Friday, May 30, 2014

Deck Review- Deviant Moon Tarot Borderless Edition

I am back, with some exciting reviews to share with you all.  Let's start with the Deviant Moon Tarot Borderless Edition by Patrick Valenza, and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  This is a deck that is near to my heart and one I was already utterly devoted to, as evidenced in my original review of the deck, and the many posts it has appeared in over the years.  The Borderless Edition is only more fabulous, which is gushing praise for a deck I already thought was pretty near perfect.

Do you know how whenever a favorite product is reformulated, whether it is Coke or our best conditioner or whatever thing was recently changed for no good reason and it irritates you?  I sincerely doubt you will feel that with this deck.  The card stock is better, the colors much more saturated, the images crisper and cleaner, and more space is left for the enchanting art.  Size does matter when it comes to real estate on a card for art versus border.

If you want to just read the specifics of the deck, go ahead and skip ahead, but I will share a few small details before I go on-

Me & the Deviant Moon, A Love Story

My own personal story with the Deviant Moon Tarot is a long and deep one.  For over 15 years, I had one tarot deck, and I was very happy with it.  It never occurred to me to get another tarot deck, for what was the need?  But one day, broken hearted and nearly drowning in my own sorrow, I was compelled to pick up a new deck.  It was not this one, but another beauty which I doubt you will ever see me use, for it served its' purpose in my life of helping me to heal and to use it again just doesn't feel right now.  It is Legend: The Arthurian Tarot, and it will always remain dear to me, but is no longer a reading deck.  But once I had two decks, and since the first was my soul mate and the second a heart-saver, I decided why not have as many beautiful decks as call to me (and I can afford), and seven years and thousands of decks later I have never regretted that decision.

Published in 2008, the Deviant Moon Tarot was one of my original ten decks, maybe even one of my first five decks, and the first one that I watched being created at Patrick Valenza's site, and while many more decks followed, this was the first deck that I had to have.  The artwork called to me.  I yearned to hold this deck in my hands, physically yearned, and the images danced through my foggy dreams at night.  I was obsessed, and no other deck could fill the need I had.  At much trouble and expense, I was gifted the deck by a man with a beautiful soul and smiling eyes, the day it was released, and I tore into the package like a six year old into their Christmas morning presents, no elegance or delicacy in my manner at all.  And it was everything I thought it would be.  No, it was even more.  It even told me when I would reconnect to my now husband ("That long?" I had sighed and the Deviant Moon was silent because we must be respectful of the answers we are given, even when they are not the answers we want in a given moment.)

Self Trimmed Deviant Moon Tarot
As time went on, I became more specific in my needs for a working deck, so while I would (and still) buy most anything that appealed to me, where I spent my most valuable resource, my time, were decks that I could fall into, really get into the artwork and let the images spark a story for me to tell.  For me, that was decks without borders most often, for I adore the way the images look butted right up next to each other, no boundaries, nothing to keep everything from spilling over into each other and my imagination.  One day, I became brave enough to begin to trim my working decks of their borders, and that is a practice I am likely to never stop.  Of course, my beloved Deviant Moon was a prime candidate for a border-ectomy, and while the result was not as precise as a professionally cut deck, I was in love.

On a practical level, publishers usually use borders because it is easier to cut the giant sheets of cards into a deck when there is a border to work with, and aesthetically, art often looks better framed.  That is, after all, why we spend so much finding just the right mat and frame for our treasures.  But for me, tarot is more than art, and most decks work better for me when they are borderless, and many colors, especially in a moody twilight deck like the Deviant Moon, are washed out by a white or conflicting border.  Note in the image above, my Deviant Moon deck which I released of its' borders how much deeper the colors look, and the printings are the same.

