Tarot Court Cards Reimagined in the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot (Revelation Ed.)

Here’s a dedicated video in the 10-part orientation series just on the Empyrean Court. That video shares my intentions behind the renderings of the court cards in the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and how I approach them, or at least quick, snapshot points on each card so that the video doesn’t get interminably long. =P

Or…

I am hopeful that you can simply transplant the way you currently read tarot court cards into the Revelation Edition, but for a few minor mental adjustments. Like just remember:

  • magic squares = Kings
  • shields = Queens
  • septagon elementals + horses = Knights
  • scrolls = Pages

Kings: The Archangels (Thoth: Knights)

With the Four Archangels standing in the place of tarot Kings, I hope what I’ve done here avails these cards to be interpreted in either a literal-religious-spiritual-mystical way or more psychoanalytic-personality-profile-rational-based.

If more literal-religious-spiritual-mystical, these are four calling cards that invoke four directional and elemental based archangels– the highest ranking of beneficent, celestial guardian spirits. These guardian spirits have descended down from Empyrea to appear to us here on earth, in human form so that we can identify with them, and they can identify with us.

The Archangel of Glory (King of Wands) represents the folk religious practices of pre-modern Japan shogunate, embodying a blend of military might and spirituality, which you’ll also see in the Archangel Commander (King of Swords) with the depiction of a Templar. The two Archangels from the active elements depict warrior cultures that are deeply rooted in religiosity and chivalry while the Archangels from the passive elements depict a healer and a diviner/manifester, respectively.

If you read tarot King cards as always indicating men, then the Archangel of Healing (Chalices) and Archangel of Mysteries (Orbs) signify the anima within a man—the feminine psychological qualities that men possess.

In other words, read the SKT Kings and Queens as anthropomorphized archetypes from your unconscious mind.

Queens: The Shields

I hope I’ve done enough here for The Shields to take on your preexisting approach to interpreting tarot Queens. You just have to remember that the Queen cards feature shields that glow front and center. And then it’s more about someone’s essential nature as being

Like the Kings, the Queens here are anthropomorphized archetypes from your unconscious mind.

Thus, for those who read the tarot courts in the more standardized approach, The Golden Shield (Queen of Scepters/Wands) and The Scarlet Shield (Queen of Swords) still indicate women when you read with the SKT, but indicates the animus within a woman—the masculine psychological qualities that women possess.

So, for instance, if the Archangel of Glory (King of Scepters) shows up, I think “mastery and prowess in a subject area I associate with the element Fire.” And if The Golden Shield (Queen of Scepters) shows up, I think “developmental phase in a subject area I associate with the element Fire.” Plus the bonus of, “I’m probably still a little vulnerable right now, and so Spirit has descended down to safeguard– and shield– me while I figure things out.”

I will just say, though, that I also religiously interpret court cards as divine beings present in a reading. But of course if that’s not in your wheelhouse, no worries. =) It doesn’t have to be that way at all. =)

Knights: The Shining Ones (Thoth: Princes)

The easiest way to read the Shining Ones, or Knight cards, is to focus on the elemental symbol in the septagons front and center above, and read these cards as hyper-activated energies of their respective four elements, and assign your attributions to each of those elements, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.

Those elemental energies are so hyper-activated to the point where it almost seems like they take on their own independent sentience. Enter the four mythical creatures– the salamander for Fire, the undine for Water, the sylph for Air, and the gnome for Earth.

I hope the iconic cultural and historic settings can also lend a helping hand in interpretation. So, for instance, the background for the Knight of Cups card (The Shining Waters) is identifiably Renaissance Italy, and maybe you’re able to get even more specific– it’s Florence. We all associate Renaissance Italy with thriving arts and culture, and creative thought, right? So I hope that’s an easy way to immediately interpret the meaning of The Shining Waters in a reading.

The figure in the Knight of Wands (The Shining Flame) appears young, comparatively younger in appearance than the other three knights. (Neither here nor there, but I’d also like to point out that this figure is dressing the part of a young man, and even more specifically, a soldier in training.)

And the figure in the Knight of Swords still totally has the traditional RWS “warpath” vibe to it.

I’ve assigned the Knight of Orbs card a very special power– this is the “retrieves what was lost” talismanic card, thanks to the gnome. When the Knight of Orbs comes up, I think, “something that was lost, will soon be found” or “I need to find something that is currently lost,” and which it is depends on the context of the reading, other cards, etc.– you know the drill.

