May 26, 2012

Book Review- Around the Tarot in 78 Days

From Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin and published by Llewellyn Worldwide comes a terrific new book called "Around the Tarot in 78 Days", a comprehensive and scholarly approach to learning the Tarot through a card a day.

Before the adventure begins, we find ourselves packing for the journey by explaining that all you need to start with is a deck of Tarot cards and the workbook itself. Marcus goes into detail about what you may encounter on your way, such as the tarot landscape which includes Landmark Cards (Major Arcana) Signpost Cards (Minor Arcana) Direction Cards (Court Cards) and explains "pitstop points" that are important moments where you can stop and review the fundamental forces that shape our lives so that we can adjust our course and make the most of the flow.

Also found in the pages just before the journey are excellent ways to get to know the language of Tarot, a "Keyword Kaleidoscope" where you can learn a wonderful method of putting together key words and phrases in order to understand the messages that the cards may be telling you; how to connect the cards in order to tell a story and a "Compass spread" to get your bearings in the world of Tarot.

The Start of the Journey then begins with The Page of Pentacles and includes numerological associations, astrological and Kabbalistic associations as well as affirmations and meditations and continues with this information with each and every card. I was really struck by the information on each card that describes the cards in different settings such as relationships, career, travel and lifestyle and spiritual development. It gives a broader range of how each card relates in different settings.

Other subjects like connecting with your card; what each card says,( a description of the message for that card,) keywords and ways that you may find yourself blocking a card.

Along the way, there can be found "Wayside Lessons" which serve to teach you ways of understanding the cards in a more meaningful way, "Gated Spreads" which you need to complete at different stages in order to move on to the next level.

The book is outlined by chapters such as The Outer Courtyard: The Clockwork Museum; The Labyrinth, The Garden of Delights; The Mountain of the Sun; The Ancient Coliseum; The Chasm of Night; The Pyramid Plaza; The Temple of the King and ends with Gate Ten: The Throne Room. The last pages in this book are an excellent resource that includes links to web-pages that further your knowledge, a reading list; a 78 day Tarot tale; explanations of the Major Arcana as may be found in spreads such as The Celtic Cross; and a wonderful segment on code of ethics,conduct and performance suggestions for professional readers.

Around the Tarot in 78 Days is an amazingly fun and in-depth way to learn the Tarot and Marcus and Tali make it a real pleasure to learn and grow in your Tarot skills and there is just SO much information in these pages that I could just go on for days about it! I highly recommend this book to beginner's and experts alike. And I hear that at Tarot Town, there is a class that will be held in October that follows this book, what fun!

Authors: Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN: 9780738730448

May 24, 2012

Deck Review- Ghosts and Spirits Tarot

From the amazing creatrix Lisa Hunt, (Fantastical Creatures; Animals Divine; Shapeshifter, and Celtic Dragon Tarot), comes her latest tarot creation... Ghosts and Spirits Tarot, a breathtakingly beautiful deck that utilizes tales and legends of ghosts and spirits from around the globe.

This stunning 79 card deck kept me on the very edge of my seat as I sat and watched it emerge card by card, on the Ghosts and Spirits FaceBook page and with each drawing Lisa posted I was absolutely blown away and I easily consider one of her finest works. 

Lisa, who makes her home in Boca Raton, Florida, is the creator/illustrator of numerous tarot decks, all of which are still in print and even been translated in many different languages. She has been a freelance artist for nearly twenty years and her intuitive connection with the spirit world shines quite brightly in her Ghosts and Spirits Tarot.

I was thoroughly thrilled when after receiving my deck, I found that there is a bonus card! I absolutely adore decks with extra cards such as the "Happy Squirrel" card found in Kat Black's Touchstone Tarot and was even more blown away at the sheer depth of imagery found on this extra card which serves as a card for deeper reflections on the question asked.

The cards are beautifully bordered in a lovely parchment color with the title written in a gorgeous flowing script at the bottom of each card. The card stock is absolutely awesome, as usual with US Games decks, and it's just the right size to be shuffled, even if you might have smaller hands. It has a wonderful glossy lamination and the design on the backs, which is pretty darned awesome in itself, features three swirling ghosts encircled by a ring of bones. The colors on the card backs are fantastically done and remind me of the beautiful patterns found on fine Batik fabric.

