Tarot Deck Archive

The decks below are all my own which I have collected over the past thirty years. Some are now out-of-print, and there are newer editions available of quite a number of them. My aim in writing these reviews is to give you an idea of what each deck looks like, it's strengths and weaknesses, and also to give you my own opinion. I have well over a hundred decks as of writing (May 2013), although strictly speaking they aren't all Tarot as I have included some Oracle sets. This section is by no means complete, as I have lots more decks to review so keep your eyes on my blog for news of additions.

Diary Of A Broken Soul

Diary Of A Broken SoulThis deck is presented in a good-quality, sturdy black box, and is fully-illustrated. The card stock is excellent, and has a slightly glossy finish. This deck is a limited edition of Majors only, signed by the creator, and is number 69 of 100.

The cards are borderless and the images are presented in black ink, thus the cards are shades of black, grey and white. The card numbers are at the top but the names have been left off. The back of the cards bear a white geometric design on a black background, the same as the picture on the box.

Many of the Major Arcana card names, have been changed, e.g. The Fool = The Jester; Hierophant = Soothsayer; Justice = Duality. The imagery is full of wraith-like creatures, and could be described as shadowy, and disturbing, yet at the same time they are exquisitely executed in great detail and are compelling.

Although this is a Majors-only deck, Abdullah has created a complete deck, and has named the suits Spades, Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds, and if anything, these are even more shadowy. Of himself, the author says, "I am crazy and psychotic at best, homicidal and evil most days when the sun is shining....". He created the deck over a period of three years in order to explore his shadow side, and to address issues such as self-harm, incest, depression and suicide.

It is impossible in a brief review like this to do this deck justice and I highly recommend that you go to Abdullah's website www.diaryofabrokensoul.com where you will find lots of very interesting information.

Author: Ash Abdullah | Artist: Ash Abdullah

Hezicos Tarot

Hezicos%20TarotThis fully-illustrated deck is presented in a delightful sturdy box with a high gloss finish, being designed to look like a brown paper package tied up with string, and with fairies escaping through the wrapping.

The card stock is good and well-finished. The cards are fully-illustrated and borderless, with a reversible design on the back in shades of brown and gold. All four of the suit symbols are incorporated into the design.

The booklet accompanying the deck is made from excellent quality glossy paper and is bound in a green cover designed to look like a school exercise book. The author gives the reader a personal insight into her artistic life, creative process and the materials used in the execution of the deck. The cards themselves are reproduced in miniature and in full colour. For the Majors, there is a description, along with upright and reversed meanings, whilst the Minors give a description for the Court cards only. Three spreads are described, the Three-Card, the Romany and the Celtic Cross, but no sample readings.

The Major card names and numbers follow the Rider-Waite tradition, along with easily recognisable depictions in vibrant colours. They are very bold and strong. The author has her own unique take on the images, e.g. The Emperor is depicted sitting on a large quartz crystal, flanked by other crystal points and with a hound at his feet; the Death card shows two skulls, one human with a butterfly on top, and one animal. The card that stands out from the rest, maybe slightly incongruously due to its large black background, is the Moon.

In the Minor Arcana, the suit names are Swords, Rods, Cup and Pentacles, and the colours blue and yellow seem predominant. These cards are full of fairies and fun, and are so playful that the reader gets drawn in straight away. Whilst they are all truly delightful, the suit that particularly stands out is the Rods, due to many of them having little faces and stick arms, e.g. the Five Rods are seen to be pushing each other away and scowling fiercely at one another.

All in all, this deck is a sheer pleasure, and it's been a long time since a deck attracted and held me like this one. You can see images of the cards in my Tarotcast. Not to be missed!

Author: Mary Griffin | Artist: Mary Griffin
ISBN: 956583903

Lo Scarabeo Tarot

Lo%20Scarabeo%20TarotThis deck is presented very much in the immediately recognisable style of Lo Scarabeo, which is good in one way, but in another detracts from its uniqueness as the company's flagship deck. The card-stock is average but quite nicely finished.

The booklet is presented in English, Italian, Spanish, French and Dutch. The author gives a fascinating insight into his creative process, taking the reader through the story of how he has drawn on the three most influential decks of all time, i.e. the Tarot of Marseilles, The Rider-Waite Tarot, and the Thoth Tarot, how he has amalgamated all three and how he and the artist have put their own twist on this. As far as the interpretations of the cards go, there are only three pages devoted to this, with mostly one single-word prompt for each card, which seems to let the deck down somewhat. Just one spread is given, the Lo Scarabeo, set out in the shape of a scarab, but it is interesting and useful, and includes a very good sample spread.

The card images are set within a gold border, which is itself set within a white border. The numbers are are the top, whilst the card names are given in four languages at the top and one at the bottom. The reverse is a rather attractive design in black and grey of two scarab mirror images, making it reversible.

In the Major cards, only one card name has been changed very slightly, i.e. the Star becomes the Stars. The images are easily recognisable in comparison with the Rider-Waite deck, and the colours are attractively bright and eye-catching.

In the Minor cards, the suit of Cups becomes Chalices, and the Court cards are named Knave, Knight, Queen and King. In the interest of balance, the Knave is depicted as a girl, which makes for a refreshing change.

All-in-all, this deck is considerably more interesting and attractive than the box suggests, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself wanting to use the deck. Don't be put off by the apparent generic nature of the box - do have a look and enjoy.

Author: Mark McElroy | Artist: Anna Lazzarini
ISBN: 9-788883-956959

Housewives Tarot

Housewives%20TarotThis deck is presented in a very sturdy box in the style of the Marguerite Patten recipe file sets of the 1950s. The card stock is about average.

The instruction book is small but is definitely more than a booklet, with its 96 pages. It tells the 'Legend of the Mystical Housewives Tarot', a funny story about the 'origins' of the deck. The book gives five spreads, including the Clothesline of Life and the Martini. It is laid out with one page per card, showing three key words/phrases, plus a brief description and interpretation.

The cards are designed in comic 1950s style, with the focus on the housewife of the family in all her various guises.

The Major Arcana cards have a black border, and most of the images are set against a background of green or yellow. Two examples of those images are - l) The Hermit - a woman luxuriating in a bubble bath, surrounded by bars of Lux soap; 2) The Empress - a woman standing behind a table full of cooking ingredients and holding up a book entitled 'Recipe For Success'. The ordering of the Major cards has some changes in that the The HIgh Priestess becomes number four; the Empress , number two; and the Emperor, number three, but no explanation is given for this.

The Minor cards are fully illustrated and each suit has its own colour border, as follows - Swords, red; Wands, orange; Cups, blue; Pentacles, green. The Swords are represented by a variety of sharp implements, including scissors, knives and cut-throat razors; Wands, feather dusters, mops and brushes; Cups, champagnes flutes, whisky tumblers and wine glasses; Pentacles, plates, platters and breadboards.

All in all, it is a very amusing and quirky deck, which could be used for divination, although not of the serious variety, in my opinion.

Author: Paul Kepper and Jude Buffum | Artist: Paul Kepper and Jude Buffum
ISBN: 978-1-931686-99-0

Shadowscapes Tarot

Shadowscapes TarotThis fully-illustrated deck is presented as a box set with a full-size accompanying book. Although the box isn't very sturdy, it is beautifully decorated; similarly with the card stock - it is slightly flimsy but very nicely finished.

The book which accompanies the deck is made from very good quality paper and has 253 pages. The front cover is a full-size depiction of the High Priestess, making for a very attractive invitation to see what lies within. For each and every card, a whole page is devoted to a picture of the card in shades of grey, which gives the impression of pencil drawings, but may just be black and white 'photocopies' of the actual cards. A full description and meaning of each card is given in the most poetic, evocative way, drawing the reader into each scene, and also demonstrating how the cards could be used for meditation. The authors provide nine spreads across a wide spectrum, and include the Celtic Cross, Is love In The Stars, and Dream Come True.

The back of the cards is a reversible design in muted shades of purple, and in the centre is a circular interwoven design set against a cosmic background. The card images are set within a silver border.

The names and numbering of the Major cards are the same as the Rider-Waite, and although a lot of the Rider-Waite symbolism is present, the images have a dream-like, ethereal quality, and look very different. The Majors contain a proliferation of flying creatures, especially birds and butterflies, and their magical nature grips the imagination, taking the reader into flights of fantasy, stirring the imagination wonderfully.

The Minor cards are no less enchanting. Each suit has its own colour scheme and representative images, as follow - Swords - lilac and gold, swans; Wands - yellow and green, foxes; Cups - blue, fish; Pentacles - green and brown, dragons. The depictions are, on the whole, quite different from the Rider-Waite, and, like the Majors, are dreamy and ethereal.

This deck is completely enchanting and wonderful for intuitive reading. For anyone who feels stuck with original meanings, this deck will help in freeing up the imagination, and is thus highly recommended, whether you are a seasoned reader or a beginner.

Author: Stephanie Pui-Mun and Barbara Moore | Artist: Stephanie Pui-Mun
ISBN: 970-0-7387-1579-7

Mystic Faerie Tarot

Mystic Faerie TarotThis fully illustrated deck is presented in a sturdy enough, attractive box decorated in keeping with the cards, and it contains a full-size book along with the cards. The cards themselves in are a gold organza bag. The card stock is a little bit flimsy but very nicely finished.

The book is 284 pages long, made with good quality paper, and beautifully bound. Each card is reproduced in black and white, full-sized, along with a description and explanation of its symbols. "Your Message" is the cards advice to the reader/querent, being solid and practical, down-to-earth and applicable to everyday living. Nine spreads are described, including Dew Drop, Lily Pond; Love Me, Love Me Not; and Daisy Spread, followed by some useful sample readings.

The card images are set within a gold border, with the card names at the bottom, whilst the back of the cards is an intricate reversible design of foliage and faces in gold, white and brown. Within the gold border there is also an inner border which reflects the design on the back.

Three of the Major names have been changed - the High Priestess becomes the Priestess; the Hierophant becomes the Priest and the Hanged Man becomes the Hanged Fae. The depictions are all very busy. All the people shown on the cards are of the Fae. The predominant colours are shades of green and brown, and the images, whilst recognisably comparable to Rider-Waite, are exquisitely executed in a fashion befitting the decks name.

In the Minor cards the suits retain their original names whilst the Page becomes the Knave. each suit has its own symbolic images - Swords, roses; Wands, fly agaric; Cups, water lilies; Pentacles, fruits of the autumn harvest. As with the Majors, the images are beautifully done.

All in all, this deck is a gift for anyone who is attracted to fairies. Barbara Moores style is very much in evidence and in that sense the deck echoes the Shadowscapes Tarot. A must-have.

Author: Barbara Moore | Artist: Linda Ravenscroft
ISBN: 978-0-7387-0921-5

Tarot Reed Howard

Tarot Reed HowardThis deck is simply called 'Tarot' and I have therefore added the surnames of the author and artist, in order to distinguish it from other decks with the similar one-word name. I had to contact the publisher in order to find out who the creators of the deck were, as their names are not shown anywhwere.

This is a tiny boxed set, beautifully packaged and very attractively presented in dark blues and purples. The cards are about one-and-a-half inches by two-and-a-half, whilst the book is three inches square.

The card stock is quite flimsy. The backs of the cards bear a sun-and-swords design, which is not reversible, in shades of grey. The book has a glossy hard back and is printed on very good quality paper. Besides giving basic Tarot information, in also includes numerological and elemental correspondences. In spite of its size, it is illustrated in full colour, and gives three spreads.

All the card images are set within an ornate brown and gold border, with the card name at the bottom.

The Major cards have a purple spot half-way down each side, giving them an instant identifying feature. All the names follow the Rider-Waite tradition, and the imagery also sticks quite closely overall to it. There is an Egyptian theme in some of the cards, but not all, which produces some inconsistency.

In the Minor cards, all four suits remain true to form, but disappointingly, there are no illustrations, just pip formations. Each suit has an identifying spot half-way down each side - Swords, blue; Wands, green; Cups, red; Pentacles, gold.

This deck is recommended mostly for its novelty value rather than for using to do readings, mostly because it is not fully-illustrated. The little sticker that is visible at the bottom of the box showed that I paid £4.99 for it in about 2007.

Author: Bridget Reed | Artist: Colin Howard
ISBN: 9-781845-105945

Napo Tarot

Napo%20TarotThis fully-illustrated deck is presented in a standard-size box, and the card stock is good enough and nicely finished. The booklet is produced on good quality paper, which leaves it feeling very durable. The Major Arcana cards are given a page each, including The Meaning, the Situation and Related Meanings. Just a few lines are given to each of the Minor cards. The booklet also gives details of two spreads, the Celtic Cross, and an unusual one named The Draw of Four Aces.

The card images are set within a narrow white border, the colours - with a predominance of blue and pink - being gentle and pleasing to the eye.

Each of the Major cards bears its name in English at the top and Spanish at the bottom, there being four name changes e.g. The Hierophant becomes The Pope, and Strength becomes Fortitude. Astrological correspondences are also included. The symbolism sticks closely to the Rider-Waite system, but Napo's style is very distinctive, sometimes comic.

The Minor suit names remain the same except for Pentacles, which becomes Disks. Again, the depictions relate closely to Rider-Waite. Cards two to ten bear single-word meanings, e.g. Six of Swords - Escape; Seven of Wands - Valour; Five of Cups - Disappointment; Three of Disks - Works.

All in all, this is a very interesting deck, easy on the eye and would make an excellent beginners' deck.

Author: Betty Lopez | Artist: Napo
ISBN: 1-57281-067-X

Tarot of the Sweet Twilight

Tarot of the Sweet TwilightThis is a very modern deck which follows the traditions of the Rider-Waite. The backs of the cards are reversible, each end depicting four faces and four skulls. All the cards are set within a navy-blue border which goes right to the edge with each card's name and number at the top. The card names are shown in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Dutch, and the predominant colours throughout the deck are powerful shades of blue, green and orange.

The names of the Major cards remain the same except for 'the Wheel of Fortune' which becomes simply 'the Wheel'. Most of the Major cards carry some kind of representation of the moon and stars.

The suit names of the Minor cards remain the same except for 'Cups' which becomes 'Chalices'. The booklet accompanying the deck is basic in the extreme, giving nothing other than a brief introduction, interpretations for each card, and one Tarot spread.

Overall, this is a fascinating deck, being surreal, arty, dreamy, offering a gateway to one's deepest emotions and psyche. To quote the box, "The sweet sadness of innocence: an enchanted world that reawakens at twilight and dies within it". If you're looking for a deck with something a bit different, this is for you.

Author: Barbara Moore | Artist: Cristina Benintende
ISBN: 10 073870 18548

Wildwood Tarot

Wildwood%20TarotThe Wildwood Tarot is a fully-illustrated deck which comes in an attractive box set. Most of the scenes, as the title suggests, show woodland depictions of great beauty and detail. The card stock is quite thin.

The back of the cards is plain black with a thin white line close to the edge, the corners of which each show a small leaf-like design. The front of the cards is contained within a narrow white border, with a slightly deeper border at the bottom edge, leaving room for the name of each card.

Most of the names of the Major Arcana have been changed, e.g. The Empress = the Green Woman; the Chariot = the Archer; Death = the Journey. However, in most cases the illustrations can be easily understood in terms of their relationship to the more traditional imagery. The detail on these beautiful images is quite extraordinary and draws the reader in, with its woodland colours in all of the seasons.

