Paulina Cassidy in the Artist’s Spotlight

Paulina Cassidy’s artwork is very popular among collectors. She is known for her ink and watercolor paintings of faeries and whimsical nature sprites. Working from a sketch that evolves into a pen and ink drawing, Paulina then adds soft pastel watercolors to her pieces. Her artwork is collected around the world. Paulina Cassidy is also a mass-market published Tarot and oracle artist with two tarot decks and two oracle decks to her credit. They are:

  • The Paulina Tarot (US Games Systems, Inc. 2008)
  • The Joie de Vive Tarot (US Games Systems, Inc. 2011)
  • The Faerie Guidance Oracle (Llewellyn 2012)
  • Witchlings (US Games Systems, Inc. 2014)

In this blog post I review all four of her decks and sit down for an interview with the artist herself. My questions are in bold below and Paulina’s responses are in italics. My review commentary appears in regular type.

 

Were you formally trained as an artist or self-taught? How long have you been an artist? 

I started drawing from the age of 3; quietly sitting at the kitchen table with paper and pen; happily lost in my own little world. At 14, I started creating cartoons for local newspapers, but altered my direction at around 17 when my style developed into something completely different than cartooning. I worked mainly with pen and ink for a number of years after that, as well as having created regular illustrations for magazines. In 1998, I delved full time into this when I launched my website, Restless Moon Gallery.  It’s an interesting process in discovering one’s artistic voice as we experiment and grow, whether one is self-taught or formally trained.

What sparked your interest in Tarot and how long have you been interested in it? 

A number of years ago, a collector requested that I consider making a tarot deck. I thought the task to be too challenging at first, but I proceeded, regardless. I began working on my first deck in 2006/2007, and two years later, the Paulina Tarot was born.

The Paulina Tarot (2009)~ 

paulina-tarot-compositeUS Games Systems, Inc. published Paulina Cassidy’s first work, The Paulina Tarot, in 2008. Housed in a simple tarot box with 44-page LWB (little white book), the entire set measures 3 x 5 x 1 ¼” and retails for $21.95.   The Paulina Tarot is a traditional 78-card tarot deck. Major arcana titles are traditional. Suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Court cards are the traditional Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The cards have a thin white border, card titles appear in black within the white border below each image, and the backs are fully reversible. The LWB, written by Paulina Cassidy, includes a brief description of each card’s imagery, and several keywords for both upright and reversed interpretations. Only one card spread is included, the traditional Celtic Cross.

The cards measure the same as the box and are very easy to shuffle. They have a semi-gloss finish that allows them to glide smoothly together without sticking together. The images, unlike some of her other work, is rendered in full color with the backgrounds completely painted in watercolor. The color scheme varies and is in general keeping with the theme of each card. Backgrounds range from lovely bright pastels to somber grays that gives the deck a balanced color scheme.

The imagery of The Paulina Tarot is highly intricate. The characteristic swirls, tiny flowers, stripes, dots, and other design elements of Paulina Cassidy’s work adorn each card. As an artist myself, I appreciate all the work that went into creating each image. In order to fully appreciate The Paulina Tarot I highly recommend that you avail yourself of the use of a magnifying glass. This is one of those decks that would have benefited from being printed in a larger size.

Within a spread the cards depict lively faerie and fantasy characters within a whimsical landscape. Natural elements, such as trees, flowers, and celestial bodies are anthropomorphized, which adds a great deal of whimsy to the images. Overall, The Paulina Tarot is highly detailed making it a feast for the eyes.

 

Your artwork is very intricate. Has this always been your style or did it evolve in recent years?

I’ve been creating intricate pieces for years, mainly using pen and ink. It’s always been a meditational process for me. As well, it’s an evolution filled with self-discovery. My wish is to evolve with each piece I create, always.

On average, how long does it take for you to create a card image? 

It varies, and I sometimes re-do a card image until I’m happy with it. I seem to have no definite answer to this, as I tend not to keep track of time when creating. I sort of become lost in another world, another zone . . . somewhere out of time. 

What inspires you and your art? 

Anything that supplies my soul with a sense of mystery and magic. It’s a collective and intermingling gathering of energies found, for example, in music, books, nature, art, animals, people. 

 

The Joie de Vivre Tarot (2011) ~

paulina-cassidy-joie-vivre-compositeBuilding upon her love of animals, nature, and people, Paulina Cassidy followed up her Paulina Tarot with the Joie de Vivre Tarot, published by US Games Systems, Inc. in 2011.

