Tarot Handbook - free 80-page booklet by George Franklin & Luke Hauser
Tarot Spellwork - by Beth Owl's Daughter
Destiny Blackjack - by Andy Paik
Tarot Forum - with Amy, Angela, Paul, Marilyn, and Elka
Tarot Affirmations - by Sisalfish
Missing Tarot Cards - mystery cards!
Six Classic Tarot Texts - short reviews
Tarot & Magical Practice: Introduction
The sound of cards being shuffled and cut.
Cards chosen with the receptive hand.
Powerful images laid out on sacred cloth.
And then the story, always a story.
The Tarot surrounds us. We use it to plan rituals, plan our lives, entertain each other, and even to inform our protests. Lots of people have decks, and many of us are readers, either casually or professionally.
In this feature, we look at the Tarot and tap our collective wisdom. How do we use the cards, and why? Which decks do people like? What do they mean, and how do we use them? And, of course, what can they tell us about the year ahead?
- coordinated by Andy Paik & George Franklin
by George Franklin
A PDF handbook featuring an introduction, history, exercises, and a 7-card Journey of the Spirit working. There are even B&W cards to color. Created as a handout for Tarot classes.
by Beth Owl’s Daughter
Despite the many excellent Tarot books, decks, and other resources currently available, I have found surprisingly few that approach the cards as powerful ritual tools. Most popular books focus on setting up your altar with various objects, tools. and candles, pulling the recommended cards for this or that particular intention, reciting some chants, and then doing visualizations and affirmations. A helpful start, but in my own experience, the Tarot offers much more.
The Major Arcana
In my experience, when working with the Tarot in terms of the Elements, the Major Arcana relate to the direction of Center/Spirit. So, in spellwork for an important spiritual goal or for a shift that may require lengthy gestation and growth, working with the twenty-two trump cards over a set period will create a powerful wave of change.
For example, suppose I have decided to leave my current job, wishing to find a more satisfying and prosperous alternative. I would set my intention, and then I would perhaps decide on the length of time for this shift to take place. Since I am working with the twenty-two cards of the Majors, I might decide to work this spell over twenty-two lunar cycles, or if I wanted quicker results, perhaps I would work alternately with each New Moon and Full Moon.
Starting with the Fool, I might spend the time of New Moon to Full Moon looking for sacred Foolishness in my daily life; finding ways to lighten up; challenging the routines and expectations of my self that fears to be a Fool. I would search for places where a leap of faith might be a powerful catalyst for growth, and I would cultivate an attitude of following my bliss — like, for example, experimenting with exactly what my bliss might be in the first place. Working with the boundless potential of The Fool, I could look “outside the box” for what sort of livelihood might excite me. I might imagine myself in completely different careers, despite the fact that I have no experience or skill in those lines of work. Only a Fool would do that, but it might just open a door to something quite delightful. And besides, the Fool is only the first step.
Next comes The Magician, whose nature is (among other things) to possess skills, tools, and abilities that can manifest what he desires. During waning Moon phase, I could work with the Magician to narrow down the wild experimentation of the Fool to something a little more realistic. Or I could take that time to edit my resume, transform my appearance, and cultivate new skills that I might need for the new direction I wish to manifest. The Magician is also a shaman, so I might do a vision quest of some sort, or seek guidance from the allies and elementals I work with.
Each card of the Majors offers some powerful energy for moving your intention forward, and each can give you many lessons about your own co- creative process. Be prepared for a very transformative event if you decide to follow the Fool’s Journey through the Major Arcana in your spellwork.
The Witch’s Pyramid
The Witch’s Pyramid, sometimes called the Hermetic Quaternary, has been called the springboard of magick. In The Spiral Dance, Starhawk references these four principles in her descriptions of the Elements, and I have found them useful in performing spellwork using the Tarot.
