The Stolen Child Tarot

The Stolen Child Tarot

Author: Monica Knighton
Artist: Monica Knighton
Independently Published
Limited Edition

The Stolen Child
William Butler Yeats (

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

I have included Yeat’s poem, in its entirety, because this poem was the inspiration for the “Stolen Child Tarot”. Knighton (also author/artist for the “Tarot of the Dead”) designed the imagery in this deck without the use of man-made objects, She notes on her first Kickstarter Project page for this deck that a crown might be represented by antlers, or an animals form could represent the clothing for a human station. There are also no adult figures in this deck – the figures represent changeling children that have embraced different parts of the natural world. In speaking with Monica, she noted that the second theme in this deck is one of emphasizing the quaternary and the four elements repeatedly in imagery and more subtle ways. The focus here is on a geometric square, its stability, manifestation, and the earth … with special emphasis on the earth.

This is a Limited Edition deck (500 decks printed) which, according to Knighton’s Kickstart page, will not be reprinted until all 78 cards have been done. The illustrations in this deck are done with colored ink and watercolor, and have shading and detail that do not reproduce with a good quality with online print on demand services – which is why she choose to work through Kickstarter. By working with Kickstarter, Knighton was able to work with a local (to her) printer, utilizing a profession four color process that accurately reproduces the color and detail of the originals.

I found Kickstarter very easy to work with. Knighton was very clear about what was included with each level of pledging, and there were plenty of updates so that we all knew where she was in the process. That was something that I very much appreciated!

Rather than including a printed book (LWB) at added expense, Knighton went the route of creating a beautiful PDF download entitled “A Field Guide to the Stolen Child Tarot”, which includes full color thumbnails of each of the cards, along with interpretations. From the Field Guide:

9 The Hermit

The Hermit is willing to let go and explore the unknown for its own sake. The illumination of the bug could be a beacon to draw others of its own kind or a warning to scare predators away. Pure Science, Pure Research, Curiosity, Wisdom, Advanced Age, Leaving ones comfort zone, Humility vs. One who does not suffer fools, Silence, Asceticism.

There are 22 cards, plus two blank cards, and two title cards (one of which is signed and numbered). They come packaged in handmade art paper portfolio, with no two alike! Mine came with a beige inner wrapping, and a forest green outer wrapping, held together with slender twine. Beautifully done!

The cards are 3 ¼” by 4 5/8”. The card backs show a ¼” white border, followed by a thin black border. There is a pattern between white squares and illustrated squares that if you move back from the card a bit you will see forms a series of squares. The illustrated cards in the four corners show a budding leaf, to emphasize the number four. The other illustrated squares show an open blossom with four white petals and four black petals – again, to emphasize the number four. The center of the card shows a four petaled dogwood blossom in the center (matching he blossoms on the World card), with illustrations representing he four suits surrounding it (Earth/Acorn, Air/Feather, Water/Shell, Fire/Flame). Please note: no specific compass point arrangement was held in mind when placing the images, because different systems place the elements in different places.

The card faces show a ¼” white border. followed by a thin black border. The artwork is colored ink and watercolor, with a very gentle sense to them. Nature and animals predominate, with the faces of all of the figures portrayed as changeling children (there are no adult figures in this deck). There are no titles on the cards, but I think you will find that the imagery carries the archetypal theme nicely.

The Fool shows a baby, seated in nature, one hand up to his face, smiling delightedly as four hummingbirds (representing the four points of the quaternary) flit around him.

The Lovers pictures bats pollinating plants in nature – they are so adorable, hanging upside down and looking so very innocent!

The Magician shows a laughing changeling, dressed as a fox. His hands are thrown up in the air, and he is having a grand time! All four elements are represented here, and at the bottom of the card are two adorable little mice!

Temperance shows the face and arms of a changeling underwater, watching the scene in front of him. The represents the junction between land, or material life, and water, or the unconscious, spiritual life (represented by the frog, that goes onto land to give birth, and then returns to the water).

The Devil is depicted as a snake, with two rats sitting in front of it.

Justice shows a changeling, in the center of a field, wearing antlers (symbolizing station and authority) The regimented society of the bee world is represented here in the form of honeycombs, and the bees themselves.

I absolutely adore both the Empress and the Emperor cards, which mirror each other. The Empress shows a brown bear, facing the right hand side of the card. In between her front paws stands a changeling, also focused towards the right hand side of the card. Surrounded by flowers, she is our creative source.

