Monday, 18 August 2014

Weekly Reading with the Tarot of the Angels

Last week, I was reminded of this angel tarot which I've had for a long time, the Tarot of the Angels (Lo Scarabeo, 2008).  Looking through all my angel decks, I think this is my favourite tarot, and second favourite over all.  It isn't overly sweet, and offers lots of original interpretations, while still being readable according to standard meanings.

Situation - Six of Pentacles

A seeming mix of the Five and Six of Pentacles, here. A figure in tattered clothes and with bare feet huddles in a doorway.  Above him, six coins shine out from the door, while a grey-winged angel reaches down, offering the man a helping hand.  Is this really an angel, or could this angel be any of us, offering help to someone in need?

Don't - The Hermit

A cloaked and windswept figure walks away through a barren landscape, towards a beautiful sunset.  This person holds a lamp in one hand, and a walking stick in the other.  Above them, an angel peers through dark, boiling clouds, holding a mirror.  When we walk away from the everyday, we see ourselves in a different light.

Do - Ace of Coins

A huge, golden coin floats above a heavily-laden apple tree at the front of an orchard.  On the coin is a great snake, held in the claws of a double-headed eagle with wings outstretched.  Not only material abundance here, then, but also joy in nature and strength.

What hardships are you aware of?  When might you be tempted to turn away from them, looking inward?  What can you do at a physical level to deal with these troubles?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Overview of the Sacred Isle Tarot

This week's deck has a real fantasy feel, I can just imagine it illustrating Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series...  Yet, there is something more elegant about these cards from the Sacred Isle Tarot (self-published, 2014).  Probably connected with the fanciful, almost dainty architecture of the palaces it shows.

The Emperor is a good example of this, with his fairytale castle in the background, more whimsical by far than the German castle it is based on.  He looks appropriately solid, on his pillar-flanked throne and holding a golden ankh and a blue globe that matches the turrets behind him.  There is a majesty to what he has built, or what he holds responsibility for.  His slightly fierce expression reminds us that he takes his work seriously.

Another serious man, though with a rather less extravagant castle, greets us in the form of the King of Pentacles.  His sumptuous robes are richly decorated in golden thread, and the colours about him are autumnal.  On his table are a golden pentacle, but also the abundant fruits of his harvest.  Elementally, he combines the red of fire with the brown of earth, a strong yet grounded leader.

At first glance, the Ace of Cups is very traditional: a spiritual being (here an angel rather than a dove) pours water into a cup which overflows into a beautiful sea or lake.  The swans hint at beauty and love, and the lotuses further suggest spiritual connection.  Yet, the clouds that boil around the angel are fierce, with lightning piercing the sky in the background, belying the calm of the waters.  Spiritual connection, overflowing emotion, and yet with the risk that an emotional storm could also come from these powerful feelings!

Finally, the Eight of Pentacles adds a nice touch to the apprentice working on his skills.  There is the suggestion of burning the candles at both ends, yet also the promise of what that effort can achieve: the impressive cathedral behind the young figure.

A quick word about the cards themselves.  The cardstock is a nice thickness, flexible and not too bulky, but seeming sturdy enough to last.  The cards are a little larger than most (8.5 x 13cms) and laminated only on the front, which lends them a slightly unusual feel.  Altogether, a charming deck, though not one for those who are put off by nudity.  Although not gratuitous, there are more naked, female pictures than in a traditional deck (for instance, in the Three of Wands), as well as both male and female full-frontal nudity on the Devil card.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Weekly Reading with the Sacred Isle Tarot

This week's deck, the Sacred Isle Tarot, is fresh off the press.  Self-published by its British creator, David Higgins, after a fair while on my Facebook radar it's nice to finally shuffle it.  While very clearly a RWS clone, the fantasy-style art is beautiful.

So, what does the Sacred Isle Tarot have to say about the week to come?

Situation - Eight of Wands

This deck is fairly female-centric, as might be expected from the name.  The traditional flying wands pierce a stormy sky, watched by a shocked-looking woman standing between enormous pillars.  Seems like the week may fly by, with lots going on, and the warning that we may just have to watch from the sidelines at some points.

Don't - Three of Cups

These women dancing together joyously invite us to drink deeply of life, celebrating in the company of others.  Sadly, this is what not to do, or at least not yet...

Do - Five of Swords

This man looks at us challengingly, as though to say: "Try it if you dare!"  The prone body of someone who tried and failed lies far below.  Yet, though it may seem hard to gather our thoughts, and to win through with our arguments, that is the gauntlet we are to run this week.  We may not always succeed, yet it is better to try than to simply stand by passively or hide in emotionally easy pursuits.

