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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

REVIEW: Renaissance Tarot


 About My Reviews

A Renaissance Tarot: A Guide to the Renaissance Tarot
by Brian Williams
Size: 7" x 10"
197 pages
ISBN 10: 088079545X / 0-88079-545-X
ISBN 13: 9780880795456
Copyright 1994 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Renaissance Tarot
by Brian Williams
Includes 39-page booklet
ISBN 10: 0880793074 / 0-88079-307-4
ISBN 13: 9780880793070
Size: 2-3/4" x 5"
Copyright 1987, 2005 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Deck and Book Set
ISBN-10: 1572810335
ISBN-13: 978-1572810334

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Having heard many good things from many good people about the Renaissance Tarot by Brian Williams (first published in 1987), I decided the re-release of this deck and book by U.S. Games was the perfect opportunity for me to get acquainted.

As a Tarot reader who often employs Golden Dawn astrological associations, I am intrigued by the astrological associations for the Court cards in this deck. For example, the Knight of Staves is linked with Gemini, the Page of Swords with Sagittarius, the Knight of Cups with Scorpio, and the Page of Coins with Capricorn. I will enjoy exploring this aspect of the deck. As you may be able to tell from what I just wrote, this deck associates Staves with Air and Swords with Fire.

The images on the Pips strike me as being difficult to interpret at an intuitive level. For example, on the Five of Coins we are told that the scene refers to Demeter revoking her gift of fertility to the world, bringing drought and frozen ground. A cruel little boy taunts her, and she turns him into a lizard. Now that I have read the LWB, I can see where this relates to the traditional interpretation of the Five of Coins (Pentacles), but I think a fair amount of study will be needed before I can read the Pips in this deck with any degree of confidence.

As an eternal student (Sagittarius Sun), I am looking forward to reading the book A Renaissance Tarot from cover to cover, probably highlighting the most interesting passages. Based on everything I have read about Brian Williams, I believe I would have liked him very much.


Deck: "Through the exquisite artwork of Brian Williams, Renaissance Tarot connects traditional tarot symbology to the splendor of European Renaissance culture and classical mythology. The 22 Major Arcana cards feature the Olympian deities and demi-gods of antiquity. Card titles are in English and Italian. In the booklet, also by classics scholar Brian Williams, each card description identifies both the Greek and Roman deity as well as his related attributes. For example, the Fool is associated with Dionysus/Bacchus and the Magician with Hermes/Mercury. The four suits in the Minor Arcana are represented by four classical myth cycles with an interlocking system of planets, constellations, seasons, and elements. Swords relate to Achilles; Staves to Hercules; Cups to Cupid and Pysche; and Coins to Persephone. The great cities of Renaissance Italy are represented in the court cards. The back design of Renaissance Tarot features a mandala incorporating symbols of the four suits and the four elements. Brian Williams artfully weaves together a rich tapestry of Renaissance imagery."

Book: "A Renaissance Tarot by Brian Williams takes the reader on a journey through the symbolic landscape of the tarot. This heavily illustrated guide explores how tarot cards are woven into the fabric of European culture, while providing both the beginner and the adept with a complete guide to the cards, their meanings and uses."


Brian Williams, who passed away in April 2002, was an artist, author, and tarot expert, with a keen appreciation for the imagery and iconography of the Italian Renaissance.

A Renaissance scholar as well as an artist, Williams wrote several books on tarot symbolism and also designed several tarot decks including the Renaissance Tarot, POMO Tarot, Minchiate Tarot, and Ship Of Fools Tarot, plus the Angel Journey cards and the book to Michael Goepferd’s Light and Shadow Tarot.

In the preface to A Renaissance Tarot, Williams recalls, "I scribbled constantly from an early age, having inherited some of my mother's talent for drawing. . . my favorite picture books were the glossy, oversized "coffee table" art books in the family library. Castles and ancient cities, mythical gods and monsters fired my imagination."

