Mahjong Divination

Mah Jong - Box 2

While there is no historical verification that tarot descended from mahjong, their striking similarity in structure and the cosmological or philosophical correspondences associated with the playing pieces is still worth noting. Both seem to be subdivided into Trump cards and Minors, and within the Minors, further subdivisions into suits, with each suit numbered into pip cards or tiles. Both were intended for games, but both are also used for divination.

Recently I’ve been inspired to hunt down my own mahjong set, but there is a reason Chinese people get special tables for mahjong– the darn thing takes up a lot of space. There’s just a crap ton of tiles that make annoying clicking sounds when you shuffle, and the tiles remind me of Joy Luck Club or something, I don’t know. I knew I wouldn’t be using my set for games, and it’d be strictly for divination study. Intuitively, a whole set of mahjong tiles (the standard click-clack ones Chinese folk play with) didn’t feel right in my reading room, my personal sacred space. So. I opted for a more discrete alternative– mahjong in the form of cards. They have that now! It’s awesome. It’s a deck of 144 cards.

Mah Jong - Box 1

I’m using a cute little deck referred to simply as “Chinese Mahjong: Deck of 144 Cards for Oriental Play” published by Yellow Mountain Imports. You can get it off Amazon for all of five bucks. It’s great. The card quality is kind of meh. They didn’t produce this particular deck with esoteric or spiritual work in mind, that’s for sure. There’s a tacky high-gloss laminate and as you can see from the photos, it’s very, very basic in card imagery.

Mah Jong "Minors," Suit of Wheels
Mah Jong “Minors,” Suit of Wheels
Mah Jong "Minors," Suit of Bamboo
Mah Jong “Minors,” Suit of Bamboo
Mah Jong "Minors,"  Suit of Characters
Mah Jong “Minors,” Suit of Characters

Mahjong consists of 3 suits: Wheels, Bamboo, and Characters. The 3 suits are correspondent with Heaven, Earth, and Man, after the Chinese cosmological concept of the Trinity of Lucks.

Heaven Luck represents circumstances you’re born into, beyond your control, like the social class of your parents or innate talents and physical attributes, i.e. nature. Heaven Luck is believed to be pre-ordained.

Earth Luck is your geographical location, and how where you are affects what you do or who you become, i.e., nurture. Earth Luck is your environment and how your environment helps or hinders your success.

Man Luck is free will, what you do with yourself, the choices you make, your education, your actions, behavior, attitude, etc.

Additionally, Wheels often indicate life circumstances, events, conditions, or things that “happen” to you, things beyond your control that you’re just going to have to figure out how to deal with, the cards you’ll get dealt; Bamboo will talk about wealth, finances, money matters, security; Characters talk about career, education.

Super-traditionally here, marriage was seen as orchestrated by the fates, and so might get expressed in a reading through the Wheels, or if some important things were about to go down, with the Honors or Supreme Honors (more on that later). So it wasn’t like in tarot divination where you might have a whole suit (i.e., Cups) associated with love, relationships, and our emotional plane. The emotional plane wasn’t really seen as this whole separate matter that might require its own suit. So there wasn’t a suit for it. Interesting cultural differences here, me thinks.

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My Review of the Haindl Tarot

Haindl Tarot - 01 Box Package

I heard about the Haindl Tarot not too long ago through the grapevine of tarot readers I know. Yet this deck was first published back in 1990. Hermann Haindl (1927-2013) is a German artist known for his surreal art and incorporation of mythology.

Hermann Haindl in his home, 2009. © Hermann Haindl. Image Source: http://erhard-metz.de/2009/03/22/portraets-hermann-haindl/
Hermann Haindl in his home, 2009. © Hermann Haindl. Image Source: http://erhard-metz.de/2009/03/22/portraets-hermann-haindl/

Rachel Pollack has penned companion books for this deck that come highly, highly recommended by pretty much every tarot practitioner I know. I haven’t dived into them yet, but will. At this stage, I’m interested in connecting with the deck directly to see what I can glean, and then I’ll be consulting Pollack’s books on the Haindl.

Haindl Tarot - 02 Box and Deck

The Haindl Tarot is a truly remarkable deck for any tarot enthusiast to work with.

