Jun 2, 2017

Tarot Deck Review: Everyday Witch Tarot

Everyday Witch Tarot is a modern witchy tarot from Llewellyn by the popular author Deborah Blake and artwork by Elisabeth Alba.

The Cards
The cards measure 2 3/4" x 4 5/8". The backs are not reversible. I don't use reversals, so this doesn't hinder me at all. In fact, I prefer when backs aren't reversible, so I can easily see if any of them are accidentally reversed. And the back design is so cute! A blue background with yellow stars, a broomstick, black cat and witch hat. Simply adorable! The cards are very thin and super easy and smooth to shuffle. They are the same cardstock as the Vivid Journey Tarot, and they have that same sweet, fruity smell to them. Sometimes I'll just pause shuffling to smell them. True story.

The cards and book are housed in a nice sturdy box which opens like a book and closes magnetically. Inside the box is a cardboard recessed insert for the cards, with a ribbon attached to pull the cards out easily.

The cards are gloriously borderless. I find myself saying this more and more with reviews these days, and the excitement never gets old. I am honestly overjoyed each time. I am so grateful that these cards have no borders. I really hope this is a trend that continues. Maybe the publishers are watching us trim all of our decks and hopefully listening to our cries for borderless decks!

Before the deck was published, I saw a few pictures online and thought it was cute. Then I saw a few more, and thought maybe it was in danger of being a bit cheesy. But when I got the deck in hand, I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it was not cheesy at all. Okay, there are a couple cheesy cards. I'm thinking right now of the heart shaped bubbles in the Knight of Cups... but when that card came up for me in a reading, I didn't see it as cheesy at all. I liked it! I will elaborate more on that later when I discuss how the deck reads for me.

I love the striped tights and shirts and witchy hats. I like that it feels a little bit modern and a little bit old fashioned at the same time. I love all the colors used in the deck, both vibrant and rich. The fiery stripes and colors (red, orange and yellow) of the dress worn by the girl in Ace of Wands delights me every time I see it.

My favorite card is the Four of Swords. The colors are so deep and rich and the image is so beautiful. It's an image I would love to have blown up, framed and hung on my wall. And I love that it is the same bedroom shown in the Three of Swords. I adore that continuity.

I am also madly in love with the Eight of Pentacles. It is my favorite Eight of Pentacles from any deck, ever. The drudgery of the usual hard-working, nose to the grindstone image is replaced here with a lovely witch doing what she loves, what she is good at. She's not just out to make product. She's not just out to make a buck. She is making potions. It's wonderfully magical and witchy.

I really like the whole scene in the Four of Cups. Instead of being outdoors as this card usually is, there is a downtrodden man sitting at a table, head in hand, while a worried youngster tries bringing him another goblet. I like the artwork of all the things on the wall behind him, cat included.

The sad witch at the birthday party in the Five of Cups always reminds me of the song lyrics "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to". I like that the Seven of Cups actually shows someone's choices while at a shop counter. There were a lot of creative choices made in this deck.

The witch in the Ten of Swords is down but not all the way out. She reaches out for her broom for help while her assailant runs away. I like that you can see that while she is in a bad position, it's not over for her. The scene leaves you with a glimmer of hope. I find the image in the Six of Swords really beautiful. A young woman flies away on a broomstick with two cloaked figures. She's really pretty and I just love the starry, windswept atmosphere of the card. She has a bit of a Seven of Swords "sneaking away" vibe to her.

The Death card is unique. There is a masked, hooded figure with a sword. In front of him there is a cat toying with its kill, and a taut rope, about to break, just holding on by a thin string. You know he is about to make the final cut. There is a feeling of anxiety to it, knowing what is coming. It's not a static Death card. It doesn't feel like a noun card, as it usually does. Death. Here, it feels very much alive and in motion. The tension is palpable. There are two doors behind him, one closed, and one slightly ajar, emitting a yellow glow from within. The book says, "When one door closes, another opens." It's a very interesting Death card.

The High Priestess is a fortune teller with a crystal ball, tarot cards and runes. The familiar black and white pillars show up here in the form of melting candles. I love this card. The Hierophant isn't a scary religious guy. It's a female yoga teacher with two students. Lovely! And Temperance shows a witch doing yoga as well (tree pose). The Devil is in human form, albeit with a red spiky tail, offering money and ice cream to two kids on a bench. He has a handsome, very devilish look about his facial hair. My first thought when I saw this card though, was that it felt sexist, offering the money to the boy and ice cream to the girl. I'm sure it wasn't meant this way, it was just my knee-jerk reaction upon first seeing it.

