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Bookviews Book Reviews

 

 7-13-2005
 

 

Tarot of Dreams
by Ciro Marchetti

Purchase from the
Artist's website

 

This product I have had much fun with over the past week.  Not just because it is another tarot deck, but because this is a beautiful tarot deck that comes with a most wonderful and beautifully put together tool. 

Ciro Marchetti is the artist who brought us the “Gilded Tarot” last year.  He told me, at that time, that he was working on another deck.   If you have been to his website at http://www.ciromarchetti.com you may have seen his Gilded Tarot deck illustrations and his promotion for this deck, “Tarot of Dreams”. 

Well, the deck is finally complete.  And it was worth the wait!  I don’t know if I can do justice to his deck with words, but I will give it a try. 

The deck that was sent to me contains 80 cards, in a large 3.5 X 5.5 format.  They are gloss finished and sturdy cards.  Probably the only thing I was concerned about was the size of the cards.  I prefer cards a bit smaller, but the artwork in the designs made the larger cards more desirable in this case, and I bypassed my preference in favor of the graphics. 

The deck comes with a spare card that is numbered and signed by the artist.  The box gives us a lovely presentation, all glossy and covered in graphics.  It houses the deck, a nice gauzy bag to hold your deck and a CD that I will cover further down. 

The deck is very traditional in feel, looks and design and has a very Qabalahistic flavor, with the reference card in the deck being the Qabalah Tree of Life.  The deck has 21 Major Archana cards, and four suits: Swords for Air, Wands for Fire, Coins for Earth and Cups for water.  The Swords/Wands reversal is present here for fire and air.  Also, coins have been chosen to represent earth, rather than pentacles. 

Each card is labeled clearly as to the name of the card, the number and the suit, as well as the Sphere of Influence, which is noted on the Major Archana along with the astrological association.  The Minor Archana notes two astrological associations on each card. 

The imagery and designs are stunning, the symbolism is for the most part traditional, interesting and easy to follow.  Much is traditional, but developed to seem timely, current and all of this has a very “dreamy” feel to it, hence the name of the deck.   

Looking at the cards, we see the journey of the Fool followed in the Major Archana, with the designs helping the reader to follow this journey.  I love the images, the Fool with no face but having a jesters hat and mask; the very motherly Empress; the Hierophant replaced with a card called “Faith”, excellently chosen;  the Wheel of Life simply the Wheel, so mechanical yet so mystical in appearance; Death is haunting yet not horrible, the Devil is menacing yet gives a feeling that we have created our own trap there.  The cards draw the reader into them, and allows the reader to hear them speak quietly and yet strongly.  

The Minor Archana is done just as well.  The deck keeps to the traditional meanings and provides some new insights.  There is the feeling of Divine in many of them, more so than the materialistic feeling some other decks have.  They appear more inspired than threatening.    The Court Cards are the traditional Page, Knight, Queen and King cards, with very elemental influences.  

The colors are rich, deep hues.  The Minor Archana cards all keep to the same color family so it makes it easy to tell where you are by  looking at the borders surrounding the designs.  I am accustomed to swords being fire, and wands being air.  With this deck, the wands are done with rich red tones in the borders and the designs are predominately red, making fire obvious in this suit.  The same with the swords, with sky blue being the dominate color, making the association, again, very obvious.  Earth is a rich emerald green and water is a golden color.  

Instead of having a small booklet or book, this deck has a CD.  This is expertly produced and contains some surprises as well as what you usually expect to find in a book accompanying a tarot deck.  It is a wonderful tool! 

There is an opening introduction of music and graphics, which is lovely to watch.  Do give this a look all the way through.   It is the artists message about his deck, and is very simply expressed with his artwork.  

The menu is a rendition of the reverse pattern on the deck, a sun/starburst with the elemental symbols.  The menu contains a bit more in the way of adding direction to the various parts of the CD.  You can choose to explore the Major Archana, the various suits or some extras the artist has included, such as production, credits, symbols & spreads and some links.   The extras include a screen saver, wallpaper, a copy of the Orphalese Tarot Reading software for installation on your computer, and other such goodies.  

As you choose the areas of the cards to browse, the card is presented with some associations and suggested meanings.  This is the handbook part of the deck, and is nicely done.  It is recommended that you load this onto older machines, as it will run faster and more smoothly.  I ran it from the disk, but I also have a new and much faster machine, but it still took time for the graphics to load. 

The “goodies” also includes animated Major Archana cards.  The cards are presented as they appear in the deck, and then are animated, or put into motion, to present some additional aspects of the card that may aid the reader.  The animations are gorgeous, insightful and a lovely addition.  I played with this CD for a few days, exploring all the information contained in it, and found it most useful, wonderful eye candy, and fun to play with. 

