Sacred Circle --The Underworld


The Underworld-Sacred Circle Tarot

Gwynn ap Nudd stands at the entrance to the Underworld, which appears to be the opening of a Neolithic Barrow Grave. Possibly Glastonbury Tor, since medieval legend places the entrance to his kingdom there. He is accompanied with a large white Pig. I think it’s a reference to the Goddess Cerridwyn, in her aspect as the Great White Sow, who (among other things) eats her young. Certainly this is an Otherworldly creature. It could also be the Great Boar himself, Twrch Trych, or Orc (meaning Pig)Triath. Celts, we got pigs. Celtic Myth and tradition was that only the Gods could eat Pigs, and then it changed to Pigs were eaten by humans at High Festivals, and somewhere in there the Pig herd lost his Prophetic status, and Pork became an all-around favorite. However, Pig still remains a guide to underworld knowledge.
At Gwynn’s feet are Yew branches, the tree symbolizing death and rebirth, the red poisonous berries were used to make an arrow poison, very probably the mythic source of deadly faery elf-bolts.
Above Gwynn are 2 dragons, on e red, one green. They signify the ley (or dragon) lines in the British Isles, and are also associated with the Arthurian Saga, as the dragons fighting under the earth in Merlin’s Prophecy regarding the Kingship of Britain.

So who is this Gwynn ap Nudd? Well, he’s the King of the Dead, the leader of the Wild Hunt, and your host as you closely examine who you are and who you want to be when you grow up. He’s King of the Underworld in some parts of the Mobingion, So he’s important, and when you meet him, you’d best pay attention. This is the place where you confront your shadows, whether or not you wanted to. Here is where you face your fears and failings and all of it, and prepare for re-birth. This is the Home Court of Inner Work. This can be the prerequisite for rebirth into a new life, or a new way of being. Either way, it is the Confrontation and preparation time for great change that is coming. If you wanna go There, you gotta go Here first.
He is also, by the way, Scathach’ (of the Warrior Card) Husband, although they live apart. I point this out so that you know that this is no softie you’re dealing with.
Of course, not all of his guests are here voluntarily. Yet another reason for doing your work in his Kingdom the very best way you can, since Exit Visas are not automatic.

It would be useful to know if anyone in this Study Group does not have the book, since there is sooo much information in it. This entry is not paraphrasing the book, although I usually do. Maybe some of the more technically ept among us could scan in the relevant pages for each card, if someone hasn’t got one. Or maybe there’s an on-line site where one can read the book?


Thanks, Fulgour--we will stay tuned ! ;)


of Pryderi's gifts...

The Ring of Pryderi
(click on)

By this ring that was found
in the stall when they found me
ye shall know me, in anger and fear

When darkness came down
on the lord of the west
and, bereft of renown
he went forth on his quest

When he wandered the world
and was nameless
long years, without joy
without rest

Did ye deem that he went
and left after him none,
that his life was all spent
and your warfare all won

When ye dreamed
of the passing of Pwyll
took ye thought
for Pryderi his son?


This has such a slowly building sense of wrath,
coming from deep within. I hear the voice smile...
I've posted just a fragment. The 'stories' vary.


“……………Here is an echo of the hunt which begins the story “Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed”. Arawn, the huntsman Pwyll meets, is indeed the Lord of Annwyn, though in other contexts it is Pwyll himself and later his son Pyderi who rules it. But the implication is that Arawn, Pwyll or Pyderi, and not Arthur, were the original Masters of the Hunt. Yet even this trio may have been latecomers, for the British once had another underworld ruler: Gwynn ap Nudd, who also had his phantom-hunt. These associations of the hunt with the underworld would explain why, in some areas where the legend survives, its leader has come to be regarded as the Devil himself.”

From: Celtic Mythology by Ward Rutherford


When I get this card I know that a major change is about to take place, will I stride through that doorway with confidance or hesitate at the doorway. He looks at me with a look of it is up to you, but change does and will happen wether we are ready for it or not, I find it interesting that the red dragons tail is tipped in green, this means to me no matter how much passion we put into avoiding some thing we will be brought back to earth either gently or rather hard! Depends on the subject, I think it envolves some spirtual change because of the color he is drapped in purple.


To me, card 14 is XIIII TEMPERANCE and that's that...
but, I do like this deck, and find the symbolism to be very
thought provoking. Sure, I have and will use it for readings,
only for the most part, this kind of thing is "off putting" :(


Fulgour said:
To me, card 14 is XIIII TEMPERANCE and that's that...(snip)
......this kind of thing is "off putting" :(

I think that must be a hard thing about this deck for people who are really into the numerology.the Authors give an explanation in the book pg 10, "the Journey of the Fool" as to why they changed the order of the cards in the Major Arcana.
In the spirit of helpfullness, -- I don't mean to be sacriligious or anything (what with people trimming the borders off cards, etc...) but have you considered inking out the offending number on the bottom of the card, and perhaps puting the traditional number somewere on the card? Maybe on the "doorstep" of the frame?
It just seems a shame to have that be a problem, however small,(or large!) with this deck. :)


Nun: "Inheritance ~ to fall to"

In a way I think that only Tarot can, the card titled Temperance
has to it a dimension of darkness beyond normal comprehension.
It is the dark of the Dark Moon, the blackness that radiates light.

The interconnectedness of the imagery we see in the ancient cards
has within it more than most imagine ~ the surface we see is artful,
but the underlying energies contain all the vastness of the universe.

Temperance is Scorpio ~ and Scorpio bears the burden of being the
shadow side of the Exaltation of the Moon in Taurus, it's Descension.

The Phoenicians named letter 14 Nun, for the 8th House: Death.


Rather than quote Fulgour again, I have to state I feel the same.

I keep seeing 14-The Underworld as 13-Death & despite the existance of a Death card (presided over by the Crone aspect of Goddess) because that makes sense to me. Rather than The Underworld as replacing Temperance; or more specifically, replacing the number 14. It may be due to being steeped in numbers before even venturing into cartomancy.

That said--Sacred Circle's Death & The Underworld seem like a matched pair representing respectively the Goddess & the God aspects of death.

With the Crone aspect of Goddess terrifying in her own right as Death, curiously the Lord of the Dead does not seem as terrifying even though he is supposed to be the darker of the two. He is the gate keeper to the Underworld where the dead reside.

According to the Celtic Wheel of the Year, Samhain is associated with The Underworld or Otherworld; with the advent of Winter & the New Year. That is also when the gate is open & the dead may be contacted. Known as one of the two times of the year the veil between the world of the living & of the dead is thinnest, the dead may pass through to walk the earth amongst the living. That infers the living can just as easily pass into the world of the dead--a terrifying concept. The wearing of costumes & masks or disguises on Samhain/All Hallow's Eve is said to have originated from that fear & an attempt to fool the restless spirits. The practice of engaging in ritual & the lighting of candles to honour the dead may also be a means of placating those ancestral dead, from whom one must pay respect before seeking guidance or a boon.

The Underworld is the tempering card or the great leveler--where every man regardless of his station in life must pass through. One perforce enters this realm with nothing of the earthly ties or possessions; thus figuratively with nothing to hold one back from this passage. Yet this is the beginning of the hardest part of the soul journey as this is the underworld realm of self. After all is said & done, one must meet one's shadow self, replete with all the repressed fears & issues buried deep in the subconscious.

Its appearance marks a time of change to be met or confronted which involves digging through that inadvertently accumulated or not appropriately addressed. How one chooses to approach the challenge may well determine if one negotiates ahead to the next cycle/rebirth or remains bound.