A Brian Williams Tribute Page can be found at this link: http://www.tarotpassages.com/brian.htm



The cards in this deck are printed on sturdy card stock with a glossy finish. They measure 2-3/4" x 5". Within white borders, each card has a gold border that forms an arch at the top on most of the Majors and Courts. On the Pips and some of the Majors, there is a gold oval within the gold border, encircling the image on the card. On many cards, tiny illustrations occupy the corners, within the gold border. Card titles are in both English and Italian.

Images on the Courts and Pips are painted primarily in pastels against a pale yellow, blue, rose, or green background. The Majors typically incorporate bolder, brighter color.

The back design is gray-beige in color. As described by Brian Williams, the back design of the cards "sets out the four-fold cosmology. Signs and symbols of the four suits are at each corner. . . Enveloping and connecting everything in the design is an enlaced network of triple circles. . . The mandala of the back design can be read outward from the center as a version of the Pythagorean Tetrad."

Book: A Renaissance Tarot (A Guide to the Renaissance Tarot) is a 197-page paperback measuring 7 x 10 inches. Text is interspersed with a large number of black-and-white illustrations. The layout is clean and inviting, which is helpful because a huge quantity of information is presented in this book. This is not a "quick read."



Major Arcana: The Trumps in this deck depict all the gods and goddesses of Olympus as "guardian deities." For example, Dionysus (or Bacchus to the Romans) stands in the upper right corner of The Fool card; Poseidon (Neptune) accompanies The Hierophant; Artemis (Diana) stands in the right corner of The Moon.

Courts: The art and architecture of an Italian city is featured by suit on the Court Cards: Swords represent Milan, Staves represent Florence, Cups represent Venice, and Coins represent Rome.

Pips: The pip cards of this deck are similar to Marseille style, featuring the suit symbols that correspond to the number of that card. There are human beings on many of the pips, but they are often merely "posing," not acting out the meaning of the card.

The numbered cards are organized under four great myth cycles: Eros (Cupid) and Psyche for the Cups; Persephone (Proserpine) and Hades for the Coins; Herakles (Hercules) for the Staves or Wands; and Achilles and the Trojan War for Swords.

In the suit of Swords, the hilts on the swords are different from pip to pip. Coins suit markers are pale, golden-tan circles ringed by a heavy brown rim and thin russet lines. Cups suit markers have the same color scheme. Staves resemble the living tree from which they were hewn.

The 39-page "Little White Book" (LWB) offers an "Introduction to Tarot", information about the Presentation Card included in this deck, information about the Back Design, and a discussion of each card, including Divinatory Meanings and Reverse Meanings. At the end of the LWB is a discussion about The Ten-Card Spread (Celtic Cross). A blank page is provided for Notes.

Book:  A Renaissance Tarot is organized as follows:
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: A World of Allegory (The Macrocosm, The Microcosm, Divine Symmetry)
  • Chapter 2: The History of the Tarot
  • Chapter 3: The Major Arcana
  • Chapter 4: The Minor Arcana
  • Chapter 5: Reading the Cards
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • List of Illustrations

As Brian Williams writes in the Introduction, "This book may be used as a guide to any deck of tarot cards, but it especially accompanies the Renaissance Tarot by Brian Williams." Each card from the Renaissance Tarot is compared with many other tarot images. The discussion of each Major begins with a quotation from Shakespeare.

This book offers a wealth of tarot history and art history through text, art, and quotations. Williams discusses hand-painted cards, engraved cards, woodcut decks, the Tarot of Marseilles, the game of Tarot, and occultism and fortune-telling.

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.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week at a Glance: Knight of Disks

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

For the week of April 28, 2013 I am using The Mary-El Tarot by Marie White (Schiffer). To read my review of this deck, click HERE:

My card is the KNIGHT OF DISKS.

The Mary-El Tarot

"Do not dwell in the past,
do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on
the present moment."
~ Buddha
as quoted by Marie White

This card is based on the idea of Buddha. It is a reminder to me that I am much more likely to find the answers to my problems if I look inside myself. I have the tools I need. Everything is here for me. The advice given by this card is to take the middle path, using what I need, no more or less. It will not be helpful to go to extremes in either direction -- deprivation or indulgence.