But deck trimming is not for everyone, as it is a labor of love, resulting in sore thumbs and while I am perfectly happy to use my slightly irregular decks, if you can have better, why not?  U.S. Games Systems deserves a huge round of applause for taking consumer feedback seriously and adjusting to provide their customers with something they want, as the new Borderless Edition shows a commitment to listening to what is being said.  Sometimes we, as collectors and readers, forget that tarot is a super tiny niche in a very small market, and physical publishing in our ever more digital world leaves little margin for error, because unsold copies can lead to financial disaster for even large publishing houses, and even more so for the small independent publishers of tarot decks.  I want to extend a large thank you to Stuart Kaplan and everyone in the company for responding to what we, as consumers, asked for in forums, blogs, social media, and emails.

The Review

Deviant Moon Comparison- Wheel of Fortune
2008 Original on left, Borderless Edition on right
(click to enbiggen)

The structure of the deck is unchanged, with 22 Major Arcana, with Roman Numerals on top of the card and a black strip to showcase the title at the bottom, with the exception of XIII, with no strip or title.  Justice is found at VIII and Strength at XI, in traditional European numbering.  One of the fascinating things about the Deviant Moon Tarot in any edition is, to me, the very archetypal stoicism of the Majors, while the Minors are much more active and more about telling stories.  This actually makes perfect sense, as we are usually dealing with the lighter and more changing Minors in our day to to day lives, with the deeper and heavier Majors tending to be more about themes and overarching plots in our lives.  However, most decks, if there is a discrepancy between the Majors and Minors, will spend more time and hence "better" artwork on the Majors, sometimes leaving the Minors feeling not as finished, or without the same amount of detail.  Not so with the Deviant Moon.  The artwork is even (and exquisitely rendered, even if not to a particular taste) throughout the deck, but the Minors really are about details, and the Majors more about the characters.

There are 56 Minor Arcana, divided into the suits of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles.  The Aces, made up of elemental beings, mostly angels, with one notable exception, are titled with the same black strip and "Ace of ..." handily written across the bottom.  The Court Cards, which are the Page, Knight, Queen, and King, are given the same treatment, while the fully illustrated pip cards are simply graced with their Roman numeral at the top of the card.  There are the proper number of each suits' symbol, 10 Swords, for example, 3 Cups, so each card is readily identified, although the pictures are truly worth a thousand words.  This is a deck firmly rooted in Waite Smith tradition, with its' proverbial tongue sticking out and its' own unique voice which expands the meanings.  A small booklet of meanings is enclosed, and the images are quite easy (for me) to read, but this deck will also benefit from a companion book when it becomes available.

Deviant Moon Tarot Comparison- Four of Wands
2008 Original on left, Borderless Edition on right
(click to en-biggen for detail)
Tarot is a language of symbols and its' syntax lies in how we, as readers, respond to the art.  It is not my place to tell you how you feel about the art, but I have observed how much this deck, more than any other I have ever seen, provokes a response.  That response is not always positive, and not everyone wants to use this deck, but I have yet to see someone feel neutral about it.  It seems to be love, or hate which is probably rooted in "the creeps" but it is not the kind of deck which gets a "meh" response.  What reaches one reader may not necessarily reach another, but I can attest to this deck reading like a dream for me, being full of symbolic and literal language to grab a hold of.  My kids are now all teenagers, but even at their youngest I was comfortable sharing this deck with them, as the slight nudity, mostly pointy, highly stylized breasts, and mild violence is both contextual and tastefully done.  However, this is not a deck for everyone, as the familiar but somehow Other characters and landscape can be disturbing to some people.

Do you need the Borderless Edition if you have one of the original copies?  I would say yes, as I expect the success of the Borderless Edition will render the original printing an artifact, and besides the pronounced difference having a border versus not makes, this printing is, in all ways, better.  The lines are sharp and crisp, which I never realized was an issue until I had something even better to look at, and the colors are deep, dark, and fully saturated.  As mentioned before, the colors become somewhat washed out next to their white borders, and fairly sing against a reading cloth without them.

