A Date With the Queen

queen victoria

…the Victoria Regina Tarot, that is.
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Stars, Sun and Moon

I did a reading for someone earlier this week, using a well-seasoned deck that I really enjoy, but don’t use often enough: the Jolanda Tarot, by Hans Arnold. The Jolanda is a deck that has a great deal of depth to it (it’s a reprint of the Swedish Witch Tarot, created by Jolanda Den Tredjes, who is a famous witch in Sweden). But what I really like about it is that it isn’t a straight clone of any of the ‘tarot schools’. It also has a youthful freshness about it that I really enjoy, but it doesn’t fall into the traps that so-called “young” decks sometimes do, which often results in them feeling a bit shallow. (Absolutely no offense intended for those of you who identify yourselves as “young”. What I mean to say is that many of the decks that try to slate themselves to the young person’s market often come up a bit short, or like they are trying just that little bit too hard.)

In any case, it’s a deck that feels like a young person with an old soul. It’s energetic, good looking, vibrant and unusual. When I first received my copy I found it a little difficult to read with. What to make of the strange gnomelike creatures, the oddly-placed animals, and the interesting (yet symbolically unique) human-animal hybrids? In the end I let it all go and just went with the flow – and wound up with some very lovely and insightful readings as a result. (Oh – and the artwork is fantastic. Simple but much more to my taste than the cartoony style of some of the Lo Scarabeo decks (Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn, I’m looking at you!) with large barbie doll breasted women dripping with water done in a really comic book style – and don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of comics and graphic novels. It just still feels out of place to me in a tarot deck.)

In any case, I was performing a reading for someone using this deck. I gave it another good shuffle and drew:


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Fairy Lights Tarot

Fairy Lights

The Fairy Lights Tarot is a new (to me) deck by Lucia Mattioli, who created one of my all-time favourite decks, the Tarot of the Secret Forest. My tastes don’t usually run to the overly sweet (as so many new tarot decks are), and usually anything with “fairy” in the title is an indication that the deck doesn’t really have anything for me.

But – it’s Lucia Mattioli. There was never going to be any question about whether I’d get this one or not.

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It’s been a huge day today! Steve’s stag’s night is on tonight, and it’s taking place up the coast somewhere at an “adventure lodge”. We left the house at 9, to go pick up Hamish, one of his friends, at the airport, and then we all drove up the coast to Steve’s parents’ place, where everyone then transferred to his Dad’s car, and the three of them headed off into the wilderness, hehe.

Moo and I stayed for lunch with Steve’s Mum, and then we headed back to town. Along the way, we – whoops! – went in to Pinnacle Books, and got these:

Rumi - Druidcraft

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Dark Grimoire Tarot

It seems odd to me that a deck as cute and sweet as the Old English just isn’t doing it for me right now. Maybe it’s because I have enough “cute and sweet” going on and something a bit more gothic is what I need to provide some balance.

That said, despite my interest in things gothic (I love gothic literature), I don’t own many “dark” decks. I do enjoy the Bohemian Gothic deck by the Magic Realist Press, as well as the Lasenic, and the wonderful, whimsical yet very, very, creepy Tarot of the Secret Forest. The Secret Forest tarot, incidentally, is often-maligned because of its odd backs, that show an altered black and white version of the card, rather than a traditional back. (It’s easy not to be put off by this. When you shuffle and deal the cards, just don’t look!).

Enter the Dark Grimoire tarot.

Dark Grimoire

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New One-deck-wonder: Old English Tarot

I loved my time with the International Icon Tarot. Simply loved it. It’s an incredible, incredible deck, and I really recommend it to anyone interested in taking up some in-depth study of tarot symbolism and colour.

That said, I’m in the mood for something different now! And having had a bit of a break from tarot for the past few months, it seems an opportune time to pick up a new deck. I was poking around in my tarot drawer (where the decks that don’t have pretty bags yet live), trying to decide which deck to choose. And this little deck caught my eye:

Old English Tarot

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On cutting back

I feel sort of bad talking about this here, especially seeing as one of the decks I recently got rid of was one I spent a bit of time with here, BUT: I’ve been having a bit of a tarot clear-out lately. It started after the frenzied trading of a Trade Train (have I spoken of this before?) where many decks were swapped and acquired. I started to look at my collection. It was starting to feel a bit unwieldy. A bit wobbly.

I decided to take the plunge and sell off those decks that I either wasn’t using, wasn’t sure about, or couldn’t imagine using particularly well. Some of them are well-loved decks by a large number of people in the “tarot community”, but we just did not click one bit, including:

  • Alchemal Tarot: renewed
  • Touchstone
  • Mary-El
  • Rabbit (2nd edition)
  • Hermetic Tarot
  • Rohrig
  • Buddha (Place)
  • Jane Austen
  • Dante Tarot
  • Dreaming Way
  • Wisdom of the Four Winds Oracle

And in a way I feel like I’m only getting started.

I feel like doing the ‘One Deck Wonder’ thing has set me along this path. Sticking with just one deck for a few months has made me a lot more critical about the decks I want to use, and also my buying habits! It’s so easy to be tempted by every pretty “face” that comes along (I’m thinking of you, Dreaming Way). But all too often those pretty faces don’t have a great deal of substance behind them. I know I dutifully recorded my weekly use of DW (and I am honestly not meaning to pick on just one deck; the DW is whimsical, pretty, with gorgeous card stock, and backs), but when I think of picking it back up again I just feel no desire at all. Strange?

The Alchemal is another one that many people love and I feel quite cold about. I love Place’s Vampire tarot, but the Buddha and Alchemal don’t do anything for me. After really, really trying with these I set myself a new tarot rule: I’m not going to use a deck that I have to learn a new system for. I’m comfortable with the symbolism, archetypes, numbering, etc. of tarot. I don’t feel as comfortable when there’s a layer of alchemy or religion on top of that. (As for alchemy, what the hell? I mean, alchemy is fascinating, in that it was instrumental in the development of chemistry as a science, but I find it incredibly hard to take something like that seriously.)

The Dante was another. I’m a bookworm, and so have been drawn to literary decks in the past (cue the Jane Austen). But invariably these do not translate well to tarot (the Place Vampire excepting). Again, just too many layers. Usually I like layers. Art with depth. But I guess my tastes in tarot do tend toward the simplistic. I’m ok with that.

Anyway, whew. I feel like I had to get that off my chest a bit. My collection is down to forty-two, now, but I still feel uncomfortable with that number. I’d love to have five decks, but I don’t think that’s quite possible yet. Oh wait – forty-one. I gave my copy of The Secret Life of Birds Tarot to my sister while she was here last week. Maybe I could do thirty…