The Language of Birds, by Dale Pendell
Three Hands Press, 71 pp., 2010
Pendell views divination as being directed by spirits or gods, likened to possession or seduction, weaving poetry and meditation through myth and history. Etymologies offer shifting meanings, and we learn “Cicero thought fish too dumb to speak for the gods”.
Interspersed throughout are lists of divination methods, including some rather obscure ones, such as alectryomancy – divination by roosters pecking grain, gelomancy – divination from laughter, myomancy – divination by squeaks of mice, or (my favourite) tiromancy – divination by milk curds or the holes on cheese. Continue reading
Afro-Brazilian Tarot, by Alice Santana and Guiseppe Palumbo
Kit: Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738709603, 78 cards plus instruction booklet, 2006
I’m not sure what I expected when I requested this deck for review (although I was sure that the artwork would be impressive, based on other decks from Lo Scarabeo). Oh, I’m familiar with both the Tarot and with Candomble (the Afro-Brazilian equivalent of the Afro-Cuban Santeria), and I do understand the desire to provide divination decks which go outside the commonly accepted parameters which are associated with the Tarot.
The deck, which is a standard deck as far as number of cards and divisions, is accompanied by a multilingual instruction booklet (English, Italian, Spanish, French, and German, I believe) which gives very basic meanings for each of the cards, as well as an extremely simplified layout (in keeping with the traditional divination method of the Yoruban people, which the Tarot is definitely not).
Although the suits carry the traditional names – chalices, pentacles, wands and swords – some of the images are slightly unconventional. The chalice suit is represented by soperas, which are traditionally used as containers of the physical representation of the orixas; the pentacles are represented by opon, the plates used in traditional divination by cowry shells and the shells themselves; while the wands and swords are more conventional. Continue reading
Wooden Rune Kit, by Laura Tuan and Lo Scarabeo
Kit: Wooden runes, accompanied by a book, Runes: The Gods’ Magical Alphabet, by Laura Tuan, Lo Scarabeo, distributed by Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738713939, 64 pp, 2008
This set consists of 25 runes, a black bag, and a 64 page book. I have minor quibbles with some of the information contained in this book, as well as the inclusion of the 25th (blank) rune. However, before I explain what I object to I have to say that the runic set itself is well made, for the most part. The runes are burned into the surface of the wooden tiles rather lightly. In fact, the rune “Rado” is almost indistinguishable from “Wunjo” in the set I received. A slightly deeper burn would make them more durable in the long run, but perhaps the purchaser could make this modification themselves, as a way of putting their own energy into the runes.
In the traditional 24 runes of the futhark set there are Continue reading
The Transparent Tarot, by Emily Carding
Schiffer Publishing, 9780764330032, 280 pp., 72 cards, 2008
Emily Carding provides a rather extensive book with her tarot deck, I felt I would cover them together. It’s nice to see a deck that’s published without the dreaded “little white book”. The Transparent Tarot comes with a book that’s nearly three hundred pages long, a book that’s appreciated even as a seasoned tarot reader, and would be invaluable if this deck happened to be someone’s first.
Carding explores the cards one by one in a standard fashion, not only describing her art and interpretation but relating it back to the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot to help people understand where she is coming from and how she is viewing the deck and revisioning it in her creation. Continue reading
The Anubis Oracle: A Journey into the Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt, by Nicki Scully and Linda Star Wolf, illustrated by Kris Waldherr
Bear & Company, 9781591430902, 165 pp., 2008
The Anubis Oracle contains a deck of thirty-five cards and a companion booklet bearing the same name as the kit.
Loosely inspired by Egyptian iconography, the illustrations in the deck are quite sweet with the same serene, soft imagery that helped make Kris Waldherr’s earlier Goddess Tarot Deck so popular. Continue reading
The Housewives tarot: A Domestic Divination Kit with Deck and Instruction Book, by Paul Kepple & Jude Buffum
Cards: Quirk Books, Quirk Books, 78 cards, 96 pp. booklet, 2004
The Housewives Tarot consists of 78 cards, 22 trumps or major arcana and 56 minor arcana. The cards come in a mock recipe box, complete with actual recipes on the tabs that separate the minor and major arcana, and instruction booklet. The cards are styled as pure fifties kitsch; charming and often irreverent with clever interpretations of traditional modern esoteric tarot symbolism. Continue reading