The suit names of the Minor Arcana have been changed - Swords = Arrows; Wands = Bows; Cups = Vessels; Pentacles = Stone. Each pip card bears its name and a word or short phrase as a prompt to its intended meaning. Examples are as follows - Five Arrows, Frustration; Seven Vessels, Mourning; Eight Stones, Skill. Many of the card meanings stick closely to the generally accepted ones. The Court cards retain their royal titles but the illustrations are very different in that each one is an animal, e.g. Page of Arrows is Wren and Queen of Vessels is Salmon. Again, the illustrations are all very attractive and most of the deck is suitable for meditation.

The 156-page book accompanying the deck is very elegantly presented, offering detailed information on each card, plus a number of spreads and meditations.

All-in-all, this deck comes highly recommended, especially for all lovers of woodland.

Author: Mark Ryan and John Matthews | Artist: Will Worthington
ISBN: 978-1-85906-318-7

R G Tarot

R G TarotThis deck is a reprint of a fifteenth century deck, the originals of which were, at the time of publication of this deck in 1970, at the British Museum. The instruction booklet is "a short extract from 'The Tarot Speaks'" by Richard Gardner. It is a fascinating read and has some extraordinary statements in it which don't often appear, e.g. in writing about 'the Fool', Gardner says "It is the symbol representing God in the Tarot......Near 'love' cards it can indicate the ecstasy of the super orgasm which can join two souls together, the state in which we can experience something of the higher nature of God". Later on, Gardner writes about the importance of knowing that what works for one person may be a hindrance to another, stating "Some need a dose of mescaline or smoke hashish to get free".

The Major Arcana cards are predominantly portrayed in pink, green and yellow. The cards are numbered but not named, although the names are shown in the booklet. All the depictions are set within a fine green border against a white background. Interestingly, some of the cards have a slightly faded feel, e.g. 'the High Priestess', 'the Empress' and 'the Star', whilst others are more vividly coloured, e.g. 'the Chariot', 'the Hanged Man' and 'the Tower'. A statement on the back of the box tells us that 'The twenty-two Major Arcana of this Tarot reveal in pictorial form a marvellous doctrine of life and lovemaking'.

The Minor cards are very simply drawn. All the 'pip' cards are absolutely uncluttered and because the actual suit symbols are rather small, the 'Ace of Swords', for example, seem lost on the card. There certainly isn't anything that can be seen as 'adornment'. In the court cards, all the 'Pages' are the same except for the suit symbol which they hold, as are all the Knights, Queens and Kings. To quote the back of the box, 'The fifty-six Minor Arcana are magical tools. They are clear and uncluttered, as such tools should be, to enhance the concentration of the Magician'.

This is one of my second-hand decks, bought so long ago that I don't remember where it came from. The box, as you can see, is worn and the cards look and feel like they have been quite well-used. I find it to be an interesting deck because of its colours and simplicity.

Author: Richard Gardner | Artist: Fifteenth Century Reprint

Tarot Companion Decoder

Tarot Companion DecoderThis Decoder folds out to reveal four wheels, one of which is visible in the photograph, covering all seventy-eight cards. The revolving wheel has a cut-out section which, when lined up with the card you want to read about, exposes upright and reversed meanings. It is a simple but ingenious device and is made from good quality stiff card with a high gloss finish. It has a childlike, fun factor and is much easier to refer to than looking in a book when learning card meanings..

I have been unable to find out who devised the Decoder, although the copyright holder is 'Dynamo House' in Australia. If anyone is able to throw any light on the matter, I would be very pleased to hear from you. I bought it from 'Waterstone's' in Manchester, England, a good few years ago now and I liked it so much that when I was training to teach reflexolgy and had to produce a practical learning aid as part of my assessment, I created the 'Wheel of Health'!

Author: Unknown | Artist: Unknown

IJJ Swiss Tarot

IJJ Swiss TarotAs you can see on the photograph, this deck is very grubby indeed and I am including it for interest rather than review, as it holds a great deal of sentimental value for me. It belonged to a dear friend, Gladys, who I first met when I went to her for a reading in 1984. At that time she was known as Madame Aminta, but soon dropped the 'Madame' as she was getting a lot of phone-calls for 'extra services'! We became firm friends and helped each other out in lots of ways until she became very ill in 1989. At the latter end of the year, Gladys died, and I inherited her cards. They still hold so much of her essence and I often feel her nearby. Lovely memories.

Author: Stuart R Kaplan

Aquarian Tarot

Aquarian TarotThe subtitle of the Aquarian Tarot is 'Authentic Interpretation of the Medieval Tarot'. It has been created in 'art deco' style and appears to be much more based on the Rider-Waite than on earlier decks. The sixteen-page fold-out instruction booklet gives the briefest of introductions, meanings for all the cards and instructions for the Celtic Cross Spread - 'The Ancient Celtic Method of Divination'. Although there are now many hundreds of spreads, the Celtic Cross has remained high profile and is the standard by which other spreads are measured.

The Major Arcana is something of a mixed bag in terms of consistency. Some of the cards, e.g. 'the Magician' and 'the Hanged Man' are immediately recognisable as being based on the Rider-Waite deck, whilst others, e.g. 'Strength' and 'Temperance' are quite different. Many of the images are 'close-up' views, cutting out a lot of the background and losing some of the original symbols. The card numbers appear in Roman numerals at the top of each one, whilst the names are at the bottom, in a variety of fonts and sizes, creating to a certain extent a lack of continuity. However, in spite of all that, the cards are attractive and eye-catching.

The Minor Arcana is much more consistent and sticks closely to the Rider-Waite formation. Although the images are 'close-up' views, they are less so than the Major Arcana and retain most of the original symbolism. They are immediate and compelling, feeling much more lively than the Major Arcana.

The Aquarian Tarot has remained one of the most popular Tarot decks over the years, and it was the second deck I owned. The photograph shows a well-used box, held together - like so many others - with sellotape. Although I haven't used this deck for years, I still have a soft spot in my heart for it - it was the first one I used when I started reading professionally, and the memory of that very first home visit is still etched on my mind - I had to ask the people would they mind turning off the television whilst I did the readings! Nostalgia - it ain't what it used to be........

Author: David Pallidini | Artist: David Pallidini

The Philosopher s Stone

The Philosopher s StoneThis deck comprises forty cards, each card being about a particular aspect of human experience, e.g. (2) 'Self', (10) 'Depth, (35) Tension, (40) Solution. The cards are square with rounded corners and the pictures are set against a white background. Each card bears it's title in German, French and English, mostly at the bottom but occasionally to the right when the picture necessitates it.

The images, as the name suggests, are all of stone(s), e.g. (3) 'Freedom' shows a large stone head breaking free from the rock of which it has been a part; (9) 'Thinking' is a stone head looking deep in thought, with little stones floating round it, as if signifying all the thoughts inside the head (see photo); (22) 'Skill' is a large stone head balancing a smaller stone on top of it; (31) 'Contribution' shows an open hand, palm up, with a smallish stone suspended above it, a part of which has just broken off and is about to fall into the hand; (33) 'Origin' shows a huge lengthways stone suspended just above thousands of very small ones which are flowing out of a fissure in the large stone, creating a 'mushroom-style' picture. The depictions have been beautifully thought-out and are intriguing to look at.

The flimsy leaflet that accompanies the deck is very basic. It gives a simple five-card spread plus a single-card 'touchstone'. The list of the forty cards gives a few meanings for each card, and interestingly, although the word 'Abundance' (29) is spelled correctly in the leaflet, the actual card is spelled 'Abundence'. The deck also includes a card with a picture of the author and basic biographical details which are in German.

The Philosopher's Stone is now out of print and apparently hard to get hold of. The second-hand decks that I have looked at on the net mostly seem to be well over £100. I strongly recommend that you get a look at it, as it is definitely unique and would be great for meditation. I bought this deck from the Tarot Workshop at Hadfield, a small Derbyshire village in England. At the time it was operating from the owner's home and I went there myself a few times to buy decks and the first two volumes of Stuart Kaplan's Tarot Encyclopedia. Soon afterwards the business moved into a unit on an industrial estate, so fast had it expanded.

Author: De Es  | Artist: De Es

Inner Child Cards

Inner Child CardsThe subtitle of this deck is 'a journey into fairy tales, myth, and nature'. Although the authors don't use the word 'Tarot' in the title, it is just that - Tarot re-told, using tales and stories from childhood that most people will recognise instantly. The book which accompanies the deck is thorough, well-written and an easy read. It describes several new spreads, e.g. 'The Wishing Well', 'The Rainbow', and 'Hopscotch', delightful names in keeping with the inner child focus of the deck. At the back of the book, there is biographical information about the authors and a few lines about the artist. The cards themselves are large with a glossy finish. A rainbow of colours runs through the deck and the depictions are utterly enchanting, the photograph showing 'Little Red Cap' being a good example of this. Lerner and Lerner also give some interesting information about the connection between Tarot and numerology, for both Major and Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana cards are all based on either fairy-tales or fairy-tale characters, e.g. 'Little Red Cap' (The Fool), 'the Wizard' (Hierophant), 'Big Bad Wolf' (the Devil), and 'the Yellow Brick Road' (the Sun). For each card, the authors give a condensed version of the original story/character, followed by an explanation of how they relate to the modern-day world, plus interpretation which can be applied in a reading.

The Minor Arcana is no less inspiring than the Major cards. To quote the authors, "Inner Child cards reveal sensitive, heartwarming and spiritual scenes through the four suits". The name of the suits are 'Swords of Truth', 'Magic Wands', 'Winged Hearts' (Cups), and 'Earth Crystals' (Pentacles). Each suit has a border of appropriate symbols - 'Swords', clouds, birds, sun and wind; 'Wands', flowers, caterpillars and butterflies; 'Hearts', shells, seahorses, starfish, turtles; and 'Crystals', oak leaves, acorns, snails, frogs and mushrooms. The Court cards are named 'Child', 'Seeker', 'Guide' and 'Guardian'.

The verbal description I have given can in no way do justice to this beautiful deck - it is absolutely stunning. I bought this deck in the early days of decks and book sets, and I don't remember what happened to the box. As you can see on the photograph, the book cover is a little bit grubby, but the cards are pristine! If you haven't seen Inner Child Cards, I highly recommend that you get to have a look at them, and see if you are as captivated as I am.

Author: Isha Lerner/Mark Lerner | Artist: Christopher Guilfoil

Lord of the Rings Oracle

Lord of the Rings OracleThis attractive set comprises a book, a map, a ring and and a forty-card deck, all of which come in a luxury book-style box which is held fast by a green ribbon. It is sub-titled 'A Mystical Pack with Middle-earth Cards, Map and Ring for Divination and Revelation'. The different components of this set can be used in conjunction with each other in various combinations and Donaldson's instructions on how to do so are in simple, straightforward language . The map, as you can see from the photo below, is large and glossy, and shows the various realms in which 'the action' of the epic story takes place. The ring lets the set down somewhat as it appears to be made from plaster and is of inferior quality when compared with the rest of the set.

The hard-backed book, although only eighty pages long, delivers not only the usual instructions and explanations, but also some very good sample readings, some excellent suggestions for meditation, plus biographical information about Tolkien and a section 'About Terry Donaldson'.

The borderless cards themselves are beautifully illustrated and appear to be in no particular order, being un-numbered. They show 'characters, creatures, races, various beings and some locations', e.g., 'Forest of Mirkwood', 'Shelob's Lair', 'Old Man Willow', and 'the Ghost Army of Dunharrow'. The illustrations appear to have been done on textured paper using various media such as pencil, charcoal and water colours. For each card, Donaldson gives a description of the card, the esoteric meaning, personal indications and reversed meanings. His descriptions are powerful and immediate, as demonstrated by the following two examples:-

'Rose Gamgee and Belladonna Took - The Mothers : Before us stand two Hobbit women: Belladonna Took, the mother of Bilbo, and Rose Gamgee, the wife of Sam and mother of his thirteen children. Together they invite us into their domain, and offer us refreshments. The smell of baking fills our nostrils. We drink from an earthenware goblet. The taste is sweet and warm. We feel that we have been on a long journey. We take off our boots, allowing our feet to relax. The two women stoke up the fire, and we feel the increased warmth'.

And in stark contrast, 'Shelob's Lair: We look from a cave entrance into a huge, dark slimy web. By the light of the lamp we carry we can see various bodies encased within it. Their faces are frozen, seemingly in mid-scream. On entering the cave our nostrils are assaulted by the stench of evil. We stumble and our hands become caught up in the web before us. Something begins shuffling towards us; we are frozen with terror when we see two great clusters of eyes glowing through the darkness. The creature begins to emit a terrifying, bubbling, creaking sound'.

If it seems like I was being a bit long-winded giving those two extracts, I thought they were a very good contrast and really gave a flavour of the whole thing. This set is very different from 'the Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck and Card Game', each set having it's own merits. They were both devised by Terry Donaldson and it's hats off to him, having produced two very different superb decks on the same theme.

Author: Terry Donaldson | Artist: Alice Englander

Lord of the Rings Oracle Map

Lord of the Rings Oracle MapThis is the map that belongs to the Lord of the Rings Oracle, above. As you can see, it is colourful and quite detailed, not to mention it's size. See above for the review.

Author: Terry Donaldson | Artist: Alice Englander

Tarot of the Cat People

Tarot of the Cat PeopleThis magnificent deck is fully illustrated with cats at every turn; cats in all shapes and sizes, cat sculptures, live cats and cats for adornment. The 'Cat People' live in a distant place called 'The Outer Regions', and Kuykendall's descriptions of how to get there and of the landscape there are compelling. "It is a land of vast distances and endless vistas. Its terrain consists of the most desolate and forbidding and yet most bizarre, varied and spectacular landscapes". The author's ability to paint pictures with words is second to none, and she has accomplished a major feat in presenting so much information in 'just a booklet'.

There are five kingdoms of the Outer Regions, corresponding to the Major Arcana and the four suits of the Minor Arcana, each kingdom having it's own characteristics in terms of both landscape and inhabitants.

The kingdom of the Major Arcana is 'Vapala', the 'Diamond Kingdom' and is inhabited by the 'Sky People'. The cards have kept their original titles apart from 'Judgement' which is now 'Rejuvenation'. Although the designs, colours and style are aeons apart from the Rider-Waite deck, all the cards are easily recognisable. One that stands out in particular is 'Death', which shows the Grim Reaper on foot and carrying a scythe, accompanied by the walking skeleton of a large cat.

Each of the four Minor Arcana suits follows a similar setup - i.e. 'Swords' relates to 'Thnossis', the 'Ruby Kingdom', inhabited by the 'Fire People'; 'Wands' relates to 'Twahihic', the 'Emerald Kingdom', inhabited by the 'Sand People'; 'Cups' relate to 'Azhengir', the 'Topaz Kingdom', inhabited by the 'Salt People' and 'Pentacles' relate to 'Kahulawe', the 'Sapphire Kingdom', peopled by the 'Rock People'. The Minor cards are no less opulent than the Major cards, and again, are for the most part recognisable.

