Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Heal Yourself Reading Cards

January 14, 2018

Heal Yourself Reading Cards is a stunning, sensual deck by Inna Segal (creator of The Secret Language of Colour Cards), illustrated by Cris Ortega and Drazenka Kimpel, and published by Rockpool Publishing.

I am going to have trouble writing this review, because I am going to run out of synonyms for "gorgeous". So you'll have to bear with my inevitable repetition.

The Cards
The cards and book are housed in a nice sturdy box which closes magnetically. There is a cardboard insert which holds the cards, but I always remove these as they make it too time consuming to extract the cards. The cards measure 3 3/4" x just over 5 1/2". The cards are large, so I am happy to say that they are flexible enough to riffle shuffle vertically. They have a very glossy finish which attract fingerprints like crazy, but you can only see them under certain light.

The backs feature a non-reversible design (see top photo), but the cards aren't meant to be used with reversals. The cards have a thin golden border. The numbers and titles are at the bottom of the cards, consisting of a keyword or key phrase.

My favorite card in the deck is Pay Attention to Signs (photo above). It is one of my all-time favorite cards of any deck, tarot or oracle. It's the card that made me have to have this deck! I love everything about it.

The Sexuality card is absolutely gorgeous, that woman is so stunning it's kinda hard to look away from her. This coming from a straight woman. :) And I really love the subtlety in the Entrapment card, with the partial view of a plague doctor wearing a beak mask in the corner of the card. It's really creepy and beautiful at the same time, my favorite combination. The Family and Tribe is a gorgeous and powerful card. There really are too many beautiful cards to go through each and every one.

There is a bit of diversity in the deck, but not much. The deck is primarily comprised of beautiful young white women with sexy bods. There is quite a bit of variety in the card imagery, if not in the characters. You will find magic, steampunk, fantasy, 19th century attire, animals, dark romanticism, and walking skeletons among the images.

I love the graveyard/skeleton cards. And there are a few cards that seem to be telling different parts of the same story, which I thought was really neat. Rejection, Love, and Home all seem like they could be the same woman, dealing with her feelings about her beau. In each of these cards, there is a framed painting in the background of a man who I assume is the one she seems to be enamored with. I love the old fashioned romantic scenes and dresses in so many of the cards.

There are three cards that I dislike (Dreams, Self-Love and Sexual Arts), as they don't feel like a fit with the rest of the cards. The art style and coloring make them feel like they belong in a different deck, like they somehow got lost and ended up in this deck by mistake. They would seem more at home in a deck with angels and fairies. It wasn't until I was looking for the artist to credit in this review that I realized the deck had two illustrators. Most of the cards are done by Cris Ortega, with only five of the cards illustrated by Drazenka Kimpel (three of the five being the above mentioned cards). I am curious why they had a second illustrator for just a few cards.

The only other card I don't love is titled Selling Out. While the deck as a whole is very sensual and sexy, this card feels like gratuitous objectification in comparison.

But other than those select few, I am madly in love with the illustrations for the rest of the cards. There is a beautiful darkness to the deck that I am very attracted to. When I think "beautiful decks" this one is certainly among the top of the list. It would be a great deck to bring out at Halloween time, without being Halloween themed.

How it Reads
On my first draw from the deck, I pulled Patience. Patience is a virtue that I seriously lack. I want it all done, and now! So this could have been a timely message for me any day of my life. But particularly on that day, when I had so many different balls in the air at once, I needed to remember to pause, breathe, and accept each moment as it came. This card was a perfect reminder for me that day.

The next day was Halloween, and I drew Inner Child! How perfect! I don't think there could have been a better day to have drawn that card, except maybe Christmas!

I drew Victim Consciousness (love the title of that on a card!) which reminded me to remove my victim mask and empower myself by taking responsibility for whatever seemed unfair at the moment, and arm myself with law of attraction tools to rise myself up.

I drew Self-Love one day, and it reminded me to lay on my acupressure mat, something I hadn't treated myself to in awhile.

The next day I drew Love, and I had happened to listen to a meditation that day about the heart chakra, where I received an internal message from Mother Mary: "You are love, you are loved - open yourself to divine love". So that synchronicity was lovely. The Love message was strong that day.

The most poignant draw was the day I drew Help From Above, and found out that my hospice client had passed away that day.

One week, I had three repeating cards. Here's how that went:

Monday/Thursday: Have Faith
Tuesday/Saturday: Courage
Wednesday/Friday: Pay Attention to Signs

Have Faith: This card told me to focus on the why, not the how, and have faith that everything will work out. Maintain positive expectation, even when you can't see how this thing could possibly work out. Let yourself be surprised and amazed at how it manifests. This wasn't about any one thing in particular, but just a general message for believing in the good in life. Coming up twice that week strengthened the message for me.

Courage: When this came up first on Tuesday, it was encouragement for me to do something I feared. I had a review at work that day to request a raise. I had to co-review myself over a lengthy 3-page questionnaire with over 50 questions rating my work performance on a scale. It is incredibly difficult for me to toot my own horn, so it was a mild form of torture. I brought crystals with me to help easy my anxiety and bring me luck. I did get the raise, and my boss was very heavy with praise for me. So all went well, but it really called up the need for courage on my end, as I am not comfortable people-ing. When the card came up again later in the week, it was a reminder that I am capable of more than I think I am, if only I can face my fears.

Pay Attention to Signs: This is my favorite card in the whole deck, so I was so happy it came up for me not once, but twice that week! And the synchronicity was out of control that week! For one thing, I had three cards from this deck repeat in one week. And to add to the magic, that same week I had five synchronicities with Hermit-type lanterns showing up in different cards, from different decks, including this card! There was literally a sign in the Pay Attention to Signs card! There were too many signs to even keep track of that week. However, as it often happens with me, I get so many synchronicities, but they don't lead anywhere. They're just magical for their own sake really. I made a note to pay closer attention to see if there were actual signs leading me down one path or another.