Original- Left, Borderless Edition- Right
Since the decks are nearly the same size, both being 5 and 1/8 inches long, and the borderless edition just slightly slimmer at 2 and 5/8 inches wide, the art simply has more space to exist in with the Borderless Edition.  The centimeter of white, and inner colored border, of the original really took up a lot of space where the art is better used, in my opinion.  The Borderless Edition is on thicker card stock, as evidenced when the decks are stacked next to each other and the Borderless comes in a centimeter taller.  Speaking of card stock, the Borderless Edition is matte, while the oldest original is a shiny and slick with lamination.  If you want an original, with borders edition that is shiny, you will be looking for (probably for a long time) one printed in Italy, and if you prefer one with borders that is more matte, that version was printed in China.

If you are convinced that you need the Borderless Edition in your life, please make sure you take note of the two different images on the box, and the words "Borderless Edition"emblazoned in gold on the box featuring the Queen of Pentacles.  The back will feature the already familiar Wheel of Fortune.  If the original version, with borders, calls to you, you are looking at a front with the The Moon card and its' puppets featured, and The Magician on the back.  Currently, US Amazon has the proper pictures with the proper editions, but they are notorious for switching information without changing pictures, so if you do not get what you want from them don't hesitate to send it back.  Of course, your local metaphysical store or small book shop will likely have it, or can likely order it, and they always appreciate the business.

The lovely bag in my images to the right is by Tarot by Sulis, and the quality is unmatched.  The random scribblings notebook is all original, by me, probably rubbish, and the Borderless Edition is on the left, while the original is on the right.

If you love the Deviant Moon Tarot in any form, a companion book with Patrick Valenza's unique insights into this immersive world he has imagined into creation is forthcoming, and his other art projects, including more tarot decks, is sure to delight.  I own several prints and they proudly grace my walls, and I feel confident recommending this Deviant Moon Tarot Borderless Edition as a not to be missed deck!



These cards are from the Deviant Moon Tarot Borderless Edition by Patrick Valenza, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Love on Friday- Blog Links

Here are some of the wonderful tarot-centric things I have been reading this week-

Lisa at Love Dove Tarot gives you 5 Signs That You Are Cheating Emotionally.

Angie at Thematic Tarot muses on Tabula-Got Danged Rasa.

Jenna at Queen of Wands Tarot wonders You're The Psychic, You Tell Me!

Elendil ponders The Best Approach.

Carla at Rowan Tarot listens to The Hierophant in An Apple A Day.

Zanna Starr at Tarot Notes tried out a new spread in Native Glyph Reading.

Secrets are exposed at Inner Whispers.

Are there any tarot blogs out there you love to read?  What are they?  Reading blogs is one of the best parts of most of my days.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review- The Tarot Activity Book

There are many tarot readers who prefer to work with the psychological aspect of the cards, using them as a guide to delve the depths of the psyche and map the road to self knowledge.  Even the traditional "tall dark stranger" type of reader can be of the most service to their client, and themselves, by learning to use the archetypal patterns and energies ever present in tarot cards to open dialogue between the reader and the deepest parts of themselves.

The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner is filled with activities and prompts to help the reader connect the cards with self exploration and explore them in a non-occult manner.  The publishers' summary specifically markets the book to art teachers and mental health professionals as well as tarot readers.

You all know I love a good quote, and this book is full of them.  Andy Matzner is a social worker, psychotherapist, life coach, and professor, so he certainly boasts the experience to bring such a book into being.  The language is simple and plain, which makes the book accessible to everyone, and the author is a proponent of keeping a journal to track the exercises and record your experiences.  This, in fact, is not so much a book to be read and absorbed, but a book to be experienced and worked through.  There are 271 pages of activities to experience and record and each of them.  There are also tactile crafts to do with the cards, and I suggest making a copy of your deck of choice on your printer so as to be able to throw yourself into the experience without worry of replacing a deck.

There are no explanations of the cards, which allows you as the reader to lean deeply on either your previous understanding of the cards or the way the images speak to you.  There are no rules in this book but to honor yourself and be prepared to be honest with yourself.

