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Friday, February 24, 2017

REVIEW: Wonderland Tarot in a Tin


Wonderland Tarot in a Tin 
by Chris Abbey (Author), Morgana Abbey (Author)
_U.S. Games Systems Inc._ (January 20, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1572818794
ISBN-13: 978-1572818798
Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 0.2 x 3.7 inches

I don’t know if people even use the word “squee” (a sound made by excited fangirls or fanboys) anymore, but “squee!” was my reaction recently when I opened a package and The Wonderland Tarot in a Tin hopped out. Having seen the original deck “in action” (used for readings by a dear friend), I was delighted to find this new version in my own little hands!

The original version of The Wonderland Tarot -- created by the collaborative team of Christopher and Morgana Abbey -- was first published in 1989 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. You can still get the original, but be prepared to part with anywhere from $100 to $400 or more. I’m happy with the newly released version, available for around $15-20, depending on where you shop.

I especially love this Author’s Note provided by Chris and Morgana Abbey: “A lot changes over the years, and this remains a happy memory for us. If you knew it from before, we hope seeing it again brought you a grin, Cheshire Cat-like or not. If you are encountering this deck for the first time, we hope to match the grin. Thank you for all before and for all that is to come.”

The tin box makes a perfect home for the deck, which has the same art on the cards as the original -- art in the style and flavor of Sir John Tenniel's illustrations of Lewis Carroll's work. The colors are bright and clear, in keeping with the child-like images and “feel” of the deck.

The deck fits the typical Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) system, even though the suits have been changed to Flamingos (Swords, Spades), Peppermills (Staves, Wands, Clubs), Hats (Cups, Hearts), and Oysters (Pentacles, Coins, Diamonds).

Most of the major characters from Alice in Wonderland are on the Major Arcana cards, for example, the Mad Hatter (Fool), Lewis Carroll (Magician), Alice (High Priestess), Sheep (Empress), Cheshire Cat (Emperor), Caterpillar (Hierophant).

Reversible card backs are lavender with a white border, incorporating three rows of black vines with green leaves and red flowers.

The cards themselves are the approximate size of a standard playing deck. The playing-card equivalent of the Minor Arcana is notated in the borders of each of the appropriate cards (e.g., the “Six of Hearts” is noted in the border of the Six of Hats).

In the Little White Book (LWB), Chris Abbey provides an Introduction to Tarot and The Tarot Deck. Abbey mentions that the sources he used to write the booklet were The Encyclopedia of Tarot, volume I, by Stuart R. Kaplan, and The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite. For the Major Arcana, Abbey gives us Alice-related information for each card along with standard interpretations. For example:

“XIII. DEATH. The Queen of Hearts points at some unknown person, shouting, ‘Off with his head!’ One of the cards is lying down, playing possum so that he will not suffer a similar fate. The Queen shouts a lot, but no one ever really dies. The victims change so they will not be recognized. In the real world, those that die are in transition and will come back to live in another form. Divinatory meanings: Change. Transformation from one form to another or from one situation to another. Changing of the guard. Moving away from the familiar. Loss of security, bad luck. Abrupt or gradual change. Illness, possibly death. A bad loan. Reverse meanings: Complete lack of change. Standing still to the point of stagnation. Possibility of slow or partial change, with the proper surrounding cards. A close call in an accident.”

The Minor Arcana cards are grouped in the booklet by suit, with a brief description of the suit meaning for each. Divinatory meanings and Reverse meanings are provided for each Minor Arcana card.

At the end of the LWB, we have The Ten-Card Spread, described as a “slightly altered version of the Ancient Celtic Method described by Arthur Edward Waite in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.”

My favorites from this deck include Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee as The Lovers, the Jabberwock as The Devil, and the Walrus and the Carpenter (with the ill-fated oysters) as The Moon.

And now, in addition to doing some readings with this wonderful Wonderland deck, I need to grab a copy of Alice in Wonderland and revisit that fascinating story with its amazing characters!

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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fleur de Lis Reading

As I mentioned in my review, I was eager to try the Fleur de Lis reading provided in the guidebook included with the Botanical Inspirations cards by Lynn Araujo (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.), featuring illustrations by renowned Flemish artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840).