The first principle is “To Know.” This relates to the element of Air, East, and therefore (in most Tarot systems) the Swords. To know means that it is imperative that you have a clear intention in mind. The Swords cut out the superfluous, determine boundaries, and bring the skills necessary to weave the changes you desire, yet harm none. Swords work with the power of the mind, words, poetry, and song. Magical work that would be suited to the Swords might include writing, chanting and music.
The second principle is “To Will.” Knowing your intention, the challenge here is to make it happen, to engage and move the energy. This relates to South, Fire, and the Wands of the Tarot. Wands are the magical tool for channeling energy, for directing your will. They represent your desire, passion, your very life force. The Wands are where you connect to your power. I have found that working with the Wands in a physically active way is helpful. Get up! Move! Dance!
Pose your body in imitation of the figures depicted. This can be repeated and speeded up until it becomes a dance. In moving, you connect to your physical energy. The Wands can arouse your bright spirit and light the fires of creativity and power.
The third principle is “To Dare.” This energy is connected to the West, to water, and the Cups of the Tarot. With daring, you face your fears, you feel your feelings and you open to Mystery. The Tarot Cups are about dreams, empathy, intuition, and healing. Like scrying in a dark chalice of water, I have found that the Cups suit is particularly easy to trance into. The images can be powerful for visualization and allow you to surrender to your intuitive sense and the great Flow that moves us. You also might use the Cups cards when doing dream work by meditating on a chosen card before bedtime.
The final principle, upon which the foundation rests, is “To Keep Silence.” When raising an energetic Cone of Power, after we release its energy, we may wish to ground, letting any excess energy running through us return to the earth. Similarly, this principle relates to the Earth suit of the Tarot — the Pentacles (sometimes called Coins or Disks). The Pentacles are the silence of midnight, the knowing in your bones, the true North that points to your authenticity. They are also the silent, fertile Earth, to which you return your energy, and from which all abundance may grow. Pentacles are wonderful cards for spellwork concerned with manifesting abundance, material needs, and the things that nurture us, as well as that which we need to release and compost. Work with the Pentacles suit when you do your green Witchcraft, and herbal and gardening magic.
Within the symbolic language and imagery of the Tarot are powerful gateways to wisdom and transformation. By combining and blending these principles with the elemental energies of the Tarot suits, you can create innumerable recipes for making deep, delicious magic. May you and your beloveds be nurtured by your workings.
Beth Owl’s Daughter has worked with the Tarot as a tool for ritual, healing, and self-discovery for over 33 years. She is a cocreator with the Dragon’s Cauldron, central North Carolina’s Reclaiming group. Contact her at www.owlsdaughter.com
by Andy Paik
In the back of smoky cantina in a Mexican border town, a man is seated at a table. He has a top hat with stars, and is wearing a cape. The table is covered with a silky cloth, and has a candle, a bowl of candy, a bottle of Tequila, and a deck of cards on it. The man in the hat beckons to a passing patron.
“Come my friend, surely you want to play a hand of Destiny Blackjack! Only $2! What is Destiny Blackjack?, you ask? Why it is a simple game of mystery and fate where your future, your destiny itself, can be revealed in just five, count ’em, five short minutes... It is Blackjack with Tarot Cards.
“Shuffle the deck. While you are shuffling, think about yourself. Unlike the rest of your life, Destiny Blackjack is all about you! OK, do the cards need to be cut? Does it feel like you should cut them? Then do so.”
The dealer takes the cut deck, and talks as he plays with it.
“A traditional Tarot Reading is all about ‘the future’, about ‘what will happen.’ Destiny Blackjack is not like that. In Destiny Blackjack, we are looking at a possible future, a road you could walk down if you so choose. It could be a new love in your life, or a change of career. But the cards are not limited to the mundane. It could also tell us what will happen if you are abducted by aliens!”
The dealer turns over the first card, and displays it, right side up.
“The Three of Cups.” The card shows three cups, overflowing, and three women dancing above the cups.
“I see you surrounded by women, perhaps at a party, perhaps on this very night. Alcohol is flowing freely and you are having a good time. You have already drawn this card, so this possibility is real. The question is: ‘Do you need to know what happens next?’”
