Though I’ve read Tarot since I was a mere twelve years old, it wasn’t until earlier last year that I began consulting the cards on a daily basis. Rather than just drawing a single, daily card, I prefer to combine a number of divination techniques and tools, merging Tarot cards with Runestones/ Rune cards, alongside Oracle cards for a more definitive and detailed reading.
Though there are literally thousands of Tarot card decks available on the market and I’m incredibly lucky to have a great number of these from which to choose from and to work with, there aren’t so many Rune Card decks available as traditionally, Runes were made from stone or wood and would be cast by throwing these solid objects into particular positions. Though I have a number of Runestone sets, I actually prefer to shuffle a deck and to have the visual aid of an image or card to read from, thus I was delighted when Sophie McKay Knight kindly offered to send me her latest Tarot and Rune Decks for me to work with, review, and to share.
Sophie Mckay Knight
Sophie McKay Knight gained an MA (Hons) in Fine Art following attending The Edinburgh College of Art and University between 1992-1997. Whilst studying, Sophie immersed herself in life drawing and following this she’s continued to study and explore the human condition and transformation throughout life.
Sophie has since worked professionally with St Andrews University, Art in Healthcare, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Fife Cultural Trust, Perth & Kinross Council, and the Tate Gallery in Liverpool. She has been a committee member with the Visual Arts, Scotland, and has led workshops across a variety of venues for adults and children, as well as teaching Life Drawing and children’s classes.
Sophie now practises as a professional artist, working and exhibiting throughout the UK and abroad, her practice has been and will always remain rooted in drawing, painting, and printmaking. Sophie particularly enjoys using a mixed media approach, often combining traditional drawing techniques with different forms of printmaking and text.
In June 2020, Sophie completed creating her first working Tarot deck – The Painted Tarot and following this created her first rune deck- The Painted Runes.
Packaging & Postcards
Arriving promptly and perfectly packaged, The Painted Tarot and The Painted Runes came with a guidebook for each deck, a small flyer and six stunning postcards featuring amazing artwork from each of the decks.
Both The Painted Tarot and The Painted Runes come in a simple, cardboard tuck box featuring artwork from each of the decks.
The Painted Tarot
Sophie first began working on The Painted Tarot in 2018 following a long period of reflection and by June 2020 the deck was finally released to the public. Sophie painted each of the seventy-eight cards using mixed media/ layers – some of the original cards were used as part of a ‘Journey exhibition’ which was held at the Union Gallery, Edingburgh in October 2020.
Sophie feels that the Tarot is the perfect lens through which to view the trials and tribulations of life as everything is linked by our senses and energy. Though The Painted Tarot is structured following the traditional Rider Waite Smith setup, Sophie has added further meaning and context to the cards as she has incorporated the emotions, experiences, and ideas shared by others whilst she created the deck.
The Painted Tarot Guidebook
The Painted Tarot comes with a glossy, catalogue-style, twenty-seven page, colour-printed guidebook which includes an introduction, a page upon each of the minor arcana suits, information upon The Fools Journey Exhibition, a short guide to the major arcana cards, a guide to reading reversals, a page upon the processes and models used throughout the creation of the deck, a guide upon the ‘darker cards’, three spread examples, and information and insight upon how the deck was created.
The Painted Tarot Cards
Featuring fun and funky, fabulous paint-splattered card backs, The Painted Tarot is printed on a sturdy, smooth, semi-glossy, card stock that measures slightly wider than standard Tarot decks.
Each of the borderless, plain white-edged cards feature simple and easy to read white titling and numbering, which pops against the vibrant palette of colours that run throughout the deck.
The Major Arcana
The Painted Tarot follows the traditional Rider Waite Smith set up in terms of Tarot titling, order, and such-like, though the imagery and illustrations offer colour, brightness, and beauty making this a modern and rather magical read.
The Minor Arcana
The minor arcana makes use of the traditional Tarot titling and suits (wands, cups, swords, and coins) though the court cards are slightly different as Sophie has chosen to represent the Pages, Knights, and Queens as female figures in bold, bright, and vibrant colours, whereas each of the Kings has been painted in monochrome, as Sophie aimed to portray the Kings as a quieter foil to their counterparts.
Reading & Working With The Painted Tarot
I’ve been working and reading with The Painted Tarot for just over three weeks now and let me tell you, the imagery and the artwork throughout this deck is quite simply stunning! Sophies abstract, impressionistic techniques and style, remind me somewhat of Van Gogh, Monet and the great artists which I grew up admiring from an early age. Her use of mixed media and choice of colours bring vibrance, love, life, and passion into this deck.