My most recent draw with this deck was the Temptation card. And I couldn't get that card out of my head for the next couple days. I thought about it when I was stuffing more and more chocolate down my gullet. I thought about the card when I procrastinated doing things that needed doing. I thought about the card while giving into temptation every time. I have no willpower. I thought about this card as I was doing the very thing the card warned me against, and I would just carry right on doing it. Maybe awareness is a first step. But it sure would be more helpful if I was tempted by broccoli and productivity.

So the cards in this deck always had something relevant to say. And they would all be helpful if I was strong/smart enough to heed the messages. Some are easier than others. (Which is insight in itself... spend some time with this deck and pay attention to the advice that seems harder to follow than others. Therein lies a weakness you might want to work on, or at least be aware of.)

The Book
The 88-page book has a thick glossy cover, with nice glossy pages. There is a Table of Contents which lists the cards by card number. I wish the cards had been numbered in alphabetical order for easier reference. (Sometimes I want to look up a card without having the card in hand, and don't know the number.) Next is a brief introduction which includes the usual one-card reading spread, as well as a 3-card Past-Present-Future spread with optional "Overall Message" 4th card. There are a few other suggestions for card selection (pendulum, jumpers, letting the energy of your fingers tingle over a card). Then there is a 6-card reading for deciding between two options.

Each card is given a two-page spread. On the left page is a full-size, full-color image of the card (the images are the same size as the cards). On the right page, the meanings are given. The passage begins with the card title, with a quick and obvious message summary in italics directly below. (Examples: INNER CHILD: Your inner child is urging you to lighten up a little, get out of your comfort zone and have fun! PATIENCE: You must develop patience in all areas of your life.)

Half of the page is dedicated to the card's meaning. This section gives you an idea of how the card pertains to your life, and asks you questions for self-reflection. The last section on the page is an Action prompt, in a little box. These are practical suggestions you can take action on to absorb the card's message into your actual life, to promote concrete change.

Here is the Action prompt for the SAY WHAT YOU MEAN card:

Rub your hands together for about 30-40 secs then imagine that you are holding a blue ball of energy in your hands.  Reflect on the qualities of confidence, honesty and clarity. Then place your hands just above your throat and breathe in the blue light. Imagine this light moving into your throat and helping you to access the right words that you need to say.

Picture the person who you need to communicate with standing in front of you. Share what you feel you need to say to this person, realizing that their Higher Self is listening.

When you have completed this action, write down what you feel you need to say to them. Then share your feelings in person if appropriate.

I appreciate having an action prompt for each card. I haven't personally utilized any of them yet, but they are nice to have.

The book ends with an About the Author page and photograph, Acknowledgments, a page each on the two illustrators, two lined pages for note, and lastly an advert for a book by the author.

Final Thoughts
This is a visually stunning deck, no doubt one of my prettiest decks. It has a lot of dark romanticism in it, which I absolutely love. A few of the cards seem out of place, but as a whole, the deck is gorgeous and seamless despite the varying themes (from steampunk to skeletons). I don't particularly feel this is any more of a healing deck than any other, despite the title, but maybe that's where the action prompts come into play. In any case, it is a gorgeous oracle deck that has some good insights and encourages self-reflection and self-empowerment, which is always a good thing.

Deck: Heal Yourself Reading Cards (by Inna Segal, illustrated by Cris Ortega and Drazenka Kimpel, and published by Rockpool Publishing).

Book Reviews

Book Review: Burning Woman

January 07, 2018

Burning Woman is a powerful feminist manifesto, rooted in history but written for the modern woman, by Lucy H. Pearce, published by Womancraft Publishing.

Before I even opened the book, I could feel from the cover art vibe (by Robin Lea Quinlivan) that this was going to be a book that moved me. That was an understatement. This is not a book for the feint of heart. It will challenge you in so many ways. It will suggest that you face utter darkness (literally), and then get naked with your sisterhood around a fire. It will remind you of the shame you carry, as well as the light you project. It has the power to light you up and then make you uncomfortable, and back again. It is both empowering and horrific. It isn't always easy reading. It contains atrocities against women, both historical and ongoing. Things I was horrified to learn were still happening in this day and age.

There are many quotes from people and other books, along with poetry sprinkled throughout the book. The narrative itself often reads extremely poetically. I found it difficult at times to keep my attention focused, as I like to get straight to the point of things, so I sometimes lose my way when things get abstract and take awhile to get to a single point (which a personal issue of mine, I am wildly impatient, not at all a criticism of the author, who writes very beautifully). You can tell that the author wrote this book straight from her raw, open heart. I resonated so strongly with some parts of the book where she bared her soul and fears, it was like she took the feelings and insecurities straight from my own soul and put them down on paper. That connection was so powerful and comforting.

Another point where I felt the author could see into my soul was her experience of social anxiety, trying to be both Burning Woman and Good Girl, not feeling "good enough" to be a Good Girl, and carrying that burden of wanting to be both good and strong, both able to stand up for yourself and nice at the same time. " a Good Girl I hate conflict. As a Good Girl I want everyone to like me. But as a Burning Woman I can't stand conformity." YES. There was so much of me nodding my head and saying "Yes!" while reading this book.

This book is exceptional, from beginning to end, even in the minor details. Normally I skip right by the Table of Contents in a book. But something drew me to read the chapter headings in the Contents before beginning. I have never been more excited to read a book based on the chapter titles! I am writing them here for you to see what I mean:

1. Burning Woman
2. A History of Burning Woman
3. The Masculine Dark
4. The Threshold
5. The Feminine Dark
6. Clearing Space
7. The Calling
8. Adventures in Energy Alchemy
9. Embodied Initiations to Power
10. Burning Woman Ceremony
11. Stories of Burning
12. Dancing in the Flames

Doesn't that just light a spark in you already? Without even having read a word of it?