“You have a three, do you want to hit? I should warn you, this is a Tarot deck. The highest card in it is the World card, and that is 21 all by itself. The major arcana are worth their number value. Unlike in traditional blackjack, however, the court cards are only worth five, and the ace is always worth one. You could bust here, but it is unlikely...”
The next card is the Eight of Swords, showing a woman blindfolded and hands bound surrounded by eight swords.
“The Eight of Swords. Hmmm... I think your lovely lady is into bondage, perhaps? I think one of the women at the party catches your eye, and she takes you home. You will spend a wild and highly unusual night together. This is your possible future, and it is also brings your total to 11. Do you have to know more?”
The Five of Pentacles. The card shows a woman cradling a baby, and a man with his hat in his hands in front of a stained glass window...
“Alas, the price of pleasure... She is now pregnant with your child, and you are getting married. This is your possible future. You have already drawn it. You can meet three women at a party and go home with one of them. It will turn out that she likes blindfolds and ropes and you will get her pregnant. You will marry her, and then you will have a total of 16. Are you content to stand there, knowing you can have a happy, married life together, or do you have to see that life for yourself?”
“You stand, a wise choice. Not enough people know when they have a good thing. Take this special candy I have prepared, and eat it. It holds the energy of this happy destiny, and by eating it, you will take that possibility into yourself.”
The dealer takes a hard candy ball from a nearby bowl, rolls it back and forth over the cards, and hands it to the man. He takes it and eats it.
“No, you can’t see the next card,” the dealer adds, cutting the rest of the deck again so even he will not be tempted. “To show you would change the magic of that happy destiny. You have to mean it when you stand.”
Meanwhile, one parallel universe over, with a different choice...
“You hit — a bold choice from a man who wants a powerful destiny.”
The dealer turns the next card over. It is the Hermit, a old man with a lantern standing alone. Its value is nine. The dealer frowns and inverts the card.
“The Hermit, which makes the hand total 25. You bust! You will not be able to make the marriage work, and she will leave you, taking the child with her. You will live out the rest of your life alone and lonely.”
“No, that doesn’t mean you should have stood on the 16. The fact that you didn’t means that you are not the kind of person who will stop when you have that happy marriage. What it means is that, when you meet three women at a party, don’t go off with the one who is into bondage. That path will only lead you to heartbreak.”
“Remember, this is only a possible destiny, a path you can walk down if you choose. Not necessarily THE path you WILL walk down. There are other paths, and we can explore another for just $2 more...”
The late Andy Paik was a Reclaiming Witch from Los Angeles who denied playing Destiny Blackjack in border states...
A Tarot Forum
Amy MoonDragon is a Tarot reader, workshop leader, ritualist, and full-time counseling student living in North Carolina with her fluffy gray cat.
Angela Magara is a writer, teacher, and mystic living in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Elka Eastly Vera is a practical magic-maker in San Francisco.
Marilyn R. Pukkila is a Quaker Witch priestess of Persephone in the Reclaiming tradition, who teaches, sings, gardens, loves, and dances her life in Central Maine.
Paul Eaves is an in-love Reclaiming Witch from Minnesota who works with autistic kids, labyrinths gardens, and Elvis.
How often do you do readings? How elaborate? For what purposes?
Amy: I do a daily spread for myself, three cards: the nature of the day, the action needed, and the lesson to be learned. I also do professional readings. I usually do a full Celtic cross spread. My most cherished work is an hour in-depth session with someone of Witchy or like-minded energy. I have sacred space already created, we do grounding and prayer, and sometimes incorporate therapeutic techniques and magical techniques to make the most of what the cards offer us.
Angela: For years I have pulled a card each morning for information for the day. I find coming to the Tarot each morning focuses me on opening to guidance and information outside of my linear experience. Tarot is the perfect Witch’s tool.
Paul: I do several Tarot readings per week with college students. Some are open-ended, “who am I” readings. Others are about specific issues such as career and romance. I regard this as immensely rewarding service work with the younger generations.
