Review: Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal visions tarot 1Originally published in 2011 by US Games Systems, Inc., The Crystal Visions Tarot has remained among my favorite decks to this day. That is notable considering my collection is now up to around 300 decks. The hallmarks of The Crystal Visions Tarot are the bright colors, muted backgrounds that make the main images “pop,” a nice sturdy yet flexible laminate for easy shuffling, and a LWB (Little White Book) that is not so little. The artist, Jennifer Galasso, was inspired by the Stevie Nicks’ CD, Crystal Visions, when creating the deck. Crystals appear frequently in the card imagery in their natural form as well as in the form of crystal balls.

Crystal visions tarot 2The Crystal Visions Tarot numbers 78 cards: 23 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. The cards of the major arcana all have traditional titles with Strength as arcana # 8 and Justice as arcana # 11. There is an extra card entitled, The Unknown Card. The Unknown Card represents some aspect of the situation under question that is still unknown. When it comes to extra cards in a tarot deck it is up to the reader’s discretion as to whether they include the extra card(s) in their readings or not.

The suits of the minor arcana are: Cups (Element of Water), Swords (Element of Air), Pentacles (Element of Earth), and Wands (Element of Fire). The court cards are: Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

The artwork and text of the Crystal Visions Tarot are by Jennifer Galasso. The imagery follows the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition so this is a good deck for beginners. The color scheme and figural representations make  Crystal visions tarot 3 the Crystal Visions Tarot quite readable without a constant need to refer to the LWB, unless someone is absolutely brand new to tarot. It is one of those decks that works very well with a person’s own innate powers of intuition. If you are interested in a good divination tool that can help you to further strengthen your intuition, the Crystal Visions Tarot is such a tool. I highly recommend this deck for both new and well-seasoned readers.

The Crystal Visions Tarot has a very thin, yet sturdy laminate. I have used this deck extensively for six years now and it shows no signs of wear whatsoever. Cards are typical tarot-card size and the deck shuffles easily.

The deck comes housed in a tuck-box that appears to have the same light laminate as the actual cards. I will say after six years the box has a bit of wear, but that is to be completely expected as I have never housed the Crystal Visions Tarot in a bag or another box.

Crystal visions tarot 4The LWB is the same size as the cards, with a single staple as its binding. It contains 64 pages. Card interpretations relate the imagery depicted on the card to the card meaning. Reversed interpretations are included. The card back design is completely reversible for those who read with reversals.

For beginners, the Crystal Visions Tarot is a great deck because the artist followed a specific color scheme for the majors and each of the suit that make the cards much simpler to identify in a reading. The cards of the major arcana all feature a tan border along the base in which the title is presented. Cups cards have a pink basal border that contains their titles. Swords have a light blue border along their base, Pentacles green, and Wands pale orange or salmon. Dominant colors within the card images themselves are  purple, pink, white, blue, red, and green. Colors are bright, yet soft. Artistically speaking, the Crystal Visions Tarot is truly an outstanding deck and is among my personal favorites.

The Crystal Visions Tarot would appeal to anyone who is looking for a deck that is easy to read, especially if they are a beginning, but it’s also great for seasoned readers who may work with crystals and crystal balls who may desire a deck that features their magical tools. The Crystal Visions Tarot also has a lovely pagan look to it so those who follow a pagan path would also find this deck to be desirable.

Wishing you many blessings!

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

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Full DisclosureI purchased a copy of this deck via Amazon & did NOT receive a review copy from the publisher.

Deck Review: The Gaian Tarot

Gaian Tarot boxThe Gaian Tarot may end up being your go-to tarot deck if you are interested in goddess and earth-based spirituality or if photo realistic art impresses you. Using colored pencils, Joanna Powell Colbert brings women of color, amazing animals, and gorgeous natural settings to life in her beautiful Gaian Tarot. Originally self-published, The Gaian Tarot has been mass-published by Llewellyn (now out of print) and most recently by Schiffer Books.

I own Joanna’s self-published edition as well as the Schiffer edition. I was not fortunate enough to obtain a copy of the Llewellyn edition, but I was very happy with the self-published edition, which is printed with vibrant soy inks & despite its large size shuffles like a dream. The Schiffer edition varies from the self-published edition in that each card was given a blue border that surrounds the original white border. Card titles appear against the white border that originally served as the border of the self-published edition.

What I really appreciate about The Gaian Tarot, in addition to its themes, is how the art Gaian Tarot - Hermitspills across the border. You will see little elements that spill across the border. A plant, have of a fish’s body, leaves, part of the moon, fruit, vegetables, and so on. This gives the images a vibrancy and life that you don’t really see in most decks. It gives the impression of the images moving or of their energy spilling forth, especially when the cards are laid out in a spread. It’s a very interesting effect that I wish more artists would make use of, but perhaps that will become more commonplace in the future.

