Asradel's Tarot Page . . .

Decks Reviewed on this Page

Robin Wood
Daughters of the Moon
Tarot 2000
DruidCraft Tarot
New Palladini Tarot
Tarot of Dreams


de Glen Tarot
Strength
© 2006 Holly S. Glenn

There is something about Tarot that most people find fascinating. They may not know anything about the Tarot, and they may even be a little afraid of it - but at the same time they find it compelling. In my humble estimation (and I say that with no ego as I know that my opinion is just that - the opinion of one person) that is the mark of a truly magickal tool or system. There is something about it that fascinates and calls out to the deepest parts of us, whether or not we know why is irrelevant. And so it is with the Tarot.

And here is a link to the new de Glen tarot page, that's where the beautiful Strength card on the left came from. It is my current best fun that my friend Holly has decided to begin her deck and I get to watch it happen. :) She has a wonderful eye. You should check it out. :)

Click on the Titles Below for Information

      If you want to see a really big Tarot page, visit Aeclectic Tarot. I recently joined and have had the best time just talking to others who love the tarot as much as I do. It's a lot of fun talking about different decks and even putting some of my decks up for trade. If you are a tarot nut, you should definitely check it out.

     I have been using cards as a divination tool since I was eight years old. Ridiculous age most people say, and so do I, but it is true. Being from a Catholic family, I didn't even know what a Tarot deck was or really anything about divination systems or reading the cards or anything. However, instinctively one day I picked up an ordinary deck of playing cards and began laying them out in a very simple linear spread and divining from them. No readings that I have done as an adult have been as accurate as those first readings I did as a child. Now I am a student of the Tarot, and ever will be. They are 78 cards that represent the journey we take in life. They are flexible, they are magical and their messages are real. You can read every book ever written on the subject or Tarot and still not know everything there is to know about this form of divination.

     However, the heart of understanding the Tarot lies in my story about that 8 year old girl reading accurately from a deck of ordinary playing cards when she didn't even know what card reading or Tarot was. Tarot is a window into your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind which understands and perceives patterns and recognizes signs that your conscious mind does not. This is where the truth and power lies. This is what you must tap into when you wish to use Tarot or any other system of divination. Fortunately with Tarot there is a great variety of decks to choose from. Literally hundreds of different decks are available. Over the years I have collected a few, and will review them for you here. I will try to put up at least one more deck every week or two in order to keep the page interesting.

      The origins of Tarot are somewhat shrouded in mystery, though some would argue that the cards' origins are well known and cut and dried. I leave these people to their own beliefs, and simply state what I have learned from the studying that I have done on the subject over the years.

     The simple fact is that we know some things about the beginnings of the Tarot that we have today, but not all things. One of the things we know is that the original decks of Tarot cards were wonderfully hand painted political satires commissioned by the royalty of Italy in the 17th century to entertain their equally wealthy and bored court by playing a game that they devised surrounding the cards called Tarochi. This we know. However, we also know that somewhere along the lines, Romany gypsies got their hands on either replicas of these cards or originals of similarly drawn cards and incorporated them into their divination systems - assigning meanings that had more to do with the common human experience and life's journey than with any political happenings of the day. Now, whatever you have heard or whatever you think about Romany gypsies and all of the advertised charlatanism, etc... these people lived (and continue to live) very close to the land and have an uncanny sense of the supernatural that is very, very real. It is also true that they have capitalized on the gullibility of others in connection with this sixth sense and that there is a great deal of things they do and have done that earned them the name "gyps." Be that as it may, gypsies were (and are) real and when Tarochi was young, these nomadic Europeans did a great deal to distribute the system throughout Europe and Asia Minor and solidify their nature as that of a divination tool rather than a game.

      For many years the Tarot remained the exclusive realm of those connected with the supernatural. With gypsies and carnivals and anywhere ones fortune may be read. They were feared as tools of the Devil and decent, God-fearing (that term has always perplexed me, but that's a different story) people would never bear to have them under the same roof. However, when the Mag tical lodges of the 19th Century got underway and people like Dion Fortune, Sir Arthur Edward Waite, Aleister Crowley and MacGregor Mathers got together to form societies with the purpose of bringing mankind closer to deity and learning some of the ways and means by which we could more effectively communicate with the outer realms and bring about our will on this plane - the Tarot came back into focus. The Golden Dawn had a paper called "T" and this paper was written by A.E. Waite for the magical lodge. It examined the Tarot as it related to the mystical cabbalah and the journey along the paths of life to the gate of enlightenment. This paper formed the basis for a very important deck that became the catalyst for the "rediscovery" if you will of the divination system. The deck which was a collaboration between A.E. Waite and some of his lodge cronies is the Rosetta Stone for most decks in print today. Other members of the lodge, such as Aliester Crowley, decided to build on the work of Waite and the paper "T" and took the Tarot to deeper places, probing more esoteric systems for correspondences in the cards such as planetary and elemental correspondences. A very important deck that was created out of Crowley's ideas and illustrated under his direction is the Thoth deck.