The Emperor shows a white (polar) bear, in a barren landscape, facing the  left hand side of the card. Knighton notes that as the King sits on a square to rule, the polar bear literally sits on top of the world. Leaning against his left front paw is a changeling, which is also focused to the left hand side of the card.

The Hermit tugs at my heartstrings! Here we see a changeling, in animal furs with a human face, peering out at two bugs in the center of the illustration. What wisdom will he find here? Is it meant to draw like kind together, or to scare predators away?

Judgment shows a tree branch, with cocoons on it. Along the branch we see a caterpillar, looking down on a butterfly that has just emerged from its cocoon.

In the World we see a changeling, looking straight out at us, with a cornucopia in its arms. The cornucopia represents the world. Behind the changeling we see a white stag, looking to the left hand side of the card. The quaternary is evoked in the four petaled dogwood blossoms.

This is an incredible deck, and, while not a beginner’s deck, is really very easy to read with! I love the earth connection, and will push maneuver my way to the front of the line to purchase the 78 card version when it comes out at all costs! Limited Edition decks are still available from Monica on her Etsy site –

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

The Mary-El Tarot

The Mary-El Tarot

Author: Marie White
Artist: Marie White
Schiffer Books
ISBN #978-0-7643-4061-1

I am one of the legion of people that have followed the progress of this deck from day one (that would be day one, ten years ago!). I am incredibly excited to now have it in my hands, and to be able to work with it. The cards were painted in oils, and maintain the traditional structure of the 22 Major Arcana (with traditional titles), and the four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Disks), with the Court cards entitled King, Queen, Knight and Page. Justice is VIII, Strength is XI. Schiffer includes two extra cards with each deck – one card includes information about Schiffer, while the other card includes other Schiffer titles being offered. I feel very blessed that my book, “Tarot, Birth Cards, and You” was listed on this card, along with Jeanne Fiorini’s “Tarot Spreads and Layouts”. Some days life is just good to us!

In the 192 page companion book – “Landscapes of the Abys”, White begins with the thought that art is the language of the soul. This has never been more evident than in this deck! Part of White’s intentions with this book are to reveal the glorious paths that run through the iconography, the history, and the innovations in the Tarot. She speaks of the Major Arcana as originating in the Middle Ages, in one of the most artistically creative times in all of humanity. That it is a universal key that can be used to write the powerful name of every single thing, including God. The Minor Arcana are seen as the poetry written with the alphabet of the Major Arcana, and are seen to be every bit as important. White sees a perfect symmetry between the two – one representing the world of spirit, the other the corporeal world.

On one level, White sees the Minor Arcana as representing the different aspects of body and soul, and the journey to be one of developing the different aspects of self. In the end, White sees Tarot as a reflection of our own soul, which, in turn, is a reflection of thw wisdom of the universe.

From the book: “The Landscape of the Abys”is the landscape of the Moon, of the High Priestess, it is the geometry of the temple, it is the shape of the tree of life, the Merkabah, the caduceus! It is the doorway between heaven and earth, between microcosm and macrocosm, between the world of eternity and infinity. It is the horizon in all ways.

The Abys is the world of life and death we jump into as the fool so we can experience all of this glorious beautiful life.

There is quite an interesting section on the history of the Tarot, including the following:

Mr. Emperor, we must dance!

Oh Death, your horrible figure
changes for me all my nature.
I was mighty and rich,
The highest in power without peer.
Kings, princes and lords
had to bow for me and honour me.
Now you come, you horrible form,
to make me food for worms.

Death answers:
You were chosen, will you realize that,
to protect and preserve
the holy churches of Christianity
with the sword of justice.
But haughtiness has blinded you,
you have not recognized yourself.
My arrival was not on your mind.

From Lubeck, 1463, St. Mary’s Church in Lubeck, Germany, by artist Bernt Notke.

At the end of the introduction are two charts: one delineating the Major Arcana, and one delineating the Minor Arcana. Following this is a note on the foundation for the “Mary-El Tarot” – that it is built on the three pillars of the Marseille, Rider-Waite and Thoth decks, with deep respect for their wisdom and tradition, as well as the evolving iconography that reflects the inner truth that we all carry.

The cards are presented with black and white scans, a discussion of the card, and the imagery used, upright and reversed keywords, and traditional divinatory meanings. Short quotes are used throughout the book, many from one of my favorite people, Joseph Campbell.