For the Majors, each card corresponds with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet per Qabalistic tradition, from The Fool as Aleph, Key 1: The Magician as Beth, Key 2: The High Priestess as Gimel, and so on. Each card also corresponds with an Anglo-Saxon rune. At this point in my personal tarot practice, I don’t work much with Hebrew alphabet or rune correspondences in tarot, but the astrological correspondences on the bottom right corners of the cards excite me.

Preview of Select Majors. Click on photo to enlarge.
Preview of Select Majors. Click on photo to enlarge.

The paintings are surreal with subdued, subtle coloring. I’ve filtered these photographs to add greater contrast for clarity purposes, but in hindsight I wish I hadn’t. Now you can’t see the light, ethereal quality of the original coloring. In person, the art is not quite as bold as they seem to appear in these photos. The art seems to mirror the stream of consciousness of our minds, which results in an incredibly powerful and evocative tarot deck to work with.

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The Tarot of Loka Deck Review (for Divination)

Tarot Loka 01 Box and Cards Fanned

The Tarot of Loka is designed for game playing, not divination, and that intent is made clear in the companion LWB (little white booklet). However, I hope no one will mind too much if I focus my deck review on using the Tarot of Loka for divinatory purposes, since that is my area of interest.

Inspiration for the deck comes from the fantasy world of Loka, which you can see in another game, Loka: The World of Fantasy Chess. Warriors in four armies, the armies that correspond with the four suits, Fire, Earth, Water, and Air, are at battle, though two suit armies are in alliance versus the other two suit armies. In some ways, the tarot game for Loka as instructed in the LWB reflects that premise.

Tarot Loka 07 LWB Game Rules

The original intent for the Tarot of Loka is a family-oriented card game, for four players. The LWB provides the rules for the game. I’ve found a number of reviews online for Tarot of Loka as a card game, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m afraid you have come to the wrong place and I apologize for the inconvenience. Some great reviews of the deck as a game can be found here and here, among others. My review, however, is going to look at the viability of the deck as a divination tool.

I won’t be using this deck for game playing for a silly superstition-sourced reason: I never use a deck, any card deck, for both game playing and divination. It’s one or the other. I can’t remember who “taught” me that, but that was one of the first and earliest “rules” I learned about cartomancy. Is it a silly “rule”? Yes, of course it is. However, call me a closed-minded fool, but I can’t pull myself out of that habit. So, because I do want to be able to use this deck for divinatory purposes, I won’t be playing games with it. So again, my review is focusing on the Tarot of Loka as a divinatory tool, which is not the deck’s intended purpose.

The Tarot of Loka is designed by Alessio Cavatore, an Italian game designer, and illustrated by Ralph Horsley, who does some really incredible medieval style art. The Tarot of Loka began as a Kickstarter campaign and was first published by River Horse Press, though later came to be distributed through Llewellyn.

Tarot Loka 10 Card Samples

The card dimensions are a typical Lo Scarabeo size, about 2.5″ x 4.6″, and as you can see in the above photo, symmetrical along the vertical side, which eliminates reading reversals or having to look at a card “upside down” when it comes up in a reading. They’re bordered dark brown, which looks great on these cards.

Tarot Loka 03 Card Backs

The card backs are not reversible, but it’s a very subtle difference, so not really significant. There are beautiful, ornate medieval-inspired designs with a center medallion that shows the symbols for the four suits of the Minor Arcana connected with the central symbol for the Major Arcana, or trumps. I love the card backs. These backs are exquisitely designed.

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Practice Tips for Tarot Professionals Who Offer Online Services

onlinetarotbiz

This article will focus on practice tips for tarot professionals who offer online reading services. That can mean you advertise or market your tarot reading services on a business website, offer tarot reading services delivered by e-mail or other electronic means, or will in any way be engaged in commercial transactions online with clients or prospective clients. If that sounds like what you’re doing, then you may or may not find something practical in this long, verbose blog post. (Yes, this is another one of those doozy posts by me…)

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Prisma Visions Tarot: A Deck Review

01 Prisma Visions Tarot - Box Set

Oh gawd I love this deck…!!

When I first saw the Prisma Visions tarot by James R. Eads, I knew I wanted it. Then after I learned more about it, the continuing narrative of the Minor Arcana cards forming four long, exquisite landscapes, and the bold symbolist-surrealist imagery in the Major Arcana, I knew I had to have it.

02 Prisma Visions Tarot - Majors I

I love the bordered Majors juxtaposed with the borderless Minors (shown later). Eads’ art here is a contemporary tribute to French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, calling to mind Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and even some Degas. You can view all the images on the Prisma Visions website, here, though I’ll provide some samples in this review.

