Review: Legend of Zelda Tarot

2015/07/30

Legend of Zelda Tarot – Britt Hoyer
2013

I know this will come as a shock to many, but I’m a huge geek. Now that you’ve recovered from the surprise I’ll continue with my review.

lozt3As soon as I found out there was a Legend of Zelda Tarot I had to buy it, I didn’t care it if was good, if it was true to the historical tarot system, I just knew I needed to possess it, and I haven’t been disappointed.

The Legend of Zelda Tarot is a fan made project, not an officially licensed Nintendo product. It is based off the Coleman-Smith tarot, but illustrated with characters and themes from the Legend of Zelda.

Each Suit, and the Majors, draws their imagery from another game in the Legend of Zelda series. The Major Arcana draws from Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask, Rupees (Pentacles) are based on A Link Between Worlds, Swords are based on Skyward Sword, Bottles (Cups) are based on Wind Waker, and Wands are based on Twilight Princess. These suits match the games fairly well, and artistically it is very interesting to see the variation in styles, the more cartoonish Bottles compared to the more realistic Majors, or the styling of the Swords. It is especially interesting when the same character (Zelda or Link) is illustrated on several cards to match the styles of the games.

lozt1The art is amazing, it’s not just a matter of matching images, Hoyer has done an excellent job of illustrating the characters into new roles. She has also done a great job of “translating” the images and symbols. In a few cases I feel a detail was missed in favour of the Zelda themes, but over all these can be overlooked, and require some shifts in how a card is read. For instance the Lovers card has the two lovers looking at each other, which changes the dynamic and meaning of the card. Or for a symbolic miss on the Wheel of Fortune the four elemental creatures have been replaced with creatures that don’t match elementally. I can’t tell if I’m bothered by the loss of the Elemental/Zodiacal symbolism, or if I should take it as the fact that Hyrule (and the related worlds) are another place, so need their own symbols. Many of her interpretations were brilliant, I’m especially fond of Batreaux as the Nine of Swords, and despite the complaint about the creatures on the Wheel, the card itself is delightfully geeky having both the Four Great Fairies, and TARO-TORA-ROTA written in Hylian (as it appears during the era of Ocarina of Time) around the Wheel.

lozt4There is not an accompanying book, which is understandable, though unfortunate. Though the deck does come with a few cards containing keywords, so those unfamiliar with reading the tarot can at least get a rudimentary sense of the readings until they learn more. The cards themselves are a good card stock, they feel just slightly thinner than standard tarot, but it is hard to say. Also while most tarot decks are printed on flat stock, these cards are printed on card stock with air cushions. (Air cushion is when a card has very slight indents on the surface, when you look at it up close it appears to have almost a canvas/woven appearance.) This makes the deck a lot better for shuffling than most decks, something I actually really appreciate. In terms of production values the only place the deck falls short is the box. The box is made of a thinner stock than the cards, my top flap had been ripped off by the time it reached me (a fluke of packaging, but shows the strength of the material). While this is a point against the deck, to be honest most tarot boxes never last, so the fact this one is more flimsy than most, really isn’t a problem in the long run.

While this deck is a bit niche in the appeal, both to myself and my clients, it is a great deck, and I do plan on working with it. If you’re a tarot reader and a Legend of Zelda fan, then you seriously cannot go wrong with this deck.

I perform a reading whenever I get a new deck, asking it about itself, which I’m going to share now, so you can get a sense of the deck.

What will this deck teach me: Ace of Swords: On a general level, this means the deck will teach me to read with clarity. The deck will teach me to separate what is important from what is not to better understand the situations. Now here we see where the Zelda theme adds another layer. This card is Fi, so for a card about teaching, we’re already off to a humourous start. Fi is one of the many babysitting characters of the series, who teaches you how to do things, and in general guides you through the game. You probably ignore Fi, but call on them when you’re stuck or confused, meaning this deck will teach me to look a bit deeper, to think differently and problem solve.