Traditionally, the Knight of Disks carries a sense of slow but steady progress, determination, and responsible stewardship of materials and assets. I see a particular emphasis on the physical, material world -- including finances, possessions, health, and whatever gives me a sense of security and stability.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lenormand Houses and Mystic Lenormand Reading

I recently acquired Tierney Sadler's _Deck of Lenormand Houses_ and the _Mystical Lenormand_ deck by Regula Elizabeth Fiechter, painted by Urban Trosh (AGMüller / U.S. Games Systems Inc.) Since I am fairly new at working with the Lenormand, I am doing a simple 3-card line.

I am placing Tierney's Significator card in the center, and the card I draw for that position will be the topic of the reading. For the other two positions I am pulling random cards from Tierney's deck and random cards from the Lenormand to go in those positions.

Let's look at the Significator first. The card drawn into this position is Coffin (8). The topic of this reading is the "death" of something that needs to end so that something new can come into existence. This is about an important life alteration, a completion of a life cycle, or transformation. I can think of two situations right now in my life that meet these criteria -- one involving an aging parent and the other involving the dissolution of my daughter's marriage.

To the left we have Mice (23) from the Lenormand Houses. Therefore we can expect that the card drawn into that position will have some relationship to "damage, loss, anxiety and fears. . . theft, decay, nuisances and missing objects." Ring (25) from the Mystical Lenormand signifies a relationship or partnership, or perhaps an agreement or contract. In this position (Mice), we seem to have potential damage or loss related to a relationship/partnership or agreement.

When we look at Ring combined with Coffin, we see reinforcement of the notion that a relationship/partnership or agreement is being ended, voided, or dissolved. This seems to point to the dissolution of marriage that I referred to above.

To the right of the Significator we have Tree (5) from the Lenormand Houses. The card drawn into this position relates to "growth, wellbeing, health and spiritual health." We may be looking at "long-term issues like ancestry and soul incarnations."  Owls (12) from the Mystical Lenormand signifies instability or nervousness, telephone calls, and possibly "two elderly women."

Together, Tree and Owls suggest soulmates or some sort of spiritual relationship. Owls make their home in trees. There is a clear, beneficial connection. I see this as a reference to my daughter's relationship with her husband. Even though they have agreed to separate, they also believe that they each have had an important purpose in the other's life. There is probably a soulmate or past life connection between them, even though the marriage may not survive in this life.

When we look at Coffin and Owls as a pair, we get a sense of depressing news, perhaps death. Even though there is a soulmate or past life connection between two people, the relationship may not succeed in this life.

To me, this reading reflects my concern and sympathy for my daughter (and her husband) during this difficult time. The cards contain a lot of death, destruction, and distress -- yet we do not get any indication of the bitterness or anger that often accompanies the end of a relationship. Instead, the two people acknowledge the value of the connection that brought them together, but also acknowledge that it is time to move in different directions.

I am impressed with the relevance and insight provided in these cards. I will certainly be doing more readings like this!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Week at a Glance: 6 of Swords

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

Before I explore the new Week at a Glance card, I want to comment on last week's card, _The Tower_.

As it turned out, I'm pretty sure that card was alerting me to problems with my mother's health. She became ill and was admitted to the hospital on April 17 (Wednesday). I totally did not see that coming. It was definitely a "Tower" experience because it has made clear to Mom and the rest of our family that she probably needs to think seriously about moving from her home into a place where she can be closer to medical care and attention. Meanwhile, we are making some significant changes for the foreseeable future in her current living arrangement.

I often have trouble seeing how a daily or weekly card actually applies when I get to the end of the day or week. Not this time!

For the week of April 21, 2013 I am using _Tarot of the Mystic Spiral_ by Giovanni Pelosini, with artwork by Giuseppe Palumbo (Lo Scarabeo).

My card is the SIX OF SWORDS.

Tarot of the Mystic Spiral

The suit of Swords is the suit of the mind and communication, which suggests that something in that realm will be particularly important this week. I often see the Six of Swords as being about running away from or towards something. In Tarot of the Mystic Spiral, the Six of Swords shows a group of initiates on a boat crossing "the whirling torrent of the Maelstrom." On the Rider-Waite Six of Swords, the boat moves toward calm waters. We cannot see if there are calm waters ahead for the initiates on the Mystic Spiral card, but we do know that they must survive this difficult crossing if they are to reach their destination.