There are numerous exercises and question sections throughout the book that help you absorb the information you are reading, making it personal, making it your own.

My favorite takeaway from this book was the practice of  "Going Dark", which is more than just unplugging or going off the grid for a bit. It can be literally placing yourself in complete darkness, and just BEING in the dark. Living through the fear and discomfort, moment by moment. In a world of living so automatically, Going Dark is a feeling of really, truly, being alive in the present moment. It prompted me to take a night walk in the pitch darkness, with no lights around. It was very, very scary, but also more empowering than I can describe. Another time, I placed myself in a pitch dark room where I couldn't see an inch in front of my face. I stood there, through the discomfort, through the moments of wanting to see, to read something, to turn on a light, to know what was in front of me. The strong, primal urge to see something, to know what I couldn't know in the dark. It will be a practice that I return to and value highly. I feel that everyone will have their own favorite takeaway from this book. I know I will never dance nude around a bonfire with other women, but the darkness ritual is all mine now, and I am grateful.

I experienced a lot of synchronicities as I was reading this book. Synchronicities with dragons, fire, burning. I even burned my finger really badly when reading it. Also, I would find that I would hear/see/experience something which directly correlated with a passage I had just read in Burning Woman. You know you're meant to be doing something (in this case, reading this book) when the Universe is giving you powerful signs about it at the same time.

This book will wake you up. It will stir things inside you. It will make you feel so many things along the emotional scale, from ecstatic to terrified and everywhere in between. It is a call to step into your power, the feminine power that has been held back for so long. It is getting easier to do so, but we have a long way to go until the masculine-feminine power is balanced. This book will encourage you to stop holding back. To stop shrinking from being the strong, powerful, divine feminine being you were designed to be. It verges on making you feel ridiculous for not living your life with more power.

I haven't even touched the surface of this book in this review. There is so much more to it, so much more you will get out of it. And you'd have to be dead not to get something out of it. I don't believe it's a book you read only once. It is one I know I will return to again, and get more out of the next time around.

If you need encouragement to embrace more of your feminine power, Lucy H. Pearce is your guide, your counselor, your shoulder, your cheerleader. If you want reassurance that you are meant to be more than you are currently allowing yourself to experience, Burning Woman is your book.

Book: Burning Woman, by Lucy H. Pearce, published by Womancraft Publishing

Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: The Illuminati Tarot: Keys of Secret Societies

January 07, 2018

The Illuminati Tarot: Keys of Secret Societies is a fascinating deck from Schiffer Publishing, by Casey Duhamel and illustrated by Bob Greyvenstein (not to be confused with the similarly titled Tarot Illuminati). This is probably going to be my most image-heavy review to date, because there is just so much I want to share, so many different things to see in this deck.

The deck and book come housed in a nice sturdy box with a magnetic closure. The cards measure 3" x 4 3/4". They are highly glossy, making them very difficult to photograph, so there is quite a bit of glare in my photos (I attempted both indoor and outdoor photography). The backs are reversible, featuring a double-ended Fleur-de-lis design (shown in the first photo). The card stock is very thick, and not the easiest to shuffle, but doable.

While I'm not usually a fan of borders, I don't mind these, as they have an antiquated look that I like. The images also have antiquated detailing. The Fool (above) even has ink smudges that look like an ink bottle was placed on the image. These little details are really attractive to me.

The Cards
This is a themed deck which includes five secret societies. The Majors and Minors (Pips) are each represented by a different society:

Majors: The Priory of Scion
Wands: The Golden Dawn
Cups: The Rosicrucians
Swords: The Freemasons
Coins: The Martinists

I know nothing about secret societies, so I did not come at this deck with any preconceived notions.

This is a pip deck. The Minors are illustrated solely with symbols. I found this unfortunate for two reasons. First and foremost, the Majors and Courts are so clever and gorgeous, that a fully illustrated deck would have been heaven, and would have made this deck infinitely more readable. The second reason for my disappointment in the pips is that I find them either boring/repetitive (Wands), or completely impossible to decipher (Coins). The Coins are filled with astrology and symbology and Hebrew lettering, none of which is explained or even mentioned in the book, making them completely unreadable for me.

The Majors and Courts and Aces are beautifully done. I just found myself oohing and aahing over so many of the cards. It's such an eclectic mix of imagery, I don't know where to begin!

I am familiar with many of the characters in the cards, but there are some I had never heard of. Some familiar faces: Leonardo da Vinci is the Magician. Jesus is the central figure in the Lovers card. Sir Isaac Newton is the Chariot. Nostradamus is the Wheel of Fortune. Joan of Arc is Strength.

The Courts are renamed:

Page: Novice
Knight: Initiate
Queen: Adept
King: Mage

The Courts are really interesting, being represented by humans of history, mythological creatures, gods and goddesses, statues and constellations. Among them is a mermaid, a quinotaur, the goddess Isis, the god Osiris, and the Statue of Liberty, just to give a little example of the variety. The Mage of Coins is one of my favorite cards in the deck, featuring a constellation with a beautifully colored background, but the book does not tell you what constellation it is, or the meaning behind the symbology.

Further down in the review, I have included images of all the Court Cards. This is the first time I have done this in a review, but the cards are so varied I couldn't pick and choose!

The Aces are absolutely gorgeous. Each of the Aces feature what appears to be a castle window, with the suit symbol portrayed in stained glass. Outside the windows are different cities in different seasons. I can't think of a set of Aces from another deck that I love more than the way these were done.

I found the Swords pips to be the most interesting of the four suits, with slightly more in the imagery than just different placement of the suit symbols.

How it Reads
One day I drew the Chariot on a day when all I did was drive around on errands all day. I ended up going to nine different stores.