Housed in a tuck box with the LWB written by Paulina Cassidy, the Joie De Vivre Tarot is yet another delight. The LWB has 59 pages with two blank pages for notes. Card interpretations consist of several keywords, a brief description of the imagery, the general meaning, and a brief reversed interpretation. The LWB concludes with a 5-card spread entitled, “Spreading the Joy.”

The major arcana cards are traditionally titled and the court cards are also the traditional Page – Knight – Queen – King. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins (Pentacles in The Paulina Tarot).

The Joie De Vivre Tarot is a deck that vibrates with a childlike joy, the beings depicted in this deck are “sentient souls of love who will help you tap into intuition and connect to divine source,” (LBW, p. 1). The characters themselves are emphasized with less anthropomorphic aspects than what appears in the Paulina Tarot. The majority of color lies within the brighter range of pastels and backgrounds tend to be less developed than in the Paulina Tarot so there is a bit more negative space giving the eye a place to rest while also emphasizing the main character depicted on each card.

 

You have a knack for portraying nature spirits. Can you sense their presence? If so, what does it feel like? 

I often do sense their presence. It’s a particular uplifting shift in the atmosphere. I cannot see them with the naked eye, but I sense their personalities. They bring with them a certain purity, playfulness, and wisdom. Quite influential, and they love to be portrayed.

 

The Faerie Guidance Oracle (2012) ~

In 2012 Paulina Cassidy’s The Faerie Guidance Oracle was published by Llewellyn Books. Representing a slight departure from the whimsical creatures she had created for her Paulina Tarot and Joie De Vivre Tarot, The Faerie Guidance Oracle is her first oracle deck. The deck consists of a total of 40 cards and a 262-page guidebook, once again written by Paulina Cassidy herself. The deck is housed in a flip-lidded box of very thin cardboard. The book and deck lie nested within the box side by side.

Each card depicts a different faery with titles such as, Enlightenment, Determination, Faith, Compassion, Dreams, Intuition, Change, Energy, and Spirit. Titles are placed at the top center of the card within the border. Each card also has a brief 2-line synopsis of the card’s overall meaning at the base of the image within a light tan border that surrounds the image. Rendered in Paulina Cassidy’s distinctive style, the color scheme runs from dark blues and grays to sunny yellows and everything in between. The color scheme is nicely balanced. The images have a lovely ethereal look to them.

paulina-cassidy-faerie-guidance-oracle

The guidebook is quite impressive. It begins with a brief introduction as well as “how to use this deck” section. There are two card spreads: the Facet du Jour, which is a card of the day; and, the Crisis Spread, for which the cards are chosen consciously instead of by chance and the number of cards in the spread can vary. The bulk of the guidebook consists of the card interpretations. There is a full-size black and white image of the card on the facing page. Paulina Cassidy then devotes 2 – 3 pages for each card’s meaning that then concludes with a “reflection” that relates symbols within the card’s image to the meaning of the card.

 

What advice do you have for aspiring deck creators? 

 Patience and consistency. These are two of my keywords for card deck productivity. The task can be daunting and will feel at times as though it’ll take forever. It happens to me with each deck that I create. Remember my aforementioned keywords during the long haul. Eventually, a finished deck will manifest, and it will have been worth every bit of effort.

 

Witchlings (2014) ~

Paulina Cassidy’s most recent publication is Witchlings, published by US Games Systems, Inc. in 2014. Witchlings is a card and book set that comes housed in a lidded box. The guidebook contains 201 pages with 3 pages for notes. There are 40 cards.

The cards have a narrow pastel border that vary in shade from card to card: purple, yellow, orange, green, pink, and other shades. Each card is graced with the whimsical image of a “witchling” who is an expert spellcaster of a particular type of spell. A little purple owl named Orion accompanies each witchling. Orion is “the universal Familiar of the Witchlings, acts as protector, mentor, assistant and friend” (p. 6). Orion is a benevolent energy whose spirit also assists all who use these cards.

paulina-cassidy-witchlings

Paulina Cassidy designed Witchlings is no ordinary oracle deck. It can also be used in spell work. The deck can be used as an oracle deck and an oracular message is included for every card, but where this deck truly excels is in its use as a magical tool. There are 2 – 4 simple and short spells included for every card. The spells are performed with inexpensive materials that are easily available in the typical home’s spice cabinet. The spells are very short and simple to perform. You do not have to be a practitioner of magic to use this deck to its full capability.