What is the strength of this deck: Hanged Man: This deck is open, it’s receptive, and it’s easy to work with. By accepting it as it is, it allows me to view things from another perspective. From a Zelda perspective, this card is Sheik, which makes me think the strength of the deck lies in its ability to deceive, not in a malicious sense, but in the sense of being what it needs to be at the time.

What is the weakness of this deck: The Hermit: The meanings of the deck are a bit insular, without knowledge of the series you can’t really get the full depth of the reading. (Though in defense, I’d argue the same goes for the Christian/Golden Dawn imagery in most tarot decks which even many readers are ignorant of.) Zelda-wise the card is Dampé, specifically after he is dead. This strikes me as saying a weakness of the deck is that is isn’t too active, that it will only show you what you’re looking at, meaning you really have to be clear on the questions you’re asking. (Which could relate back to the deck teaching me to look deeper and read with clarity)

Finally I’d like to share a simple spread I created for this deck. Unsurprisingly it is based on the Triforce.

Triforce Spread

triforcetarotspread

This spread is a problem solving spread. It doesn’t give you a sense of the future, which is a good thing because if you’re actively following the advice of the cards and trying to do something, any future it shows you’d be trying to change anyways. You can either use this spread for a specific problem, or for more general advice on where you should direct yourself in your life.

The cards are dealt facing to the centre of the Triforce, so the top of the card is closest to the centre, for the sake of reading reversed cards. The Triforce cards are where you need to apply a trait in your life. The quest of the Hero isn’t about letting things happen, it’s about applying, about doing. So these cards are always about action you need to take. The Goddess cards are gifts you will receive, things that will work in your favour, opportunities to look for, what will help you. The caveat is these will tend to be things that won’t really come along until you’re applying yourself. You have to prove you’re worthy of the gifts.

1: The Centre: The centre of the Triforce represents you, your problem, your situation. It may explain the root of the problem, or why you’re having trouble with it, why you can’t see it clearly.

2: Power: This is where you need to apply Power in your life. This is where you are weak, and you need to apply strength to solve the issues you’re facing. This could be externally, or internally, something you need to confront in the world, or deal with in your self.

3. Wisdom: This is where you need to apply Wisdom in your life. What aren’t you seeing clearly? This is where you’re turning a blind eye, where you aren’t seeing the full picture, where you need to look deeper. This can show where you’re not thinking clearly, or show how you should reframe and rethink about the issue.

4. Courage: This is where you need to apply Courage in your life. This is where you’re holding back, this is where you need to let go and do what needs to be done. What aren’t you facing, what aren’t you addressing? This is not the area where you need to think and plan, this is where you need to go forth and conquer.

5. Din: The gift of Din is the blessing of Power. What support is there for you? What reserves do you have, how will this situation turn to your favour? Is this an opportunity that opens for you, or a treasure you have to grab and use? Where will you find the Power you need to continue?

6. Nayru: The gift of Nayru is the blessing of Wisdom. What will be revealed to you? What knowledge do you have that you can use now? Is this revelation internal, or is the insight brought from elsewhere? What clarity is brought to you, and how does that change your situation?

7. Farore: The gift of Farore is the blessing of Courage. What pushes you forward? What will help you push forward in the tough spots, what keeps you going? Is this a breakthrough in the problem, or support from someone? Is this a never say die attitude, or the renewed courage when you see the armor of your foe crack?

So geeks of the tarot realm, go out, and get The Legend of Zelda Tarot, it’s awesome, fun, and useful.


Tarot Review: The Transparent Tarot, by Emily Carding

2014/09/11

transtarotTransparent Tarot – Emily Carding
Schiffer, 2008, 9780764330032, 280pp., 78 cards.

There are plenty of tarot decks out there; many are derivative and boring, some are interesting, but only briefly, few are really engaging, and rarely are they unique. I would say the Transparent Tarot is unique.

If you missed hearing about the deck when it came out six years ago, it is exactly what it sounds like: a transparent tarot deck. Each card is printed on a durable transparent plastic card. I can say they’re durable as I got the deck when it first came out and still use it, and my cards are fine. The image of every card has been distilled down to its simplest essence. So while the Smith-Waite tarot has images so detailed that you could spend hours noting the littlest aspects of the cards, the Transparent Tarot cuts it down to what Emily thinks is the most essential meaning of the card.