The LWB (little white book) accompanying the Ghosts and Spirits Tarot gives the story behind each ghost and where it originates as well as the definition of the card, although Lisa doesn't give reversed meanings in the LWB, these cards can be read both upright and reversed. 

The imagery on the cards themselves are intricate and quite detailed and upon closer inspection, you can see faces and spirits reflected in the surrounding colors and patterns, such as the Fool, which details the Leshy (wood spirits that inhabit the dark forests of the Baltic's) and all around this adventurer can be seen small sprites, stone creatures and faces peeking from the rocks and shrubbery. Such an awesome deck!

I usually look for my favorite cards when perusing a prospective deck but with The Ghosts and Spirits Tarot, there are just SO many wonderful cards I might as well admit that there is absolutely not one card that I do not connect with! The Ten of Cups pictures three figures from the festive Day of the Dead celebration that honors dead ancestors with feasts dancing and merriment. They are clothed in customary attire with blues, reds and yellows, surrounded by cups and faces reflected in Lisa's surrounding artwork.

The Moon features the legend of Aeneus' Journey to the Underworld and the imagery shows two figures, one of which Aeneus, who has come to search for his father in the mysterious and frightening underground passage that is symbolic of the unconscious and home to our greatest dreams and biggest fears. This card shows both the rich imagery of the rewarded as well as the torment and suffering of the punished, it too is among my favorite cards in the Ghost and Spirits Tarot.

This deck is simply too amazing and powerful that just descriptions alone do not come close to the wonder of holding this treasure in your hands and letting the Ghosts and Spirits speak to you in there own unique voice. I absolutely recommend this deck for both beginners and seasoned readers alike, it is truly a deck that one must have in their collection!

Publisher: US Games
Artist: Lisa Hunt
ISBN: 978-1-57281-661-9

images used with permission from US Games

May 19, 2012

Book Review-The Tarot Playbook, 78 novel ways to connect with your cards

Rules should always be bent, if not broken. It's the only way to have any fun. 
 Alyson Noel 

The Tarot Playbook, written by Lynda Cowles and published by Schiffer Books is a wonderful new book that will take that lovely deck you have just purchased but just can't quite connect with and transform your relationship into a wonderful bond between you and your cards that will last a lifetime.

Living in England with her husband, daughter, basset hound and cat, Lynda  doesn't simply spend her days writing internationally acclaimed tarot books, she also blogs at Archer Tarot, runs an online Tarot store and studies ways of using Tarot that are finding her pesky missing keys.

The Tarot Playbook is a 176 page book that starts out with Lynda's explanation of why your deck wants you to read this book, for instance, some of us lucky enough, get to watch our new decks as they are being created step by step and often wait with baited breath until we finally get to hold that new deck that kept us on the edge of our seats for several months...but what if after we have this wonderful creation in our hot little hands, we somehow can't quite connect with it? 

For many of us, the poor thing ends up relegated to a dusty old book shelf or at the bottom of a rarely opened desk drawer, spending it's days in relative anonymity.

What a sad end to such a beautiful and promising deck...until now. So grab that long forgotten treasure and spend some quality time together playing through the exercises and get to know that amazing deck as you've never seen before!

Lynda starts out with chapter one, starting with the Fool and works through to the the Three of Wands in a section called "First Contact, 24 ways to get acquainted with your cards"  Including activities such as "Twenty Questions," "Voices in Your Head" and "Whodunit" which are designed to make it easy and fun while drawing closer to your deck.

Subsequent chapters include... "Stepping Out," "Friends in High Places," "Just my Archetype," and "Forever Friends."  These chapters deal with understanding the Minors, how to develop a relationship with those pesky Court Cards and  little ways you can show your deck you care.

In the back, there are lists of activities that are covered in the book and the page that they are found on, called Playlists. This is an amazing book and you will truly find yourself looking forward to the activities listed whether you go through them from beginning to end or by drawing a card and trying the activity listed for that card each day. I absolutely had a blast reading this book, I giggled, laughed out loud and even raised an eyebrow or two at Lynda's wicked fun sense of humor and I can guarantee that you will too!

So grab The Tarot Playbook and that long neglected deck and sit down to a real treat and bonding experience!

