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Thursday, July 25, 2013

REVIEW: The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot

_About My Reviews_

The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot
by Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Bürger
Llewellyn Publications (April 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0738735795 / ISBN-13: 978-0738735795
216 pages; 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches

Related Web Site:
Llewellyn Publications

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

As most of you who are reading this already know, there are basically a bazillion books out there that claim to offer an understanding of the venerable deck known as the Rider-Waite-Smith. Early in my Tarot training, I had a mentor who constantly reminded me that the material in these books is the opinion of the author, i.e., what the cards mean to that particular person. I was also cautioned to be aware that the only one who could really speak authoritatively about what A. E. Waite intended was Waite himself (as in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite, Weiser Books).

In addition to the PKT, one of my main sources for information on the symbolism in the Majors of the RWS deck has long been Bob O’Neill's "Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols," accessible online at http://www.tarotpassages.com/old_moonstruck/oneill/

A quick comparison with the entries in The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot reveals that O'Neill's approach is more scholarly. If you are looking for such an approach, The Ultimate Guide might disappoint you. The authors do not footnote their entries to indicate sources for their interpretations. Of course, we are told in the "10 reasons for writing this book" section that their writing is based on "the knowledge and insights which we have gained in the course of a quarter of a century in our work as tarot authors and in conducting seminars..." Nothing to sneeze at, obviously.

As long as you keep in mind that this book does not contain "the official meaning of each symbol and card as endorsed by A.E. Waite,"  I think you'll be fine. There's a lot to love about this book. including:

  • Layout and organization -- clear, clean, attractive
  • Content -- provides information while also igniting curiosity, creativity, and intuition
  • Thumbnail images of each symbol discussed in the book -- so no confusion about what is being interpreted

Here are a few pieces of advice/insight found in this book:

"An interpretation is only complete after it has led to practical consequences. . . The practical results are the only yardstick with which we can assess whether a given interpretation was 'right' for our personal situation."

"Don't over-interpret numbers. . . All-purpose statements like 'the 5 stands for a crisis' or 'a 6 always means harmony' are far removed from serious and dependable interpretation."

"An interpretation is plausible when it is coherent and makes definite sense to the observer -- so long as this personal evaluation is based on actual clues to be found in the image."

"Personal associations...are certainly part of reading cards, and they make the process of interpretation more colorful and concrete. But: by placing too much emphasis on personal notions and associations in tarot interpretation we run the risk of chasing our own tails and simply reinforcing the thinking patterns which we already have. That is why it is important to get to know both levels of interpretation -- personal associations and interpretation standards -- and to be able to keep them apart."

"The most important clues may be in the background."

"The color of the sky reveals a lot."


"Discover everything you ever wanted to know about the world's most popular tarot deck. The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot details the ten most important symbols on each and every card in the deck complete with hundreds of illustrations for easy use. In addition to an explanation of the symbols, each card is given a brief interpretation by topic. Writing in a convenient format designed for quick reference, European tarot authorities Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Bürger also provide tips, hints, facts, and lore to improve your reading right away."


Johannes Fiebig has been writing about the tarot since 1984. His fields of interest include the use of tarot and other symbolic languages as psychological tools. He lives in Klein, Germany.

Evelin Bürger founded the German occult publishing company Konigsfurt Verlag in 1989 with Johannes Fiebig. Her areas of interest include the intuitive use of the tarot, yoga, gardening, and art. She lives in Klein, Germany.

In addition to co-authoring The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot, Fiebig and Bürger are co-authors of the Complete Book of Tarot Spreads (Sterling / 1997) and Tarot Basics (Sterling / 2006).


This 216-page paperback book measures 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches. Body text is black, with blue subheadings. The glossy cover features the RWS Magician on the front  and information about the book and its authors on the back. The generous use of white space on the inside adds to the visual appeal.

Each card is given a two-page spread. On the right is the card number and title in burgundy followed by a summary of its meaning in italic black type. Centered below that is the image of the card, with various details/symbols numbered to match a key on the left-hand page. Below the image of the card is a one-line interpretation. Below that are subsections titled Basic meaning; Spiritual experience; As the card for the day; As a prognosis/tendency; For love and relationships; and For success and happiness.

On the left-hand page of each card's two-page spread the numbered symbols are titled, displayed via thumbnail image, and interpreted.