Pages: The Heralds (Thoth: Princesses)

Since the Revelation is still an edition of the SKT, I didn’t want to go too crazy with the changes. And yet I went pretty crazy with the changes here in the tarot Pages, didn’t I.

You can tell I did the Herald of the Flame first, of the four Heralds. So I kept the same face as the Stronghold of the Flame from the previous editions. And then I got to the Chalice card and was like, nah. We’re going off script from here on out. =D

First of all, I totally changed the primary titles from Strongholds to Heralds. They were Heralds in the secondary titles in the previous editions, as you’ll see. But I changed it to the primary title for the Revelation.

Let me explain why I went with Strongholds for the previous editions: it’s the angelic hierarchical title that I thought would align well with the tarot Page. And Stronghold sounds “earthy.” Pages are associated with the element Earth within their respective elements, e.g., Page of Wands is Earth in Fire.

But for the Revelation Edition, I decided to fine-tune their roles in the tarot universe. They’re more classically Page-y now.

There are other slightly more literal-to-the-imagery interpretations that come with the Heralds. The Herald of the Waters indicates an animal communicator while the Herald of the Winds features a Roma sojourner on the Silk Road with a deck of divination cards in hand. Because the four Heralds are the most trusted emissaries (messengers) from the highest rank of Divinities, of course they’re embodiments of magical powers/abilities.

No jokes, though– if at any point while reading this blog post one of your eyebrows went up, it’s fine. You totally do not have to read the SKT court cards this way!

There were some key features I knew my Empyrean Court had to have, which diverged from what traditional tarot readers would be used to, and I kept with my way. But here in the Revelation Edition, I did think about yielding in insubstantial ways that would allow the court cards in this deck to be more universally reader-friendly. And I hope I achieved that.

So yeah. Please by all means import the way you read tarot courts into the SKT Revelation.

The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus

The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus brings together tarot divination and the 16th century prophetic writings of Michel de Nostradamus (1503 – 1566). The better known work by Nostradamus is Centuries, which began appearing around 1555 and has remained steadfastly popular, inspiring thousands of published commentaries and hundreds of translations.

In 1558, Nostradamus published a third edition of Centuries and posthumously, a last volume of the work was published as The Prophecies in 1568. Purportedly, 58 additional quatrains exist, but couldn’t be found after his death.

From The Lost Book of Nostradamus. Photo Credit: Gianni Giansanti. Rome, Italy.

In 1994, a volume  was discovered in the Central National Library of Rome and found an illustrated codex titled The Prophecies of Nostradamus, consisting of 80 watercolor images. A postscript in the back of the book noted that the images were designed by Nostradamus, but painted by his son, Cesar de Nostredame, who later sent the book to Rome as a gift. Below is a closer view of above page.

From Vaticinia Nostradami

The above illustration from the original Lost Book of Nostradamus became Key V: The Hierophant card in the Matthews-Kinghan Lost Tarot of Nostradamus. The historical name for this card is The Pope, and thus he balances out Key II: The Popess. Antoine Court de Gebelin changed the name to The High Priest, or The Hierophant in the 18th century.

A letter written by the son dated that same year seems to corroborate the postscript, where Cesar described how he had completed a collection of miniature paintings along with a booklet, destined to be gifted to King Louis XIII.

Key XX: Judgement

The guidebook connects each Key to a couplet from one of Nostradamus’s quatrains. The Empress reads: “From under the holy earth, the soul’s voice faintly sounds. The human flame shines as if it were divine.” That prophecy has been interpreted to have predicted the French Revolution, when secular principles were valued over the sacred.

For The Emperor: “He will raise up the humble and harry the rebels. No one on earth will be his equal.” Is that Napoleon? Or perhaps Abraham Lincoln? Both have been associated with that particular prophecy.

That illustrated codex is now known as The Lost Book of Nostradamus [VE 307 Vaticinia Michaelis Nostradami, or Vaticinia Nostradami], and what John and Caitlin Matthews found most notable was how remarkably similar the illustrations were to the tarot Major Arcana keys, like the Wheel of Fortune, the Burning Tower, and so on.