Marilyn: I’m currently in a course which has us using the Barbara Walker deck weekly as well as for divinations before doing spellwork. I also read for others at their request in a spiritual mentoring/counseling capacity.
Elka: I use an oracle just about every day, though not always Tarot. The question I ask most often for the day’s single card draw is this: “ What energy wants (or would be helpful) to move through me today?”
What was your funniest/scariest/weirdest Tarot experience?
Amy: In 2003, I taught a Tarot path at BCWC with the rocking River Roberts. Her suggestion for our path was that we each draw a card that we would embody all week. Well, I took my “Death”-blow with dignity (or maybe it was just shock). But lo and behold, the entire year was a year of loss. So, the funniest and scariest moment was how the following year, 2004 at Spiral Heart, I was totally hot about the idea of drawing a card for the week. I had to get another crack at it! I was fed up with Death! What could be worse, anyway??? Of course, I drew the Tower.
Angela: I participated in a Living Tarot facilitated by WilowFire where the reading turned decidedly political. Our friend Charles was the King of Swords, and somehow morphed into being George W. Bush. Charles articulated with a straight face why he, George W. Bush, was doing what he was. We all began to see Bush as human being and felt compassion for the condition which would make one think and behave as he does.
Paul: Once I did four readings at a party with some very tipsy, mid-twenties males about love and romance. The readings were very touching, possibly due to the recipients’ lessened guards. The readings could have been very useful if they could remember anything the next day.
Marilyn: One of my first questions (in high school) was, “Is it a good idea to read Tarot?” I got Death in the “family opinions” position, which felt like a warning from my recently-deceased grandmother to stop, so I didn’t pick up a deck again until 14 years (and a lot of growth) later!
Elka: During an Elements class in 2001, our teaching team was experiencing some conflict. We gathered together to discuss our challenges and asked the Tarot for insight. One of the questions we asked was, “What are we not seeing?” The cards responded with The Tower. The next morning was September 11.
What do you wish you’d known when you were getting started?
Amy: At age 12, I got my first deck of cards. Santa left a groovy 70s version of the Waite deck in my stocking that year. I wish I’d known then that Tarot was going to become my life path! I was absorbed with it for many months but then put it aside for many years. I also wish I’d known how important it is to record my readings and to refer back, adding notes later as to how the situation actually played out.
Angela: Tarot is not mysterious but simple. It is the elemental teacher and sage. Anyone can read Tarot.
Marilyn: That I could trust my inner wisdom.
Elka: Hmm. I’m glad that I approached the cards fresh, without any expectations, just a sense of reverence and respect. Mary Greer’s Tarot for Yourself was my guide. Following the exercises in the book, I was encouraged to create my own deep relationships with the cards.
Share one Tarot secret of yours with our readers?
Amy: For beginning and intermediate practitioners, I’d say invest the time in study. Find an interpretation manual that really speaks to you. Build a solid foundation by memorizing a few key phrases about each card. Expect this work to take serious study. It is so worth it.
Paul: I let the person being read choose the cards in any way they want.
Marilyn: I read the bottom card to see “what’s at the bottom of this situation.” It’s amazingly insightful, and usually ties the whole reading together very nicely.
Elka: Use the cards to ask for “divine comment” about an issue. This is extremely helpful when a question isn’t fully formulated. It invites communication from the Higher Self.
How do you think Tarot “works”?
Amy: When I speak with lay people about the Tarot, I always tell them my first principle, my belief that it is their immanent Divinity that speaks through the Tarot and that, personally, I do not hold knowledge about them that they do not have. The Tarot itself holds many powers, both within the scope of divination and beyond. I believe that Tarot is a comprehensive representation of the vast array of human experience. Any story can be symbolized. Thus it is a vehicle for Divine communication that has great range and flexibility.
