A Deck Review: Legacy of the Divine Tarot

The Legacy Of The Divine Tarot
By: Ciro Marchetti
Published by: Llwellyn Worldwide
Release Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7387-1565-0

I have to start by saying how excited I was to be getting this special deck. Ciro is a master at his designs and creativity. I also have to be honest and make it known that I am not drawn to what I call “darker” looking decks, and this falls in that category for me. However the purpose of this write up is not about personal taste but the deck itself.

This comes with a book and a bag is also included, It is the third deck by Ciro. The book explains “The Legacy” and gives not just Ciro’s interpretation and explanation of the cards but also includes interpretations from: James Ricklef, Leisa ReFalo and also Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone (The Tarot School). I found the added interpretations to the cards an added bonus as it shows the different views and approaches to the cards.

Ciro has is very own unique approach with his wonderful and colorful digital artwork. The cards even come to live with video, which can viewed on his website. He depicts a story of an outer space catastrophe involving the planets which is explained in the book. The images are surrounded by a solid black border and I have to wonder it is to symbolize outer space. The black border goes well and is appropriate, however for me it adds to the “darker” look I mentioned earlier.

There are only a few variations to the names of the Major Arcanas from the traditional RWS decks. The Hierophant has been renamed Faith with images of four religious figures pictured (The Pope being one of them). Wheel of Fortune is The Wheel, The Hanged Man is The Hanging Man. The Major that really stood out for me with this deck was The Hermit. The scene depicted for this card is not directly inside a cave. I am still going back and forth if it is a view at a cave entrance looking out, or if it is a view from in between mountains looking out at the scenery. The face of The Hermit is so real looking and you can just see the depth of thought in his face and eyes. The Hermit card has really captured my attention for the first time with this deck and I would have to say is my favorite of this set.

The Minor Arcana cards all use the same suits and names with the suit at the top and the number at the bottom. Each suit name is written in its color: wands is orange, cups yellow, sword blue and coins green. The knights in all four suits is depicted with their helmets rather then a full knight, Ciro explains the reason for this in the book Gateway To The Divine Tarot, which comes with the set. He also explains his views and feelings for the Court Cards in general and does it in away that is simple and easy to understand. These are the cards that seem to be the most troublesome to read for the majority of people.

There was also a minor that jumped out at me with this deck and really grabbed my attention. The Two of Cups I found intriguing for many reasons. Rather then the traditional man and woman together with an angel between them, Ciro’s depiction is two hands coming up out the water. The hands cross each other at the wrist and each is holding a glass in which the faces of the couple are depicted in. I am still finding images in the sky/clouds that are in this, I don’t know if they are there deliberately or not, however I am seeing several animals.

This is a magnificent deck and I am delighted to have it as part of my collection. It will not be hard to use by anyone and the book tells the full story depicted here. This will be a set for my collection however and not one I will personally use for clients. The reason for this is because of the large beliefs where I live of Tarot being evil. This deck will not help in that area and will only appear to validate that misconception. This is definitely a deck to have for the artwork alone, not to mention that Ciro has stated it will be his last.

A Deck Review: Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set

Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set

Expected Release Date is May 15, 2009
Suggested Retail Price: $35.00
ISBN- 13: 978-1-57281-639-8
Item # PCSS99
Published By: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

I am honored and privileged to be holding in my possession this wonderful tribute anniversary centennial edition deck. Everyone that is a Tarot fanatic will want to have this to add to their collection. The box it is packaged in is as special as the set itself and it should be.

The set includes two books, “The Artwork and Times of Pamela Colman Smith, by Stuart R Kaplan. This book has over 100 photos of her non-tarot art. The second is “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot”, which contrary to its title, does not include any pictures of any kind.

There are six color postcards of Pamela’s artwork, with what it is written on the back. There is a 5×7 photo of Pamela Colman Smith and three other 5×7’s of her artwork. All of these things makes this a great addition for art lovers to have in their collections as well as the Tarot lovers.

Unto the other side of the keepsake box, which contains the cards and bag. The very first thing that is noticed is that they are named Smith-Waite Tarot; yeah! about time! My reaction to the look of the cards was that they were made to look old by having a dirty look to them. To help add to the look they are not made with a glossy finish. The colors are darker and drabber looking, giving the cards a more negative, doom and gloom look. The Tower and The Devil cards are two Major Arcanas that really give the feeling of despair with not much color at all to them.

