Wednesday, February 15, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot Leaves

R E V I E W

Tarot Leaves
78 Tarot Cards; Interpretation Booklet
ISBN: 978-0-7643-3903-5


FROM THE PUBLISHER'S PRODUCT SUMMARY

"Explore the Tarot through the beauty of nature as seen in images drawn within the silhouettes of the Maple, Apple, Oak, and Birch leaves. Utilizing color to convey the meanings on 78 artistic Tarot cards, each card is represented by a leaf in which innovative images and symbols are hidden. Colorful and intricate, the leaf image overlaps the imagery message and vice versa. The magician phrase, 'Now you see it; now you don’t,' surely applies as, with each reading, some images are noticed and seem to “pop” from the leaf, while other symbols are overlooked to be seen at another time. Enjoy the simple beauty of nature as you explore the roots of Tarot."

BASIC INFORMATION

Beth Seilonen grew up in rural Maine, where she often wandered through the woods communing with pine, cedar, birch, maple, oak, and evergreen. She is the creator of approximately 60 decks featuring a variety of styles and concepts. You can learn more about her by visiting her website and blog.

The Tarot Leaves cards follow the traditional Tarot format, with 22 Majors and the Minors divided into four suits: Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. Seilonen associates Cups with the spiritual realm, Pentacles with abundance, Wands with thoughts, and Swords with actions.

The foundation for all of the Swords cards is an oak leaf; for the Cups, a maple leaf; for the Pentacles, an apple leaf; and for the Wands, a birch leaf.


APPEARANCE, SIZE, QUALITY

The packaging for this deck is superb in terms of quality, durability, and attractiveness. Made of heavy laminated cardboard, the magnetic lift top box provides a secure, lovely home for the cards and 96-page Little White Book (LWB). Small ribbons on either side of the box keep the top from over-extending when you open it.

The LWB is nicer than most -- soft bound, with a laminated color cardboard cover. Following an Introduction we have a page for each card, including a small black-and-white rendition of the card with its title and divinatory meanings. Reverse meanings are printed on a dark gray bar at the bottom of each card's page. Personally, I find the black on dark gray print very difficult to read. If the book is ever redone, I recommend using reversing out the type for the reversed meanings. (Interestingly, the word "Reverse" is in white in each case, and easily readable.) At the end of the book we are given a three-card spread and a seven-card spread, along with a Conclusion and About the Author page.

Printed on sturdy, glossy stock, the cards measure approximately 2 3/4” by 4 1/2”. They are easy to handle and shuffle. Card faces have a white border with images set against a light gray background. Card titles are printed at the bottom of the cards in white outlined in gray, in a script-style font. Trumps are not numbered. The reversible card backs feature a blue-gray border and a collage of leaves in all colors set against a black background.

If you are one who likes to trim the borders off your cards, you'll be able to at least reduce the width of these borders. Removing them entirely would cut off the titles "at the knees."

ART

Each card face features a large leaf. Each leaf contains an illustration representing the card's meaning. I like the way we seem to be getting a glimpse into the "inner life" of the leaves, stories they want to share, impressions they have received from the world around them. The overlapping images invite us to stay awhile within their world.

Mostly pastel shades of rose, mint, violet, umber, azure, melon, and gold create a contemplative mood, perfect for conveying the spiritual aspects of the places Seilonen remembers from her days in Maine. I say "mostly pastel" because the colors are deep and vivid on some of the cards (for example, Judgment, Lovers, Wheel of Fortune, Ten of Cups). The colors and style of the art set a gentle, reflective tone, encouraging us to explore the depths of the images.

Details include traditional Tarot symbolism. For example, we see the sigil for the planet Venus behind the down-to-earth Empress. The Emperor's distinguished profile is set against a backdrop containing the symbol for Mars and a ram, for the sign Aries. The face of a lovely lavender lion dominates Strength. There does not appear to be any particular color scheme related to the elements or suits.

I like the way Seilonen conveys the feeling of "something being broken" in Devil and Tower by segmenting the pieces of the leaf on each of those cards. On Devil, a pentagram cuts through the leaf, severing its pieces from each other. The leaf on Tower seems to be exploding from within, sending fragments of the leaf in all directions.

BOTTOM LINE

A strong working knowledge of the Tarot is the best preparation for reading with this deck, although it will speak to readers at all levels. When not used as a reading deck, Tarot Leaves is a perfect deck for meditation and contemplation.

As mentioned above, the packaging is exceptionally attractive and sturdy. No need to buy a special bag or box to keep this deck in prime condition.

I think this will be a great deck to use in conjunction with other similarly themed decks, such as Mickie Mueller's Voice of the Trees (Llewellyn Worldwide) and The Green Man Tree Oracle by John Matthews and Will Worthington (Barnes & Noble Books).

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In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews. The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.



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