To read my review of this charming deck, click HERE.

Lynn Araujo explains that the Fleur de Lis has several traditional meanings, the most common being Faith/Wisdom/Valor or Perfection/Light/Life. Here is the layout for this reading:

Card 1 signifies the situation as it is.
Card 2 indicates the course of action to be taken to resolve the situation.
Card 3 projects the improved outcome of the situation.


For this reading, I decided to let Card 1 choose the topic or area to explore.

Card 1 signifies the situation as it is.

FORGET-ME-NOTS / Eternal Memories

Memories can be quite powerful. Over time they are often overlaid with more current perceptions or beliefs, to the point that we don’t really have an accurate memory at all. What we choose to remember and what we choose to suppress can reveal much about our deepest needs, fears, joys, and thoughts. In the Botanical Inspirations guidebook, Lynn Araujo writes, “Make room in your heart for the tender memories of lost loved ones, right alongside the happy memories you cherish.” I think perhaps the message to me right now is that I really can choose which memories to focus on or give a prominent place to. Dwelling on memories of bad situations, relationships, or experiences is unlikely to improve my life.

Card 2 indicates the course of action to be taken to resolve the situation.

NASTURTIUM / Victory & Conquest

So if we accept that Card 1 was calling my attention how I process and deal with my memories, the Nasturtium reminds me that “conquering those inner voices of self-doubt is the first step forward” in my personal growth (Araujo). There is probably not going to be a great big battle like those we see on movie screens. Rather, I am more likely to be faced with seemingly minor skirmishes that allow me to experience small victories, day by day. I must not underestimate the significance and power of those “small victories.”

Card 3 projects the improved outcome of the situation.

VIOLET / Faithfulness & Modesty

From Lynn Araujo: “Sometimes the quietest voice with a modest message is the one that holds the greatest wisdom.” If I heed the message of Card 2 in my efforts to resolve the situation represented by Card 1, the improved outcome is likely to be subtle, demure, and modest. I will not measure that outcome by the amount of attention I get or the accolades I receive. It is enough if I am the only one who is aware of the value and beauty of that improved outcome. It is neither necessary nor desirable that the world be aware of what I accomplish.

I love the “mini-garden” of forget-me-nots, nasturtiums, and violets that I planted with this reading. The messages will stay with me!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: Botanical Inspirations Deck & Book Set


Botanical Inspirations Deck & Book Set
by Lynn Araujo
Cards illustrated by _Pierre-Joseph Redouté_ (1759-1840)
44 cards with quotations
100-page illustrated guidebook
Fold-out guide to the Secret Language of Flowers
Drawstring organza pouch

So many things to love about this deck and book set, it’s hard to know where to start – but I’m going to start with the packaging, which is superb.

The top of the sturdy flip-top cardboard box features a lush collage of Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s Victorian flower art, including the dahlia, coreopsis, asters, forget-me-nots, and amaryllis, among others. This box is roomy enough for a perfect-bound guidebook with the same illustration on its cover, the deck of 44 cards, a trifold pamphlet listing keywords for all of the flowers shown on the cards, and an organza pouch the same shade of mint green as the box, booklet, pamphlet, and card backs. Also included is a card providing detailed information about Redouté, who was born in 1759 to a Flemish family of decorative painters. By the late 1790s, Redouté was the most famous and sought after flower painter in Europe.

Card faces are a tan parchment color, an attractive background for the artwork. The cards do a beautiful job of combining science and sentiment. At the top, centered, is the common name of the flower, with the Latin name or alternative name centered immediately under that in flowery script. Next comes the Redouté’s illustration of the flower. The style is realistic, and it is easy to see how the artist was influenced by the botanist Charles Louis L'Héritier, who offered Redouté free access to his botanical library and plant collection. Centered below the artwork is the meaning attributed to that flower. Finally, also centered, we have a quotation that reflects that symbolism. Here are a couple of examples:

Friendship & Gratitude
“Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy; 
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
 – Marcel Proust

Elegance & Patience
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
– Lao Tzu

For each flower, the guidebook provides a black-and-white version of the Redouté illustration, the common name and Latin name for the flower, symbolism, quotation, a long paragraph discussing the flower and its meaning, and an Inspirational Message. The eloquent writing in the guidebook is a pleasure to read, offering tidbits of the fascinating history and cultural interpretations associated with each flower.