It appears that this week I may need to journey through "rough waters" if I want to change something. It will be up to me to see that this journey broadens my perspectives, sharpens my perceptions, and clarifies my state of mind instead of the opposite.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Haiku Tarot Exercise

I am enjoying doing some of the activities in Andy Matzner's Tarot Activity Book (read my review HERE), so I thought I'd share one with you. Here is how it's done:
"Process: Randomly pick a card from your deck. Your goal is to write a haiku based on the card you have chosen. Study it. See what comes to mind as you notice its details. What impression does the card make on you? What kind of energy is emanating from the card? What thoughts does the card provoke? How does it make you feel? Use your response to the card as the inspiration for your haiku."
I started to write haiku in elementary school, when I first learned about this very short form of Japanese poetry. Sometimes my best friend and I would write haiku together, one of us writing two lines and the other writing one line -- neither of us knowing what the other person was writing. The results were... odd. But great fun!

To learn more about writing haiku, check out this web site: How to Write a Haiku Poem.

According to that site, "using 5-7-5 [syllables] is no longer considered to be the rule for haiku in English, although it is still taught that way to children in school" (that's how I learned it way back when). These days, English haiku tends to be 10 to 14 syllables long. An example is given of a haiku by Jack Kerouac with the structure 4-3-3.

For this exercise I am using The Fairytale Tarot by Karen Mahony, illustrated by Alex Ukolov (Magic Realist Press).

My card is the FOUR OF WANDS.

The Fairytale Tarot (Magic Realist Press)

In the Fairytale Tarot, this card is associated with the story of The Musicians of Bremen, which happens to be one of my very favorite Grimm fairytales (and believe me, I've read them all). If you would like to read the story, you can do so at this link: The Bremen Town Musicians.

For my haiku, I am incorporating both the fairytale and the traditional meaning of the Four of Wands. So here you go. I hope you enjoy!

Light in the darkness
A joyful noise
Travels far.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week at a Glance: The Tower

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

For the week of April 14, 2013 I am using the _Faery Wicca Tarot_ by Kisma K. Stepanich, with art by Renée Christine Yates (Llewellyn).

My card is Trump 16, The Round Tower.

Faery Wicca Tarot (Llewellyn)

I'm pretty sure this relates to some news I received on Friday from my daughter about a major change she is making in her life. It changes certain things about my life in significant ways. This is much more of a "Tower" experience from her perspective, but it would be foolish to ignore its effect on me. In fact, she tells me that some of the decisions I have made in my life have served as an example for her in this situation.

Like all true Tower experiences, this one looks like it will allow my daughter to build a different sort of life for herself, to take on new challenges in an effort to create the life she wants. Unknowingly, she is heeding the advice of this card as expressed in the guidebook that accompanies the deck: "Take the risk of flying rather than falling. . . Don't lose heart; face the encroaching change."I need to be mindful of this advice as well.

Certainly all of this will be on my mind throughout the coming week.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Tarot Activity Book

About My Reviews

The Tarot Activity Book
by Andy Matzner
269 pages
Dimensions: 9 x 6 inches

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I'll start by saying that I love the Dedication that Andy Matzner wrote:

"This book is dedicated to Pamela Colman Smith
Without whom, not"

Matzner continues to draw the reader into the book with a couple of compelling quotations:

"A book should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us." ~ Franz Kafka

"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." ~ Lao Tzu

As I paged through the book, I placed little flags on pages with material that I found especially interesting, thought-provoking, entertaining, or revealing. I used a whole lot of flags! I have shared some of my favorites below, under "Details and Comments."

In my opinion, the Product Summary (below) hits all the important nails on the head. The Tarot Activity Book can be used by tarot experts or novices, for personal introspection and enlightenment, and/or as a therapeutic tool to augment other techniques used by professional counselors and art teachers.

It's serious; it's fun; it's educational; it's uplifting.

Matzner's conversational writing style, the outstanding content, and the clear, clean organization of this book make it a valuable addition to any tarot library.