Angela: The Tarot allows me to more fully engage my own wisdom. It is consciousness’s shorthand. The process of reading with someone else or with a group is completely different. When we do those readings we are allowing our wisest self to reach into the cosmos and draw upon a source greater than our individual selves. Immanence and transcendence get all mixed up here but the result is the same: together, we are able to discover what alone we cannot, and to see myriad facets of a situation.
Paul: First there is a relationship with the cards that is rooted in respect, wonder, and a dab of consistent structure. Listening — listening to the recipient, listening to one’s instincts, listening to the voices of the cards. After that, it truly is mystery, and that is why I love it so much.
Marilyn: The images on the cards evoke meaning and wisdom from those Selves within us that are quieter, shyer, less welcome, or delightfully unexpected. The Divine may also speak more clearly through Tarot, provided we have quieted our assumptions enough to listen and hear.
Elka: Tarot is a way of communicating with the subconscious. You build meaning through study, practice, channeling. But you can also read cards without any prior information by delving into the images. The images stimulate Younger Self, who is in direct contact with the part of you that already knows everything.
Favorite deck(s) and why?
Amy: I loved Angeles Arrien’s book “The Tarot Handbook” so much that I changed to the Thoth deck after 8 years with the Waite. I have never connected with Crowley’s book on the deck, but Arrien weaves in cross cultural and feminist ideas, encouragement and empowerment with a solid knowledge of the imagery.
Angela: For my daily readings I am now using the Daughters of the Moon deck. It is feminist and beautiful and round, just like me. Seriously, the images are simple and beautiful and teach me much.
Paul: I received my first reading with a Motherpeace deck at a Witchcamp by the ocean in 1985 and it has been my primary deck since then. I like that they are round which reflects the multitudinous aspects of choice. I love the rich, evocative, and mult-cultural imagery as well as that they are rooted in traditional Tarot concepts.
Marilyn: Motherpeace, because I’ve worked with it the most; Robin Wood, because it’s the best blend of traditional and contemporary that I know, excellent for beginners, with beautiful, colorful illustrations; and Barbara Walker, because of my current intensive work with it.
Elka: I use Rider Waite to read for others as I have the strongest relationship with that deck. I love the art in the Haindl deck, and its association of the elements with different cultures/continents. Lately, the Faerie Oracle (not Tarot) has been very vocal: I love the Singers!
Anything last thoughts?
Amy: When you are comfortable with your skill, Tarot reading can be wonderful part time work. It’s a valuable service and there is a need for more ethical, spiritual practitioners.
Marilyn: I wonder if I will ever develop strong familiarity with all the decks I own! The artwork can seduce me into buying, as can the decks with strong personal mythic or other resonances (i.e. the Kalevala deck), regardless of their authenticity or historicity.
Elka: If you use the Tarot compulsively to make decisions, set your decks aside for three months. During your hiatus, meditate at least 15 minutes per day, and exercise enough to break a sweat at least three times a week. Practice connecting with your gut sans oracle.
Tarot Affirmation for The Moon
You stand at the gates, with two arcane figures towering above you. You sense that to pass through is to be changed forever, and to remain on this side is to miss out on the Mystery. And in your ear, a voice whispers that through the gate lie all the challenges of your past lives that you failed. Now you will face them and have another chance — a chance to make it past the sentinels, or a chance to fail again . . . you stand at the gates.
The Moon card is a card of the watery depths, and of all the gifts and challenges that deep water and deep emotion entail: intuition, rampant emotion, challenges, mystery. Those gates always remind me that there is another realm beyond, where all is understood, and where the path of my many lifetimes is linear. But on this side of the gates, we have only the watery shadow of the two towers, cast by the light of the Moon.
So — what to do with this card? Once again, those on the path many of us follow see this card as a blessing. Mystery? Hey, bring it on, and the more mysterious the better! A chance to get in touch with intuition? Most of us are up for that, I think. To pass through this gate is to enter into the rite of initiation, and if you are committed to a growth path, this card represents non-conscious growth.
