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  1. Scandinavianhermit

    Rose Tarot

    Nigel Jackson is a British artist with knowledge about (and, in all likelihood, experience of) some forms of Neopaganism, pre-modern European esotericism, Sufism, and dissident 18th century illuminist-theurgical Christian mysticism. The 22 trumps of Rose Tarot are useful for contemplative practice in my experience, and personally I find the artwork mild and harmonic, but your mileage may vary. Observant Jews and Neopagans may find the design of The Chariot (which here alludes to Ezekiel chs. 1 & 10) uncomfortable, but for opposite reasons. Users familiar with Agrippa-derived ceremonial magic will not be particularly surprised. The accompanying paperback book approach the symbolism of tarot ahistorically through the interpretive lens of Paracelsian mysticism of the 16th and 17th centuries and such esotericism, that existed in France, Great Britain and Germany in the 18th century, i.e. no deeper similarities with the trajectory English-speaking western occultism took after 1875 (Theosophical Society) and 1888 (Golden Dawn). Users who just expect a quick and handy guide to cartomancy will find p. 181-230 superfluous, but the matter contained in these pages certainly has its particular audience, I'm sure. If you are interested in pre-industrial mainland continental European esotericism, they may serve as a brief introduction to that matter. Pages 9-180 afford two pages to each card: One page focusing on divination, one page giving a more 'western esoteric' approach along the lines mentioned above. The court cards revive and preserve the French renaissance custom to associate the court cards of the 52 playingcard deck (French suits) with historical figures or literary characters, but Rose Tarot do this in a slightly different manner, than Dame Fortune's Wheel Tarot do the same. In DFWT Alexander is King of Coins and Julius Cæsar King of Batons, but their rôles (and all court cards in their respective suites) are switched around in Rose Tarot. The debate regarding the divinatory equivalents to clubs and diamonds in tarot decks goes back to the 18th century, and although their artistic counterparts undoubtly are clubs = batons; diamonds = coins, the debate, whether divinatory keywords follow the artistic counterparts or follow their own separate logic, will probably not fade out of existence any day soon. The four suits have the following correspondences in this deck: Swords: Justice, aristocracy Cups: Temperance, priesthood Coins: Prudence, merchants Batons: Strength (by which is meant Courage), the peasantry Although the Ace of Cups overflows of water, elemental symbolism isn't explicitly present in the design of the suite cards, which might comfort users, who doesn't wish to be forced into adherence to an unfamiliar system of correspondences. The suite cards are simultaneously non-scenic and scenic in a very clever manner, by using a mandorla-shaped insert into each otherwise non-scenic pip card.
  2. Nemia

    Constellation Tarot

    From the album: Cosmic Decks

    Author - Iryna Semenova Artist - Iryna Semenova ISBN - Weight - Card Size - 12x7 cm Box Size - 12x7x3 cm Language - English Purchase here - Art is My Magic
  3. MollyCat

    Forest of Enchantment Tarot

    I merely wanted to thank Jewel for this comprehensive review. I haven't purchased a Tarot deck for years but fell in love with the imagery of this beautiful deck and got one of the last copies at one of our online booksellers. I have been using the Tarot Mucha regularly for the last few months and think that Lunea Weatherstone's commentary is engaging and genuine. It was whilst researching Lunea that I discovered 'The Forest of Enchantment'. Meraylah Allwood's illustrations are simply magic. I returned to TTM because I thought you would have reviewed the deck, Jewel. Thank you! What a beautiful place TTM is now. I use Tarot in some way most days but have not kept up with the Tarot scene otherwise. I've set aside this afternoon on 1 Jan 2023 to explore this deck. What a great way to start the year!
  4. elyrinea

    Earth Magic Oracle

    From the album: Oracle Decks

    Author - Steven D. Farmer Artist - Each card beautifully illustrated by different artists Publisher - 2010 Hay House, Inc. Box Set Edition ISBN - 9781401925352 Weight - 13.4 oz Card Size - 12.2cm x 9cm Box Size - 13.9cm x 9.9cm Language - English Purchase here - https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Magic-Oracle-Cards-Guidebook/dp/1401925359
  5. Serpentia

    Playing Card Oracles (Alchemy Edition)

    From the album: Playing Card Decks

    Playing Card Oracles (Alchemy Edition) Author: C.J. Freeman and Ana Cortez Card Size: 8.9cm x 14.6cm No. of Cards: 54 ISBN: None (Self-published) Language: EN Publisher: Two Sisters Press Purchase at Ana Cortez

