The Gorgon’s Tarot, by Dolores Fitchie
Schiffer Publishing, 9780764345906, 79 cards, instruction booklet, 2014
The Gorgon’s Tarot is an unusual deck: the cards are round, and the images are predominantly black and white. “Gorgon” appears to be a nickname for Dolores Fitchie herself, and also serves as the patron creature presiding over this deck, in particular, Euryale, the gorgon who defied the gods, seeking knowledge and truth.
The cards began life as a graphic project, not a divinatory tool, and The Gorgon’s Tarot was more than 10 years in the making. The black and white design is deliberate and is intended to remove colour symbolism, which Fitchie finds distracting, and has no interest in. There are two cards that contain splashes of red: The Blind Gorgon and the Devil. When they appear, the bright flashes of red make these cards seem all the more startling. Continue reading
Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth, by Benebell Wen
North Atlantic Books, 158394835X, 896 pp (incl. notes, appendices, and index), 2015
Holistic Tarot is useful as a tool for personal growth and study, with fresh ideas for tarot enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds. Tarot practitioners can glean inspiration and find structure for instruction, spiritual and magical use, yet at the same time, an argument is made that much of tarot’s usefulness comes not from mysticism but from analytical psychology.
Including notes, appendices and index, Holistic Tarot is nearly 900 pages, and is chock-full of tables, spreads, and writing that is practical, comprehensive, and transformative. The book itself is more than a vast instruction manual for tarot practitioners from novice to skilled levels, Benebell Wen also encourages its use as a volume for teaching tarot. It includes information for numerous disciplines, giving a nod to the Tree of Life, astrology, numerology and the author’s roots in eastern thought, with the I Ching, a Ba Gua spread, and a sprinkling of the concept of qi throughout. Continue reading
The 8 of Swords and I have a long history. It’s shown up in so many of my readings that for a long time I was surprised if it wasn’t there. But lately, as my life has changed (thankfully for the better!) I haven’t seen it as much, and in a way I’ve come to miss it, even though it always signified struggle and hardship for me. I’ve developed a close relationship with the 8 of Swords, and my own web of interpretations and associations, and now that the card stepping out of my life I feel compelled to share them.
The 8 of Swords, in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and in most of its other incarnations, depicts a woman, bound and blindfolded, standing in a field of swords which seem to cage her in. She wears a red dress and has dark hair — an interesting contrast to the archetypal blonde damsel in a white gown. Perhaps her life has been marked more by passion than purity. There are puddles of water near her feet (which make me think of a flood plain, perhaps adding an additional danger) and behind her is a mountain with a castle-like structure on it. 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
Tarot-inspired poetry can be a vehicle for ritual, reflection, joy, and for release. Creating it adds a new layer to the act of divination, requiring introspection and expression. Metaphor and mythology feed the imagination in tarot readings and when tarot is used for poetry.
A poet’s strongest tool, arguably, is metaphor, which helps interpret the significance of tarot cards. The sea on the Rider-Waite-Smith two of pentacles represents a bumpy, busy emotional or subconscious experience informs a card reader, and it is just this work that a poet does, with or without cards. Do not be afraid to consider those undertones in your cards, as poetry often draws from our depths, and the subtlest message of each card is easily fodder for poetry.
Poetry – and creative writing in general – provides opportunity for a personal journey. The results of creative, conscious efforts have no room for judgement. To explore your words is the means and the reward. Poetry is a unique language that condenses the larger universe and plays with anything the imagination offers. Poetry is allowed to roam and wander, or it may creep and crawl and gather details other forms of language will not. The poet is often a navigator, but in this style of writing, one should always let mood, inspiration, spirit or whatever you wish to call it, lead you. 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