Paulina Cassidy also wrote the guidebook. For each card the guidebook includes a 4-line poem, the oracular meaning, 2 – 4 spells, and for many of the cards inspirational creative suggestions and meditations are also included for the majority of the cards.

Overall, the work of Paulina Cassidy presents tarot and oracle readers alike with four delightful decks from which to choose. Her characters seem to come alive in the spreads and I love to see the interactions of the characters as they look at one another in a card spread. Delightfully dreamy, Paulina Cassidy’s body of work appeals to many around the world who are avid collectors of her art.

If you would like to be a featured artist on my blog, please email me at isisraanpu@gmail.com.

Blessings!

~ Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Tarot & Lenormand Readings, Spells, & Visionary Art

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Full DisclosureThe decks reviewed here were a combination of those sent to me by the publisher and my own purchase.

 

 

 

Review: Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen

There are quite a few comprehensive books about Tarot, but Tarot Holistics tops them all. If you buy ONE book about Tarot that book should be Tarot Holistics.

At 874 pages, Tarot Holistics now holds the record for the longest book I’ve read since my years in graduate school. Despite its length, author Benebell Wen breaks the book down into manageable chapters that can be slowly enjoyed over time like a fine wine. I really took my time reading Tarot Holistics because, as with all truly great books, I did not want to see this one come to an end.

Consisting of 33 chapters with one chapter containing 39 chapter sections, nine appendices, thirty pages of annotated endnotes, and a 25 page index, the only thing lacking that I would have appreciated is a bibliography. Sources are mentioned throughout the endnotes thus making Tarot Holistics an indispensable addition to any Tarot library.

Chapter headings are as follows:

  • Tarot Analytics: A Holistic Approach
  • A Concise History Lesson
  • Allaying Fears and Offering Theories
  • Choosing Your Deck
  • Anatomy of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot
  • The Personal Journal
  • Beginner Rote Learning
  • Keywords
  • Cyclopedia of Card Meanings
  • Signifier Cards
  • The First Operation
  • Interpreting Court Cards
  • On Shuffling, Cutting and Drawing
  • The Fundamentals of Reading Spreads
  • Consideration of the Spread Landscape
  • Devising Tarot Spreads
  • Tarot Readings: A Step-by-Step Analytical Process
  • The Five Components of Circumstance
  • Assuaging Seekers When a Reading Seems Negative
  • Reading Tarot for Yourself
  • The Setting of a Tarot Reading and Energetic Supplements
  • Intermediate Ruminations and Practicum
  • The Value of Meditation to Tarot Practice
  • Inappropriate Questions
  • Ethical Considerations of the Tarot
  • Tarot and Love
  • Tarot and Professional Development
  • Using Tarot to Build Resilience
  • Depth Diagnostics
  • The Opening of the Key
  • Tarot de Marseille and the Thoth
  • The Professional Practice of the Tarot
  • A Personal Essay: How I Started
  • Appendix A: Tarot Spreads Quick Reference
  • Appendix B: Astrological Symbols and Elemental Associations
  • Appendix C: Ruminations on the Major Arcana
  • Appendix D: Profile Tables and Ruminations on the Minor Arcana
  • Appendix E: Profile Tables for Interpreting Court Cards
  • Appendix F: Numerological Associations
  • Appendix G: Pythagorean Numerology
  • Appendix H: Sample Logs and Templates
  • Appendix I: The Marseille Major Arcana

The most valuable types of information Tarot Holistics provides to new & seasoned readers alike in my opinion are:

  • discussion of court cards & the correspondences among them, which makes it simple to compare the different personality types
  • the analysis of the Rider-Waite-Smith that runs for 176 pages
  • the inclusion of 38 spreads that takes up 141 pages (see also Appendix A that discusses tarot spreads for an additional 46 pages)
  • card imagery and how it relates one card to the other in the landscape of a spread
  • Appendix G: Pythagorean Numerology

Personally, what I appreciate the most about Tarot Holistics is the writing stay of Benebell Wen. As an author myself I know that for a book of this length and type a conversational author’s voice is very important. How many long books have you picked up that had such a dry and boring tone that they put you to sleep? Tarot Holistics is not one of those books.

