The Stolen Child Tarot

The Stolen Child Tarot

Author: Monica Knighton
Artist: Monica Knighton
Independently Published
Limited Edition

The Stolen Child
William Butler Yeats (

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

I have included Yeat’s poem, in its entirety, because this poem was the inspiration for the “Stolen Child Tarot”. Knighton (also author/artist for the “Tarot of the Dead”) designed the imagery in this deck without the use of man-made objects, She notes on her first Kickstarter Project page for this deck that a crown might be represented by antlers, or an animals form could represent the clothing for a human station. There are also no adult figures in this deck – the figures represent changeling children that have embraced different parts of the natural world. In speaking with Monica, she noted that the second theme in this deck is one of emphasizing the quaternary and the four elements repeatedly in imagery and more subtle ways. The focus here is on a geometric square, its stability, manifestation, and the earth … with special emphasis on the earth.

This is a Limited Edition deck (500 decks printed) which, according to Knighton’s Kickstart page, will not be reprinted until all 78 cards have been done. The illustrations in this deck are done with colored ink and watercolor, and have shading and detail that do not reproduce with a good quality with online print on demand services – which is why she choose to work through Kickstarter. By working with Kickstarter, Knighton was able to work with a local (to her) printer, utilizing a profession four color process that accurately reproduces the color and detail of the originals.

I found Kickstarter very easy to work with. Knighton was very clear about what was included with each level of pledging, and there were plenty of updates so that we all knew where she was in the process. That was something that I very much appreciated!

Rather than including a printed book (LWB) at added expense, Knighton went the route of creating a beautiful PDF download entitled “A Field Guide to the Stolen Child Tarot”, which includes full color thumbnails of each of the cards, along with interpretations. From the Field Guide:

9 The Hermit

The Hermit is willing to let go and explore the unknown for its own sake. The illumination of the bug could be a beacon to draw others of its own kind or a warning to scare predators away. Pure Science, Pure Research, Curiosity, Wisdom, Advanced Age, Leaving ones comfort zone, Humility vs. One who does not suffer fools, Silence, Asceticism.

There are 22 cards, plus two blank cards, and two title cards (one of which is signed and numbered). They come packaged in handmade art paper portfolio, with no two alike! Mine came with a beige inner wrapping, and a forest green outer wrapping, held together with slender twine. Beautifully done!

The cards are 3 ¼” by 4 5/8”. The card backs show a ¼” white border, followed by a thin black border. There is a pattern between white squares and illustrated squares that if you move back from the card a bit you will see forms a series of squares. The illustrated cards in the four corners show a budding leaf, to emphasize the number four. The other illustrated squares show an open blossom with four white petals and four black petals – again, to emphasize the number four. The center of the card shows a four petaled dogwood blossom in the center (matching he blossoms on the World card), with illustrations representing he four suits surrounding it (Earth/Acorn, Air/Feather, Water/Shell, Fire/Flame). Please note: no specific compass point arrangement was held in mind when placing the images, because different systems place the elements in different places.

The card faces show a ¼” white border. followed by a thin black border. The artwork is colored ink and watercolor, with a very gentle sense to them. Nature and animals predominate, with the faces of all of the figures portrayed as changeling children (there are no adult figures in this deck). There are no titles on the cards, but I think you will find that the imagery carries the archetypal theme nicely.

The Fool shows a baby, seated in nature, one hand up to his face, smiling delightedly as four hummingbirds (representing the four points of the quaternary) flit around him.

The Lovers pictures bats pollinating plants in nature – they are so adorable, hanging upside down and looking so very innocent!

The Magician shows a laughing changeling, dressed as a fox. His hands are thrown up in the air, and he is having a grand time! All four elements are represented here, and at the bottom of the card are two adorable little mice!

Temperance shows the face and arms of a changeling underwater, watching the scene in front of him. The represents the junction between land, or material life, and water, or the unconscious, spiritual life (represented by the frog, that goes onto land to give birth, and then returns to the water).

The Devil is depicted as a snake, with two rats sitting in front of it.

Justice shows a changeling, in the center of a field, wearing antlers (symbolizing station and authority) The regimented society of the bee world is represented here in the form of honeycombs, and the bees themselves.

I absolutely adore both the Empress and the Emperor cards, which mirror each other. The Empress shows a brown bear, facing the right hand side of the card. In between her front paws stands a changeling, also focused towards the right hand side of the card. Surrounded by flowers, she is our creative source.

The Emperor shows a white (polar) bear, in a barren landscape, facing the  left hand side of the card. Knighton notes that as the King sits on a square to rule, the polar bear literally sits on top of the world. Leaning against his left front paw is a changeling, which is also focused to the left hand side of the card.

The Hermit tugs at my heartstrings! Here we see a changeling, in animal furs with a human face, peering out at two bugs in the center of the illustration. What wisdom will he find here? Is it meant to draw like kind together, or to scare predators away?

Judgment shows a tree branch, with cocoons on it. Along the branch we see a caterpillar, looking down on a butterfly that has just emerged from its cocoon.

In the World we see a changeling, looking straight out at us, with a cornucopia in its arms. The cornucopia represents the world. Behind the changeling we see a white stag, looking to the left hand side of the card. The quaternary is evoked in the four petaled dogwood blossoms.

This is an incredible deck, and, while not a beginner’s deck, is really very easy to read with! I love the earth connection, and will push maneuver my way to the front of the line to purchase the 78 card version when it comes out at all costs! Limited Edition decks are still available from Monica on her Etsy site –

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s