My Queen of Swords for the Cult of Tarot Community Tarot Deck

Thank you, Cerulean, for telling me about the Cult of Tarot Community Tarot deck. I’ve participated in a collaboration deck before, the Tarot Pink, where I contributed the Two of Wands. For the CoT Community Tarot deck, I chose the Queen of Swords.

I ended up drawing two versions and hope you’ll help me out by voting on which one you prefer. I’m torn between the two because they go in pretty different directions, not just in the art, but especially in terms of interpreting the Queen of Swords. You’ll see what I mean.

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The Queens: Tarot Card Meanings

New to this video lecture series?

Start Here

The above-linked Introduction page will give you an overview of what this series is about and provide a course contents listing.

The Queens is the fifth of seventeen videos in this series, “Tarot Card Meanings with Benebell.”

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XIII Tarot by Nekro: Deck Review

XIII Tarot - 01 Box Cover

The XIII Tarot by Nekro, published in 2014 by Fournier/Lo Scarabeo (and distributed in North America by Llewellyn) is a Gothic-inspired art deck with ornamental detailing, intense, evocative emotion, and a macabre motif. The art is in grayscale, with select sections of each card digitally enhanced a brilliant red.

The audience for the XIII Tarot deck is going to be aficionados of dark/gothic tarot decks, though without illustrated pips, it’s going to be better suited for Marseille readers.

XIII Tarot - Unillustrated Pips

Many of the reviews for the deck that I read on Amazon complain about the non-illustrated pips, but that didn’t bother me. You just have to know what you’re getting, as a deck buyer. In the context of Nekro’s highly detailed artwork, I like the non-illustrated pips. Illustrated pips, given Nekro’s highly detailed art work, along with the already highly detailed Majors might have been overkill.

Notice how the Majors stand out in a reading spread with the XIII Tarot.
Notice how the Majors stand out in a reading spread with the XIII Tarot.

When the cards are set out in spreads, the images on the Majors step forward beautifully, the Courts speak to us in their respective voices, and the pips provide supplemental information. For me, the deck reads quite well, but I see how visual-spatial-right-brained readers are going to prefer the illustrated pips that you might find in other Gothic decks like the Dark Grimoire Tarot by Michele Penco also by Lo Scarabeo, or the Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Alex Ukolov and Karen Mahony, which sadly, is now out of print (I believe).

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Review of Tarot of the Holy Light

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Back in 2011, Christine Payne-Towler came out with Tarot of the Holy Light, illustrated by comic book artist Michael Dowers. It was self-published by her via Noreah Press.

However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I didn’t become aware of the deck’s existence until last year. You can order the deck over at Tarot University. This deck, along with Christine Payne-Towler, is going down in tarot history, mark my words, and while far be it for me to tell you what to do, I’d get a copy of this deck while it’s still available.

The Tarot of the Holy Light, with its little white booklet
The Tarot of the Holy Light, with its little white booklet

Anyone who has explored esoteric tarot has heard of Christine Payne-Towler. She’s written some of the most compelling, provocative articles on tarot scholarship available, many of which you can find at Tarot.com or at ArkLetters. Payne-Towler is one of my tarot heroines.

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My Earliest Foray in Cartomancy

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In Chapter 33, the final chapter of my forthcoming book Holistic Tarot (coming out January, 2015; you can pre-order now!), I talk about how I got started in tarot.

In elementary school I acquired a standard 54-card playing deck from Taiwan that depicted the characters of one of my favorite classical Chinese novels, Journey to the West (西遊記). While writing that chapter, I thought back fondly of those early memories, that large deck in my hands, shuffling carefully so that none of the cards would fall out (as the deck was large for my hands), fanning the cards out and selecting a couple to study, like maybe the characters on each card that had been drawn out into the spread held some meaning to my life. You could say it was my earliest foray in cartomancy.

As I wrote, I worked from my memory of that Journey to the West deck, figuring it was still back on the east coast in my childhood home, if not lost for good. Recently, the Hubby and I cleaned out all our old storage boxes and I stumbled across that Journey to the West deck I talked about in my tarot book. I couldn’t believe it! I had managed to save it all those years and not only save it, but for reasons now lost to me, I bothered to bring it with me when I moved out here to the west coast!

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In my memory, the cards were huge and required careful maneuvering. However, now that I have the actual deck in hand, they’re quite small. Gasp. The cards shrunk! That or I grew up.

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The Mary-el Tarot: My Personal Reading Deck

Mary-el_CoverBox

It’s perplexing that I would take so long to acquire the Mary-el Tarot but it did, just over 2 years from its publication date (February, 2012) by Schiffer Publishing. Now that I have it, I’m even more perplexed at myself for the delay. I’ve been hearing about it here and there, reading reviews, seeing vlogs about it, and even articles in various tarot publications.

Get this deck. No wishy-washy preceding terms like “consider…” or “perhaps you might like…” or “I personally suggest…”– No. Get this deck. You should get this deck. Unless, of course, you only like paintings of pastel rainbows and pretty little kittens and unicorns, absolutely cannot tolerate nudity for whatever reason, or you can only use the straightforward Rider-Waite tradition or you can only use the Marseille or you can only use the Thoth. If any of those are true about you, then yeah, forget it. Stick with what you know. Otherwise, Get. This. Deck.

Mary-el_Fool

The card dimensions are 3.36″ x 5.5″ so they are a touch on the large side, but good thing, because I want to see the artwork. The one thing I dislike is the finish. It’s glossy and laminated, which I don’t like in tarot cards. It’s also an unusually thick card stock, rendering it difficult to shuffle. For that reason, I wouldn’t use Mary-el for professional or public readings. This is going to be one of those decks I won’t want others touching.

Though there is notable influence from all three of the main tarot traditions (Marseille, RWS, and Thoth), the Mary-el tarot is very Thoth, except it’s better than the Thoth tarot.

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