The darkness of the cards does make it harder to see some symbolism, which would make this harder for a beginner to use and become familiar with. Lots of details seem to just blend into each other with the browns and grays used. If anyone is of the belief that tarot is evil, these cards would add to that belief and cause someone who may have fears of it to only see them as negative. Someone that knows the cards and how to read them will have no thoughts of that whatsoever. Anyone that does read tarot to any degree and knows the history of it will appreciate the meaning and significance of this finally being printed.

Aside from all of that, this is definitely the set to purchase and treasure for its special meaning for all of us that are tarot lovers. It deserves a special place in the home as well for the honor it holds after a century of Pamela Colman Smith’s wait for acknowledgment. I am very much appreciative of already having this set that I will treasure the most of all decks I have.

This will be able to be purchase at www.usgamesinc.com, and also at Amazon.com. Check with your area bookstores as well.

A Deck Review: The Gendron Tarot

The Gendron Tarot
By Melanie Gordon

This is the deck that the majority of my clients chose when with me for an in person reading. It is named for the creator Melanie Gendron. This deck is one of my favorites. The imagery in it is very unique. The cards show images that are real looking, cartoonish and dreamy. The
combination of the different look is so well done and blended that it is
not noticeable until looking at the cards individually. The cartoon
images can best be seen on the The Hanged Man, The Sun, The High
Priestess and The Chariot cards. The cards that combine real images with a dreamy look is best seen with the Princess of Pentacles, the 4 and 8 of swords and the 2 of cups.

The different appearances is not the only thing that makes The Gendron unique. Melanie also does not limit the images to one culture or religion and nature is also very much a part of this exquisite deck.

The names of some of the cards have also been changed from the standard Rider-Waite decks. The Devil, Pages and Knights are changed to The Deceiver, Princess and Prince. Nudity is also kept to a very minimum amount on less then a handful of cards.

This is a wonderfully illustrated deck and gives a lot of meaning to
even the quarant looking at them. This is a very well done deck with all
of its aspects brought together to make it so unique.

Originally published in the May, 2008 TCBA Newsletter

A Deck Review: Jane Austen

Tarot of Jane Austen
By Diane Wilkes & Lola Airaghi

I decided to do a review on this deck without owning it because of several reasons. Diane Wilkes was my tarot teacher when it was in the process of being published. I also had a paid reading from her with this deck, prior to its release.

This deck is without a doubt for the Jane Austen lover and fan. If you do not know the works done by Jane Austen you will not be able to use it or at least use it easily. Each card has scenes taken from stories written by Jane Austen. During the reading that I had with Diane using this deck, time had to be taken to explain what the scenes were that was depicted on the cards. Some clients could feel that the paid time is being wasted going into the details of the stories. Without the explanations, the cards and the reading would of made no sense at all. The reading worked out fine with lots of connections, including the fact that most of the cards I had pulled pertained to one specific story.

The scenes are drawn with a cartoon look, which is not usually appealing to me. The way that these have been done however draws you into the scene. The suits have been changed to Candlesticks (Wands), Teacups (Cups), Quills (Swords) and Coins (Pentacles). All 78 cards have the name in six different languages at the top and bottom of the cards. They are written two on each upper corner, and one on each lower corner. One of the surprises in this deck is The Fool being a female. Unfortunately I can’t tell you which character or story she is from as I do not know Jane Austen.

The design on the back of the deck goes well with cards. It is plain and not overdone with a Victorian look. This goes great as a blend with the Victorian scenes depicted on the cards.

Not knowing any of Jane Austen’s work this deck is one that I will not purchase. It would not be used or even appreciated for its artwork, as my knowledge on the depictions is nil. The reading I had with it, and the classes I took with Diane Wilkes however is appreciated and was what led me to where I am today.

A Deck Review: The Vision Tarot

The Vision Tarot
By Tim Thompson

I bought this deck twice, which shows how much I like it. The fact that I never used it for readings is how I forgot I already owned it and ended up repurchasing it. The cards are absolutely beautiful and different from my other decks. Photography is used with real people and settings on each card in the deck. For me that was the attraction of this deck. When you look at these cards you feel drawn into each Medieval scene as if you are there yourself. The titles of each card are written in French as well as English.