4 of Swords

4 of Swords

swords04[1]For instance the 4 of Swords (drawn randomly from my deck) is transformed from the intricate image of the Knight in a specific posture in the tomb with a stained glass window (that tells its own separate story) and everything to a simple outline of a person laying down with a sword at their side and three above them.

(See the difference? That’s typical of the reduction that Emily has done in her art)

Emperor

Emperor

The art is minimalist, both in what is included and how it is illustrated. The images are in a style of pointillism, which allows the images of the cards to combine much easier than they would if the images were solid lines and colours. While the Minors are fairly standard the Majors were completely redone. Instead of reducing a complex image to its essential core Emily took the archetypal quality of the Majors and created something new. For instance the Emperor becomes a city skyline, and the Magician is now a red and a white dragon wrapping around each other in a manner reminiscent of a caduceus. I will freely admit not all of the reinventions resonate with me and my understanding of the cards, but they do work well.

Magician

Magician

So why transparent cards? What good are they? The deck works just fine as a regular tarot deck, but where it shines is the fact that cards can be placed on each other to give you more information. In doing a three card spread you could put down two cards in each spot, and read them as a single image because they blend together. This drastically changes the possibilities your reading has.

You can just combine cards to get new images and meanings, or you can make it more complex. For instance the significator card is something I rarely find useful. Here is the reading, and here is you off in the corner. With this deck you can deal out a significator and “walk” it through the reading. You place the significator over the Past card, interpret it, then put it on the Present card, interpret it, then the Future, and whatever else is in the reading. This is also really interesting for readings involving groups. You could do a spread about a partnership of some sort, and move their respective significator cards over the reading, to see how the same events will be different for them.

Any way of understanding or framing the world in a schema can become part of the way you read with the deck. When doing a reading you can deal two cards for each spot, the bottom is the internal aspect of the answer, the top is the external. Read them together as a single image, and then separate the cards to understand the individual facet. You can do Body, Mind, Spirit. My favourite though is to deal down four cards in each position (using a very simple spread due to the amount of cards involved) representing Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah, the Qabalistic Worlds. In this method Atziluth is on the bottom, and Assiah is the top card. This allows me to look at a situation and see how it is manifesting in my life (reading them all together), seeing what is just physical/mundane (Assiah, this world) and follow it up the ladder of creation to see how it is being influenced, or influencing the higher realms, and where the issues (if any) are originating. While definitely not something I’d do every reading, when I really feel something is important, or I’m stuck somewhere it’s a great perspective to take.

My tarot mentor would combine the Transparent Tarot with other decks. He’d do a reading with one deck, and then place transparent cards over the rest, or walk a single one through as the signficator.

Here the three cards are combined. A dead knight from whom two dragons rise to encircle a city, interesting and evocative image.

Here the three cards are combined. A dead knight from which two dragons rise to encircle a city, interesting and evocative image.

You can overlap the cards “cleanly” so the edges line up, or you could be more freeform, because if a card is directly on top of another, or half off, or rotated slightly, all of these will change the resulting image.

The deck comes with a book that is nearly 300 pages long, which for a tarot deck is impressive. The card explanations have a description of the traditional image, why Emily picked the image she did, and for the Majors she even gives an example of three cards put together and how they could be read.

There are two issues with the deck that I must address. The cards are thicker and wider than average tarot cards, and they’re plastic not card stock, this makes them difficult to shuffle. Also since they’re clear plastic they get dirty easily and pick stuff up, so make sure to keep them wrapped up, and more so than other decks make sure you’re reading on a clean surface or you’ll really need to wipe the cards off when you’re done.

I have over 25 tarot decks (I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!) and the Transparent Tarot is probably one of the three or four decks I use regularly. It was a hit when it came out, and then it faded away, and I think some people saw it just as a novelty (as arguably any speciality deck is) but I feel it’s a deck that can be as creative or insightful as the reader is willing to make it.


