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  1. Jewel

    The Tarot of Prague

    From the album: Esoteric Decks

    ✧SKU: ToPKITfirst_edKIT ✧ISBN: 9780954500702 ✧Publisher and Year: The Magic Realist Press, April 2004 ✧Author: Karen Mahony; Alex Ukolov ✧Pages: 300 Available At: Out of Print
  2. Jewel


    Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Jewel The Bohemian Gothic Tarot, designed by Karen Mahony and illustrated by Alex Ukolov, is another baba studio Tarot masterpiece. Yes, I am a baba studios/Magic Realist Press (MRP) fangirl, but with very good reason. The quality and design of their decks puts them in a class of their own. The seed idea for this deck was found in dark stories, events, and images they came across while creating their first deck, Tarot of Prague (MRP 2004), then in macabre fairy tales when working on The Fairytale Tarot (MRP 2005), and became a major topic of conversation within the Aeclectic Tarot Community during their work on the Victorian Romantic (MRP 2006) as Karen shared information with us about some of the engravings and pictures they had run across that were too dark for the Victorian Romantic. We all started joking around about how after they finished the Victorian Romantic they needed to get to work on “The Dark Sister” of the Victorian Romantic. In 2007 baba studious/MRP gave us The Bohemian Gothic Tarot both as a Limited Silver Edition of 500, and a regular deck. To borrow a quote from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a deck that will “bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses.” This review will focus on the regular edition as it is the most common. Though inspiration for this deck began during their work on previous decks, The Bohemian Gothic evolved and asserted its own voice and personality through the creative process. Alex Ukolov brought that voice to life through modern digital composition and painting techniques, ensuring the cards retained a very strong period feel. As Karen shares with us in the companion book “The cards are based on late 19th century photographs taken from “cabinet” (photographic studio) portraits and from the lyrical, romantic photographic postcards that were fashionable in Germany at this time.” I am not a huge fan of digital art, but Alex’s expert touch always leaves me in awe and wondering if this is really digital art or if I am actually looking at hand painted paintings made specifically for this deck. Yes, he is that good and that effort is put into each and every card. A true feast for the eyes. The Bohemian Gothic does not follow any one Gothic story or novel, though you will see the influences of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and others in the work. The genre is captured beautifully. The deck is dark, subtle, and has that eerie Gothic atmosphere permeating throughout. It was created with the intent to show the shadow side of life, and in readings it will reveal the shadows in your own or that of your querent. The deck has the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana retain the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) titles, the difference lies in the Majors not being numbered so the reader can position Strength and Justice at positions 8 and 11 by personal preference. In the Minor Arcana the Suits follow the traditional names and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air, and Pentacles/Earth. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The cards do not rely on exact number of suit icons to tell you what card you are looking at, rather the picture itself tells the story and conveys the meaning of the card. The card number and suit are included at the bottom of the card. I love it when decks do it this way. The cards measure 5” X 3”, and are borderless. The card titles are included in the bottom ¼” of the card in a black band. The card stock is superb, something MRP is known for. These decks are easy to shuffle, durable, and just another sign of the quality that goes into them. The back of the cards are black with what look like silver Gothic architectural elements radiating from a skull. The backs are mirror image (top and bottom) and reversible. Due to its dark nature, the deck was not intended for the use of reversals, but the backs of the cards are reversible, and reversals can be used if the reader so desires. There is a 232-page companion book for this deck. Karen’s writing is as spectacular as Alex’s art. The Introduction tells you all about how the Bohemian Gothic Tarot was conceptualized and developed. It also includes a list of some typical Gothic elements many which you will see on the cards, and others you will sense while reading with this deck. This section is followed by a fascinating and educational section “A Short History of the Gothic” from its origins in the 18th century novel The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole to present day. The next section talks about the structure of the companion book, and gives some additional insights into the deck. Other sections of the book include: “A Short History of Tarot”; “Learning the Tarot” which includes some good information on court cards and numbers 1-10; “Reading Styles, Spread Styles” which talks about the different styles and approaches to reading tarot, introduces spreads, use of a significator, patterns and making a story, etc. The next section is “Sample Spreads” which includes the following spreads and sample readings: One-card Draw, Three-card Spreads (5 options), Five-card Spreads, The Prague “Threshold” Spread, and two spreads designed specifically for the Baroque Bohemian Gothic Tarot: The Secret Fears Spread and the Vampire Spread. So, as you can see, lots of spreads. The book moves onto a discussion of the Major Arcana, information on The Bohemian Gothic Majors and then into the cards themselves. Each card includes key words for lighter/conventional meanings and darker/shadow or hidden meanings, then a description of the card and more interpretive details, and finally some further ways to consider the card which includes questions and notes about shared imagery with other cards in the deck for you to look at and think about. Juicy stuff! Following the Majors we get into the Minor Arcana which has an introduction and then each suit has its section. The Minors get the same treatment as the Majors in the book. Lastly is the section on the Court Cards. The book also includes some additional genre based sections interspersed throughout: The Vampire, Evil from Foreign places and people, The Hauted House or Castle, Madness and delusion, and The Warewolf or Man-beast. Also of note is the “A Final Word” section of the book which features a piece written by Dan Pelletier titled “Working with a “dark” deck." This is not a deck for the faint at heart, those who do not want the cold hard truth, look at or admit to their own personal shadow, or those who like to sugarcoat things. There is no room for that with this deck and it can be emotionally demanding. This deck is a dark deck, and lives up to that billing plain and simple. It sets the mood, and activates the darker side of your psyche. Beautiful, check. Tempting, check. Mysterious, check. Unsettling, check. Haunting, check. To me one of the most beautiful and disturbing cards in the deck is The Devil card. It is sensual, seductive, and painful all in one. The horror of it. This is what this deck does so well. Like all other MRP decks I have experience working with, this one is extremely readable and ignites your intuition with its evocative imagery. Personally, I find this deck great for personal readings because well, in my personal experience, it will not allow me the luxury to delude myself or engage in the creation of false hope. The readings can be like ripping off band-aids, but the clarity allows you to face whatever is going on head on. If you do not want to really know, then do not pick up the deck until you are. You might want to warn your querents about the directness and light this deck will shine on their shadows when you read for them. If they have something to hide The Bohemian Gothic will be sure to shed a really bright light on it. Do not read with this deck if you are in a fragile state of mind. I recommend this deck to persons who enjoy the classic Gothic genre, like dark decks, want to rip away the shadows and expose the issues, those open to face the darker aspects of themselves, collectors, and MRP deck enthusiasts. The deck is sure to delight intuitive readers with an interest in the Gothic. The deck will likely appeal to persons interested in Gothic art, literature and classic horror films as it really captures the best of the genre. This deck includes a lot of Gothic symbolism, but not esoteric. I feel this deck could be read by readers of all levels because the art and book are just that good. You can definitely see the RWS influence and base, but it is not a RWS clone. I would not recommend this deck to persons suffering from depression or those that are mentally or emotionally fragile. There is no offensive nudity in the deck. This is a deck that might appeal to a lot of querents based on its esthetic, but I would recommend warning them that it will bring to light that which lies in the shadows, so to make sure they can handle the cold truths it might deliver. I would not offer up a reading with it to sweet little aunt “Fify”, but that is me. In Sum, this really is a stunning deck. It is very readable, eloquent and expressive. In my personal opinion it is a masterpiece like every other MRP deck I have ever had the pleasure to read with. Though I feel a responsibility to warn people of the impact it can have I am compelled to reiterate that it is a fabulous and perfectly executed dark deck. If you like dark decks, either for collecting or reading with, this is a must have deck.
  3. Jewel

    The Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot

    BAROQUE BOHEMIAN CATS’ TAROT By Jewel Originally published in November of 2004, The Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Tarot was the second Tarot deck published by Magic Realist Press (MRP), and was published as a deck and book set. Those of you who have read my other Magic Realist Press (MRP)/Baba Studios reviews know I am a fangirl, and this was the deck that started it all for me, and yes, I own several versions of this deck … 3 to be exact. But I will confess, the first edition remains my favorite to date with its elaborate flowery borders and it’s Hermes card. The book is absolutely priceless with its “Cat’s Interpretations.” No review of this deck would be complete without talking about cats in clothing and cats in tarot as both of these have shown popularity across cultures. Cats in clothes have quite a long history dating back to over a century ago. Why would the review not be complete without this discussion? Because concept is key to the magic of MRP decks so it is integral to the creation process. MRP/Baba Studios is fantastic at identifying cultural and niche themes, researching them, and bringing them to us is the form of beautiful and well executed Tarot decks. The Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Tarot is no exception, and is backed by the history and tradition of cats in clothes in art across cultures from the anonymous artists in the 19th century, to the English Victorian cat artist Louis Wain, in the US Renate and Alfred Mainzer (1930’s and 1940’s), the Soviet Unions’ V. Konashevich in the 1970’s, the Pelorian Cats of Japan in the 1980’s, and UK artist Susan Hebert who Karen notes “in fact, in many ways they [Ms. Hebert’s cats] take us right back full circle to the days of Louis Wain – though with a refreshing modern sense of humor.” It truly is no wonder cats have captured our imagination with their attitudes and personalities they are perfect subjects, and they do look amazing in clothes. Like cats in clothes in art, cat Tarot decks have also been prolific though for far less time. There are at least 18 of them I know of (Tarot only decks and not including mini-versions) which no other animal can boast! Quoting Karen “… “cat tarot” has almost become a sub-genre of its own – and a very popular one.” One of my favorites is the Majors only deck Tarot for Cats; how can you resist a Tower card with a cat freaking out because of the vacuum cleaner? … But I digress as that deck belongs in a separate review. Getting back on topic … as I was saying, there are many cat themed Tarot decks on the market, some with clothes some without. Is it their magical mystique, or perhaps the archetypes cats bring to mind that make them so well suited to being represented in Tarot? As noted in the companion book “Another part of the reason may of course be the very ancient association of cats with magic and witchcraft.” There are some good cat decks of which the Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Tarot is one of, and art-wise - in my personal opinion - the most beautiful and elaborate of them all. I am sure you are tired of my rambling, so lets’ get on with more information about the Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Tarot deck. So now with some history on dressed cats and cats in tarot covered lets’ talk about how Karen and Alex made this deck. Did they dress and pose cats? No. All of the elaborate costumes these beautiful cats wear are real fabric costumes and were made by Anna Hakkarainen. Years’ worth of pictures were taken of cats, and then some dummy like dolls were dressed and posed to match the cats in the selected photos. Then Alex worked his magic to replace the dressed dummy cat image with that of the real cats in selected photos and adding the beautiful background art and architecture featuring the “Baroque splendor of Prague, Cesky Krumlov and other exquisite period locations.” Voilá! now you have beautifully dressed cats in beautiful Baroque settings. The First Edition deck has 79 cards, the traditional 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana, plus the Hermes card. The companion book does not address this card so you can either keep it in and ascribe some significance to it based on the God Hermes, or use it as a bookmark. The Limited Gold Edition and Second Edition replace the Hermes card with The Tarot Reader card. I am not sure if other editions use different extra cards. The Major Arcana retain the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith titles, the difference lies in the Majors not being numbered so the reader can position Strength and Justice at positions 8 and 11 by personal preference. In the Minor Arcana the Suits retain the traditional names and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air, Pentacles/Earth. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. Suit icons are included in the cards as part of the illustration in the same way that they are in the RWS. The Majors all boast the name of the Major Arcana card below the image. The Minor Arcana card number and suit are included at the bottom of each card but are presented differently depending on which edition of the deck you are using. The First Edition has a very elaborate Baroque themed flower border, so the suit symbol is shown on the right bottom corner and the number or notation (A=Ace, K=King, Q=Queen, Kn=Knight, P=Page) on the right bottom corner. The Limited Gold and Second Editions no longer have the elaborate borders and have the number or title spelled out and it is located at the center bottom of the cards. The second and third versions of this deck were the Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Limited Gold Edition and the Second Edition published in 2007. They are basically the same deck, just one has the gold ink overlay. There have been mini-decks and other editions and to be honest at this point I have lost count. Knowing Karen and Alex, it is no surprise that they have worked on perfecting this deck through the years because lets’ face it, it is no easy feat to make it appear as though real cats have been dressed in these elaborate Baroque outfits, and I am quite sure that as Alex perfected his techniques in photographic manipulation he found ways to make the deck look even more realistic. In some cards of the first edition you can see the photo manipulation to where in others it is very seamless, but that honestly is me nit-picking the deck for those reading this that are very sensitive to this sort of thing. Those visually annoyed by being able to detect the photo manipulation of the image you might want to look at later edition of this deck. As with all of their new deck editions they are always perfecting and making some changes to some cards, so no two editions are the same. I recall being quite upset when the yellow dress of the 2 of Swords was made blue! I associate the color yellow with the element of Air and Blue with Water so that was my beef with it. I will share photos of some of the changed cards in the versions of the decks I have. The cards measure approximately 5” X 3”, The card stock is superb, something MRP is known for. These decks are easy to shuffle, durable, and just another sign of the quality that goes into them. The back of the cards of all three editions I am mentioning in this review share the same Baroque design with a kitty face within a round wreath like frame with a maroon background behind the kitty face at the top and bottom of the card. There is an approximately ¼” white stripe down the center of the card with the deck name in mirror image. The cards are reversible. The First edition card backs are black and light cream colored with maroon lettering and background behind the kitty faces. The Limited Gold Edition and Second Edition share the same back design as the First edition but are gold where the First edition is black. The original set came with a 208-page companion book written by Karen Mahony. As noted in the first paragraph of this review, it is excellent, and a must have. Karen’s writing is very engaging. The following sections are included in the book: About the Authors, Acknowledgements, The Tradition of Cats in Clothes, A Short History of Tarot, Cats and Tarot, Major Arcana, Minor Arcana: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles, Reading with the Cards, Keeping a Tarot Journal, Spreads, and Bibliography. Each main suit section, before the cards are presented, includes a comprehensive description of the suit and the Story of the Suit. I absolutely love how the card sections are laid out and presented. You have a brief description of the card, “A Cat’s Interpretation,” Keywords and Phrases, Keywords and Phrases for Reversed Cards, and then a very detailed description of the card, its meanings, and in general really gives you a good picture of what the card represents. Each card section closes out with Notes on the Source Material, which tells you about the cats photographed (i.e. the cat on the Ace of Cups is the real-life offspring of the cat depicted in the Queen of Cups!), as well as the information on the background or architecture and the actual suit icons used. But the cat interpretations steal the show, and if you ever owned a cat for a period of time long enough to get to know them you will absolutely love the added perspective this provides to the meanings of the cards. The Spread section of the book is also very nice. It opens up talking about spreads in general, Using a Significator, How to Begin a Reading, Seeing a Pattern - Making a Story, Reversals, The Reader in a Position of Trust, and then goes into the actual spreads. Spreads featured in the Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Companion include: The Three-Card Spread, Five-Card Spread, The Prague “Threshold” Spread (5 cards), The Cat’s Tale (7 cards) which is a more advanced spread as only 2 of the cards (1 & 7) are read using conventional meanings where cards 2-6 form a story narrative as a grouping. A couple of examples of how to read with this spread are presented as well. This deck is a solid RWS based deck. If you read with the RWS, one of its clones, or decks closely based on the RWS you will have no problem just picking up this deck and reading with it. If you are like me and could just never connect with the RWS itself this is a good alternative to it. The imagery is beautiful, though it is not like MRPs later decks that are more intuitive, it is straightforward RWS. As for ethnic diversity, all of the characters that populate the deck are cats. Not all breeds could be represented, and not all of the cats are of a specific breed, so there is nice kitty diversity. There is no explicit nudity unless you want to count the undressed kittens on the Aces as naked. I recommend this deck to persons who love cats and opulence, to those like me that wanted to connect with the RWS just never could but want a RWS type deck, to those who love elaborate costuming and beautiful colors, those who like “humanimals,”and those who like decks that just feel regal. This would also be a great choice for younger readers, especially young girls that like fairytales. Of course, it is a must have for fans of MRP decks just because they made it. This deck is well suited for readers of all levels and ages from beginner to advanced, as noted earlier it is straightforward RWS though with less esoteric symbolism. How would my good old Aunt Fifi react to it? Well she likes cats, opulence, beautiful costumes and loves regal things so she would really enjoy a reading with this deck.
  4. Jewel