The major arcana cards have only the black border around each scene. This adds to the photography of the major arcana so that the scenes are not taken away from by elaborate borders. The Fool has no number and The Death Card has no name to it. The Moon and The Sun cards are different then what one would expect or are used to. Neither of them shows a real sun or moon. The Moon is depicted as looking like part of a stained glass window. The Sun is done inside a Roman looking room with pillars and cathedral ceilings. It is hanging on the high part of the far wall as decor.

The Minor Arcana cards is the reason that I never used this deck. When doing readings, I like the cards to be visually detailed for both myself and my clients. As elaborate and real that the Majors are, the Minors have only the suits shown (Aces being the exception). However, they are done better then other decks I own and have seen. In this deck the cups are different in size, shape and design. The swords and wands (Staves as they are called) are different shades and styles. The coins are shadowed and are not all shown with the same side facing upwards. This does give the minors some character and a personality but only to a small degree and with deep searching. The novice reader would have a hard time reading the Minors because there is no immediate indication to their meanings. All the cups are upright and filled, the swords are all in the ground with a few that lean. The staves are hard to see since there is a tree in the background that they lean on. The coins are all in a formation on sand, which makes these the hardest suits to read. Each suit has its own background which also has variations in it for each card. The Minors are shown with an elaborate frame around them to make up for the lack of detail in the actual photographs.

The little white book that comes with the deck is well done. It tells about the deck and the history of the Tarot. The upright meanings are followed by the inverted meaning for all the cards. At the end of the lwb there is a section titled How To Perform Readings and shows how to do a Celtic Cross.

This is not a deck I would recommend to the beginner reader because of the Minor Arcana cards. It is however a definite deck to have in one’s collection.

A Deck Review: Tarot

Cards Illustrated by Colin Howard
Text by P. Hardy

This is the first and only mini deck that I have so far. I bought it at the only spiritual shop that was around my area, which has since closed. It was sealed and unable to be looked at prior to my purchase. The design on the box was what caught my eye at first. Then the fact that it was mini made me think how cute, compact and convenient they would be when traveling for my readings. Once I purchased it and opened them up, I was soon disappointed and knew that I would not be using them.

First, this is definitely not a deck for beginners since the minor arcana cards have no illustrations on them. Five of Cups just has 5 cups, and it is the same for all the rest of the minors. This is also the same reason I knew I would not be using them in my face to face readings. No matter how experienced of a reader you are, people having a reading done like the imagery when having a Tarot reading. They want to actually visualize a scene on the cards that they pull and not have just cups, wands, coins or swords on the cards.

Another problem is not just the fact that the name of the cards is small; after all it is a mini size deck. The names are written in a color that blends with the border. This makes it extremely hard to read and is another turn off for clients when reading for them in person.

The Moon card was the major arcana from this deck that captured my eye and is my favorite. This may be due to the fact that an actual scene is depicted on the card rather then just a person.

The borders are overdone and too elaborate for such a small size. On the border of each of the cards is a colored gem that is shown. The color is the same for all the majors and cups are red, wands are green, pentacles are amber and swords are blue.

The book that is included is a hardcover and contains 48 pages. All I was able to do was page through it due to the small size of the writing. To even attempt to read it was causing me to have a headache. The back of the book has three spreads that it touches on: the basic three card spread, the Celtic cross and the star spread.

This is one that I will keep and admire the box, but will not use at all to do readings with. I am glad of the fact that it was on sale when I purchased it.

A Deck Review: The Mystic Dreamer Tarot

The Mystic Dreamer Tarot
Deck and Book Set
By Heidi Darras and Barbara Moore

How this deck ended up as one for my collection is one of the reasons I chose to do a review on it. The only place near me to get decks is Barnes & Noble and the choices are small. I was out and got a feeling to go there even though the week before I knew they had nothing new. Learning to listen to that voice for my own guidance I decided to go.

Yes I was grumbling about what a waste of time that was with all I had to do that day. Lo and behold there was a deck that caught my eye I had never seen before. I was drawn right to it and because they are kept sealed with no sample opened, I had to go home to look it up before buying it. Even though I just knew I would end up going back to get it, which I did. Looking it up online I not only fell in love with it but found out they had just been released for sale.