Let’s look at the IRIS (Iris germanica).

Symbolism: Rainbows & Messages

Quotation: “When it rains, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.” – Unknown

“The stately flower borrowed its name from Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow. It was her duty to transport the souls of departed women to the Elysian Fields. In the Language of Flowers, Iris came to mean ‘messages’ since its namesake carried messages along the rainbow between the realms of the mortals and the gods. The majestic iris flower inspired the French fleur de lis motif, with the three petals symbolizing faith, wisdom and valor.”

Inspirational Message: “Keep your eyes open to the wisdom of the universe and you will receive clear signs and messages that guide you on your path.”

At the end of the guidebook is a section titled “Reading with the Botanical Inspirations Cards,” containing examples of the Three-Card Fleur De Lis reading. I am looking forward to giving this a try soon here on Tarot Notes.

The Botanical Inspirations cards are perfect for drawing a daily Affirmation, and the guidebook can be used as a resource when researching the various flowers and their meanings.

About the Author: Lynn Araujo is the author of Dreaming Way Lenormand, TastyTalk Conversation Cards, Historical Signals and Semaphores, Native American Playing Cards, and is co-author with Stuart Kaplan of The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith. She is currently working on Pastoral Tarot with Lisa Hunt.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Reading with Karma Cards

Today I am using Karma Cards: A New Age Guide to Your Future through Astrology, a deck devised by Monte Farber, with cards illustrated by Linda Garland (Viking Studio).

My question: What kind of situation/mood/atmosphere can I expect to encounter or prepare for?

This deck is based on astrology and consists of Planet cards, Sign cards, and House cards. For my reading, I draw one card from the Planet group, one from the Sign group, and one from the House group.

My results are: The South Node / in Leo / in the 12th House

Wow, it’s obvious that this is not going to be one of those light-hearted, skipping-through-the-daisies readings!

SOUTH NODE: For those who don’t know astrology, the Moon’s south and north nodes are imaginary points that mark off a sort of celestial equator. The North Node is also known as the Dragon’s Head, whereas the South Node is called the Dragon’s Tail.

Astrologers have different views on the meaning of the nodes in a chart. Options include: no meaning at all; past and future karma; how you relate to your environment; points of good luck and bad luck. In the guidebook to the Karma Cards deck, Monte Farber writes that the South Node card prompts us to “stop, look, listen, and remember.” It’s a reminder that I may be going against what I know are my own best interests.

LEO: The sign Leo rules pleasure, romance, self-expression, pride, sports, acting, and entertainment. We associate it with royalty, warm affections, generosity, openness and frankness. Leo has a strong desire or need to be proud of what it is doing and respected for it.

TWELFTH HOUSE: This house is about “the inner you” and “how you don’t want to project yourself into the world.” It is the house of secret fears, secret enemies, and self-undoing. Here we find that which tends to “negate our ego.” Matters governed by the 12th House include some religions, large institutions (government, the military, corporations, hospitals, prisons). Here there is a strong desire for secrecy or, at the very least, privacy.

When asking the type of question I am asking, we are instructed by Monte Farber to use the blue panels on each card for our answer. For The South Node in Leo in the 12th House, we receive these three statements:

  • Spiritual: There will not be self-confidence to create your faith
  • Mental: Anxiety about taking a chance on hidden tendencies
  • Physical: Trouble resulting from the impressiveness of large institutions or overwhelming events

If I weave all of this together, I get a sense that (at this moment in time anyway) I am not likely to have the self-confidence to create my own faith system or spiritual path because I have a lot of anxiety about how hidden tendencies might come across or manifest. This mental anxiety is based, at least in part, on the significance or power of large institutions (or institutionalized beliefs?) There is a “fear of coming out” vibe here that tells me I am not yet ready to take a public stand in the spiritual or faith arena. I am still too unsure of how to present or reveal hidden tendencies that may not be received well by “the establishment” in the physical, material world.