     Now then, what are the cards, in a more simple and mechanical sort of way? The Tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards, and within these 78 cards there are two distinctly different classifications: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The word "arcana" translates to "mysteries" or "secrets." The major arcana is comprised of 22 cards. The cards begin with 0 and end at 21. O is the card titled "the Fool" (in the classic view) and the 21 card is "The World." The idea is that the 22 major arcan represent the journey of life and the major influences and experiences that make up that journey. The remaining 56 cards in the deck are known as the minor arcana. These cards very closely resemble a regular deck of playing cards insofar as there are four different suits. Pentacles (diamonds), Cups (hearts), Wands (clubs), Swords (spades). Each suit corresponds to different elemental forces, different zodiacal influences and different areas of life. The pentacles tend to reveal aspects of your material life - comfort, home, hearth. Cups reveal the world of emotion - the heart, your feelings and the way your feelings influence what is happening in the world around you. Wands are the suite of action and have to do with your work life and the things you do as your job or your craft. The swords have to do with intellect and how the things you think influence the world that is unveiling itself around you. There are court cards for each suit, the King, Queen, the Knight and the Page. In addition to the court cards are the numbered cards, 1 - 10. The court cards represent young and mature male and female aspects of the suit, and the numbered cards represent different stages and strengths of influence of the suit's attributes.

      A basic understanding of the meanings of the suits and the message of the major arcana are really all you need to get started reading. There are many good books on the subject of the Tarot and many, many more crappy ones. I highly recommend that you find a deck whose art appeals to you, read the handbook (or leaflet) that comes with the deck and from there, simply study the cards and figure out what they mean to you - what you see in them.

      Another thing you need to know about the Tarot is that their message is not absolute. What you get from the Tarot is a sort of snapshot of where you are in life at the time of the reading. There are so many variables and choices to be made that the tarot only shows you one path - the path you will go down if things don't change. So don't be afraid of the tarot. They are not tools that will show you your fate as it is written in some granite slab. They are a tool to help guide you as you navigate the many and varied paths of life. When you consult them on a subject and they give you an answer, that answer is for the way things are at that moment. If you are drinking heavily and you have noticed that you are drinking when you are alone and every night and you consult the Tarot to find out how this habitual and addictive behavior is going to affect your life, and you wind up getting the 10 of swords as your outcome card (pretty much the worst card in the deck), this is not to say that you can't get help, stop drinking and completely change the outcome. The 10 of swords in this case would represent the outcome if you choose not to listen to what the cards are trying to tell you.

Rating System

Star Rating
Meaning
Major and minor arcana both illustrated to reflect the traditional* meaning of the cards. Good art, intuitive interpretation possible from the illustrations.
Major and minor arcana both illustrated. Art is good, but not necessarily intuitive for the reader, but basic meanings can be determined with enough familiarity with the cards.
Major arcana is well illustrated, but the minors are just numbered representatives of their suits. However, with experience you can read them and they still adhere to the traditional meaning of the cards.
Major arcana is illustrated, but not well and/or not with the traditional meaning of the tarot cards. The minors are just numbered representatives of their suits. The only reason this type of deck gets 2 stars is that it is pretty to look at.
Strictly an art or novelty deck. This deck is not suitable (imho) for reading for divination purposes.

* "Traditional meaning" as I am referencing it here means that the cards reflect the meaning of the Tarot deck set forth by Sir Arthur Edward Waite and expressed in the Rider/Waite deck.

Reviews

Robin Wood Tarot
This is my all-time favorite Tarot deck. Robin Wood is an exceptional artist and a gal of the path, though I don't believe I've ever seen in print that she is a practicing witch, so I do not want to be tellin' tales out of school about the creator of this deck. I think I'll just stick to reviewing the deck itself.

The major arcana are illustrated beautifully, and the meanings correspond to the traditional meaning of the cards. However, Robin Wood put her own spin on the cards and it was decidedly a very pagan spin. The "Fool" is a jester standing on tip-toes, the Magician is a handsome young man, smiling and confident as he handles the elemental forces as easily as a child handles a jump-rope. The Hermit gazes over the world as he understands all, the Devil is represented by a "monkey-trap" of riches from which escape can only be had by realizing what is truly important in ones' life. The minor arcana are no less stunning. The court cards for the suit of cups bear symbols of dolphins and waves, the suit of swords bear wings and clouds to remind the reader of their airy quality. The pentacles bear earthy tones and show scenes of mastering crafts, gazing on ones accomplishments and things growing and bearing fruit.