Spreads present include a two card Daily Reading spread, a three card Advice spread, a seven card Relationship spread, a three card Yes or No spread, a five card Past Life spread, and the ten card Tetractys spread. At the end of the book is a bibliography – in the case of this book, an invaluable resource!

The cards and book come in a medium size lift top box (6” by 11 ¾”) with the trademark Schiffer magnetic close lid. I love this – the box can be inadvertently knocked over (I have three cats!), and the cards are snug in their little home! The background for the box is black, with a red mythical looking bird across the top, followed by the deck name (in red lettering) and the artist (in white lettering). The sides of the box contain deck information and small images, while the back talks about the theme of the deck, “the Alchemy of the Soul”. The back cover for the companion book is black, with only the ISBN information. The front cover is black, with the deck name in red lettering, the name of the companion book, and the artist’s name, in white lettering, in the middle of the cover we see two intertwined ouroboros (the snake holding its tail in its mouth).

The cards are 3 3/8” by 5 ½”, with a reversible back (black, with two entwined ouroboros in the middle). The card face carries a ½” black border. For the Major Arcana, the card number (in Roman numerals) and the card name are in gold at the bottom of the card. The Minor Arcana Pips (numbered cards) show the card number and suit at the bottom of the card in gold lettering, while the Court cards show the card title and suit at the bottom of the card, in gold lettering.

The colors in the cards (done as oil paintings) are magical! The symbolism is non-traditional, but entirely representative of the energy of the card. While perhaps this deck could not be used for class use (where the deck of choice is generally the Rider-Waite), it could be used to learn the Tarot by studying the LWB (Little White Book, Companion Book). The research behind this deck is phenomenal! My advise – go buy every single book in the bibliography! Now!

Death – a card that is generally not on anyone’s list of favorite cards, IS a favorite of mine in this deck. I look at it, and I feel calm, peaceful, and in a very good place. White calls Death Tarot’s “memento mori”, that it is there to remind us that we are mortal, and to liv e a good life, to the fullest, because one day we will die.The imagery shows Morta the Crone, the cutter of the thread of life, giving our soul liberation. The threads of water are her radiating hair, while the flower is a traditional memento mori symbol, as flowers bloom only for a short time.

The Magician stands between the primordial mother, hidden beneath the surface of the water, and the primordial father, with his sun and infinite lemniscate. The two trees are the doorway between the spiritual and the corporeal world, and the Magician, cloaked in the brown of earth, is handing us a Metatron’s Cube (or a Phoenix’s egg). The dark of the abyss shows in that under the Magician’s cloak we only see black – there are no facial features.

The Fool carries a bag that contains himself – all that he is. He is a living Tree of Life, the beginning and the end. The image is a universal key, with all of the elements of creation. The dragons are the twin serpents held by the Sumerian God Enki. The butterflies are symbols of transformation.

In the 2 of Swords is creation through word, the space between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang. White notes that nothing is solid in this card – what we see is a combination of swords, wings, and locust.

The Knight of Wands draws you in immediately – he is the Dark Knight of transformation and transmutation. It was interesting to note that while I immediately saw this as a black bear, it was originally meant to be a Black Panther. Needless to say, it evolved into a somewhat ambiguous figure with glowing eyes, carrying a lightening bolt. This Knight searches for light, power, and energy, and absorbs them.

The Three of Wands is a card that I hesitated for a moment to include here. I am entirely drawn to it, but it does carry a definite level of energy. White notes that it is the third pillar in the Tree of Life (the pillar of Mildness, which reconciles the pillars of mercy and severity. It is the Kundalini, the serpent coming up from the base of the spine. Here we see quite literally the snake moving up to the eye.

The 8 of Cups shows the lion skin of Hercules draped over a young and innocent child, symbolizing that strength is due to an open heart, and a lack ofbitterness. The 8 of Cups acts a s a mirror with the outside world reflecting the inside world.

The 3 of Disks is the journey of the soul into flesh. What we see are a mother, father, and child, all covered in layers of gold fabric (gold carrying the symbolism of having been brought up from the dark reaches of the earth).

I found this deck to be very easy to read with , containing many layers of meaning. I love the symbols, and the esoteric quality. Aside from use as a primary reading deck, this deck could be used in comparative reading, or for journey, meditation or ritual work. I highly recommend it!