    The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

    Fantastic Menagerie Tarot By Jewel Published in March of 2006, The Fantastic Menagerie was the fourth Tarot deck published by Magic Realist Press (MRP). It was published as a deck and book set. If you have read any of the previous reviews I have written about MRP decks then you know I am a huge fan of their decks and books, and this one is no exception. I will admit, when I purchased the deck it was more because it was created by Baba Studios than my interest in the art, and I will also confess that it took me some time to warm up to this deck. In my desire to connect with it I chose The Fantastic Menagerie to complete both the Apprentice and Journeyman levels of “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card” by Mary Greer, and worked with the deck for about a year and half solid. Needless to say, by the time I completed the work, I was in love with it. As usual, Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov did their research and worked their magic in this creation. They continued what French cartoonist J.J. Grandville started with The Metamorphoses of the Day lithographs in the 1820’s. If he could have seen this deck he would be proud. The companion book is written by Sophie Nussle, and is fantastic. As noted in the companion, The Metamorphoses of the Day were caricatures of half-human half-animals, all dressed up in their fashionable Victorian clothes – or lack thereof, with “…biting wit. The hint of scandal and the visual puns used to convey it turned the series into an international bestseller.” This deck is one that delivers its messages in a tone of social commentary with humor, satire, and at times even light sarcasm. It can cut right through ego and the masks we wear. It can really put reality into perspective. The deck has the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana retain the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith titles, the difference lies in the Majors not being numbered so the reader can position Strength and Justice at position 8 and 11 by personal preference. In the Minor Arcana the Suits retain the traditional names and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air, with the exception of Pentacles which his titled Coins and still corresponds to the element of Earth. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The cards do not rely on exact number of suit icons to tell you what card you are looking at, rather the picture itself sets the scene, tells the story, and conveys the meaning of the card. The card number and suit are included at the bottom of the card. The cards measure approximately 5” X 3”, and have a 1/8” cream colored border on three sides, a ¼” border on the bottom, and a thin gold line surrounding the picture. The card titles are included in the bottom ¼” of the card in a black script. The card stock is superb, something MRP is known for. These decks are easy to shuffle, durable, and just another sign of the quality that goes into them. The back of the cards have a red background with an elaborate mirror image crest design in grey, white, with 4 mirror images of the King of Cups in black and red. The deck title is printed at the top portion of the crest in red. The mirror image work makes the deck reversible. The overall design has a mix of Victorian and Gothic feel to it. The original set came with a 240-page companion book written by Shophie Nussle. As all MRP companion books, it is excellent and a must have. Ms. Nussle’s writing style is easy to follow and engaging. Following the Acknowledgement section, there is 3-page section on the history of Tarot, then a section titled “Playful Paths to Wisdom” which includes information on the structure of the deck and some interesting information regarding Grandville. The next section is really interesting; The Metamorphosis of JJ Grandville which goes behind the scenes on his life, times, and work. It really gives some great insight into the man and his history, from his birth in Nancy, Lorraine to his move to Paris, to him becoming an artist, a revolutionary, a political cartoonist, to a bohemian and a husband. His transition from caricature to illustration, and much more. I find this section so important because it gives some real perspective and context to the imagery which ultimately sets the tone for the Fantastic Menagerie deck. The following sections of the book focus on the cards: Major Arcana, Minor Arcana and the Suits. Following the card section there is a section on “How to Use the Tarot”, which includes the following Tarot spreads: The Three Card Spread, The Classic Horseshoe Spread, The Humanimal Spread – designed to “explore your instinct vs. culture balance.”, and The Chalice of Choice Spread (by Dan Pelletier). The next section of the book is “Number Symbolism and the Tarot”, followed by “Sample Readings with the Fantastic Menagerie.” There is also an extensive Bibliography. Like all other MRP decks I have experience working with, this one is extremely readable and ignites your intuition. It looks at people from an instinctual point of view in contrast with the exterior we may present to the world. As noted earlier in the review, it will expose egos and open your querents eyes to the roles in situations being played out. I call the Fantastic Menagerie my “Social Commentary Deck.” Personally, I find this deck witty, honest, and great for all types of general readings, I find it particularly well suited to inter-personal relationships and career related questions or situations. Why? Because it shows the difference between how people may honestly feel, think, or be as compared as to how they act in a social situation. This deck is truly a visual deck, and is so expressive that it practically reads itself. By visual deck I mean the scene, clothing, actions taking place in the cards, etc. tell you the story of the card and often times the intentions behind or at play in them. As for ethnic diversity, all of the characters that populate the deck have animal heads. The animals tend to be representative of attitudes, thinking processes, or personal nature than anything to do with ethnicity. The lithographs used as the basis for creating this deck are from 19th Century Paris, so they are the lens through which this deck sets its tone in readings. There is no explicit nudity. I recommend this deck to persons who enjoy the Victorian era, “humanimals,” as well as to those who enjoy satire and political cartoons, as you will recognize, laugh and smirk at that “biting wit.” Writers would also really enjoy this deck for character building as it offers up our instincts, cultural biases, societal facades, and how we play them out. Intuitive readers will have a hay day with it. With the companion I would think beginners could learn with this deck, but it might not be the best choice if you are trying to establish Tarot basics that will translate from deck to deck. Yes, it follows the Raider Waite-Smith system, but the imagery is very original for a Tarot deck. For MRP fans this is a must have deck, I know I say this about all their decks, but seriously this is truly one of their finest. I was lucky to purchase it when it was released, but I consider it one that is worth every penny of its “Out-of-Print” price. How would my good old Aunt Fifi react to it? Well she has a great sense of humor, so she would most likely think it was a hoot and find the perspective quite honest and refreshing … though I am not sure how she would react when I reference her or someone she knows as a sheep, wolf, sly fox, or an ass!
  5. Jewel

    The Fairytale Tarot

    The Fairytale Tarot By Jewel Published in February of 2005, The Fairytale Tarot was the third Tarot deck published by Magic Realist Press (MRP). It was published as a deck and book set. If you have read any of the previous reviews I have written about MRP decks then you know I am a huge fan of their decks and books, and this one is no exception. I will admit, I purchased the deck because I like Fairytales and whimsy and this deck includes Fairytales from all over the world. I also liked that this deck was drawn instead of photographed which was different than the previous two Magic Realist Press decks (The Tarot of Prague and the Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Tarot.) Because the deck goes back to the original Fairytales, several of which I only knew the Disney take or had never even heard of, the deck turned out to have a very unique feel and voice, different from any other Tarot deck by MRP or otherwise. There are other Fairytale Tarot decks on the market but this one is in a class all its own. It does not highlight the clichés. It captures the heart and soul of the Fairytales, not shying away from the darkness or pain inherent in some of them, it absorbs the richness of Fairytales adding depth and layers to the meanings of the cards. Due to my lack of familiarity with the majority of the tales I learned to use this deck with the companion book and by looking online for the stories and reading them for more insight. It took me some time to figure out how to use this deck, but it was well worth the effort. This deck is where Baba Studios really separated themselves from the pack in terms of Tarot creation. Unlike the majority of MRP decks which feature beautiful photo manipulation and other such techniques, this deck is drawn by Irina Triskova. The deck is Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) based but the imagery is very different. Instead of matching the actions we see in the RWS to a different setting, Karen Mahony matches the Fairytale stories and scenes to the meanings of the cards. The story the card tells is all you need to understand the meaning and symbolism of the card. As Rachel Pollack put it in the Fairytale Tarot Forward, in the companion book, “Karen has taken the concepts and themes of the [RWS] pictures and found particular stories that bring out those same qualities. Thus the pictures do not at first-glance resemble the well-known Rider scenes … but under the surface they will strike a chord with anyone who knows the Rider tradition.” As noted earlier in this review, there are other Fairytale decks on the market. In the companion book Karen notes that these decks are primarily geared towards children or our own inner child. Baba Studios wanted to do something very different, design a Fairytale deck for adults. A deck that would embrace the oral traditions of these stories, including their darker sides as well as the sensuality that is part of some of the tales. Fairytales that were not “sugared or censored.” In the Introduction section of the companion book Karen shares how personal creating this deck was for her. They were an inspiration to her and influenced her into going into Literary studies at the University. She also notes that “rigid psychological interpretation systems of analysis such as the strictly Freudian Bruno Battleheim are too neat and tidy to be at all convincing.” While “Many of the themes that come up time and again in fairy stories seem to bypass the rational and classificatory parts of our brains and work instead directly on our imaginations and, indeed, on our dreams.” This influence and perspective is the inspiration behind the Fairytale Tarot and why it is powerful and unique. The deck has 79 cards, you have the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana, and one extra card. The additional card is not titled nor addressed in the book, I use it as a bookmark. The Major Arcana retain the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith titles, the difference lies in the Majors not being numbered so the reader can position Strength and Justice at position 8 and 11 by personal preference. In the Minor Arcana the Suits for the most part retain the traditional names of Wands, Cups, Swords, the only exception Pentacles which are Coins. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The cards do not rely on exact number of suit icons to tell you what card you are looking at, rather the picture and the Fairytale tells the story, and conveys the meaning of the card. I usually include the elemental correspondences of the Suits in this section of my reviews, but in The Fairytale Tarot I do not see the elements or any other esoteric system really at play. In lieu of these you have the Fairytales themselves. The perspective of this deck is very different than what we traditionally see with Tarot but is very effective. The cards measure approximately 5” X 3”, have a 1/8” golden ornate frame-like border on three sides, a ¼” border on the bottom with a white scroll with the title of the card and below the title the Fairytale from which it came. The images are framed within an arch at the top, which gives one the sense that they are peering into the scene itself. The artwork is drawn and the colors are rich and vibrant adding to the Fairytale theme. Equal attention was given to the Major and Minor Arcana so the deck is seamless and cohesive. The card stock is superb, something MRP is known for. These decks are easy to shuffle, durable, and just another sign of the quality that goes into them. The back of the cards show an intricate ornate gold Victorian era design, framed by a ¼” equally intricate blue frame, which is further framed by a think royal blue line. The cards are reversible. The original set came with a 232-page companion book written by Karen Mahony. As all MRP companion books, it is excellent and honestly, I do not think I would have been able to understand or navigate this deck without it. But that is me. The book includes the following sections: Fairytale Tarot – Forward by Rachel Pollack; The Girl Who Was Too Shy, which is a story Ms. Pollack wrote taking a card to which she did not know the corresponding tale and made her own based on the image; Introduction; Major Arcana; Minor Arcana; Wands; Cups; Swords; Coins; Reading with the Cards; Reading With the Fairytale Tarot; Some Fairytale Spreads; and finally the Bibliography. Both the Major and Minor Arcana card sections include a summary of the Fairytale used for the card, Keywords and Phrases, and then Karen ties the story to the tarot card with detailed commentary. This is why I said I would never have really understood or been able to navigate the deck without the companion book. There are no key words or phrases for reversals. The Reading with the Cards section is excellent and applicable to any Tarot deck, but in all honestly with this deck being so different in approach I am not sure it covers the basis for reading this particular deck, again that is just my personal opinion. The Reading With the Fairytale Tarot speaks about how this deck is good for one-card draws, and also presents the following more general spreads two three-card spreads, a five-card spread, The Prague ‘Threshold’ spread (5 cards). This section is followed by a section titled Some Fairytale Spreads, here we have The Fairytale Fool’s Story (6 cards) of which Karen says It’s an excellent spread when, like the Fool, you feel you are leaving a comfortable situation to set out on a riskier (but more promising) journey, venture or adventure.” The second spread offered in this section is called Fairy Blessings, Fairy Curses (5 cards) of which Karen states “This is a spread designed to help you think about your basic good qualities, skills and talents – and your main ‘flaw’ or drawback in life.” Sample readings are provided for both of these spreads. Unlike all other MRP decks I have experience working with, this one was a bit tougher to read with at first. After all these years I still use the companion book to get the most out of each card before formulating the narrative of the reading in its entirety. This deck is more psychological and emotional than intuitive, though if you do not care about the fairytales you could intuitively read the imagery I suppose. I choose not to do this because after all the card choices came from the Fairytales and they do add layers and depth to the readings. This deck can be used for any type of reading and the readings do have a story quality to them. This deck is a story teller, not a linear card reader. There is no explicit nudity, and though the deck does not shy away from darker themes, there is nothing offensive here. I would not recommend this deck to a beginner despite how good it is, nor would I recommend it to traditionalists who are looking for esoteric elements within their decks as there are none. I would recommend this deck to persons very into, or very interested in, original Fairytales from around the world, readers who love creating a narrative story through the reading to answer the querents question, those who love literary based Tarot decks, those who do not mind using the companion book during the reading, and readers – like myself – that focus on the psychological aspects of tarot vs. the divinatory. Those of you looking for diversity what you will find here is cultural diversity as the tales are taken from various Fairytales from around the world. This is a deck of stories not races. For MRP fans this is a must have deck, I know I say this about all their decks, but seriously this is truly one of their finest and there is nothing like it on the market even today 14 ½ years later. I was lucky to purchase it when it was released, but like The Fantastic Menagerie, I consider it one that is worth every penny of its “Out-of-Print” price. How would my good old Aunt Fifi react to it? Well she loves Fairytales and stories so receiving a reading with this tone would be really enjoyable for her.
  6. Jewel