    © C.J. Freeman and Ana Cortez

  6. geoxena

    Magic of Tarot, The

    From the album: Historical Decks

    Colorful 78-card deck by Liz Dean and illustrated by Emma Garner is accompanied by 64-page full-color booklet which includes five diagrams of spreads. Deck blends classic symbolism with simple, modern, almost minimalist illustrations; the Death and Devil cards have been re-interpreted using gentle, non-confrontational imagery. Pips are non-illustrated. ISBN: 978-1-78249-721-9 Available at Barnes & Noble (bn.com)
  7. Jewel

    Magical Dogs.jpg

    The Magical Dogs Tarot By Jewel – March 11, 2020 The Magical Dogs Tarot, by husband and wife team Mickie and Daniel Mueller, was published by Llewellyn in September of 2018 as a deck/book set. In addition to this deck, Ms. Mueller has also illustrated The Mystical Cats Tarot, The Well Worn Path and Hidden Path oracles, authored the Voice of Trees: A Celtic Divination Oracle, as well as a couple of books for Llewellyn. There are no humans in this deck. Overall, we are seeing the Tarot from a dog perspective, which is great being that there are very few dog Tarot decks as compared to the plethora of cat decks. I purchased this deck because I love dogs and did not own a dog themed deck, but this deck has really blown me away. It is so much more than I ever thought it would be. I usually have to work with a deck for a month or so to get a good enough feel for it to write a review, but this deck in many ways was like coming home to my pups. There is an emotional honesty and warmth to this deck that is very hard to describe, the simplest way to say it is that it is pure dog magic. The art of this deck is simply beautiful and purposeful. Every detail contributes to the meaning of each card, from what the dog is doing, to each element in its surroundings. Every part of the card supports the meaning and can be used in the interpretation. It is very easy to become the dog as you gaze into the card and understand what it is feeling and/or experiencing. The watercolor paintings are rich yet soft and easily transport you into the scene. A few of my favorite aspects of this deck are that the dogs are not anthropomorphized, it is borderless, and that the same attention to detail and quality were given to the Major and Minor Arcana. The card titles are contained in a small gold metallic ink scroll with black italic lettering at the bottom each card which blends in nicely without detracting from the imagery. It is evident that a lot of thought and care went into the creation of this deck, and that Mickie and Daniel love and understand dogs and their magic. The suits are divided into four different types of dog packs, based on “the more primitive realm of the arcane canine, with its emphasis on a deep connection to nature…” Elemental pack or suit correspondences are your traditional Sea/Water, Fire/Fire, Sky/Air, and Earth/Earth. Here is what the companion book says about the suits or packs: Fire Pack (traditional suit of Wands): “Fire pack watchwords are expansion and energy. These canines are associated with primal forces, spirituality, and inspiration. Ever seeking to expand the borders of spiritual knowledge, they are great wonderers and explorers, not just of the physical realm but of the mind and the depths of the soul.” Sea Pack (traditional suit of Cups): “Emotions and instincts are the domain of the sea pack. They can be wise counselors, as they are gifted in intuiting of feelings and in navigating the complexities of relationships.” Sky Pack (traditional suit of Swords): “Power, force, and conflict embody the sky pack’s world. They are generally nomads, dogs of the wild places, who are perfectly at home under the open sky and do not shy away from danger. Independent creatures, these dogs often forge only temporary alliances to meet their immediate goals.” Earth Pack (traditional suit of Pentacles): “The earth pack primarily concerns themselves with matters of the physical world. They are a practical pack, wise in the ways of business and trade, in the knowledge of growing things, and in determining the times of sowing and harvesting. They are lovers of hearth and home and the material possessions that adorn life.” The imagery of the Major Arcana is quite different from the RWS but very reflective of it. Some of the Majors names have been changed: The Magician becomes The Mage, The Hierophant becomes The Shaman, The Hanged Man becomes The Seer, The Devil becomes The Trickster, The Star becomes The Dog Star, and Judgement becomes The Call. Strength is at position VIII and Justice at XI. The Trickster card in this deck focuses on the Coyote and freedom which is a deviation from the Traditional Devil card, but works really well in this deck. Though a significant amount of the imagery is quite different in the Minor Arcana cards 1-10, because we are dealing with dogs and what dogs do, they do follow the Raider-Wait-Smith (RWS) system and connections can be easily made. The Court cards elude to pack structure and their leadership role within the pack. Kings are Alpha Males, Queens are Alpha Females, Knights are Guardians, and Pages are Puppies and are the cutest things ever! The Alpha Males are the top dogs or leaders of the pack, the Alpha Females fulfill a similar role but in a more nurturing way, the Guardians are action oriented, and Puppies are symbols of inexperience and/or youth. Similar roles to your traditional Tarot Court cards so not a stretch to understand. In a sense I think this pack structure actually makes the Court Cards quite easy to understand and follow, so a beginner