Another day I drew the 8 of Cups + Empress + Wheel of Fortune. We were celebrating Mother's Day a day early, because Mother's Day happened to fall on my daughter's birthday that year. As I was looking at the cards I had just drawn, my kids told me they were going to give me a massage. As they were massing my back, they played my favorite song by Josh Groban "Alejate". During the song, it hit me. Alejate roughly translates to "walk away", which is the 8 of Cups! The Empress was me, a mother on Mother's Day. And the Wheel of Fortune is an unexpected event, describing this unexpected spa treatment from my kiddos! How funny that the entire scene played out just as I was contemplating the cards.

That same day, I asked what I could do to make my daughter's birthday (the next day) a good one. She wanted no gifts this year, no special food, no cake (no birthday cake!!), no decorations, nothing (minimalism in full effect). I drew Tower + Hermit + Queen of Cups.  Our regular birthday traditions were shot to hell (Tower) as my daughter just wanted a quiet, normal day following her inner guidance of not being extravagant (Hermit). The Queen of Cups was telling me that I needed to be supportive and understanding, respecting her wishes and choices, despite my sadness that I couldn't "properly" celebrate my daughter like I wanted to.

The next day, I drew the Two of Cups and Nine of Cups. It was officially Mother's Day, so the Two of Cups was apt, as I was with my kids, who I love most in the world. And the Nine of Cups was my daughter getting the birthday she wished for.

I was able to read with the deck quite well, but when a pip card came up, I read it as I would a RWS card. The Eight of Cups, for example, I read as "walking away" even though nothing in the imagery or symbolism indicated that meaning. I don't think I drew a Coins card during my time with the deck.

The Book
The 176-page book has a thick, glossy cover. There is a Table of Contents which lists all the sections of the book, as well as a page number given for each of the cards.

Chapter One goes into tarot history. Chapter Two shares links between tarot and secret societies.

Chapter Three goes into detail on the different parts of the deck (pip associations with playing cards, elements, seasons, etc, even assigning each of the suits with the Neoplatonic Four Humors, which I had never seen before.). The Courts are also assigned elements and Tetragrammaton designations. This section also goes into the history of the Major Arcana.

Chapter Four is titled "The Priority of Scion" and it precedes the section on the Major Arcana which represents this society. Each suit is preceded by a brief introduction to the society it represents.

The Majors each feature a small color image of the card, followed by a relevant quote. This is followed by background information on the character or history of the card. Each card is given attributes such as an Archangel, Cabala, Element, Hebrew name, and sometimes astrology assignment. This is followed by the tarot card's history. And lastly, a list of keywords is given.

The Courts are treated similarly to the Majors, but the attributes given are Nature, Element, Tetragrammaton, and Card Personage.

The pips are given only keywords. There is absolutely no information on the card images or symbolism at all. Again, with the way the Coins were done, I cannot understand this decision.

The book ends with a Conclusion page and a bibliography.

I am no more clear on the subject of secret societies than I was when I first got this set. While the book information goes into great detail of the "who" and "when" and "where", it does not address much of the "what". If you are looking to learn more about secret societies and what they are all about, this wouldn't be your best place to start. The deck and book (cryptic pips, mythological court cards, etc.) left me with more questions than answers.

Final Thoughts
I am torn here. The Majors, Courts and Aces are magnificent. Some of the pips are okay, the Swords being the most interesting. But overall, the pips (mostly the Coins suit) make this deck unreadable to me. I considered making this a Majors only deck, but I would not want to leave out the Courts or Aces. Can you have a Majors-Courts-Aces only deck? Bit strange. So I don't know. I love half of this deck so very much. If you can make heads or tails of the Coins, then I'd highly recommend this deck. It is gorgeous and intriguing and so very interesting.

Deck: The Illuminati Tarot: Keys of Secret Societies, by Casey Duhamel, illustrated by Bob Greyvenstein, published by Schiffer.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Crystal Keepers Oracle

December 08, 2017

Crystal Keepers Oracle is a magnificent deck featuring crystal guardians, crystals and animal energy. The deck was created by Adam Barralet and published by Animal Dreaming Publishing.

The Cards
The cards are large, measuring approximately 3 3/4" x 5 1/2" and have a glossy finish. The cards are very flexible and have a great deal of bend to them when riffle shuffling in the normal horizontal manner. But with cards this large, I find I need to shuffle them vertically, and they are not quite flexible enough the other way to do this smoothly. So I shuffle them at the corners, and it works out.

The backs are not reversible, but the deck is not designed to be used with reversals. The design is a crest shield (see photo at the top of the review). The inner borders (two thin white lines) are very unobtrusive, which I appreciate, although I think it would have looked nicer borderless. The titles are at the top of the card and feature the name of the crystal each guardian represents.

The cards and book are housed in a really nice, sturdy box with a lift-off lid. The lid has half-moon cut outs on two sides for easy lifting.

The idea behind this deck is so creative and innovative. I love the thought of crystal guardian/keepers. And the way the author/artist has portrayed them is genius and beautiful. And as if that wasn't enough, the extra work he put in to include so many different spirit allies for each Keeper goes above and beyond. Adam Barralet has really put so much into this deck, and the energy shines through so beautifully.

There are so many images in this deck that just blew me away. My favorites are the ones where the guardian is one with the animal spirit, like the three in the above photo. The Black Onyx spider woman is so gorgeous! The Pietersite Man/Scorpio is so cool. And at first glance I thought the Serpentine man was part of the snake, but it appears he is bursting out of the snake's body, which is a bit gruesome and less animal-friendly, but it is still a powerful image. Other non-human characters in the deck include mer-people, a Kitsune, a centaur, an antlered man and boy, and a flying angel. There is also a strange woman-bat hybrid in a cocoon which I don't really understand, but it's a cool image.

There are more female guardians than men in the deck, but there are 16 cards featuring male characters, with an additional four that feature both men and women. So there is a fair amount of masculine energy in the deck, which I appreciate. Usually in oracle decks of this type, it is overwhelmingly, if not entirely, female, with perhaps one or two male exceptions. I like that this deck feels much more balanced in that way.

