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Bookviews Book Reviews



Tarot of Dreams
by Ciro Marchetti



I have had much fun with this product 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 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. 

Reviewed by Boudica


Dream Inspirational Cards~
by Lsa Donnelli and Illustrated by Luigi DiGanmarino

While being a deck of cards, this is not a tarot deck, and there was a learning curve that took me a couple of days to work out.  However, this is a very imaginative and interesting look at the use of dream interpretation, and I was pleased with my end results.  

First of all, the deck.  This is like most Lo Scarabeo decks, being 2.5 by 4.75 inches, which is hand size, so they deal and shuffle easily.  The cardboard is standard stock, and it comes in a box for storage.  There is the usual little tiny booklet in five languages with just enough information to use the deck.  

However, this deck is not really all that hard to work with.  The introduction of the booklet suggests that these images, which display common oneiric themes, can be used to interpret dreams.  The last page in English suggests some spreads, which are illustrated on the inside front cover.   There is a very brief meaning of the cards in the upright and reversed positions.   You draw the cards, and look at suggested meanings.  While this may be good for the beginner, and I have to admit I did it for a few hands, I found the images to be more telling than the booklet, and resorted to bypassing the booklet meanings and looking directly at the cards. 

The cards are uncanny, to say the least.   I would say they are very surrealistic, in a modern sort of way.  The artwork is quite good, a mixture of cartoon and realism, almost Dali meets Peter Max in some respects.  The images bounce between  colorful, happy cards and shades of gray and ominous, depending on the mood the card is trying to create for the topic chosen.  

There are 78 cards, plus two cover cards.  There is no correspondence to any tarot deck, so you need to start from scratch here.  But it’s quite simple, really.  Shuffle the deck, draw some cards, or fan them out and let your client draw some cards.  Then look at the topic, maybe reference the booklet, but more than likely you allow the card to suggest the topic and issues and see the connections between the cards drawn. 

There are 78 different topics.   The images suggest the use of the topic.  To give some examples: 

The first card is Adolescents.  It shows two young figures, male and female, I assume.  The male figure is very androgynous, and could, for the sake of argument, be considered either.  They stand on a pastel multicolored path, which extends into the wall.  There appears to be a large gate comprised of a 3 dimensional artwork, slightly open to the outside world, which shows very gray and stormy.   According to the booklet, it is read as “thrilling encounters.  Good friendships.  Encouragement.”  Reversed “Monotony, Vacuity. Tiredness.” 

Yes, I got friendship from the image.  I also got how youth looks at their world, within vs. the outside world.  Anyone with an adolescent at home knows it can sometimes come down to “us and them” types of issues.  Their world is what is important, while the outside world intrudes on their reality.  Well, so much for my own observations.  Next card… 

Number two is Tree.  OK, this is very stylized, the tree is also a tower, is also the face of a man, is very stone in appearance, rather than wooden, with just a hint of organic in the form of a plant and maybe a root shoot.  There are some other flowers which also appear stone.  It has a “Tower” appearance, like the broken tower in the tarot deck.  Other parts have an M C Eicher quality to them; stairs and passages that lead up, down and backwards.  The male face appears to  have an ominous look about it.  It is in shades of gray, with a muddy green background.  There is a hint of color in the organic plant, but for the most part, it appears to be blue gray in tones. 

The booklet reads “Promising future, new home, industriousness.  Reverse is Disputes, Existential reflection, family troubles.”  Well, I didn’t get that, really.  I was looking for a more spiritual meaning here, a bit darker, and nothing to do with a home.   Learning curve, or personal interpretation, you can go either way with this one. 

The third card I got right away.  It is called “Flirting” and shows two people entwined, a more clearly defined male and female, in a very Peter Max meets Dali type of design.  Very colorful, in a soft way, and very lovely.  Booklet says “Engagement.  Celebrations, Prosperity.  Reverse: Superficiality, Fleeting pleasures, Escape.”  From the design, yes, I can see that, and the card reversed would be the opposite of the design. 

As I pondered the use of the cards, I wondered about the connection between dreams and using these cards to interpret them.  I found that it was more logical to say that by using dream symbolisms, and drawing the cards, we may find clarification to some of our own issues or queries, and that some dream issues may surface.  If someone came to me and said, I had a dream and saw this particular scenario and I want to know what it means, these cards could be drawn covering the image described by the client and we could look for a connection.  I found for my own personal readings, I cam up with some good connections and some different insights, based on these dream interpretations. 