The Gaian Tarot comes housed in Schiffer’s very sturdy hinged box with magnetic closure lid that measures 6 x 9″. I love Schiffer’s boxes. The magnetic closure allows for the deck to be stored standing up on its end as if it were a book. It will not fall open on the shelf (at least none of mine have ever done that). It takes up very little room on a bookshelf or inside your tarot cabinet, as the case may be. As a person with around 300 decks I really appreciate this.

Gaian Tarot - FoolThe cards are large so those of you with smaller hands may have difficulty rifle-shuffling them. The cards measure 4 x 5 3/4″ and the deck is 1 1/4″ thick.  Due to their size and the laminate they are difficult to shuffle. I do not recommend rifle shuffling this deck. The card stock is sturdy and has a nice laminate making it easy to spread the cards out face down on a table and shuffle them by simply moving them around instead of rifle-shuffling them. The deck has a silver gilded edge that looks lovely with the blue border on the face of the cards and the blue in the background of the card backs. 184-

Colors are rich and vibrant. Although created with colored pencils, most of the images look painted. The art  of Joanna Powell Colbert is truly lovely. The Gaian Tarot is on one of those decks that is a feast for the eyes. I enjoy simply looking at the images, though the deck itself provides me with insightful and accurate readings on a regular basis. It is one of my go-to decks; and, with such a huge collection on-hand, that says a lot for The Gaian Tarot.

The accompanying 184-page paperback guidebook is very well written and beautifully Gaian Tarot guidebookdesigned by the design team at Schiffer Books. The Gaian Tarot guidebook2seconds on the major arcana, four suits, and spreads are color coded along the upper right-hand edge of the book so you can easily flip to any particular section. All card images are in full color, but the image size is only 1 7/8″ high; otherwise, this would be a great guidebook for studying the deck. Card meanings for the major arcana consist of a narrative description of the scene depicted on the card, the meaning of the card should it appear in a reading, the “shadow” interpretation (in other words, reversed), themes, symbols on the card and their meanings, an affirmation, but the most useful section of each card’s interpretation in my opinion are the journaling prompts.

If you journal with your tarot decks as I do, you will really love the guidebook for The Gaian Tarot. Each card of the major arcana is accompanied by ten journaling prompts, on average. The prompts are connected to the meaning of the card. The journaling prompts help the reader to gain a deeper perspective of the card and can really be used with any deck, not just The Gaian Tarot. Here are the journaling prompts for a card that frightens many people: Death ~

  • What is ending or needs to end in my life?
  • How might this ending be a blessing in disguise?
  • In what way may pruning back the dead wood or unnecessary in my life bring about a new vitality?
  • What are my beliefs about death?
  • Am I prepared for my own death?
  • Do I have a will and other necessary end-of-life documents in place?
  • What kind of end-of-life care do I want to have?
  • What do I want done with my remains after I die?
  • How do I honor that which has ended in my life?
  • How do I remember my Beloved Dead?
  • What kind of healing does Death offer me?
  • What kind of healing can I offer the earth through the example of Death? (The Gaian Tarot guidebook: 55-56)

As you can see, each of these prompts are not only thought-provoking, but Joanna Powell Colbert brings up some very important issues we all need to get taken care of before the inevitable occurs.

The cards of the minor arcana are grouped according to their number. Each number opens with a list of general themes that apply to that number and several short paragraphs that provide additional elaboration upon the themes of each number. As with the major arcana cards of The Gaian Tarot, the interpretation of each minor arcana card includes a narrative description of the image, the upright meaning, the reversed, meaning, and affirmation. Minor arcana cards do not include journaling prompts.

 

The Gaian Tarot guidebook concludes with a chapter on card spreads entitled, “Working with the Cards.” Joanna Powell Colbert showcases several of her tarot colleagues in this section of the book by including their contributions for a number of the spreads. Spread titles include: James Wells’ Helpful All-Purpose spread (4 cards), Joanna’s New Moon spread (5 cards), Joanna’s New Moon spread # 2 (9 cards), Beth Owl Daughter’s Predict Your Future By Creating It spread (6 cards), Joanna’s Seeking Clarity spread (10 cards), Joanna’s New Year spread (7 cards), Joanna’s “Elder of Fire/Whispers of the Ancestors spread (5 cards), Carolyn Cushing’s Soul Practices with The Gaian Tarot: Path, Practice, & Posture spread (3 cards) followed by her Aligning with the Earth spread (7 cards), and James Wells’ Gaian spread (4 cards). The guidebook ends with a half page of end notes and a 2-page bibliography.

The Gaian Tarot is softly feminine. The overall energy of the deck is quite calming and Gaian Tarot - Sunsoothing. I can approach this deck with a question about a matter I find upsetting, but as the reading unfolds I fall under the deck’s calming spell and suddenly the problem doesn’t seem to loom so large. I find this deck to have healing energy. So much can go into a card via the intention of the artist. I have not asked Joanna Powell Colbert if she intended this deck to impart calming, healing energy to those who use it, but I’m willing to bet that was part of her intention behind her creation of the images. I can certainly feel it every time I work with The Gaian Tarot.

Anyone who works closely with the Goddess and earth-centered spirituality, who loves animals, has respect for other life forms with whom we share this planet, will love The Gaian Tarot.

