Tarot http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews <![CDATA[ A 30-Card Oracle]]>
Several stellar, quirky Tarot decks out there grace the Body/Mind/Spirit market, campy cards that manage to be funny, silly, outrageous and relevant--all at the same time. While not everyone's cuppa, these decks have delighted both collectors and serious Tarot readers--among them, The Housewives Tarot and The Zombie Tarot (both by Quirk Books).

There are also plenty of niche Tarot decks catering to lovers of cats, fairies, dragons, angels, aliens, spiritual paths, geographic locations, art styles and more. None, that I know of, has catered to dogs...until now.

Or, so I thought.

Thrilled to see--finally--a Dog Tarot, I pounced at the chance to buy one as soon as it hit the market. Because there's no thorough description of this deck, The Original Dog Tarot, I assumed that I would be getting a bone-a-fido Tarot--78 cards (or close to it).

Imagine my utter surprise and disappointment to find out that The Original Dog Tarot contains ONLY 30 cards--far less than the even average non-Tarot oracle decks (which usually contain at LEAST 44 cards).

Not only that, there's not even a full Major Arcana (22 cards)--and the numerical order doesn't even follow a traditional Tarot deck. The Major cards are:

I The Fool
II The Magician (Nostradogus)
III The Kibble
IV The Hydrant
V The Auricle
VII The Moon
VIII The Sun
IX The Cat
X The Dogcatcher
XI The Wanderer
XII The Chariot
XIII The Couch
XIV The Hangdog
XV The Shelter
XVI The Runt
XVII The Wheel of Fortune
XVIII Justice

And The Minor "Barkana" of The Original Dog Tarot? Only three cards to each of the four suits (bowls, bones, biscuits and leashes)--Ace, Three and Seven. These cards aren't "animated", only showing 1, 3 or 7 items of the suit. Supposedly, the Aces refer to the "human", the Seven to the "canine" and the Threes a balance between them. Each suit, in its brief entirety, is described in the equivalent of one booklet page. Based on the brief suit descriptions, those who are familiar with Tarot will recognize the connection between bowls/cups, biscuits/wands, leashes/swords and bones/coins...but actual references to traditional Tarot correlations are non-existent.

The author tries to be clever, but bears no resemblance to the knowledgeable, witty writers of the companion books to campy decks like the Housewives Tarot (who actually have a respect and familiarity with the history and traditional design of the Tarot).

For example, here's an example of a One-Card Draw Reading from the companion booklet:

"Jannie bought her enchanting Corgi mix, Bean, a dazzling Halloween costume but wasn't sure she should make her wear it. Janine knew Bean would look fabulous in her flowered headdress and matching tutu, and would enjoy the resulting attention. But friends said it was ridiculous to dress a dog like a doll. Conflicted and confused, Janine asked the Dog Tarot, `How would Bean be impacted by dressing her for Halloween?' She drew a single card: The Runt (XVI), the card of transformation. It suggested that every dog had a special gift waiting to be unleashed. For Jannie, the message was a sign to dress Bean and go trick-or-treating with the neighborhood children. In costume, Bean was beguiling, floating down the street, pleased and proud. People gathered in admiration, and soon she'd collected more treats than the children. At home, an exhausted and radiant Bean fell into a deep, happy sleep, sighing, dreaming of next year's Halloween. A star had been born. The truth was in the cards."

Okaaaay...

I firmly believe that tools like Tarot can be used to not only connect with our pets, but also to help "diagnose" behavioral problems or ways to enrich the lives of our furry companions. I believe that animals are sentient, and that pets are an incredible blessing to humans.

Which is one reason why this Dog Tarot rubs me the wrong way.

I almost get the feeling that the creator, Heidi Schulman, is mocking those who use Tarot cards for insight into animals...or any other situation. It's clear that she loves dogs, make no mistake, but it appears she has little knowledge of traditional Tarot constructs. Granted, some of her Major "Barkana" interpretations, while shallow, do resemble their traditional Tarot counterparts...even if the numbering system deviates wildly from usual decks.

And lest you think I take Tarot "too seriously", just re-read what I've written. A Zombie Tarot? Heck yeah! Housewives? Love it! A Halloween Tarot with Frankenstein, a mad scientist and fire imps? One of my favorites!