An example of the activities in the book is Strength/Weakness.

Objective

To understand that your greatest strength can also cause distress if you are not careful.

Background

Think about the personal quality or characteristic that you are most proud of.  Or the one that people consistently have complimented you on.  What is it about you that truly makes you unique, or has served you well in life?  Could it be your dependability?  Or that you're a great listener?  Incredibly creative?  Deeply compassionate?

But there is always a shadow side side to a person's strength.  For example, a creative person might find it easier to focus on his art and not bother learning about the business side of things.  Or a compassionate person might find it hard to cut off a dysfunctional friendship.  Or someone who loves helping others might spend all of her energy giving her time away and be left with none for herself.

Your challenge is twofold.  First, to make sure that you acknowledge and honor your greatest strength.  Second, to recognize that if you're not careful, it can become a liability.

Process

Go through your tarot deck and search for a card that you feel represents your greatest strength.  Using that card as inspiration, please answer the following questions in your journal:

  1. What is your greatest strength?  How do you know?
  2. How has your greatest strength positively impacted your life?
  3. Is there some aspect of your greatest strength that could be detrimental to your well-being?  How so?
  4. Can you remember a specific experience where this positive aspect of yourself actually ended up backfiring?
  5. What are some things you could do to prevent your greatest strength from becoming a liability?
You will know if this kind of introspection suits you, although I feel we can all use some of this from time to time.  When I do not know the answers to questions like this, I find that a good time to pull out cards for a conversation, too.  Most of the activities require that you choose the card that best expresses the energy you are dealing with, but they can also be easily adapted into spreads which help to recognize the answers.

I feel it should be said that I feel strongly that people who are not trained for it should not be counseling others, and it is unethical at best and damaging, not to mention, illegal at worst.  I also want to emphasize the fact that for me, this kind of inner dialogue is crucial, but that tarot is also valuable as a divination tool, and as my area of expertise is in using the cards to answer specific questions, I would not feel comfortable taking clients into some of these exercises.  That does not stop me from finding them invaluable for myself, though.

If you are looking for new things to do with your tarot deck, or if you are interested in administering self therapy at your own pace using tarot cards, you will enjoy this book.  If you are looking for occult roots or to learn traditional tarot, this book does not contain what you seek.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Daily Draw- So Much Energy!

Maybe it has to do with Mercury going direct yesterday, but really it has been months I have been fighting lethargy and battles with myself just to get the most basic of things done.  Yesterday I felt as if a cloud had lifted and I was inspired, no, even driven to complete projects begun long ago and make headway on new ones.  Whatever the reason, I am grateful for it and I will take it!

Still, I am interested in keeping this momentum going so I would like to know where the sudden burst of energy has come from so I have the best possible options to sustain it and make it into a way of life.  So I did what I usually do- I asked my cards where my energy has come from.
Bonefire Tarot- Queen of Wands, Knight of Swords

I am using a method outlined in Dusty White's Advanced Tarot Secrets, which has become my best friend in tarot reading over the past couple months.  He calls it "Hero and Sidekick" and it is basically a method for linking the cards and having them strike up a conversation.  As you look at a pair of cards, drawn in relation to a query, you decide which of them is the hero, the main card of the answer, and you use the other card as a sidekick, a way to modify the meaning of the first card and fine tune it to your reading and question.  This is a tool I find invaluable as I believe the nuanced message of each reading lies in the context of the reading, which is achieved with a specific question, a positional meaning, or the interaction between the cards (or any combination and whatever other methods you prefer).  Without these things, I am often left guessing where a card falls on its' spectrum of meaning.  Intuition is an important component in reading cards, but one of my favorite aspects of tarot cards is that they show up, always, even if intuition decides to have a margarita at the beach instead.