What is coming to a head for you this week?  How do you feel at the thought of having to face this challenge alone?  What ideas may help you succeed?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Overview of the Silver Witchcraft Tarot

Just as there is a seemingly bottomless market for cat tarots, so too the audience for pagan/Wiccan decks appears inexhaustible.  And Barbara Moore has certainly capitalised on both these trends with her Tarot of Pagan Cats (Lo Scarabeo, 2010) and her two Book of Shadows decks (Lo Scarabeo, 2012, 2013). 

Her latest creation, the Silver Witchcraft Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) is in many ways like an amalgam of the two Book of Shadows decks.  It is at least as easy to read as the So Below deck, but with many of the more esoteric aspects and Wiccan timing elements found in the As Above deck.  As such, it is both innovative and traditional, easy to read straight out of the box, yet offering much extra information for those interested in the Wiccan path.

In terms of the cards themselves, they definitely break the Lo Scarabeo mould!  They are borderless, with titles just in English.  The artwork, too, mixes innovation and tradition.  All the Majors are easily recognisable, with only one (the High Priest/Hierophant) having been renamed.  Each Major features a cube as a plinth, though they vary from vine-covered to ethereal white, and many share a background, also.  For example, the Hermit features the same background as all the cards from Strength to Temperance.  This bearded old man with a lantern fits well with traditional archetypes, while adding an interesting element with his caduceus wand.

The Courts all show berobed figures, in suit/element appropriate robes: red for Wands, blue for Chalices, yellow for Swords, and green for Pentacles.  There is nice variety in what they are doing, and the elements around them.  I really like this Page of Swords, for example, with a book floating above one hand, an athame in the other, and a sylph by her side.  Being up amongst the clouds also clearly indicates her element: air.

The Aces are also very interesting and clear, representing the seed or source of their suit.  This Wands Ace shows a large flame, with various fruits around it and a ginger cat walking among them.  The book gives the key phrase: "The spark that starts the fire," and goes on to explain that: "Everything that is manifested in the physical world begins as a spark, an idea."

As for the Minors, as I mentioned on Monday these (at least numbers 2-9) are linked to the eight wiccan sabbats.  So, this Nine of Chalices connects with Samhain/Halloween.  The image of a woman sitting as though giving thanks under the rays of a crescent moon doesn't match the traditional guy sitting looking smug in front of nine cups.  Nevertheless, as the book explains: "This is a time to not only enjoy the gifts we have received and helped create, it is a time to reconnect with the spiritual world, our ancestors, our guides and allies, and the Goddess and God."  The end of the year fits well with the idea of a cycle coming to completion, and Halloween as the last harvest of the year is truly a time to give thanks and to also start to turn inward, to take emotional stock.  A spiritual take on the Nine of Cups, but one that still fits the keywords of wishes fulfilled and contentment!

This deck is an interesting departure for Lo Scarabeo, moving away from their traditional white borders and multi-lingual titles.  It reads well, and the timing aspect of it is a fascinating addition to understanding the minors.  Altogether, Barbara Moore has achieved a deck that is well worth spending some time with, while remaining more accessible than the Book of Shadows decks were.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Weekly Reading with the Silver Witchcraft Tarot

Another witchy deck this week, but this one is brand-spanking new!  The Silver Witchcraft Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) was created by Barbara Moore, with artwork by Franco Rivolli.

Situation - Seven of Chalices

An interesting feature of this deck is that the Minors two through nine are associated with the eight pagan sabats, starting at Yule with the two.  So, this Seven of Chalices is connected with Lammas, which was last Friday, 1st August!  Barbara Moore has done an excellent job of connecting these up with traditional interpretations.  Here, we have someone harvesting the first "fruits": apples, corn, tomatoes, grapes (green and purple), honey, pears.  An abundance of riches may have us confused about what to choose...

Don't - Page of Chalices

The Page stands knee deep in water, with sylphs all around her.  Above her is a triple moon, and in her hands a chalice.  She wants to explore emotional possibilities, to connect with the flow of life.

Do - Page of Pentacles

How funny to have two Pages as the Don't and Do.  This Page stands in a field with yellow blossoms all around her and a gnome at her feet, offering her another bloom.  She holds up a bunch of grapes, as though to fully savour their scent, sight and taste.  More exploration, then, but of the simple pleasures of everyday life.

What opportunities are opening to you at this time?  Which emotions might muddle your decision-making process?  How can you bring your senses into play when making choices?