This is an interesting deck.  It has some lovely artwork, and the use as suggested by the authors is unique in its approach.  I would say if you are into dream interpretation and want to experiment with a different approach to interpretation that may delight your clients as well as offer some new insights, you may want to pick up this deck and work with it a bit.  I am going to give it a try with some of my clients and see if it works as well as it did for my own personal readings.  

The artwork makes this a unique deck to work with and if you are into surrealistic and oneiric symbolisms, you will find this deck to be intriguing as well as insightful. 

Reviewed by Boudica


Exploring the Pagan Path: Wisdom from the Elders~ edited by Kristin Madden

This book is a collection of articles, essays, and general musings by some of the better known authors in our community.  Contributions by such well known names as Starhawk, Dorothy Morrison, Kerr Cuhulain, M. Macha Nightmare and more demands your attention and entices you to take this book home to read.  The book itself is divided into three topics focusing on information for beginners and seekers.  

The first is “Explore”, and the works collected in this section encourage the reader to look at the path they are walking and find the beginnings of where they would like to go.  Articles are contributed by Freya Aswynn, Raven Grimassi and  Dorothy Morrison to name a few.  Subjects covered include an overview of Paganism, connecting with Deity, connecting with nature, and the basics of magic. 

The second topic covers “Learn”.  These contributions are explorations of working within the Craft.  Contributions are by such noted authors as Kristin Madden and M. Macha Nightmare, again, to name a few.  Subjects covered are working solitary, ritual and ritual tools, and working with children. 

The third topic covers “Live”.  We have contributions by Kerr Cuhulain, Gus DiZerega, Starhawk and others.  Subjects covered are how pagans live, coming out of the broom closet, responsibilities, organizing groups and more.  

The book also has Appendices.  “How to speak Pagan” is basically a glossary.  “Pagan Groups and Traditions" is a list of organizations, and “Top 10” covers various lists of top 10 books by topics and  a list of events.  There is a resource listing and an index. 

The material varies.  Some of it is very well written and well presented.  There is a very diverse group covered with the authorship of these articles, and the material presented comes at you from many different angles.  You will find yourself agreeing with some, while other material may leave you cold.  This is the pagan community.  Ask 100 pagans a question and get 150 different answers. 

I did find a few exceptional articles that contained interesting material.  Dorothy Morrison’s article on “The Basics of Magic” is a wonderful first steps into the practices of the Craft.  Very basic, very well written, very easy to understand, and so very "Dorothy Morrison". 

“The Solitary Pagan” is a delightful overview of what it means to be solitary, pagan and what you can do to progress your path.  Written by Kristin Madden “& Friends” it is again, a very well written and positive article. 

Kristin’s article on “Involving Children” also is a very good, one that many parents will find helpful.  It provides basics for getting children into what the pagan beliefs and practices are, how to present them in a very easy and fun way that children will like, and how to progress with them into areas, such as magic and ritual, that many parents may be unsure of or just don’t know how to present to kids. 

Kerr Cuhulain offers a lovely discussion on “Coming Out” which is not to be missed.  He comfortably takes you through some thought processes on what it means to come out of the broom closet, what you could expect, what you could encounter, and how some folks may react to you.   He also covers some of your religious rights, some arguments you may find others using against your path, and some practical advice from our favorite law enforcement guide. 

The book lists are interesting and the pagan organizations that are represented in the appendices are well established, working organizations that have withstood the test of time. 

Overall, this book has something to offer most readers.  It is a lovely exploration of the Pagan Path, giving very broad brush strokes to the painting of the pagan paths.  There will be material for some to contemplate, there will be some words spoken here that may touch some people.  There will be other material here that some folks may not find interesting at all.  It is, very simply put, up to the reader to decide what applies and what does not.  The pagan path, after all, is a very broad path, and we do not all walk in the same places or cover the same grounds.  But for many, this book will entertain and possibly enlighten.  Ifound it enjoyable overall.

