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Mystic Dreamer Tarot


ISBN: 9780738714363 Publisher & Year: Llewellyn, September 2008 Author: Heidi Darras Companion Book Author: Barbara Moore Card Size: 2 ¾” x 4 5/8” Purchase at: Amazon.com, Llewellyn.com

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Celtic Decks

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The Mystic Dreamer

By Jewel


The Mystic Dreamer Tarot, by Heidi Darras, is a photo-manipulated deck printed by Llewellyn in 2008.  The deck was born of Ms. Darras interest in creating a deck of her own and the encouragement she received on Deviant Art.  As Ms. Darras notes in the Artist Note section of the companion book, she wanted to create an emotional deck, and to reveal the hidden emotion within each card.  She also wanted to create a deck that had an aura of mystery and a dreaminess about it.  That I feel she achieved.


The art is done via photo-manipulation.  The art has a romantic, dramatic, and dreamy feel to it.  For the most part the deck is really beautiful but there are some cards in which the technique just did not work out as hoped, examples are the 7 of Swords and King of Pentacles to name a couple.  Overall though the deck is pretty.  The cards are framed with a ¼ inch parchment style border on the top and sides with the bottom border being larger, just shy of 1”.  The Mystic Dreamer is one of those decks that would have benefited from being borderless or with a small simple border.  In my personal opinion the parchment borders seem to bleed into the image and detract from many of the cards.  The names and numbers of the cards are printed on a scroll within the bottom border.  The cards are the standard Llewellyn size and quality, making them easy to shuffle.  The backs of the cards have a beautiful moon design and are reversible.


The Mystic Dreamer Tarot is intended to be an intuitive deck rather than a structured deck, but it does closely follow the Rider-Waite-Smith system. It is a 78 card deck, with 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana.  The Major Arcana retain their traditional titles.  The Strength card is assigned to position VIII and Justice at XI.  The suits are Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles.  The elemental correspondences are Cups/water, Wands/Fire, Swords/Air, and Pentacles/Earth.  The Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page.


Key design elements the artist chose were the moon and ravens.  The creator shares that she has a “particular connection” with the moon and has used it throughout the deck as a symbol of “emotions, intuition, creativity, inspiration, and it can evoke a feeling of magic and mystery.”  Another symbol that is prevalent throughout the deck are ravens.  Ms. Darras states that in dreams ravens “symbolize the secrets of the sub-conscious, showing us things we would prefer not to know.  They represent a feeling of foreboding, an important message, or something in our lives that needs attention.”  I find this description a bit dramatic but in Greek mythology ravens are associated with the God Apollo - the god of prophesy - so I do feel they are very well suited to Tarot, not to mention I have a personal affinity towards ravens.


One of the strengths of this deck is the court cards, with the exception of the Kings and the Queen of Wands.  The Kings look young and overly arrogant, and the essence of the fiery Queen of Wands is not captured as well as the other Queens in the deck are.  It is unfortunate that the maturity of Kings was not portrayed in posture or age, as otherwise the court cards are quite expressive which is helpful for those of us who struggle with them.


My largest issues with this deck include:

(1) I find the images on many of the cards too small to really appreciate the details to their fullest potential, and the large bottom border is the main contributor to this.

(2)  When the photo-manipulation technique does not work it really detracts.

(3) Lack of gender balance, even some of the males present in the deck can be confused for females until much closer examination, the Fool is a good example of this.

(4)  Everyone, with the exception of the Hermit, in this deck is young, and attractive.  The Emperor might be in his late 30’s to early 40’s, but the other figures are most likely in their 20’s.  Not that I have anything against young attractive people, but some cards benefit from a more mature figure such as the Emperor, Hierophant, Hermit, and Kings for example.


The 211-page companion book titled The Dreamer’s Journal is very nicely written by Barbara Moore.  It covers Tarot Basics, a really nice section with spreads, Keeping a Tarot Journal, instruction on how to read the cards, a Dream Work section, and the sections dedicated to the cards describe the cards, provide upright and reversed meanings, and little prompts at the end of each card section for you to use your intuition.


Overall I am neutral in regards to this deck.  I like the concept, the key elements chosen by the artist, and like much of the art such as the stunning Death Card which is a beautiful image that truly conveys the cycles of life, renewal, and transformation.  But in the end the deck is a wash for me due to the issues I personally have with it.  I feel this deck would be appreciated by young intuitive readers that enjoy photo-manipulated art, and those interested in decks with an otherworldly dreamy feel to them.  The deck could also appeal to those who are not that into esoteric symbolism in their cards.  I feel the deck could be used by beginners as it does follow the RWS system closely though with much less esoteric symbolism, and the book will help add clarity as it is well written and informative.

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