Review: Watcher Angel Tarot and Guidebook – Michelle Belanger and Jackie Williams

2012/01/09

Watcher Angel Tarot Guidebook: Myth, Meaning, and Creation – Michelle Belanger and Jackie Williams
Emerald Tablet Press. 2011. 312pp. 9780983816911.

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” Genesis 6:1-2

Such a little innocuous line, often overlooked and forgotten, yet containing the seeds of a beautifully deep myth expounded upon in the Book of Enoch. Watcher Angels, the sons of God(s), fell to the Earth and took up human mates, and taught the secrets of heaven. That is the theme of this deck. I’ve talked about this deck before but it is time for a proper review.

In the introduction Michelle says “I didn’t want simply to design another Tarot built on the bones of the Rider-Waite-Smith. I wanted to revision the Tarot entirely, allowing the symbols to speak through me and to find expression in some vital and personal myth.” (12) And that is what you find with this deck. It isn’t a Rider-Waite-Smith clone with angel wings drawn on it, it isn’t a clone with some of the images and settings shifted around, it is a fairly different beast altogether.

The deck was designed from the ground up. Looking at the overarching traits of the Major Arcana a parallel from the Enochic myth was chosen, for the most part one of the Watcher Angels themselves represents the Majors, each assigned according to what they did, and what they taught. For instance you have Kasdeya who taught “all the wicked smitings of spirits and demons, and the smitings of the embryo in the womb” as Death, and Shemyaza the leader of the Angels in the Fall as The Fool.

Seven of Pentacles. RWS: A man leaning on his hoe. Watcher Angel: A man leaning on his...

The Minor Arcana form an entire story of their own; from Ace to Ten, Pentacles, to Cups, to Wands, to Swords, they lay out the entire tale. Pentacles are just after the Fall, the struggle to learn and build a world. In Cups they have established themselves and enjoy the world. With Wands they show their children the mysteries of heaven and magick. Finally with Swords their children turn upon each other. Since each suit contains its own story arch it is a remarkably easy deck to learn, though initially I was wary of the differences, because even if you have a moment of uncertainty when you place the card in the story it becomes clear what it represents. The meanings, the keywords of the cards are standard, but they way they play out in the Enochic myth is quite different.My only complaint with this system is it falls into an earlier interpretation of the Tarot, since the Swords are about the war among the children, the majority of the Swords are negative and challenging cards. Something many decks do but I dislike.

The artwork in this deck is phenomenal. The images are deep and complex, without being cluttered, in a lifelike and detailed painting style you’re not likely to see in a Tarot deck. Colours are rich and vibrant, and thematically carry between the suits. Jackie has a wonderful talent and her skill really brings the images to life. For me it is the settings, wings, and faces that really get me. The backgrounds are evocative, be they a shifting patch of colour or an elegant city vista. The wings just look better than most angel depictions –it’s a personal gripe of mine. Lastly the faces are very engaging, haunting, and real. The entire deck is viewable here on Jackie’s site and will show far better than I can describe.

The companion book was refreshingly honest. “I won’t lie and say that this deck was merely the product of detached academic research. There is a great deal of vision and inspiration, myth, dream, and magick woven into this work.” (19) Or as Jackie says it is “a deck designed by two psychics with input from the universe.” (29) All things considered it’s something I’ve found odd that so many deck creators shy away from discussing. In fact the companion book is remarkably complete, perhaps too much for some cases, but as it says you can skip the sections that don’t interest you. The book contains Jackie and Michelle’s stories for making the Tarot, the years of planning and research for Michelle, the years of painting and living the cards for Jackie. Michelle leads you into the research and struggles, Jackie even gives interesting advice on paper and paint types. Their stories are followed by the myth of the Watchers, how it relates to Campbell’s Monomyth as well as to the Book of Enoch and related texts. It moves into tarot history, where it came from, how it became part of the Western Mystery Tradition, beliefs about the tarot, and then finally the interpretations of the cards. If you’ve never dealt with the tarot before this book covers pretty much all the basics you’ll need, and if you’re familiar with the tarot and don’t care about personal stories you can skip to the back where you can learn about the cards and understand why Michelle and Jackie made the choices they did in illustrating the deck.

