Yeeeeah, baby, that’s me over there, all drunk on new decks and blissed out on tiny works of art (x 10!!!) Excuse the gravy on my chin, but I’ve been gorging myself into a tarot coma, pausing only to give the occasional belch and scratch myself inappropriately (not forgetting the lecherous leering). And I feel no shame, whatsoever. This satiety is aaaaaaaall good, man. Basking in the afterglow yeeeeeeah.
So, my packages finally arrived HUZZAH! (Just waiting for one more tiny piece of Christmas gift cards spendage.) Freed from the evil clutches of Customs, with nary a scratch to show for their perilous journey, and I am currently in a state hovering between “jubilant” and “completely overwhelmed”. OMGthere’ssomuchnewtolearn!! OMGart!! OMGwhichonefirst?? It’s all very “kid running wild in a candy store at midnight” and I have to keep it secret ssssssshhhhh…
What did I get? Prepare to be (thoroughly) elucidated…
Animals Divine Tarot (Art by Lisa Hunt. Published by LLewellyn, 2005)
Presentation: Flip-top box (not practical for storage), cards, companion book, black organza bag & plain white cardboard storage box. The organza bag is of the standard El Cheapo Made-in-China (with sticker still attached hee!) variety. This is amusing in contrast to the “Printed on Recycled Paper” companion book. The white storage box is completely useless, as it is at least 1/2 size too big on each side for the deck of cards. Serious hotdog-down-hallway syndrome! It fits both the Elemental Tarot and Fantod in its box inside O_O. There are 2 spread cards included, which is a practical and useful employment of cover card space.
Cards: The art being by Lisa Hunt, I don’t even have to describe how lovely the images are; it’s a given. What’s so great about buying one of her decks is that the art has been created specifically for the purpose of becoming a tarot deck. Equal attention is given to Majors and Minors; nothing looks half-arsed or rushed to meet a publishing date. I really appreciate the diverse cultures and mythologies she has drawn from, really giving thought to which creature and deity should represent each card. The card stock is just the right amount of slick-n-smooth for an easy shuffle and the backs are decorated with a non-reversible Celtic triskele. I am really looking forward to working with this deck!
LWB: The LWB is a fully-developed 192-page companion book. Reading the Preface and introductory chapters, I was reminded of how much I loved watching animals at the zoo and on TV when I was a kid. I also realised how this was taken from me and had a little moment of grieving. Definitely something to ass to the list to be worked on. Every card is fully explained – THANK YOU! -, along with a B&W image to make the visual connection. The back section includes spreads, meditations and a full bibliography (which is really useful if you wish to pursue the animal thing further).
The Anubis Oracle (Art by Kris Waldherr. Published by Bear & Company, 2008)
Presentation: Very sturdy slide-out box, 35 cards, companion book.
Cards: Again, a tarot artist who needs no introduction or verification of cred’. The colours are very pleasing and the artwork has been reinterpreted to be less stylised and more accessible, without losing the Egyptian touch. Anubis’ blue cape makes me giggle and I keep thinking of Him as a superhero now :) This is important though – part of bringing the gods down so that you can communicate with them (I’ve yet to get a bad reading from the online oracle). The cards are large and a little thinner than most, making them difficult to shuffle, even with my long fingers; a table-swirl is the way to go. The backs are decorated with an Eye of Horus and 3 lotus plants and are non-reversible.
LWB: This LWB is also a fully-developed companion book, 163 pages strong. Detail is given on the concept of the oracle, as well as how to work with it and the Neteru. Each of the 22 Sacred “Majors”, 4 Suit and 8 Composite cards is fully explained. The back section includes 8 layouts and also detailed sample readings to help in understanding how to work with the oracle and interpret spreads. I really, really want to get Nikki Scully’s Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt: Awakening the Healing Power of the Heart to go along with this.
Contemplative Tarot (Art by Adriano Buldrini. Published by Lo Scarabeo, 2008)
Presentation: Lo Scarabeo tuck-box, cards, LWB in 5 languages
Cards: OMG, why is nobody talking about this artistically stunning deck?? The Majors are done in oils (or acrylics?) and are simply too beautiful. They are the types of images that are like a gentle psychic slap across the face – you can’t help but be mesmerised and immediately affected by the symbols, colours, shapes in each. There is an overall sky blue-ness – without being unbalanced or cold – to the cards when laid out next to each other – a perfect colour for contemplation. The facial expressions are something very special: The Fool is having a real “Doi!” moment; the High Priestess is the embodiment of HP; and I love the somewhat bored look of the Empress-Angel. Seriously, can I just say again how BEAUTIFUL these Majors are?!