I cannot stress enough just how beautiful this deck is, and my words can't even begin to do it justice. You can see from the picture that the box is literally held together with sellotape, and the cards themselves show signs of wear, as I worked with them for a couple of years. You might be able to see that I paid £11.95 (many years ago now) from a little shop called 'Spooks' in the Yorkshire village of Haworth (Bronte country). I have always been terrified of cats and would freeze if one came into the room so it was a great surprise to me to realize one day, after about eighteen months with the deck, that I was no longer afraid of them. This has been a great blessing to me as it has enabled me to enjoy my friends' cats and they no longer have to imprison their furry felines when I visit them.

Author: Karen Kuykendall | Artist: Karen Kuykendall

Kazanlar Tarot

Kazanlar TarotThis deck is approached from the point of view that 'the spiritual roots of tarot are to be found in the three great, monotheist religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam' (quote taken from back of box, by ?AGMULLER). In keeping with this, the whole deck is chocka-a-block with information about all three religions in the form of myths, legends and facts. The booklet that accompanies the deck is 143 pages long and addresses every card in detail. Kazanlar's style of writing is such that he creates a thirst for more; and not a single word is superfluous. His ability to pack so much in is reflected in the card designs, as they are intricate and busy, yet beautifully executed. Many of the cards, and in particular the Minor Arcana, are very brightly coloured, and set against a rich gold background. As such, they are reminiscent of the 'Egorov Tarot Gold Edition'.

The Major cards are based very much on the Kabbalah. Kazanlar gives an explanation of that for each card, backed up with very concrete, down-to-earth examples and/or stories that make the esoteric accessible to anyone unfamiliar with the Kabbalah. The titles of the cards are shown at the bottom, in English, French, German and Spanish, although the 'Death' card bears it's number but not it's name. 'The Fool' is assigned the number twenty-two. Two of the card titles have been changed, i.e. 'the High Priestess' becomes 'the Popess' and 'the Hierophant' becomes 'the Prophet'.

The Minor Arcana cards have extra information. The Ace through Ten of each suit have both 'angelic' and 'demonic' names as found in the Kabbalah, to denote their positive (upright) and negative (reversed) influences. These names are shown at the top and bottom of each card respectively, and the booklet gives information for each angel/demon according to it's basic traits and attributes. Astrological correspondences are shown on the left-hand side, although not addressed in the booklet. As well as giving the divinatory interpretation, Kazanlar has given some fascinating insights into the scenes depicted.

All-in-all, if I were to describe this deck in terms of alcohol, I would have to say that it is very much a full-bodied drink, most satisfying and possibly addictive, yet not an addiction I would want to be cured of. There is so much else I could write about the Kazanlar Tarot but I would never be able to do it justice. What I can say is.........open that bottle and savour the flavour!

Author: Emil Kazanlar | Artist: Emil Kazanlar

Egorov Tarot Gold Edition

Egorov Tarot Gold EditionThis fully-illustrated deck is of Russian design and was printed in Austria in 1992. It's title implies that there might be another edition besides the 'Gold' one but this doesn't appear to be the case. Also, the front page of the accompanying booklet states that this is the 'Piatnik Edition', again implying that another company has also published this deck, and, again, there is no evidence of that.

The booklet appears to have been translated into English from it's original Russian language due to the the slightly unusual use of grammar and sentence construction in parts. The esoteric nature of this deck is reflected in Egorov's 'User's Manual' as he calls the booklet, and the following paragraph is a good example of it - "For to learn how to use the cards, it is necessary to know the laws of human evolution and the obstacles that hinder him to follow his evolution path, act strictly in his life, realize his plans quickly and with high quality. This knowledge is programmed in the cards with the help of the Earth matrixes of the Liiving Universe. A person to lay out the cards would view the obstacles that impede him to act strictly".

The titles of some of the Major cards have been changed, e.g. 'the High Priestess' becomes 'the Science', 'the Hanged Man' becomes 'Selflessness' and 'Temperance' becomes 'Sun Genius'. The designs of the cards reflect the 'Rider-Waite' Tarot quite closely in terms of symbols yet Egorov has brought his own unique style to them. In this deck, 'the Fool' is slotted in at number XXI, between XX 'Rebirth' ('Judgement') and XXII 'Crown' ('the World'). There is a typo error on the 'Strength' card which is spelled 'Strenght'.

Each of the suits of the Minor cards has predominant colours, ie. 'Swords' are blue and green, 'Wands' are red-brown and bright pink, 'Cups', shades of green, and 'Coins' brown/orange/yellow. This, combined with very striking images makes the cards come to life.

These cards are so opulent, a veritable feast for the eyes and I have no hesitation in recommending anyone to join in the party!

Author: Alexander Egorov | Artist: Alexander Egorov

Sacred Circle Tarot

Sacred Circle TarotThis fully-illustrated deck is extraordinarily beautiful. Franklin and Mason began this venture when they were fresh out of university, but then abandoned it as too big a project and it lay untouched for fifteen years. This deck is the result of a further two years collaboration and very hard work, bringing to us a stunning visual feast of the pagan path and way of life. The box for the cards is over-sized so there is room to wrap the cards up and still keep them inside it. The box is plain white apart from a border round the edge, thus giving the reader the opportunity to embellish it in any way that seems appropriate.

The book which accompanies the deck is also excellent, with plenty of information about each card, without being too overwhelming. Several spreads are described, including 'the Circle Spread', 'the Web Spread', and 'the Romany Spread'. There are also two chapters on using the Sacred Circle Tarot for meditation.

All the cards are on a black background. The titles of thirteen of the Major Arcana have been changed, e.g. 'the Fool' becomes 'the Green Man', 'the Hierophant' becomes 'the Druid', and 'Strength' becomes 'the Warrior'. The picture on the box is 'the Lady' ('the Empress') and is a good example of the standard of the artwork. Also, Franklin has altered the order slightly of some of the Major cards "to fit more closely with the theme of the deck". All of the cards show scenes of nature, including actual sacred places in England and Ireland, plus images of real people. The vibrant nature of the artwork is such that anyone who loves Mother Nature will have no trouble connecting with the cards.

The Minor Arcana cards are no less captivating. Each suit has it's own elemental border colour - Swords, yellow; Wands, red; Cups, lilac; Discs, green. At the top of each card is it's number and at the bottom a keyword. As with the Major Arcana, the Minor all have depictions of nature in her full glory.

I love this deck. You can feel the breeze caress your face, hear the rustle of leaves, smell the good earth, touch the flowers; and it makes me want to dance, to run, to play in the woods and dangle my feet in a stream.........it touches every bit of pagan in me.

Author: Anna Franklin | Artist: Paul Mason

Phoenix Cards

Phoenix CardsThis twenty-eight card deck is subtitled 'Reading and Interpreting Past-Life Influences with the Phoenix Deck', each card being the result of extensive research and investigations into various cultures. The deck is primarily intended as a tool for the individual to explore their past lives, but can also be used to help others understand how their past lives have shaped them.

The cards themselves are all very different, reflecting the culture which they portray. They are numbered from one to twenty-eight and whilst only the actual numbers appear on the cards, the book gives each card a title and a key phrase, e.g. ' card V - Egyptian Buto Goddess - Child of the Dark World'; 'card XI - Yugoslavian Earth Goddess - the Guise of the Goddess'; ' card XIX - Greek Painting - Love of Reason'.

Sheppard has gone to great lengths to give as much information as possible for each card, i.e. 'Symbol' is a representation of what is going on inside the individual now, which links you with civilisations from past lives; 'Place' where you have lived in previous lives; 'Time' in history; 'Groups' that you were a member of; 'Language Groups' which show links with various cultures throughout the world; 'Appearance' e.g. colour of skin, body type, hair; 'Traits', i.e. how you express yourself in this life as a result of your particular past lives; 'Conclusion' drawn from all the above, bringing insight and understanding about how you got to where and who you are now.

This undoubtedly seems an awful lot of information to draw from each card, but one of Sheppard's spreads, the 'Past Life Mandala', goes even further. She has taken seven astological influences, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, and interprets each of the twenty-eight cards in relation to each planet. It would probably have been quite helpful if she had given some examples of how the spread would work with a real person. Towards the back of the book there is a very useful table which sums up the main elements of each card. The illustrations are all very individual and although they are interesting, there doesn't really seem to be any sense of flow from one to the next.

This is a great deck for anyone who is seriously into reincarnation. An old friend gave me this deck and to check him out, click on the link to Edwin Courtenay.

Author: Susan Sheppard | Artist: Toni Taylor

Dragon Tarot

Dragon TarotThis extraordinary deck is reminiscent of 'Tarot of the Cat People' due to it's opulent nature and similar style. Having said that, 'the Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck and Card Game' was created by the same author/artist and they have maintained the same high standard in the 'Dragon Tarot'. The accompanying booklet gives very basic divinatory meanings, including reversals for the Major Arcana, but not for the Minor cards. Pracownik says "There is no automatic way of reading the opposite meaning of a card in a spread just because it has come up reversed". "Find your own way through here".

The elaborate nature of the artwork for the Major Arcana necessitates a close look at the different elements of each card, almost a de-construction in order to appreciate fully the symbolism. The titles appear at the bottom of the cards, with corresponding astrological symbols to either side. The title 'Hanging Dragon' replaces 'The Hanged Man'.

Although the Minor cards are at least partially illustrated, the suit of Swords is slightly less so than the rest, and it isn't that easy to insinuate the meanings from the depictions. Each suit has it's own symbol apart from the elemental symbol - several of the Swords cards show bubbles; all the Wands show the sun; all the Cups, the moon; and several of the Coins, fly agaric. Interestingly, the elemental symbol for Coins is a labyrinth overlaid with a pentagram.

If you like dragons, you are bound to love this deck. It has beauty, fascination, and inspiration in bucket-loads. No discount bookstores were involved in the purchasing of this deck, as I got it from Amazon!

Author: Peter Pracownik | Artist: Peter Pracownik under the Guidance and Direction of Terry Donaldson

Vandenborre Bacchus Tarot

Vandenborre Bacchus TarotThis deck is also known as 'the Flemish Tarot' because it originated in the Flemish part of the then Austrian Netherlands (Belgium), and at first glance it appears to be quite uninteresting. It is a version of the Marseilles Tarot, dating from the late eighteenth century, using the same reds, blues and yellows, set against a buff-coloured background. Many of the images are somewhat crudely drawn, in particular the faces, some of which have slightly 'Picasso-esque' eyes in that they are offset and look like they belong to two different faces. The instruction booklet gives some fascinating information about the Major Arcana's relation to 'the triumphal ceremonies or processions that took place on the occasion of certain public festivities during antiquity and the middle ages'.

In the Major Arcana, 'the Fool' is numbered twenty-two, the High Priestess is 'Le Spanol Capitane Fracasse' (the Spanish Captain/Popess), and' the Hierophant' is 'Baccus'( Bacchus/The Pope). There are some spelling mistakes due to 'the illiteracy of the artisans who cut the original woodblocks'. The booklet also states that the Major cards for this deck were originally in a different order, details of which can be found therein, grouped into three sections i.e. 'the Triumph of Love, the Triumph of Death, the Triumph of Eternity'.

The Minor Cards are 'pips' and there really isn't anything of note to say about them. As with the Major cards, all the titles are in French.

I haven't been able to establish who wrote the instruction booklet, so if anyone out there knows, it would be great to hear from you. I highly recommend this deck because of the information supplied in the booklet, some of which I haven't come across before. I also like the fact that the given card meanings are quite graphic and not wrapped up in any way.

Author: Unknown | Artist: F.I. Vandenborre

Da Vinci Tarot

Da Vinci TarotThis fully-illustrated deck was created in two stages - the first stage being completed in 1992 by the artist Iassen Ghiuselev and consisting of just the twenty-two Major Arcana cards; the second stage, the Minor Arcana cards, being completed in 2002 by the artist Atanas Attanasov - Ghiuselev being no longer available. All the cards are based either closely or loosely on Da Vinci's original paintings, sketches or inventions and given that two different artists created the deck, and ten years apart, there is a remarkable consistency throughout. The cards are all in soft tones with extensive use of light and shade, thus being gentle on the eye.

The Major cards are compelling, drawing the reader in. The title of each is unobtrusively written in the background in Da Vinci's 'trademark' mirrorscript, whilst the actual title is shown in six languages in the borders, but small enough not to get in the way. For each card, McElroy gives the following information - 'Encourages', 'Cautions against', 'Illustration notes', 'Commentary' and 'Exploration Questions'. It may seem like a lot, but McElroy's style is direct, succinct and easily-digestible.

The Minor cards are similarly treated but without mirrorscript, although they are equally commanding. Instructions for two spreads are given i.e. the 'Pentacle Spread' and the 'Da Vinci Insight and Inspiration Spread'. Such is the quality of the whole deck that it is easy to forget that any other artists beside the master himself were involved.

My son bought me this set from a 'new age' shop in Manchester just after he'd had a tongue and lip piercing in the shop next door, hence the drops of blood on the box..........just kidding. Seriously though, it's a great deck, a bit different and just makes you think again.

Author: Mark McElroy | Artist: Iassen Ghiuselev/Atanas Atanassov

Tarot To Go

Tarot To GoAlthough this set is called 'Tarot To Go', the actual deck is the 'Mary Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck', and the accompanying book is 'the Essential Book of Tarot'. The book is basic, to say the least, giving very little by way of an introduction to the Tarot, and, interestingly, Hanson-Roberts states that 'Scholars think that the Tarot originated over 3,000 years ago in the Middle East'. Having said that, the book is attractive, to the point and is great for quick reference, whilst it's small, (but not too small) size makes it easy to carry round on a daily basis.

Hanson-Robert's has based her deck on the Rider-Waite, keeping very close to the original symbolism, but with her own stamp, producing a deck that is quite pleasing to the eye. Some of the cards are somewhat reminiscent of the Aquarian Tarot, e.g. 'The Fool', 'The Ace of Swords' and 'The Seven of Rods'. The titles of the cards appear in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish but are small enough not to be intrusive.

I bought this set from Waterstone's Book Shop in Manchester, England, a few years ago for £6.99, and consider it a bargain. When I got it out to review, I felt a wave of nostalgia as it reminded me of the second deck I ever worked with, the Aquarian Tarot........ah, how the years have rolled on by........

Author: Mary Hanson-Roberts | Artist: Mary Hanson-Roberts

Medicine Woman Tarot

Medicine Woman TarotThis is a deck which is intended to assist both women and men to connect ever more closely with their feminine power in the journey towards wholeness. The accompanying leaflet provides a surprising amount of information on how to move forward on such a journey, and for those who want to read more, Bridges has written 'The Medicine Woman Inner Guidebook'. All the cards are sensitively illustrated, in a rather child-like manner, and are a joy to see.

The Major Arcana cards all have the original titles in small print at the top and the 'Medicine Woman' titles in much larger print at the bottom. Some examples are 'Seed' (The Fool), 'Vision' (The Hanged Man) and 'The Grandmothers' (The Moon). There is very little of the original Tarot symbolism but the main link between all the cards is the connection between people and nature.

The Minor Arcana suit names are 'Arrows' (Swords), 'Pipes' (Wands), 'Bowls' (Cups) and 'Stones' (Pentacles), and the Court card titles are 'Apprentice' (Page), 'Totem' (Knight), 'Lodge' (Queen) and 'Exemplar' (King). Each suit has its own power animal - 'Arrows, the Coyote', Pipes, the Eagle', 'Bowls, the Dolphin' and 'Stones, the Snake'. The Minor cards again break with Tarot tradition in that they don't bear the number of suit symbols according to the card number, and this seems in keeping with inspiring people to take a fresh look at 'the world'. There are two extra cards in the pack, one being an invocation to 'the Mother Creator' and the other, a welcome to the elemental energies, both of which come across as powerful and sincere.