would not have any problem with these. The cards are your typical Llewellyn size (4.65” x 2.3/4”) and card stock, though they do feel a little more “buttery” when I riffle shuffle them than other Llewellyn decks. Maybe it’s the card stock, or just the warm and fuzzies this deck gives me. Who knows? I am not fussy about card stock so I like them, but some people feel the card stock is a bit thin. Personally, I like it. The card backs remind me of an Ocean Jasper crystal with its blues, rust, and gray banding, and has two mirror image leather shields with a paw print in the center. Overall the backs have a Native American vibe to them. The shields have four charms hanging from the bottom of them that correspond to the four elements or suits. The backs are reversible, and this deck was designed with reversals in mind. The shield motif with the paw print in the center is repeated in the Aces of each suit, but with charms corresponding to the pack it is representing. The deck comes with a 206-page companion book, titled The Magical Dogs Companion, written by Mickie and Daniel. The writing is clear, engaging, and you can tell these authors love and understand canines and Tarot. Unfortunately, the book is not full color. I would have loved to have had full page, full color, glossy pictures of these cards along with their corresponding text as Llewellyn has been doing with their companion books, but alas one cannot have everything. The Introduction really sets the tone of the deck, from the prehistorical bond between humans and canines to the structure of the deck, and how to use and care for it. I really love how the Introduction was laid out and presented. It made me want to jump right in and join these packs. The next section of the book is the Major Arcana “Dogs Deep Wisdom” and covers each Major Arcana card providing a description of everything you see in the card and its symbolism or meaning. The description is followed by “Paws for Thought” which ties in the description to traditional tarot meanings and some keywords. Lastly there is a “Reversed” section for each card and some keywords for the reversals. The third section of the book is the Minor Arcana or “Dog Packs.” Each pack or suit section starts with its Call of the Pack which describes the pack, who they are, the dynamics within the pack, what drives them, and ties these nicely into tarot suit correspondences. The same format used in the Majors is used with the Minors. The Fourth section is on Spreads and includes three canine themed spreads: The Paw Print Spread (5 cards) which is good to get the lay of the land; The Guardian Spread (7 cards) good to watch your borders and protect your territory; and The Hunt Spread (3 cards) to get a quick overview of a situation. At the end of the book there is an Appendix in which they share some of Mickie’s sketches and give a short explanation of the sketch. This book does not delve into Tarot History, numerology, or go in depth on how to perform Tarot readings, but it does give a nice overview in the Introduction and it is focused on using this particular deck and companion book. I actually really like this companion book. Like a dog it is friendly and unassuming but a great companion. This deck has the heart of a dog. In readings it is honest, and understands harshness and tenderness. The readings just brought out so much emotion in me. I have laughed and had tears well up in my eyes. I did not expect that. I would start reading and my heart would just flow. The imagery is powerful and will take you deep inside your heart and pull out things you did not even know were there. I released things in readings that I have held back from writing in my journal when reading with other decks, I just could not help myself. This deck brings out so much honesty and compassion at the same time. It brought out in me those feelings I have when I am hugging my Shih-Tzu, true raw and real emotion. The Magical Dogs is not “fluffy” by any means, and does not sugar coat anything either, but there is that empathy and sense of unconditional love that you can only get from a dog. It fosters courage and resilience, playfulness, and gratitude for the simple things in life. It is a reliable and trustworthy companion that you can count no matter what. This is a deck I will treasure and one I will turn to often, particularly in difficult or troubled times. This deck is a true delight. It is deep and oozes with canine spirit and magic. It is so easy to understand and relate to. If you are a dog lover, and like Rider-Waite-Smith based decks then do not pass this one up. I would recommend The Magical Dogs Tarot to all levels of experience with the Tarot despite that it is dogs and has changes to suits and Majors. The book provides any guidance needed to successfully use the deck. The tie into the Rider-Waite-Smith is there, just stripped of esoteric symbolism. The archetypes remain clear. I would recommend this deck to intuitive readers, empaths, and those that take a psychological approach to Tarot. If you are looking for a racially diverse and/or gender balanced deck, there are dogs of all sizes and kinds. If you are looking for esoteric symbolism this is not a deck for you. Would I read for my dear aunt Fifi with this deck? Absolutely, she loves dogs and will, without any Tarot knowledge, be able to pick up a lot from the cards and participate in the reading. I would be comfortable using it in readings for persons of any age. There is nothing offensive in this deck, and it is a great deck for squeamish querents, especially if they love or can relate to dogs.
  8. Jewel