If you’re put off by the length do not allow that to stop you from adding this book to your collection. The writing style is quite personable. Throughout Tarot Holistics I felt as though Benebell Wen was speaking with me about Tarot over a cup of coffee in a nice little sidewalk cafe. The conversational tone of Tarot Holistics makes what may be an otherwise burdensome tome to digest a fun yet highly informative read.

I give Tarot Holistics the highest recommendation of any Tarot book I have ever read. If you’re new to Tarot, have limited space in your home in which to store books, or are on a tight budget so you require a book that covers Tarot completely & efficiently, I recommend Tarot Holistics to you.

You will not be disappointed.

As with most titles I review, I did receive this as a free review copy from the publisher. Receipt of an item does not guarantee I shall review it. I review only those titles I enjoy and think my readership will also enjoy and/or find useful.

Blessings,

~ Nefer

Spells/Enchantments, Readings & Visionary Art

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Book Review: Tarot Interactions

Tarot Interactions, by Deborah Lipp.  Llewellyn Publications, 2015. Paperback $16.99 Kindle $9.99

How many of us wished we had someone to tutor us when we first began learning to read tarot cards? I learned on my own with the massive help of Eden Gray’s classic text, The Complete Guide to the Tarot (Bantam Books). It was the only tarot book I could find in my home town in the late 1970s even after much searching and asking (plus dealing with weird looks!).

These days there is a wide variety of tarot books easily available and the task of choosing just 1 – 3 for a beginner can be quite daunting and overwhelming. As a tarot instructor myself I appreciate books that read like a course on tarot rather than start off with a dry (and often incorrect) “historical” overview of how the Tarot came from Atlantis, Egypt, or gypsies, then goes into a discussion of the symbolism and meaning of each card, and finally concludes with the classic Celtic Cross spread & perhaps a few others.

Tarot Interactions does not follow the conventional tarot book mold. In fact, it breaks it, and quite spectacularly. When it comes to tarot books I am very difficult to impress. I’ve been reading and studying tarot since 1976 and have basically read them all. Yet I always go back to Eden Gray, and another wonderful classic no one should be without, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack (Weiser Books). I have been recommending these two books to my students for nearly 20 years. Now I can finally add a third, Tarot Interactions.

Tarot Interactions is quite different from the old formula we’re all accustomed to reading in a “how-to-read-tarot” book. What I really liked from the start is the personable method of writing Deborah Lipp has. As you read the book it sounds as though you’re sitting with her at your dining room table with a deck of tarot cards spread out before you. She is seated next to you sharing her method of reading the tarot while you sit there trying to soak it all up like a sponge. I love it when authors take the time to construct their writing style so that they are speaking WITH a reader as opposed to speaking AT a reader. Deborah Lipp is clearly well-informed about the Tarot, but she does not come across as a know-it-all. She comes across as a teacher who takes the reader by the hand in order to guide them through the material.

The title, Tarot Interactions, refers to how as readers we can relate to and use the Tarot. Furthermore, within a reading the cards interact with one another. Every two-card combination means something and also the meaning of a card changes based upon its position within a spread. In this manner the Tarot cards themselves also interact with each other. As a reader it is important to pick up on all of these nuances. Deborah Lipp explains how these interactions work and she offers a wide variety of exercises to take the reader through a learning process. Meanings of the cards are included, but she goes far beyond that and teaches through her book how the cards interact with each other and how meanings can change based upon a card’s position within a spread.

Meditation and keeping a journal are both encouraged, and I highly recommend at least keeping a journal as you work through this book. You will want to keep a record of the exercises you do and the results you get so as you work more with Tarot Interactions and time passes you can go back to check your progress. Meditation will help to open your psychic centers and heighten your intuition as well, so that is also a recommended practice while reading this book and beyond. Even as a seasoned reader myself I found the exercises to be useful. People who are new to Tarot will find the exercises not only useful but also great guideposts for their journey.

As I read Tarot Interactions I envisioned Deborah Lipp as a kindly teacher who only wishes for her students to understand the material at hand and is all too happy to share her own experiences with reading the cards. I wish this book had been written in the seventies when I was learning. It would have made my progress much easier.

I highly recommend this book to beginners, but seasoned readers will also find it to be quite useful as well.

Thank you for reading & I welcome you to share this post with your friends using the share buttons below.