03 Prisma Visions Tarot - Box and Cards

I love the flip top box and pretty much the design for every part of this deck and its packaging.

04 Prisma Visions Tarot - Card Back

You have a modernized all-seeing eye on the card backs, and while the card backs are not reversible, I still read with reversals when using this deck.

05 Prisma Visions Tarot - Silver Gilded Edges

The gilded silver edges are an exquisite detail. You’ve got a thick, heavy, and durable cardstock here, so the cards are thicker than traditionally published tarot decks. I do love the thicker cardstock. There is a semi-gloss finish to the cards. It’s not the full on glossy of, say, typical Hay House oracle decks, and it isn’t the papery matte finish that I tend to prefer.

06 Prisma Visions Tarot - Majors II

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The Llewellyn Tarot: A Classic, Versatile RWS Deck

LlewellynTarot_0BoxSet

I’m always looking for RWS-based tarot decks that I can recommend for beginners who aren’t visually ready for the original RWS, and I’ve found one: the Llewellyn Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson and published by Llewellyn Worldwide. This deck has climbed up to my top five recommended beginner tarot decks or, heck, anyone interested in the Wales and Welsh culture of the Middle Ages.

LlewellynTarot_2DeckandBook

The deck comes with a really comprehensive 5″ x 8″ guidebook that does a good job introducing tarot to the beginner but also has so much traditional Welsh folklore and mythology that I found it to be an incredible read, and should be equally enlightening to any seasoned tarotist. The cards themselves are 3.125″ x 4.5″, with thick borders all around. I’ve seen many tarot readers trim their copy of this deck and I’ve got to say, it looks a lot better trimmed.

LlewellynTarot_3CardsCloseup

The soft watercolor paintings by Ferguson (of the Arthurian Tarot fame) transport the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery to medieval Wales, bringing to life Celtic legends, deities, and mythic figures. Although it is a distinctly different style from Kris Waldherr‘s art, something about Ferguson’s work here reminded me of the Goddess Tarot.

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A Review of the Resonance Oracle Cards

Resonance Oracle - 01 Box Cover

The Resonance Oracle by Dara Caplan is a deck of 40 cards, 40 exquisite works of art with accompanying messages that were said to have been channeled through the deck’s creator, Ms. Caplan. The deck is “created with the magic and energy of intent,” or as the book also describes it, the power of attraction.

Resonance Oracle - 02 Box Open

Lately I’ve been curious about channeling, so I am intrigued by the premise of this deck. The cards come in a high-gloss, sturdy box with a magnetic top flap. I’m surprised at how few Schiffer decks I have, so it’s nice to get to work with this one. The deck set is made in China, though overall I have few complaints about the quality.

Resonance Oracle - 06 Card Backs

The card backs are not reversible with a naturalist feel to the art, and based on the Guidebook, it doesn’t appear to be a deck intended for reading with reversals, though one card in the deck got me scratching my head about the reversals. We’ll get to that later on.

Resonance Oracle - 09 Scatter of Cards

One really neat attribute to this deck you’ll notice right away is that all the cards are horizontal, in landscape, and not the typical vertical setting we’re used to. I really like that. I also like the modern sensitivity, for example in the “Communication” card, seeing the Blackberry.

I can’t tell if it’s the printing quality or if it’s the artwork itself, but this is a very dark deck, as in very dark, saturated colors in the paintings and dark borders on the cards. The art is done on black backgrounds, and so given the style of art, as a publisher I might have opted for a matte finish, instead of the super-high-glossy finish that this deck comes in. These cards are so shiny, I had trouble taking photos. There was a glare in every pictures and you could see the reflection of my camera on the cards.

* Note: I looked up Caplan’s artwork online and it really is the print quality. Her art has a much more balanced quality between light and dark when you see the works on a computer screen, but in these cards, all the colors muddle together a bit and look dark. However, the dark muddle look ultimately works for the deck’s purposes, so I like it. It really sets the right mood.

Let’s try something a bit different from my usual deck reviews. Here’s a one minute video offering you a substantial sampling of the card images. Set to public domain Edvard Grieg’s Sonata in A Minor for Cello, Opus 36, the second movement. Something about the vibe of this deck just said Grieg to me. So here we go (promise it’s short–just 1 minute!):

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