    Forest of Enchantment Tarot

    Forest of Enchantment Tarot By Jewel – March 4, 2020 Forest of Enchantment Tarot, by Lunea Weatherstone and illustrated by Meraylah Allwood, was published by Llewellyn in October of 2019 as a deck/book set. The deck is based on our journey through the dark forest like characters from fairytales. You enter the forest, walk the path, face the trials and challenges that lie within the forest, and come out the other side changed by the experience. Each reading is a new journey and a personal fairytale in the making. As noted in the companion book introduction “The forest is part of the human psyche.” It is a dangerous and exciting place, a place that can contain terrors and gifts, “…it is a place you pass through to get somewhere else.” The deck does not reference any specific story but is inspired by forest tales and you will recognize some familiar tales such as Little Red Ridding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Arthurian legends, and The Frog Prince to name a few. The deck is populated by witches, wizards, faeries, elves, dwarves, animals and mythical creatures. The art of this deck is simply beautiful, and the images draw you into the forest. The watercolor paintings are rich yet soft and the images carry an aura of mystery and magic. A couple of my favorite aspects of this deck, aside from the theme, is that it is borderless and that the same attention to detail and quality were given to the Major and Minor Arcana. The card titles are contained in a small gold metallic ink scroll with black italic lettering at the bottom each card which blends in nicely without detracting from the imagery. The scenes all take place in forest and will remind you of fairytales, fantasy books, and folklore. It is evident that a lot of thought and care went into the creation of this deck. From the renaming of the suits from traditional cups, wands, swords and pentacles to what you will actually find within the Forest: Visions, Spells, Challenges, and Boons respectively. Elemental correspondences are your traditional Visions/Water, Spells/Fire, Challenges/Air, and Boons/Earth. The majority of the Majors have been renamed as well to go with the theme of the deck, and will be covered in a the next section of this review. The imagery of the Major Arcana is quite different from the RWS but reflect aspects of the traditional RWS meanings. As noted above many of the names of the Majors have been changed: The Fool becomes The White Heart, The Magician becomes The Enchanter, The High Priestess becomes The Wisewoman, The Empress becomes The Green Mother, The Emperor becomes The Forest Lord, The Hierophant becomes The Oldest One, The Lovers retains its traditional name, The Chariot becomes The Faery Wind, Strength retains its traditional name, The Hermit retains its traditional name, The Wheel of Fortune becomes The Enchanter’s Wheel, Justice becomes The Huntsman, The Hanged Man becomes Suspension, Death becomes Black Shuck, Temperance becomes The Forge, The Devil becomes The Liar, The Tower becomes The Folly, The Star becomes Starlight, The Moon becomes Moonlight, The Sun becomes Sunlight, Judgement becomes The Council of Animals, and The World becomes The Wide World. 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 the theme of deck without really detracting from traditional Major Aracana meanings. In addition with the change in names of the “scary cards” (Death, Devil, Tower, Hanged Man) it can make the deck quite suitable for squeamish querents. The renaming makes sense and works very well. I particularly like Temperance as The Forge as it gave me whole new perspective on the delicate balance implied by this card. Though a significant amount of the imagery is quite different in many of Minor Arcana cards 1-10, they do follow the Raider-Wait-Smith (RWS) system. Where the deck deviates from this system is with the Court Cards in naming and slightly in meaning. Kings are Keepers, Queens are Weavers, Knights are Seekers and Pages are Children. Again, as with the Majors the renaming of the Court Cards is very appropriate in carrying over theme. In addition, as a whole I think they would be helpful to beginners in understanding the nature of the court card ranks. It breaks them down into levels of maturity and energy, and where there focus lies. From the companion book: Keepers “are exemplars of their suits, often acting as teachers or guides. Keepers are protective, wise, experienced and in command, they are all Wizards, each a master in his own sphere of expertise.” Weavers “are the initiating spark, the muse, the catalyst, the push out the door that leads to glory. Weavers bring out positive qualities in others, whether through nurturing or by judicious application of tough love.” Seekers “have a quest to fulfill, and the quality of action is common to all four seekers.” Children “are changing all the time rather than being set in their ways, and they tend to get into predicaments more than other people cards. Some are careless, some foolhardy, and some are just curious.” 