Sunday, November 10, 2013

Deck Review- Mystic Dreamer Tarot

Okay, so my use of the Mystic Dreamer Tarot, illustrated by Heidi Darras, companion book by Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn, was a few months ago.  Life caught up to me and we all do what we can do, right?

My neglect of issuing my review has nothing to do with the deck, which I have had since its' release in 2008, and it was one of my first decks when I began to collect them in earnest.  It has to be said before we dive too far into the review that the images we who watched the progress of this deck with excitement came out substantially different, so you have to take the ones you got.  If you would like to see Heidi Darras' art before the publishing company changed them, the images are available on Deviant Art.  One of the things I have read her say, though, was that she loved seeing her work published, but she was quite sad about the treatment of the borders.  On a personal note, if this deck sells well enough I would love to see Llewellyn go back and do what I consider right by this deck, which would be no borders and like all their decks, I would like a sturdy inner box rather than the over sized one they give.

The companion book was written by Barbara Moore, and as one of her earliest offerings it is maybe not as polished as her more recent ones, but it certainly fits the deck well, with a dreamy quality to the writing and prompts that help the reader look for symbolism and learn to follow that inner voice to wisdom.  It weighs in at 240 pages of insight into the cards, from Barbara Moore, not the creator, a few spreads, and constant encouragement for the reader to consider what different aspects of the cards mean to them.  That repetitive prompting can wear a bit thin when you read the book from cover to cover, but I believe many newcomers to tarot will pick up this set and for people trying to find their way, the permission to listen to their own intuition can be a revelation and an important piece of learning to read the cards.
Mystic Dreamer Tarot- Back

In the deck, you can expect to find 22 Major Arcana, which are both titled and numbered with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI.  You will find the suits to be Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, containing Court Cards labeled Page, Knight, Queen, and King.  The cards are 2 inches by 4 inches with a reversible back.  The borders are meant to mimic parchment, and they have the triple sin, in my eyes, of being far too yellow, which detracts from the colors, much too large, taking up valuable space which could have been art, and untrimmable, which is my usual method for dealing with the first two offenses.  The cardstock is quite thin, though sturdy, and shuffle-able, though the borders will chip, which is the point of having borders, so that the art will not be damaged by shuffling.  The deck and book come in a large box meant to hold both together and a flimsy inner box which will do almost nothing to protect the cards and keep them together, as is standard in Llewellyn sets.  My set included a black organza bag, but I recently acquired a newer printing of another Llewellyn set.  My earlier printing came with the black organza bag but the newer one did not, so I cannot promise a Mystic Dreamer Tarot bought today will have one, not that you would be missing much.  Organza is nearly as ethereal as the atmosphere in these cards.

The artwork is computer generated, which I have found people to either love or to hate.  There are a couple images which I feel are a bit clumsy, especially in the face or the facial expressions, but by and large they are lovely and flowing.  Five years ago, when the deck was first released, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  As time has gone on and my tastes, and exposure to the art form, have progressed I no longer hold that view, but I still find the images haunting, done in a vaguely medieval/fantasy style.  The twilight hues are done no favor by the large border, and some of the models seem to be repeated through the cards, though you may not notice it or it may not bother you.  To my eye, the use of the moon and ravens as symbols are used so often that they cease have meaning in the deck, and there is little diversity in the skin tone or physique of the depicted characters.  Some are scantily clad, though there is no overt nudity, and there is no violence.  I consider the imagery safe for most audiences.

This is a good Waite Smith clone deck, with most of the images being reworked directly from that famous deck.  This tarot deck will appeal to those who want to work within that system and are drawn to this art.  I feel it is a good deck for beginners, and for anyone who is attracted to the art.  The book will not satisfy serious students and is not exhaustive, but it will do quite well for people who read intuitively or already have an understanding of the cards.

Mystic Dreamer Tarot
Mystic Dreamer Tarot
Mystic Dreamer Tarot



These images are from Mystic Dreamer Tarot by Heidi Darras and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn.

7 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this deck. It is one of my favorite, right up there with my Ciro Marchetti decks.

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    1. It's so great to find those favorite decks that really sing to us, isn't it?

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  2. THis is my first personal deck, blind picked twice out of a few sets. I'm very pleased with the photo-manip art, as I am an artist and have very complex feelings and reactions to other's artwork, especially paintings. This deck feels very clean artwork wise, and I'm not clouded with it. I'm very excited to get acquainted with this deck!

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    1. One of the most important things in working with tarot is finding the deck with images that speak our internal language. It sound like you are off to a great start! Your intuition is already serving you well.

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