I will fully own up to a triple bias with this deck, Michelle and Jackie are friends, and personally I love the Enochic mythology. That being said, I don’t believe it is my bias speaking when I say this has quickly become one of my favourite decks; the beautiful art, the compelling myth, it just makes this a wonderful and unique deck.


Review: Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set

2011/04/28

Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set – Stuart R. Kaplan
U.S. Games Systems. Inc. 2009. 9781572816398.

Pamela Colman Smith is an unsung hero and artist in western occultism. She most famously illustrated the Rider-Waite tarot (I’ll discuss the naming convention later), largely based on Golden Dawn symbolism and teachings, and it is probably the most influential tarot deck ever. She was much more than this though, she was a quiet mystic, a member of the Golden Dawn, and a talented artist who received some recognition in her time and was sadly forgotten.

The Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set tries to bring this visionary woman back to our lives. The set contains two books, a tarot deck, and some artistic extras, which will all be discussed in their own time. This set was released in 2009 (somehow I missed hearing about it) on the centennial anniversary of the publishing of the Rider-Waite tarot and I think it is great collection to have.

Back of the Smith Waite Centennial Tarot

The first book included is The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith by Stuart R. Kaplan. This relatively small book of just over 100 pages is exactly what it sounds like. Kaplan tells the story of “Pixie’s” mysterious life. As you’re led through her life Kaplan also gives many examples of her art, in fact only once is there a spot where you can open the book and there isn’t some example of Pamela’s art. She lived a fascinating life; charmed, beautiful, sad, and lonely all at the same time. Most people only know Pamela as the Rider-Waite artist but she was far more than that, an accomplished artist who had shows in New York and London, an author and artist of folk tales from Jamaica, and a poet. The story is sad and the art is just beautiful. It was much to my dismay after reading the book I found out you cannot obtain prints of her artwork and my favourite painting from the book seems to have no presence on the internet at all.

The second book is The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite. I feel there is little to say about this book, it was originally published in 1911 to explain the Rider-Waite tarot. This particular edition does not contain the images of the cards.

Centennial Strength

The set comes with The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition deck. This is not just another reprint of the Rider-Waite deck you’re used to seeing everywhere. First off, to clarify terminology, the deck you see everywhere, and probably have is properly called the Rider-Waite tarot; Waite after A.E. Waite and Rider after the publishing company that first produced it. Some people, myself included, refer to it as the Smith-Waite or Waite-Smith tarot in an attempt to remind people who gave us this deck. The deck included in this set is properly called The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition, firmly putting forth that Pamela Colman Smith was one of the creators and will not be forgotten. There is more to it than just the name change though, the Rider-Waite deck is filled with bright, almost jarring colours. No yellow is a muted yellow, it is a daffodil screaming yellow, and this is a product of how the earlier decks were reproduced from the original.

Common Strength

For The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition Kaplan has used a 1909 printing of the deck to restore the deck to its original colouring, something I find far more peaceful and elegant than the borderline cartoon colouring of the general deck. I find this makes the cards stand out more and the subtly of shading and symbolism easier to see and work with. Also, this deck has done away with that gawdy blue and white diamond pattern on the back of the cards; instead the back is adorned with Pamela’s monogram and a rose. It isn’t a reversible back due to the rose, but it is subtle enough that you still can’t pick out which way is up without turning the cards over. Without a doubt this version is replacing my Rider-Waite tarot.

Lastly the set comes with a few artistic extras. It contains six reproduced postcards with Pamela’s artwork, only one of which is an image from her tarot. It contains three 5×7 prints of some of her art and a 5×7 photo print of Pamela herself.