"Whether beginner or advanced, if you have an interest in tarot you will find much to enjoy in this book. The nearly 100 activities and exercises will add another dimension to your experience with the cards. This book will also be useful if you are a mental health professional or art teacher who uses the expressive arts in your practice. Inside, you will discover a wealth of creative and therapeutic ideas regarding how to incorporate tarot into the work you do with clients or students."

Andy Matzner

Andy Matzner has been studying and reading Tarot since 2004. He is a licensed clinical social worker who also has a private psychotherapy and life coaching practice.

He first began using the tarot with clients and groups who were open to it, and one of the first things he realized was that the cards can make effective conversation prompts. He then discovered that basing arts and crafts projects around tarot cards "could not only be fun for participants, but also provide opportunities for self-exploration and personal growth, as people expanded and deepened their creative possibilities." At around the same time, Matzner noticed that using tarot cards as writing prompts "elicited heartfelt responses in ways that verbal prompting couldn't."

You can learn more about Andy Matzner at his website: www.AndyMatzner.com


The 269 pages of The Tarot Activity Book are organized as follows:
  • Introduction
  • Conversation Starters
  • Writing & Journaling
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Appendix: One for the Road
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Author

The black text is printed on white paper using a very clean, clear layout, bullets, and plenty of white space for easy reading. There are no illustrations inside the book except for a photograph of Pixie Smith.

The 17-page Introduction contains the following subsections:
  • How This Book is Organized
  • Using This Book
  • The Power of Ritual and Why It Matters
  • The Structure of the Tarot Deck
  • Tools and Materials

In each of the main sections (Conversation Starters, Writing & Journaling, Arts & Crafts) we have a series of titled activities, for example:

Conversation Starters - 22 activities, including:
  • Relationships
  • The Hero's Path
  • Mood Cards

Writing & Journaling - 41 activities, including:
  • Personal Power
  • Survivor
  • Birthday Guests

Arts & Crafts - 33 activities, including:
  • Expressive Art
  • Totem Pole
  • The Portal

For each of these activities, the author provides subsections titled Objective, Background, and Process (occasionally followed by Options and/or Examples). The activity in the "One for the Road" segment is titled "Trust and Receive." It involves a therapeutic technique called the "ambiguous function assignment."


Some of my favorite quotations from the author's Introduction:
  • "My goal is to challenge you to think about tarot in a way that perhaps you are not used to . . . as the means to stimulate your creativity and imagination. . . The exercises and activities in this book also provide the opportunity for you to delve deeply into your psyche."
  • "What I found was what expressive art therapists have known for years: people love to be creative. After all, we are naturally artistic beings, although this impulse often gets pushed aside or even smothered as we grow older."
  • "You don't need any prior knowledge about tarot in order to use this book. Nor is a background in psychotherapy or the arts necessary."
  • "Many people continue to associate tarot with black magic or Satanism. . .Due to its cultural 'baggage' please be sensitive when sharing tarot with others. . . I have found that it helps to share the historical background and development of tarot."

Most of the activities and exercises ask us to choose a card or cards to represent certain things related to the activity or exercise. Occasionally, we are told to draw a card "at random."

Below are some of my favorites, described in brief summary form. This will show you a teeny, tiny tip of the marvelously huge iceberg created by Matzner with this book:

The Deal: Pick a card at random and ask "What do you offer me? What do you want from me in exchange?"

Negative/Positive: Choose a single card that does not resonate with you (your least favorite card). Fill in the following sentence: "One day in the future this card will have saved my life because..."

Facing Your Inner Critic: Choose a card that represents this "being" who tells you things that make you feel badly about yourself. Ask it the following questions (I am listing 3 of the 8 questions provided):
(1) Where did you come from?
(2) What do you want from me?
(3) How do you keep me stuck?

Tarot Haiku: Randomly pick a card from the deck and create a haiku based on that card. (If doing this in a group, have other participants guess which card you used as your inspiration.)