I found reading this deck was actually almost distracting at first, going over all the graphics and designs, but as the newness wore off, I found readings went much smoother, and the ease of reading this deck was a big plus.  It is surrealistic in feel but traditional in design.  It is a wonderful interpretation of well known material, and will not hinder the experienced reader in the slightest.  The new reader will also find this deck easy to work with.  It can be used by anyone and is not path specific. 

Note that for now the deck is only available from the artist’s website.  It is, for all intents and purposes, a piece of art, and this is reflected in the price.  However, if you feel as I do that the deck and the art are inseparable, and quality decks are preferable, then the price for this deck is very reasonable.  I have seen artistic decks go for much, much more.  The quality is here in this deck, and the artwork is far above average. 

For the deck collector, the serious tarot reader and the lover of art, this is a winning deck. It will grace the hands of any competent reader and compliment any reading done with them. It will dazzle your clients.   And it will open yet another window for the reader to explore with their client, one colored and styled by the dreams of a very talented artist.  boudica

 

Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the
Solitary Practitioner

by Scott Cunningham

In this follow up to his very successful handbook "Wicca: A Guide for he Solitary Practitioner", Scott Cunningham expanded on his original material and gave the solitary practitioner more information, more material to build on and further encouragement to practice as they are inspired by their Deities.

The book opens with a "Note to Traditional Wiccans". His original book, published in 1988, seemed to threaten many Traditionalists. This book, published in 1996, has a note to let them know that he never intended to attack their ideas or ideals, but rather he meant his books to be general access to those who are not part of Traditions, covens or to those who do not have access to traditional training.

This book is broken into three sections; learning, practice and your own tradition. Scott advances the solitary path and gives guidance to those who want to pursue their spirituality even further.

The first section, learning, contains the secret tool of self-teaching: Study, thought, prayer and experimentation. He is careful to explain that no two people learn the same way, and that we should experiment with the learning process, using hands on experience in determining how we best learn and how we should proceed with our studies. He uses his usual "Scott Cunningham" style of simply stating his material, making it easy for anyone to follow as he progresses. There is a discussion on secrecy in our practice, "Should I do it while I'm sick?" and the taking of magical names. Much of this will sound too easy or very unimportant, but Scott Cunningham seems to anticipate the questions of the inexperienced practitioner who does not have the benefit of someone to ask these questions. There is no stupid question. And this is the approach Scott takes.

There is a section that addresses Self-Initiation. Again this is brought up because of the controversies that came about from his first book. Scott tries to clarify what he means by "Self-initiation" as he took a lot of flack from the Traditional Wiccans on this. However, in true Cunningham style, he manages to make it very clear what he means, and though it seems redundant to place this in the second book, he does so, and includes another short ritual which can be easily adapted to make it your own.

Scott goes into the "Wiccan Mysteries" in this book as well. This material was once taboo to discuss outside the coven or tradition. Scott took up that challenge, in order that the Solitary Practitioner could add these to their practice, to make the spirituality deeper and have a better connection with their Deities. Discussion of reincarnation, the realization that the God and Goddess are part of us just as we are of them, that there is joy in every event that life has to offer and that mysteries are not really mysteries but self realizations make this section a real eye opener. And it is all discussed in delightfully simple and beautiful language.

There is also discussion on incorporating Wicca into our everyday life, how we see "Karma" and the "Three Fold Law" and how magic fits into all of this. There is an explanation of the Wiccan Rede "Harm None..."

From study comes practice. Scott looks at prayer, what it is and how to make it effective. He gives examples of prayer and chants, rites of thanks, simple Wiccan rites, creating the circle and raising energy. All essential parts of our practice simply discussed and laid out so you can just pick up the book and go.

The last part discusses creating a tradition for you. Following the model of Traditional Wicca, Scott suggests how you can keep to the basic aspects that comprise the path of Wicca while molding it into a practice that speaks specifically to your personal spiritual needs.

He is careful to discuss that there are basics that comprise the religion of Wicca, but there are also elements that allow the practitioner to bend the framework a bit so it meets the their needs. This is key to Wicca; it can evolve as we evolve, always addressing the practitioner, yet remaining in a form that is easily recognizable as Wicca.

Scott carefully goes over these elements, showing where you can pull things to make the traditions specifically yours, yet having it remain always identifiable as Wicca. Discussions include Deity Concepts, tools, ritual designs, beliefs and rules. Some of these sections include Suggested Reading lists, or tables of correspondences to aid you in your choices. There is further discussion on Wiccan Symbols, Books of Shadow, and passing on your tradition. There is also a chapter on Living Wicca; walking the walk as well as talking the talk. The book concludes with a glossary and a bibliography.

What Scott Cunningham started to do in his first book is continued in this second. The path of the Solitary Practitioner, in the Tradition of Scott Cunningham, is developed even further, giving the practitioner more food for thought, more direction and additional instruction in how to live as a Wiccan in today's world. The book is a good follow up to the first and is again a book that has been lovingly dog-eared and held dear by those who follow the Solitary path. boudica