Wishing you many blessings,

~ Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Tarot & Lenormand Readings, Spells & Visionary Art

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The Cook’s Tarot: Review

The Cook’s Tarot by Judith Mackay Stirt.  78 cards + guidebook.  Schiffer Books, 2015.

The Lovers & Hermit, from

The Lovers & Hermit, from “The Cook’s Tarot” by Judith Mckay Stirt (Schiffer Books, 2015).

Everyone loves to eat, right? Many of us also love to cook. Cooking is a creative process. Ingredients chosen for their harmony with one another combined by a skillful chef become a nourishing and enjoyable meal. The Cook’s Tarot is the result of a 7-year long painting odyssey undertaken by Judith Mackay Stirt.  Combining various symbolic elements ad her ingredients into a 78-card deck, The Cook’s Tarot honors food, the kitchen as the heart of the home, and the cook who rules over it all. The Cook’s Tarot is a savory blend of color, form, and symbols.

Each image has an energy and a life all its own.  Colors are bright and vibrant while the cards are populated by all sorts of intriguing looking characters. The cards measure 3 X 5” and are borderless except for a tan border along the base of each card that contains the card’s title. Suits are traditional: Wands, Cups, Swords & Pentacles. Courts are also traditional (Page, Knight, Queen, King) and the major arcana is also traditionally titled.

The Knight of Wands, 3 of Cups, 3 of Swords & 6 of Pentacles from

The Knight of Wands, 3 of Cups, 3 of Swords & 6 of Pentacles from “The Cook’s Tarot” by Judith Mckay Stirt (Schiffer Books, 2015).

 The cards are very flexible and made of a thin, but very nicely laminated card stock. They may be difficult for smaller hands to shuffle. The deck comes packaged in a hinged box with magnetic closure that can be stored in a bookshelf standing on its end just like a book. The lid will not fall open. The interior of the box contains two recessed wells into which two halves of the deck are housed. The 160-page guidebook rests on top of the deck inside the box. All of the components fit snugly together.

The guidebook measures 6X9” as does the entire box. It contains four spreads: a 3-card spread, a 5-card spread, a 10-card spread that is the Celtic Cross, and a spread designed specifically for use with this deck – the 8-card Maitre D Spread.

Card interpretations include a description of the action occurring in the image, key elements of the design, the card meaning, and concludes with a pithy piece of “kitchen wisdom” that sums up the main theme of the card. For example, the kitchen wisdom offered by The Fool is, “There is joy in cooking when you do not fear the failure.” Another example, The Moon: “We are our choices. We can choose idle hands and an overactive imagination, or busy hands and a creative mind.” Reversed meanings are not present as such, but the “shadow side” of each card is provided.

The deck is enjoyable to use. I love how the colors really “pop” when used on a black reading cloth. Readings are lively and the art just seems to dance across the table. People who enjoy cooking or baking and spend lots of time in their kitchens will absolutely adore this deck. It will brighten up any kitchen and give new life to the heart of the home.

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Beautiful Creatures Tarot: Deck Review

The Beautiful Creatures Tarot                                                                                    Beautiful Creatures Tarot
Book: J. r. Rivera
Artwork: Jasmine Becket-Griffith
Schiffer Books, 2015
http://schifferbooks.com
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot comes housed in the sturdy laminated magnetic hinged box for which Schiffer is now known. The box measures 6 X 9” and can be stored on its end like a book thus requiring less room in your bookcase. The magnetic lid remains closed so the deck can be stored as if it were a book. The deck is stored within two recessed wells and the 6 X 9” guidebook rests on top of the cards.
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot is a collaborative effort between J. r. Rivera (guide book author) and Jasmine Becket-Griffith, who is well known as the artist behind a number of oracle decks. Her style focuses on the eyes of her characters, which are always lovely and oversized that immediately draw your attention to the faces of the characters she paints.
The Sun & 10 of Waters from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot, Schiffer Books 2015.

The Sun & 10 of Waters from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot, Schiffer Books 2015.