    The Alice Tarot by Jewel I am a confessed Baba Studios/Magic Realist Press (MRP) fan girl, and will never apologize for it. Karen Mahoney and Alex Ukolov made a believer out of me with their previous decks, and just when I think they can't top what they have previously done, they managed to surprise me yet again with The Alice Tarot. I know the deck is not new, it was originally published in 2014 and they are currently taking pre-orders for the re-release to come in March of 2019, but it is new to me and what a treat it is. In my personal opinion it is the crown jewel of their fabulous decks. From the fact that we have actual pictures of Alex as the Mad Hatter and his daughter as Alice, to the amazing costumes that were designed and created for the models photographed to create this deck. Not to mention Alex’s artistic brilliance. How he does what he does with the digital art to make people like me who are not into digital art love his work is mind blowing. Realistc and magical all in one. The quality and design of MRP decks puts them in a class of their own, but what I love most about MRP decks is the love and research that goes into them. How they gravitate towards the classical, and re-elevate it making it relevant today. Curiouser and curiouser indeed! Though Baba Studios makes it look so easy, quality themed Tarot decks are not easy to create. You have to reconcile the theme with the Tarot to produce a usable tool. To achieve this, there are certain compromises that must be made along the way and Baba Studios has made this an art form all in of itself. Always striving to do justice to the themes they select, Karen and Alex dove completely into the Lewis Carroll Books with passion and enthusiasm, then channeled the essence and whimsy of Wonderland and its denizens, creating a cohesive and masterful Tarot deck. It is important to note that this deck is based on the original books, not on Disney or any other iterations of Alice or Wonderland. The Alice Tarot is based on the real deal, and this deck will transport you to Wonderland without you even having to read the books! Illustrating this deck was feat, even Mr. Carroll, known for being fussy about illustrations, would have been proud and probably as excited as I am about the metallic inks used so flawlessly to enhance the images. There is a whole section in the companion book dedicated to the subject of illustrating this deck. We will discuss the book a bit later in the review. The deck has the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana retain the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith titles, the difference lies in the Majors not being numbered so the reader can position Strength and Justice at position 8 or 11 based on personal preference. In the Minor Arcana the Suits mostly retain the traditional names, one change being Pentacles being renamed Coins, and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air, and Coins/Earth. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The cards do not rely on exact number of suit icons to tell you what card you are looking at, rather the picture itself tells the story and conveys the meaning of the card. The card number and suit are included at the bottom of the image in a scroll type box within the delicate thin gold lines that frame the image. The cards come in a beautiful, decorative and fully illustrated box with a flip top open on three sides so you can lift the cards out of the box. They measure 5” X 3”, and have ¼” borders, the pictures are delicately framed with thin gold metallic lines. The card stock is superb, something MRP is known for. These decks are easy to shuffle, durable, and just another sign of the quality that goes into them. The back of the cards look like a blue and white floral tapestry with a couple of small white rabbits and are reversible. The white flowers, leaves, and bunnies and all outlined in metallic gold ink. There is a 283-page companion book by Karen Mahoney that can be purchased in addition to the deck, and I would recommend you to do so to get the most out of this deck. As with their previous books you have the traditional RWS base keywords, and then you have the themed based keywords, in this case The Alice Meanings. Karen’s writing is as wonderlandiful as Alex’s art. In the Introduction you learn about The Alice Tarot and its essence. The next section is on Illustrating Alice, which talks about the creative process used for the cards, including some fascinating information about Lewis Carroll’s involvement in the illustration of the Alice books and his rigidity for artists conforming to the text. This is followed by sections on how to use and read the cards, a section on spreads, reading with The Alice Tarot, the card sections and ends with Abridged versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and of Through the Looking Glass. Going back to the spreads section of the book, which is always of great interest to readers, this one does not disappoint. There are three variations of the three-card spread, there are the three variations of the five-card spread including “The Prague Threshold Spread” from their first deck The Tarot of Prague and then come the spreads specifically designed for this deck: “Down the Rabbit Hole”, “The Caucus Race”, “The Tea Party”, and “My Own Wonderland.” There are sample readings included. Five years in the making, The Alice Tarot thoroughly captures the lucid dream feel, the absurdity, the scariness, and the whimsy Wonderland has to offer. So how does it read you ask? This is a deck that focuses on making sense of what makes no sense of course! It puts you in Wonderland then spits you out initially wondering what the heck just happened, for you to then realize you have new understanding of what is going on. The cards have much of the essence of the RWS deck yet pulls on a different take of that essence, a side of the card you had not thought about. For example in the traditional RWS 5 of Pentacles you have this lady and child out in the cold trying to reach the sanctuary of the church for protection. In the Alice Tarot you have Alice and the Fawn (from The Looking Glass) in the Wood Where Things Have No Name, lost and confused comforting one another. Here the emphasis is on how companionship can make a hard situation more bearable. That theme is also inherent in the RWS 5 of Pentacles, but in the Alice Tarot it is the emphasis. The deck basically narrates a story to you via the spreads you use. I have found the stories and characters of Wonderland intertwined as part of the reading, and in the end it all makes perfect sense. It makes for lively, honest, and entertaining readings. Just when things seem topsy-turvy and absurd they fall into place and make sense. Strange but true. Reading with The Alice Tarot is an experience, and wonderful and magical one at that. I cannot say enough good things about his deck, and it has become my new primary reading deck. If there is such a thing as the elusive “The Deck” many Tarot enthusiasts are always looking for, then this is that deck for me. Like all other MRP decks I have experience working with, this one is extremely readable and ignites your intuition with its evocative art and in this case the story within. Personally, I find this deck amazing for personal as well as readings for others. Sometimes you will feel like the Cheshire Cat dishing out advice or asking questions to come full circle. It is hard to explain, but amazing to experience. It allows you to speak to things referencing a character that you and/or the querent know who you are referring to, but you put them in the context of the Wonderland character. I have also found reversals to not be important with this deck, the way the readings unfold seem to put the cards in the right context without having to reverse them, and yes, I do use reversals with many decks. The relationship between cards seems to play a significant role in the readings, which is basically how the story telling voice of this deck comes through. This deck combines elements of the Alice stories and characters with tarot to give its message. I recommend this deck to persons who enjoy the story telling aspects of tarot, and those who use Tarot with a psychological approach. What I mean by that is readers that weave story into their readings. Alice in Wonderland lovers will obviously love this deck as well. The companion book is extremely helpful, especially if you have not read the original books, as it provides you with the part of the story the image is using and how it fits within the meaning of the card. So people who enjoy using the companion books in conjunction with their readings will also love the deck. Even with the companion book, I do not think I would recommend The Alice Tarot to a beginner as The Alice Tarot is a deck with a twist. Having a solid base in traditional RWS meanings is really helpful as this deck often plays on aspects of those meanings that are not so obvious starting out. Baba Studios/MRP collectors will obviously want this deck, and those who love tarot decks based on classical literature will also want it. Honestly I have no clue why anyone would not want it, but I am biased. In Sum, this really is a stunning deck and the love, heart, sweat and tears put into resulted in a beautiful and well thought out themed deck that works. It is very readable. Because it expresses itself in a narrative story telling fashion it can deliver tough and harsh messages in a safe but very clear way … with Wonderland tact and Cheshire Cat flair. There is no nudity in this deck, and I would surely read for Aunt Fifi with it if she asked. Nothing offensive here except some occasional brutal or absurd honesty.
  7. Jewel


    From the album: Artistic Decks

    SKU: AliceTarot_1stEdition_deck Publisher & Year: Magic Realist Press, 2014 Authors: Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov Card Size: 3" x 5" Purchase at: Out of Print
  8. Jewel

    The Fairytale Tarot

    From the album: Rare, OOP Decks

    ISBN: 9780954500757 Publisher & Year: Magic Realist Press, February 2005 Authors: Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov Artist: Irina Triskova Card Size: 3" x 5" Pages: 232 pages Purchase at: Out of Print
  9. Jewel

    The Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot

    From the album: Animal Decks

    ISBN: 9780954500726 Publisher & Year: Magic Realist Press, November 2004 Authors: Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov Card Size: 5" x 3" Pages: 208 Pages Purchase at: Out of Print
  10. Jewel

    The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

    From the album: Animal Decks

    SKU: FantasticMKIT ISBN: 978-0954500771 Publisher & Year: Magic Realist Press, March 2006 Authors: Karen Mahony & Alex Ukolov Card Size: 5" x 3" Pages: 240 pages Purchase at: Out of Print
  11. Jewel


    From the album: Dark Decks

    ISBN: 9781905572076 Publisher & Year: Magic Realist Press, 2008 Authors: Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov Card Size: 5" x 3" Purchase at: Out of Print
  12. Jewel

    Victorian Romantic (Gold Edition)