Reviewed by Boudica


The Guises of the Morrigan
 by David Rankine
and Sorita D'Este

There is a lot of material about the Morrigan.  Myths, legends, attributes and influences.  It is wonderful to have it all collected in one place for those who follow either the Morrigan or one of her aspects.  This complex Celtic Goddess has plenty of material about her, and I am happy David Rankine and Sorita D’Este put it all together for us in this well researched book. 

The book traces the path of the Morrigan and the best way is to start at the beginning with the Celtic Mythologies about her.  From the “War with the Fir Bolgs” from the ancient Irish myths to the stories of Cu Chulainn, all the myths are covered and the stories examined.  David and Sorita do an excellent job of looking at the stories and seeing how the Morrigan influenced the story or the situations.  While not the actual stories, we are given enough of the story to see how the Morrigan had a hand in it. 

I would like to have had the actual stories here.  While the words which the Morrigan said are given in quotes, to allow the reader to see how She describes Herself or the situation encountered, the original stores are very lovely to read.  You should augment this book with copies of the actual works and appreciate them for yourself. 

There are some lovely pen and ink drawings to accompany the stories, though the topic of the piece is not always “lovely”.   “Cu Chulainn’s Demise” is a graphic depiction of the hero’s not so pretty ending, but the tales are graphic.  The artist Brian Andrews adds interest with the addition of his works in this book. 

The best known guises of the Morrigan are then examined in the section about Nemain, Badb and Macha.  Again, the stories, the attributes and the nature of each of these Goddesses in one are examined.  David and Sorita do a very good job at retelling the stories as it applies to these Goddesses. 

The section called “Wise Crone: Tales of the Calleach” gives some interesting stories on the Cailleach.  What would have been good here is a pronunciation key.   I’ve heard at least two pronunciations of this word “Calleach”, but none is offered here.  

What is offered is a very extensive footnoting of the stories, references and locations of the stories.  The bibliography in the back of the book is also quite extensive and speaks highly of the research that went into this book.  What is also noteworthy is the quality of the writings, this book tells the stories, examines the stories and explains the Morrigans place and purpose in each of them.  It is easy to read, does not speak above the intended readership and relates the ideas that the authors have very clearly. 

The same is true for “The Queen of Battle” which examines the Warrior aspect of the Morrigan.  Well told stories, footnoted, and explained with Her own words.   As “The Earth Goddess” we see a side that we do not usually consider with the Morrigan.  David and Sorita add to our understanding of this Goddess with a look at Her more “earthy “ side.  We also see the Morrigan in her aspect as “Calleach Beara” as a creation Goddess, again going back to Her more earthy side. 

There is a chapter on locations which are associated with the Morrigan.  The sites are located in England, Ireland and Scotland and this section would be a nice reference for anyone considering a trip to England and wanted something different from the usual tours. 

While the Dagda had His cauldron, there is a short piece on the Morrigan’s “Cooking Spit”, an interesting bit of information.  There is a larger chapter on her aspect as “The Faery Queen”, her aspect as the Scottish blood-drinking faery, a section on the “Faery Birds” “Faery Ravens” and other faery aspects.  There are included stories, reference and small discussion on their meanings.  Again, some pronunciation keys would have been helpful here to the novice. 

As “Queen Mab” we see the Morrigan in literature, and David and Sorita explore more modern literature that discusses the Morrigan.  Thomas the Rhymer and Shakespeare are covered.  

We see the Morrigan as transformer, Lady of the Beasts, bestower of Sovereignty, the Lover, the witch, shapeshifter, and giant.  We see Her as prophetess and magician, we see the number references to her aspects.  We see some aspects such as Goddess of Fate as the washer at the ford in various traditions, how she survives in folk lore as the Banshee or the Scottish Weeper.  We see Her being brought forward in the Arthurian myths.  Finally, we are given even more of Her aspects in an alphabetical list of associations and brief descriptions of each, including Her familiar, the Raven.  

This is a lovely book of overviews of stories.  It is an excellent reference if you are looking for a particular aspect of the Morrigan, or are not sure and want to look it up.  It will provide you with a resource to help you find a particular story about the Morrigan.  The bibliography contains much material that you can sort through and read on your own to augment your knowledge of the Morrigan.   The book is well indexed for easy reference.  This would be a great addition to your library for anyone into Celtic lore, the Morrigan or any of Her aspects. 

Reviewed by Boudica