I like this deck very much and have recently spent quite a bit of time with it. Although it is structurally the same as most Tarot decks, it has a different feel completely, and I have to say that I haven't found it that easy to connect with as a whole. It's a bit like being presented with a cool summer soup when you've been used to hot winter broth - perhaps not the best analogy I could have made, but I hope you get the picture.

Author: Carol Bridges | Artist: Carol Bridges

Elemental Tarot

Elemental TarotThis fully-illustrated deck and book set has been created in keeping with traditional Tarot format, whilst at the same time taking a fresh approach to the Tarot. The book is very clear and succinct, offering explanations and insight without unnecessary embellishment. Also, at the back of the book are excellent tables outlining keywords and key symbols.

Several of the Major Arcana titles have been changed, e.g. 'the Magician' becomes 'the Trickster'; 'the Hermit' becomes 'the Shaman'; 'Temperance' becomes 'Peace'. At the bottom of each card is a word that complements the meaning of it's title. To either side of each image is a line from a poem, 'The Thunder, Perfect Mind', which makes up part of a number of Gnostic texts discovered in 1945. All the cards bear astrological symbols, and an egg-shaped purple symbol at the bottom of all the Major cards identifies the element of 'Spirit'.

The Minor Arcana suit names are 'Air', represented by a light green circle, 'Fire', a red upward pointing triangle, 'Water', a blue crescent, horns pointing upwards, and 'Earth', a bold green square. Each card has a name at the top and a God/Goddess name at the bottom, e.g. One of Fire/Lightning/Tien-Mu; Four of Earth/Clay/Bochicha' Six of Air/Open Air/Hermes; and Eight of Water/Well/Naaki. The Court cards are named Daughter, Son, Mother and Father. As can be seen from the photograph, many of the cards are complex and 'busy' yet nonetheless, quite pleasing to the eye.

I like this deck for it's boldness, it's confidence and it's attractive appearance.

Author: Caroline Smith/John Astrop | Artist: Caroline Smith/John Astrop


OlympusAs it's name suggests, this deck is based on classical Greek archetypes. The set comprises a thirty-six card deck, fully-illustrated, and an excellent book. The subtitle is 'An Experience in Self-Discovery', as it has been primarily designed as a tool for personal growth. Two spreads are described -'Key', a six-card spread 'for a mini-analysis' or 'to gain insight into a pressing problem'; and 'the Maze', a thirteen-card spread for 'an in-depth analysis' or 'future trends'. Hope gives four sample readings, related in the third person, which demonstrates that this deck can be used just as easily to help others as well as one-self.

The cards are divided into four categories, as follow - 'Twelve Olympians', 'Three Tutors', 'Four Heroes', and 'Seventeen Indicators', each one providing a different element essential for personal growth. Each card is opulently illustrated according to the Greek figure it represents, along with the category at the top and the name of the figure at the bottom.

All-in-all, 'Olympus' provides a new slant on an ancient art, and if you are as steeped in the Tarot as I am, I recommend you take a look at it. It's a bit like learning a new dance after having danced in the old familiar way for a long time. The box for this set has slight damage to one corner, hence I got it at a knock-down price.

Author: Murry Hope | Artist: Anthea Toorchen

Tarot Sasha Fenton

Tarot Sasha FentonThis set is simply called 'Tarot' and I have given it the name 'Tarot Sasha Fenton' to distinguish it from other decks bearing the same single word title. The set comprises a seventy-eight card deck printed on rather thin card stock, and a very basic book. The book gives a very brief introduction to the Tarot, a short but useful chapter on Tarot numbers, and a few spreads plus one sample reading.

The colourful card images are all contained within a wavy border set against a white background. The Major Arcana images are fun and lively, with an interesting take on some of the original depictions, e.g. 'the High Priestess' shows a woman sitting at a table on which there is a crystal ball and the four aces from a standard playing card deck; 'the Emperor' is sitting on a throne-like chair with gold coins spilling out of a bag, and a couple of account books in front of him, bringing to mind the nursery rhyme 'Sing a song of sixpence' ('the king was in his counting-house, counting out his money'). The Minor cards are partially illustrated, whilst also keeping a 'pips' formation.

Fenton's interpretations of both Major and Minor cards seem to focus mainly on prediction, with extensive use of phrases such as 'there will', 'you will', 'it will' et al, thus coming across as rather prescriptive.

Personally, I am left feeling that this set is more 'parlour-game' than serious tool and the invitation on the front of the box to 'unlock the mysteries of the cards..........' leaves me feeling a little disappointed.

Author: Sasha Fenton | Artist: Samantha Bale

Glastonbury Tarot

Glastonbury TarotThis fully-illustrated deck and accompanying book paint an enchanting and enlightening picture of 'the Tarot according to Glastonbury' (my words), and the strong colours along with glossy finish bring the cards to life in a very direct way. Tenzin-Dolma's connection with Glastonbury comes through clearly in both the book and deck, and she has devised some interesting spreads, including 'the Bird Spread' and 'the Glastonbury Tree Spread', both of which make a refreshing change from the more well-known ones. She has used real people and places along with symbolic images to illustrate the cards.

Although the titles of the Major Arcana are the traditional ones, each card also bears a name/phrase reflecting either the mythical figures or landscape on which each image is based, e.g. 'the Fool/Percival', 'the Wheel of Fortune/the Glastonbury Zodiac', and 'the Devil/St. Dunstan'.

The Minor Arcana suit names are 'Swords', 'Staffs', 'Chalices' and 'Vesicas', and the only change to the Court cards is that 'Page' becomes 'Maid'. Each of the Ace through Ten cards bears a single word prompt at the bottom of the card, e.g. 'Six of Swords/Perception', 'Nine of Staffs/Strength', 'Four of Chalices/Emotion', and 'Eight of Vesicas/Patience'. The illustrations have been powerfully executed and are a feast for the senses.

What a vibrant deck this is! I consider myself very fortunate to have happened upon it (I'm going to embarrass myself now) at one of my much-frequented discount bookstores. I have a strong sense of the author's emotional/intuitive relationship with the essence of Glastonbury in contrast to e.g. 'the Merlin Tarot', which seems to me to stem from a rather more intellectual stance. If you're a fan of Glastonbury, I think you'll love this deck, and if not, look anyway - you never know, you too may be captivated.

Author: Lisa Tenzin-Dolma | Artist: Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

Merlin Tarot Plus

Merlin Tarot PlusThis is a different edition of 'the Merlin Tarot', as you can see if you compare it with the review below. It includes a lovely hard-backed journal book. Overall this package is of slightly higher quality, and very attractive to look at. I have added the 'Plus' in order not to confuse my computer! For the full review, see 'the Merlin Tarot'.

Author: R.J. Stewart | Artist: Miranda Gray

Merlin Tarot

Merlin TarotThis attractive deck and book is a highly complex exploration of the Merlin myths and legends. As such, it will be of particular interest to both Merlin devotees and to those who want to learn something about Merlin. Although the book goes into a lot of detail, Stewart states that "For a full study of the Merlin Tarot and the history of how the deck was designed, you should read the 'the Complete Merlin Tarot', a separate substantial book which deals in depth with every card of the deck".

The Major Arcana is structured quite differently from traditional decks. It is numbered from one to twenty-two, and whilst most cards retain their original titles or very close to, two of them have changed completely, i.e. 'the Devil' becomes 'the Guardian, and 'the Hierophant' becomes 'the Innocent'. The order of the Major cards is radically different, e.g. 'the Moon' is I, 'the Fool' is Vll, and 'the Empress' is XIX. Most of the card designs are immediately recognisable, although 'the Guardian' ('the Devil'), is a beautifully created picture of the naked Herne, complete with antlers and in a nature setting. Stewart says that "the numbering of the Merlin Tarot is purely for reference and is not connected to the so-called traditional numbering or ordering of Tarot trumps that appears in publication from the nineteenth century onwards". Gray's artwork is beautiful and her chosen colours are very easy on the eye. In the book, Stewart gives a number of correspondences for each card, i.e. World, Wheel, Beings, Consciousness, Partner Trumps, Spheres and Planets, Attributes, God and Goddess Forms, Key Phrases, Merlin Texts, Divinatory Meanings, and Related Number Cards.

The Minor cards are more of a mixed bag. All the Aces are exquisite, each one depicting the suit symbol - 'Birds' (Swords), 'Serpents' (Wands), 'Fishes' (Cups) and 'Beasts' (Pentacles). The Court cards are equally beautiful and although the titles are not on the cards, they are in the book, and only the 'Knight' has been changed from the original title to 'Warrior'. The ace through ten are pips and are plain line drawings against colour-appropriate backgrounds, and as such, are a little disappointing. At the bottom of each card is a single-word prompt.

Personally, I would be happy to work with this deck intuitively, but I think I would be on intellectual overload if I were to try to use much of the information provided.

Author: R.J. Stewart | Artist: Miranda Gray

Medicine Cards

Medicine CardsThis deck, as it's name suggests, is based on the Native American Indian concept of medicine, and "the medicine referred to .....is anything that improves one's connection to the Great Mystery and to all life". There are forty-four animal medicine cards, simply numbered from one to forty-four, and nine blank ones for the individual to fill in as appropriate. Each creature is set within a medicine shield, which in turn is set against a blue and green background, with a red border surrounding the whole. The number and name of each one is displayed at the top, just above the boldly drawn images. A few examples of the animals in these cards are 'Eagle', 'Bear', 'Dog', 'Crow', 'Weasel' and 'Bat'.

The book which accompanies the cards is very informative and a good introduction to the concept of animal medicine. There are chapters on the healing power of animals, the medicine wheel, the medicine shield, and very clear instructions for how to find one's nine totem animals. Several spreads are outlined, e.g. 'The Moon Lodge Spread', 'Father Sky/Mother Earth Spread', and 'The Pathway Spread'. The intention of this system of divination is for the individual to move forward on his/her journey towards wholeness in body, mind and spirit, in complete harmony with all of nature.

The one thing that lets this set down is the inferior quality of the card stock. However, don't let that put you off as it is a really interesting deck to work with. I bought my set in 1989 for £22.75 and I have just looked at Amazon.co.uk and see that they are selling it for £16.24! There are many similar comparisons showing that, in real terms, Tarot and other oracle cards have come down in price - well, that has to be a first!

Author: Jamie Sams/David Carson | Artist: Angela C. Werneke

Triple Goddess Tarot

Triple Goddess TarotThis set is made up of thirty-three cards and a beautiful book. Lerner gives a moving account of her journey when creating these cards, and a very accomplished exposition of the Triple Goddess from both historical and modern-day perspectives. In the chapter on how to use the cards, she offers seven different Tarot spreads, "in keeping with the power of the seven colours of the rainbow and the seven sacred centres in the human body". The names of some of them are 'Trinity Rainbow Layout', 'Body, Soul and Spirit Layout', and 'Seven Chakra Body Mapping'.

The name of the Major cards in this deck is 'Alchemy cards', of which there are twenty-six, with the four extra ones serving as "an overlighting Trinity that crowns the original cards.........The triangle actually consists of four cards..........The fourth card symbolises the Ultimate Galactic Matrix". All the card titles are different from the original Rider-Waite but nevertheless are immediately recognisable - e.g. 'the Empress' becomes 'Fullness of Life', 'the Lovers' becomes 'Open Heart' and 'Death' becomes 'Passage'. The artwork is exquisite, sensual, and so vibrant that it almost seems as though the images would rise up from the cards and stand before you. The information given for each card includes several sections, i.e. 'Traditional Tarot Image', 'Traditional Translation', 'Alchemy and Transformation', 'Awakening to the Archetype', 'Everyday Encounters', 'Nature's Healers' and 'Your Soul Message'.

The remaining seven cards are 'Chakra cards', each one being coloured according to the chakra it represents. Again, the information for each card includes several sections, i.e. 'Description of the Chakra Image', 'Chakra Attributes', 'Healing Essence of the Chakra', 'Keywords' and 'Affirmations'.

Don't be put off by the amount of information provided for each card, as it is actually very informative without being overwhelming, due to Lerner's clear writing style. It is a truly beautiful deck, and you don't have to be a woman to connect with it. The whole package is very attractive, sumptuous even!

Author: Isha Lerner | Artist: Mara Friedman

Shakespearian Tarot

Shakespearian TarotThis deck is a real gift for anyone who is keen on both Shakespeare and the Tarot, as it is written with passion by someone who loves both. In the introduction to the book, Ashcroft-Nowicki writes about her journey in creating this deck from inception to completion, giving a real insight into her process, whilst Hardy's illustrations are also just as inspired. The characters portrayed come alive and the use of strong colours throughout makes this a rather eye-catching deck. The cards all have a white border with the title of the card at the top, and at the bottom there is a relevant quote from one of the plays, along with the title of the play. The cards shown on the box (see photo) are good examples of the deck.

Many of the Major cards are quite dramatic, packing a punch, and taking the reader by surprise. For each card Ashcroft-Nowicki gives the background about the play from which the quote is taken, and her skill at conveying lots of information in a few words is second-to-none.

The suit names of the Minor cards are 'Swords', 'Sceptres' (Wands), 'Orbs' (Cups), and 'Crowns' (Pentacles). The Court cards are 'Lady' (Page), 'Lord' (Knight), 'Queen' and 'King'. Although there is slightly less background information about the play relevant to each card, nevertheless the images are just as lively as the Major cards.

This deck is yet another of my discount bookshop finds. I was first introduced to Shakespeare at school at the age of eleven and hated it, as my intellect was not sophisticated enough at that age to understand or appreciate it. Then years later, in my twenties, I did A-level English Literature and studied 'Much Ado About Nothing' and another one (oops - I can't remember which). I loved it. We had a teacher who adored Shakespeare (the comedienne Victoria Wood's mother, just as Victoria was starting to be well-known) and she presented it in such a way that it was impossible not to fall in love with it. Having said that, I'm afraid I fell out of love again later and the last time I saw a Shakespeare play at a theatre I left at the interval. I have resigned myself to a life without Shakespeare and I don't know how I'll cope...........

Author: Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki | Artist: Paul Hardy

Renaissance Tarot

Renaissance TarotLyle has chosen to present this deck in Renaissance style as that was the time period in which the Tarot first appeared and would therefore lend itself to an exploration of the philosophies that lie therein. The book which accompanies the cards is very clearly set out and easy to follow, and includes four traditional spreads with very helpful sample readings.The artwork is more sculpture than painting and is very pleasing to the eye.

The Major cards are paired, starting with 1 and XX, working forwards/backwards with X/XX1 'bringing up the rear' so to speak. 'The Fool' has not been paired as this is his/her journey. Many of the images/symbols are similar to the Rider-Waite ones, yet the style and composition are vastly different and exquisitely executed. For each card there are four sections - the symbolism; an exposition of the archetype's universal development throughout history; upright meanings; and reversed meanings, along with astrological correspondences. This 'formula' is one which works well, as demonstrated in Lyle's 'The Lover's Tarot' (see review).