    The Victorian Romantic Tarot – Limited Gold Edition By Jewel Published in November of 2006, The Victorian Romantic Tarot was the fifth Tarot deck published by Magic Realist Press (MRP). The original release was published as a deck and book set, and a Limited Gold Edition was published as a set with a blank journal instead of a companion book. This review will focus on the Limited Gold edition as that is the version of the deck that I have. If you have read any of the previous reviews I have written about MRP decks then you know I am a huge fan of their decks and books, so yes, this will be a glowing review. I was not really into the Victorian era at the time the deck was released, nor am I really now either. To me it was just a gorgeous collector deck, so I purchased the Limited Gold edition only. Then one day a friend who loves and uses this deck called me up to get my input on a reading she was doing for herself and I pulled out my Gold VR, laid out the cards in the spread and …. magic happened. The deck just sang to me. Everything was so clear. From that day forward I was, and remain, a huge fan of The Victorian Romantic Tarot as a reading deck. I was not really expecting that, though I should have known better with it being a Magic Realist Press/Baba Studios deck! As with all their decks, Karen Mahoney and Alex Ukolov did extensive research and worked their magic in this creation. Karen and Alex don’t just pick a theme/idea and find things to fit it, they immerse themselves in the subjects of their Tarot decks and blend that immersive experience with Tarot knowledge and just wow me with every deck they release. No two decks are the same or have the same feel or voice. They have perfected this blending into an artform all in of itself. The Victorian Romantic was inspired by an old engravings book published in Germany in the late 19th century full of overlooked art or, as noted by Karen “denigrated by formal art history.” But Karen and Alex were impressed by the technical skill and “narrative flair.” From personal experience, I can say that the cards do have a narrative flair indeed! These paintings, being of the same time of Arthur Wait and Pamela Coleman-Smith, were art they would have been familiar with “European salon art at its most accomplished and popular.” Scenes that can be eluded to in the Rider-Wait-Smith (RWS) deck. This book of engravings started Karen and Alex on their path to collecting high quality books of engravings of this time period. Many of the books originated from Germany, the Czech Republic and England, encompassing artists from Europe and US. The more they found the more possibilities for a Tarot deck became a reality. As noted by Karen in the Introduction of companion book “We found engravings that were emotive, gorgeous and memorable, and as we began making them into sketches for the cards, we realized how strong this deck could be in cartomantic readings; these images not only spoke, they sang, laughed and cried. Their realism was to easy to relate to, but could be provocative and unsettling, as well as captivating and charming.” And the deck delivers on every single one these things that Karen mentions. The Victorian Romantic Gold came with 79 cards. It has 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana, the 79th card is a second Lovers card, a more sensual version of the card. This gives the reader a choice of which one to use, or they can include both and read them differently. Personally, I use the more sensual version. The Limited Gold edition of this deck was limited to a run of 500 numbered and signed decks. A gold overlay ink is strategically placed on the images under the varnish so that it does not chip or scratch. It is truly lovely, and as I use the deck and riffle shuffle I can tell you they were serious when they said it would not chip or scratch, I have been using this deck for over 10 years. To me the gold just adds to the elegance of this deck, and even once I realized I was going to read with this deck I did not purchase the standard edition because the gold just seemed to add to my connection with the cards. There have been three editions of this deck: The VR Gold Limited Edition, VR Standard, and most recently the edition with the metallic overlay which I would love to get my hands on! This new edition has several card changes and includes two Devil cards, as well as two Lovers cards (different from the extra Lover’s card in the Gold Edition.) As much as I love my Gold Edition knowing what their metallic overlay decks are like this one must be simply exquisite, and I would so love to get my hands on a copy of it. Mini-deck versions of this deck have also been published. The Major Arcana retain the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith titles, the difference lies in the Majors not being numbered so the reader can position Strength and Justice at position 8 or 11 based on personal preference. This is standard fare for Magic Realist Press decks. The Minor Arcana Suits retain their traditional names and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air, Pentacles/Earth. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The cards do not rely on exact number of suit icons to tell you what card you are looking at, rather the picture itself sets the scene, tells the story, and conveys the meaning of the card. The card number and suit are included at the bottom of the card. The cards measure approximately 5” X 3” and have an 1/8” white border on three sides, a ¼” border on the bottom, and a thin gold line surrounding the picture. The card titles are included in the bottom ¼” of the card in gold lettering. The card stock is superb, something MRP is known for. These decks are easy to shuffle, durable, and just another sign of the quality that goes into them. The back of the cards are white with an elegant gold Victorian filigree design. The Center area of the card backs are denser in pattern, framed by a deep red line which is in turn framed by a less dense design, also in gold, with some small red hearts as part of the pattern, and finally a red outer border that goes to the edges. The deck is reversible. As noted, the Gold Edition did not come with a companion book. The original release of the standard deck set did. I purchased the book separately. The companion book, written by Karen Mahony, is 216 pages in length and includes the following sections: Acknowledgements, Introduction to the Victorian Romantic Tarot, A Short History of Tarot, Reading Styles, Spread Styles, Sample Spreads, The Major Arcana, The Minor Arana: Wands, Minor Arcana: Cups, Minor Arcana: Swords, Minor Arcana: Pentacles, The Court Cards, and last but not least a Bibliography. The Introduction section was really interesting to me because it shares Karen and Alex’s experiences as they amassed their collection of engravings, and served as a mini-lesson in Victorian art. You can almost hear the wheels turning in Karen’s head. The Reading Styles, and Spread Styles section is standard in MRP companion books, very detailed and helpful to beginners and intermediate level readers. Spreads are presented in the Sample Spreads section and include the One-Card Draw, four variations of The Three-Card Spread, a general five-card spread and of course their staple Tarot of Prague “Threshold” Spread (also five cards). Then you have two spreads specifically designed for the Victorian Romantic: The Romance or Relationship Spread (eight cards), and the Looking Back, Looking Forward Spread, which is a six-card spread. The Major and Minor Arcana card sections include keywords and phrases, suggestions for reversals, card description and pointers on reading the cards, and a sources section where they tell where the art used for the card is taken from. Overall the book is excellent, well designed, easy to read and follow, very complete. As with all of their decks I recommend getting the book. This deck is extremely readable and ignites your intuition. It is RWS based, so if you use RWS based decks you will have no problem reading with this one. This deck not only reads easily, it practically sings. One of the most beautiful and easiest decks I have ever read with. I had no frustrations what so ever with the Golden Victorian Romantic, and if anything it gave me a whole other appreciation for the expressiveness of Victorian art. If you are looking for diversity or esoteric trappings you will not find them in this deck. There is nudity in the deck, but it is artistic and elegant in nature. All versions of this deck are now out of print, with the metallic third edition selling out in August or early September 2019. I recommend this deck to everyone, with the caveat that beginners would really benefit from having the book because the imagery is different from the RWS imagery. Intuitive readers will really love this deck, like I said, it sings. I also recommend it to persons who enjoy the Victorian era, those who like art decks, writers, and to those who like beautiful elegant decks. No matter what version of the deck you get you cannot go wrong with this one. For MRP fans and collectors this is a must have deck, it is one of their finest and most popular. How would my good old Aunt Fifi react to it? Well she is a classy lady and this deck oozes class, so she would love it. She might blush at some of the nudity, but it would not deter her for asking for another reading with this deck.
  13. Saturn Celeste

    English Magic Tarot

    From the album: Esoteric Decks

    English Magic Tarot by Andy Letcher (Author), Rex Van Ryn (Illustrator), Steve Dooley (Illustrator), Philip Carr-Gomm (Foreword) Paperback: 160 pages Publisher: Weiser Books; Tcr Crds/P edition (October 1, 2016) Language: English ISBN-10: 1578636000 ISBN-13: 978-1578636006 Purchase at: Weiser Books I Amazon
  14. Jewel

    DruidCraft Tarot, The

    The DruidCraft Tarot by Jewel The DruidCraft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2005 as a deck and book set. Thirteen years later this deck remains popular and has endured the test of time. As the name implies it is based on a blend of Wicca and Druidry, in the words of the authors “Although the ways of the Wiccan and the Druid were – and still can be – quite distinct, many people now find that they can combine the teachings and practices of both traditions, following a path that some refer to simply as the Old Ways, but which can also be called DruidCraft (‘The Craft’ being an alternative name for Wicca or Witchcraft).” The DruidCraft is a full on Pagan delight. From the themes of the story of Ceridwen and Taliesin which encodes the teachings of the Alchemical Wedding, to sacred sites. It is all there and accessible for those who wish to learn more about The Old Ways. Will Worthington is the artist of The DruidCraft. He also partnered with Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm to illustrate the Druid Animal Oracle and Druid Plant Oracle. Aside from his work with Philip and Stephanie, he has also partnered with John Matthews to illustrate The Green Man Tree Oracle and the Camelot Oracle, and with Mark Ryan and John Matthews to illustrate The Wildwood Tarot. His art is distinctive and recognizable. As a Druid himself, he has a deep connection to the subject of the decks he has illustrated and it shows in the details. The Court Cards in The DruidCraft are, in my opinion, some of the best court cards ever illustrated and the aforementioned oracle decks work fabulously as accompaniments to the DruidCraft Tarot. This is a deck steeped in pagan lore, and a spiritual feast for those of us who are interested in learning more. Looking at the cards I feel transported through space and time to the distant past when the sacred sites were in use. Aside from the DruidCraft theme, this Rider Waite Smith (RWS) based deck can be used as any other Tarot deck, and for all types of readings so it is very universal in that sense. Again, the Court Cards are a gem. Equal attention was given to the quality of the Major and Minor Arcana art in this deck. The deck has the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The cards are oversized (approximately 3.54 x 5.51 inches), with a 1/4” white border. The titles on the cards are located at the bottom of each card, in a box within that stone-looking border surrounding the image. Due to the size of the deck it can be challenging to riffle shuffle. The card stock is decent, so no complaints there. If you are into trimming the borders off your decks, this deck looks stunning with the ¼” white border removed, and it becomes more manageable to shuffle. The card backs are brown with a thin gold line as a border and small Celtic heart design in the center of the backs of the cards. The backs are reversible. Though the deck does follow the RWS system, in keeping with the DruidCraft theme some Major Arcana have been renamed: The Empress becomes The Lady, The Emperor becomes The Lord, Temperance becomes The Fferyllt, The Devil becomes Cernunnos, and Judgement becomes Rebirth. Strength is placed at position 8 and Justice at position 11. The Suits retain the traditional names and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air, and Pentacles/Earth. The court cards are King, Queen, Prince, and Princess. As noted earlier in this review the Court Cards in this deck are some of my personal favorites, and it was the Court Cards from the DruidCraft that gave me some true “AHA!” moments that helped me unlock the meaning of these cards. I would highly recommend them for people struggling with understanding Tarot Court Cards. The Minor Arcana numbered 1-10 follow the RWS system, are fully illustrated, and have the representative number of suit icon symbols represented on each card as part of the image. The deck comes with a 192-page companion book. The print and card pictures are all in a sepia tone. The Introduction is a must read that speaks to the meeting of Wicca and Druidry (DruidCraft) which is the basis for the deck. In this section of the book they discuss how Druidry and Witchcarft are living spiritualities and how these have changed over the centuries and been reformulated in the modern age. They speak briefly about The Western Magical Tradition and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and how these impacted both the spiritual traditions and the evolution of the Tarot. The Introduction proceeds with other sources of inspiration for the DruidCraft Tarot including other Tarot decks based on Celtic and Druidic traditions, the teachings of Pythagoreanism, and old tales of the Bards. The old tales of the Bards are seen within the imagery of the cards themselves. The next section of the book covers The Outer Mysteries and discusses the Minor Arcana: Court Cards and cards numbered 1-10. This section is followed by the Inner Mysteries which discuss the 22 Major Arcana. The sections on the cards include key words, descriptions, and upright and reversed meanings. The last section relates to How to Use the Cards and includes A Right of Blessing and Dedication for the cards, use of cards for divination, interpreting a spread, reversals, 6 Tarot spreads, and some sample readings. In my personal experience with the deck I found the readings to be clear, and to flow like a Bards tale. Though I rarely do this, I felt compelled to use a card from an oracle deck in conjunction with the readings, and used the Druid Plant Oracle, Druid Animal Oracle, and the Green Man Tree Oracle all in separate readings. I found the use of the Oracle card to be very complimentary to the readings and would highly recommend trying this to anyone who owns any of these oracles and the DruidCraft. The imagery of the deck is evocative, and Mr. Worthington draws on his Druid background and Celtic Interest to deliver a deck capturing the magic of the Old Ways. I would not hesitate to recommend this deck to readers of all levels including beginners, those struggling with Court Cards, those that enjoy Celtic themed decks, and those interested in the Old Ways be it Druid, Wicca, or another form of nature based spirituality or seeking a deeper connection with the natural world and its rhythms. It is not imperative that you have knowledge in the Old Ways, nor that you be seeking a deeper connection with nature. Personally, I found a spiritual connection with the deck and think I will mainly use it for Lunar, Esbat and Sabbat readings, but it is suitable for readings of all types. The DruidCraft is a solid choice, well-founded, includes esoteric and mystical traditions, and is a well-respected Tarot deck. In my opinion, it stands as one of the best Pagan themed decks created to date. There is frontal male nudity in the Hanged Man card and the Rebirth card. In addition, The Lover’s card could be seen as little too graphic by some, so this deck may possibly offend some querents.
  15. Jewel