Everything comes in a handy box with packs away nicely. My only complaint about the set is one I’ve had with far too many decks I like and that is it contains a drawstring bag for the deck rather than a box. The box that the art, deck, and books come in is too large to carry around and I find decks not in boxes get damaged too easily so I have to find another storage device for my cards. Other than that small complaint, I found the set wonderful. It is great to see Pamela Colman Smith getting the attention she deserves and the deck, the art, and the books are just wonderful. Really a must have for any tarot enthusiast.


Review: The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot – Bill & Judi Genaw and Chic & S. Tabatha Cicero

2011/02/11

The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot: The Synthesis of Eastern & Western Magick – Bill and Judi Genaw and Chic & S. Tabatha Cicero
Llewellyn. 2004. 418pp. 0738702013.

“The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot is unique among all published Tarot decks” (1) it “is not simply a Tarot deck with a book of card descriptions. This kit contains a complete system for magickal and spiritual growth. It includes card spreads, meditations, exercises, and rituals that are provided for three levels of spiritual attainment: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.” (2)

This may sound like a grandiose claim but the Ciceros and Genaws managed to win me over to this point of view. It is definitely a unique deck. Rather than the traditional 78 cards this deck has 89 cards, and unlike the traditional Major and Minor Arcana this deck is divided into four elemental suits of 22 cards each, one Spirit elemental card, and the cards are double-sided. Honestly the structure is so different I wonder why they felt the need to call it a tarot deck rather than a divination deck. This deck also comes with a book more than four hundred pages long, just a small sign about how detailed this deck is.

This deck is probably the most complex deck I’ve ever dealt with. One side of the deck is composed of “Western Tattvas” or alchemical symbols, the others side is an intricate synthesis of various symbols and parts of the Enochian Golden Dawn tradition. The Ciceros and Genaws consider the traditional Tattvas and Western Tattvas as both equally valid, but feel that the Western Tattvas are more appropriate and accessible to a Western magickian studying Western systems. So instead of the traditional Tattvas and colours, the deck uses the elemental triangles and colours from the Western Mystery Traditions. The Western Tattva cards are composed of single element/Tattvas, sub-elements, and tri-elemental combinations. The Enochian side of the cards are far more detailed and difficult to explain. They match the elemental attributes of the other side of the card, and are composed of elemental sides of the Enochian pyramids, Enochian angels attributed to the appropriate section of the tablet, astrological correspondence, an Egyptian God, Major Arcana parallel, Hebrew letters, and geomantric symbols. There is definitely a lot going on with these cards.

As mentioned in their introduction the cards serve more than just a divinatory function but actually compose part of a magickal tradition. The Enochian side of the cards can be used to compose the elemental tablets for use in Enochian magick, and the book contains enough of the Enochian theory and Keys to get someone going. An obvious and major part of this is, as the title of the deck says, skrying. This book contains some of the best training exercises for skrying I’ve ever encountered, and I was very pleased and surprised with that. The book leads the reader through increasingly complex exercises to train the magickian for skrying and astral projection. What surprised me was that as a divination deck, that all of the skrying was consciously chosen. If you want to understand something, go through the deck and find the most appropriate card according to the meaning in the book and skry through that card. I don’t see why one couldn’t (or shouldn’t) simply shuffle the cards and draw out the most appropriate card to skry, after all divining gives us access to reasoning beyond our self. The book contains some fairly standard magickal exercises, as well as some unusual ones, such as the creation of elemental “energy balls.”

The only thing I could really complain about is that since the structure is so different from a standard tarot deck, lacking intuitive images, and just so complicated, that the deck will be exceedingly complicated to learn. Beyond this issue I think the deck and book are quite marvellous. What these cards lack in stunning artwork they make up in sheer information. Not a deck for everyone, but anyone seriously studying Western Traditions and/or the Golden Dawn then this deck would make a great addition to your magickal repertoire.


Review: The William Blake Tarot (Revised Edition) – Ed Buryn

2011/01/21

The William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination (Revised Edition) – Ed Buryn
Tools And Rites Of Transformation. 2010. 32 pp., 79 (+1) cards. 9780916804.