The card images are lovely representations of 1 – 3 females on each card all of whom sport the trademark large eyes of Griffith’s style. Griffith paints with acrylics and her images contain a luminescence that creates an aura of mystery around the figures she creates.
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot differs from traditional Tarot decks in two main areas: some of the major arcana cards are renamed, and the court cards do not reflect the typical medieval court organization, but are based upon astrological correspondences.
The differing card names within the major arcana are as follows:
The Fool = The Explorer
Strength = The Fortitude
Justice = The Equilibrium
Hanged Man = The Swinging One
Death = The Transformation
Temperance = The Mediator
The Devil = The Addiction
The Tower = The Unexpected
The court cards of The Beautiful Creatures Tarot can be confusing to someone who is new to Tarot. The Pages are
named for each of the Elements and are called Nymphs. Their information concludes the chapter on court cards while the other court cards are named for their astrological correspondences. They begin with the Ram as Aries, moving to Taurus as the Bull, the Twins as Gemini, and so on.
The 4 Nymphs (Pages) from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)

The 4 Nymphs (Pages) from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)

One example is that the Ram of Fires corresponds to the traditional Queen of Wands.
The Ram of Fires from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)

The Ram of Fires from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)

Suits are Fires (Wands), Waters (Cups), Airs (Swords), and Earths (Pentacles).
The guidebook has 152 pages with black and white images of the cards. The spreads include a one card/one answer spread; a 3-card spread; The Beautiful & Ugly; The 3-Card Mirror Within; The 3-card Beauty, Truth & Light; the 5-card Triage en Croix; the 5-card Mind Over Heart; 5-card 30-Day Outlook; 5-card Voice of the Beautiful Creatures; the 7-card Vice Versa; & the 7-card Family Tree and Hereditary spread. As far as spreads go this book presents an excellent selection from which to choose.
The card interpretations begin with keywords and a description of the card’s imagery. Both upright and reversed meanings are provided. There are two additional cards: You Are One and The Supernatural, thus making The Beautiful Creatures Tarot an 80-card Tarot deck. The guidebook concludes with eight lined journal pages for notes.
The cards measure 3 ½” x 5” and are constructed from a sturdy card stock with just enough flexibility to allow for relatively easy shuffling. The borders are purple along the base with the card title in white along the base of the image. The rest of the border is black.
Extra Cards: You Are One & The Supernatural from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)

Extra Cards: You Are One & The Supernatural from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)

Images consist exclusively of females, except for The Lovers and 2 of Waters. Jasmine Becket-Griffiths is known for depicting females with large, prominent eyes and faces with the body being smaller and not emphasized as much as the head. The artwork has a fairy tale ethereal air to it. The cards are really lovely and card backs are completely reversible for those of you who take reversed card meanings into account for your readings.
Card back from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)

Card back from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)

Overall, The Beautiful Creatures Tarot makes for a lovely addition to your Tarot collection. My banker husband who is not into Tarot at all kept telling me what a “cute” deck this is. The Beautiful Creatures Tarot does have a nice energy to it that makes the deck very enjoyable and is definitely is a must-have for all fans of Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s artwork.

The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot: Deck Review.

Kabbalistic Visions Tarot box cover featuring the Hanged Man card. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

Kabbalistic Visions Tarot box cover featuring the Hanged Man card. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot
Book: Marco Marini
Art: Luigi Scapini
$45.00 USD
http://schifferbooks.com

The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot sums it all up in a nutshell through its title. The interpretations offered in the book by Kabbalistic scholar Marco Marini are based completely on the Kabbalah. Marini is both a scholar and a teacher. His vast knowledge shines forth in the guidebook. I have no background in Kabbalah and admit that I understand very little of it. A great deal of the guidebook, therefore, went right over my head. I’m happy to report that after experimenting with the deck off and on for several decks (something I do for all my deck reviews so I get to know the deck well prior to reviewing it) I have come to discover that the cards work well with the traditional RWS interpretations as well. So for those of you who learned Tarot card meanings from the likes of Eden Gray, Rachel Pollack, and others, you can use this deck with the card interpretations you have learned over the years. Mr. Marini also includes a divinatory interpretation of each card so a reader need not focus solely upon the Kabbalistic aspect of the deck and the deck can easily be used by someone who knows nothing of Kabbalah, such as myself.

The Fool, Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

The Fool, Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

As for the other half of the title, “Visions,” the artwork of Luigi Scapini is just that – visionary. No other word describes it, except perhaps “trippy.” It’s very trippy. I haven’t used that word in decades, but it nicely describes the art. The images are not just otherworldly, but they look very shamanistic in nature. I immediately thought of Graham Hancock’s wonderful book, Supernatural, which is about altered states of consciousness attained through trance – many of which were induced via the use of hallucinogens, shamanism, and the wondrous visions shamans receive on their journeys to the otherworld.  There are illustrations in Hancock’s book drawn by actual shamans and the artwork of Scapini for The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot is very reminiscent of shamanic otherworld visions.