Wishing you many blessings!

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

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Full DisclosureI received a copy of this deck from the publisher to consider it for review. I only review those decks and books that I find personally useful and feel would be of interest to my followers.

The Pagan Ways Tarot: Deck Review

Pagan Ways TarotThe Pagan Ways Tarot, created by Anna Franklin, is obviously a pagan-themed Tarot deck. If it strikes you as being somewhat familiar you may own a copy of The Sacred Circle Tarot (Llewellyn Publications), which she also created in collaboration with Paul Mason. The deck comes housed in a sturdy box nestled into two sections separated by a cardboard insert. The 6 x 9” guidebook rests on top of the desk in a hinged box with magnetic lid closure. This is a very nice feature of Schiffer decks that keeps the overall box measuring 6 X 9” and the magnetic lid allows for the box to be stored in a bookshelf on its end. The lid will not fall open.

The cards are covered in a shiny glossy laminate. They shuffle easily, but may be a bit difficult to shuffle for those of us with smaller hands. The card image is inset within a black border with the card title for the major arcana cards located in the lower border and number in the upper board. The minor arcana numeric and court card designations are located within the top border while the card titles are located within the bottom border. Titles of the minor arcana cards in numerous cases correspond to the Thoth titles. Court cards are designated Princess, Knight, Queen and King. The Princess and Queen cards correspond to the pagan sabbats or stations of the Wheel of the Year. Knights represent the action taken by their suit’s particular element while Kings represent the element itself.

Images for the Pagan Ways Tarot are created via photographic collage and computer manipulation in a very realistic manner that gives one the impression that you are looking through a window at a very real living scene. Anna Franklin states in her introduction to the 190-page paperback guidebook that she depicts gods and goddesses on every card. She chose to depict them in everyday clothing rather than in the garb of their time period and culture in order to create a cohesive look for the deck. A card such as the 3 of Swords does not depict a god, but Anna Franklin includes a brief dialogue between The Fool and the deity represented by this card. In the case of the 3 of Swords no deity is depicted, but the focus is on the stormy background and the deity speaking to The Fool is the Egyptian god, Set, who is the god of chaos, storms, and the desert.

Anna Franklin depicts The Fool’s journey as occurring through the entire tarot deck. His journey is not strictly limited to the major arcana, which is the case for the majority of decks. As a result, The Fool is the main character of the Pagan Ways Tarot and he dialogues with the god or goddess depicted on every single card. The dialogue develops The Fool’s character as he learns the lesson of every card.

The Fool introduces the Pagan Ways Tarot, but at that point the organization of the guidebook departs from tradition. Instead of seeing The Magician as the next card we see the Ace of Swords. The Fool then travels through the cards of the Swords (the element of Air and Intent) suit, followed by Wands (the element of Fire and Will), Cups (the element of Water and Love), and the Pentacles (the element of Earth and Manifestation). Once the dialogue between The Fool and the gods and goddesses of the minor arcana concludes then we meet the archetypical cards of the major arcana.

The major arcana of the Pagan Ways Tarot  represents The Fool’s journey along the path of initiation. Card titles are a mix of traditional and pagan with such titles as The Lady and Lord for the Empress and Emperor, respectively. Additional changes include: The Elder for the Hierophant, Wyrd for the Wheel of Fortune, the Underworld for the Devil, Rebirth for Judgment, and Universe for the World. As with the minor arcana, The Fool engages in conversation with the character depicted on each card of the major arcana. The dialogue lends a vitality to the guidebook you do not often see and it makes for an enjoyable read.

The guidebook for the Pagan Ways Tarot is printed on high quality paper and what I like the most about it is that the cards are depicted in actual size and also in full color. This is not common among guidebooks, but Schiffer has done this with a few earlier decks. This feature makes the guidebook a wonderful study aid. You can take it with you to study easily enough and leave the actual cards at home.

The guidebook for the Pagan Ways Tarot concludes with three appendices. The first is a glossary of symbols depicted on the cards and a brief interpretation of each. This is very useful when a particular symbol catches your eye as you’re doing a reading. The second appendix is entitled “Using the Cards for Divination” and includes four spreads: the Zodiac Spread, a 7-card Planetary Spread, the 21-card Romany Spread, and the traditional 10-card Celtic Cross. Card positions are explained, but the guidebook does not contain any sample readings. The final appendix entitled “Using the Cards for Meditation and Spiritual Development” includes suggestions for meditating upon a single card, connecting with the Elements, and focusing on the Wheel of the Year.

The Pagan Ways Tarot is a well thought-out deck that will appeal to pagans and non-pagans alike. The imagery is vibrant, imaginative, and a pleasure for the eyes. I highly recommend it.

Blessings!

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

Tarot & Lenormand Readings, Spells, & Visionary Art

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Email: IsisRaAnpu@gmail.com

Full Disclosure: I received a copy to consider for review by the publisher. I only review decks that I find useful to myself & that I feel my followers will also enjoy.