Author: Lynda Cowles
Publisher: Schiffer Books
ISBN: 9780764339882

May 9, 2012

Deck Review- Art Through the Eyes of the Soul Oracle

Art Through the Eyes of the Soul Oracle, by Cheryl Yambrach Rose and distributed by US Games, is a wonderful deck for guidance, or catalyst to empower your own thoughts. Cheryl, a portrait painter, visionary artist and researcher has created a beautiful deck incorporating mythology, art history and her own psychic impressions woven together to form a truly unique oracle that is wonderful to work with.

This 52 card deck is slightly oversize at 3 1/2" x 6" and has a nice glossy lamination that really shows off Cheryl's wonderful artwork. Shuffling from the side or placing the cards on a flat surface and mixing them up thoroughly is the best way to shuffle or mix these cards up. The backs are non reversible but feature a beautiful painting of a waterfall and maiden peeking from behind the rocks, all done in breathtaking blues and greens.

What struck me while going through the deck was Cheryl's use of color and lifelike portraits that really draw you in and resonate with the keywords that are printed just below each image. The colors include deep blues, lush greens and breathtaking reds and lavenders. I love the characters eyes which seem so lifelike and almost follow you as you move. This is exactly how Cheryl "tunes into a subject" to receive her psychic impression.

They are bordered with a lovely golden leaf design and the edges are gilded which  adds to the majestic feel of this oracle. The companion book gives the meanings of each card and an expanded interpretation of the keywords found on each card. Many of the paintings are featured in Cheryl's book, "Art Through the Eyes of the Soul"  The book covers the four mythic lands in which she lives and paints...Narnia, Avalon, Bohemia and Lemuria.

This is a gorgeous Oracle deck and one worthy of anyone's collection,  it is an amazing tool when used with meditation and personal readings.  I found it to be quite accurate and very straight to the point and I had a wonderful time working with it!

Publisher: US Games Systems Inc.
Artist: Cheryl Yambrach Rose
ISBN: 978-1-57281-722-7

May 3, 2012

Deck Review- The Art of Life Tarot

The Art of Life Tarot, created by Charlene Livingstone and published by US Games Inc. was lovingly created in a time where she found herself searching for comfort after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and felt   helpless as many families find themselves after such a devastating diagnosis of a loved one. Using her background in art history and love of quotes, she has designed a beautiful deck that not only inspires, it causes one to reflect deeply upon the meanings and how they apply to the reader.

Wanting to create something to empower and work interactively with the  reader, Charlene has created a wonderful deck that somehow sets itself apart from most other decks and one of my favorite parts of this individuality is the very box itself that contains the cards. 

The box is made of durable cardboard and has an amazingly simple feature that I absolutely flips up and then back down with a slit at the top that you can slip your card of the day in and sets right on your desk displaying the selected card for cool is that?!

The deck itself is 78 card deck that follows the Rider Waite imagery and has wide beautiful borders on which the card name is printed at the top with an image painted by a well known artist, followed by information about the painting just below it and a quote to read and meditate about during your day below that.

Traditional artworks have been used in other decks such as The Golden Tarot and Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black but this deck is set apart with it's wonderful imagery and thought provoking sayings such as on The Fool..."You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment"- Henry David Thoreau... what a beautiful way to capture the essence of The Fool, don't you think?

This deck comes with the standard LWB (little white book) but instead of a whole list of different keywords, it contains just a few for each card as to make it easier to develop your own meanings and interpretations that will resonate with you so much better. 

The cards are a bit larger in size, (3 1/2" x 5") which may be a bother for readers with smaller hands but as with my "go to deck", which is quite large, I simply side shuffle and have found that it works quite efficiently. I love the lamination, not too glossy as to reflect any ambient light but just glossy enough to show off the wonderful images. The back of the cards are quite attractive and one of the features I personally look for when selecting a prospective deck, with a gorgeous depiction of the Tree of Life.

This is truly a spectacular deck that can be read with by all types of readers and is perfect for reflection and personal use as well. I thoroughly enjoyed working with this deck and I had to write this "sneak peek" review because it was just so amazing! The deck is not yet listed on US Games' website but will appear within the next week or so, I hope you will hop on over and check out all the wonderful decks that they have to choose from!

Author: Charlene Livingston
Artist: Images From Known Artists
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281=715-9