If you’re interested in simple renditions of the pips or an RSW clone you will find neither in The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot. What you will find in this deck is a visionary world of surreal images populated with characters and each cards’ Kabbalistic significance explained for those who wish to focus on that aspect of Tarot.

This is not your mother’s Tarot deck.

Scapini’s visions are surreal. The little white dog of the RWS Fool card has been replaced by a baby crocodile that chomps on the Fool’s left leg. The Magician appears in his traditional “as above, so below” pose,

The Magician, from Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

The Magician, from Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

but he points to a disembodied eye above a sun within a prism surrounded by four calla lilies. The Popess (aka High Priestess) is the famous Venus of Willendorf figure that dates to the Upper Paleolithic (28,000 – 25,000 BCE). She is depicted in black and spews milk from both nipples as she feeds her many blue and yellow babies to either side of her while two green primate-type creatures with erect phalluses face one another along the base of the image.

In a word, trippy, and that’s just the first three major arcana cards. The art is highly detailed and although the cards measure 3 ½” x 5 ½”, they each have a thick black border that measures approximately 5/8” on all four sides of the image. The image itself measures 2 3/8” x 4 3/8”. The paintings are created to look as though they have been painted upon ancient scrolls so the edges of each image is frayed with rips and tiny gaps and both ends are rolled under as though the image is on a scroll that has just been rolled open. Card titles appear on the base of each scroll and have been painted by the artist since the font is the same, but there are slight differences to show the titles were hand-created, which is a lovely touch that adds to the already unique personality of The Kabbalistic Vision Tarot. Each scroll is unique. The artist did not use a template. Painting the images to make them appear to have been painted on ancient scrolls is a very interesting idea that appeals to me, but I just wish the borders were more narrow so the artwork could be showcased at

The Popess, Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

The Popess, Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

slightly larger dimensions. The images have a lot of very interesting detail and if you really enjoy Tarot art as I do, I recommend you first view this deck with a magnifying glass so can see all the tiny nuisances of the imagery, some of which are really quite startling and thought provoking.

The packaging, as always from Schiffer, is strictly top-notch with a lovely hinged lid to the box that is also attached by white ribbon with a magnetic closure that allows the box to be stored standing on its end just like a book. There are two separate well-crafted recessed wells within the box; one for the guidebook and one for the cards. The deck’s guidebook is 256 pages and measures 5 5/8 x 7 5/8″. For each card a thorough discussion of the Kabbalistic imagery is included along with a simpler divinatory interpretation. The guidebook concludes with four spreads: The Kabbalistic Cross, The System of the Seven Cards, The Game of the Pyramid, and The System of the Twelve Cards. The book is paperback bound with nice, thick paper. Included is a nicely laminated poster that measures 14 X 20″ & is the definition of trippiness. Some details of the deck & the poster I do not consider suitable for children or even teens. My daughter took a look and freaked out. The cards have a thin yet sturdy laminate and are gilded in pewter. Word to the wise: do not shuffle these the first few times while wearing black pants unless you like glittery black pants. I thought it was a pretty cool effect myself.

If you are looking for a tarot deck that is unique and very different from the norm

Poster, from Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

Poster, from Kabbalistic Visions Tarot by Marco Marini & Luigi Scapini. (C) Marini, Scapini & Schiffer Books, 2014.

whose imagery can help to create an altered state if you meditate upon it, then wonderfully unique and trippy Kabbalistic Visions Tarot is definitely the deck for you.

Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Readings & Candle Work
Visionary Art
The Egyptian Lenormand now available for pre-order at Schiffer Books and Amazon.
The Turtle Lenormand now available for pre-order.
The blog for my forthcoming Aloha Spirit of Maui Oracle deck.

How to Choose a Tarot Deck.

If you do not currently own a Tarot deck, here’s my advice on how to purchase one. The main criteria is that the imagery of the deck appeals to you. You will be viewing that deck fairly often so you’re going to want to get a deck you find to be pleasing to your eye. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these days there are hundreds of decks to choose from, so where do you start?