Non-conscious growth — through dream, trance, meditation. This card is a message that the moon of our lives is phasing, changing, even if it is obscured from our vision by clouds. Even obscured from the eye, the tides know Her phases, and answer, and our lives answer as well. There is a conversation going on, this card says, between your subconscious and the Moon.
Some interpretations of this card also involve acting with the authentic self. I was surprised at that; it made me wonder if the authentic self must, like the Moon card, be beyond the reach of conscious thought. If the authentic self is truly what we are, intrinsically, beyond logic or explanation. The Moon card indicates challenges are coming that are beyond conscious thought; you must rely on intuition, dreams, the authentic self to meet those challenges and move past the sentinels that tower above you.
Affirmation on receiving this card:
“I hear the call of the unknown, and I look to receive guidance where I least expect it. Through choice, I can change my experience.”
Tarot Affirmations for Cards we Resist: Death and The Devil
Fasten your seatbelts — these are cards that offer some serious challenges. I say we brave them both in one fell swoop. Have your affirmations ready! And you might keep in mind one word — choice. That word opens these two cards up to gift you with their full potential.
Let’s take Death first. The one your off-the-street querant dreads most. But like many of those on our path, I welcome the Death card. Maybe not if you take your readings literally. But — if you value transformation, so much so that you sing songs to honor and invite change (as we do), this card is incredibly useful. For myself, there are so many areas of my life I’d be interested in transforming. Often, this card points to the area on which I should focus — often, it’s an area I would have found good excuses to neglect. So, a tough card, the Death card, certainly. But if you’ve committed to doing tough work, it’s a kind of “tough love” card.
My Thoth deck card shows a wicked skeleton doing a dance with a scythe, cutting through the threads that bind and conceal. What freedom — to wield such a scythe. This card is about letting go and moving forward. We are all full. — to bring in something new, something old must go. So, make a choice. You can choose to do things differently, every moment of every day. You can choose to let go of old things and relationships that haven’t worked for you. You can choose to release, detach, and give birth to what is new and unexpressed in you. Just drawing this card is an affirmation that you are ready. Next dark moon, lay a spread with the Death card at the center, and see what pops up. Then, under the dark moon, choose to join the skeleton in her dance! And see what new you is waiting when the dance is complete.
A quote to bring our next card into perspective:
“The difference between a comedy and a tragedy is that, in a comedy, the characters figure out reality in time to do something about it.” — Bennett W. Goodspeed
The Devil. It’s a challenge, particularly to those of us who frequently state there is no Devil, it’s just a projection of inner ickiness. Yes, exactly. Even if you don’t believe there’s a real guy with a pointed tail and horns, that energy exists in each of us, in the same way the energy of Kwan Yin exists in Jerry Falwell.
And believe me, that energy is laughing at our pagan struggles with this card. Because if there’s anything to laugh about, this card will find it, and if it’s a subject you don’t think is at all funny, the Devil laughs even harder. Don’t take this card on — you’ll lose. Instead, choose to drop your pride and your illusions, and get ready to meet, face to face, the thing that bedevils you.
The Devil card offers a lot — mirth, and stability. This card has already met Death, already transformed. It is Pan, half man and half goat, symbol of laughter, life force, indulgence and energy. This card is of Capricorn, because it invites us to face what bedevils us with the temerity of the goat. Ground and center; cut through the veils of illusion; and be prepared to face what lies behind both of these cards, with both honesty and humor.
The Death card invites us to transform. The Devil stands on the other side of the door of transformation and invites us to step through and share a joke. Consider choosing to welcome both of them.
Affirmation on drawing the Death card: “I say Yes to Death, Yes to myself.”
Affirmation on drawing the Devil: “I keep my feet on the ground and meet my demons with grace and humor.”
Blessings to those with the courage to transform!
sisalfish is a writer and editor living in San Antonio, and an initiatory priestess in Diana’s Grove Mystery School. She has read Tarot for over thirty years.
Missing Tarot Cards
When the modern Tarot deck was codified in the late Middle Ages, difficult choices were faced regarding which aspects of human experience would count as Major Arcana, which as Minors, and which would be left out entirely.
