It’s nearing the end of the year and I get a familiar message in my inbox, “Will you be joining me for New Year’s this year?” I reply with a yes, and mark the day on my calendar as booked. As much as it sounds like it, it is not a date. It’s actually a large party where I will be reading tarot professionally.
Tarot readers often attend parties and festivals in order to earn income from their craft. Although festivals tend to be large and well attended, private parties can be much smaller and more intimate. The type of parties I read at, however, are quite large, often with hundreds of people in attendance.
For this particular event, I am one of three readers hired. We will all be together in the room, and may read up to 150 people each over the course of one evening, depending how busy it is. If this sounds impossible, believe me, it isn’t — it’s just exhausting.
Large events can be very lucrative for readers. Organizers, who may be from corporations throwing holiday parties, private party planners, or neighbourhood committees, and so on, like to have unique performers at their events, and everyone is at least a little interested in divination. The key to handling these draining events is thoughtful planning. Continue reading
The Wicca Deck, by Sally Morningstar, illustrated by Danuta Mayer
Connections Book Publishing, 978-1-85906-380-4, 42 cards plus instruction booklet, 2014
When The Wicca Deck came up for review I was excited to put in my bid for it. I’ve worked with tarot and oracle decks for about a decade, but never one based on my own spiritual path. The Wicca Deck is a 42-card oracle deck originally published by Godsfield Press in Great Britain in 2001 and republished this year by Connections, also from Great Britain. Some key elements account for its staying power.
First, the illustrations are simple, cleanly drawn and easily relate to their titles and keywords, reminiscent of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. There is some abstract art in the cards, but card themes are always easy to detect; this is perhaps because the artist, Danuta Mayer, illustrates children’s books, which usually depict real, basic objects. The clarity works well in this deck. The nature of the Wiccan path is diverse; every practitioner has a slightly different vision, and by keeping visuals straightforward one is invited to see the cards in her own way.
As you’d expect, the artistic interpretations are clearly Wiccan: The Green Man is depicted as the classic face on a tree, Spiral is depicted as the spiral goddess, Black Cat (my favourite) depicts a cat in an Egyptian temple, taking her rightful place as the goddess Bast. Continue reading
Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards, by Anthony Louis
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738739441, 383 pp. (incl. notes, appendices, and bibliography), 2014
Anthony Louis brings us an enriching and thorough examination of the modern tarot by first introducing us to its fascinating history. He begins in China, where the paper and cards was created, then to Egypt and the Mamluk slave soldiers who played games with a deck of 52 playing cards, much like today’s playing card decks. Then he travels into Spain where the court cards are changed to include Kings, horsemen and pages. In Italy is where the queens were added and the church became involved in their design.
Many readers of today have heard the rumours that the tarot is originated from the Egyptian pantheon, or that the 22 major arcana cards reference the 22 letters in the Hebrew kabbalah. Louis notes that this assumption appeared in an unsubstantiated paper that was published in Paris in 1781 by clergyman Antoine Court de Gebelin and the French occultist Comte de Mellet. The only reference that Louis could find about the tarot originating in Egypt was through the Mamluks and their love of playing cards. Continue reading
Spirit Boards for Beginners: The History and Mystery of Talking to the Other Side, by Alexandra Chauran
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738738741, 216 pp., 2014
The mystery of the talking board or, less commonly, spirit board is exemplified by its most mainstream version, the Ouija board. While talking boards have been used for spiritual practice for centuries, the Ouija board was “invented” and marketed in 1891, where its popularity was only overshadowed by its controversy and mystery. Is it a game appropriate for children? Is it a tool for divination and exploring the spiritual realm? Is it evil? Does it even work? Alexandra Chauran explores that controversy through her personal experience, citing expert opinions, and sharing other’s stories.
The language is accessible, and the reader is given all the information they need to comfortably navigate a talking board session. Chauran expands on the history and spiritual origins of talking boards from using a swinging pendulum to the more modern versions we have today. Continue reading
What comes to mind when you hear the word necromancy? Do you think of ghoulishly gruesome grave robbing under the light of the full moon? Do you picture only sinister sorts enslaving the deceased and making them do their bidding? Well if so, then you only know of the sordid past of the ancient practice known as necromancy. But what of this arcane art in these modern times? Do people still revere and utilize the death current in occult operations? They most certainly do. While necromancy does indeed have roots in many ancient cultures, this sector of the occult sciences is far from dead. Continue reading