Eight of Spheres (Eight of Pentacles)

Let’s read the prophetic couplet linked to Fortune’s Wheel: “When two unicorns are seen, One will be raised up, the other will bow low.” What do you believe that predicts? One theory: the two unicorns represent the U.S. and Great Britain. Hmm… I have a different guess, and I believe this one hasn’t happened yet, but will. Soon. =X

VI of Suns (Six of Wands)

This is one of the brilliant features of this deck. When the team revisited the quatrains from the earlier work The Prophecies, they realized many of the prophecies mirrored the imagery of the tarot. They put two and two together, Matthews got to work doing the translations, and now you have a cartomancy + bibliomancy divination set.

The Burning Tower: “In the Garden of the World near the New City On the road of the hollow mountains…” And what’s your guess? Folks say that’s a reference to 9/11.

Additionally, the illustrations included mysterious imagery of popes wielding different symbols and a bestiary of creatures, from doves, eagles, snakes, lions, and sheep to the mythical, unicorns and dragons.

In the IV of Stars (the second card from the left, above), we see a pope about to be pierced by a unicorn. The unicorn is a symbol for the Grail. The prophetic couplet for this card, corresponding with the tarot Four of Swords: “Evil to he who opens the newly found tomb, And does not immediately close it.”

There are images of a popes being attacked by a unicorn, or a gryphon wielding a priest’s staff. And finally, the illustrations were rich with astronomical and astrological imagery. Take a look at the bottom right corner in the above photo– the VIII of Moons.

From The Lost Book of Nostradamus. Photo Credit: Gianni Giansanti. Rome, Italy.

And there’s where the Eight of Moons imagery came from. The two floating heads you see in the page spread above are featured in the Two of Suns.

However, Matthews and Kinghan had to recreate most of the Minor Arcana, and while the 80 illuminated watercolor paintings are rich with tarot symbolism, as a functioning tarot deck, the manuscript remained incomplete.

“It’s clear that if Nostradamus intended to create a tarot of his own,” writes Matthews, “these were his ideas and his reinterpretations of already recognized tarot forms, which he didn’t extend to every card.”

Whenever The World card (Key XXI: The Completed World) comes up in readings with this deck, I keep thinking “Ace of Cups.” Nonetheless, it works in the context of this deck’s premise. Pictured here is a chalice standing upon the earth, representative of the Grail, signifying the ending of a long quest for perfection.

The couplet associated with The Completed World: “When the sun reaches its zenith– Then will my deep prophecies be accomplished.” That couplet kind of reminds me of The Sun card, and feels like it matches the painting featured on The Sun card in this deck. Let’s take a look at the actual prophetic couplet for Key 19: “Mercury will be put out to graze by Vulcan: The sun will be clear, sparking and fair.”

Something about these cards, though, with these particular illustrations, lend themselves quite well to those training in their art and craft of seership. Let’s take to heart some words of advice Nostradamus gave to his son, the painter of these illustrations:

“You can easily, despite your young brain, understand that events can be foretold naturally by the heavenly bodies and by the spirit of prophecy. I do not wish to ascribe to myself the title and role of prophet, but emphasize inspiration revealed to a mortal man whose perception is no further from heaven than the feet are from earth.”

The Papess (Popess) from Vaticinia Nostradami

Here are a few more snapshots of the actual illustrations from the Lost Book of Nostradamus. Do I believe these were painted with the intention of being tarot cards? Hmm. I dunno. I’m more inclined to see these as illustrations that were generically popular allegories of the time, which is why it’s in the tarot of that time.

From Vaticinia Nostradami

Compare Kinghan’s reconstructed Magician card with the above actual illustration. I like the concept here– The Magician possesses the power to change his own form; hence, he appears here as a long-necked creature with a man’s head.

I much enjoyed retracing the artist’s design inspiration and finding the paintings in the pages of The Lost Book of Nostradamus to then connect to which cards in The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus they became. See the imagery above for The Devil card? It’s the second one from the left.

From Vaticinia Nostradami

Here’s that same image from the manuscript pages of The Lost Book (Vaticinia Nostradami). Did they have hallucinogenic drugs back in the 16th century? Probably, right? Because explain to me the pontiff in full papal regalia with the torso of a… two-footed… what is that… wild boar?– wielding a sword pointed at the throat of a wild boar.