The self-appointed authorities who made these decisions may have overlooked realms of experience which subsequently proved central to human culture as we know it today: shopping, spectator sports, and television, to name just a few.
This Spring, RQ invited readers to submit their thoughts regarding Missing Tarot Cards. Here are their nominations, along with artists’ renditions of four of the cards.
Baby-with-the-bathwater — this card shows upraised arms flinging water from a plastic baby bathtub, astonished-looking baby riding the wave out of the tub. If you receive this card in a reading, it refers to impetuosity, and may portend a need to let go and act without fear of consequences. Reversed, it reflects a need for caution in action — Victoria Slind-Flor
Shoveling — I’ve have always been struck with how life is full of endless clean-up tasks, the sort of maintenance tasks that must be done, and quickly get undone. In domestic management there’s laundry — nice clean shirts one folds and puts away only to see them immediately taken out of a drawer, worn, and thrown in the hamper. Dishes one washes only to be dirtied. Meals one spends hours preparing which are gobbled. The card does not exactly speak of futility, because these tasks are absolutely necessary. Perhaps the myth of the cleansing of the Augean stables, which fill up with filth as soon as they are shoveled, would be a lofty interpretation of this archetypical dilemma. The card seems to have a reverse-nine feeling to it — pentacles or wands? — Rose May Dance
More Missing Tarot Cards
Card No. -1
The Grand Slam
Getting Stuff Done
Hypnogogic State (between waking and sleeping)
Exile (No. 9.5)
Missing Tarot cards suggested by Whitney, Mimi, Catherine, Rebecca, George, Daisy, Kai, Nolan.
Tarot Deck Reviews
The Tarot DeckFinder
by Raye Martin
Imagine yourself opening a book of knowledge, the words spilling out like keys to the unknown. The text looks like a small dictionary, but upon closer inspection, you see that each entry is the name of a deck of cards. What you are holding is The Tarot DeckFinder by Raye Martin.
The DeckFinder is like a Consumer Reports for the Tarotist, with insights into 2,000 Tarot decks and oracles.
The well-known Tarot author Mary K. Greer says, “Never before have so many decks and so much information been gathered in one place.”
The catalog was designed for comparison shopping. The book offers clear, standard ratings and reviews across all publishers. Decks are listed in alphabetical order by title, with several entries per page in side-by-side layout. For each title, vivid descriptions of the cards are followed by everything you ever wanted to know about a Tarot deck, formatted as twenty-one labeled segments.
Among the information in a DeckFinder are the title, author/artist, year published, reviewer rating, suits, book, and extras, as well as the likely audience for the deck. Decks are indexed by author and by over forty separate interest areas.
Martin believes that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so decks are not judged based on the artwork. Instead ratings discern the concept behind the work and the level of maturity displayed in the overall package.
Review by Shel Raymond.
The Lover’s Path Tarot
by Kris Waldherr
From Kris Waldherr, the creator of the highly popular Goddess Tarot, comes a fresh and beautiful deck that uses primarily Greco-Roman couples to represent the interaction of yin and yang that permeates our world.
Mythical love stories from many cultures are pictured with rich details and earthy colors on lavishly decorated borders. Dressed in snowy white trimmed with gold, heavenly Isis and Osiris embrace amidst a field of white lotus blossoms in the sixth major, Love. Fair young Vivianne, a vision in glowing white, joins the aged Merlin to animate the Arthurian legend in trump one, Magic.
The exceptional book provides two pages of information in addition to a full color photo of each trump. The minors are given one page each.
This extraordinary set is recommended for those who would like to expand their knowledge of Tarot and mythology. It is a romantic deck with a rare maturity that transcends the outwardly interpersonal kind of love and reveals something about the nature of self-love.
Reviewed by Raye Martin.