The deck is mostly young adults, but there are children and elderly representations, as well as different races. So the deck is diverse in many different ways.

I love that the guardians match the crystals so well. For example, it is well known that the legend of bloodstone involves Jesus, and Jesus is featured on the Bloodstone card. There are mer-people in the Aquamarine card. Serpentine has a snake, and so on. The creator did a wonderful job of matching guardians, settings and animals with the spirit of each stone.

The energy of the imagery feels very in tune with nature. The good vibes are very strong in the cards. There are cards that feel sweet and gentle, and some that feel strong and powerful, but underlying every single one of them is a positive energy that shines through.

The colors in the deck are deep and vibrant. I have just under half of the crystals represented in these cards, and now I want them all! I think it would be really cool to be able to have all of the crystals, and to work with them along with the deck. There are some crystals featured that I have never even heard of.

How it Reads
My first draw with this deck was Iolite. Since I don't have this crystal, I utilized one of the spirit allies of the Iolite Keeper (as mentioned in the book), myrrh. I did have myrrh essential oil, so I used it before going to bed.

The next day I did have the crystal I drew (Selenite), so I put a piece under my pillow when I went to bed.

A couple days later, I drew the Larimar card, which is about allowing and healing. It was very timely, as I had to slow down due to an injury. The card guided me to go with the flow. When I hurt my back the day before, instead of getting all pissed off at life, I immediately realized it for what it was (which was a proud moment of spiritual growth). I had overworked myself and it was my body's way of getting me to take it easy. The booklet said to take a break from forcing and controlling situations and outcomes. It even mentioned the stone being a powerful healing tool if required. So the card nailed that one!

The next day I drew Malachite. The image on this card is of a woman, surrounded by butterflies, kicking the door right off the frame of a house! She is not messing around. The message of this card is letting go of the past and exploring your greater potential, like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Interestingly, two days prior, I had been weeding the backyard among bees and butterflies and my daughter found a cute green caterpillar. She spent some time watching it, making sure it was alive and that we wouldn't accidentally step on it. Years ago I had a beautiful piece of malachite that fell and broke. I was sad about it, but I let it go instead of keeping the pieces. So it was interesting to me that the key phrase for this card is Letting Go. my own piece of malachite had me do just that! And apparently this was a message I needed to hear at the time.

Next was Nuummite, which I had never heard of, but of course now I want. It represents secrets hidden deep in the earth, answers found in the darkness. Very Scorpionic, so obviously I love it. It echoes a beautiful chapter I had recently read in the book Burning Woman about the need to regularly visit darkness. I meant to go for a darkness walk the night I drew this card, to honor the message, but I forgot. I remembered just before bed, so I took a few moments in a blacked out room, my eyes wide and seeing nothing. I stood for awhile in discomfort, ignoring my impulses to see, to read, to do something. It was only for a few minutes, but it was very interesting. The card's less literal meaning is about feeling restricted, fearful and powerless, and facing those dark things and finding the courage to break free of them instead of succumbing to them. That is something I really needed to hear that week, as I was deep in fear about something (which ended up working out just fine).

The last card of the week was Sugilite, which is about universal love, love for all humankind, which is not one of my specialties, to be honest as I am a bit of a misanthrope. I am also a bit of a paradox because although I mostly despise humankind because there are so many rotten apples (and ignorant/boring/annoying ones), and I generally don't like spending time with people, I can fiercely love and support total strangers. Anyway, this card says that we are totally supported by the universe, and universal love and connection will help us see what we may be missing. Everyone and everything is connected. I received the message to remember that self-love and self-acceptance must be included in this universal love fest! The full moon is associated with this card, and as synchronicity would have it, the full moon was two days away!

A couple months later, I was a bit stressed out, needing to get so much done before starting 3 days of 13-hour overnight shifts with very little sleep. I pulled a card from this deck asking what could help with my stress. I drew Stichtite. I don't have any stichtite crystals, but the energy of the card is just what I needed to hear. It's about being of value to others, and my job is hospice care. The key phrase in the book says, "There are people that need the blessing of your gifts." I needed to keep in mind the good I was doing, instead of focusing on the lack of sleep I was facing. The passage says to stay calm and positive, focusing on what is important and the greater good. It is also about spending time with people who are different from you, giving you a broader perspective of the world. The image on the card also reminded me of my daughter (an antlered man and boy drawing a bow and arrow together), as I had plans to take her out target shooting the following week with her bow and arrow (paper target, not animals).

So the cards either gave me either exactly what I needed to hear, or it gave me something to do or think about, which I didn't even know I needed. Either way, there was never a time when I got nothing out of the reading.

The Book
The 112-page book is larger than the cards, fitting in the box perfectly. It has a nice thick, glossy cover and features the title and author's name on the binding.

The book begins with some basic information (a paragraph each for the Introduction, Welcome, Who Are The Crystal Keepers?, and Working With the Crystal Keepers). Then there is a two-page Crystal Keeper Meditation, followed by a paragraph titled Who Are the Spirit Allies of the Keepers? To answer that question in a nutshell, the allies include animals, plants, the four magical elements and astrological bodies.

There is a Table of Contents listing the card titles (crystals) in alphabetical order. Next, the book goes a little into reading with the cards, including six spreads:

Single Card (1 card)
Two Paths (2+ cards)
Past, Present and Future (3 cards)
The Balanced Circle (4 cards)
The Twelve Houses (12 cards)
Thirteen Virtues of World Healing (13 cards)

There is a little chart on Chakra correspondences to crystal colors and areas of the body. Following the spreads is a tip on what to do after your reading, and tips on cleansing and caring for your cards.

Each card is given a two-page spread. On the upper left hand side of the left page is a small black-and-white image of the card. The title/crystal is listed at the top of the page followed by a keyword or phrase. Beneath this, in italics, is a paragraph which reads like a message directly spoken from the crystal guardian to you.