© February 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Cat’s Eye Tarot

Cat’s Eye Tarot

Author: Deborah M. Given, DVM
Artist: Deborah M. Given, DVM
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281-685-5

In her introduction Given posits that it is possible that cats are our spiritual guides. Anyone who has even been owned by a cat will agree with that! Given has portrayed the cats in this deck as thinking and acting as cats. Again, anyone who has ever been owned by a cat will look at the imagery and situations in this deck, nod, and smile. They will have seen these same situations many times over in their own experiences with their pets.

Given notes that cats are experts at reading body language, as they rely upon visual signaling to communicate at a distance, and to avoid conflict with other cats. People can also learn to read their cat’s body language. Does anyone out there not know what ears laid back flat means? It is mot definitely not an invitation to pet them!

The imagery in this deck is, as the author states, clean and uncluttered. As in, this deck is minimalist as far as esoteric symbols are concerned. What you see are the cats, in their everyday environment, doing everyday things. Given has followed the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition as interpreted by author Joan Bunning in her book “Learning the Tarot”. The Major Arcana carry the traditional titles (with the exception of the Hanged Man, which becomes the Hanged Kitty, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The suit titles are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, and the Court Card titles are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. Continuity in this deck is established through the use of color: the Major Arcana are purple, Wands are orange, Cups are red, Swords are blue, and Pentacles are green and brown.

The suit of Wands shows Red Tabbies, the suit of Cups Black and White Tabbies, the suit of Swords Siamese, and the suit of Pentacles Brown Tabbies. The suit symbols have also been replaced: Wands are represented by reptiles, the suit of Cups by fish, the suit of Swords by birds, and the suit of Pentacles by mice.

The LWB (Little White Book) presents the cards in text only, with keywords, a short paragraph on the card’s energy, and how the card appears in a reading. At the end of the LWB is a unique spread called the “Nine Lives Spread”. (This spread is also presented as an extra card with this deck.) Nine cards are drawn – three for youth, three for mid-life, and three for maturity. At the end of the book are blank pages for notes.

The cards are 2 3/4” by 4 3/4”, of good quality, glossy card stock. The backs have a 1/4” white border, surrounding the image of the face of a cat with green eyes. The image is done landscape style, and does not lend itself to reversals. This is the only thing that I did not like about this deck – the card backs could have been done in a different format.

The card faces show the same 1/4” white border, with a color coded border at the bottom of the card fot the card title. The Major Arcana carry the card number in Roman numerals and the card title. The Pips (numbered cards) show the card number in text and the suit. The Court Cards show the card title and suit.

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One of my favorite cards in this deck is the Ten of Swords (I never thought that I would be saying that!) Here we see a Siamese cat walking very gingerly on a cluttered kitchen counter. Another Siamese is using the kitty litter box (yes, in the kitchen!), while a young mother guards her kittens in the cabinet under the counter.

The Fool shows a young cat, balanced on a porch railing as he goes after a bumble bee. The Page of Pentacles shows a brown tabby barn kitten slowly approaching a mouse, who is hiding in the hay. The Four of Swords shows a Siamese cat on the top tier of a cat perch, looking out the window. On a limb outside the window we see a sparrow gazing up at the cat.

The Empress is one of those “Awwwwwwweee” cards, showing a mother cat sitting on the bottom step of a staircase, with her two kittens sitting between her front paws. The Emperor is really cute – here we see a black smoke Persian seated on a chair in front of a lit fireplace. Struggling to make his way up into the chair is a young orange kitten.

The Hanged Kitty shows a gorgeous Maine Coon on his back in front of a lit fireplace. He knows that he is safe, and that he does not need to be ready to fight, or to flee. Temperance shows a pure black male cat and a pure white female cat, curled together in the yin/yang position, balanced on a balustrade above a rugged coastline.

The Two of Wand is a “laugh out loud” card, showing a young orange tabby precariously draped over a tree limb, reaching out for a small, green lizard. The Ten of Wands shows a scenario that has actually happened to me: we see an orange tabby about to go up the steps to his house with a snake in his mouth. It is hard for the little fur balls to drag a snake around, but they can do it! I have had to rescue more than one snake from my living room!

Last, but not least, the Ace of Cups. Here we see a brightly colored fish in a bowl, fascinated by the friendly cat paw that is on the outside of the bowl. In my personal experience, the paw is usually over the top of the fish tank, trying to drag the fish out!