    Mystic Dreamer Tarot

    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.
  16. Jewel

    Fantastical Creatures

    Fantastical Creatures Tarot By Jewel Published by U.S. Games in June of 2007, The Fantastical Creatures Tarot by D. J. Conway and Lisa Hunt, was the fourth Tarot collaboration between Ms. Conway and Ms. Hunt. The inspiration for this deck comes from ancient mythologies and folklore. Creatures that Ms. Conway notes as beings that fall somewhere between humans and Gods, “a kind of middleman of the astral realms.” I was very excited to purchase this deck because I am fascinated by magical creatures and am quite fond of the Shapeshifter and Celtic Dragon Tarot decks. Unlike previous decks by this team, this deck did not include a companion book. Being unfamiliar with many of the mythologies and creatures presented in this deck I was really at a loss and could have used one. Instead I was left to research these creatures and myths on the internet as needed and as a result ended up disagreeing with many of the cards based on what was written in the “little white book” (LWB). Ms. Hunt’s water color paintings are as beautiful and magical as ever. They draw me in and transport me inside the cards, which is great for intuitive reading and meditation. The colors are deep and vibrant. The card images are framed in intertwining branches that hint a Celtic feel to me. Outside these frames is an extra 1/8” cream colored background. Though beautiful, this results in the images being a little too small for my taste. I would have preferred these cards to be borderless all together. At the bottom of each card is a scroll containing the name or number and suit of the card in black lettering. Equal attention and detail is given to the Major and Minor Arcana so the deck is seamless artistically which is always a plus in my book. As with all D.J. Conway/Lisa Hunt decks I ran into Ms. Conway’s suit elemental correspondence preference of Wands/Air, Swords Fire, which throws me for a loop. I learned and prefer the Wands/Fire, Swords/Air correspondences. As noted in my review of The Celtic Dragon Tarot, the elemental correspondences of these suits is one of those long held Tarot debates. I want to address this debate in a very simplistic way for the sake those to whom this elemental debate is new, or are confused by it, that might read this review. There is a basis for either set of correspondences (Wands/Fire, Swords/Air or Wands/Air, Swords/Fire). If you think of it from a practical point of view swords are forged in fire, and tree limbs (often used to represent wands) do blow in the wind and if you think of magic wands well you swish them through the air, so I do get it. It is logical. The flip side, Wands/Fire Swords/Air comes from the passion expressed in the Suit of Wands which ties it to Fire, and the communication, intellect, and thought represented by the element of Air which is sharp like a sword. So, one set of correspondences is logical while the other is metaphorical. Granted, that is how I keep it all straight, but Ms. Conway gave a more sophisticated explanation based on magick in Chapter 1 of The Celtic Dragon Tarot Companion Book “This association has always made more sense to me than the reverse, since Wands are primarily a mental ritual tool and Swords are an energy of action tool.” Neither is right or wrong, and both have validity, it all boils down to personal preference. How do the Wands/Air – Swords/Fire correspondences throw me off? Well, I end up seeing a blending of both in both suits and it muddies them for me. I use elemental correspondences when reading and apparently, I am not mentally ambidextrous when it comes to this! With this particular deck I happened to just ignore the suit all together and rely on the element Ms. Conway assigned. The deck is comprised of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana, and 56 Minor Arcana. I found about less than half the cards to even remind of the RWS, so it was like looking at an art deck for me. I guess this can be attributed my lack of knowledge about many of these Fantastical Creatures, but even when I looked them up to learn more about them I was often left scratching my head. There were some cards I could immediately recognize from the RWS, but not enough to make this deck user friendly to me. So, let’s move on from my issues and discuss the structure of the deck. Two Major Arcana card names are changed: The Hierophant becomes The High Priest, and The Devil becomes Chains. Strength is at position 8 and Justice at position 11. The Minor Arcana (numbers 1-10) and somewhat follow RWS system but other times had a different meaning all together. The Court Cards follow the traditional RWS naming, Page, Knight, Queen, King. Aside from the gorgeous art, what I like the most about this deck is the two extra cards that come with it that have key words to help me understand what the intended meaning is. The cards are typical Llewellyn card stock of the day which is a little bit thicker than that of their decks today. I have no problem with the card stock then again, I am not overly fussy about this either. After years of riffle shuffling and such they have held up very well, they do not stick nor clump. The cards measure about 4.75” x 2.75”, a good size for most sized hands. The backs of the cards are cream colored with a circular golden-brown design with a mythical creature head repeated found times, a serpent of some sort. The card backs are reversible, and since no reversed meanings were provided in the LWB my guess is that like with the Celtic Dragon deck it was not designed to be used with reversals. I say, if you want to use reversals go for it! The deck comes with a 71-page LWB written by Ms. Conway, which to me fell right into the stereotype many Tarot readers have LWBs … they are gobbledygook and relatively unhelpful. With each card it does give you a paragraph on the Fantastical Creature, a Divinatory Meaning, and Magickal Uses. To really work with this deck I need more context in regards to the creature of myth or legend than what is provided. Maybe I am just picky, but that is my opinion of the LWB. The deck did come with a beautiful glossy spread sheet that includes some information on Reading the Tarot Cards and Suit/Element/Realm correspondences which is very helpful. It includes 5 spreads: The Expanded Celtic Cross (11-cards), Present Life Changes (5-cards), The Pyramid (6-cards), a Decision Layout (9-cards), and Changes Layout (5-cards). I am not saying this is not a Tarot deck, or that it would be better served as an Oracle deck, I am just saying I just didn’t get it. I did daily draws with this deck for over a month which I enjoyed, but I found myself often in disagreement with the author about the card meaning. It actually ended up frustrating me. I also did a few readings for friends. When I read for them I just read what I saw in the images, used some basic numerology or hierarchy combined with the element and image to guide me to an interpretation. When I tried corresponding the cards to the RWS I just got headaches so I stopped that. The readings were OK, but I felt so much was still left on the table. Had I really been able to draw on the lore behind these creatures I think the readings could have been much better. This is not and never will be one of my reading decks. That is not to say it does not have its uses for me however. I think this deck would be great for meditation and writing because the art is beautiful, and the creatures are fascinating. I would recommend this deck to people who like to meditate with Tarot and Oracle cards, fantasy writers, those with extensive knowledge of ancient mythology and folklore, and intuitive readers who just like to read images and do not rely ascribe to established Tarot systems (i.e. RWS, Thoth, Marseille) to get to their interpretations. If you look for traditional esoteric systems in Tarot this deck really does not have them, so I would pass if I were you. If you really depend on what you have learned or memorized from other Tarot systems your keywords will not always match, so not a deck I would recommend to beginners because there is no book that will help you understand what is going on. There is no nudity, mermaids wear bikini tops and the Naga a shirt. Aunt Fifi really likes the art and could look at the deck for hours, but she would rather we play a game making up stories with it than get a reading.
  17. Jewel

    The Fey Tarot

    The Fey Tarot By Jewel Those of you who know me know I have an affinity towards faerie themed decks. What you probably did not know (or care), is that this is the faerie deck that started my love of faerie themed decks. The Fey Tarot by Riccardo Minetti with artwork by Mara Aghem was published by LoScarabeo in 2002 as a deck and book set. I will confess upfront, that when I first saw images of the deck I thought it was kind of childish, but a friend on Aeclectic Tarot insisted I buy and try it, that I would really like it. She knew me well, so as I talked to her on the phone about it I pranced into Barnes & Noble and picked up my copy. I am so glad I listened to her, she was right. This became my new primary reading deck for the next 12-15 years. These are not your British or Victorian faeries of folklore, they are much more universal in nature. The art has an Anime feel to it, and the colors are bright and vivid. Think graphic Anime novels. Some of the images will appeal to your inner child, but the deck is mature and for all ages. What I love most about this deck is that it was the first deck I ever encountered that used the illustrations to provide the meanings to the cards without feeling like it had to include the number of corresponding suit symbols as part of the illustration itself. Instead of being distracted by 8 to 10 of the suit symbol object I was drawn into the world of the Fey. The illustrations themselves tell the story that is the card. For the time I think this was a novel concept that has since become much more common. The faces are expressive, and thoughts and emotions are felt through the combination of the facial expressions, use of body language, and background scenery weaving the story of your reading. The deck is your traditional LoScarabeo deck, measuring approximately 4.75” X 2.60” with the card titles in 5 languages. The card number and English language in the top border, and the Italian, French, German, and Spanish card titles in the bottom border. The backdrops of the card a lilac color with ¼” borders on the top and sides, and a ½” border at the bottom. The illustrations are framed with a thin colored line as follows: yellow for the Major Arcana, and blue for the Chalices, green for the Wands, purple for the Pentacles, and red for the Swords of the Minor Arcana. The card backs have a ¼” white border, with a dark purple frame with a symmetrical monochromatic purple and white mirror image of the Lover’s Card. The cards are reversible. The deck is Raider Wait Smith (RWS) based. The following changes have been made in the names of Major Arcana cards: The High Priestess is called The Seer, The Hierophant is called The Wisest, and The Star is called The Stars. Strength is in position VIII and Justice at IX. The court cards are Knave, Knight, Queen and King, with two of cards of each gender per suit. The Chalices and Pentacles have female Knaves and male Knights, and the Wands and Swords have male Knaves, and female Knights. I really like many of the court cards in this deck, as they are lively and have personality. Overall if you are familiar with the RWS system, you will not have a problem using this deck. The companion book, The Fey Tarot – Dreams, Joy and Magic, is 158 pages in length and includes preliminary sketches of cards throughout the first 35 pages of the book with commentary. I really enjoy Mr. Minetti’s warm and friendly writing style, reading the book was as if I was sitting in an Italian café having a beer with him listening to him to go on about Tarot, Faeries, and how this deck came to be. The book starts off with a section on how to use the book then moves into the introduction which speaks about the idea for the deck and the working method of the deck which details the depth of collaboration and synergy between Mr. Minetti and Ms. Aghem. Mr. Minetti follows this section with a section on the Introduction of Tarot which covers historical information, the masters of European Esotericism, and artistic perspective. The next section titled And Finally … Divination gets into the meat of this magical deck. It speaks to why the Fey were selected for this project, the structure of this deck which dispenses with astrological designs and cabalistic references but maintains all references to life ensuring that cards “provide a parallel between what is in a card and an emotion or recognizable sensation.” And this deck does this so well. The themes running behind each suit, as noted in the companion book, are: • CHALICES: “represent the emotional and spiritual world." • SWORDS: “represent the intellectual and conflicting world." • PENTACLES: “represent the physical world, the world objects and earthly securities." • WANDS: “represent the world of man, what he does, feels, asks …” Armed with 36 pages of information you are now ready to move into the cards themselves, first the Major Arcana, then the Minor Arcana, and last but not least the Court Cards. Both the sections on the Majors and Minors include black & white pictures of the cards. The Majors section gives you the following for each card: The Sentence, which speaks to the elements of significance of the Arcana. The Image, which is a description of the card. The Simple Meaning, which is a key phrase or phrases. The Advanced Meaning, which is a description that highlights elements of the cards and how they interrelate. And lastly The Chosen Symbols. The Minors sections include: The Image, Simple Meaning, Advanced Meaning, Symbols Used. The Court Card section includes: Personality, Image, Simple Meaning, and Advanced Meaning. On page 149 its time to dip your toes into Divinatory Spreads. In this last section of the book he explains what divinatory spreads are and talks about ritual. We then move into the Dream Joy Magic 3 card spread, the 2 card Fey Child spread which he recommends for reflecting on the cards or meditating. Then you get into larger spreads such as The Cross of the Four Kingdoms which starts with 4 cards and is expanded adding onto the reading as you go, and finally we have the Six Stars spread which is general in design. In my years of experience working with this deck I found it great for all kinds of readings, a very good general deck. Reading with it becomes telling a story to answer the question. I am not a huge fan of Anime art, and this deck is not Anime in its strictest sense, but the way it reads transcended any reservations that I had going in. Some cards convey deep emotions others make you laugh out loud. Together they are everything I could have ever hoped for and more. This is one of those decks that I will treasure forever and never retire. The Fey Tarot is great for Tarot enthusiasts of all levels. Intuitive readers or those expanding their intuitive reading abilities should give this deck a try. Beginners can enjoy the deck without getting bogged down with the esoteric symbolism, because the companion book will help you make the journey. If you can only get the deck, and not the book, then I recommend having a RWS deck handy so you can reference the books you are using in your learning process. Those interested in storytelling and writing will also like this deck. If you are particular about your court cards having an even male to female ratio this deck offers that. And of course, if you are like me and love faeries and Tarot then this deck is definitely one you want to add to your collection. In addition, it is a good deck to use with querents that are nervous about Tarot as whole. If you are looking for a deck steeped in esoteric symbolism this is probably not the deck you are looking for. As of this writing the deck/book set is out of print. But I have seen both the deck and book very reasonably priced on E-bay.
  18. Jewel

    Wizard's Tarot

    Wizards Tarot By Jewel I have been wanting to write a review for this deck for quite some time, and decided to just sit down and do it. What deck you ask? The Wizards Tarot by Corinne Kenner and illustrated by John J. Blumen. Grab a mug of Butterbeer and come join me on a tour of Mandrake Academy. I am a current student here. Though the whole theme may seem gimmicky or hockey to some, I can assure you that the deck and book are incredibly well thought out, educational, and fun. The deck follows the general principles of the Rider Waite Smith (RWS). But we will get to that shortly. Suffice it say, Ms. Kenner has taken a cultural phenomenon and turned into something every Tarot enthusiast can enjoy and learn from no matter your age. If you can’t tell already, I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and a huge Tarot fan, so this deck was a must have for me. Intended or not, the theme and concept pay homage to J. K. Rowling’s wonderful imagination. Published by Llewellyn in 2011 as a deck and book set, The Wizards Tarot transports you to Mandrake Academy, a school of Tarot and magic where you are the Initiate, and the Major Arcana (Magician through World) are your teachers. Mr. Blumen’s digital art is wonderful and cohesive, and provides the atmosphere of an ancient school of magic that draws you in and captivates your imagination. Combined with Ms. Kenner’s concept and writing Mandrake Academy comes to life. Ms. Kenner’s writing style allows for some basic esoteric teachings to be explored and understood by the ley person. The deck is the standard Llewellyn sized deck (approximately 2 3/4" by 4 1/2" inches). The cards have ¼” borders in dark blue with a gold designs running through and a thin gold frame framing the images. Inside the border, at the bottom of the cards, are ¼” parchment scrolls with the card titles/names. The card stock is your traditional Llewellyn card stock, easy to riffle shuffle and of good quality. The gold design on the dark blue card backs make me think of astronomy for some reason, and though the top and bottom are not identical, reversals can be easily used. I love the deck structure of the Wizard’s Tarot. The deck has the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana (40 Minors and 16 Court Cards). So let’s step into the Great Hall and go over this together. The 243-page companion book that comes with this deck is my favorite companion book of all time. The Wizards Tarot Handbook, is designed as a course in very basic magic and Tarot all in one. It is fun, inviting, detailed, and the information can be applied outside of this deck. The Introduction of the book opens up introducing Mandrake Academy, describing the campus, informing you about the students, faculty, and staff, discusses the academic calendar (a year and a day), and needed school supplies which are the deck and book. I started in September of last year and I am on course to finish on time. I am not into magic, but who knows if this deck and book might not get me to give it a try at some point, but I digress. The next section is about the Major Arcana, followed by the Minor Arcana section. The Minor Arcana section opens up describing each School of Magic, number magic, and then moves into the cards. The final section of the book covers the Royal Families or Court Cards. Several of the Major Arcana have been renamed to fit the theme, but the meanings do remain consistent with the RWS. The Fool has been renamed The Initiate, and you, the new student, are the Initiate. The subsequent Majors are your teachers and are as follows: • The Magician – Professor of Basic Magic • The High Priestess – Professor of Divination • The Empress – Professor of Herbal Magic • The Emperor – Headmaster of Mandrake Academy • The Hierophant – Professor of Mythology • The Lovers – Professor of Spellcraft • The Chariot – Professor of Astral Travel • Strength – Professor of Familiar Creatures • The Hermit – Librarian and Professor of Candle Magic • The Wheel of Fortune – Guidance Counselor • Justice – Professor of Ethics • The Hanged Man – Professor of Runes • Transfiguration – Professor of Transfiguration • The Alchemist – Professor of Alchemy • The Dark Lord – Professor of the Dark Arts • The Tower – Visitor’s Guide to the Tower • The Star – Professor of Astrology • The Moon – Professor of Lunar Magic • The Sun – Professor of Solar Magic • Judgement – Professor of Final Exams • The World – Queen of the Witches The Major Arcana are not numbered, so you could place Strength and Justice per your personal preference, but they are placed in positions 8 and 11 respectively in the book. In addition, each Major has a familiar. Some of the illustrations are fabulous new ways of looking into the majors such as the Hierophant being represented by the Centaur Chiron, the wounded healer, and The Hanged Man by Odin and his two ravens. The Majors section of the companion includes information about each professor, a section pointing out all the key symbols included on the cards – which do include esoteric correspondences, a practical magic section which deals with magic related to the subject the professor teaches, and a Tarot spread that ties into the subject matter. Yes, that means there are 22 different spreads of all kinds in the book! The Minor Arcana use the four traditional suits and elements, but also correspond to a particular season, are represented by a color, symbol, and have an elemental guardian. Students of each house wear a vest or tunic of the color representing their House. Confused? No problem, here is the breakdown: • Wands/Fire/Summer. Color red, symbol lion, elemental guardian the Salamander. • Cups/Water/Autumn. Color blue, symbol angel, elemental guardian the Undine. • Swords/Air/Spring. Color yellow, symbol eagle, elemental guardian the Sylph. • Pentacles/Earth/Winter. Color green, symbol bull, elemental guardian the Gnome. The Minors section for each card includes the magic power of the card, magic charm section, and key symbols. The Court Cards are represented by the elemental guardians for each House and are called the Royal Families. Though they retain the traditional naming Page, Knight, Queen, and King the book gives you a little more detail into the function each position serves. Pages are Messengers of their element, Knights are Hero’s of their element, Queens are Guardians of their element, and Kings are Rulers of their element. I found the use of the elemental guardians and roles to be very helpful in better understanding the court cards not only by rank, but by rank and suit. As you can tell, I could go on about this deck and book for at least a year and a day. This is a great deck for beginners, intermediate and advanced Tarot enthusiasts alike. There is something for everyone here. If you wished you could attend Hogwarts, you will enjoy Mandrake Academy. If you want to dip your toes into astrology, numerology, elemental correspondences, or Tarot and the Hebrew alphabet you will enjoy this deck. If you just want to learn Tarot this is a great deck for that too, and one that leaves plenty of room for you to grow as you gain experience. If you are a Tarot enthusiast wanting to explore some magic basics you will enjoy this deck and book. If you like mythical and magical creatures, there is something in this deck for you too. This deck and book set is an interactive learning experience in the magical world of Tarot. Unfortunately, as of this writing the deck/book set are out of print, which is a real shame. If you are in one of the groups I mentioned above, and do have a chance to get it I do not think you will regret it.
  19. Jewel