The Painted Runes
Having worked with runes throughout her childhood, Sophie had fond memories of rummaging in the rune bag to see which stone would stick to her fingers, later deciphering its meaning. Though Sophie became more attached and accustomed to working with and reading the Tarot, she would periodically return to her runes, thus it was a natural ‘next step’ for her to create The Painted Runes following the completion of her first Tarot deck – The Painted Tarot.
Though Sophie knew she wanted to create a rune deck, she wasn’t entirely sure where to start as there are so many ways in which the runes can be interpreted, there is no standard structure nor way in which to work with runes, thus Sophie opted to link her runes to the traditional Tarot, relating each of her rune cards with numerous Tarot cards.
The word ‘Rune’ means ‘secret’, ‘mystery’, ‘a whisper’, or ‘something hidden’. Though rune stones/ cards have just one symbol, each stone/ card actually represents and offers a wealth of information. Runic inscriptions have been found on weapons, gravestones, and jewellery from ancient times.
Runes date back to ancient proto-Germanic traditions potentially during the 1st century AD. Runes are traditionally made from stone or wood and use the runic alphabet consisting of twenty-four letters. Runes were traditionally used as a method of fortune-telling and seen as a protective tool to ward away bad spirits.
It appears that Runes first stemmed from the German alphabet which was used by the Nordic Tribes of Northern Europe. The Elder Futhark (named after the initials of the first six runes in the alphabet) was in use up to the 8th century, when other runic symbols were later introduced and the language began to dilute.
The Painted Runes Guidebook
The Painted Runes come with a catalogue-style, twenty-three-page, colour-printed, guidebook that includes an introduction, information upon the runes aettir, a guide to the meaning and Tarot associations for each rune (featuring a colour copy of each card), a short section upon how Sophie uses the runes, and three spread examples.
The Painted Runes Deck
Featuring brilliant blue, purple, and black card cards, The Painted Runes measure slightly wider than a standard Tarot card in width. Printed on sturdy, thick, semi-glossy, cardstock, these beautiful borderless, white-edged cards are durable and easy to shuffle.
Reading and Working With The Painted Runes
Though I’ve worked with numerous divination tools and techniques from a young age, I’m still building my knowledge, and confidence when working with rune stones and cards. Unlike Tarot, which I am so familiar with, I still find myself having to refer to the guidebook when it comes to reading runes. Though I’m hoping that with time, practice, and the correct decks, it shouldn’t be too long before I am able to put my guidebook to one side and to read rune stones and cards from memory with fluency.
The Painted Tarot features fabulous imagery which makes depicting and reading the runes far easier than using traditional stone or wooden runes. The symbols and titling are clearly labelled in an easy-to-read, white front that overlays the Sophies awesome abstract-style artwork.
The Elder Futhark Runes are made up of twenty-four runes, with the additional blank rune. However, Sophie chose to include an additional card, The Link, honouring and symbolising the ancient female rune casters, many of whom were revered, respected and often feared. The Painted Runes, therefore, consists of twenty-six rune cards in total.
Combining The Cards
When carrying out a Tarot reading I will often use Rune and Oracle cards to add further clarification and detail to readings. I love how the Painted Tarot and the Painted Runes work so well together – not only are they the same size and cardstock but they are also similar in style, thus appear stunning when laid out on the table together.
I find that combining and collating divination tools and techniques offers far more detailed, accurate readings for both myself and clients – The Painted Tarot and The Painted Runes are the only two decks that I know of (up to now) that are created by the same person and compliment each other so well.
A Walkthrough Guide
Here’s a short video walkthrough detailing and further explaining The Painted Tarot and the Painted Runes.
Purchasing & Pricing Information
Available to order and purchase directly via Sophie McKay Knights Etsy shop, The Painted Tarot retails from £44.95 (plus postage and packaging fees) whereas The Painted Runes retail from £33 (plus postage and packaging fees). Sophie can be contacted directly here regarding Worldwide shipping calculations.
Sophie Mckay Knights vibrant, bold, and colour-rich, Tarot deck is a fabulous, fun, and funky, modern take on the traditional Rider Waite Smith Tarot. Easy to use and easy to read, I’d thoroughly recommend The Painted Tarot to readers of all abilities, especially those with a passion for art as this deck features the most awesome, abstract, impressionist style artwork.
For those who wish to explore using or combining alternative divination tools and techniques, The Painted Runes are similar in style to The Painted Tarot, offering a modern-day twist to traditional stone or wooden Runes. I personally would recommend buying not one but both of these stunning decks as I’ve been working with both The Painted Tarot and The Painted Runes alongside each other for the past three weeks on a daily basis and feel that by combining these decks I have gained much further clarity and detail within readings.
For further information on The Painted Tarot, The Painted Runes, or alternative products from Sophie McKay Knight visit https://sophiemckayknight.com
Disclosure: I was sent the above product for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.