The Three Gifts: Choose a Major Arcana card at random. In a journal, describe the three gifts this card gives to you, as follows:
  • First Gift: help in creating something that will benefit your life
  • Second Gift: assistance in protecting something of value in your life
  • Third Gift: allowing you to change something in your life that isn't currently serving your best interests

Mix-and-Match Poetry: Pick ten cards at random. On index cards, write a single line of text for each tarot card. Arrange the index cards to create a poem.

Still-Life Study: Pick a card either at random or purposefully. Represent it artistically ten different ways, in any medium(s) you choose.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Deck Test: Dreaming Way Tarot

Awhile back I developed a _Deck Test_ -- a 3-card reading (partly in fun) for insight into how well I can expect to work with a new deck.  One of my recent acquisitions is the Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi and Kwon Shina (U.S. Games Systems). Let's see what the potential is for our partnership.

Here is the spread:

(1) Drawn from Pips only
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being "absolutely fabulous" and 1 being "truly awful"), how does my ability to work with this deck rate as of right now?

(2) Drawn from Court Cards only
What personality trait(s) do I need to cultivate if I want to be able to work better with this deck in the future?

(3) Drawn from Majors only
How likely is it that I will be able to do amazing, awesome, astonishingly accurate readings with this deck?
Trumps 0-6 = not very likely
Trumps 7-14 = somewhat likely
Trumps 15-21 = very likely

Results for the Dreaming Way Tarot:

Oh dear. Apparently there is room for improvement on this one! I love that the LWB entry for this card includes the keyphrase "competent but not expert." I also love that this is one of the cards from this deck that puzzles me, mostly because it doesn't seem to "connect" with the traditional RWS image of the 3 of Pentacles. And there you go -- improvement in my ability to work with this deck is needed! Maybe I need to put a paper bag on top of my head...


Well, that makes sense. I will need to demonstrate determination, hard work, passion, and confidence if I want to work better with this deck in the future. I love that the Queen of Wands is one of my significator cards.

(3) JUDGMENT (Trump 20)

Phew! Looks like if I heed the messages of the preceding cards, I am "very likely" to do amazing, astonishingly accurate readings with this deck!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Week at a Glance: The Lovers

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

For the week of April 7, 2013 I am using The Kingdom Within Tarot by June Lucina and Shannon ThornFeather (Schiffer).

My card is THE LOVERS.

In this version of the Lovers card, we see a man with light coloring with a woman of dark coloring. They are watching a movie in which the main characters look exactly like them. Juno Lucino tells us that they are seeing the image of each other projected on the screen. Other people in the theater are in various stages of relationship. The Lovers is linked with the zodiac sign Gemini, the Twins, but we also see a reference to the sign Sagittarius in the flaming arrow being shot by the planet Mercury, shining "like a great Cupid" above the theater-goers.

For me, personally, this card seems to refer to my husband (Gemini) and me (Sagittarius), suggesting that my emphasis this week needs to be on our relationship, perhaps on a communication that has occurred or needs to occur (Mercury, planet of the mind and communication, rules Gemini). The Lovers can also be about perceptions (accurate or inaccurate) that might affect a relationship.

Friday, April 5, 2013

REVIEW: Dreaming Way Tarot


Dreaming Way Tarot
by Rome Choi (Author)
and Kwon Shina (Illustrator)
78 pages
U.S. Games Systems Inc.
ISBN-10: 1572817127 / ISBN-13: 978-1572817128
Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 1.3 x 4.9 inches
_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Put the words "dream" or "dreaming" in the title of a Tarot deck and you immediately have my attention. I could tell from online images that the illustrations would not be the abstract "dreaming mind" sort of thing. That's because they don't depict dreams. The title of the deck comes from the fact that the characters of the tarot came to author Rome Choi in a dream.

The art is beautiful and works well as Tarot in most cases, although some of the cards include oddities that are difficult to interpret. Unfortunately, the little white book (LWB) does not make any effort to explain these oddities, which could make it difficult for a reader to use these cards with clients. Personally, I love the oddities -- objects on people's heads, long pointy shoes, the plaids and checks and polka dots. So many of these cards make me smile.