This is a beautifully done, “believable” deck. Not just for cat lovers, and an excellent choice for clients that may be a bit nervous getting a Tarot reading.

© November 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tea Leaf Fortune Cards

Tea Leaf Fortune Cards

Author: Rae Hepburn
Artist: Shawna Alexander
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281-670-1

Reading tea leaves – how much more esoteric can one get! One might expect to find this in a quaint little tea room, or perhaps in a Harry Potter movie, but as an everyday part of life … something that we can all do? Not without years of training, and a very will developed intuition and imagination. In reality, Rae Hepburn did have years of training … from her father, who studied Oriental and Indian metaphysical philosophies. Her father invented games for her when she was a child, games that were based on intuition. One of their favorite games was absorbing energy from another person’s aura and interpreting it. Her Hepburn learned to go with her gut feeling, bypassing the logical processes of the brain.

Hepburn learned tea leaf reading from an Aunt. Hepburn’s friends were eager to learn tea leaf reading,and asked her to compile a list of images and their meanings. The list that she compiled was daunting – 500 images, and their associated meanings. Seeing that memorizing this list could be rather over-whelming, Hepburn decided to develop a set of cards that would serve the same purpose as the images in the tea leaves.

To make the list more manageable, Hepburn concentrated on the images that appeared most frequently, eliminating the ones that rarely appeared. She also eliminated symbols that duplicated the meaning of another symbol. The cards are round, so that the resemble a teacup. A personal thought here is that round cards can also convey degrees of meaning (as part of a circle of 360 degrees).

The deck and companion book come is s sturdy cardboard box, with a cover t hat lifts up, but not completely off. There are two sections for the cards, along with a gold bag to place them in so that they can be mixed and drawn for readings.

The 98 page companion book begins with a history of tea and tea leaf reading, then moves into the actual manner in which tea leaves are read from actual tea. I found this to be both complex and fascinating. I also found myself thanking my lucky stars that I was going to be reading from a deck of cards! This section also gives an example of one type of Tea Leaf reading – Reading For The Coming Year.

Three methods are presented for using the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards – (1) The Coming Year, (2) The Coming Week, and (3) Astral House Pyramid. The suggestion is made that the reader use the Coming Year reading first, so that the Seeker’s long term energy has time to be absorbed. I am fascinated by this method, as the reader ends up with four cards for each month, which are then interpreted together. One card is drawn for each month, then the cards are remixed, and the next round is drawn. Quite interesting!

For the coming week, seven cards are drawn, mixing the cards between draws, with the Seeker concentrating on what is going on in their life. The cards are read as a whole, as a story, rather than as individual days.

The Astral House Pyramid begins with the Seeker picking an Astral House card that represents the area of their life that they want to know more about. Underneath this card are placed three lines of cards – two cards in the first line, three cards in the second line, and four cards in the third line. Each line represents things that could happen within that number of days, weeks or months.

Sample readings are presented for each of the three spread types.

The card symbols are presented in text only. As an example, I have chosen Bat:

“Bat: Take care – enemies are working against you. A bat flies out of its cave under the cover of darkness, hunting for prey. The querist should beware. The bat is warning you to take extra care in what you say and do. Enemies are hiding in the dark, ready to strike at the first opportunity.”

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The cards are round, 3.25” in diameter. There are 182 Symbol Cards, 12 Month Cards, and 6 Astral House Cards (Love, Marriage, Success, Career, Wealth, and Happiness). The backs of the Symbol cards are red, with the words “Tea Leaf” written on a black banner in the center of the card. The backs for the Months of the Year are purple, with the words “Months of the Year” written on a black banner in the center of the card. The backs of the Astral House cards are green, with the words “Astral House” written on a black banner in the center of the card.

The Symbol card faces show the name of the symbol across the topof gthe card, with the image for the symbol in the center, and keywords in small letter across the bottom. The Months of the Year card faces show the name of the month across the top of the card, with an associated image in the center of the card. The Astral House cards show the house name across the top of the card, with an image in the center of the card.

The imagery in the cards is presented in a very gentle, “Currier & Ives” type manner, circular in nature, to fit in with the card itself. The edges blend into the card, rather than standing out against it. Symbols are diverse, including Angel, Apple, Axe, Bat, Bread, Butterfly, Candle, Claw, Harp, Nest, Older Man, Older Woman, Torch, Wheel and Wreath. I found the depth of symbols to represent life and its issues and situations very well.