There is an "About" paragraph for each card. For example, "About Celestite" which gives you information on the crystal itself (where it's from, how it grows, what metaphysical properties it has, etc.). After this is "Your Message From...", e.g., Your "Message from Celestite". This is a couple paragraphs on the card's meaning.

On the right-hand pages are the Spirit Allies. The Spirit Allies of the Celestite Keeper, for example, include Swan, Cherry, Air, Water, Venus and Pleiades. The Spirit Allies of Black Tourmaline are Chimpanzee, Vanilla, Ravensara, Earth element, and Pluto. Each spirit ally is given from a few sentences up to a paragraph of information on how to utilize the energy of the ally in your practical life.

The book is not only a helpful source for learning more about the crystals included, but with the inclusion of the spirit allies, it is also incredibly useful and practical. It takes the deck from merely a psychological tool and transforms the card messages into real tangible action you can take. It is empowering, extremely interesting and fun!

The book closes with a recommended reading list, and a page about the author.

Final Thoughts
I love this deck so much! It is such a unique creation. The artwork is beautiful and original. The energy is positive and empowering. The book is fantastic - enjoyable, informative, helpful and practical. I highly, highly recommend this deck. In fact, I would be thrilled if there was a sequel!

Deck: Crystal Keepers Oracle, by Adam Barralet, published by Animal Dreaming Publishing.

Tarot Spreads

Tarot Spread: Naughty or Nice? (The Santa Stocking Spread)

December 02, 2017

I created this spread on Christmas Eve, 2007. It was originally published on my previous blog (Tarot Dame), and later published in the 2009 Tarot Lovers' Calendar. Here is the original post:

Okay, since it's Christmas Eve, I thought I'd make up a fun little spread, as I didn't see any Santa-related ones out there.

It's meant to be shaped like a stocking. The "present" is sticking out on top, while the "lump of coal" sinks to the bottom of the stocking.

(I personally face my stockings the other way, but a quick Google search showed the majority facing right... so to appeal to the masses, I changed the layout for this post.)


1. Naughty: How have I been naughty?
2. Nice: How have I been nice?
3. Lump of Coal: What can I expect as payback for being naughty?
4. Present: What gift will I receive for being nice?

Cards 1 and 3 (Naughty/Lump of Coal) I pulled from the bottom of the deck.
Cards 2 and 4 (Nice/Present) I pulled from the top.

My reading with this layout was pretty funny and accurate.

© This is my original spread creation. If you use it on your blog/website/insta/etc., please credit me and link back to this spread page on my blog. Thank you!

This spread was originally published on my previous blog (Tarot Dame) on 12/24/07.

Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Epic Tarot

December 02, 2017

Epic Tarot is a beautiful fantasy deck by Riccardo Minetti and Paolo Martinello, published by Lo Scarabeo, and distributed in the US by Llewellyn.

The Cards
The cards are the standard Lo Scarabeo cardstock (my favorite tarot card stock) and size (2 5/8" x 4 3/4"). The backs have a reversible design (see image at the top of this review). There are five different borders, with the Majors and each of the suits having a different inner border. I'm not a huge fan of the ornate nature of the borders, nor that they are varied. The deep blue outer borders are the same throughout the deck.

There are no titles on any of the cards in the deck. The Majors are numbered twice for some reason, with a Roman numeral at both the top and bottom of the card. The Minors have a regular number at the top, and the suit symbol at the bottom. The Courts have the court symbol on top, and suit symbol on bottom.

The suits are Books (Wands), Chalices (Cups), Swords and Spheres (Pentacles).

This deck has a unique take on the Courts. The Knaves/Pages are Unicorns. The Knights are Griffins. The Queens are Phoenixes and the Kings are Dragons. I admire the idea behind this creativity, but it is difficult for me to tell the difference between the Griffins, Phoenixes and Dragons at first glance. The Court symbols at the top of the card are not much help, especially between the Griffins and Dragons. I would have loved to have been able to differentiate between them more easily. I wish they were creatures as different as the Unicorn to tell apart. In addition, within the creature groups themselves, there is nothing that feels different about them. So all the Knights/Griffins look the same, all the Dragons look the same. There is nothing that makes one of the Dragons look or feel more like a King of Cups as opposed to a King of Swords, other than the suit symbol appearing in some of the cards (but not all!).

Yet another thing that does not help is that the colors of the court symbols (on the tops of the cards) match along suits, not station. (The Swords Court symbols are maroon, the Pentacles Court symbols are yellow. So the symbols for the Unicorn, Griffin, Phoenix and Dragon of Swords are all maroon. Which means there are four different colored dragons, four different colored griffins. As they are already hard for me to differentiate, it would have been easier if all the Dragon symbols were one color, etc.

There is something I did find interesting about what the creators did with the Court Cards, which I will address below in the LWB section. But as far as the execution of the Courts as readable and/or distinguishable from each other, these were a huge fail for me.

As for the rest of the deck, the artwork is gorgeous and there is a fluid balance of feminine and masculine energy, which I find very refreshing.

Even though the Fool doesn't have a very naive vibe to me, the artwork is just stunning and mesmerizing. There is quite a bit of romantic/fantasy surrealism in the images, which really calls to me. I don't even understand the story behind the Wheel of Fortune, but it captivates me and draws me in. There are a lot of cards like that in this deck.

The Hanged Man is a woman, with a snake wrapped around her. It is one of the most (if not THE most) beautiful Hanged Man cards I've seen. The Moon is another unusual depiction, with the reflection of a woman in a mirror. The LWB says, "You think you are looking at reality, but it is your own projections. Look around the mirror, leaving your expectations behind, and you will discover a different reality." I really liked this description.

The World card features a woman, but instead of the usual creatures in the four corners of the card, as you would find in RWS decks, this woman is surrounded by the four creatures that represent the Court cards. These four animals also appear in the Ten of Swords and Ten of Wands (and perhaps others I have missed).