Now for the Minors… which are watercolours. This is something of a stark contrast when laid next to the Majors. On their own, they are beautiful in their own right – and well executed, make no mistake – but they pale next to the dramatic effect of the oils. Then again, this is somewhat fitting to the “class” of the Minors compared to the Majors. I also understand why this is done; to create 78 oils would be far too long and expensive of an undertaking. Watercolours make sense, economically, and nothing has been sacrificed in terms of bold colour and a high level of detail in each card. I guess they would fall into the category of “Moody Minors” – not Marseilles plain, but not RWS scenic. There’s more than enough in each to get the message across! My only disappointment is in the Courts; they’re a bit ugly and lacking, especially the Kings and Queens. Maybe I’ll understand once I start working with the deck.
The card stock is pretty standard and shuffles easily. The 2 cover cards have a full size image of the Empress-Angel and Temperance and are suitable for framing. Lovely! The backs are quite unique, having different images for the Majors and each of the Suits. They are colour-coded and include symbols appropriate to each; non-reversible, but the deck isn’t *supposed* to be used like a regular deck. I like that the backs of the cards have been purposefully designed as well.
LWB: Standard Lo Scarabeo LWB in 5 languages, but a little more detailed than usual. The deck is based on P.D. Oespensky’s inerpretations of the tarot and its purpose
“is not divination, but rather the urge to undertake an interior voyage to discover the evolution of your own Self through meditation and contemplation.”
Don’t you tell me what to do! Now I’m only going to use this deck for the most ridiculously mundane questions possible. Tell me, Contemplative Tarot, should I have MacDonald’s or Wendy’s for supper? ;) The Majors each have a 6 or 7-lined paragraph explaining the image and a couple of prompt questions. The Minors have 2 or 3 lines with a question or instruction to action – a nice change to the more usual keywords LS uses.
The Elemental Tarot (Art by Caroline Smith. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999)
Presentation: Flippy flap-cover companion book, cards
Cards: I first saw this deck 8.5 years ago in a friend’s home. She had received it as a gift from her boyfriend, but had never used it. I subtly tried to convince her to hand it over, but she wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons. What struck me was the style of the artwork and how different the system is to most tarot decks. The drawings are highly stylised and pleasingly simple; “more” doesn’t always translate into “more information”. Colours are bold and chosen to co-ordinate with the suit colours. On the downside, the cards are large and the stock is somewhat flimsy, making it practically impossible to shuffle in-hand. The backs are decorated in a repeating pattern that, although non-reversible, is small enough that it wouldn’t be obvious when laying the cards out.
The Majors follow the standard 22-card naming and include a keyword at the bottom. To the left and right of the central image are statements pertaining to the nature of the card; astroogical glyphs appear in the top left corner. The Minors are colour-coded into elemental suits and include a keyword at the top and god/goddess name at the bottom. Several glyphs appear on each card and are explained in the companion book. It seems from first appearances to be a very interesting system and I am glad I finally got this one after so many years of yearning.
LWB: The 128-page companion book is clearly laid out for easy access to whichever card you are looking up. Each part of the cards is explained – elements, numbers, astrology etc. A guide to how to read the cards and a few simple layouts are included at the back. What is most useful is the “Quick Key to the Cards”, a visual summary that allows you to quickly determine what’s going on in each card. I will no doubt be cutting the annoying “flap” off the book and diminished resale value be damned. I intend to use my tarot collection!
The Fantod Pack (Art by Edward Gorey. Published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc., 2007.)
Presentation: Very sturdy box, 20 cards, LWB
Cards: When I saw this deck up for sale on AT I nearly swallowed my own tongue, then when I saw no one else had yet put in a bid for it, I actually blacked out for a few seconds. The Fantod deck… it’s practically legendary. These 20 little cards have sold for many hundreds of dollars on eBay and here it was, for $10!!!!!!!! I didn’t know that it has since been released as an official Gorey Trust product and is not one of the unlicensed fan decks or original decks from the ’60s. Not that it makes a lick of difference to me – I CAN HAZ FANTOD!!
The cards are absurd and random and emissaries of Chaos Herself and I love them for these reasons (see also: Morgan Tarot), besides their Gorey-ness. Done in his trademark B&W scratchy ink style, the images are deceptively simple and delightfully macabre. Often though, it is the simplest visuals that lead to the deepest revelations and the cards tell a story no matter how they are selected or laid out. The cards fit very nicely in the hand and their long, narrow shape is very pleasing. They are laminated to the point of being deadly weapons – handy for when readings get out of hand -, but do not stick to each other and the backs echo the image on the cover of the LWB (non-reversible).
LWB: As bizarrely funny as can be expected, the LWB begins with a brief bio on Madame Groeda Weyrd – our hostess – and then explains how to read the cards, with a warning that certain factors need to be taken into account when interpreting the “draw”. It’s all very droll and tres amusant. The card meanings are presented as a list of keywords in no particular order and are wholly open to interpretation. Should this prove too much, bodhran has devised her own set of slightly more optimistic meanings. First reading for this deck? The South Park Self-Discovery Spread :D
Read Part 2 HERE.