Anyone, from any background, could read well with these cards. It is a fun system to work with, but it is also accurate. (My readings did reflect what was going on in my life, and my clients lives.) Whether reading the cards for pleasure, or looking for specific answers, the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards have wonderful insight to offer!

© October 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tarot Leaves

Tarot Leaves

Author: Beth Seilonen
Artist: Beth Seilonen
Schiffer Publishing
ISBN #978-0-7643-3903-5

“Tarot Leaves” follows a traditional 78 card Tarot format, retaining the traditional titles, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The suit names are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with the Court card titles of King, Queen, Knight and Page. The deck is formatted around the shapes of Apple, Birch, Maple, and Oak leaves, with the imagery of each card held within each leaf, which acts as a “window” into the card. Images are overlapped within the artwork to reveal hidden meanings.

Seilonen grew up in rural Maine, with the ability to wander through woods filled with pine, cedar, and evergreen trees. The trees became her teachers, and her connection with Spirit. This very gifted artist has brought this feeling of enchantment to this deck. The imagery and use of color combine to bring out the essence of each card. Some of the imagery is traditional, some is not.

The deck and LWB (Little White Book) come packaged in one of Schiffer’s lovely magnetic lift top boxes. I love the secufre closure of the lid, and the fact that small ribbons on either side keep the top from over-extending when opened. The heavy cardboard box insures that the deck will be prote4cted for many years to come.

The LWB is 96 pages, and is soft bound (as opposed to the looser style of literal white pages). There is a short introduction, then each card is presented with a black and white scan, and a short discussion of the qualities that the card carries. The reverse meaning is listed across the bottom of the page, but I literally cannot read them, as they are dark print against a dark gray strip.

At the end of the LWB two reading templates are presented – one for a Three Card Spread, and one for a Seven Card Spread.

The cards are approximately 2 3/4” by 4 1/2”. The card backs have a gray border surrounding a colorful inset of leaves against a black background. The backs are reversible. The card faces show a white outer border, surrounding a thinner gray inner border. For the Major Arcana, the card names are written across the bottom of the card, with no numbers. The Pips (numbered cards) show the number and suit, all in text, across the bottom of the card. The Court cards show the card title and suit across the bottom of the card.

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The imagery in each card is two-fold – the form of a leaf that acts as a background for the card images, and the card images themselves. The colors used are soft pastels, which (for me, anyway) makes it hard to discern the imagery within some of the cards (unless looked at very closely). Symbols seem not to meant to stand out, but to meld together. The Magicians tools are on his table, but the Magician himself is not obvious. The primary figure in the Empress is a woman looking out at the reader, but if you look in the background you will see the symbol for the feminine. The High Priestess carries the imagery of the moon, as well as the white and black pillars, but you (almost) have to look for them. I did like the imagery at the third eye.

Strength shows a beautiful cat’s face peering out from the middle of the card. The King of Swords is ensconced in the clouds, wearing a yellow headband, with a sword coming down from the clouds in front of him. The Ten of Swords shows a figure in the middle of the card, surrounded by ten brown figures at the ten points of the leaf. The Four of Cups shows three upright gold cups, and one upright lavender cup. The Three of Pentacles shows three pentacles along the side of a leaf, with what appears to be a paper and pen to the bottom and left hand side of the leaf.

There is some traditional imagery throughout the deck, including the symbol on the Hierophant, the wheel on the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man hanging from one foot, and the two cups (vessels) on the Star.

While this is a beautiful deck, and one that lends itself to meditation and journeying, it is not a deck for someone looking to learn the Tarot. The artwork is awesome, and it could certainly be offered to clients as a choice of reading decks, if the reader felt comfortable with it, but the reader would need to be familiar with the card meanings. This deck could also be used to good advantage in comparative reading, when one deck is used to perform a freading, and the same cards are drawn from a second, different deck to gain further insight.

© October 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Easy Tarot Reading – The Process Revealed In Ten True Readings

Easy Tarot Reading –
The Process Revealed In Ten True Readings

Author: Josephine Ellershaw
Llewellyn Publications
ISBN #978-0-7387-2137-8

“Easy Tarot Reading – The Process Revealed In Ten True Readings” is based on Ellershaw’s previous work, “Easy Tarot Reading”. I was not fond of that book, because, while the information presented was in-depth and valuable, it was presented in a very “do it my way” tone. This sequel is another matter entirely! I absolutely adore this book, and totally admire Ellershaw for the time and dedication it took to pursue clients that were willing to share their readings (and check in for updates!), to take the time to present templates for each of the readings, and to present the “story” that a reading really is in fine fashion!