    The Green Witch Tarot

    The Green Witch Tarot By Jewel The Green Witch Tarot, by Ann Moura, was published by Llewellyn in 2015. It is a Pagan deck based on Green Whitchcraft which is focused on physical realm and the Earth in which the witch lives. As noted in the introduction of the companion book this deck “… is based on a personal relationship with nature, earth magic, the elementals (earth, air, fire, water) and the power of the immanent Goddess and God in their many aspects, and to the faeries, spirits, and entities of earth, otherworld, and underworld.” The soul of this belief system and reverence of nature is beautifully captured by the artist Kiri Ostergaard Leonard. The art of this deck is palpable and draws me into the cards as well as into the meaning of the deck. It makes me want to go into nature and experience its magic with every part of my being. The colors are as rich and deep as the context. One of my favorite aspects of this deck is that it is borderless. The card titles are contained in a green scroll at the bottom each card which blends in nicely without detracting from the imagery. The faces on images that portray people are expressive which assist the reader in understanding the meanings of the cards. As someone who really loves Pagan themed decks, I have to say that it is clear that a lot of thought, care, and spirituality went into the creation of this deck. From the renaming of the suits from traditional cups, wands, swords and pentacles to the magical tools of the Green Witch: Chalices, Wands, Athames, and Pentacles to the re-naming of various majors which I will cover below. The reverence for the subject matter is clear. Elemental correspondences are your traditional Chalices/Water, Wands/Fire, Athames/Air, Pentacles/Earth. The imagery of the Major Arcana is quite different from the RWS, but have aspects of the traditional RWS meaning as it applies to Green Witchcraft. Many of the names of the Majors have been changed: The Fool becomes The Greenman, The Magician becomes The Witch, The Empress becomes The Earth Mother, The Emperor becomes The Horned God, The Hierophant becomes The High Priest, The Lovers become The Lady & The Lord, The Chariot becomes The Battle Wagon, Strength becomes The Crone, The Hermit becomes The Holly King, The Wheel of Fortune becomes The Wheel of the Year, Justice becomes The Standing Stone, The Hanged Man becomes The Oak King, Death becomes The Lord of Shadows, Temperance becomes The Sidhe, The Devil becomes Nature, The Tower becomes The Wild Hunt, Judgement becomes Harvest, The World becomes The World Tree. Though the variations seem great when you start working with the deck you quickly understand that they are a translation of the RWS to fit the context of this deck. It is brilliantly and seamlessly done. I could write an entire article comparing and connecting the two. The Minor Arcana (numbers 1-10) closely follow (though there are some variations) the Raider-Wait-Smith (RWS) system. The Court Cards follow the traditional RWS naming, Page, Knight, Queen, King, and are one of my favorite parts of this deck as I can discern personality in them making them easier to understand in readings. The cards are typical Llewellyn card stock, which many consider a bit flimsy, but I find it thin but of good quality and great for those of us who riffle shuffle. They do not stick nor clump. They measure about 4.5” X 3.70”, a great size for all sized hands. The backs of the cards are of a blue/green wooden fence with a fuzzy white pentacle enclosed in wreath of red roses. Because of the pentacle design they are not reversible. The deck comes with a 240 page companion book written by Ms. Moura. The first 14 pages of the book provide an introduction to Green Witchcraft, a brief history of Tarot, Green Witchcraft in the Tarot – here she describes the deck structure, changes in the Major Arcana, the suits, meanings of patterns where numbers or card ranks appear more than once in a spread. The next pages cover reversals, reading the Tarot, consecrating your deck, grounding and centering, beginning a reading, doing the reading, and more uses for the Tarot. The remainder of the book is dedicated to the cards. For each Major Arcana there is a lined page provided for note taking. Each card includes a description of the card, meanings, reversed meanings, and key words. I found my readings with this deck to be very grounded and down to Earth. The language was simple and straight forward. Though the backs of the cards are not reversible I also found this deck to beg to be read with reversals. I obliged and my readings were the richer for it. This is a deck I will use and enjoy for many years to come. This deck is a true delight for those following earth based religions, and I would recommend to all levels of experience with the Tarot. Despite the changes in the Majors, I would not hesitate to recommend this deck to someone just starting out in Tarot because the book is that good, the images that evocative, and the tie into the RWS is there just translated from esoteric symbolism to the language of nature based spirituality.
  20. Jewel