Ed Buryn takes the paintings, poetry, and philosophy of William Blake and distills it into 79 beautiful cards. The deck is divided as most tarot decks are, but with a 23rd Major Arcana or Triumph in Buryn’s revising, “00 Eternity 00” a beautiful conception of a card in Blake’s mythology.

The art of the deck is the artwork of William Blake carefully chosen, occasionally collaged, and interpreted to follow the theme of the tarot and bring Buryn and Blake’s vision into the cards. The images on the cards are a better quality than they were on the original, the colours stand out a bit more and there are more fine details. The original deck was wonderful but this deck takes it farther. Most cards are just evocative artwork but two of the suites contain a small fragment of Blake’s written wisdom embedded with the art.

Rather than the traditional four suits Buryn substitutes Blake’s “four eternal Arts” of Painting, Science, Music, and Poetry. From what I can tell, in that order they are roughly equated with Pentacles, Swords, Cups, and Wands. The Court cards have been transformed to Angel, Child, Woman, and Man, their connection to the classic Court cards is less clear, but the Courts and their meanings get shuffled around regularly between decks anyways. Angel and Child being contrasted with Woman and Man is also a nice inclusion of Blake’s world view of Divine Innocence and civilized humanity.

The deck explores Blake’s philosophy of the Soul and creativity; covering humanity’s potential, expression and divine nature. Buryn does an amazing job of sorting through Blake’s works to find the perfect fit for the cards. The challenge isn’t that Blake’s ideas may not be compatible but that Blake created so much that narrowing it down to 79 images is a task of epic proportions, but Buryn does it admirably. The deck is more than just an artistic variation on classic tarot imagery but a transformation of the art and philosophy of the cards.

The cards are great in my opinion. The images, the titles, and the text (if any) give a great source of information when using the cards. Included with the deck is the standard little white book, though this one is a little larger than most, and as the cards are taken from a different perspective than others so I actually found the book helpful. The booklet includes a few spreads, including the “Four-Fold Vision Spread” a simple five card spread meant to take the reader out of Blake’s notion of “single vision” (depicted on the Man of Science card with Blake’s painting “Newton”) and allowing the reader to see the issue from multiple perspectives.

Buryn did a fabulous job with original deck, and the revised edition looks even better. I came to this deck before Blake fascinated me, before I committed five years of my life to studying English and I loved the deck then. Now Blake is my second favourite poet, I’m far more familiar with his work (having read everything of his at least once), and the deck is even more relevant and insightful now.

The deck is published without the book that appeared with the original deck, but it will be available to download no charge from his website William BlakeTarot by Ed Buryn in the near future. Also in the near future you’ll be able to order the deck directly from that site. For now you have to order the deck direction from Ed Buryn using the contact information below.

This boxed set of 80 cards and 32-page booklet will not be sold in bookstores. To order your copy, please mail cash, check, or money order to TAROT, PO Box 720, Nevada City CA 95959; or pay online with your credit card at http://www.paypal.com payable to edburynbooks@sbcglobal.net.

The price is $32 plus $5 shipping, for a total cost of $37 each. For California orders, add $2.85 sales tax, for a total cost of $39.85 each. Orders to Canada and Mexico are $32 plus $7 shipping, for a total cost of $39 each. Orders to other overseas countries are $32 plus $10 shipping, for a total cost of $42 each.

All prices are US funds.

I was very excited when I found out that after 15 years The William Blake Tarot was being reprinted so I pre-ordered it within moments of finding out that I had that option. That was a few months ago and the release of the deck got pushed back and it slipped my mind. Then in my poetry lecture we covered Blake and I was quite happy, then when I arrived home there was a package for me and inside was the tarot deck I’ve been waiting five years for since I first encountered the deck at a friend’s house. Life is like that sometimes.

I went through the deck slowly, examining each card, taking in the art and the poetry. After a few test readings I was quite happy with the results and the cards. You don’t need to be a Blake fan to appreciate or use this deck, I wasn’t initially, though you will definitely get more from it the more of Blake you know and understand. It’s a deck of beautiful images and ideas, and highly recommended.


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