The Earth Deck
Created by Gaiamore (Gail Morrison)
My first experience with the Earth Deck took place on my annual visit to the East Coast and the Atlantic last summer. My session proved to be so unique and compelling that I immediately acquired my own deck to continue my work with the artist by phone and delve deeper into nature divination.
The Earth Deck is a beautiful collection of 52 nature photographs configured in a large 8x8 inch format. The elements are evenly distributed, and there is a nice representation of seasons and climate zones.
Taking readings from the Earth Deck is a unique and powerful experience that leads to self-discovery, attunement to the inherent wisdom of the Earth, and appreciation of the beauty of the Goddess. Because the images are manifestations of nature, no esoteric explanations are necessary. The teaching comes from the individual’s personal relationship to that which is presented in the image — visually, emotionally, intuitively, and spiritually.
The photo that appears on the back of each card is a compelling picture of a crystal ball on the earth, suggesting that if we look deeply to the Earth for guidance, we will gain the knowledge we seek. The laminated cards are durable, easily seen in circle, and perfect for use in ritual.
The Earth Deck seems ideal for professionals in more traditional fields of psychotherapy and education. Gaiamore is an artist, educator, and therapist with extensive experience in Earth-based spiritual practices.
The Earth Deck is truly an idea whose time has come.
Gaiamore (Gail Morrison, M.Ed.) is an artist, therapist, and Reclaiming Teacher with extensive experience in Earth-based spiritual practices. Visit
Reviewed by Leona.
The Housewives Tarot
by Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum
“Domestic Divination Made Simple!” proclaims the instruction booklet, and they are not wrong.
This light-hearted new deck is packaged in a cheerful blue-checked recipe box, complete with index card dividers for the Major and Minor Arcana. Loaded with wonderfully retro art reminiscent of 1950s women’s magazines, the Suits of Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles are in complete agreement with the traditional Waite-Smith system. Except the Cups are martini glasses; the Wands are mops and brooms; the Swords are steak knives and sewing shears; and the Pentacles are sparkling china and dinnerware.
Like that? Well, you’ll love the Majors, then. The Chariot is, of course, the trusty station wagon; The Devil is a slice of devil’s food cake waving all the most dreadful tempations around; The Hermit depicts “take me away, Calgon;” and The Sun is sunny side up, of course!
While the artwork is playful and clever and the accompanying booklet is a breezy Doris Day dream, this 78-card deck captures the spirit of the Tarot as well as many of the much more pedantic decks out there.
If you are a beginner, just learning the Tarot, this may not be the best place to start. But if you have a bit more experience, or are a collector, this little gem is not to be missed.
So relax, pour yourself a martini (recipe included), and be assured, as one housewife observed, “Well, I declare! These cards aren’t a gateway to Damnation after all!”
For more information, visit www.housewivesTarot.com.
Reviewed by Beth Owl’s Daughter.
by Patric Stillman
This lush, masculine “Radical Faerie” deck was made with spellbinding digital composites and has its roots in earth-based spirituality as well as the Rider Waite Smith Tarot. The author belongs to the Radical Faeries, a worldwide group started by gay activist Harry Hay in the late 1970s.
Much like the Cosmic Tribe Tarot, Stillman used photographs of his community members, and combined them with his images of the Pacific Coast. The beautiful redwood forests, Joshua trees and the ocean, as well as the Mojave and Anza Borrego deserts appear.
Based on the title, it is not surprising that the figures depicted are exclusively male, including the High Priestess! Yet there is diversity in the shapes, sizes and ages of the men, and this work reveres the planet so deeply that its celebratory mood is infectious. Some may be drawn to it for that reason alone.
The quality, glossy set is not pornographic, and with its standard structure it could be used as a beginner deck. I would recommend it to those who express an interest in its subject matter. For gay Pagan, poly-amorous or gay-friendly Greens who want a gorgeous deck, these beautiful, inspiring images are highly recommended.
Reviewed by Raye Martin.
Six Tarot Classics
Thumbnail reviews of six classic texts on tarot, including Waite, Crowley, and Arrien.
Click here for Six Tarot Classic reviews..