The Queen of Wands is the one I am least likely to associate myself with, as I am a practical and sensual, sometimes overbearing Queen of Pentacles to my core, sometimes a sharp witted, sharp tongued, clear seeing Queen of Swords, and less often but still reliably a sensitive and sometimes over empathetic Queen of Cups.  But the Queen of Wands, with her confidence and creative force, no not so much.  Clearly I need to channel some more of this fine and fast lady, because I owe this burst of energy to embracing a bit more of her archetype.  I am going to wear that hat, because damn!  I am hot because I'm fly.  At least I feel so today.

The Knight of Swords brings a burst of masculine energy, or maybe he is being brought by his white horse, fairly out of control, which to me symbolizes a new found willingness to work with what is unpredictable in my life, and to ride the energy, wherever it takes me, for as far as it will go.  It's a wild ride, but exhilarating.  The two together create a burning combination, with air to feed the fire, and water to control the boundaries of the flame so that it can be fully utilized without burning.  In practical terms, this means I am uniquely able at this time to channel my emotions and my skills into my work without letting the intensity of them bowl me over.  It is a balancing act, although that precarious Knight shows it is more about faith than skill right now.

Bonefire Tarot- Emperor
I had a bit of help interpreting the Queen of Wands as her Aries self in full glory because twice while shuffling The Emperor decided to take a flying leap out of the stack.  The Emperor rules over boundaries and gives structure to that which may otherwise lay about all loose-y goose-y not ever living up to its' full potential.  Or their full potential, as is the case with me.  I need structure and I know it.  I have been made acutely aware of that and rather than returning to an imposed structure of working for THE MAN, which is not possible anyway, I must take control of my own domain and impose a structure I can both work in and love.  With style.  Like the Queen of Wands.

Are you struggling with blocks in your creative, professional, personal life, or in your relationships?  Book a reading today and we can either power through them together, or softly fold them, wherever the cards lead us.  You may be surprised, as I was today, by who you find waiting for you on the other side!






These images are from Bonefire Tarot, self published by Gabrielle West.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thematic Tarot Post!

I am proud to be part of a group blog with many fabulous tarot thinkers at Thematic Tarot!  Come read my post over there- Grateful Is As Grateful Does?



Bonefire Tarot- Judgement

Bonefire Tarot- Judgment
Today's card comes an exquisitely rendered and self published deck, Bonefire Tarot, self published by Gabrielle West.

Whenever I see the Judgment card I have to decide quickly if I feel it is referring to the biblical Day of Judgment, a concept which can span any theology or none at all when we consider it a day of reckoning, or a second chance, or if I feel it referring to literal meaning of the word- to judge.

Tarot cards never fail to entrance and delight me by managing to convey so many nuances of life and love, and so as I look through this card as the lends for my week I know I am likely to see both, and even more, meanings emerge from the card.

I am immediately struck by the ticking clock, which is on fire, adding to the urgency of the situation.  Judgment Day is coming, and no one can stop it, and neither can we know for sure the time it will arrive.  This is a distinctly Christian idea, but we can all apply to our lives and our journeys because the truth is the time we have to act on Earth will end for all of us, regardless of religious beliefs, and we aren't given to know when.  We just have to do the best we can with our finite time and make it all count.  I feel that especially lately, as my kids have grown to the point they do not need constant care and attention but still a good deal of it.

The golden hammer and gavel speak to a judgment being passed, possibly from an impossible position, as the richness of the tool places firmly out of my (current) reach.

The tattoos across the face remind me of the song lyrics by Jordin Sparks- "You're still a part of everything I do, just like a tattoo."  We end relationships of all types for myriad reasons, and many of them are just because it was right, but many people leave their stamps on our souls and they remain there.  I have dreamt this past week of a former lover, which is exquisite in both the memory of the immense love and the pain it causes.  We couldn't stay together, not least because I belong where I am now, married to my handsome man and taking this family where we are all meant to be, but in that time and that place I believe utterly that we needed to be together, too.  I have to, or all the tears and the constant undertone of love that never leaves, even when physical presence does, were in vain.