I was intrigued by Rome Choi's "Characteristics of Suits" and "Characteristics of Numbers" in the LWB. Much of what he writes is similar to what I have heard before, but his way of putting things is sometimes refreshingly different. For example, under the number 2, he writes: "Pentacle means earth. If you find the answer to the question, '"What will happen when two lumps of earth meet together?', you can understand what pentacles mean. The answer is that nothing will happen. Therefore it has the meaning of sustaining. The meaning of other suits can be found in this way."

Readers who are familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck can use this deck successfully without a lot of preparation. Beginners might stumble over some of the images that don't correspond readily to the RWS.


"Dreaming Way Tarot dresses up traditional tarot with contemporary artistic flair. In this exquisite deck, stylish characters breathe new life into the scenes and symbols of the Major and Minor Arcana. Dreaming Way Tarot explores numerological as well as elemental influences, and offers fresh interpretations of tarot."


Author Rome Choi has been professionally involved with tarot since 1997, both in teaching and reading for others. The characters of tarot came to Rome Choi in a dream, thus he named this deck Dreaming Way Tarot. Illustrator Kwon Shina, who began her artistic career in 1997, has contributed artwork to comic books, film posters, calendars, novels, and advertisements.

The deck is modeled after the Rider-Waite-Smith style: 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards, including 16 Court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, and King). The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Strength is Trump 8 and Justice is Trump 11.

A 39-page LWB (Little White Book) accompanies the deck. For the Majors, we are given a paragraph about the card followed by Upright and Reversed divinatory meanings. Choi tells us that "reversed" does not indicate the opposite meaning of "upright." Instead, "Reversed cards show different degrees of the same condition."

For the section on the Minors in the LWB, Choi begins with "Characteristics of the Suits," which features a diagram showing that the basic components of humans are body, mind and soul. He notes that "Pentacle means materials. Wand means body. Cup means emotion. Sword means mind." Pentacles are linked with the element Earth, Wands with Fire, Cups with Water, and Swords with Air.

Following the suit characteristics we have "Characteristics of Numbers" in which Choi explains that "each number of the Pip cards has its own unique nature just as the suits do." The Page, Knight, Queen, and King are included in this section on numbers.

Beginning with Pentacles, the LWB gives us keywords for each suit followed by a paragraph discussing various aspects of that suit, followed by Upright and Reversed meanings for each card in the suit.

At the end of the LWB we have the Dreaming Way Five-Card Spread. The positions are (1) Present Gifts, (2) The Past, (3) Change, (4) Delusion, and (5) Dreams.


The cards are 2-3/4 inches by 4-3/4 inches. The card-stock is sturdy. Although the cards bend forward easily, they are stiff when bending backwards. For that reason, I recommend a push-pull or side-to-side shuffle with this deck.

Card faces have a 1/4 inch white border. Within that border, the images are framed by a thin black line. Titles are centered at the bottom of each card in black type. For the Major Arcana cards we are given the number and title. For the Minor Arcana and Court Cards, we have the number and suit written out (e.g., Three of Pentacles, Queen of Pentacles).


Let's get the card backs out of the way first. I am not attracted to the wavy green background or the vertical lines of ovals in puce, yellow, brown, and blood red. The backs are reversible.

Many of the illustrations are modeled closely on the RWS, but many of them are not. For example, the Three of Pentacles shows a woman in what appears to be a long white shirt-dress. An open bag lies on its side on top of her head. Three coins are falling out of the bag. The High Priestess wears white stockings, green shoes, a black dress, and a tall black hat. She sits on a green crescent moon, holding the Torah in her lap. The Aces feature the suit marker centered on the card, without the traditional RWS hand reaching forth from a cloud.

Black and white polka dotted patterns feature prominently in the Cups cards. Checked patterns in various colors appear frequently in cards from all four suits. Swords cards have a lot of gray, white, and beige in them. Pentacles are much more brightly colored in general, using a lot of purple, green, red, and orange. In addition to polka dots, the Cups cards share a more muted palette than the Pentacles. Wands are brightly colored for the most part. The colors on the Majors are largely deep, rich, and bright, with the exception of Justice and The Tower.

The style of the art is realistic (in that human beings look human) yet there is a strong fantasy element as well.