If you’re relatively new to Tarot I would recommend that you begin with a deck for which all the pips are fully illustrated with scenes. The pips are the minor arcana – the four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords & Pentacles) and their cards, Ace – King. Some decks only represent the pips numerically. For instance, the 2 of Cups will be just that, a picture of 2 cups. The 6 of Pentacles will be simply a picture of six pentacles, and so on. When the pips are fully illustrated the cards are depicted scenically.

The 3 of Cups from "The Illuminated Starlight Tarot," by Carol Herzer.

The 3 of Cups from “The Illuminated Starlight Tarot,” by Carol Herzer.

A good example of this is the 3 of Cups, here from The Rider Waite Smith (known as the RWS) deck. This one has been painted by artist Carol Herzer.  Here we have three woman holding their cups aloft as they celebrate something. The 3 of Cups represents having a reason to celebrate. It can also indicate having a good time with friends.  You see that idea depicted here through the symbols used for the card. This is what I mean by a fully illustrated pip card. For someone who is new to Tarot it is crucial your first few decks have fully illustrated pips. This will make the flow and narrative of your readings much easier to follow and comprehend.

There are many decks that contain fully illustrated pips. As a Tarot instructor, over the years I have recommended several decks to my students that are in various styles, but they have one thing in common. All the pips are illustrated.

Firstly, I would recommend any version of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot. You can google the title and then click on “images” to view various styles of this deck.

My second suggestion is The Robin Wood Tarot.

The 3 of Wands, 4 of Swords & Knight of Cups from The Robin Wood Tarot.

The 3 of Wands, 4 of Swords & Knight of Cups from The Robin Wood Tarot.

Done in the RWS style, Robin Wood’s depiction of the pips, as well as the major arcana, is very straightforward and simple to understand. Many times while using this deck with clients they can glance down at the table and know immediately how the reading will turn out based upon the images on the cards, yet they know nothing of Tarot. I highly recommend The Robin Wood Tarot for beginners. Plus, it’s a lovely deck that has a pagan feel to it.

The 8 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles & 3 of Swords from The Hanson-Roberts Tarot.

The 8 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles & 3 of Swords from The Hanson-Roberts Tarot.

Another nice deck to start with, especially for those of you with smaller hands, is the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. These cards are playing-card size so they are easier to shuffle and larger readings will take up less room on your table. The artwork is done in colored pencil and is lovely and done in the RWS tradition.

If you like computer graphic art, I also recommend any Tarot deck by the artist

The 3 of Wands, 2 of Swords & 6 of Coins from The Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti.

The 3 of Wands, 2 of Swords & 6 of Coins from The Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti.

Ciro Marchetti. I own all his decks & must say he is among my all-time favorite Tarot artists. I especially like his Legacy of the Divine deck, as well as his Tarot of Dreams, which is my personal favorite.

Lisa Hunt is another Tarot artist I highly admire & find inspiring for my own artistic endeavors. She has a number of decks in print and you can search

The 2 of Cups, 4 of Pentacles & Page of Wands from The Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt.

The 2 of Cups, 4 of Pentacles & Page of Wands from The Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt.

her at Amazon to find a list there. My all-time favorite of hers is The Celtic Dragon Tarot, which I believe has just entered its 14th printing, if I’m not mistaken. This was the first non-RWS deck I purchased back in 1999 and I must say after using only the RWS for nearly 20 years, The Celtic Dragon Tarot introduced me to a whole new world of decks not strictly done in the RWS tradition. Lisa Hunt depicts each card with a dragon and lovely Celtic scenery all done in watercolor.

A good website to visit in order to see at least six images from every card deck is Aeclectic Tarot at http://www.aeclectic.net/. They also include deck reviews and here you can make an informed decision as to which deck to purchase.  Purchase links are also included.

My main tips for choosing a Tarot deck are:

  • The pips should be fully illustrated scenes if you’re a beginner.
  • The artwork should be pleasing to your eye.
  • There are many themes of decks available now so choose a theme that interests you.

It can be daunting to sift your way through the hundreds of Tarot decks available these days. Take your time and I’m sure you will end up with the deck that is perfect for you.

Wishing You Many Blessings,

Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Readings & Candle Work

Visionary Art

The Egyptian Lenormand now available for pre-order at Schiffer Books and Amazon.

The Turtle Lenormand now available for pre-order.

My forthcoming Aloha Spirit of Maui Oracle deck.