The Six of Books/Wands takes me back to a scene in the 80's movie The Golden Child (same half-woman, half-serpent shape behind a screen). So that's a fun blast from the past!

There are a lot of cards that don't make sense if you are used to RWS meanings. Just to give one example, the Three of Books/Wands, for example, shows a couple asleep, which feels much more to me like a Four of Swords moment. These types of depictions, coupled with the Court card issues definitely puts this deck into the category of Not For Beginners.

There are lots of delightful fantastical beings in this deck, like the adorable creatures in the Four of Chalices and Two of Spheres and the cute living tree in the Nine of Spheres. There are also robotic elements in the deck. The cards are full of variety and surprises.

There is a palpable feeling of flow when you look at the cards. They feel as though they are gently in motion. It really does feel like being in another world.

How it Reads
My first draw with this deck was the Knight/Griffin of Wands, which indicated lots of activity in the sun. I spent the day weeding in the backyard, so that was spot on.

The next day I drew the Four of Swords and Wheel of Fortune. The Four of Swords is more often than not my "relax in the bath" card. So these cards were telling me to relax from a LOT of recent activity.

Next I drew the King/Dragon of Books/Wands, and it didn't really make much sense for my day.

The next day was the King of Swords, Knight of Books/Wands and The World. I had just vented to a friend about having had to open a Paypal claim against an unresponsive seller regarding a damaged product I received. The King of Swords was Paypal (the objective, impartial judge), the Knight of Wands was my fury about the situation (having been ignored by the seller for so long), and the World was there to tell me that everything always works out for me in the end. The cards were reassuring me that everything would eventually be okay. (It was... I ended up with a full refund from Paypal.)

The next day I drew a few cards, where the Three of Books/Wands (mentioned above, with a sleeping couple) actually did represent a place where people sleep. So the card image, rather than the RWS meaning, was what I used in my reading. But the outcome card didn't end up making sense in the situation.

I asked a yes/no question from this deck, and got a clear Yes answer, but later found out the answer was no. So that was a miss.

As beautiful as the imagery is (and it really is so beautiful), I didn't really connect with this deck. So at the end of my week with it, I asked it "What do I need to know right now?" And it gave me the King of Cups (one of those blasted Dragons!). I laughed and took this to mean that I was not meant to connect emotionally with this deck right now. Then I asked if the deck had any parting words, and I drew the Queen/Phoenix of Swords. Ha! Another Court! So I asked, "Is this just not the deck for me right now?" and I drew the Queen/Phoenix of Books/Wands - I kid you not! It shows a phoenix in flight, and I heard "Take off!" What a very cheeky good-bye to this deck! At least it had a good sense of humor!

This deck has one of the most interesting Little White Books I've seen. On the first page: "Imagine a Fantasy World where there are 3 Gods (Knowledge, Creativity, War) and 3 Goddesses (Magic, Receptivity, Love). Each of these Gods/Goddesses manifests in a different form (or put another way, show us a different facet of their being) in the three planes: Material, Intellectual, Spiritual." The book then goes on to separate the Major Arcana into these six categories, with each category having a Material, Intellectual and Spiritual card. For example, the Goddess of Magic appears as the High Priestess (Material), Hanged Man (Intellectual) and Star (Spiritual). The Material, Intellectual, Spiritual assignments are found in the Meanings section of the LWB. The God of War appears as the Chariot, Death and Tower. There are three cards unassigned by a God or Goddess, but fall under the Seeker diety (Magician, Wheel and Devil). This category of cards has "no shape, no focus, except that it's different from the others and it's looking for something more, something outside, something forgotten or not yet discovered." The Fool is not included in these groupings at all.

Another interesting facet of this LWB is a section titled "Advanced Study". Each numbered Minor Arcana card is given an invisible "court aspect" where it is assigned a court card. This section tells you how to calculate the corresponding court card. So for example, the 7 of Wands is associated with the Griffin (Knight), giving you another optional layer to your reading with the Minors.

Next is a 6-card spread called "The Epic Tale of Your Life".

Each card in the deck (except for the Fool) is given a title. The Moon is "The Maiden Behind the Mirror". The Ten of Books/Wands is "The Book Compels".

The book can be helpful when looking for answers when a card doesn't seem to match your inner meaning for it. For example, most of us see the Ten of Wands as a card of burden. The card in this deck is very different. "When all aspects of yourself are integrated, you can see the whole story from the points of view of all of the characters. You can also see that there is really no end of the story, so you keep writing." In the background of the card are all four court animals, bringing home the idea of looking at a situation from all points of view. While this still doesn't fit with the RWS meaning, the LWB excerpts at least help you understand what the images are trying to convey.

Final Thoughts
This is definitely not a deck for beginners. But if the imagery calls to you, and you are open to reading purely intuitively, it really is a gorgeous deck. It didn't work as a tarot for me. I think it might read better as an oracle deck than a tarot, and I can see it being fabulous for storytelling type readings!

Deck: Epic Tarot (by Riccardo Minetti and Paolo Martinello, published by Lo Scarabeo, distributed in the US by Llewellyn.)

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Rana George Lenormand

November 20, 2017

Rana George Lenormand is a sumptuous, self-titled deck created by a seasoned Lenormand reader, published by US Games Systems Inc. The exotic images are inspired by old world Lebanon and Rana George's memories and heritage.

Check out the gold embossing on the cards!

The Cards
There are 42 cards in the deck, each measuring 2 1/4" x 3 1/2". The cardstock is a bit stiff when you first get it, but fluffs up a bit with regular shuffling (like the Dreaming Way Lenormand). The box is very nice. It opens on the side magnetically, and houses the cards in two separate grooves. The book lays on top.

The cards have gold embossed highlights, on the fronts and backs, which is really beautifully done. The borders are really pretty. I'm not a fan of borders at all, but these (which look like ornate columns) are quite atmospheric and work really well with the theme of the deck. Another thing I usually don't like on my Lenormand cards are playing card inserts, but the ones on these cards are incredibly gorgeous, especially the court cards, which absolutely blew me away with their beauty. Just stunning! The backs feature an ornate design surrounding a Hamsa.