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.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How People See Me

I'm sure many of you have seen the "How people see me" meme that has popped up all over the internet. In case you haven't, here's a link to show you what I'm talking about: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ashleybaccam/how-people-see-me

I decided to enlist the help of Antonio Lupatelli's Tarot of the Gnomes (Llewellyn) to create a meme related to my status as a self-employed individual -- writer of books, tarot reader, and jewelry designer. I drew cards at random to place in the following positions:

How my friends see me
How my family sees me
How society sees me
How anyone with a steady job sees me
How I see myself
How it really is

The results totally cracked me up. Here they are:

Tarot of the Gnomes by Antonio Lupatelli (Llewellyn)

How my friends see me: FIVE OF WANDS
My close friends know that I often feel like I'm in a constant battle to solve problems and get my work in front of potential customers. Perhaps more importantly, I am constantly in conflict with the part of me that sees only the negatives: the shortage of customers, the lackluster reviews, the "outgo" that far exceeds the "income."

How my family sees me: FIVE OF CHALICES
Learning, growing, gaining experience -- sitting on a little stool, dressed in funny clothes, having a drink. The traditional interpretation of disappointment or regret isn't readily apparent in this version of the card, but I think my family is aware that I am disappointed by the level of success I have achieved, which I would describe as "too little, too late."

How society sees me: THE EMPRESS
In society's eyes, the self-employed person must surely be ruler of her domain, yes? Powerful, in total control of every aspect of her work, invincible, overflowing with self-confidence.

How anyone with a steady job sees me: FIVE OF SWORDS
Ha! Free as a bird, roaming the range, living off the land, eating a whole chicken cooked over an open fire.

How I see myself: THE WHEEL
Round and round and round I goes. Where I stop, nobody knows. I am in tune with the Universe, part of the movement of life, poised and stable in the midst of change. This is how I would *like* to see myself, but I really don't.

How it really is: JUSTICE
Yeah, I can see myself here: blindfolded, clutching a sawed-off sword in one hand and holding scales aloft in the other... The keyword given for this card is "Consequences" and I think that about sums it up. That's how it really is. Everything I do in my work has consequences. The trick is to somehow achieve the consequences I am working toward rather than a bunch of random consequences I don't expect or desire.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week at a Glance: King of Swords

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

For the week of March 31, 2013 I am using the Celtic Dragon Tarot by D.J. Conway and Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Publications). This is one of my oldest and dearest decks, so I am eager to see which card comes forward for the coming week.

My card is the KING OF SWORDS.

The Guide to the Celtic Dragon Tarot tells us that in this deck, Wands are associated with the element Air, while Swords are associated with the element Fire. Therefore it is no surprise that we see the King of Swords in a cavern that is part of the interior of an active volcano. His sword is said to represent "his strength of will." A large Fire dragon with a baby on its shoulder looks up at him from a pit of molten rock. Having descended into his subconscious mind, the King of Swords now connects with universal power.

Although I realize that Court Cards can represent other people in my life, I know that more often than not, they represent aspects of my own personality that I need to explore, understand, control, or express. In her book The Tarot Court Cards (Destiny Books), Kate Warwick-Smith offers the following characteristics for this king in his various helpful and harmful roles:
  • Supporter: Adviser
  • Detractor: Dictator
  • Resource: Pragmatism
  • Challenge: Ruthlessness

In the Celtic Dragon guidebook, D.J. Conway presents the King of Swords as a card of opposition that commands us to "obey the laws." She sees his influence as powerful, stubborn, and masculine.  He delivers the message: "Do everything exactly by the rules or you will lose."

I feel I need to control or limit the less helpful energies represented by this King, while expressing or emphasizing the more helpful energies -- whether these energies come from within myself or from an outside source. Specifically, I think I need to be careful that I do not take a narrow, rigid view of something when a more relaxed, tolerant approach would be better.

I think I am being encouraged to avoid being legalistic in matters, and to be realistic and practical (which may mean bending the rules in a particular situation). Having a "will of iron" can be beneficial in some situations, but this week I may need to moderate or modify that tendency. If someone with King of Swords energy opposes me, I may want to think twice before automatically responding in kind.