The Minor cards are not quite full illustrations yet not just pips. The images are powerfully simple, a great deal being conveyed through body language and other symbols, again beautifully executed. The Court cards have retained their original titles except for 'Page' which becomes 'Princess-Page'. Lyle has also included a table of correspondences for the Minor Arcana, summing up a great deal of information in a few words. For each suit the correspondences are - 'Element', 'Elemental Spirit', 'Season', 'Time', 'Psychological Function', 'Zodiac Signs', 'Keyword', and 'Highest Power'. Whilst it isn't necessary to use the table, nevertheless a more in-depth reading can probably be achieved by including some of the correspondences.

I love Jane Lyle's style, as she is direct, doesn't try to blind us with science, and knows how to pick the right artist!

Author: Jane Lyle | Artist: Helen Jones

Arthurian Tarot

Arthurian TarotThis deck, as it's title shows, is based entirely on the Arthurian myths and legends of the British Isles, and is subtitled, 'A Hallowquest Handbook'. It is not essential to know all about Arthur in order to use this deck, but it would definitely be an advantage to have some knowledge. Alternatively, the deck could easily be used as a way of studying the Arthurian mysteries.

The Major Arcana in this deck is called 'The Greater Powers' and the only cards which have retained the original titles are 'the Star', 'the Moon' and 'the Sun'. Some examples of the rest are - 'The Seeker' (The Fool), 'The Washer at the Ford' (Death), 'The Green Knight' (The Devil), and 'The Flowering of Logres' (The World). The images are very evocative and lend themselves well to meditation and/or pathworkings (guided visualisations), especially as the images are viewed through an archway. The Matthews' approach to each card is to give a description, then some background information, followed by the archetypal meaning and the divinatory meaning, all of which makes fascinating reading.

The 'Lesser Powers' (Minor Arcana) are 'Sword', 'Spear' (Wands), 'Grail' (Cups), and 'Stone' (Pentacles), whilst the four Court cards are 'Maiden', 'Knight', 'Queen' and 'King'. Each suit has a corresponding element and season. The depictions don't always pack the same kind of punch as the 'Greater Powers', but nevertheless are interesting and well-executed. As with the 'Greater Powers', each card is explained in terms of description, background information, archetypal meaning and divinatory meaning.

The Matthews' give further information about numerical attributions, and interestingly, how to read time-scales with the Tarot, this latter in extraordinary detail. Each week of the year is ascribed to a particular 'Lesser Power' card, in accordance with the suit/season. The book covers several spreads, most of which are named after various aspects of Arthurian lore, accompanied by some very useful sample readings.

This is an attractive deck and I am particularly fascinated by the Matthews' take on time-scales as the Tarot doesn't necessarily lend itself well to accuracy with time. I may well 'have a go' and see what happens.

Author: Caitlin and John Matthews | Artist: Miranda Gray

Universal Tarot

Universal TarotThis seventy-four card deck is fully illustrated and draws on a number of cultures and civilisations, including Egyptian, Sumerian, Tibetan, Polynesian, and Buddhism. Miller also makes many references to Judaism, Christianity and the Bible, as well as giving elemental and astrological correspondences, and surprisingly, this eclectic approach seems to work well. The background colours of the cards have an attractive stone-like appearance with the actual images contained within a white border. Miller's book is in landscape rather than portrait format, an approach which is gaining in popularity as it is so easy to flick through the pages. The deck includes eight cards which show abbreviated meanings of the cards plus one on readings and divination.

Four of the Major Arcana titles have been changed - 'Strength' becomes 'Desire', 'Justice' becomes 'Karma', 'Temperance' becomes 'Time' and 'Judgement' becomes 'The Revelation'. Whilst Miller's artwork is vastly different from the Rider-Waite deck, he has retained many of the original symbols, making each card immediately recognisable. Also, he writes eloquently about each card, explaining in detail the elements that make up each image.

The reason that this deck has only seventy-four cards is that the 'Pages' of the Court cards have been omitted. Miller's reasoning with regard to this is that 'the keys to the system are the numbers 3 and 7'. The exposition that follows this statement has a certain kind of logic, but leaves one wondering whether any two numbers could be plucked out of thin air and made to fit. In spite of that, Miller's descriptions and explanations of the Minor cards are very interesting and informative, and he offers a single word/phrase 'key' or summary for each card.

I like this deck as it is very individual, attractive to look at and has a fresh, vibrant feel to it. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who is looking for a deck that is a bit different.

Author: Maxwell Miller | Artist: Maxwell Miller

Harmony Angel Cards

Harmony Angel CardsThis forty-eight card deck is, loosely speaking, oracle, and is made up of four suits - 'The Rainbow Suit', 'The Star Fire Suit', 'The Quintessence Suit' and 'The Sacred Flame Suit', each suit having twelve cards. McGerr states that she devised these cards with guidance from the Angels in order that people may find healing and help on their journey through this life.

'The Rainbow Suit' is all about the major Angels which influence day-to-day life; 'The Star Fire Suit' shows the strengths and weaknesses that are inherent in all people; 'The Quintessence Suit' is the realm of the Angels and also of the universal life source; and 'The Sacred Flame Suit' is all about the timelessness and cyclic nature of life.

Each card has a title which is shown in the book but not on the cards themselves, and they are all unnumbered. Looking at the cards, it is not immediately obvious, on the whole, which suit a card might belong to as the identifying designs are, most unusually, on the backs of the cards. Rockwood has made extensive use of bright colours and has produced some very interesting images set in a gold border.

For anyone who hasn't worked with Angels, McGerr's book would undoubtedly be a good introduction as she gives some very helpful spreads and sample readings. You may be able to see from the photograph that this set is presented in book format, whereas the actual book is inside, and attached by it's back cover to the outer 'shell', with the cards sitting in a 'well', again attached to the 'shell'. Unfortunately, all this makes the book difficult to get to grips with in a literal sense.

If you look at the photo, you will see that I got this deck from 'Bookthrift', which is a chain of discount bookshops, for £4.99, although the recommended retail price on the back of the package is £9.99. It's a shame about the book being awkward to handle.

Author: Angela McGerr | Artist: Richard Rockwood

Osho Zen Tarot

Osho Zen TarotThe subtitle of this stunning deck is 'The Transcendental Game of Zen', by which Osho is referring to the practice of reading the cards. The deck follows the regular Tarot format plus a seventy-ninth card, 'the Master'. To quote Osho, "The Master card symbolizes the ultimate transcendence of journeying itself, a transcendence that becomes possible only through the dissolving of the separate, individual ego in enlightenment".

The book which accompanies the deck is in landscape rather than portrait layout, making it really easy to flick through the pages. Osho introduces a number of spreads, including 'the Paradox', 'the Key', and 'the Mirror', all of which are simply explained. In fact, the whole book is similarly written without any unnecessary adornment, making Tarot immediately accessible. For each of the seventy-eight cards there are two sections - an exposition of the name/memory prompt, which is short and to the point, plus a commentary on/interpretation of the images.

Only two of the Major cards have retained their original titles - 'the Fool' and 'the Lovers'. Some examples of the changes are - 'the High Priestess' becomes 'the Inner Voice'; 'Death' becomes 'Transformation'; and 'the Tower' becomes 'Thunderbolt'. The artwork throughout the whole deck is absolutely exquisite and has to be seen to be appreciated.

The suit names of the Minor Arcana are 'Clouds' (Swords), 'Fire' (Wands), 'Water' (Cups), and 'Rainbows' (Pentacles), whilst the Court cards have retained their original names. At the bottom of each card, is the simple single word/phrase that sums up its interpretation, with the numbers of the cards appearing within a coloured diamond shape appropriate to its suit - 'Clouds' are grey, 'Fire' is red, 'Water' is blue, and 'Rainbows' are rainbow -coloured.

I love this beautiful deck, and my attempts at describing it fall far short of doing it justice. The photograph gives only the smallest hint of the visual feast within, and many of the pictures bring to mind the classic folk/fairy tales that I grew up with. An incredible deck for meditation. On a final note, I'm embarrassed to say I got this set from one of my favoured discount bookshops, my embarrassment being on account of the number of times I've said that in my reviews - makes me sound like a right old skinflint!

Author: Osho | Artist: Ma Deva Padma

I Ching Tarot

I Ching TarotThis deck comprises sixty-four cards, numbered straightforwardly from one to sixty-four. It is essentially 'oracle' rather than 'tarot' but Lau does state that his reason for calling it the I Ching Tarot is that these days "tarot has come to be more widely used to refer to a deck of cards for fortune-telling".

The cards have a white background, with each one having a narrow band of colour at the top and bottom, giving the original Chinese name and the book-page number respectively. The illustrations are contained within a square in the centre of the card and are simply but beautifully executed. Above each illustration is the number of the card and the appropriate hexagram, whilst underneath is the Western name and a few words pertaining to the meaning of the illustration.

The accompanying book has a 'landscape' rather than 'portrait' format which works very well. Lau has given a brief but informative introduction to the history and development of I Ching, followed by an easily understood section about the eight trigrams. He does also point out that his interpretations are not the definitive truth about the I Ching, and goes on to encourage readers to develop their own understanding through regular use of the oracle. Several interesting spreads are outlined in the book, with one of them being the attractively named the 'Plum Blossom' spread.

One of the things I really like about this deck is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, with it's simple illustrations, yet at the same time, it is possible to use the deck for even the most serious of questions. To quote Lau, "this is an ancient game of sacred play, and one must always leave space for fun".

Author: Kwan Lau  | Artist: Patricia Pardini

Lovers Tarot

Lovers TarotThe Lovers' Tarot consists of just the Major Arcana. Lyle's reason for this is as follows - "While the Minor Arcana is certainly essential for general readings covering spans of time and interest, the Major Arcana always forms the main focus in a spread. It is to the 'greater secrets' that we turn when we are seeking to deepen our understanding". She chose to create a 'Lovers' Tarot' in particular because so many readings are about relationships and she felt that it would enable a much deeper look at that area of people's lives.

The cards are painted in mostly Renaissance style overall but some of them have other elements that seem incongruous, mainly because it appears that these elements have been laid on top of the original paintings. Three good examples of this are a) in the 'Death' card, the black horse is just solid colour and looks like it has been cut out of black card and stuck on top of the picture; b) the fire at the top of the 'Tower' again looks like a paper or card cut-out which has been pasted on, almost as an afterthought; and c) the 'Star' is beautifully painted but there are seven small stars that look like little stickers which, again, have been added later.

Having said that, the cards are beautiful in their own right. It is not the easiest deck to handle as the cards are extremely big, measuring roughly nine inches by four but on the other hand it means that a lot of the small details are much more visible than in some smaller decks.

The book which is part of the package is excellent. Lyle gives astrological and elemental correspondences to the cards, and looks at each card in detail. Her interpretations could perhaps be seen as prescriptive, but nevertheless are very interesting. For each card there is a brief description and explanation of what some of the symbols mean, along with detailed interpretations summed up as follow -

sections entitled, About You, About Your Partner, About the Relationship, About the Future,

and within each section Lyle looks at both the Gift (upright interpretation) and the Challenge (reverse interpretation).

Whilst all this sounds like a lot to take in and perhaps quite complicated or complex, Lyle's writing style is direct and explicit, and her sample readings of 'the Lover's Tree' and 'the Lover's Pyramid' are excellent examples of how the deck can be used.

Author: Jane Lyle | Artist: Oliver Burston

Motherpeace Tarot

Motherpeace TarotThe Motherpeace Tarot was originally created out of a need for a Tarot which would see the world through women's eyes, rather than the traditional male viewpoint, and the circular nature of these cards is a reflection of that. The booklet that accompanies the deck gives some interesting information about how many matriarchal societies were gradually taken over by patriarchy, and how in the present-day, there is a new awakening of Goddess-consciousness. It also describes a spread called 'the Motherpeace Layout', and a few words about the use of numerology with Tarot. The cards themselves depict images from many cultures all over the world, and included in the deck is a card relating the 'Charge of the Star Goddess' by Starhawk.

The names of two of the Major cards have changed - 'the Hermit' becomes 'the Crone' and 'the Hanged Man' becomes 'the Hanged One'. The composition and style of the Major cards are very different from traditional Tarot imagery. Some of the cards appear quite childlike, whilst Vogel and Noble have managed to convey both the strength and the gentleness of women everywhere.

The Minor cards are fully illustrated, again with very interesting depictions which are truly unique. The Court card titles are 'Daughter, Son, Priestess and Shaman'.

This deck interests me because it is so different from many other decks. As you can see from the photograph, I have the mini version of the Motherpeace Tarot, although, given the small size of a lot of the images, it would probably be easier to read with the full-size version. It is surprisingly difficult to shuffle circular cards and I always feel I am in danger of ending up with seventy-eight cards spread all over the floor!

Author: Karen Vogel/Vicki Noble | Artist: Karen Vogel/Vicki Noble

Necronomicon Tarot

Necronomicon TarotThis deck is truly extraordinary, very different, very dark, and not for the squeamish. Tyson was fascinated with and inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's 'Necronomicon' and was compelled to write his own version in order to understand more about the world of the 'Old Ones' as described by Lovecraft. Consequently, Tyson created a trilogy, 'the Necronomicon', 'Alhazred', with the Necronomicon Tarot completing it, and it is this deck that brings the books to life with it's graphic illustrations, or more correctly, artwork. The package consists of an excellent book in landscape rather than portrait layout, and a deck in an attractive black drawstring bag.

At first glance it might appear that this deck has much in common with the Wormweird Tarot (see review), but the difference is that Tyson has gone to great lengths to explain his intention with this deck, including information about the parallels with and the differences from the Rider-Waite/Golden Dawn-based decks. Tyson conveys a strong sense of boundaries between himself and his work, whereas Higham's deck could be seen as an act of gratuitous degradation.

The Major cards show not only the original titles, but also each one bears the name of the god/monster/creature that it portrays, e.g. 'the Hanged Man/Well of the Seraph'; 'Judgement/Guardian of Eden'.

The Minor cards are on the whole not quite so gruesome as the Major ones, and each suit follows a storyline from Ace through Ten, in keeping with the meaning of the suit.

Although this deck is dark, in my view Tyson has done everything he can to ensure that anyone using it for divination bears in mind that a reading is likely to be negative due to the nature of the deck. In other words, he has conducted himself with a great sense of responsibility. There is so much else I could write about the Necronomicon Tarot, but Tyson has given so much fascinating information in his book that I can only say - read it!

Author: Donald Tyson | Artist: Anne Stokes

Karma Tarot

Karma TarotThis extraordinary deck was created in the 1980's and is painted in unmistakable surrealist mode. It is based upon the Danish author's real life experience of living in a bohemian community in Copenhagen, known as Christiana. In many of the cards Erfurt has used real people and places as the basis for her artwork.

The names of some of the Major cards have been changed - 'the Magician' becomes 'the Juggler', 'the High Priestess' becomes 'the Wise Woman', 'the Empress' becomes 'Lilith', 'the High Priest' becomes 'Grand Master', and ''the Wheel of Fortune' becomes 'the Wheel'. The composition of each card sticks quite closely to the Rider-Waite cards, but the style is hugely different as you can see on the photograph.

The Minor Arcana bears little resemblance to the Rider-Waite cards, summed up perfectly by Stuart Kaplan in his Introductory words to the booklet - '.....Erfurt describes the world as she sees it, with all of its distortion and contradiction'. The emotions portrayed are shown in their most raw state and Erfurt's vivid descriptions in the instruction booklet bring the cards to life in a dramatic way.