The Master of Moons (King of Cups)

Anyway, now we move on to the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana here are intended to reflect Nostradamus’s visionary gifts through references to astronomy, astrology, and alchemy. The details here are taken from The Lost Book, augmented by principles credited to the Renaissance philosopher Johannes Kepler. You’ll see throughout the cards, especially in the suit of Spheres, imagery evocative of the Platonic Solids.

The above layout of cards from the Suit of Suns corresponds with the Suit of Wands. Also, another unique feature of this deck: The people depicted in the court cards are historical figures who were Nostradamus’s contemporaries. And each suit’s set of court cards bear different labels, reflective of different classes of occupations. In the Suns, the court cards are monarchs, so these titles remain fairly recognizable from a tarot court perspective– Page, Knight, Lady, and Prince.

Using blue as the color of designation for the eight-pointed Suns tripped me up a bit, since upon first glance, I kept thinking Stars when I saw those blue eight-pointed, well, starry looking symbols. Especially since there is a suit of Stars in this deck.

The four suit names– Suns, Moons, Stars, and Spheres– are a nod to astrology and astronomy, as Nostradamus himself was a court astrologer. The background images layered behind the foreground paintings are well-known woodcut engravings and other public domain imagery. I think I recognize the one in the Suit of Stars– is that from the Cosmographia (1524) by Peter Apian?

An additional layer of symbolism is the five alchemical metals for color-coding the suits. Gold stands for the Major Arcana, Mercury for the Stars, Copper for the Suns, Silver for the Moons, and Lead for the Spheres. Each of these are represented by the color of the arches that frame the images.

The Suit of Stars corresponds with the suit of Swords. The Eight of Stars (Eight of Swords) illustration from The Lost Book shows a fortress defended by a throng of guards with their weapons pointed skyward. It’s intended to be reminiscent of  an 18th century prison, inspired by the etchings of Giovanni Piranesi (1720 – 1778).

The Seven of Stars represents hope– a hand holding a flower beneath the welcoming shade of a papal crown. The couplet: “Seven conspirators at the feast will shine– Against the three of iron from the ship.”

The court cards in the suit of Stars are religious figures– Postulant, Cardinal, Abbess, and Pope. There were a few times while reading with this deck I pulled the Pope card, which is the King of Stars, and my brain just on default went to Key 5: The Hierophant. Argh.

So if you’re already pre-set into an experienced system of reading the tarot, there may be some re-programming that you need to do on yourself before the Lost Tarot is fluently operable.

The suit of Moons corresponds with the suit of Cups. The court cards here are occultists and philosophers who were contemporaries during Nostradamus’s time. Here, their court titles are the Neophyte, Initiate, Prophetess, and Master. The alchemical metal associated with this suit is Silver, for emotional energy. This suit corresponds with the alchemical phase albedo, the point at which the base substance is purified.

From The Lost Book of Nostradamus. Photo Credit: Gianni Giansanti. Rome, Italy.

Compare the above original painting in the book to the Five of Moons in the deck. Scroll back up to the preceding photograph of cards from the suit of Moons– it’s the third one from the right in the bottom row.

And for the suit of Spheres (suit of Pentacles), the court cards are alchemists and scientists, with the corresponding titles of Apprentice, Astrologer, Astronomer, and Alchemist. Here is where you see the Platonic Solids unfolding across three-dimensional space, where sacred geometry is the cornerstone of both mathematics and art.

In terms of the production, the publishers went with that divided deck plastic tray situation for the packaging design, which I don’t love. The cards are matte with a papery finish that leaves you with a wonderful tactile experience.

I was gifted this deck back in 2013, or around that time, but only now have gotten around to reviewing the cards again and writing up this walk-through. I confess that I never quite learned this system to a level of fluency where I no longer relied on the guidebook, and I’m kind of okay with that. I love that I can use this set as a tarot plus bibliomancy two-step divination experience.

Suit of Suns (Suit of Wands)

If you can remember which renamed suits in this deck correspond to what in the more familiar tarot, then you’ll probably be fine. My personal obstacle was that I just kept tripping up. Suns– Wands, sure. Easy. Except that the focal points on all the Sun cards are blue stars, so I kept thinking Stars, and for Stars I kept thinking Air – Swords.

And then, like certain cards from the Minors have iconography that remind me of the Majors (confusing a Minor Arcana card for Key 17: The Star, or Key 19: The Sun, or Key 5: The Hierophant, several cards could easily be The Tower card, and several could easily be The Magician, The High Priestess, etc.)