For example, beneath the title for I - The Magician is the following paragraph: "The card for uniqueness and singularity. You can do magical things too, and you will witness miracles. Every person is special and has his or her own individual claim on eternity. You, too, will achieve something that no-one else has ever managed before." Under the picture of the card are the words: "Make a difference! -- Don't be good, be great!"

The 10 symbols discussed for The Magician are magic wand; red mantle; white robe; wand, sword, cup, and pentacle; table with markings; roses and lilies; horizontal figure of eight (lemniscate); gestures of the arms; the serpentine girdle; and yellow background.


Within these pages, you will find the top ten most important:

  • Ways of using a single card
  • Tips and rules for interpretation
  • Facts about the tarot
  • Interpretations for each suit
  • Spread layout techniques

The Top 10 Spreads included in the book are:

  1. Three cards for the day
  2. The oracle
  3. A peek into the future - I
  4. A peek into the future - II
  5. The way ahead
  6. The star
  7. Living with uncertainty
  8. The way
  9. The way of desires
  10. The Celtic cross (one possible variant)

The Tarot and Astrology section (the last section in the book) contains a chart showing which cards are associated with each zodiac sign and each sign's ruling planet. Also included are the dates and ruling planets associated with that sign.

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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

REVIEW: Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck


Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck
by Kim Dreyer
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN    978-1-57281-724-1

Related Web Sites:
The Art of Kim Dreyer
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I love the spirit of this deck, with its dramatic images and compelling messages. Each scene creates an enchanting atmosphere or world that pulls me into its depths, making these cards perfect for meditation or an inspirational daily or weekly draw. I am looking forward to trying them with some of my favorite tarot spreads as well. The deck reflects universal themes and experiences yet also has a highly personal feel that is certain to give it broad appeal.


"This luminous 44-card deck is imbued with Kim Dreyer’s artistic vision and her passion for the natural and the supernatural elements we encounter on our soul paths. She has created Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck to help guide others to a deeper level of consciousness and a more harmonious life. The deck introduces chakras, angels, and spirit guides as it awakens the spirit and rekindles the connection between the cosmos and the earth. The guidebook contains insightful interpretations to help you discover the Divine Feminine wisdom each card carries."


Kim Dreyer is a fantasy artist and graphic designer who was born and raised in South Africa. She writes: "After spending over 16 years creating pottery and sculpture, I turned my creative talents to ‘wearable art’ with my crystal jewellery. Although I still create the occasional commissioned item of jewellery,  my greatest joy now is to create whimsical fantasy and fairy paintings and uplifting, visionary, spiritual art and angel paintings." Dreyer's personal journey to connect to her own unique spiritual self inspired the creation of Conscious Spirit.


In the words of deck creator Kim Dreyer: "The purpose of these cards is also to awaken you to the beautiful, unique human being that you are and to remind you that you have valuable gifts and lessons to share with all of humanity." She adds that these cards are not "quick-fix pills." Rather, it is our own input and work that determines whether they help us or not. The cards are meant to be "a conduit between your higher guides and yourself; the cosmos and the earth, a tool through which spirit, angels, and guides can touch your heart."

The set begins with card 1, Spirit Awakens - "I embrace my soul purpose and align all aspects of my life to it fully" and ends with card 44, Integration - "I combine body, mind, and soul to lift all of humanity into a new dimension."

The cards can be grouped as follows:
  • Chakras (5-Root, 10-Sacral, 13-Solar Plexus, 17-Heart, 20-Throat, 24-Third Eye, 26-Crown)
  • Elementals (6-Earth, 14-Fire, 18-Air, 11-Water)
  • Archangels (9-Raphael, 16-Michael, 22-Gabriel)
  • Triple Goddess (19-A Nurturing Heart-Mother, 38-Forest Frolic-Maiden, 39-Flames of Wisdom-Crone)
  • Other Characters (8-The Healer, 25-Spirit Guides, 33-Sun Goddess, 34-Earth Angel, 35-Nature Spirits, 41-Moon Goddess)
  • Concepts/Messages: (1-Spirit Awareness, 2-Meditation, 3-Transformation, 4-Gratitude, 7-Sacred Space, 12-Reach Out, 15-Find Your Bliss, 21-Your Own Path, 23-The Present, 27-Spark of Divine, 28-Release, 29-Balance, 30-Reach for Your Dreams, 31-Embrace Change, 32-Movement Meditation, 36-Abundance, 37-Crystal Ascension, 40-At Day's End-Rest, 42-Wheel of Life, 43-Celebrate Life, 44-Integration


The Conscious Spirit Oracle consists of 44 cards measuring 3.5” x 5.25” and a 44-page companion booklet. Dreyer tells us that the interpretations offered in the booklet can help guide us, but we should also trust our intuition when further messages come through. There are no images in the booklet.

