Tag: Art

Review: The Mystery Traditions, by James Wasserman

By Mike Gleason | February 2, 2006 | Leave a comment

The Mystery Traditions: Secret Symbols and Sacred Art, by James Wasserman
Destiny Books, 1594770883, 147 pp., 2005

This profusely illustrated volume gathers together a dazzling variety of imagery. These images do far more to illustrate the Western Mystery Traditions than any text could. That is not to say that this book does not contain written descriptions. It does. But the images, including several sets of Major Arcana of Tarot decks, do a much expanded job.

It contains illustrations in a variety of topics – Astrology and Cosmology, Kabbalah and the Tree of Life, Initiation, Magick and the Gods, Secret Societies (a new addition to this revised volume), Sexuality, Alchemy, Tarot, and Symbolist and Visionary Art. These images have almost all been printed before, but this assemblage is, in my experience, unique.

The majority of the images are presented in colour – some of them quite stunning. On top of everything else this book represents a gathering together in one place of images, any one of which can easily serve as a focus for meditation.

Each chapter includes a short introduction (four pages or less) of the material contained within it. And each image is properly placed within its time period, even though these images surely transcend any such limitations.

It is difficult to find words to describe this work. The images are gathered from so many times and locations; the writing of the introductory section of each chapter is so succinct; and the overall impression is so overwhelming that it should be approached, I feel, in small doses. To attempt to comprehend it in one or two sittings does a disservice to the work, and to yourself.

Allow the images in this book to work their magick on you. Permit them to stimulate new thoughts and inspire changes both in how you perceive yourself and the wider world. The benefits you reap will, most likely, be beyond your current comprehension.

This is one of the most visually stunning works I have seen in a very long time. I would have expected a much higher price for the quality, or a much lower quality based on the price. The combination of excellent quality and reasonable price was a very pleasant surprise. If you are interested in symbolic representations of mystical themes, this book belongs in your library. It is a book to be savoured and enjoyed on an on-going basis.

Review: ABC Book of Shadows, by Katie Lydon Olivares

By Psyche | December 15, 2005 | Leave a comment

ABC Book of Shadows, by Katie Lydon Olivares, illustrated by April Choi
Itty Bitty Witch Works, 28 (unpaginated), 2005

A board book for children on a pagan theme – it’s a novel concept, and it works well. The board book is sturdy and well produced, and will likely stand the wear and tear a child will inflict upon it.

The first twenty six of the pages are illustrated and coupled with a rhyming scheme, while at times awkward, is often delightful. The two remaining pages comprise a glossary of the terms used in the book.

Beautifully illustrated with a rich pallet of colour, this is the first board book with an explicitly pagan theme I have seen, and I know several pagan mothers and their children who will adore this little book.

Review: Revelations Tarot, by Zach Wong

By Psyche | July 31, 2005 | Leave a comment

Revelations Tarot, by Zach Wong
Kit: Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738706078, 199 pp. & 80 card deck

The artwork of the Revelations Tarot is a sort of cross between pseudo-art nouveau and stained glass and the effect works. Each card also has a reverse image, not a mere mirror image, but a separate picture interwoven to display a different interpretation.

The major arcana depicts each character wearing a mask, representative of ‘a “human” relation, similar to that of mythical gods who stand in human form among us to ease our comprehension of the message they deliver’, apparently further identifying them with archetypes rather than physical people.

The minor arcana of the Revelations Tarot is distinctly different from many decks I’ve seen. The suits are arranged as one might expect, ranging from ace to ten, then the court cards of Page, Knight, Queen and King, and many of the scenes depicted are familiar owing to the inspiration drawn from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. For example, the Eight of Swords (a particularly beautiful card), depicts a woman bound with a loose cord in the upright meaning, and her blindfold off and unbound in the reversed. The colour schemes are not wholly unifying and the characters depicted in the suits are often quite weird and wonderful. The characters of wands are ‘magicians, warriors, saves, and opulent individuals’; swords are ‘warriors, highly ornate and decorated, firm, and serious’; cups are ‘merpeople of the oceans and seas’; and pentacles are ‘metallic humanoids that are one with their element’.

Each card is given an upright and reversed meaning in the Revelations Tarot Companion, with specifications for which image is the reversed in certain cards (e.g. The Hanged Man). Each interpretation takes three focuses: the individual, a relationship, and a situation. The meanings are also accompanied by helpful descriptions of the images and symbols used in the card and how they were intended by Wong.

The last two cards in the deck are cards depicting two different spreads, the Horoscope Spread and the Seven Day spread, both spreads are explained in more detail toward the end of the Revelations Tarot Companion, the book accompanying the deck. Indeed in addition to the two spreads mentioned above, two additional spreads are also given in the companion work, the usual Past, Present, Future spread, and the Four Elements Spread.

Overall this is a beautiful deck; different, yet easily accessible. Deck collectors will love it.

Review: Kissing Darkness, by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld and David Wayne Dunn

By Psyche | November 29, 2003 | Leave a comment

Kissing Darkness: Love Poems, by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld and David Wayne Dunn
RiverWood Books, 1883991838, 93 pp., 2003

In 1980 David Wayne Dunn first wrote to Carolyn Mary Kleefeld after reading her first book of book, Climate of the Mind, expressing his admiration. Over the next seventeen years, they continued their correspondence sharing poetry and gradually their more intimate experiences. The poems in this book were written between 1996 and 2002, which Dunn and Kleefeld wrote for each other.

This lover’s dialogue in poetry, Kissing Darkness, written over a five year period, expresses romantic and erotic ideals, conveyed in vivid metaphor.

The poetry in this collection is interspersed with beautiful illustrations, being Kleefeld’s bright and expressive series of paintings titled Immortal Letters and Dunn’s colour ink drawings.

The Fairy Ring, by Anna Franklin

By Mike Gleason | November 30, 2002 | Leave a comment

The Fairy Ring: An Oracle of the Fairy Folk, book by Anna Franklin, illustrated by Paul Mason
Llewellyn Publications, 0738702749

One thing needs to be very clear at the outset. This is NOT a Tarot deck. It has no Major Arcana, as such, instead it has eight Fairy Festival (Sabbat) cards, there are only 13 cards in each of the “suits” of the Minor Arcana (there is no “ten” and the Page has been replaced by the Lady). It also includes four cards illustrating layouts and the meanings for each position within the layouts. These cards will be an invaluable aid to becoming comfortable and familiar with these new layouts.

These cards are interesting on many levels, ranging from the expected ones of divining information and serving as a meditation tool to the unexpected use as a kind of mug shot book of the Celtic branch of the wee folk. Utilizing the book which explains the cards, one can gain more insight into the habits and behaviours of the most elusive inhabitants of our world.

Proper methods of behaviour towards these races are discussed, as are their expectations of the humans they choose to interact with.

Granted that there are a very limited number of fairy folk discussed, and this group is all derived from Celtic lands (specifically the British Isles), still there is a wide variety of types discussed. In all there are 56 spirits covered (each suit contains one double card). Of these, ways of contacting and working with are given for 40. The other 16 are “not recommended” to work with, for various reasons.

The cards are beautifully drawn, and the descriptions and divinatory meanings given in the book give a good starting point for your own encounters with the inhabitants of the land of Fairy.

Even in you don’t want to use them for divinatory purposes you could spend hours meditating upon them, Each card provides an easy entrance into the world of the particular spirit.

It will be a while before I have any solid, personal opinions regarding the layouts developed for these cards, but at this time I can say that they appear to offer some very interesting insights.

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