So instead, what I found to be a far more meaningful experience with this deck is to light a candle, burn frankincense and myrrh, envision myself invoking the spirit of Nostradamus like an ascended master, and draw just a single card to answer a single question. I may even draw two cards to answer one question– whatever I’m in the mood for at that moment.

I’ll connect with the imagery and lean in to my first impressions from what I’m seeing. I’ll hear the messages in my mind, clairaudiently. And then I’ll reach for the guidebook to look up the cards.

Now here’s the best part– the couplet associated with a single card or the quatrain (sum of two couplets) for the two-card reading from The Prophecies will be part of the divination. And that my friends, is what makes this deck ah-mazing. Therein lies the true value of this deck.

Workshop at the California Institute of Integral Studies – Nov. 6, 2021

Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot

General Admission: $100
Generosity Rate: $125
Reduced Rate: $75

Sign up for an all-day online tarot workshop with me, via Zoom, and hosted by the California Institute of Integral Studies:

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

November 6, 2021
10 am – 5 pm
1 hr. break for lunch

Alchemical Tarot by Robert M. Place

I’m so excited to be conducting an all-day workshop at the Cal. Institute of Integral Studies. More than that, the admission rates go to support an incredible educational program. The Cal. Institute of Integral Studies does so much for the community, and gives sanctuary to brilliant, peculiar minds who otherwise have felt like they don’t belong anywhere else.

You can be a total tarot beginner or a seasoned practitioner. That’s because at the heart of it, this workshop is about where tarot card meanings come from, and the source of archetypes, instinct, and intuition. And yet tarot is very much an empirical, learned knowledge that asks for your focused study.

Terra Volatile Tarot by Credo quia Absurdum

This course is about both mysticism and philosophy. A semiotic study of the tarot means embodying both the mystic and the philosopher, and that’s what we’ll do through a series of collaborative reading exercises.

After an overview of history and the development of different tarot designs, along with a brief introduction to reading mechanics, we’ll explore techniques for cultivating transformative personal spirituality, from divinatory readings for yourself to birth cards and pathworking.

You’ll team up with classmates to workshop your personal readings. You’ll also be reading for each other, to hone professional cartomancy skills. I’ll share my insights and insider tips, acquired from two decades of experiences in reading tarot for others. Explore your role as a channel for guiding others toward attaining wisdom and an improved quality of life.

Zoomed in view of The Empress card in the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot (Revelation Ed. 2021)

Here’s a tentative rundown of the day’s schedule:

MORNING SESSION
10:00 am A Beginner’s Introduction to the Tarot
10:30 am History and Origins of the Cards
11:00 am Differing Tarot Designs and Systems
11:20 am Break – 10 minutes of guided relaxation (Video Clip)
11:30 am Sources and Evolution of Card Meanings
12:00 pm Philosophy, Psychology, and Mysticism
1:00 pm Lunch Break (1 hour)
1:30 pm Casual Tarot Chit-Chat (optional, if you prefer a 30 min. lunch)
AFTERNOON SESSION
2:00 pm The Mechanics of a Tarot Reading
2:30 pm Breakout Sessions
3:30 pm Break – 10 minutes of guided relaxation (Video Clip)
3:40 pm Reflections and Discussion
4:10 pm Your Tarot Archetypes and What They Reveal
4:45 pm Q & A Session
5:00 pm END

Saturday, Nov. 6

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Card from the Light Seer’s Tarot by Chris Anne

End of Empires Tarot (Majors) by Sarah Julig

It was through quite a bit of serendipity and social connections that I got my hands on the End of Empires Tarot, the Major Arcana series, by artist Sarah Julig. There are only 12 totally handmade copies of the first edition, each card hand-cut, glued together onto the card backs, and even the bag it came in was hand-made.

She auctioned off the 12 handmade tarot Majors decks and all proceeds went to BLM bail funds and the ACLU. That’s so cool!

The berry hues (red ink, blue watercolor, and vintage white tempera), ink blot reminiscent style, and eerie dream like quality altogether win me over. The art transports me to an alternate dimension, à la The Upside Down. Above is The Fool, Magician, Priestess, Empress, Emperor, and the Hierophant card in the bottom right corner features a human’s internal organs. An anatomical diagram for the Hierophant… now that intrigues!