Alternatively, I can view these cards as representing different situations/moods/atmospheres in the spiritual realm, mental realm, and physical realm. The "hidden tendencies" causing my mental anxiety may or may not be related to my faith. The trouble from the "impressiveness of large institutions or overwhelming events" might have nothing to do with the other two. I could be looking at the possibility of health or financial problems connected somehow to large institutions or overwhelming events.

Monday, February 6, 2017

REVIEW: Tarot by Design Workbook by Diana Heyne


Tarot by Design Workbook
8.5 x 10
176 pages

Adult coloring books are all the rage these days, so it seems like a natural (and great!) idea to publish a coloring book specifically about the Tarot.

Tarot by Design Workbook encourages and allows each person to infuse his or her own intuition, personality, and nature into the study of the cards, while at the same time absorbing or extracting the most personally appropriate, helpful, or meaningful interpretations. It functions as a coloring book, a journal, a textbook, and an inspiration.

The only possible drawback I can see is that with perfect binding, the pages do not lie flat. You will need to use one hand or a weight of some kind to keep the book open flat as you color. The cover of the book depicts colored pencils, perhaps the preferred tool to use with this coloring book. Felt pen coloring might “bleed through” to the other side of the pages, which are printed on both sides. Crayons are too blunt and broad to fill in the finer details of the artwork.

Diana Heyne
The author, Diana Heyne, comes from a family steeped in mysticism. She has studied divination and other esoterica since childhood. Her extensive art background includes a piece in the White House collection (an ornament for the annual Christmas tree). You can visit her Etsy shop to see her fairy furniture and dollhouses: www.etsy.com/shop/pandorajane

The Tarot by Design Workbook is a perfect-bound paperback book featuring original color-in images of the 22 major arcana cards, along with the 56 images of the minor arcana. Each card also gets a “Learning Page” containing keywords for upright and reversed cards, with space for Notes. Learning Pages for the major arcana cards also contain a rhyme or phrase related to the card. At the back are blank pages framed creatively for the reader’s own artwork.

Examples of keywords and affirmations:

Upright: soul-searching, prudence, seeking wisdom, introspection, alone
Reversed: isolation, loneliness, fear, withdrawal
Phrase/Rhyme: I walk a lonely path. Only my lantern lights the way. I search for understanding. I seek out wisdom night and day.

Upright: speed, action, swift change, swift movement in travel
Reversed: delays, frustration, waiting, disputes

The pages containing these words and phrases can also be colored in, using different colors to underline, circle, or highlight the words that seem most significant to you, personally.

In her introduction to the book, Diana Heyne writes:

“I have long felt that many people hesitate to set foot on the path of Tarot because even the initial steps can appear somewhat daunting. . . When we engage our visual and kinesthetic senses through the movement of applying color to these images, learning, informed by intuition, takes on a friendlier face. . . What you learn here will provide a foundation that can be built upon to deepen and expand your knowledge and reach whatever level you choose.”

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Listen to the Animals: Groundhog

“Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.” (Source: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-groundhog-day)
To celebrate Groundhog Day here in the U.S., I decided to go through my animal-themed oracle and tarot decks to see which creators of those decks included the groundhog and what they said about it.

Of all my decks, I was only able to find one – the Wolf Song oracle deck by Jeanette Spencer and Lew Hartman (U.S. Games) – that included this charming rodent, known also as Marmota monax, woodchuck, or whistlepig.

In this deck, the groundhog card is titled “Woodchuck” and given the key words “Analysis, Attention to Detail.” Woodchuck is viewed as a creature of common sense, good judgment, and advanced planning. In times of great change, Woodchuck holds steady, getting the lay of the land, taking everything under consideration, approaching obstacles with a plan to go over, under, or around.

Today we heard from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, that the town’s celebrated groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow, forecasting 6 more weeks of winter. At the same time, a groundhog in New York called “Staten Island Chuck” did not see his shadow, thereby forecasting an early spring:

That pretty much covers the possibilities!