The Moon is fabulous, with a black cat looking at its reflection in the water and seeing a panther. It's a wonderful symbol for the illusions this card represents. There's also the shadow of a witch flying on her broom across the full moon. I like how the woman in the Nine of Pentacles is just kicking back on her garden chaise with a book, glass of wine and treats. It gives the feeling of comfort while also being casual. And the King of Pentacles has himself a glass of wine and entire chocolate cake on a platter (minus a piece cut out). He knows how to have a good time, this one.

The Hanged Man is hung upside down, chained at the ankles to his broomstick. His wrists are also bound by chains. Both restraints have a lock, and the key is in his hand. He can set himself loose at any time, but chooses to take this time out because it is needed. I like that the Lovers card feels very much like an equal partnership. It doesn't feel like I'm just looking at a couple in love. It feels like they are on the same page, on the same path, with shared beliefs. It looks like they are lovers and friends. And while this should be a given in any relationship, I don't always feel that when looking at Lovers cards in other decks. This card feels less like 'man and woman' and more like 'human and human'. This equality is even echoed in the cats' tails symmetrically intertwined into a heart shape.

The Aces don't really feel like Aces to me. They are lovely cards, to be sure, but they don't give me the symbolic, instant recognition I like to have with my Aces. The Ace of Cups feels more like a Queen of Cups. And the Aces of Pentacles and Swords both feel like Pages. The Ace of Pentacles has a much stronger Page vibe than the actual Page. And if you put the Ace and Page of Swords side by side (see image below), they both look like Pages to me, and neither has an Ace vibe. They are both Pages to me. So that is something I would have to get used to in this deck. I prefer my Aces to stand apart as singular objects.

As a side note, I always think of the Robinwood Tarot when I see the Ace of Pentacles.

How it Reads
My first reading was very literal. I drew the King of Pentacles, who as I mentioned earlier in this review, holds a chocolate cake in one hand and a glass in wine in another. I drew this card on an evening when I was cooking for a male friend!

My next draw was the Empress, which I drew in conjunction with a card from another witchy deck. The cards went perfectly together, and referred to my unconditional love as a mother.

One day my son and I switched chores. I did his outdoor weeding while he cleaned up inside the house. He has a terrible medical issue where his own sweat makes him itch furiously. That day I did a three-card Past-Present-Future reading. The Ten of Swords came up as the past, referring to his painful and debilitating itching while weeding in the sun. The Three of Pentacles came up as the present, a perfect representation of working as a team. My daughter weeded with me, so it was literally the three of us working as a team, just like on the card. And the Magician was the future. A magical solution. I got to spend time outside (which I don't do enough) and my son didn't have to itch unnecessarily. A perfect reading on the entire situation.

I did a four card reading on developing healthier eating habits. The Ace of Cups told me what I already knew, that I love eating what tastes good, even if it's bad for me. When asking if a certain restrictive diet was the way to go, I got the Eight of Swords, which just showed me the restriction, and asked me if that felt good. (No, it didn't.) The girl's broom and hat are outside the swords. She's not fully her inside the swords. The restriction doesn't allow her to be her real self. When I asked if I should stay on my current path, I received the Chariot, which shows a gal at a crossroads. It was up to me to decide which path to take. But I needed to make a decision and commit. And the last card, for advice, was the Knight of Cups telling me that it doesn't matter so much what I put in my body, as how I feel when I do it (an Abraham-Hicks teaching). The Knight, with his gentle heart bubbles, was the exact imagery I needed to see, telling me to follow my heart. To make sure I feel good when I eat, no matter what I'm eating. That eating something that tastes gross, just because it is "good for me" isn't always the right path. And feeling guilty about what I eat isn't good for me. Trust in the vibes basically.

On another day, I did a three card reading, using this deck and two others, and it read seamlessly with the others, creating one single, coherent message.

One day I did something that I was a little apprehensive about. I stepped out of my comfort zone to help someone else. I was shuffling and cut the deck and saw the Strength card. I kept shuffling, and drew Temperance, which told me that I put just the right amount of effort and fairness into what I did. Then I drew Strength again! This told me that even though I was nervous, I did the right thing, and I had what it took to do what I needed to do. The Two of Wands came up after that, and without going into the whole situation, I can say that the imagery on the card was really relevant to the situation and a comforting finale to the reading.