I am captivated by the surreal nature of the whole deck and absolutely love it. On the side of the box is a sticker which shows that I purchased the deck for £12.95, in the early 1990s. It is a must for anyone who likes surrealism and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Author: Birgit Boline Erfurt | Artist: Birgit Boline Erfurt

Wiccan Cards

Wiccan CardsThis thirty-three card deck is Oracle rather than Tarot, and is fully illustrated. Whilst the cards are numbered, their names appear only in the instruction booklet; the booklet is written in English, Italian, Spanish and French. The cards are grouped into five sections - the Four Elements (four), the God Cards (two), the Eight High Sabbats (eight), the Master Cards (three), and the Symbol Cards (sixteen). The booklet contains very simple instructions for how to do a one-card and two three-card readings.

A few of the cards look like they would be more at home as illustrations in children's books, but there are a couple which I particularly like, i.e. 'the Horned One (number six) as shown in the photograph); and number sixteen, 'the Three Wise Ones' which depicts three women at a spinning wheel, (she who spins the web of life, she who measures it's length, and she who cuts it - my words). There isn't much more to say about the Wiccan Cards, except that the photograph shows the front of the box and it is the back of the box that actually gives the name 'Wiccan Cards'.

Author: Nada Mesar | Artist: Chatriya Hamharnvibul

Flowers Tarot

Flowers TarotThis deck comprises sixty-one cards, apparently in no particular order, and apart from the fact that it's title says it is a Tarot deck, there doesn't appear to be any similarity to 'Tarot as we know it'. Each card shows a different flower/plant/tree, and the artist has skilfully conveyed the impression of 'life' rather than 'still-life'. The information booklet is printed in French, English and German, whilst the cards themselves give the names and single-word meanings in just French and English.

I haven't been able to find out who the author and artist are so if anyone out there has this information, I would be very happy to hear from you. The deck was first published in 1989 in France and I bought it at a 'new-age' shop in Oldham, England, where I was doing Tarot readings in 1990. There really isn't anything else to say about this deck, except, perhaps, that I can't see myself ever wanting to use it.

Author: Unknown | Artist: Unknown

Tarot the Complete Kit

Tarot the Complete KitThis fully-illustrated deck may be small in size but it is certainly large in terms of what it conveys. All the cards have a glossy black background with no border and relatively small images in the centre of each card. All of the four suits and the Major Arcana have appropriate colours at corners of each card i.e. purple for the Major cards, yellow for Swords, red for Wands, blue for Cups and green for Pentacles. As part of the 'Complete Kit' there is an A4 sheet enclosed which shows the layout of a four-card spread and instructions for how to conduct a reading. The little book that is also included gives a one-page introduction to the Tarot plus a tiny picture of each card along with its meaning.

The colourful imagery of the Major Arcana is for the most part similar to traditional Tarot symbolism but quite simply drawn. Two of the cards merit a special mention - 'The Chariot' depicts a a young boy (?) on a bicycle, with one knee on the seat and the other up in the air; 'Judgement' shows a large butterfly-like insect in flight, clutching a key between two little 'arms'.

The cards of the Minor Arcana show some very interesting images, e.g. 'the Five of Swords' shows two clothed mice, one of which has stuck a sword through the other with four other swords, two above and two below, which look like they have been thrown at the 'victim'; 'the Eight of Wands' shows eight wands forming the spokes of a wheel at the centre of which is a clock displaying the time of five minutes past ten; 'the Knight of Cups' shows a young man riding on the back of a dolphin, 'no-hands' style; and 'the Four of Pentacles' depicts a clothed fat pig in upright position, clutching four pentacles, apparently walking in a stealthy manner.

I hope the descriptions give you a feel for how different this deck is from so many others. It is definitely a deck that doesn't take itself too seriously as many of the faces, be they human or otherwise, have cheeky looks. A lot of the cards wouldn't look out of place in children's books and all-in-all it is a truly delightful deck.

Author: Dennis Fairchild | Artist: Julie Paschkis

Wormweird Tarot

Wormweird Tarot"The path to enlightenment has never been so dark" is what it says on the box. This statement truly sums up the deck. Higham has created 'a Victorian neverland', Wormweird in which there is a city, Wormwood, and this deck is "a chronicle of the fall of the City of Wormwood", to quote Higham. However, those words do not even begin to describe the deck, which is indeed very dark. The cards, which are high quality and very glossy, have black backgrounds, with the most gruesome, stomach-churning images of mainly skeletal figures in various stages of decay.

The Major Arcana cards bear the usual titles, apart from 'Justice' which becomes 'the Scream'. Anyone who has never seen Tarot cards would have no idea what the original images are and would be very hard-pressed to understand the meanings. Higham does state that the deck was created for people to use for divinatory purposes if they so wished, but any attempt on his part to disclose generally-accepted interpretations is completely swamped by his descriptions and stories attached to each card.

The Minor Arcana suits are 'Flames' (Swords), 'Shadows' (Wands), 'Absinthe' (Cups) and 'Nails' (Pentacles); the Court cards being 'Fetus', 'Knight', 'Lady' and 'Lord'. Higham's 'numerical attributes' offer fairly straightforward interpretations of each card, although the depictions are just as gruesome as the Major cards. There is also a 'wildcard' accompanying this deck which is a picture of 'Baron Alchymus' around whom the story is built.

If it seems like I must be exaggerating when I say this deck is gruesome and stomach-churning, believe me I'm not! Having said that, I feel a mixture of revulsion and fascination when I look at the cards. It is definitely not a deck for the faint-hearted so if you're easily spooked I recommend that you steel yourself before looking, hang garlic round your neck, wear symbols of psychic protection all over your body, or whatever else you need to do to feel okay. My son bought me this deck so if I descend into a life of depravity and corruption by bedtime, I hope he'll come and rescue me! Having reviewed this deck, I have to admit to feeling just a tiny bit contaminated so I'm off to smudge myself for the next couple of days. ...............

Author: George Higham | Artist: George Higham

Awareness Cards

Awareness CardsAt first glance this forty-eight card deck appears deceptively simple. The photograph is representative of the whole deck i.e. each card boldly bears a title, a number and an illustration on a white background without a border. Examples of some of the titles are 'Petty Tyrants', 'Gate Keeper', and 'Links', and comprise a blend of prehistoric images and modern archetypes. Halliday details her sources for each image at the back of the book.

The accompanying book gives very clear descriptions of each card along with various possible interpretations, although Halliday does make it clear that they are only suggestions and each person can find their own meaning. There are several interesting spreads which can be used either for personal awareness and development, or to help read for others. There is also extra information about the cards, i.e. 'Card Opposites', 'Cards in Seasons and Elements', and 'The Cards in Moons and Signs', all of which add further dimensions, thus enabling greater depth of understanding.

It was when I tried doing a reading for myself that it dawned on me that there is so much more to these cards than I had first thought. I was initially attracted to the deck because of the boldness of the images and it just goes to show that you really can't judge a book by it's cover!

Author: Susan Halliday | Artist: Susan Halliday

Alchemical Tarot

Alchemical TarotThis deck is fully-illustrated in the style of original Renaissance alchemical art, making it quite distinctive and immediately recognisable for what it is. There is an excellent book as part of this set in which Guiley and Place each write about their journeys that eventually led them to create this deck together. The book gives lots of interesting information, e.g. basic concepts of Alchemy; how Tarot and Alchemy come together; meditation and contemplation exercises; and more! But in spite of the esoteric nature of the Alchemical Tarot, the book is easy to follow and uses really down-to-earth interpretations of the cards, so don't be put off.

The cards of the Major Arcana are easily recognisable, although some of the depictions are worthy of particular note - e.g. 'the Devil' shows a two-headed person, half of which is female and the other half male, standing on top of a fiery dragon, which in turn is standing on top of a what appears to be a black winged eye-like symbol called the 'nigredo'; 'the Chariot' shows a back view, so that it is moving away rather than towards.

The suits of the Minor Arcana are Swords, Staffs, Vessels and Coins, whilst the Court Cards are Lady, Knight, King and Queen, along with many interesting and powerful illustrations.

Renaissance art isn't something that excites me, but I have to say that this deck is something special, and it is a great deck for anyone from beginner to adept. It's not necessary to use all the information in the book right from the start, but the possibilities to go deeper and further are there for anyone who is interested.

Author: Rosemary Ellen Guiley | Artist: Robert M Place

Green Man Tree Oracle

Green Man Tree OracleThis stunning twenty-five card oracle deck is a system of divination based on the Green Man. Each card depicts a different tree,and the name of each tree is in turn linked to a letter of the Ogam alphabet. Also, every card shows a Green Man image, some easily spotted, whilst others are more difficult to find, and all are viewed through a Gothic archway.

The cards are accompanied by a one-hundred-and-twenty-five page book, the quality of which matches the cards themselves. The edges of the pages bear a pencil-drawn image of the Green Man and the book gives information about the origins and importance of the alphabet and the sacredness of trees. The chapter on divination is titled 'Turning the Leaves, Receiving the Wisdom of the Woods', which is a very appropriate phrasing for this kind of deck.

Each card has a key phrase, e.g. ' Apple - vision lights the way ahead'; 'Aspen - where all are gathered, strength is strongest'; 'Spindle - destiny moves us to do great things'. The explanations of each card all give divinatory meanings and lore-of-the-tree, along with other sections as appropriate e.g. 'faery fruit', 'Goddesses of the Woods', 'Trees of resurrection' and 'The Many-Gifted God'.

This deck is absolutely beautiful, sumptuous even. In my opinion it is a misnomer to say the pictures are 'illustrations', rather, they are works of art. I can't recommend this deck highly enough. Work with it and you will soon be finding green men everywhere you go!

Author: John Matthews | Artist: Will Worthington

Simply Tarot

Simply TarotThis fully-illustrated deck is based very closely on the Rider-Waite Tarot. Unlike the Rider-Waite, the colours throughout the deck are vivid, and the use of real people rather than drawings makes this deck come alive. There are a few key words at the bottom of each card as an 'aide memoir'.

The sixty-four page book that makes up part of this set shows all the cards in full colour, whilst the accompanying forty-six minute DVD, again in glorious colour, is a complete read-through of the book.

The demonstration of a reading using the Celtic Cross appears rather complicated because Hall has added numerous cards, turning it into a twenty-six card spread rather than the usual ten/eleven cards. However, it is really interesting to see Hall interpret the cards in relation to a question, as she speaks clearly and simply - hence the title of the set.

Hall has treated the Court cards in a way which is not often used these days, i.e. she has assigned physical characteristics to all of them, e.g. the Queen of Cups is a woman over twenty-five years, with fair or brown hair; the King of Pentacles is a man over twenty-five years with dark eyes and dark hair.

This was yet another of my discount bookstore finds, costing about £7. You can probably see on the photograph that there is a gap where the DVD should be. However the DVD is inside a plastic sleeve attached to the inside of the front cover of the book. I would definitely recommend this set to anyone starting out with the Tarot.

Author: Amanda Hall | Artist: Melissa Carroll

The Tarot Set

The Tarot SetYes, this set really is as big as it looks on the photo! The set consists of a book, 'The Illustrated Book of Tarot - Discover the Mysteries', an attractive purple satin cloth on which to spread the cards, and one of the Marseilles decks. The colours are different from the original Marseilles which is why I have given 'unknown' for the artist. Nicolas Conver was the creator of the original Marseilles tarot but I can't be certain that his name belongs to this deck. For my comments on the deck itself, see the Marseilles Tarot review.

The book gives a lot of detailed information, including astrological and elemental correspondences, combination card meanings, and most unusually, it is illustrated with both the Marseilles Tarot and the Rider-Waite Deck. The Minor Arcana is approached by commenting on all the aces, all the twos, all the threes and so on. A keyword for the number is given, followed by individual keywords and interpretations for each card separately.

A newcomer to the Tarot might find so much information a bit confusing, but it is a great book for anyone wanting to pursue a deeper study of the Tarot.

As you can see from the photograph, this set was reduced from £14.99 to £5.99 from a discount bookstore chain. Meg bought if for me a couple of years ago when we were on holiday.

Author: Jane Lyle | Artist: Unknown

The Tarot Kit

The Tarot KitThe 'subtitle' for this deck is 'Tarot for Life and Love - Using the Tarot To Get the Most out of Relationships' and it includes a piece of tumbled rose quartz, the 'Royal Tarot' deck and an excellent book. The information given in the book is very clear and uncomplicated and although some traditional spreads are covered, there are also other spreads, e.g. the Eternal Rectangle.

The following two examples of Struthers' approach to reading the Tarot are typical of her style - e.g. The High Priestess gives a short traditional interpretation, followed by two longer sections - one on 'finding your inner high priestess', and the second, 'meeting the high priestess in others; e.g. The Seven of Cups gives a traditional interpretation plus two longer sections, 'making a careful choice' and 'wishful thinking'. Struthers also gives a step-by-step account of how to conduct a reading, which is very practical and easy to follow.

The strange thing about this kit is that the illustrations in the book show one of the Rider-Waite decks (Universal?), yet the deck provided is the Royal Tarot, and the back of the box shows the Moon and the Sun from that deck. As in my review of the Royal Tarot, I have been unable to find the identity of the artist.

This deck was one of my 'lucky finds' - I got it from a discount book-store, for the princely sum of £6.

Author: Jane Struthers | Artist: Unknown

A Tin of Tarot

A Tin of TarotFor a full review of this deck, see below. Although the packaging is different, they are the same deck.

Author: Jonathan Dee | Artist: Shirley Barker

Tarot Jonathan Dee

Tarot Jonathan DeeThis deck is simply called 'Tarot', and I have given it the title 'Tarot Jonathan Dee' in order to distinguish it from other decks that have the same one-word name. The Major cards have been fashioned after the Rider-Waite Tarot and are slightly crudely drawn. Some of the faces lack expression, whilst The Empress and the Emperor both look rather angry.

The Minor cards are drawn in 'pip' formations, although a few cards in the suit of Wands (two, three, four, five, six) do have extra symbols. What this deck lacks in terms of finesse, is compensated for by the accompanying book. It is an easy read and is well-organised. The written descriptions of the Major cards are very interesting and informative, whilst the information for the four suits is compact, incorporating a single-word prompt for each card.

I have two editions of this deck. This is the one I bought first, and although I didn't realize I was buying the same deck when I got the second edition, I would probably have bought it anyway, as it is 'A Tin of Tarot' and I like tins! You can see a photograph of that just above this one.

Author: Jonathan Dee | Artist: Shirley Barker

Russell Grant AstroTarot Pack

Russell Grant AstroTarot PackRussell Grant has not disappointed his fans with this deck. It is highly individual, incorporating the Major Arcana, the four Aces from the Minor Arcana, Sun signs of the Western Zodiac, the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, and fourteen other cards all associated with the Western Zodiac, totalling sixty-four cards. The accompanying book is written in Russell Grant's unmistakable inimitable style, whilst being very clear, uncluttered and straightforward, and is also very user-friendly. The reason he gives for using only the Aces from the Minor Arcana is that he wanted the challenge of creating his own interpretations of the rest of them. He has certainly created a very bright and vibrant deck.

When I was looking through the deck, I noticed that card fifty-three, 'New Moon' actually shows a waning moon, as you can see on the photograph. I bought this deck recently from Amazon Marketplace, still in it's sellophane wrapping, for £5, which I consider a great bargain. If you're looking for something just that little bit different, you need look no further than this deck.