The flip-top box features card 24, Third Eye Chakra, on the front and card 18, Air Elemental, on the back.

Cards are standard weight tarot card stock with what I would describe as a semi-glossy finish.

Card faces have a narrow tan border. Symbols for the four elements appear in the four corners. Each card has a number and title centered at the top and an affirmation statement at the bottom. For example, the affirmation on card 12, Reach Out, is: "I reach out my hand and my heart to connect to and unite all of humanity." The titles and affirmations are in black type against colors that compliment, match, or accent the images.

The non-reversible card backs incorporate the Seven Chakras, Phases of the Moon, Sacred Geometry, The Tree of Life and Angel Wings. Colored ribbons lead from each chakra symbol to imagery that represents the area of life associated with that chakra.


Dreyer's art clearly expresses her "passionate interest in the supernatural, fantasy, and esoteric world as well as a deep love of nature." Colors are vibrant and varied, ranging from cool to warm in shades of purple, blue, green, red, orange, yellow, and brown. The images, which have a distinctly fantasy feel, are alive with movement and mood. Animals play an important role in many of the images. For example, a zebra is depicted in 29-Balance, a deer in 4-Gratitude, cats in 40-At Day's End-Rest, a bear in 8-The Healer, and a wolf in 19-A Nurturing Heart-Mother. Each chakra is personified in a beautiful woman and the card is painted in the color associated with that chakra.

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, July 21, 2013

Week at a Glance: Sacral Chakra

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. I also use this opportunity to become more familiar with decks I don't work with a lot, so you will often see me quoting the creator of the deck or someone who has a closer relationship with the deck than I do at this time.

For the week of July 21, 2013 I am using the Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck by Kim Dreyer (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) I will be posting a review of this beautiful new deck on Tarot Notes soon!

My card is SACRAL CHAKRA (10).
Conscious Spirit Oracle (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

The affirmation for this card provided by Kim Dreyer is: "I feel comfortable in my own body and I'm sensitive to other people's feelings." The Sacral chakra is linked to water, sexuality, and emotions.

This week, I need to tune in to and trust my own feelings, making sure that I distinguish between true feelings and my ego. It may be important to acknowledge and release a past experience that is influencing current relationships and behavior. Use of a creative outlet can help me release and understand my feelings, allowing me to view them from a more objective perspective.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Interview with The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery

All it took was "just one look" for me to fall in love with Robert Place's newest creation: The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery. Such a clever man, to post pictures of the cards on Facebook for me to see!

For information about the philosophy and history behind The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, I direct you to the Little White Book that accompanies the deck and/or to an _interview _with Robert Place posted on James Ricklef's Tarot Blog.

Here, I am sharing my interview with this deck using questions I developed a year or so ago.

(1) How would you describe your essence or essential energy?

CUPID (The Lovers)

According to Master Place, my creator, I am "the driving force that fuels (y)our journey." Will that force be sensuality or virtue? The choice is yours. My essence or essential energy is whatever you put into me.

(2) Which card do you feel reflects my essence or essential energy?

SATAN (The Devil)

You are being controlled by your shadow. You struggle to suppress or ignore it, but that only increases its power, leaving you feeling anxious, unworthy, and out of balance. This will continue until and unless you learn how to develop an ongoing, conscious relationship with your shadow, to integrate it. Accept your dual nature and learn to work with it.

(3) What story do you hope to tell me?


I tell you a story of falling cups and a bird who has been set free. It is a story of change, of falling apart and overcoming restriction, of loss and profit.

(4) What should I not expect from you?


Do not expect me to carry you through the stages of transformation, ascension, or liberation. I will accompany you, encourage you, and challenge you -- but you must be responsible for your own transportation.

(5) Which card most closely represents us as a team?


Together we can seek and discern the truth. We can also wound and injure, if we are not careful. We have the ability to judge and choose wisely, but we must always be aware that there are positive and negative possibilities in all situations.