The book starts off with a bang – the cover featuring artwork from the awesome Ciro Marchetti (Gilded Tarot, Tarot of Dreams, Legacy Tarot, Oracle of Visions), and a foreword by Barbara Moore. In her introduction, Ellershaw talks about how the lines of theory and practice are blurred when giving readings. One can know what the individual cards mean, but to put together the story is something else. She decided that the best way to show how to put the story together was to document actual readings, and document them in the present tense. She then checked in with her clients over time (with their permission), to see how the story of their reading played out in their actual lives. The clients are as diverse as they would be in any readers clientelle (these are her titles for the chapters): The Gay Man, The Business Owner, The Former Model, The Skeptic, The Email reading … With A Twist!, The Silent Client, The Cowboy, The Mad Hatter, The Yoga Teacher, and The Rock Band. The choice of clients was made to provide a diversity of age, gender, and backgrounds. Each client also agreed to share how they felt about their reading, in their own words.

In showing the reader how to get the best from this book, Ellershaw suggests that they lay out their own cards in the diagram shown for each reading. This is a valuable tool, because the reader will be able to instantly see where the connections between cards are being made. She also mentions that while each reader needs to develop their own card meanings, she does have a brief summary of card meanings at the end of the book. She suggests that each reader create their own Tarot journal, and addresses reversed cards, the “Anchor” spread, the Life spread, the role of the key cards, using the Celtic Cross to answer specific questions, and the timing system that she uses for the Celtic Cross spread. She also talks about who shuffles the cards, support from friends and the Tarot community, and ethics and responsibility.

The readings were very well presented, with in-depth explanations of what she was doing, and why. Enough information was given about each client so that the reader could see where the reading fit into their life. The reading process consisted on interpreting two separate spreads: the Anchor Spread, which consisted of seven cards from the Major Arcana, covering base, central theme, work, love, immediate future, wishes, and future, and the Life Spread, which consisted of twenty-one cards drawn from the entire deck, covering one key card, and four cards each for home, work, personal, love,and future.

The presentation of each reading began with a first impression of the cards, then an interpretation of each of the spreads, by area. If further information was required, a Celtic Cross spread was drawn and interpreted. Each reading presentation ends with results and feedback, along with reader tips. Ellershaw chats through the reading with her client, eliciting only necessary information from them (basically to affirm what she is seeing for them), to make sure they are comfortable with the process, and to explain to the reader how the cards are coming together, and why she is interpreting them as she does. The whole process is gentle, flowing, and healing for the client, and readily understandable for the reader. She makes the reader feel as if they were sitting in her living room, having tea with her and chatting. before you know it, you have learned something!

Throughout the book she includes tips for readers on various topics, including: ethical guidelines and responsibility, conducting email and telephone readings, delivering bad news, Seeker involvement and icebreakers, frequency of consultations, and indicators of success, secrets, and skullduggery.This is an excellent book for all levels of readers, and quite an effective way to learn to put the cards together!

(c) September 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Today’s Journey Tarot

Today’s Journey Tarot –
Expanding Dimensions

Authors: Ben Perry, Teresa Sue McAdams, John Lavey, Pat Lavey, Bonnie Taylor
Illustrator: Christopher G. Wilkey
Schiffer Publishing
ISBN #978-0-7643-3905-9

I first saw that this was an “updated” deck before I even saw the cards. This actually made me disinclined to like it, as my preference is the older, more esoteric decks. However, once I had the cards in my hand, I was drawn right into them! I love the simplicity, I love the muted pastel coloring, and I love the conservative nature of the cards.

This deck was birthed by members of a group entitled Expanding Dimensions. Their purpose was to move the traditional structure of the Tarot into a more modern setting. They felt that the traditional structure of the Tarot could be combined with modern imagery that people could easily connect to, while retaining the core values for each card. IMHO, they succeeded very well!

The deck and LWB (Little White Book) come in what is becoming Schiffer Publishing’s trade mark – a heavy cardboard box with a lift top, held closed by a magnet, with ribbons on either side that do not allow the top to hyper-extend when opening. I really do like this – the deck will be protected “forever”, and the cards will not spill out if the box is accidentally dropped, or knocked off of a table or desk.