Do you tend to read the Judgment card as a kind of phoenix, or do you feel the discomfort of being judged, or maybe the righteous smugness of doing the judging?






This card is from Bonefire Tarot, self published by Gabrielle West, who you can contact at her site- http://www.bonefiretarot.com/

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Deck Review- Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards is a 50 card deck and book set brought to us from the imagination of P.C. Cast and Colette Baron-Reid.  In small print on the back of the booklet I see that the design is credited to Danielle Deschenes and the illustration to Jenna DellaGrottaglia of Duirwaigh, Inc.

The deck is based on the young adult novel series, House of Night by P.C. Cast.  I have not read the books and I am not likely to, which speaks more to my time constraints and my preferred reading material than it does to the worthiness of the series.  So many books, both for fun and learning, and so little time.

Despite not having read the books this oracle is based on, I used it to great effect, paired with Mystic Dreamer Tarot.  I find there are two kinds of oracle cards.  The first has a system and you learn the system and use the imagery of the cards to intuit meaning.  Tarot falls into this category of oracle cards, as well as lenormands, playing cards, Sabian Symbols, and many other decks.  Obviously tarot is my preferred method of divination.  The second type of oracle deck is prominent in New Age stores and even regular bookstores, and those are the type with artwork on the cards, usually with a number as well, and you look up the card in the book to garner meaning, as well as using the particular imagery on the card.  These types of oracles usually have beautiful artwork and apt messages, but no formal system that can be defined and worked with.  Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards fall into the second category, as do most of the ubiquitous Doreen Virtue oracle decks.

 The cards are large, measuring just shy of 3.5 inches by 5 inches.  They are slick and flippy, shuffling easily, and showing fingerprints on the glossy finish, especially the mostly black backs, which is a shame because the artwork is lovely.  The cards are gilded on the edges with shiny silver, which adds to the special feel of the deck, and they come in a sturdy two part box, with a small but full accompanying guidebook.  The book includes a description of each card with a small black and white inset of the card, and suggestions for how they can be read when they occur in a reading, as well as spread ideas.

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards
The images are computed generated, and populated by characters of the novels as well as some still life vignettes and a few animals, mostly domestic cats.  As could be expected from the name, the colors are dusky.  There seem to be far more females than males in the deck, and the males, for a change, are the less clothed of the two.  They certainly are eye candy, and the females are young, nubile and lithe.  It is a bit incongruous to me to see a kitten next to a hard bodied, shirtless male torso, and I certainly would not feel comfortable exposing my 12 year old daughter to the images, at least not together because the mixed message of the sweet kitten next to the undeniably sexed up six pack abs would confuse her, I feel, but it certainly appropriate for older teenagers and adults.  There is no violence or nudity, but the deck is probably edgy for some audiences.  There are five High Priestesses in the deck, one for each element, and Spirit.

The images did not intuitively speak to me, but this is not my preferred type of oracle, and upon reading the entries for each card I could easily find the thread of meaning in the readings.  It is not this decks' fault that I am so closely aligned with the system of tarot, and there are many people who greatly enjoy this kind of oracle.  What I read in the guidebook did pique my interest in the novels the oracle is based on, but ultimately not enough to drive me to read the books.  Even so, the guidebook as written in such a way I believe anyone could use the cards for divination or personal development.  A friend who has read the House of Night series also bough the deck and raves over the way they interact with the books, so if you like the story, you may find the deck a worthwhile visual to add to your enjoyment.  This is not a deck that is likely to enter my rotation, but few oracle decks would make it there, anyway.  It is a deck I enjoyed using and found value in.  As always, your mileage may vary.

There is also an app available from the iTunes store for iOS devices.  I have not used it, but I do have several different card apps on my phone, iPad, and Kindle Fire and I find them fun and useful when I do not have the deck I want handy.

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards








These images are from Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards by P.C. Cast and Colette Baron-Reid, published by Potter Style.