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 2.75”, a great size for all sized hands. The backs of the cards have a mirror image of an owl sitting on a branch at night, the moonlight is at the center of the backs of the cards and are reversible though reversed card interpretations were not included in the companion as Ms. Weatherstone does not use reversals. Based on this fact, I would like to point out that the deck was not designed with reversals in mind though they can be used. The deck comes with a 228-page companion book, titled Your Path Through The Enchanted Forest, written by Ms. Weatherstone. Her writing is clear, interesting, and engaging. The book is full color and glossy, with a full-page colored image of each card. Gotta love that! The Introduction starts out with some information about The Forest and what it represents, followed by sections on: Tarot Basics including The Forest Journey: Major Arcana which speaks to the renaming of the Majors, and Forest Tales: Minor Arcana which talks about the renaming of the suits; Care and Feeding of Your Deck, about deck care; Frequently Asked Questions that focus on beginner level questions such as the best way to learn tarot, should one memorize meanings, should one read for oneself, etc.; How to Use Your Cards: this section gives some tips on learning to use or becoming familiar with a new tarot deck, how to use the “Closer Look” section on each card, using reversals, and shuffling. The second section of the Companion book focuses on The Forest Journey (Major Arcana). Each card includes a description, a meaning at glance (keywords), and “A Closer Look” which includes something specific found in the image for the reader to look at more closely. The third section of the book is Forest Tales and is about the Minor Arcana cards 1-10. Information about each card is structured as it is in the Major Arcana but the descriptions for each card is shorter. Section four of the book is titled Forest Folk and is about the Court Cards. Again descriptions, etc. follow the template set forth in the Majors but like the Minors the card descriptions are shorter than in the Majors. The Final section of the book is titled Spreads and includes the following spreads: Your Day in the Forest (1 card) – your basic daily draw. The White Heart (2 cards) which is a variation of the previous spread using 2 cards. Breadcrumbs and Moonstones (up to the reader how many cards) – this spread is designed to help you decide strategies showing what works and what doesn’t. The deck is divided into two piles: breadcrumbs which are the strategies that won’t work, and moonstones which will work. It is a progressive reading and the reader can choose from 2 cards to as many cards as they want. The Owl’s Advice (6 cards) for situations where you need more information. Shining Eyes, Creeping Feet (9 cards) this reading to help one gain clarity when scared or stressed. First you find something that represents something you fear or are stressed about in the situation, then you go back and find something that encourages or gives you hope. This spread really ties into the overall theme of trials and gifts found within the Forest. The Council of Animals (1 to 12 cards) this spread is on getting advice from an animal counselor. Each of the 12 animals on The Council of Animals (Judgement) card has advice for you in a particular area. You can council with all 12 or however many or few you wish. Lastly, pages 209-228 are pages for you take notes if you like writing in your books. This type of thing is totally wasted on me, but I am sure there are some that will like that. There is no bibliography or appendices. I found my readings with this deck to be profound. I felt like I was in the Forest of Enchantment, on the path, and part of a personal fairytale. The imagery of the cards was gripping during the readings. This is a very atmospheric deck and theme is executed beautifully and completely within the tarot structure which is not an easy thing to do. Nothing feels forced or like a stretch. The messages are straight forward and perfectly represented in the imagery on the cards. I really enjoy using this deck when I am at odds with something in my life and not sure how to move forward. The readings helped give me a sense of direction. This deck is not “fluffy” or childish. It does not shy away from harsh realities. It puts you up close and personal with your issues. This is a deck I will use and enjoy for many years to come. This deck is a true delight, full of mystery, magic, choices and options. I love how it just transports me into the Enchanted Forest to face my trials and challenges with thought and prudence. The deck is gender balanced. I would recommend to all levels of experience with the Tarot despite the changes in the Majors and Court Cards. The book provides any guidance needed to successfully use the deck. The tie into the RWS is there, just stripped of esoteric symbolism. The archetypes remain clear. I would recommend this deck to intuitive readers; fans of fairytales, fantasy and folklore or persons who like themed decks; writers; and readers that enjoy delivering the readings as stories. If you are looking for a racially diverse deck this one might disappoint, unless you count species diversity as the deck does include humans, elves, dwarves, animals and mythical creatures. If you are looking for esoteric symbolism this is not a deck for you. Would I read for my dear aunt Fifi with this deck? Absolutely, she loves the atmosphere of the deck and how it places her in her own story. There is nothing I would consider offensive in this deck, and there is no nudity. I would be comfortable using it in readings for teenagers and adults. I would also not hesitate to use it when reading for squeamish querents.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. Jewel

    Bohemian Gothic

    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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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!
  16. 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.
  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


    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.
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. Jewel

    The Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot

    From the album: Animal and Nature 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
  24. Jewel

    The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

    From the album: Animal and Nature 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
  25. Jewel

    Bohemian Gothic

    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
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