Author: Russell Grant | Artist: Kay Smith

Ancestral Path Tarot

Ancestral Path TarotThis fully illustrated deck is so-called because it draws on cultural myths, beliefs and traditions past and present from across the globe, reminding us that one day we will be the ancestors of those yet to come. In the Major Arcana the 'Hanged Man' becomes the 'Hanged One', showing a foetus within the uterus, head down. The imagery of most of the Major cards is quite similar to that of the Rider-Waite, although the style is very different. I have already mentioned the 'Hanged One', and another card that is quite different is the 'Fool', which shows a modern-looking woman wearing a roll-neck jumper. She is sitting at a table spread with cards from this deck. Behind her is a mirror decorated with Punch and Judy images.

The Minor cards are similar to the Tarot of the Ages, in that each suit is based on individual cultures. The suit of Swords tells the story of the Japanese and Ainu cultures. The suit of Staves (Wands) is all about Egyptian culture. The suit of Cups, the Arthurian legends; and the suit of Sacred Circles (Pentacles) , the American Indian legends. In the Court cards, 'Page' becomes 'Princess'. There are some stunningly beautiful illustrations.

My favourite suit is the Sacred Circles, simply because there are many snow-scenes, and I like to see anything that has a 'snowy' setting, be it film, picture or postcard.

Author: Tracey Hoover | Artist: Julie Cuccia-Watts

Tarot of the Ages

Tarot of the AgesThis fascinating deck is fully illustrated and was created 'in order to pay homage to Atlantis, the mother continent from which spread the civilization of the world' (Patrizia D'Agostino). The images of the Major Arcana cards are drawn from ancient Egyptian culture, and 'the Fool' is placed at number XX1, rather than its usual 0. Therefore, 'the Universe' is now number XX11. The picture on the front of the box is the 'King of Cups' and is a good representative example of the artwork in this deck.

Each suit of the Minor arcana uses imagery from particular civilizations - Viking for Swords; African for Batons; Aztec for Cups; and East Indian for Coins. The Viking theme of the Swords is exquisitely presented with some quite unusual depictions, e.g. The Eight of Swords shows seven swords connecting the two sides of a chasm and a blindfolded man running along the swords carrying a sword in his hand.

The African theme of the Batons (Wands) depicts fiery images throughout the suit, which convey an amazing sense of energy and dynamism, e.g. the Four of Batons shows a man sitting on a high plinth supported by four batons, with a leopard sitting underneath him.

The Aztec theme of the Cups is very lush and vibrant, and the cards convey wonderfully the rise and fall of the emotional life of all human beings. The King of Cups, as seen on the photograph, is a great example of the verdant nature of this suit.

The East Indian theme of the Coins (Pentacles) conveys a sense of heat and parched earth, using orangey coloured clouds against the sky, along with shades of brown in the foreground. The Five of Coins shows a group of five people - a mother and her children, looking towards the horizon where only dry earth can be seen. One of the children is standing sideways, showing her/his distended stomach - a very moving scene.

I love the rich and varied imagery of this deck, and the sense of being right there, whichever card I am looking at. I bought this deck from a specialist shop in Manchester, England, in the late eighties. The shop is no longer there as a bomb went off in the centre of Manchester in 1996 and the building which housed the shop was badly damaged. When the restoration work had been carried out, the 'alternative' shops were replaced by much more mainstream ones.

Author: Patrizia D | Artist: Mario Garizio

Barbara Walker Tarot

Barbara Walker TarotThis is a fully-illustrated deck, with a strong feminist bent. All the cards have rather wide white borders, within which each card's title and number are contained, and although it limits the size of the images, Barbara Walker's artwork is beautifully executed. Also within the borders, the information is printed in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German.

The Court cards of the Minor Arcana are 'Princess', 'Prince', 'Queen', and 'King', and each one depicts various gods, goddesses, mythical figures and archetypes, e.g. 'Princess of Swords' is 'Skuld' (leader of Norse death angels); 'Prince of Wands' is 'Dagon' (the dual-natured consort of the cyclic goddess Atargatis); 'Queen of Cups' is 'Virginal' (the Ice Queen); 'King of Pentacles' is 'Baal' (the Mountain God). It has to be said that the Minor cards pack quite a punch and are not for the faint-hearted. The 'Queen of Swords', 'Kali', is shown squatting on the body of a man, eating his internal organs!

I find this to be a really fascinating deck, very emotive. Barbara Walker has had a rich and varied career, with one of her greatest successes being that she produced ten books of knitting patterns and designs. For more information on this deck and its author, read 'The Secrets of the Tarot', by Walker herself.

Author: Barbara G. Walker | Artist: Barbara G. Walker

Ancient Tarots of Lombardy

Ancient Tarots of LombardyThe Ancient Tarots of Lombardy was created in 1810 in Milan, Italy. The Major Arcana cards have been designed in neo-classical style, with a slightly ornate border enclosing the image on a buff-coloured background. The names of the cards are in Italian and some of the images warrant a particular mention. 'The Magician' looks at first glance as though he is carrying the kind of ice-cream tray that the ushers in cinemas used to; The 'Death' card shows a skeleton standing on a scythe, with a red cloth draped over his head and down as far as his shins; 'The Devil' card shows a semi-naked horned man with red wings, leaning on what appears to be a horned staff, with a garden shed in the background.

The Minor Arcana cards are 'pip' formations, with the Court cards depicted in neo-classical style, and 'Pages' now being 'knaves'. The information and instruction booklet that accompanies most decks is printed on cards, (in English, Italian, French and German) and gives only the most basic overview. Having said that, the use of cards rather than a booklet does work well.

When I got this deck out to review I found that the cards were still wrapped in sellophane and I feel almost shame-faced that I hadn't bothered to look at them. Although it isn't a deck I would want to work with, I do like the Major cards, especially as some of the Major cards are a bit quirky. If you've read the review of 'Ancient Minchiate Etruria' you will see that I have mentioned that it says on the box that these are 'the most famous cards unusual and rare'. To my surprise, I discovered that it says the very same words on the box for this deck. Both decks are published by Lo Scarabeo, so it may be something to do with that, but I don't know for sure. If anyone does know, I would love to hear from you.

Author: Ferdinando Gumppenberg | Artist: Ferdinando Gumppenberg

Ancient Minchiate Etruria

Ancient Minchiate EtruriaThis deck is, according to some sources, a reproduction of a deck dating from the seventeenth century, whilst others say the eighteenth century. It is a very unusual deck, for several reasons. It has a total of ninety-seven cards, with fifty-six being Minor Arcana, and forty-one Major Arcana. Several of the original Major cards have changed names and/or numbers, whilst one or two are shown in the instruction leaflet but don't actually appear in the deck. The additional Major cards are made up of the twelve zodiac signs, elemental signs and various others.

The Minor Arcana cards are in 'pip' formations, and 'Wands' have become 'Clubs', whilst 'Cups' have become 'Chalices'. The only change in the Court cards is that 'Page' has become 'Valet'. The leaflet that comes with the deck gives all the names and meanings of the cards, and one spread. The instructions for shuffling are as convoluted as those for the spread, and it states that this spread is 'to respond to a simple question regarding a specific area of life'.

If this were my first Tarot deck, I think I would have given up after the first five minutes, so confusing is the whole package. On the back of the box it says, "The most famous cards, unusual and rare", which ,for some reason, amused me. I bought this deck about two years ago from a discount book shop, for the princely sum of £2.99

Author: Pietro Alligo | Artist: Pietro Alligo

Archetype Cards

Archetype CardsThis deck is neither Tarot nor Oracle, in the sense that it is not intended for divinatory purposes; rather, the intention is to further both personal and spiritual growth, and to understand how archetypes are influential in the individual's current incarnation. Having said that, it is not necessary to believe in re-incarnation in order to benefit from using the Archetype Cards.

The deck consists of seventy-four Archetype cards, plus six blank ones for people to add their own if required, and are quite large with a high gloss finish. Each card is individually named, e.g. 'Guide', 'Destroyer', 'Judge', and 'Poet', and features a relevant picture in the centre, enclosed within an octagonal shape. Just above and just below each picture, 'Light Attributes' and 'Shadow Attributes' are placed accordingly, with a few words about each as a guide. The booklet which comes with the deck is very informative.

Although the deck is cumbersome to shuffle due to its larger-than-average size, don't let that put you off as it is a great tool for personal development. The photograph of the box is an excellent indicator of the quality of the whole package.

Author: Caroline Myss | Artist: Caroline Myss

Tarot Arista

Tarot Arista This deck is French and based very much on the Marseille Tarot. Each card has a border in which is printed the name of the card, astrological correspondences, a single word interpretation of the cards, and what appears to be an alternative name for each card. I say 'appear' as all the information is in French and it is many years since I had any connection at all with the language. The rest of the card is divided into three sections - the middle section shows the card image, which is black on buff, whilst the top and bottom sections give 'upright' and 'reversed' meanings accordingly.

Throughout the Tarot Arista, each card has been created using a single colour. In the Major Arcana, the colours chosen for each card appear to be random, whilst each suit of the Minor Arcana has its own colour i.e. Swords are green, Wands are purple, Cups are orange/reddish, and Pentacles are blue. I have been unable to determine who the author and artist are.

I have to say I find this deck monumentally uninspiring. The cards have too much written information, which detracts from the images, and those, in turn, seem to me to be flat and lifeless. My deck came to me second-hand (you can see the £3 price ticket on the photograph) and the instruction leaflet is missing. Also, the cards are like new but the box is held together with sellotape. Even if I were fluent in the French language, I wouldn't want to use these cards and bought them purely for my collection.

Author: Simon Jm | Artist: Unknown

Gareth Knight back

Gareth Knight backThis picture is the autographed back of the box for this deck. For my comments on this, please read the full review below, which shows the front of the box.

Author: Gareth Knight | Artist: Sander Littel

Gareth Knight Tarot

Gareth Knight Tarot This deck is the result of many years of collaboration between the author and the artist, and is reputed to be a deck of great artistic and eosteric value. The Major Arcana cards stick quite closely in composition to the original Rider-Waite deck, but with a very distinctive style and extensive use of bright colours.

Two of the Court card names of the Minor Arcana cards have changed - 'Page' becomes 'Princess', and 'Knight' becomes 'Prince'. All the Court cards are beautifully illustrated and bear little resemblance to the Rider-Waite deck. The ace through ten are 'pip' cards, drawn in formation, although all the aces pack quite a punch.

I bought this deck from Gareth Knight in the 1980s when I went to a weekend Tarot workshop with him at Hawkstone College in the Cotswolds, England. I found him to be a dignified and charismatic man, very generous in sharing his knowledge. The picture accompanying this review shows the front of the deck, but there is also another picture, showing the back with his autograph on it. One of the reasons I really cherish this deck is that it holds lovely memories of a dear friend who went on the weekend with me, and has since passed on to the spirit world.

Author: Gareth Knight | Artist: Sander Littel

Oracle Tarot

Oracle TarotThis is a sixty-four card deck, due to the absence of any Court cards. The author's reason for this is that "as the Major Arcana always indicate powerful people in your life, these are the cards to look for when trying to discover exactly who is playing a vital role in your destiny". The Major cards are numbered from one to twenty-two, starting with the Fool, and three of them have different names, i.e. 'The Hierophant' becomes 'Tradition', 'Death' becomes 'Change', and 'The Devil' becomes 'Bondage'. None of the Major cards bears it own number, although the numbers are shown in the instruction booklet. Every card in the deck shows a few key words.

The Minor cards are at times sensual, sometimes childlike and always enchanting. All in all, it is a very feminine deck and the author's use of vivid colours is truly inspired.

I'm not sure I agree with Cavendish that the Major cards are a good replacement for Court cards, especially as these days, the Court cards aren't necessarily seen as just representing people. Nor do I particularly agree that the Major cards always indicate powerful people. It is too prescriptive for my taste, but no doubt will suit some. Nevertheless, it wouldn't stop me from using the deck as it really is beautiful - a bit like opening a box of chocolates and finding all your favourites and none of the ones you don't like so much!

Author: Lucy Cavendish | Artist: Lucy Cavendish

Sheridan Douglas Tarot

Sheridan Douglas TarotThis deck was first printed in 1972 and by the early 1980s had sold out. A new edition was printed in 2006, but many of the first editions are fetching high prices as, according to the proprietor of an occult bookshop in London, the deck is a 'legendary pack'. The Major Arcana cards are closely based on the Rider-Waite deck but they look quite different at first glance due to the solid blocks of vivid colours. Some of the Major cards have been changed - 'The High Priestess' becomes 'The Papess', 'The Hierophant' becomes 'The Pope', and 'Strength' becomes 'Fortitude'.

Two of the Minor Arcana suit-names have been changed - 'Wands' becomes 'Batons', and 'Pentacles' becomes 'Coins'. The Minor cards are just as fascinating as the Major ones, and not just because of the similar use of bold blocks of colours. They are fully illustrated and whilst most of them are similar to the Rider-Waite deck, some have been changed, e.g. The 'Nine of Pentacles' shows a man, with a very contented-looking face, taking off his boots and warming his feet in front of an open fire. 'The Six of 'Swords shows a beach with four swords stuck in the sand whilst a young(?) man is wading out into the sea to get the other two that are sticking out of the sea. The whole deck is printed on very thick card and has a high gloss finish, which enhances the brilliance of the colours.

This was another deck that I bought second-hand sometime in the mid-1980s. The instruction leaflet is missing. After doing some research on this deck I found out that it is called the Sheridan Douglas Tarot. Although the box gives the author/artist details, it doesn't show the deck's name and it simply says, '78 Cards in Full Colour' on the sides of the box. I love looking at these cards because they are so attractive.

Author: Alfred Douglas | Artist: David Sheridan

Royal Tarot

Royal TarotThe artwork on these cards is somewhat crude, comic almost, in some cases i.e. it lacks sophistication. Nevertheless the cards are rather eye-catching due to the vivid colours used throughout the deck. There are a couple of typo errors on the Major Arcana - 'Temperance' bears the roman numerals 'X1Y' rather than 'X1V' and 'The Sun' bears the roman numerals 'X1L' rather than 'X1X'.

The Minor Arcana Ace through Ten are 'pip' cards, whilst the Court Cards are somewhat unimaginative, as all the Kings are very similar, as are all the Queens, and so on. I have looked extensively online and have not been able to find author and artist details, and some of the reviews I have read are quite scathing of the whole deck. The box that the deck comes in is very plain and uninviting, and, strangely, the tiny enclosed leaflet only gives information on how to play a game with the cards. To quote the leaflet - "For fortune-telling there are many books available for reference".

In spite of all the above, I was immediately attracted by the amazing colours of the Major Arcana and I can imagine them illustrating a child's book. Although I wouldn't use this deck myself, it makes an interesting addition to my Tarot collection.

Author: Unknown | Artist: Unknown

Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck and Card Game

Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck and Card GameThe Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck and Card Game is most extraordinary. Such is the artwork that the cards appear almost three-dimensional and every card depicts scenes from the books/films with vivid colours set against a black border. Each card bears a few words about the scene it is depicting e.g. 'The Hermit' - 'Tom Bombadil is careful not to get involved'; 'Six of Swords' - 'Bilbo and his Dwarf friends use barrels to escape from the Elves'; 'Two of Cups' - 'Faramir embraces Eowyn as they fall in love'; 'Three of Cups' - 'Bilbo is reading in his library to learn new skills and gain new abilities'.