But what each of those have in common is an intelligent reflection of familiar Tarot constructs, while still taking traditional ideas "out of the box". Not to mention that those decks also contain 78 cards.

Which brings me to the idea: What IS Tarot? MUST it be 78 cards? Personally, I don't think so. I consider Lucy Cavendish's Oracle Tarot a Tarot deck, even though she removes the 16 Court Cards. John Holland's Psychic Tarot also is absent the 16 Court Cards, as well as the Minor Arcana 10s, and he adds 7 Chakra Cards to the mix.

But I consider them both Tarot because they retain the 22 Major Arcana cards, as well as the majority of the Minor Arcana--with both containing over 60 cards.

But a 33-card deck with a Major "Barkana" containing only 18 cards (most deviating a good deal from traditional numbering)--and a Minor "Barkana" of 12 cards?

No way.

This deck should be called the Dog Oracle, pure and simple. When you call a deck a "Tarot", it comes with certain conventions and expectations.

In short, I'm glad I only paid 10 bucks for this deck. I'll be giving it away first chance I get. Heck, maybe my 14 year old will want it as a novelty.

And, truly? I feel that's the only thing this deck is good for in terms of Tarot collectors/readers: a novelty for dog lovers. The art is cute, especially for the Major "Barkana", as is the card backing design. But for those who like oracle decks and canines, this "original" Dog Tarot may very well be just what the veterinarian ordered.

-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot

(To see 12 images from this deck, visit the REVIEWS--DECKS section on my site)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews/reviews/product/UserReview-The_Original_Dog_Tarot_Divine_the_Canine_Mind_-1227-1841883-229778-A_30_Card_Oracle.html http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews/reviews/product/UserReview-The_Original_Dog_Tarot_Divine_the_Canine_Mind_-1227-1841883-229778-A_30_Card_Oracle.html Sat, 10 Nov 2012 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Ghastly, Morbid and Bland]]>
Theoretically, I should love this deck--references to The Fall of the House of Usher, A Christmas Carol, Macbeth, Day of the Dead...even Jack Frost, a Snow Ghost and a frosty Wild Hunt (Chariot)--but the execution leaves me cold (and not in a good, or intended, way).

I've had the Ghost & Spirits Tarot for months, but as with any deck I don't like at first sight, I've given it a chance to grow on me (and sometimes, such decks do...the Gaian Tarot, for example). Unfortunately, after contemplating its imagery on and off--and attempting several readings--its ghastly cards now repulse me even more than at first blush.

From the horrid Snow Ghost gracing the deck's cover (what a bad choice--she looks like she's stone-cold drunk with that red nose!) to dripping spirits with gaping maws, there's not much attractive among these cards.

Intricate detailing on twisted roots, luminous swirls and "hidden" faces edge out the central figure of most cards, and this hyper-focus on framing and long shot views dilute the potential power of each image.

As with Lisa Hunt's past decks, 80% of the figures are pasty, sleepy-eyed Germanics with the token Kris Waldherr look-a-like thrown in (2 of Wands) and several Orientals. Where is the skin-tone variety? The sense of "in action" tableaus rather than the frozen poses? I loved that her last deck, the Fairy Tale Tarot, seemed to take more artistic chances (more realism and bold colors)--so this deck's dreary tone and hues are a particular disappointment to me.

I feel there's way too many skeletal figures (and skeletons) in this deck. What, no spirit in the afterlife dare be Rubenesque? Why not? And, since when are ghosts or spirits mostly the (literally) bare bones of leftover humanity--rather than their "essence" that Hunt claims to want to capture?

The Aces are surprisingly busy, not reflecting the singular possibility that they often hold. However, I love the Ace of Swords card--a figure contending with a poltergeist throwing items like a basket of apples, books, a broom, wide-brimmed hat, flasks, umbrella, kitchen items, hair brush and so on--but the energy feels more like a 7 of Cups card rather than an Ace.

And, truth be told, several of the cards feel like their were titled as an afterthought ("I want to create this painting--what card title can I force it into?"). Some don't even seem to fit the deck or are incomplete (e.g. Judgement). The art feels homogenized, lacking contrast in color or texture. In fact, many of the images look as if water was dripped on the canvas, and a brush downward stroked for a "leaky" effect.