In the upper left corners are the card numbers, and in the upper right corners are what look like Arabic lettering/numbering, but I am not certain.There is no mention of them in the book.

A traditional Lenormand deck contains 36 cards. This one has 42. There are two extra people cards. The two I keep in the deck are the ones with more of a gypsy vibe. The other two are more modern. The two sets are numbered the same.

In addition to the spare Man/Woman cards, there are four extra cards included in the deck. I am a traditional reader, so as pretty as these extra cards are, I have pulled them out of the deck. I don't use them in readings. They are titled Spirit, Incense Burner, Bed and Market. Even though I don't use these cards, I desperately want the Bed card to be my bedroom!

The celestial cards are so gorgeous (Stars, Sun, Moon). My favorite card is the Stars card, with that gorgeous purple sky! Another favorite is the Bed card, which is a shame because I don't read with it. I am also very drawn to the Letter card. I love the red curtain backdrop and the handwritten letter and envelope.

There are a couple of cards that feel off to me. The Bear looks really weird. It does not anatomically look like a bear. And one of the extra cards (Spirit), although a really cool looking card, doesn't feel to me like it really fits in with the vibe of the rest of the deck, but I don't use it for readings so it is not an issue.

How it Reads
For my first reading with the deck, I drew Lady + Cross + Whip. I had a recurring toothache that day. Normally, a toothache would come up as the Scythe. But the Cross also indicates pain (though usually back pain). So that was a little strange, but I went with it, chalking it up to breaking in a new deck. The Whip indicates something repetitive, and this is a pain that comes and goes with me.

The next day, I drew Key + Book + Anchor. This was the day I made the decision to take a certification class that would advance my work options. The Key was my finally deciding "yes". The Book was the studying/class itself. And Anchor illustrated my commitment to staying put in this job for the time being.

Birds + Fish + Rider came up the next day, which I assumed meant receiving worrying financial news, or two pieces of money news. Neither happened that day.

The next day was Man + Child + Key. My hospice client's daughter was visiting from out of state, so that was an accurate draw.

One day I drew Rider + Birds + Tree. A few hours later, I received a letter in the mail regarding my health insurance that I had been stressing about for some time. Rider = news/mail delivery. Birds = my stress. Tree = health (insurance).

The next day I drew Scythe + Ship + Crossroads. I had the need to immediately replace the windshield wipers on the car. The night before, it was raining very hard and I couldn't even see the lines on the road. The windshield wipers smudged the window, only making things worse. It was terrifying driving on the freeway blind like that. So the windshield wipers were replaced the next day, the day of this draw. Scythe = the swishing motion of the windshield wipers. Ship = car. Crossroads = road where driving takes place.

The last day with the deck I had a very poignant reading. I drew Scythe + Clover + Cross. When I am reading about work, Scythe has been the card that comes up to represent my clients (hospice patients). In this case, it sadly also represented the Grim Reaper's scythe. My client died that day. Clover is a blessing, which may seem odd in this situation, but when someone is suffering, passing is indeed a blessing. And Cross was him crossing over to the other side.

My readings became clearer the more I read with the deck. I find that with Lenormand decks, it takes me a few readings to connect. I wonder if it is because I am so deeply in tune with my own Lenormand deck that it takes a bit of getting used to other ones now.

The Book
The 124-page bound booklet has a nice thick, smooth cover. There is a brief 3-page introduction by the author, and the rest of the book is devoted to the card meanings. No spreads, no superfluous ramblings. I love how the book gets straight to the point.

There are no images of the cards in the book. Each card passage begins with a sentence or two about the card image. Following this are a few quotes relevant to the card. Next is a paragraph titled "In a Reading" which tells you what this card means when you draw it. Then there are 1-3 quick sample readings where the card falls in a spread. Lastly, there is a paragraph in italics that gives more detail on the card image, often sharing background information on the details behind the imagery.

Here is an excerpt from the book. It is the full passage for the Garden card:


20. Garden

This sumptuous garden is strikingly inviting with its gorgeous architecture and abundant riches.

"Spring is nature's way of saying 'let's party!'" - Robin Williams

"He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god." - Aristotle

The Garden represents a group of people, a gathering, party, convention, big meeting, get together, an event, or society and the public in general. The Garden also talks about networking, playing the field, club hopping, or just being outside en plein air.  It is also about groups, associations and clubs.  The Garden brings in the factor of multitude and many, as well as wanting more.

Question: Should I stay with Chris?
Birds + Garden
Answer: No, have fun and look around.

Question: Why is Tarek not calling me?
Book + Dog + Garden
Answer: Because he is secretly seeing other people.

This lavish garden is an homage to the Beiteddine gardens.  It is also reminiscent of the Arabian Andalusia Gardens where there was always lots of music and belly dancing. Poets would get together and compete on who could recite the best rhymes.  That little blue dragonfly in the pool was my friend every time I would go out to swim in our pool. Somehow Callie got the look of our pool including the single sprinkle water fountains going in it, all without ever seeing it or knowing about it.


(If you are not yet familiar with Rana George, she also has a full-sized book on fortune telling with Lenormand cards titled The Essential Lenormand.)

Final Thoughts
This deck is exotic and rich and colorful. It is a treat for the senses. The details are exquisite. It's a beautiful deck. It's a great choice if you want to get into the whole gypsy vibe when reading for others. It takes you away to a different place, far from the modern realities of daily living. It makes mundane readings a little more special... sort of like breaking out the good china to eat a peanut butter sandwich on. There's no reason to save the fancy stuff for special occasions. With this deck, you can treat yourself anytime!

Deck: Rana George Lenormand (by Rana George, illustrated by Callie L. French, published by US Games Systems, Inc.)