIEW: Sol Invictus: The God Tarot

The Sol Invictus:   
God Tarot                     
Kim Huggens & Nic Phillips
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2007
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-2761-2
Dimensions of Cards:  4 7/8” X 3 7/8”
Dimensions of Box:  11 ½” X 6” x 1 ½”
Every once in a while I run across a deck that truly knocks my socks off.  It’s usually due to one or more of the following reasons:  the artwork is beautiful and the images really lend themselves to the meaning of the cards, the cards really speak to me in readings, the spreads created for the deck and the guide book are outstandingly well written and organized, or the packaging is very nice and perhaps even a bit unique.  It has been a very long time that a deck has impressed me in every single category noted above, but the Sol Invictus has accomplished just that.
Created by Kim Huggens and Nic Phillips, The Sol Invictus: God Tarot focuses on the male aspect of Deity, and they also include males from throughout myth and history whose lives exemplified or personified male deity archetypes (for example, St. Francis of Assisi personifying altruism).  
When I first see a deck that has a narrow theme my first reaction is uh-oh, this deck probably won’t apply to me.  However, I had seen some of Nic Phillips’ card images online and his artwork intrigued me.  What can I say?  I’m a total sucker for bright colors.
I began using the deck right out of the box after I performed a quick cleansing on it.  I was shocked not only at how insightful and incredibly thorough the card interpretations are in the guide book provided, but I was highly impressed with how the images themselves tend to play with one another in a spread. If you take the time to just focus on the images and how they are relating to one another you can discern a great deal of what your reading means before you even crack the guide book open.  
The cards are printed in bright, vibrant colors on a very heavy duty thick cardstock.  Colored pencils and blendable watercolor pencils appear to be the main artistic mediums used.  For those of us with smaller hands this deck can be a bit difficult to shuffle as the cards have barely any “give” to them at all.  They are coated with a very fine laminate that will withstand years of use.  The card images are rectangular with a white border.  The title appears at the bottom of each card within the white border.  For those of us who are very much into trimming cards, this deck may be a bit of a chore for that job simply due to the thickness of the cardstock, but the images would lend themselves well to trimming as each is contained within a definite rectangular field. Card backs are white with a red sun and are completely reversible for those of us into reading reversed meanings.
Right out of the box the deck had a good “feel” to it and I enjoyed examining each image before I ever shuffled the deck.  Suits are Swords, Wands, Cups & Coins.  Majors deviate from the traditional titles with the following cards: 
  • The High Priestess is Inner Wisdom
  • The Empress is The Creative
  • The Chariot is The Quest
  • The Hanged Man is The Mystic
  • Temperance is Alchemy
  • The Devil is The Underworld
  • Judgement is The New Aeon
  • The World is The Universe
For the court cards gender references have been removed.  The Page is Awakening, The Knight is the Quester, the Queen is the Nurturer, and the King is the Master.
Due to the authors’ academic research they were both carrying out while creating the deck, the guidebook is thoroughly researched, well written, and the bibliography itself stands out as one of the finest that I have ever seen.  The bibliography goes on for 7 pages and contains sources by such noted luminaries in their respective fields as Joseph Campbell,  E. A. Wallis Budge, Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Janet & Stewart Farrar, Carl Jung, John Matthews, Rachel Pollack,  Alan Richardson, and A. E. Waite.   
I hold a doctorate in Latin American Studies and my specialty is the Classic Maya civilization so I was thrilled that the authors cited works by scholars with whom I am very familiar, including John Bierhorst, Diego Duran, N. G. L. Hammonds, E. O. James, Miguel Leon-Portilla, Mary Miller, Roy Rappaport, and Karl Taube,  Others with whom many are familiar are also included:  Homer, Ovid, Sir Thomas Mallory, Kant, Keats, Plato, Plutarch, Sophocles, and even J. M. Barrie (the author of Peter Pan).  In short, the bibliography is the type one would find as part of a scholar’s dissertation.  It is quite impressive and is an excellent starting point for anyone who wishes to delve further into the topic of male deities and archetypes.    
From a scholarly standpoint alone the guide book stands on its own as an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to research the God Archetype as every card is a portrayal of either a male aspect of Deity or someone who exemplified traits of Deity, such as the mortal Greek philosopher Socrates as the Nurturer of Swords and Alexander the Great as the 2 of Wands.  The guide book alone stands as an outstanding contribution to the study of myth and the cultural variation and commonality all humans have seen in or ascribed to the God Archetype throughout history.  
The amount of information available for each card is extensive.  The card descriptions begin with a discussion of the card’s imagery followed by a thorough discussion of the god depicted and his major myth.  Each god is also placed into historical and cultural context.  I highly recommend you take the time to read the guidebook because you will learn a great deal about male gods, heroes, and saints that will put each card into its proper context.  Such a large amount of information can be overwhelming, so the authors were nice and also concluded the discussion of each card with keywords that serve as a brief interpretation.  The guide book concludes with ten spreads.
The packaging is very nice with a sturdy laminated cardboard box with a hinged magnetized lid containing two recessed wells, one for the cards and one for the book.  The lid is further attached to the box with white silken ribbon.  It makes for a very fine and attractive presentation.
I’m enjoying using this deck and I plan to provide you with a sample reading soon so you can see more of the card images.

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