Continue reading “End of Empires Tarot (Majors) by Sarah Julig”

Tarot Cards: High Art or Low Art

Top, Left to Right: Oswald Wirth Tarot, Soprafino, RWS. Bottom: Convers TdM, Thoth, Spirit Keeper’s Tarot

Lately I’ve been pondering whether tarot card art is high art (i.e., fine art) or low art (because it’s considered illustration).

It’s hard to argue that tarot card illustrations are anything other than low art.

It was made intended to be functional, it’s commercialized, it’s a craft rather than a form of fine art, and it’s formulaic. So of course it’s low art.

And if it’s digitally done, then of course it’s low art. (Words in italics emphasized in an affected manner wrought with contempt. Of course.)

From The Cards (2021) by Patrick Maille

Plus, today tarot is by and large mass-produced, and as a mass-produced commodity, created with the intention of it appealing to as wide a market audience as possible. Many of the modern decks at the moment can even feel like kitsch art. Except… is kitsch art a form of high art? Even that is a question to ponder.

Image source: Il Meneghello, studio of hand-painted Italian tarots

Yet I’m equally unconvinced that the works of Il Meneghello isn’t a form of high art, even while it conforms to definitions of “low art,” such as it being a craft, functional, and formulaic in the sense that it’s reproducing a structured tarot deck.

The Rosetta Tarot

The Mary El Tarot. The Thoth Journey Tarot. The linework on the Tarot of the Abyss. The Dracxiodos Tarot, to me, is modern art that is fine art. Navigators of the Mystic Sea. Both the Rosetta Tarot and the Tabula Mundi. Or how about the Palekh miniature paintings commissioned specifically for the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg deck?

Continue reading “Tarot Cards: High Art or Low Art”

Tarocchi dei Celti (Tarot of the Celts) – Majors Only Deck

Tarocchi dei Celti, or Tarot of the Celts, is a Majors only deck published in Italian. The artwork is done by Italian illustrator Antonio Lupatelli (1930 – 2018), “evoking the ancient people of the Celts, with illustrations that are full of humor and sweetness” (thank you, Google Translate).

Laughs nervously. Okay, I’m wholly unqualified to be reviewing this deck. I have no idea what any of the key titles say, and when I tried typing the words into Google Translate, for instance with “Fintan mac Bochra,” the application tells me this phrase doesn’t exist in Italian, and in Arabic, allegedly it means “Venta is not good.” Not only is there the language barrier, there’s also the cultural barrier– I’m not all that familiar with Celtic mythology.

Ah, wait a minute– now if I type in a whole paragraph, the translation result is better. For Key 0 (il Matto), it’s Fintan mac Bóchra, and that’s a name. He was a Druid known as “The Wise.” I like that play of Fintan the Wise on the tarot Fool card. The salmon pictured on the card is a reference to Fintan being able to shape-shift into a salmon, and a reference to the Salmon of Knowledge in Irish lore.

As for the artwork, there’s certainly a whimsy to these illustrations. Of what I can read, note Morrigan for Key III (The Empress card). You may need to click on the above image file for a zoomed-in close-up view. Oh, and I’m guessing Key II (The High Priestess) is Brig or Brigid.

Due to a severe lacking in my knowledge of Celtic mythology, I’m not going to comment on any of the associations, so whether The Morrigan as the tarot Empress card makes any sense… I have neither the information nor knowledge to offer intelligent commentary. =)

Continue reading “Tarocchi dei Celti (Tarot of the Celts) – Majors Only Deck”

The Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamela Chen

The Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamela Chen and illustrated by Lisa Higuchi lets the unicorns and rainbows loving child in you become the Oracle. With the standard symbology of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck in place, this deck is interchangeable with the original Rider pack.

This deck was blowing up everyone’s feed a while back, and I can totally see why. They are absolutely adorable. Like the extra card, “Donut Worry.” That the Donut Worry card is a cheeky bonus the way the Happy Squirrel card is and this one features a little squirrel by the unicorn… Omg. ::dies::

Candy colors remind me of the pre-Kindergarten girl I used to be, getting up early on weekday mornings to watch cartoons. (My personal favorites, if anyone’s asking, were My Little Pony, Glo-Worms, Strawberry Shortcake, and Care Bears.) By the way, a world-renowned psychologist and professor did research on beneficial effects of kawaii on us, which I’ll get into toward the end of this review, reinforcing why a deck like Crystal Unicorn holds such power.

