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.

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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.

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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.

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The B.O.T.A. Tarot and Paul Foster Case

Let’s conclude Golden Dawn Tarot week with an offshoot-GD deck, the B.O.T.A. Tarot by Paul Foster Case, illustrated by Jessie Burns Parke. In this blog post, the fully colored Majors are from the 2009 Ishtar Publishing reprint of Paul Foster Case’s Learning Tarot Essentials: Tarot Cards for Beginners (1932), via the Internet Archive.

You can buy the black and white deck for coloring direct from the Builders of the Adytum here for just $8.50. It’s an incredible deal! I’ll share more photos of the physical deck later in this review, but it’s matte, unrounded corners though, and lovely quality.

The digital images of the Major Arcana for download can be purchased for $5.00, linked here and digital the Minor Arcana digital files for $5.00, linked here. B.O.T.A. also has a couple of other deck purchasing options at their online store, so be sure to check it out, and nothing over $20– great prices. (fyi this is not an advertisement or promo; no one paid me to say any of this.)

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Tarot Deck Care and the Impact of Humidity

Maybe this topic is talked about more often than I realize and I simply haven’t been made aware, I dunno. In any event, I wanted to condense (ha..ha..I’ve got jokes….) some insights on the impact of humidity on your tarot cards.

Ever notice how a wooden door seems to expand ever so slightly in the hot summer months? Musicians are all too aware of how temperamental wooden instruments can get depending on the weather and the humidity. Paper products like your tarot cards are made of cellulose fiber (derived from plant-based materials, like bark, wood, and leaves). They’re porous, causing them to be highly sensitive to humidity levels.

Cardstock absorbs moisture in the air.

Cardstock is hygroscopic, which means the cards, by their chemical (alchemical?) nature, will try to maintain an equilibrium with its environment, which means it’ll absorb water molecules in the air and also release its water molecules out into the air, to try and maintain that equilibrium. The temperature, humidity, and the climate of the region you live in have more of an impact on the durability of your tarot deck than you may realize.

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The Muse Tarot by Chris-Anne Donnelly

The Muse Tarot by Chris-Anne Donnelly is a contemporary tarot deck reimagined into the four suits of Inspiration (Wands), Emotions (Cups), Voices (Swords), and Materials (Pentacles or Coins) rendered in vibrant digital art collage.

It is the fraternal twin of the Light Seer’s Tarot and I’m here for it.

Dynamic and full of energy, The Muse Tarot comes to us when such a vivid deck is most needed, helping us to navigate the challenging times our world currently finds itself in. Uplifting and bright, this is the deck that will help you to overcome creative blocks and jump-start your inner drive.

Let’s start with a simple reading. Choose a card: left, center, or right. Remember your selection. We’ll be revisiting these three cards at the end of this review and through the card you’ve drawn, get a little message from Spirit at your place and time, and also see how you connect with the Muse Tarot.

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The Cards: The Evolution and Power of Tarot by Patrick Maille

The Cards: The Evolution and Power of Tarot by Prof. Patrick Maille was published earlier this year by the University Press of Mississippi. If your tarot bookshelf is populated by books such as Decker and Dummett’s A History of the Occult Tarot, or Robert M. Place’s The Tarot, Magic, Alchemy, Hermeticism, and Neoplatonism and Jung and Tarot by Sallie Nichols, then The Cards was written for you.

The book is subdivided into two main parts: Part I is a timeline of tarot origins and history, along with an overview of historically or culturally significant individuals that influenced the world of tarot, and Part II is about the tarot’s influence in arts and culture.

While the actual practice of reading tarot cards might not be as ubiquitous as other aspects of mainstream popular culture, Maille presents the argument that tarot cards have served as a powerful vehicle driving the progress of nearly all significant aspects of culture– art, music, television, and movies.

Specifically, Maille narrows his book’s focus down to four key areas where tarot has been influential: art, television, movies, and comics.

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The Rosetta Tarot by M. M. Meleen

I’d call this a review of the Rosetta Tarot, Papyrus Gold Edition, but let’s be honest here– it’s just going to be me fangirling for a dozen consecutive paragraphs.

You know how there is the writer’s writer, i.e., an author who is just highly lauded among the author community, or the artists that the art community itself is head over heels for? Whether the writer’s writer or artist’s artist attains mainstream commercial appeal might be a different story altogether, but among their professional and industry peers, these people hold clout.

M. M. Meleen is like that. I don’t think a deck collection will ever be complete without an M. M. Meleen deck. She’s the real deal. And she’s the total package. I’ve reviewed the Tabula Mundi Tarot before here. You can also watch a Sightsee the Tarot video workshop where we walk through a tarot spread from Meleen’s Book M: Liber Mundi.

The Rosetta Tarot, published back in 2011, is a Thoth-based deck. While her Tabula Mundi Tarot was, too, I feel like that one showed a lot more of the artist’s own hand and point of view. Whereas here in the Rosetta Tarot, the Thoth influence is a lot more pronounced.

One of the things that made me think was how similar my experiences with creating my deck were to Meleen’s path with the Rosetta Tarot. Meleen describes the initial intention of the Rosetta to be “the love-child of the Thoth tarot and the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. As it evolved the genes of the Thoth parent proved dominant. (As a friend commented, ‘Thoth is kind of like that.’)” Whoa! I experienced the same exact situation with my SKT! With the SKT, I think physically it resembles the RWS more (whereas the Rosetta is quite unequivocally taking on the physical attributes of the Thoth). But echoing what Meleen says about her experience, I also feel like the SKT ended up with a personality that’s predominantly Thoth.

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New Chapter Tarot by Kathryn Briggs (a Liminal-11 Publication)

Kathryn Briggs is a graphic novelist, illustrator, and arts educator. Following the end of her marriage, she left the UK, where she had gone to art school and launched her career in the arts, and returned home, back to Philadelphia. The New Chapter Tarot is her story of starting a new chapter, told through paint.

With a matte finish and the absolute perfect hand-held size (about one-fifths shorter than standard tarot), this deck is a delight to read with. It reads like a Book of Changes, because these cards were born from its creator’s journey of personal evolution. New Chapter Tarot is described as featuring beautifully diverse representation, mythology, sacred geometry, blended with iconic traditional tarot symbolism. Briggs herself is a practicing witch.

The card back with the heron and owl touching wings is a stunner of a drawing. I interpret the heron as symbolizing exoteric knowledge and the owl as esoteric knowledge. I also love that the High Priestess card is featured on the box, which is a representation of the Mystery of the Triple Goddess or, as the guidebook notes, “Mami Wata bringing devotees into the spirit world to gain Knowledge.” Oh, and as you can see from the photo, like the standard Thoth card backs, they’re non-reversible.

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The Tarot Courts and Your Birth Chart

Crowley’s Book of Thoth assigns zodiacal domains to the Kings (Thoth Knights), Queens, and Knights (Thoth Princes). Each rulership begins at 21° and ends at 20°.

So, for example, the Queen of Swords begins her reign at 21° Virgo and ends at 20° Libra. At 21° Libra, the Knight (Thoth Prince) rules until 20° Scorpio.

It’ll be fun to superimpose this over your birth chart to see which court cards rule over your natal planets and personal sensitive points.

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