The fact that this deck is also a card game may seem to some to be irreverent, but a few centuries ago people were playing the game of Taroch or Tarrochi with Tarot cards. The rules for the Lord of the Rings game are different from the original Tarrochi game, and are explained in the booklet, whilst the card accompanying the deck shows a 'Quick Guide to Victory Points'. The booklet also gives some interesting suggestions for using the cards as a focus for meditation.

This deck fascinates me and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Author: Terry Donaldson | Artist: Peter Pracownik and Game rules by Mike Fitzgerald

Egyptian Tarot Deck

Egyptian Tarot DeckThis deck has been created in ancient Egyptian style and is simply drawn in brown on a buff-coloured background, intended to replicate papyrus. All the Major cards are based on the 'Rider-Waite' deck, albeit it in Egyptian style, but none of the Major cards retains its original title, e.g. 'Justice' becomes 'The Balance and the Sword', 'Death' becomes 'The Reaping Skeleton' and 'The Moon' becomes 'The Twilight'. The card that is usually called 'The Fool' is now 'The Crocodile' and is placed as number twenty-two rather than its usual zero.

The name of one of the Minor Arcana suits has been changed from 'Wands' to Sceptres', whilst all of the Court cards have been re-named and now bear the titles of 'Slave', 'Warrior', 'Mistress' and 'Master'. The Minor cards are 'pip' cards, with each card also showing two Egyptian hieroglyphs. I have not been able to ascertain who was responsible for the artwork.

As you can see from the picture, the box is well and truly battered, and although the cards are in excellent condition, there wasn't an instruction booklet with it. I bought this deck so long ago that I can't remember where I got it from. However, I do remember that I bought it second-hand, and for my comments on the subject of second-hand decks, read my blog entitled 'Tempus Fugit'.

Author: Comte Saint-Germain | Artist: Unknown

Tarot of the Druids

Tarot of the DruidsThis deck is based on Celtic mythology and, as such, all the Major Arcana cards are named according to whichever mythic individual they portray, e.g. 'The Fool' becomes 'Lug', 'Death' becomes 'Art Mac Cond', and 'the Sun' becomes 'Bran Mac Febal'. Knowledge of the Celtic myths would be a great advantage in working with these cards.

The Minor cards retain their original names except for 'Cups' which are now called 'Chalices'. The suit of Wands is represented by mistletoe, whilst the suit of Pentacles is represented by an egg-shaped talisman - Anguinum - which has a wrinkled surface, believed to have been formed by snake secretions. The instruction booklet gives this information but then goes on to say it was used as an amulet in rituals, which is a bit confusing as the two are not the same thing. All the Minor cards depict scenes from Druid culture, and the whole deck has a comic/cartoon-y feel.

I find this deck to be amusing, especially as many of the Minor cards show people who look like they've had a bit too much to drink! I think I would need to know a lot more about Irish myths and legends to use it, but it is a great deck to use for writing 'prompts'.

Author: Giordano Berti/Bepi Vigna | Artist: Antonio Lupatelli/Severino Baraldi

Prediction Tarot

Prediction TarotThe images of the Major Arcana are very traditional and there isn't really much to say about them except that 'the Fool', as you can see from the picture, is portrayed as a rather bored, fed-up, and somewhat overweight man, unlike the usual wiry character. The Minor cards are 'pips' rather than illustrations.

I remember buying this deck in the 1980s when I used to read a magazine of the same name, and was disappointed that they were not more inspiring. However, each to their own, as the saying goes.

Author: Bernard Stringer | Artist: Peter Richardson

Medieval Scapini Tarot

Medieval Scapini TarotAs the title shows, this deck has been created in medieval style, although the author/artist was born in 1946. Three of the Major Arcana titles have been changed - i.e. 'the Hierophant' becomes 'the Pope', 'Strength' becomes 'Force', and 'the Tower' becomes 'the Falling Tower'. Scapini has made extensive use of the colour gold, with all the Major cards and all the Court cards having a gold background. The scenes of the Minor cards are all rather busy-looking and have a very active feel to them. The card that comes with the deck, giving information about Scapini states that "Scapini's ................ intricate symbolism is animated by the chaos of everyday life.........." which I think sums this deck up perfectly.

Normally a deck fashioned on medieval style wouldn't interest me very much but I find the Minor Arcana fascinating due to their active nature. Although the artwork is completely different, the nature of the Minor cards reminds me of the Karma Tarot. (Look out for the review of this fascinating deck later).

Author: Luigi Scapini | Artist: Luigi Scapini

Titania s Star Tarot

Titania s  Star TarotTitania's Star Tarot is very simplistic in design and pleasing to the eye. Banks' use of traditional Tarot symbolism combines well with his uncluttered depictions and beautiful colours. All this is complemented by Titania's straightforward explanations of the card meanings and her inclusion of astrological elements. She has changed quite a few of the Major card titles, e.g. 'The World' becomes 'The Adept', 'Strength' becomes 'The Enchantress', and 'The Fool', which she has numbered 22, becomes 'The Materialist'. The deck is beautifully packaged, although the book is attached by it's back cover to the presentation package, which makes it slightly awkward to handle.

I love this deck for it's simplicity and beauty, and would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone, be they novice or adept.

Author: Titania Hardy | Artist: Johnson Banks

Enoil Gavat Tarot

Enoil Gavat TarotThis deck was first printed in 1977 and the author/artist has named it after himself, but backwards i.e. Tavaglione becomes Enoil Gavat. It is an esoteric Italian deck which uses a great deal of Egyptian symbolism, and incorporates a variety of other symbols, e.g. Sanskrit, Hebrew, planet/zodiac signs, whilst some of the Major cards show esoteric symbols which reveal the hidden meanings.

There is extensive use of the colours orange and yellow, very ornate designs round the edges of the cards and so much going on that it is difficult to identify some of the cards at a glance. Tavaglione has numbered the cards from 0 to 77, beginning with the Major Arcana and following through Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, with each card bearing its own name as well. The instruction booklet is in Italian and I haven't been able to ascertain if an English version is available.

I bought this deck in the early eighties and it has two 'High Priestess' cards and two 'Death' cards. So if someone out there has a deck without 'High Priestess' and 'Death' cards, do get in touch!

Author: Tavaglione | Artist: Tavaglione

Visconti-Sforza Tarot

Visconti-Sforza TarotSeventy-four of the seventy-eight cards of this deck are reproductions of a mid-fifteenth century Italian Tarot deck. As far as I can ascertain, the cards were not the work of one individual, and there are various heraldic symbols which are known to be linked to Visconti-Sforza family. The instruction booklet gives an interesting account of this information along with further suggestions as to who the artist/s might possibly be. Given that these cards were created so long ago, the imagery is very much of its time.

I acquired this deck many years ago and my copy is very large, making it difficult to handle. It is vastly different from many more modern decks and although I doubt whether I will ever use it, it is quite an impressive deck to look at.

Author: Stuart R Kaplan | Artist: Not Known - See review

Knapp-Hall Tarot

Knapp-Hall TarotThis deck was originally created in 1929, and was then known as the Revised, New Art Tarot Cards. Fifty years later it was reprinted as the Knapp-Hall Tarot. The cards' designs and symbols are based on the Buddhist Mandala Method and the authors/artists claim that it is possible to achieve different levels of meditation by working with them. Two of the Major Arcana cards have slightly altered names, i.e. 'the Magician' has become the' Juggler', and 'The Fool', which is placed after 'The Universe' , has become 'The Foolish Man'. Each suit of the Minor Arcana has its own symbols whilst also retaining a 'pips' formation.

Personally, I find the Major Arcana quite uninspiring, whereas the Minor Arcana cards are quite intriguing and I can see why they would be good for meditation.

Author: J.A. Knapp in collaboration with Manly P. Hall | Artist: J.A. Knapp in collaboration with Manly. P. Hall

Dali Tarot Deck

Dali Tarot DeckThis jubilee edition of the Salvador Dali Tarot deck was published in 2004 to mark the 100th anniversary of Dali's birth. The deck is contained in a beautiful plush case and all the cards are gilt-edged, giving a most luxurious feel to the whole package. It combines traditional Tarot symbolism with Dali's unique artistry; boldness with subtlety; fantasy with reality; vagueness with utmost clarity - each depiction is absolutely stunning. Dali has painted his own image on the 'Magician' card.

I first saw the Dali deck in 1991 and it was priced at £70, way out of reach of my budget. At the moment (June 2009) it is for sale on Amazon.co.uk for £100, but I was fortunate to be able to get it from the same website a while ago for just £40. There is an excellent book that is sold separately from the deck, 'Dali Tarot' by Johannes Fiebig.

Author: Johannes Fiebig | Artist: Salvador Dali


RunikaThis deck is 'oracle' rather than Tarot and its twenty-five cards are based upon the letters of an ancient Norse alphabet. The deck has an accompanying booklet giving interpretations of each of the cards, but, interestingly, it does not provide any information on how to use them.

I find that some of the images in this deck have a childlike simplicity, whilst others are almost comic. If you've been steeped in Tarot symbolism for years like I have, these Rune Cards make a refreshing change.

Author: Cesian Gold | Artist: Cesian Gold

Golden Dawn Tarot

Golden Dawn TarotAs far as I have been able to ascertain, this deck was first published in 1977, and copyrighted in 1978. Robert Wang states in his instruction booklet that the Golden Dawn Tarot is "the only truly esoteric deck ever to be published", i.e. the Order of the Golden Dawn claim to have published much of their secret teachings through this deck. The Court cards of the Minor Arcana are shown as 'Princess', 'Prince', 'Queen', and 'King' whilst the Ace to Ten are 'pip' cards, the formations of which are based on the Kabbala Tree of Life. All the Major cards retain the original titles.

I was given this deck by a neighbour who had retrieved it from a waste bin on a shopping precinct! It's not a deck I feel inspired by as I find some of the images a bit flat and the colours of some of the cards a bit washed out.

Author: Robert Wang | Artist: Robert Wang under the instructions of Israel Regardie

Tiny Universal Waite Tarot

Tiny%20Universal%20Waite%20TarotThis deck claims to be the smallest Tarot deck in the world, and you can see just how tiny it is by the pen lying next to it. The cards themselves are about two-thirds the size of the box and are virtually impossible to do a reading with. The deck has the name 'Universal Waite' as Mary Hanson-Roberts has used more muted and subtle colours, which she sees as 'more pleasing to the eye'.

I bought this deck purely for its novelty value and it sits on a shelf next to the Giant Rider-Waite deck! It is fun, but you definitely need a magnifying glass to see some of the images - or should I say, I need a magnifying glass!

Author: Rider-Waite | Artist: Pamela Coleman Smith

Tarot of the Secret Forest

Tarot of the Secret ForestThis deck is quite extraordinary as the cards are all double-sided, being coloured on one side and black and white on the other. The cards have a black border and the colours are very reminiscent of the forest, as they are quite dark and full of 'all things forest'. Each card of the Major Arcana bears a winged creature of some kind, e.g. fairies, elves and butterflies, whilst others are rather dark and scary-looking. The Minor Arcana cards are similarly coloured, mainly greens and browns, and again depict a lot of scary images. The black-and-white side of the cards gives a different feel completely. It looks like they were made using charcoal on a white background, rather stark looking but equally interesting.

This deck was given to me by a kind friend and I am about to start working with it, so keep an eye on my blog for reports of how I'm doing.

Author: Lucia Mattioli | Artist: Lucia Mattioli andPietro Alligo

Tarot of the Witches

Tarot of the WitchesThe author and artist of this deck is Fergus Hall. The Tarot of the Witches is very distinctive due to the style of the images and the picture on the box is very typical of that style. Bold colours are used throughout the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana cards are not fully illustrated, showing 'pips' rather than pictures. Interestingly, the swords show a winged foot; batons (wands), a clenched hand above a twig; cups, a heart with cupid's arrow through it; and coins (pentacles), an open eye with flames above it and a path through hills below it.

As you can see from the picture, this is another of my less-than-pristine boxes. I spent about eighteen months working with this deck and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Author: Fergus Hall | Artist: Fergus Hall

Forest Folklore Tarot

Forest Folklore TarotKessia Beverley-Smith is both author and artist of the Forest Folklore Tarot. It has a woodland theme, and was created in the New Forest, Hampshire, England. Beverley-Smith used her relatives, friends and neighbours as models for some of the cards, which are full of fairies, elves, nymphs and gnomes. Each suit of the Minor Arcana is represented by an animal - Swords, a fallow buck; wands, a pony; cups, a kingfisher; and rings (pentacles), a tawny owl.

I love this beautiful deck - it is delightfully enchanting, and is very child-friendly.

Author: Kessia Beverley-Smith | Artist: Kessia Beverley-Smith

Thoth Tarot Deck

Thoth Tarot DeckAleister Crowley was the author of this deck, and Lady Frieda Harris was the artist. In this deck, Crowley has changed some of the names of the Major Arcana, e.g. The Magician is now the 'Magus', Temperance is now 'Art'. The complexity of many of the images reflects Crowley's own complexity. Much of his occult knowledge and experience is published in this deck but perversely is only available to those who know what to look for. Although Crowley has used a great deal of the traditional Tarot symbolism, the dynamic and sometimes dramatic nature of the cards necessitates a really close look. Due to its complexity I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

As you can see from the picture, my deck is quite well-worn, and like the Marseilles Tarot, the box is held together with sellotape. Interestingly, the instruction booklet has a typo error in that the Magus is given the number 0 instead of number 1.

Author: Aleister Crowley | Artist: Lady Frieda Harris

Pocket Goddess Tarot

Pocket Goddess TarotKris Waldherr is both author and artist of the Pocket Goddess Tarot. The Major Arcana depictions are of Goddesses from around the world, each card bearing the name of that particular Goddess, rather than the traditional names of the Major Arcana. Each suit of the Minor Arcana is named after one particular Goddess, the Goddesses chosen being appropriate to the element upon which the suit is based.

This deck creates a sense of the matrix which links us all. The simplicity of the deck makes it easy to connect with as opposed to the difficulty of connecting with a much more complex deck. As such, it is an excellent deck for anyone just starting out with the Tarot. Although the term 'Pocket' refers to its size, it is a lovely reminder that all women carry the Goddess with them wherever they go.

Author: Kris Waldherr | Artist: Kris Waldherr

Tarot de Marseilles

Tarot de MarseillesSome sources state that this deck was created in 1760, whilst others say 1790, by the Frenchman Nicolas Conver. It makes good use of bold colours, mainly red, blue and yellow and as you would expect, the imagery reflects the time in which it was created. The Death card is the only one not bearing it's own name. The cards of the Minor Arcana are represented only by 'pips' as were all Minor cards up until 1910 when the Rider-Waite Tarot was created.

This was the first deck I worked with, for about two years before I moved onto something else. I probably wouldn't recommend it to a person just starting out with the Tarot. As you can see on the photograph, my Marseilles deck is extremely battered, being held together by sellotape. I only have the Minor Arcana as I stuck the Major Arcana cards on a kitchen cupboard door many years ago (definitely a talking point when anyone ventured into the kitchen!) and when I tried to remove them to take with me to my next abode, they succumbed to the ravages of time and more or less disintegrated. However, the deck has been with me for a very long time and is lovingly surrounded by my many other decks. To get rid of it now would be a crime of the highest order!

Author: Nicolas Conver  | Artist: Nicolas Conver