The cards feature two unicorns, one with pink hair and one with purple hair, and they’re the two protagonists that appear throughout the scenes. The Fool’s Journey becomes a story of love, or maybe friendship, or both.

Crystal Unicorn Tarot reminds me of my girlhood because in my grade school years, I loved sketching unicorns. One time my father sat down and observed me doodling unicorns (horse figures), but didn’t voice any comment. A short while later, there was a hardcover drawing reference book on horses waiting for me on my bedroom desk. Unfortunately I was eight years old and the drawing reference book was most likely intended for university-level art major students, so it went straight over my head and I absorbed nada.

Continue reading “The Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamela Chen”

The Distant Past Tarot by Jeri Totten Flip-Through

Here’s a quick flip-through, rather than an in-depth deck review, of The Distant Past Tarot by Jeri Totten, who now goes by Jae Larson. The deck comes in standard tarot size, large size, and what you see here– a petite poker size. The Distant Past Tarot is an RWS-based digital collage tarot deck in a classical art style.

This deck seems to have flown a bit under the radar, while still being available for purchase direct from the artist, so that’s why I thought I’d share this flip-through. It’s actually a surprisingly delightful and enchanting little deck– I say “surprisingly” because I don’t hear a lot of fanfare about it.

Continue reading “The Distant Past Tarot by Jeri Totten Flip-Through”

The Sun and Moon Tarot

Sun Moon Tarot - 1 Box Cover

I had known about this deck for years, but didn’t own it. Then once at a public reading event, someone I read for told me about his first tarot deck. “It was the Sun and Moon Tarot,” he said, and was trying to describe the deck to me. I knew exactly which deck he was talking about.

“It’s got two lovers on a lotus blossom on the box cover, right? With a full moon? Bluish box?” I said. At the time, and this was years ago, the Sun and Moon Tarot was really popular, and everyone was talking about it. So of course I had heard of it, but just never gotten around to pulling the trigger to buy.

He lit up. “Yeah! That’s the one!”

Then synchronistically enough, a month later I was gifted this deck.

And I really do adore it to pieces.

Sun Moon Tarot - 10 Reading

The Sun and Moon Tarot by Vanessa Decort was published back in 2010 by U.S. Games. It is a Thoth-inspired deck with notable Rider-Waite-Smith influences. In Decort’s bio, she notes that the Thoth was her first tarot deck.  The edition featured here in this blog post have white borders, but I’ve also seen a version with black borders, if that interests you.

Continue reading “The Sun and Moon Tarot”

A Study of Golden Dawn Decks and the Western Tradition of Occult Tarot

B.O.T.A. Tarot 1931 Paul Foster Case & Jessie Burns Park
The Golden Dawn Tarot 1978 Robert Wang (w/ Israel Regardie)
The Hermetic Tarot 1980 Godfrey Dowson
Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot 1991 Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Tarot of Ceremonial Magick 1997 Lon Milo DuQuette & Constance DuQuette

This past week I posted deck reviews, which turned out to be more like discussions, on the above five occult decks and their companion guidebooks, with references back to Regardie’s texts, Waite’s Pictorial Key, and Crowley’s Book of Thoth. It was time-consuming and quite the Effort, but I thought, one-and-done, meaning let me just knock each of these out of the way and then have it memorialized on my blog for future referencing.

If you’re a tarot enthusiast, then I hope there were inclusions of insights from those discussions that you’ll want to add to your personal tarot journal. For me, even while I’ve worked with the tarot for two decades plus, the process of consolidating study of these Golden Dawn based decks in quick succession synthesized so much.

Even most of the light, fun, fast-and-easy pretty decks published as of late are at their essence rooted in the Golden Dawn system, whether or not it was consciously done.

No matter how you feel about the Golden Dawn system of correspondences or the melding of a Christianized perspective of Kabbalah (or calling it Hermetic Qabalah to make the distinction), it’s impossible for the tarot enthusiast to deny the objective influence of the Golden Dawn on the popularized versions of tarot today.

And so I thought, hey, somebody out there is going to maybe probably benefit from this focused study of select GD-based decks. I hope even scrolling and skimming the five deck discussions will impart a rudimentary foundational understanding of this Western occult heritage.

Continue reading “A Study of Golden Dawn Decks and the Western Tradition of Occult Tarot”