I love cards that tell a story, but the 75% of images in the Ghosts & Spirits Tarot don't seem to say anything but "tormented", "haunted" and "soulless". How can that fare well as a good reading deck? It's impossible to put a positive spin on most of these cards; it feels like a deck stacked with 9 of Swords imagery (the "nightmare" card).

There's one "bonus" card in the deck, which Hunt says she included "for questions that require deeper reflection". In actuality, she painted two contenders for the 4 of Swords card and asked her Facebook fans which one they liked most. Since they both got a good amount of votes, U.S. Games Systems decided to include them both in the deck--but instead of two 4 of Swords cards, the "bonus" card is thrown in with no title. (Which is yet another reason I have to wonder if, for this deck, she just painted what she wanted and then surmised: "Hmmm. What card should I shoehorn this one into?)

I mean, The Moon card doesn't even feature a Moon--or any water, tides, femininity...theme associated with this powerful card. Instead, it's painted in all warm hues with a decidedly earthy feel (60% gnarly tree roots and a narrow stone path).

A 59-paged booklet accompanies this deck, featuring mythological or symbolic considerations and divinatory meaning. One basic 5-card layout is included, a Realm of the Spirits that's merely Past, Present, Future, Joys and Fears--but good luck on deriving meaning for the "What lifts your spirits?" position based on the cards in this deck. Suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, with the Court Cards following the Page, Knight, Queen and King designation. The card backing depicts three, white cartoon-like swirling ghosts--and image that not only doesn't jive with the aesthetic of the rest of the deck, but is also non-reversible (but close).

So much could have been done with the subject matter--so many freakin' cool possibilities--but alas, just washed out, ghastly images that leaves me feeling that the Ghost & Spirits Deck is "the nightmare deck"...stacked mostly with variations on the 9 of Swords theme. And let me be clear: I am NOT against "dark" Tarot decks nor find them lacking benefit. In fact, the majority of such decks on the market are not only attractive and evocative, but also darn good reading decks (e.g. Deviant Moon Tarot, Zombie Tarot, Dark Grimoire Tarot, Tarot of the Vampyres, etc.).

But "dark" doesn't have to equate to depressing, morbid, bland or ugly which, I'm afraid, describes this deck rather aptly.

-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot]]>
http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews/reviews/product/UserReview-Ghosts_Spirits_Tarot-1227-1837807-229260-Ghastly_Morbid_and_Bland.html http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews/reviews/product/UserReview-Ghosts_Spirits_Tarot-1227-1837807-229260-Ghastly_Morbid_and_Bland.html Thu, 6 Sep 2012 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tarot in Reverse: Making Sense of the Upside Down Cards in a Tarot Spread]]> Written in a fun, accessible style, Tarot in Reverse is the only "quick guide" reference to reading upside-down cards. Full-color, glossy pages feature both the upright and reversed images of all 78 Tarot cards from the Universal Waite Tarot.
  • The definitive book on Tarot reversals
  • No complex psychological methodology; just hundreds of reversed keywords and phrases, with contemporary anecdotes for each card
  • 1,650 card-specific affirmations for dealing with life's reversals
There are only two other books on the market dedicated to Tarot reversals--both heavy on theory, with minimal or no keywords. Tarot in Reverse, however, is the first book that provides extensive keywords and phrases for reversed meanings, as well as modern anecdotal examples for each card.

Interpreting reversed cards is one of the major obstacles for both beginner and seasoned Tarot readers. With its "at a glance" keyword list, Tarot in Reverse equips readers to interpret reversals immediately, boosting confidence and expanding personal card associations. Fiction writers can also use this book for generating plot ideas and creating character sketches.

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http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Tarot_in_Reverse-1227-1824445-224398-Tarot_in_Reverse_Making_Sense_of_the_Upside_Down.html http://www.lunch.com/TarotReviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Tarot_in_Reverse-1227-1824445-224398-Tarot_in_Reverse_Making_Sense_of_the_Upside_Down.html Mon, 28 May 2012 04:01:32 +0000