This is a deck and book combination which is done by Heidi Darras and the text by Barbara Moore. The box it all comes in is a pale pink marble look, the border of the cards however are not pink but instead a light tan. The imagery on the cards goes hand in hand with the title Dreamer as all the cards have a dream look to them. At first glance, you may think that they are going to be dreary and dull with the lack of color. When you actually look at them however, they do have color, it’s just been done lightly and subtly. The cards are not vibrant in color which is what gives them their dream look. The majority of the cards have females on them, including The Devil card. Most of the cards have either the sun or the moon visible in the sky. Three cards even have a face, which is female, in the moon or sun. Those cards being The Lovers, The Moon, and The Sun cards.

The Death card is sexless, as death is cloaked all in black with the face covered as well. Death is sitting on a pile of skulls. What I found most interesting with this particular card is the fact that in the background sitting, is a young female child who appears no older then probably five years of age. In the skies above is a female floating and both the child and woman are dressed in white. The Death card is about endings as we well know. Having the child in the background for me is a reminder that no matter what age we are, endings and changes happens to all of us and the young are not immune to it.

The book that is included is titled The Dreamer’s Journal and is by Barbara Moore. The border of the book matches the border on the box. It has 240 pages and covers not just a write up for each card. It covers tarot basics, how and why to keep a journal and it has over two dozen spreads as well. The explanations of the cards does the reverse as well as upright positions. At the bottom of each cards meaning there is a section called Use your intuition. There are two or three questions to ponder that are asked here about the imagery that is shown in each card. Since there is so many details in every card that is hidden and unhidden this helps point things out that may not have been noticed at first glance. It also gives more to contemplate about the cards which is great for those that have experience and also the novice.

Was there anything that was disappointing for me with this deck? Yes, there was the overall way the cards were made. Seems to have been made cheap, because they lack that laminated feel and seem to be more papery. This set also comes with a tarot bag which is a sheer black bag. The bag being black I am not at all happy with. Black symbolizes evil and so does the tarot for so many. For that reason I avoid that color whenever possible when it comes to my readings. The color of the box and book are pink and the border of the cards being tan the bag should of been one of those colors. The fact that I am a fanatic about coordination plays a very big part in that minor unimportant, irrelevant detail.

This is a very well done set and is great for the novice as well as the pro. You are able to see what the Raider Waite decks have in a more modernized way and with added differences as well. The book is also done so that a first timer would be able to purchase this set and learn enough to start doing readings. This has now become my favorite deck of the ones I have. I have not yet used them for readings. As much as I want to I also do not want to have them worn out and used. I am torn between having them for my collection or actually using them. I may just have to go buy another set so I can do both.

A Deck Review: The Unicorn Tarot

The Unicorn Tarot
Deck and Book Set
By Suzanne Star
Artwork by Liz Hilton

I have always loved and collected unicorns, so I had to have this deck for that reason. It was given to me for a birthday present and I couldn’t wait to open it up. How devastatingly disappointed I am with this deck. I waited to write a review for it and give the disappointment time to wear off, its not and it won’t.

This deck is dry, dull and gives the appearance of no thought or effort put forth in making it. The images are to reflect the Rider Waite decks, however there is no emotion in these cards at all for me. A unicorn or two seems to have been thrown into each card for the sake of having a unicorn on them. The Lovers card and The Sun card has the couple shown in what for me is an uncalled for position. Those cards alone, even if I loved this deck and wanted to use them I would not as I would not want children to possibly view them. There is no reason to have naked lovers together on The Sun card or to be shown in the position they are in on The Lovers Card.

Background colors are used for the different suits which in this deck are, cups, swords, rods and pentacles. The star on all of the pentacles is an eight pointed one, not five. Key symbolism seems to have been removed from this deck along with trying to do away with any religious connotations. The hardest card to understand would be the Five of Pentacles which shows a woman painting a unicorn.

The fact that all the unicorns are drawn almost identical on every card is not even attractive to a unicorn collector like myself. The nicest, most attractive card of the deck is the Ace of Cups. The three unicorns actually look like unicorns instead of horses. The tower was unique as well, with the unicorn as the tower. The back of the cards are more attractive then the cards themselves. It is a shame that this deck lacks so much in imagery and tarot meaning.

Unfortunately this deck will get put to the side, unused and untouched by me. I will not even be drawn to pull it out to admire the cards at all. I do not recommend this deck at all, and its not for anyone that wants to see detail and imagery in their decks. Since the unicorns do not vary all that much and look more like horses I can’t even say a lover of unicorns would enjoy this one.

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