Wow. The answer to the second question sure sobered me up (not that I was drunk or anything, but I might have been just a little light-hearted -- not anymore!) This deck clearly does not mince words. I can't argue with anything it said in this interview. Also, I have a feeling it would be unwise to argue...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week at a Glance: 6 of Cups

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. I also use this opportunity to become more familiar with decks I don't work with a lot, so you will often see me quoting the creator of the deck or someone who has a closer relationship with the deck than I do at this time.

For the week of July 14, 2013 I am using The Whispering Tarot by Elizabeth Hazel.

My card is the SIX OF CUPS.

The Whispering Tarot

This card is sometimes called the "nostalgia card," and for me, it usually calls my attention to the past from an emotional perspective. Among Liz Hazel's meanings for this card are "memories of the past. . . family ties. . . things that evoke nostalgia." This interpretation resonates with me particularly well for this upcoming week. My daughter (who is in her early thirties) is coming to visit from a long distance away. On Friday we will travel to my son's (her brother's) house and stay for a couple of days. For me, although my past with my son and daughter does contain a lot of happy memories, it also holds sad, painful ones.

From an astrological standpoint, the Six of Cups is associated with the Sun in Scorpio. Interestingly, this is the first time my daughter will be here without her husband. They are separated and preparing to divorce. He is a Scorpio. This suggests to me that his absence and the difficulties in their relationship will also be on my mind this week.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Love in July!

Instead of celebrating "Christmas in July" like a lot of retailers do, I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day in July! The following post by Helen Howell first appeared on Tarot Notes on February 15, 2009. Helen has graciously given me permission to share it again today. Enjoy!

Love Is In the Air - The Lovers & Two of Cups
by Helen Howell

I've been thinking about both these cards just recently, and what they share in common but also how they may differ. Both of course are about love, but what about love? Starting with The Lovers, let's have a look at what its message could be.

A common astrological association for this card is Gemini, a sign that is represented by the Twins and symbolises duality and what possibilities that creates.

I think it only right to start off with a Marseilles type Lovers card, so this illustration is from my Fournier deck. As we can see here, the man is between two women. One is fair and younger, the other darker and older. Does he have a choice to make? Is this where the concept of choices comes into the lovers card?

The fair haired woman is younger, less experienced, more pure, virtuous. Blond being considered a light colour perhaps leans towards the light and the spiritual. The dark haired woman is older, more experienced perhaps, making her fascinating, leaning towards the dark and the baser/physical instinct.

The choices aspect of this card therefore is between vice and virtue. I notice how he is looking towards the darker woman. Cupid is above them ready to shoot his arrow. Perhaps in love one really does not choose, or at least choose wisely! Can he stop Cupid from actually shooting that arrow? Love often hits when we least expect it, whether we choose it or not...

The next card is the Rider Waite because that brings us into the slightly more modern interpretation of this card. In this illustration we see Adam and Eve - both naked - standing in front of the Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge. The Cupid in this card has been replaced by an Angel who seems to be sending a blessing down to the couple. The man looks at the woman and the woman looks at the Angel. This could be seen as the masculine and feminine energies coming together with the higher self in order to complete the balance.

This card does seem to be about commitment within a relationship and about reconciliation of opposites in order for them to function as one. The Waite card does speak, I think, primarily of love more than choice. Although with the suggestion of Adam and Eve, it could also symbolise love but not without some difficulty to go through.

My next choice for the Lovers is the Victorian Romantic Card 2. This card seems to me to illustrate all facets of The Lovers card. As we see from the image, a mermaid and a man embrace passionately, she still in the water and he still on land.

Here we have the perfect example of how "love is blind" as to not see the difficulties that the relationship could create. Also we see her tail becoming legs. There are two ways to look at this, going with the "love is blind" aspect first, does this also illustrate to us how when in love we create illusions about the possibilities within the relationship?

Now the choices aspect of this card also jumps out to me. Again her tail is turning to legs. Is she ready to make the choice that will commit her to a different way of life? The choice in this relationship can be life changing.

Then there is the commitment aspect of the card where one can be so devoted to another that they are prepared to make it work even against all odds. The sexuality aspect of the lovers is evident in the VR card.

The last Lovers card is my own from Tarot Bella: Two people stand by the light of the full Moon which represents fulfilment. The Moon lights in its path a sign post bearing different choices that can be made.

The couple hold each other showing that embracing love can lead to fulfilment in life and personal growth through relationships. However, our Lovers know that in making a choice something else has to be given up, and that they cannot follow all directions on the sign post. So the one important lesson The Lovers shows us is to consider what is of real importance and not be led by the superficial.