I would highly recommend this deck for a beginner and for an experienced reader. It is a treat for the senses to work with these cards and my reading with them have always been very accurate for all of life's situations. Thank you Robin, your work is wonderful. If you would like to visit Robin Wood's website, I would be proud to be your jump off point. Tell her that Asradel says "hi."

Daughters of the Moon
This is a stunning Tarot deck on many levels. I would have given it a five-star rating but for the fact that the meanings of the cards are not based on the classic meanings of the Rider Waite deck, and the deck itself has been redesigned so as to leave out the masculine elements of the tarot. Still, as a Goddess-centric deck, it is peerless.

The major arcana are designed around various Goddess aspects. The "Fool" is not the fool, but the "Seeker." The seeker makes her journey and finds many aspects of the woman's unique mystical experience along the way. The minor arcana is also fully illustrated and very powerful in its meanings. You will find that each suit, however, is missing the knight card from the court cards (so do not think your deck is missing cards). This deck is very popular with lesbian women and Dianic witches - but it is also a wonderful deck for heterosexual women's divination needs. I find that when I am doing readings with this deck, they speak more specifically to the feminine aspects of life. It is a wonderful deck and I would highly recommend it for the beginner or the experienced reader. However, I would caution the beginner to bear in mind that the classic Tarot is not as gender imbalanced as this one is.

Tarot 2000
Pagan Tarot


This deck was conceived of as a deck for the new millennium. it is a wonderful deck with absolutely glorious major arcana and court cards. The minor arcana, however, are simple numeric representations of the suits, which is why it only gets a 3 in my book. I like pictorial representations.

I find that when I read these cards, I feel as if I am in another dimension - a changed world. I see deeper into the way things work. I am, however, a bit distracted by the correspondence of air to wands and fire to swords - although this is not an unheard of thing to do. Some schools of thought work this way - just not mine. Which makes this deck, overall, a bit more difficult to read even for an experienced tarot reader.

Though I would not recommend this as a first tarot deck for anyone, I do think this is a worthwhile deck for any collector. Take a look at Robin Payne's website and order a deck for yourself.

DruidCraft Tarot
This deck is my current deck of study. It is an incredible deck with powerful images. Phillip-Carr Gom, the joint Chief of the British Druid Order, brings together both Druidic and Wiccan symbolism to give new insights into the traditional meanings of the Tarot.

The court cards emulate the royalty of the Ancient Celtic Clans. Rather than the standard King, Queen, knight and page - the court cards are Kings, queens, princes and princesses. This makes it a bit more intuitive for the seeker to apply the meanings of youth and age to the cards based on their suits. I would recommend this deck for the beginning to the advanced Tarot reader. It's hard to think of anything that isn't appealing about this deck. If I had to ding it for anything, I would say that the cards are a big too big to handle (i.e., shuffle) but the size is perfect for seeing the art at its best and the layouts are beautiful.

    
       New Palladini Tarot


This is a stunning deck. I was a bit skeptical about it at first because I am not fond of the first Palladini deck - "The Aquarian Tarot." But this one is a different story. the first thing you notice about the pack is that the artist has really tried to infuse this deck with his interpretation of the meaning of the Tarot cards.

The colors are vibrant and the reading of the cards is all the better for these intense rich colors which are so emotionally evocative. It is a deck that can be read by beginners and experts alike, though I would say that to fully appreciate them and the richness of the symbolism they bear, you need some practice reading.

This is a wonderful deck for anyone who loves the Rider-Waite deck and all the variations that spun from it.

Tarot of Dreams
This deck is stunning from stem to stern. Every card is gorgeously illustrated and in such a way with such an incredible ethereal light source so as to live up to its name.
Ciro Marchetti certainly did an outstanding job on these cards. I didn't believe he would be able to top his work with The Gilded Tarot, but he managed to surprise me and that's exactly what he did.

Now, at the risk of being unpopular with my tarot peers, I'm going to have to go ahead and call this deck and art and meditation deck. The cards, though incredibly beautiful, are too large for actually handling and shuffling in order to read from. In my humble opinion. But Ciro's Tarot of Dreams deck still gets a whopping 5 stars just for extraordinary beauty and the fact that the deck comes wiht a CD that has an electronic tarot casting program on it so you don't actually need to use the physical cards in order to get a reading off of them. Even though this deck will set you back $83 shipped, it is well worth the investment for any serious student of tarot as well as for those who collect decks.

    

If there are any decks that you would like to see reviewed on this page, or you would like to ask questions about, send me some mail at Asradel@gmail.com. I love all things Tarot and would love to hear from you.

Blessed Be!


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