Jac Reviews: Tarot Art Nouveau

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The Devil and the Two of Cups, some of the more interesting cards of Tarot Art Nouveau

Thank you for joining us for another of Jac’s reviews!

Today I’m reviewing the Tarot Art Nouveau, illustrated by Antonella Castelli. She was able to draw inspiration from the classic design of tarot to develop a flow of color that washes throughout her images. She keeps the focus primarily on human figure and their emotions in this deck.

I’m struck by the soft coloring contrasted with bold outlines to create a feel of watercolor that bleeds through every picture. Some of them are difficult to draw meaning from, however, even if you are familiar with tarot. While many reflect their inspiration from the classic design, others are too ambiguous to attach a clear explanation.

The Devil and the Two of Cups, for example, are clearly new creative visions of the cards. Far removed from Smith’s symbolism, these images still express the intent of tarot schema upon which concepts are built. The Devil looks devious, yet alluring, and the 2 of Cups shows a deeply close relationship.

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The Five of Pentacles, Ten of Pentacles, and Five of Chalices focus more on pretty figures than their meanings.

In contrast, however, we have the Five of Chalices and Coins along with the Ten of Coins. Fives normally express hardship and loss in their extremes, where these women seem a bit downcast there’s nothing to suggest pain or despair. The joy and fulfillment of success is absent from the 10 of Cups, as well. She looks rather blasé instead of even expressing subtle emotions, like pride or contentment.

It is a Lo Scarabeo deck. These offer a multilingual review of the card meanings and a basic layout for readings in its manual. Additionally, every card has its name written in the corners so many people can use them. While all tarot readings should have a variety of interpretations, I’m amused by the more literal approach. The small booklet itself also provides a generally adequate explanation of what each card represents.

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Backs of the Mini and standard decks

The full size deck and the mini deck both have a gloss finish which makes them slick to slide well across themselves for swirl shuffling. The card stock is comfortably thick, so I don’t feel as though I’m damaging them with every use. The back of the standard size deck has a bilateral image of The Fool, while the mini has a unilateral framing of Justice. The color seems a gentle wash in its larger form, rather than bold splashing in miniature.

The Art Nouveau style has always clashed with industrial design in favor of a organically inspired creation. The lines curve and flow, often blending nature and humanity. Within this deck you can feel the style held constantly. It does seem like the focus was more about illustrate a beautiful form over being able to express meaning behind the deck. Regardless, I don’t find it to detract from the cards usability and it’s a deck I have made great use of.

Like the look of this deck and want to try it for yourself? Click the links below to purchase!

Tarot Art Nouveau

Tarot Art Nouveau Mini

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Tarot Art Nouveau

Gummy Bear Tarot: A Tarot Tuesday Deck Review

IMG_20200324_175851-01Considering the week we’ve all had, I decided to go lighthearted with this week’s “Tarot Tuesday.” So I turned to my collection and pulled out this old gem: Gummy Bear Tarot.

Gummy Bear Tarot is by Diermar Bittrich and was published by US Games Systems in 2005. And it has been sitting on my shelf for nearly that long. It was an early silly present from my delightful husband – and a solid example of the sense of humor in our house. Aside from taking it out to play around with a time or two, I had never used it for a reading before today.

So, on to the aesthetics first!

Gummy Bear Tarot is a smaller than standard tarot deck, close to playing card in size. This is actually really comfy in the hand for shuffling. It comes in a metal tin with an instruction booklet, making it a really nice deck for carrying with you as long as you don’t mind the silliness of gummy bears!

IMG_20200324_175906-01The images themselves are actually very simplified Rider Waite Smith imagery, replacing the main figures with stylized gummy bears. But it is not over simplified. While the more esoteric and symbolic imagery has been removed, the core needed to recognize and interpret the cards is still there. This does make this harder for a more intuitive reading – there is less on each card for the intuition to run off of, so I find myself mostly relying on what I have memorized of the cards from reading other decks.

That said, I almost did myself a disservice by not looking in the little white instruction book. The instruction book is actually thicker than others of its types, and it includes more information per card than I was expecting. I like that instead of the usual upright and reversed combination, this deck assigns each card a “strength” and “weakness.” I have not read through all of the meanings, but none of them jump out as glaringly off.

Overall, this deck is silly and cute… but if you actually do readings with it, and get past the silly, it has surprising depth.

Now, a sample reading!

I was thinking about various business concerns and choices when I laid out this spread.

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Current Situation: Two of Pentacles: A bear stands on a beach, juggling two coins. This is a time for balance and trust. Trust that you can keep things balanced and moving. But make sure you aren’t just juggling out of habit or inability to commit. Let go of what you don’t need to balance.

Immediate Past: Eight of Cups: A bear sets off bravely into the world. There is a readiness to leave the old behind. Your horizons are broadening and you’ve found inspiration in spirituality. Make sure when moving forward it’s not to run away from what’s, or who’s, behind you. This is an experience of the unknown.

Immediate Future: Seven of Cups: A bear has a vision of wealth, power, and safety. The unconscious is full of strong, vital forces, energies we can use to achieve our dreams. An internal awakening is coming. But be cautious of being lost in dreams. Stay grounded. Concentrate on one goal.

Foundation Energy: Three of Wands: A bear looks over the horizon as he contemplates a coming journey. This card shows enthusiasm, creativity, and new ideas – certainly the energy behind many independent businesses. But beware grand plans and hectic activity that results in going nowhere.

Best Outcome: Ace of Pentacles: A hand holds a coin over a rose garden. This is a beginning of a time of growth. Have patience and trust in friends and you will be rewarded. But in order to keep things growing you must not give in to melancholy or set your sights too high. The time is coming to recognize your chance and seize it.

So, hope you liked my little foray into the Gummy Bear Tarot!

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Gummy Bear Tarot

Tarot Tuesday: Flowers From the Dead Oracle Deck

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I’m not usually one for oracle decks. Tarot and its imagery are what fascinated me first, and as such remain what I am drawn to. But the lack of expected format to an oracle deck allows the creators to be a lot more creative. They can create as an elaborate or as simple a system as they like – there is nothing of tarot’s format to constrain them.

Flowers From the Dead is one of very few oracle decks in my personal collection,  and the aesthetic is certainly not my usual. But I started off my year attending Hauntcon in New Orleans, and it certainly fit the mood for me that weekend!

Aside from opening it to look at the cards, it sat on my shelf for a few weeks after I got back. The deck consists of 47 cards, each with a unique skull or skeleton. There is a single card with a sample spread for readings, but otherwise the cards speak well for themselves. The weight and size make for easy shuffling.

Then, after a week where I swear no one was getting along and everything became arguments, this deck called to me to try a reading. So I pulled her out the evening of the full moon, and this reading was the result.

Yourself: Turtle – Peace and Tranquility. Also the peace that having a thick shell to retreat into will give you. Maybe it’s time for some personal retreat.

Your Environment: Snake – Transformation and Change. There has been a lot of shifting lately. Also, the people shedding their skin as it were and showing what is underneath, good or bad.

Current Situation: Javelina – Arguments and Power Struggle.  This was kind of one of those “well duh” items. They were all over the place that week.  A lot of them could be traced straight to shifting power dynamics.

What To Change: Rat – Purge and Simplify.  Since we are talking about tempestuous relationships, this is a time to focus on the relationships that matter and what is important within them, and cut away what is unneeded.

Outcome: Bat – Transition and Unknown. With everything being a bit uncertain and mid power shift right now, we just have to see how everything falls.

Overall,  an interesting reading with not much depth, but still a very clear message.