    Osho Zen Tarot: The Transcendental Game Of Zen

    Osho Zen Tarot - The Transcendental Game of Zen By Jewel The Osho Zen Tarot – Transcendental Game of Zen, created by Ma Deva Padma, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1994. I am one of those people that goes all googly-eyed when I see bright jewel toned colored decks so of course I had to have it. I have to admit that after all these years I am still not sure how to classify this deck, as a Tarot or an Oracle. That is the million-dollar question I ask myself every time I pull out this deck. Honestly, I am not sure if I will ever fully answer that question for myself. It has less to do with it being a non-traditional deck and more to do with how it feels when I read with it. Hard to explain. This is a well-loved deck by many, but I know from reading some Aeclectic Tarot and TT&M forum posts, as well as some conversations with a few members from these forums that I am not the only one that is not sure how to classify it. The more I think about this deck, and I will confess it has taken me the better part of three months to write this review, I believe it has to do with blending Zen with Tarot. The goal of Zen is enlightenment and transcendence, the goal of the Tarot is to provide insight, answers and advice regarding the mundane, though it is also a tool for personal transformation and spiritual growth. If you elevate life to the Zen Master or Buddah level it is no longer life as we know and experience it and perhaps that is where I get all bogged down trying to use this deck as a Tarot deck. I am simply not as enlightened as I would like to think I am, most of us are not Zen Masters, much less Buddahs, and many of us know next to nothing about Zen. The art in the Osho Zen Tarot is simply gorgeous. It is evocative, draws you in, and really sparks the imagination. The colors are so vivid and the imagery is very thought provoking. This is a deck I could sit and look at for hours on end and never get bored. A variety of art styles have been used throughout the deck some are cartoony, some are gorgeous flowing water color paintings, and others are very geometric and contemporary, however they all work so well together that the deck remains cohesive. Equal attention was dedicated art-wise to the Major and Minor Arcana. The card stock is on par with Llewellyn and US Games decks, and flexible enough to riffle shuffle with ease. The cards seem quite durable as I have had my set for years, and riffle shuffled them without scuffs or other problems. I am not overly fussy about card stock, so I have no problem with it. The cards measure approximately 4.25” X 2.75" and have a 1/8” black border on the top and sides and ¾” at the bottom. The card images have a very thin white frame around them and at the bottom center of the card image, half on the image and half in the black ¾” bottom border, is a color-coded diamond with the number or court card symbol for the card. The card titles are on the bottom ¾” black border in white easy to read block letters. The backs of the cards are done with water color circles in oranges, ocre, yellow, olive green, pale blue bleeding together, with three black lines running the length of the card and more abstract black lines running through those three lines. Due to the design they are not reversible, but it is not as obvious as the backs of many decks out there with non-reversible backs. The Osho Zen Tarot is classified as a Tarot deck as it contains the requisite elements to be classified as such: it has Major Arcana, Minor Arcana Suits with Ace-10, and Court Cards corresponding to each suit. It is considered non-traditional in that said structure is modified by the addition of an unnumbered Major Arcana card, there are name changes to the Majors, the naming of the suits is changed, and there are significant changes to the Court Cards. The Major Arcana cards are denoted by a purple diamond and numbered with Roman numerals. One additional Major Arcana card has been added to this deck, The Master which is a picture of Osho himself. The purpose of this additional card according to the companion book: “In the traditional tarot deck this journey [through the Major Arcana] of self-discovery was perceived as a kind of spiral, with each Completion leading to a new level on the path, a new beginning with the re-entry of The Fool. In this deck, however, the Master card has been added. This card allows us to leave the spiral behind, to jump off the wheel of death and rebirth. The Master card symbolizes the ultimate transcendence that becomes possible only through the dissolving of separate, individual ego in enlightenment.” It is important to note there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Osho and his followers and I have read that a some people just take The Master card out of the deck. I leave it in though I ascribe a way different meaning to it than intended in the deck. To me this is a card of outright deceit and/or hoodwinking, but again that is my personal perspective and one that would likely garner quite a bit a criticism from Osho followers. But I am neither into Zen or Osho and am one of those people that take into account some of the issues based on Osho follower actions in my country. There are quite a few name changes to the Major Arcana, in fact only two Major Arcana cards retain their traditional names (0 The Fool and VI The Lovers), but overall you will easily be able to make the correlation between the new name and the traditional with some exceptions, most notable IV The Rebel and V No-Thingness. Here is a list of the Major Arcana in the Osho-Zen, with the traditional Tarot name in parenthesis for your reference: 0 The Fool I Existence (Magician) II Inner Voice (High Priestess) III Creativity (Empress) IV The Rebel (Emperor) V No-Thingness (Hierophant) VI The Lovers VII Awareness (Chariot) VIII Courage (Strength) IX Aloneness (Hermit) X Change (Wheel of Fortune) XI Breakthrough (Justice) XII New Vision (Hanged Man) XIII Transformation (Death) XIV Integration (Temperance) XV Conditioning (Devil) XVI Thunderbolt (Tower) XVII Silence (Star) XVIII Past Lives (Moon) XIX Innocence (Sun) XX Beyond Illusion (Judgement) XXI Completion (World) The Master – this is the extra card with a picture of Osho The Minor Aracana are denoted by the appropriate color-coded diamond with an Arabic number or court card symbol per suit. It is in the Minor Arcana that I start to have my bigger issues with this deck. The companion book states: “These 56 cards are divided into four suits representing the four elements … The cards of the Water suit have a blue diamond, those of Fire red, Clouds have a grey diamond, and Rainbows, a rainbow-colored diamond.” Huh? Rainbows and Clouds are elements? This is news to me! I can see the correlation of Clouds and Air, but I do not get the Rainbows for Earth and never will. Believe me I have tried. This is where the deck starts losing me as Tarot reader and makes me think of this deck as more of an Oracle deck. These are my main issues with this deck: 1. The suit progression within the Minor Arcana feels different and at times at odds to me, and I am not a fan of keywords on my Tarot cards. 2. I have no problem with suit renaming, but I cannot wrap my head around the Rainbows=Pentacles=Earth, call me old fashioned or traditionalist if you will. If you are going to name the suits representing the four elements then call them Water, Fire, Air, and Earth. 3. The court cards don’t feel or act as court cards in my opinion, more on this later. Lets’ talk about the Suits starting with my least favorite. The suit of Clouds, though the emphasis is on the mental plane (like Swords), carries a lot of negativity and mental baggage making it, at least to me, a dreaded suit to see in most cases. Here is the progression through the suit of Clouds: Ace-Consciousness, 2-Schizophrenia, 3-Ice-Olation, 4-Postponement, 5-Comparison, 6-The Burden, 7-Politics, 8-Guilt, 9-Sorrow, and 10-Rebirth, which does not jive with your traditional 10 of Swords on any level. I have already expressed my problems with the name of the Suit of Rainbows, but it goes it beyond that for me. The Ace is called Maturity, things do not start Mature so this is why I have trouble with this card representing an Ace, it brings the potential but not Maturity itself. Some cards in this suit are easily translatable to traditional Tarot such as the 4-The Miser, 5-The Outsider and 10-We Are The World. But other cards such as Maturity (Ace), 6-Compromise, 8-Ordinatireness just don’t work for me. I have some issues with the Suits of Water and Fire as well, but they are minor in comparison to my issues with the Clouds and Rainbows. Honestly, the more I think about this as I write this review I find the minors better suited as Oracle Cards instead of Tarot Cards. Onto the Court Cards. In the introduction of the book they explain that the Court Cards have been “stripped of their feudal titles and given names to simply represent different opportunities for mastery over the four elements that they occupy.” but they still call them by their traditional names (King, Queen, Knight, Page) in the book which just added to my confusion and to my brain continually trying to tie the two together. Here is a list of the Court Cards by rank with their given names: Kings: Fire/The Creator, Water/Healing, Clouds/Control, Rainbows/Abundance. Queens: Fire/Sharing, Water/Receptivity, Clouds/Morality, Rainbows/Flowering. Knights: Fire/Intensity, Water/Trust, Clouds/Fighting, Rainbows/Slowing Down. Pages: Fire/Playfulness, Water/Understanding, Clouds/Mind, Rainbows/Adventure In this deck I find the Court Cards extremely confusing to identify without keeping out a cheat sheet to remind me that the up-arrow=Kings, down arrow=Queens, arrow to the left=Knights, and arrow to the right=Pages. That is compounded by the cards having a key word describing an opportunity for elemental mastery versus telling me that it is the King, Queen, Knight or Page, and in several cases I do not even associate said elemental opportunity for mastery with the given court card (i.e. Knight of Water=Trust, King of Water=Healing, Queen of Clouds=Morality, Queen of Fire=Sharing, Knight of Rainbows=Slowing Down, Page of Rainbows=Adventure or Page of Water=Understanding). The Court Cards in this deck, as a whole set, just do not work for me as court cards. So yeah, overall, I am probably making this more complicated than it needs to be, but they frustrate me. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but again since when are Rainbows or Clouds elements that can be occupied? Yes, I am rolling my eyes at this and by now you are probably rolling yours at me which I can understand. The Companion book is one of my least favorite companion books of all time. I would have liked to learn more in the introduction about how they are relating Zen to the Tarot, why they chose Rainbows and Clouds as elements (sorry cannot let this go!), and frankly Oshos teachings are just not my cup of tea. What I do love about it is the artist descriptions of the images. I got a lot from those. Towards the back of the companion book there are several spreads: The Diamond (5 cards) for clarity on a specific issue; The Flying Bird (7 cards) which delves into the balance of our feminine/masculine energies; The Key (8 cards) is to gain insight into hidden and unconscious aspects of a particular issue; The Mirror (12 cards) to gain insight when relating to someone else; The Celtic Cross (10 cards); Relating-A Quickie (4 cards) another spread about relating to someone else; The Super Quickie (1 card) for insight into your day or meditation; and the Paradox in which you split the deck in three and work with your chosen third – this spread is about looking at here and now, your past life influences, and a card you select from the rest of your pile which provides insight into the paradox. The spreads are interesting. My favorite part of the book is the glossary of symbolism at the very back and it tells you the symbolism of birds, chains, and everything else you might find in an image. This section is useful when looking at any deck as a reference. In 2003 a second book was written for this deck titled “Tarot in the Spirit of Zen – The Game of Life” by Osho. Of course, I purchased it in hopes that it was better than the companion, but no, it was just more in-depth Osho teachings. My favorite parts of this book were the Tables of Correspondences starting on page 200-202 which show the Correspondences of the Osho Zen Tarot Cards to the Raider-Waite-Smith and the Thoth decks, and at the very back of the book are some beautiful small glossy Major Arcana cards from the Osho Zen you can punch out. By now you are most likely questioning why in the beginning of this review I said I liked the deck, yet proceeded to tear it down. I have said a lot of harsh things about this deck, and they are reflective of my own personal frustrations in trying to use it as Tarot deck. I do like it just not as a Tarot deck. The Majors work for me OK as Tarot Majors, but the Minors don’t. The Minors for the most part seem more suited for an Oracle deck. This deck is truly hybrid, which is another reason I have struggled so much with it. When I pick up a Tarot deck I want Tarot. When I pick up an Oracle deck I want an Oracle. Apparently, when I pick up a hybrid I get frustrated. As a Tarot reader I was tying myself in knots trying to read this as I read most of my Tarot decks – especially when Court Cards were involved or cards from the suit of Clouds popped up – until I finally just gave into the imagery and began to read intuitively and without paying much attention to suits, the rank of the courts or names of the aces. I used the key words as spring boards and let the imagery do the rest. When reading in this fashion I really enjoyed reading with this deck. The imagery is so rich, thought provoking, and evocative, and when I stopped thinking about suits and ranks I could take the cards in as a whole, so negative Clouds did not matter to me, and the Rainbows were fine, and the Ace of Water “Going with the Flow” and the ace of Rainbows being Mature were no longer issues for me. As Tarot they just weren’t for me, as an Oracle they were masterful and have incredible depth. The deck is suitable for all types of readings, it is not a deck that should be pigeonholed into one specific type of reading. I think it is particularly well suited for meditation. I would recommend this deck to persons who primarily enjoy Oracles and want to delve more into Tarot, or persons who primarily prefer Tarot and want to work with an Oracle that has more structure to it than your typical oracles and want an Oracle with some “teeth.” I also recommend this deck for intuitive readers as the imagery is spectacular. Those persons that like to use cards for meditation would also enjoy this deck. I would not recommend this deck to a beginner because there is no instruction what so ever on how to start working with or reading the cards, and it will not match up to any other literature you will find in books or online Tarot learning resources. If you have strong traditional historical Tarot foundations and have expectations of what you will find in each suit stay away from this deck, it will frustrate you. I do not even consider myself all that into historical tradition and traditional meanings and it frustrated me. The court cards will absolutely drive you bonkers. Would I read with this deck for Aunt Fifi? She would really love the art, nothing offensive here, though some imagery especially in the suit of Clouds might frighten her and if the image did not the key word might, but if she wanted me to I would read for her with it.
  21. Jewel

    Everyday Witch Tarot

    EVERYDAY WITCH TAROT by Jewel The Everyday Witch by Deborah Blake was published by Llewellyn in 2017 as a deck and book set. My first impressions on seeing images online were that it was just another teen witch deck. I was wrong. Yes, it will appeal to that audience, but there is much more to it than that, and it has something to offer more mature readers as well. The art is by Elisabeth Alba, and done in vivid watercolor. The art is very inviting and captivating. The facial expressions and body language of the characters tell a thousand words all on their own. Though clearly inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith the artwork is original, and in many cases a very fresh take on the meanings of the cards, especially in the Major Arcana. One example of this is the Hierophant card, that instead of having a Priestly type figure has a Yoga instructor teaching her students. Or how about a motorcycle as the Chariot?. There is something very refreshing about the imagery that also makes the Tarot very accessible and like the art, inviting. The art is as superb and detailed in the Minor Arcana as it is in the Majors. I love it when decks give both the same attention to detail! One of the things I really enjoy about this deck is that blend of modern and medieval fantasy. It creates a world, sort of reminds me of how I feel when I read the Harry Potter books or watch the movies. Not J.K. Rowling's wizarding world at all, but just that feel of being transported to a magical world that these witches inhabit. You have pointy hats, stripped stockings and robes, cat familiars in every card, and can go from being in an old castle or a modern contemporary room. Yet it all works together seamlessly. Unlike many Pagan themed decks, this one does not delve deep into Pagan lore and mythology. What it does express through its many outdoor scenes is a sense of reverence for nature and importance with connecting with the natural world and the unconscious mind that brings the theme home. There is humor, magic, spunkiness, as well as seriousness as these witches live their everyday lives. The Everyday Witch has an optimistic approach that highlights the responsibility we have for our own lives and our use of free will. It does not shy away from tough messages, or consequences, but it delivers them in a manner that empowers and motivates the querent to act upon, instead of dwell, on a less than favorable outcome. The deck is about making the most of ones’ everyday life and finding the magic each day brings recognizing that not all in life is a bed of roses. It is about us having the power to influence our own lives. It is fun, upbeat, yet serious all in one. The deck has the traditional number of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The deck is the standard Llewellyn sized deck (approximately 2 3/4" by 4 1/2" inches). The cards are borderless, with a ½ inch cream colored scroll at the bottom containing the name of the card. Being a huge fan of borderless decks, I was very pleased with this. The card stock is your traditional Llewellyn card stock, easy to riffle shuffle but of good quality. The card backs are dark blue with gold stars, a besom (broom), witches hat, and black cat. The card backs are non-reversible, and the deck is intended to be read without reversals, though if you do not mind reversed backs you can incorporate them. The Major Arcana follow the Rider-Waite Smith traditional naming and numbering with Strength placed at position 8 and Justice at position 11. The Suits retain the traditional names and elemental correspondences of Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Pentacles/Earth, and Swords/Air. The court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The court cards in this deck are very expressive, and I would highly recommend them for people struggling with understanding the court cards. The cards numbered 1-10 of each suit are fully illustrated, and have the representative number of suit icon symbols on each card within the image. The deck comes with a 254 page companion book titled “Guide to the Everyday Witch Tarot,” authored by Ms. Deborah Blake, award winning author of The Goddess is in the Details, Everyday Witchcraft, and other titles published by Llewellyn. This book is eye catching, and eye candy. It is made of glossy paper, and is full color something I really appreciated for a change in a companion book. The book opens with an introduction as to how Ms. Blake came to take on the project that became the Everyday Witch Tarot. Chapter One is about the deck and how to use it. It speaks to the changes in traditional imagery as well as some basic Tarot information. It contains some really good advice on how to learn the cards, and how to do a reading including some very basic information on the symbolism of the numbers 1-10 and the four elements. Chapter Two covers Common Questions and Answers about the use of signifiers, clarifier cards, use of reversals (which this deck does not use), bad news and scary cards, reading conditions, what if one does not have a question, cards showing up over and over, and the question on whether one needs to be psychic to read the cards (the answer is no). The chapter goes on to talk about “Some Tarot Extras” that include a deck consecration spell, a cleansing spell, and a spell for a good reading. Chapter 3 is about the cards. One of the things I really like about this section is that aside from the description of the imagery and the meaning of the card it has a section titled “Things to Consider” which includes questions that can prompt memories, intuition, and help the new reader go beyond the basic meaning of the card. As the deck was not designed with the use of reversals in mind it does not include meanings for reversed cards. However, the “Things to Consider” section includes questions that will lead you to think about those reversed meanings without having to use reversals. Very clever, as learning to think that way you might choose to never use reversals with any deck. Chapter Four includes some basic spreads: one card, three card, and Celtic Cross spreads. I will admit I was a bit disappointed by this, I wish they would have included some original spreads for the deck. In my personal experience with the deck I found the readings to be clear, concise, and optimistic. The imagery sparks the imagination and intuition. I would not classify this deck as a “positive” deck in that it does not give messages through rose colored glasses. What it does is deliver messages in way that empower you to change what you do not like through the use of your personal power and free will. It motivates you into wanting to change or fix whatever it is that does not work for you, and to believe in yourself enough to do it. I also found the imagery on the cards to make me stop and think and contemplate. To think through my question as I read the cards. So in sum, I found depth within the imagery that allowed me to open myself up to realistic possibilities, and potential consequences of my actions before taking action. Hence, I found the deck motivating and optimistic in nature because there was always something to act on in the advice that could help me, and that was within my power. This is why I say that this deck is not for beginners alone. It is deeper than you would think at first glance of some internet images. I would not hesitate to recommend this deck to beginners, intuitive readers, and those who are trying to flex their intuitive muscle to add more intuition into their readings. If you are looking for something a bit edgy with a magical feel this deck fits the bill, and I think many Wiccans would find it quite appealing as well. If you are looking for esoteric symbolism, deep historical spiritual pagan teachings and the like this is not the deck you are looking for. The book is more geared towards the beginner but there are some golden nuggets in the “Things to be Considered” sections of the card interpretations for intermediate and advanced readers as well. For those looking for gender inclusivity the art depicts females, males, and some androgynous characters. This deck is also a deck that can be used with the squeamish or fearful of Tarot querent. Overall, I am happy that I purchased the Everyday Witch Tarot, and it is a deck I will surely continue to use.
  22. Jewel