I think therefore that the Lovers card is about choice and about love. I also think it is about reconciliation of opposites or dualities whether it be with another person or within oneself.

On to the Two of Cups:

I am starting with the Hanson Roberts card. It's such a sweet card and shows a young couple with heads bent together, but their cups are not quite touching. We see the caduceus, the staff of Hermes, two snakes coiled around it - just like in the Rider Waite deck. From the bottom of this staff comes a bright white light that not only goes through the gap in the cups, but also spreads out to touch each of the figures, around about where their heart would be. At the top of the staff we see a lion's head. In Rachel Pollock's book Tarot Wisdom she tells us that this is an alchemical symbol of transformation. So a clear message is given here then of "love transforms."

The snakes of course could represent two energies coming together and in the form of a caduceus they can also be associated with healing. Therefore it becomes a symbol of love heals, or perhaps a message that says you can heal from a failed relationship.

The two cups also represent balance and harmony along with co-operation and compromise, and if already in a relationship this is what this card could well be suggesting.

It is a card that does seem, in its symbolism, to signify bringing two opposites together and the likelihood of something new.

So what is the major difference between The Lovers and The Two of Cups then?

From what I can see the Lovers is more about a relationship that may already be formed, whereas the Two of Cups does seem to indicate a new relationship.

Whichever of these cards turns up, be prepared because more often than not, "Love Is In The Air!"

Deck Credits:

The Lovers
Le Tarot De Marseille Fournier - Naipes Heraclio Fournier, S.A.
Original RIder Waite - Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Victorian Romantic - Published by Magic Realist Press, Prague
Tarot Bella – Unfinished deck - Helen Howell

Two of Cups
Hanson Roberts - Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Napo - Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Old English - Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Journey through My Decks: King of Swords

For this entry in my Journey through My Decks series I chose to use the Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts, one of my all-time favorite decks that has just recently been _re-released by U.S. Games Systems, Inc._

I always find it interesting to see how packaging changes when a deck is re-issued. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are the old and new boxes side by side. Which one do you like best?

One of the many, many features I like about this deck is the incorporation of people other than white, European-looking individuals. Cuccia-Watts chose to associate the four suits of the Minor Arcana and Court Cards with "the four racial divisions: "yellow Japanese Swords; black Egyptian Staves; white British Cups; and red Native American Sacred Circles." Myths or legends from each group form the backdrop for the corresponding suit. I remember doing a reading for a Japanese client years ago. Having chosen the Ancestral Path deck for the reading, I couldn't help smiling when the card I drew for her was a Swords card.

As described by the publisher: "The Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts threads together the diverse beliefs of various cultures in order to find commonalities of experience between them. It examines the traditions of our ancestors through mythology to reclaim a personal spirituality that enables us to perceive the divine in ourselves and others. The Ancestral Path Tarot emphasizes the living tradition of all human cultures for us to factor into our world view. The deck portrays paths created by ancestors of different times and cultures for our consideration."

Let's take a closer look at the KING OF SWORDS.

Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

In the book written to accompany this deck, Tracey Hoover tells us that the suit of Swords in the Ancestral Path Tarot is inspired by the feudal Japanese Samurai cult and mytho-religious tenets of Shintoism.

Like all Court Cards in this deck, the King of Swords is represented by an ancestral figure, in this case, the creator deity Izanagi. Izanagi and the goddess Izanami (Queen of Swords) are the parents of Moon God Tsuki Yomi (Prince of Swords) and Sun Goddess Ama Terasu (Princess of Swords).

This deck links all Kings with the element Air and the suit of Swords with the element Air, and therefore describes the King of Swords as "Air of Air."

In mythology, Izanagi and Izanami had the task of creating form out of chaos. On the King of Swords, Izanagi is shown standing on the Bridge of Heaven, churning the waters of chaos with his lance.

Tracey Hoover tells us that Izanigi's white garments "reflect the purity and intensity of his attention to the divine task" and his blue sash "proclaims his affinity with the air element."

Divinatory Meanings provided by Hoover: "Creative skill, intellectual prowess, the ability to envision and then manifest those visions; use of the sword as a tool rather than as a weapon. Emerging from chaos or confusion with a plan of action; action following thinking and planning." When the card is weakly aspected, it can suggest "destruction rather than creation, regression rather than progress, or inversion rather than extroversion."

"Creating form out of chaos" seems like an appropriate assignment for the King and Queen of Swords, who are typically known for being rational, logical, and objective.