One day I drew the Two of Swords, and got the message that sometimes you can see better with your eyes closed, using your intuition rather than relying on what your five senses are showing you. After all, the witch hit the bullseye with a blindfold on! But the book says the opposite. That the witch is being silly and needs to take the blindfold off to make the decision. For me, the book's interpretation didn't really match with the card's illustration. It made better sense for me and my inquiry when I went off the card's imagery and my intuitive response to it.

These cards feel so gentle and comforting. They feel like talking to a friend. A good friend who listens with genuine caring and responds in kind. That rare, true friend who you aren't afraid of telling your whole truth to, because there is absolutely no judgment. Someone you can trust to be completely yourself with, open and honest and raw, knowing they won't criticize you. I realize this might sound like an odd anthropomorphic observation, but it's truly how the cards made me feel.

This deck reads above and beyond what I had ever expected from it. I was really surprised by the level of understanding and comfort I received in readings.

The Book
The accompanying book is written by Deborah Blake, author of Everyday Witchcraft, The Goddess is in the Details, Witchcraft on a Shoestring, and many other popular witchy titles. It is 254 pages, with high-quality glossy paper.

The book begins with a 3-page Introduction with a brief background on how the author and illustrator came to create the set.

Chapter One includes a brief intro into tarot and a section about the deck and how to use it. Next is a section on How to Do a Reading which gives the beginner a few basics.

Chapter Two contains basic Q&A's (covering things such as signifiers, clarifying cards, reversals, etc.). This chapter also includes three spells for use with the tarot cards: A consecration spell for new cards, a cleansing spell for used cards, and a spell for a good reading. The spells require basic ingredients you probably already have around the house like crystals, salt, sage, candles, etc.

Chapter Three includes the Major and Minor Arcana card meanings. Each card has a full color image in the book, the same size as the actual card.

Below each card image is its title and a catch phrase. For example, the Magician says "The magic is inside you." Some of these phrases are funny. Like the Seven of Swords (page shown below) says "La, la, la... Nothing to see here." How funny is that?  And the Two of Swords says, "A. No, B. No, A. Dammit." I'm a sucker for cursing (however light) in a tarot book.

On the top of the next page, the card's title is repeated, with a brief message underneath it. To use the same card examples as above, the Magician's message is "You have all the tools you need to accomplish your goals." The Seven of Swords says, "I'm carrying this stuff with me - but am I running away or running to?" and the Two of Swords says, "You think you don't know the answer, but you do."

The first part of the meaning includes a bit of background on the card, and sometimes discusses the details in the imagery. The second part is "Things to Consider" and applies the card to daily life, with questions to ask yourself so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of each card.

Following each card meaning, almost all of the Major Arcana cards have their own lined page for notes (the Fool and Lovers cards do not, which I assume was an oversight). The Minors do not include this. Although there are random lined Notes pages that pop up periodically in the Minors section, with apparently no rhyme or reason to their placement (a page appearing after the Ten of Swords, Six of Cups, Eight of Cups, Knight of Cups, Six of Pentacles, and Knight of Pentacles). I assume this was an editorial error, as the random placement doesn't make sense.

The book is written in an easy, conversational tone. It is very welcoming, approachable, down to earth and easy to read. Like the feeling I got from the imagery, the book feels like talking with a friend. I enjoyed all the passages I read. The book and deck, though written and illustrated by two different people, feels like a very cohesive set, carrying such similar energy.

Chapter Four includes three spreads (a one-card reading, three-card spread variations (past-present-future, situation/challenge/outcome, etc.) and a Celtic Cross). The book ends with a brief conclusion.

Final Thoughts
This deck is much deeper than first appearances might suggest. It has a comfortable, open and welcoming energy. You don't need to identify as a witch to connect with this deck. I am spiritual and magical and witchy, but I am not a witch. Whether you are or not should have no bearing on your relationship with these cards (unless you are one of those nutters who think all witches are evil, in which case you wouldn't be reading this review anyway, because tarot readers are usually grouped in that same sweet category). My point is that this deck is accessible to anyone, witch or not. There isn't even any nudity in the cards. It is sweet and kind and friendly and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Deck: Everyday Witch Tarot, by Deborah Blake, illustrated by Elisabeth Alba, published by Llewellyn Publishing.