The 95 page LWB includes an introduction to the group Expanding Dimensions (based in Kentucky), along with a nice background on the deck itself. The text is written in a very gracious, polite format – one that I deeply appreciate. The cards are each presented with a small black and white scan, keywords, a description of the energy of the card, and what the card would mean in a reading. From the book:

“Key 0
The Beginning

Key Words: Journey, Discovery, Faith

The student is beginning a journey of discovery, her first deck of Tarot cards. Her expression suggests curiosity and an eagerness to learn. This is her opportunity to open herself up to a new spiritual path. The nest step is her choice. She must listen to her inner voice and have faith that it will lead her in the right direction. Surrounding her are the colors that represent he four elements of nature: red, blue, yellow, and green. They suggest that she has everything she needs for her journey.She has the strength of her foundation and the potential for growth. Her cat sits confidently beside her. The cat is an animal that can see in the dark. Its presence implies that there may be more here than she is able to see.

In a reading, this card could represent a new journey, a choice, or a new beginning. It could also signify a new spiritual path or inner discovery, Faith is required to make this choice. Listen to your inner self. Seek help if necessary. Someone else may be seeing things more clearly than you.”

At the end of the LWB the Merkaba spread is presented.

This is a traditional 78 card deck. The names have been changed, to protect the innocent. Well, at any rate, the names have been changed! 😉 The Major Arcana have been retitled (see below), the suits carry the elemental titles of Fire (Wands), Water (Cups), Air (Swords), and Earth (Pentacles). The Court Cards have also been retitled: Father (King), Mother (Queen), Youth (Knight), and Child (Page). Strength is at VIII, Justice at XI.

Major Arcana Titles:

Beginning – Fool
Manifestation – Magician
Wisdom – High Priestess
Creativity – Empress
Law – Emperor
Tradition – Hierophant
Union – Lovers
Control – Chariot
Fortitude – Strength
Guidance – The Hermit
Life – The Wheel of Fortune
Karma – Justice
Choice – The Hanged Man
Transition – Death
Discernment – Temperance
Materialism – The Devil
Intervention – The Tower
Meditation – The Star
Intuition – The Moon
Awareness – Judgment
Completion – The World

The cards are approximately 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”, on glossy card stock. The backs have a dark blue border, followed by a thin white border. The inner background is light blue, with a gray and white Merkaba symbol in the middle. The back is reversible.

The author’s note that the Merkaba is a symbolic vehicle used to help reach enlightenment. It consists of two equally equally sized, interlocked tetrahedral (pyramids), with a common center. It is a spirit body of light.

The suits are color coded. The Major Arcana faces carry a dark purple border, with the card number centered at the top of the card, and the card title centered at the bottom. The border color for the suit of Fire is red, for the suit of Water it is blue, for the suit of Air it is yellow, and for he suit of Earth it is green. The Pips (numbered cards) have their number and suit in text, centered at the bottom fo the card. The Court Cards have their title and suit centered in text at the bottom of the card.

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The artwork is done in pastels, in a very 1950’s style of dress and background. The artist has done a self-portrait in the Three of Earth, where he appears at one of his own shoings in an art gallery. Another Earth card that I like very much is the One of Earth, which shows a globe of the earth on a black background. And yes, t he number One is used, as opposed to using the term Ace.

The Father of Air is just the coolest card, showing a pilot from the back, as he is flying his plane with all of the controls in front of him.the Mother of Air is shown as a court judge – how appropriate is that!

The Three of Water shows three ladies out for cocktails, holding glasses of wine. This is so real, it brings back memories of both past and recent experiences with friends. The Nine of Fire shows a highway, being blocked by iron bars. The One of Fire shows a fiery Sun, surrounded by darkness.

Choice shows cars beign driven on a freeway, with an exit coming up. Tradition shows an absolutely beautiful domed building with colorful glass windows. Wisdom shows a female figure, in a long sleeved, high-neck blue dress, sitting at a table, in front of a Tarot spread. Beginning shows a young girl sitting on the floor of her bedroom, cards spread out in front of her as her cat watches. How many of us had these very personal moments when we were that age!

This is a deck that would appeal to collectors, to those that like 1950’s style art, and to anyone who wants a gentle deck to work with themselves, or to offer to their clients. It is also child friendly (yes, I read for children if they ask!). Instead of Alice through the looking glass, it is you, the reader, through the Merkaba!

© September 2011 Bonnie Cehovet