    Joie de Vivre Tarot

    Joie de Vivre By Jewel The Joie de Vivre, French for Joy of Life, is a deck created by artist Paulina Cassidy and published by US Games in 2011. The cards are 2 ¾ X 4 ¾ and of quality glossy card stock typical of US Games decks. The cards are packaged in a flip top box along with a 61 page little white book (LWB). The LWB includes an introduction, key words, the name and descriptions of the characters on the cards, divinatory meaning, reversed meaning, a small section about the author, and two pages to write notes. The backs of the cards are golden to yellow with a vine design and are reversible. The front and back of the cards are framed with a thin black line and have a ¼ inch white border. The images are watercolor paintings in pastel colors with vibrant tones. The images follow the whimsical and unmistakable style I associate with Paulina Cassidy art, but are visually simpler than Ms. Cassidy’s previous deck the Paulina Tarot. The simpler images allowed me to focus on the image and message of the cards. In addition, the characters of the Joie de Vivre have names, making them more personable and their message/advice more personal. Spiral designs are prevalent throughout the deck, especially in the backgrounds of the cards. The characters ranged from people to faeries, to animals, to other creatures. On a side note, Ms. Cassidy’s website includes full images of the deck. When you click on the images you can see a large rendering of the card as well as the information about the card that is presented in the LWB. The Joie de Vivre is 78 card Rider-Wait-Smith (RWS) based deck. The Major Arcana follows the traditional RWS structure, including archetypes and numbering. The Majors are numbered in Roman numerals, with the Strength card at VIII and Justice at XI. The Minors are numbered 1 through 10 in Arabic numerals. The Minor Arcana suits are Cups, Wands, Coins, and Swords. The Court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The Minors are fully illustrated, and RWS inspired but very original. The number of suit symbols (Cups, Wands, Coins, Swords) corresponding to each Minor appear on the cards within the drawing. As noted in the LWB introduction, in the words of the creator “… the Joie de Vivre is designed to access the childlike energy in each one of us to help stimulate, enhance, and inspire joy in our own lives. A truly fantastical people, the living beings in the Joie de Vivre realm are all sentient souls of love who want nothing but the best for those who take a journey through their world. An amplifier of intuition and a connection to the divine source, they hope the Joie de Vivre deck will help awaken a response from deep within your heart, mind, and spirit.” I am the first to admit that I purchased the deck for the art, and assumed that it was a “fluff” deck. It is not. My experiences with this deck have been transformative, healing, and helpful. The deck has a gentle manner of delivering information, but addresses issues in a direct and honest way. It does not sugarcoat the messages or advice. What it does do is promote facing challenges, obstacles, and difficult issues with hope and in the spirit of resolution. The Joie de Vivre is infused with empathy, for self and/or others, which is the true magic behind it. This is one of the aspects of the deck that surprised me the most and the reason I quickly learned to love it. I attribute this to Ms. Cassidy’s 10 years of study and experience in energy healing which she incorporates into her art. Some of the traditionally harsher or scary cards such as the 9 of Swords, 10 of Swords truly capture the emotions as we experience them yet in a non-scary way, and XV the Devil presents the message/issue in a somewhat comical manner. It is not just about the event or issue but how it is affecting us or others. This is true of all cards in this deck not just the harsher images. The images help us put situations and emotions all together completing the picture. If you can see it and understand it then you can do something about it. In my personal opinion, this deck is really well suited for persons with interest in using tarot for psychological and emotional information, healing, and/or guidance, intuitive readers, empaths, and those who like decks that are honest and direct yet comforting. It would also be good for use with querents that are a little squeamish about Tarot in general. I would also recommend it to fans of whimsical art and those who like to use Tarot for writing. The deck is best suited for persons with some tarot experience as the images do vary from the traditional RWS, however I would not discourage a beginner from getting this deck as the images are very evocative and great for sparking the imagination and intuition.
  23. Saturn Celeste

    Osho Zen Tarot: The Transcendental Game Of Zen

    From the album: Specialty Decks

    April 15, 1995 by Osho (Author), Ma Deva Padma (Illustrator) Product details Paperback: 176 pages Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 7th ed. edition (April 15, 1995) Language: English ISBN-10: 0312117337 ISBN-13: 978-0312117337 Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.1 x 7.7 inches Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds Buy on Amazon
  24. Jewel

    The Mermaid Tarot

    Mermaid Tarot By Jewel The Mermaid Tarot by Leeza Robertson was published by Llewellyn in March of 2019 as a deck and book set. In Ms. Robertson’s Introductory Note in the companion book she notes that the deck “started with a single irritating idea … an idea that just would not go away and die somewhere quietly.” Many of us have seen plenty of themed decks go wrong, and themes such as mermaids who live in water can be especially difficult to execute into a quality Tarot deck. Add to that mermaids were never Ms. Robertson’ thing, but the Siren kept singing and well ... she is a mermaid person now, and I for one am glad that Siren would not leave her alone. I have waited for a well-done mermaid Tarot deck for ages and finally have one! The illustrations by Ms. Julie Dillon are wonderful. They are done with well executed graphic art, the colors are brilliant and vivid, there is great ethnic diversity, gender representation, and the mermaids and mermen are all very expressive. I typically have hang ups about mermaids wearing clothes (tops to be specific), but the fact that these mermaids wear tops does not even bother me. I have to admit, that really surprised me! One of the other things I really like about this deck, is that not only can you identify the suits by the ethnic composition, but by the style of the mermaid tails which gives the deck such cohesion. I am sure you are ready for me to get on with the specifics of the deck, so lets’ talk about the Mermaid Tarot. The cards measure 2 ¾” by a little over 4 ½”, usual Lewellyn size. The card stock is your usual Llewllyn fare, easy to riffle shuffle. The backs have a beautiful seaweed inspired design with a golden orb at the center on a gradient blue to white background and are reversible. The cards are borderless, and the numbers and titles are spelled out in a small aqua colored banner at the bottom of each card. The deck consists of 78 cards – 22 Major Arcana, 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana retain all the traditional names though the art is original and there are some different takes or perspectives on some of the Majors. Strength is in position VIII and Justice at position XI. The Court Cards are Page, Knight, Queen, and King and show a progression of maturity. The suits are Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. The deck is intended to be read with reversals. Your traditional Rider-Wait-Smith inspired structure. What is special to me about this deck is how Ms. Robertson turned a watery world into an expressive world that captures the essence of the four suits and elements. Granted, the seasonal correspondences end up varying from many are used to using, but it works well with the suits and the theme of the deck. How did she accomplish this? By setting each suit into a different type of watery kingdom with a domain over a particular environment where the essence of the suit would stand out through their activities of daily living within those environments. Here are the descriptions from the book with some commentary from me on the imagery of the cards: · “The kingdom of wands is represented by the guardians of the volcanoes.” – this suit has a real Polynesian feel to it through the ethnic characteristics of the mermaids and mermen as well as the traditional tribal tatoos, not to mention the volcanic environment. · “The kingdom of pentacles is represented … by the guardians of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. These mer-folk look after all land-based waterways.” – this suit includes various ethnicities, some merfolk look as though they might could even be inspired by the American Indians. · “The kingdom of cups is represented by the guardians of the deep ocean. They reside in the never-ending vast spaces of the sea and control the wild currents, manage weather, and patrol the deepest darkest caverns.” – here again we see a variety of ethnicities including African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic. · “The kingdom of swords is filled with the guardians of the polar ice caps. Harsh terrain, isolation, and wilderness are their domain.” If you are into Game of Thrones I would tell you these mermaids look like they could be related to the Targeryans’, they all have white hair and pale skin. The court cards in this deck are some of my favorites. As noted in Chapter 1 of the companion book “The kings and queens of the Mermaid Tarot are gods and goddesses in their own right – they have power, prestige, and thousands of years of knowledge to share with you ... The knights of the Mermaid Tarot share lessons in honor, respect, and duty. They remind us of all the things that can and should be done for the betterment of our lives and the community we live in … The pages connect us to the energy of wonder of the inner child, back to the time when we were just learning about who we are and discovering who we might like to be when we grow up.” So much like in the Major Arcana, the Court Cards utilize some universal archetypes. I find this to be a real plus for those of us that have or do struggle with interpreting the Court Cards. The referenced Gods and Goddesses for the Kings and Queens by suit are as follows: · Queen of Cups: Nammu, the Summerian Sea Goddess who according to Wikipedia: “gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.” · King of Cups: Triton, son of the Greek Gods Poseidon and Amphitriate, and a God in his own right. In Greek Methology he is the messenger of the sea. We also know him as Ariel’s dad in The Little Mermaid. · Queen of Wands: The Hawaiian Goddess Pele, “goddess of volcanoes and fire and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.” (Wikipedia). In this deck she is described as the goddess of creation and destruction. This is probably my favorite Queen in this deck, she is the perfect embodiment of the Queen of Wands. · King of Wands: Kamohoalii, a shark god from Hawaiian mythology who according the companion book is a protector and ruler. · Queen of Pentacles: The Lady of the Lake from Arthurian Legends. The companion book shares this tidbit with us: “…known as the creator of leaders, warriors, and kings.” The book also notes she in not someone we want to mess with. I love the power this deck gives this queen, it expresses her as both nurturing and fierce. · King of Pentacles: The companion book calls this King Conduits, the God of Rivers. I did a little research on this God but came up empty. Here is what the companion book says about him: “In order to understand the material world, one must first learn about flow …. the King of Pentacles means being grounded yet flowing much like Conduits, god of rivers.” · Queen of Swords: Though her name is not given, she is referenced as Goddess of Winter. In the companion book she is described as “the keeper of reason, order, and harsh realities.” · King of Swords: Boreas, Greek God of the cold north wind. I do wish Ms. Robertson had provided more detailed information on the Gods and Goddesses used, but the fact that she did not is not a make or break deal for me. Just personal curiosity. Between the descriptions in the companion and the art by Ms. Dillon I had no problem with these Courts and found them quite easy to read by just looking at them. As I noted earlier, they are some of my favorite Tarot Court cards. When I think of the companion book for this deck the first word that comes to mind is luscious. A Guide to The Mermaid Tarot is a glossy and a full colored visual delight. It is not just the full page sized colored images of the cards, the entire book is in color. It is beautiful. A Guide to The Mermaid Tarot opens with an introductory note from Leeza Robertson speaking about how she came to create the deck. It is funny and honest, and made me feel like she was sitting across the table talking to me about it. Chapter 1, The Flow of the Deck, sets the tone of the deck explaining to the reader “Each tarot deck interprets the concepts and ideas of the seventy-eight cards in a unique way. Here in the Mermaid Tarot, you will notice the story, ideas, and concepts of the cards have been told through the lens of mermaid mythology. Each part of this deck adds to the many stories already written about those who live under the water, deep beneath the surface.” Chapter 1 then goes into the Majors, asking the reader to see the merfolk in this part of the deck as their teachers and guides. The Majors section is followed by the Minor Aracana and Court Cards section from which I have already shared some information with you in previous sections of this review. There is a small section called The Numbers at a Quick Glance which provides some key words for numbers 1-10. Chapter 2 is titled Taking the Cards for a Swim and opens with several pages giving the reader a step-by-step approach to doing a reading which will be very helpful to beginners. Following the step-by-step process is a section titled A Note on Reversals and Ms. Robertson encourages the reader to try using the reversals and puts a plug in for her book Tarot Reversals for Beginners. Chapter 3 is where the cards start with The Major Arcana. For each card you have a full colored/full sized glossy picture of the card being discussed, a description of the image and information about that archetype and then you have a section on the upright and then on the reversed meaning of the card. Chapter 4 is about The Minor Arcana and to my delight it was formatted the same manner as the Majors. The last chapter is Chapter 5 Mermaid Magic and Spreads and includes the following spells: A Spell for Healing, A Spell for Love, A Spell for Money. It also includes the following spreads: Daily Journal Prompt Spread (single card), Two Heads are Better Than One Spread (two cards), What, Where, How Three-Card Spread, The Four Elements Spread (five cards). The book then closes with a Final Note from the author. Overall, I really enjoyed reading and working with the companion book and found it helpful in understanding the deck and individual cards. I used this deck for 30 days straight in readings, and it quickly became one of my favorites. I will admit I am Pisces and love everything relating to water, and I am a mermaid lover; but I am also a Tarot enthusiast and reader. The Mermaid Tarot did not only appeal to all of these things in me, it exceeded my expectations. The readings were deep, meaningful, and enlightening. This deck is really well thought out and executed and is a deck I will read with for years to come. I applaud both Ms. Robertson and Ms. Dillon for being able to capture the real essence of the suits and elements within the concept and illustration of the Mermaid Tarot. The merfolk that inhabit the deck are not doing human things under water, they are going through their everyday lives, challenges and joy within their kingdoms. In a way the execution of theme reminds me of the masterful way The Victorian Fairy Tarot captured the lives of faeries during the different seasons of the year, but I digress. The Mermaid Tarot is well suited to all types of readings. I recommend this deck to those of you that: have been waiting for a quality mermaid themed deck, love Faerie and fantasy themed decks, intuitive readers, and readers of all levels. If you enjoy incorporating elemental and/or seasonal correspondences to your readings you will also enjoy this deck. I would have no problem recommending the Mermaid Tarot to a beginner, with the caveat to also pick up a Raider Waite Smith deck (RWS) for comparisons and following text from most beginner books to make sense of cards where the meaning of the card has been expanded or viewed from a different perspective. The symbolism in the Mermaid Tarot is not esoteric in nature, so it would not appeal to readers looking for astrological, Qabalah, and other esoteric symbolism. As for Aunt Fifi, she would absolutely love this deck. Nothing offensive here, everyone is dressed, and the deck is a beauty to look at.
  25. bookshop

    Enchanted Tarot

    From the album: Artistic Decks

    The Enchanted Tarot Creator: Amy Zerner (artist), Monte Farber (writer) Year/Publisher: 1992 / St. Martin's Press Availability: original edition is OOP but available at Amazon; 25th anniversary edition also available at Amazon. This deck has been revised and remixed into the Zerner-Farber Tarot by the creators.

    © 1992

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