Written by: Sasha Wolf
The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams with art and text by Yasmeen Westwood was a joy to receive right from the time I opened the package. My review copy is one of the self-published limited edition, which is now sold out – but the deck has been taken up by a Tarot publisher, so a wider edition will follow.
The limited edition comes in an elegant silver tin with an image from the Ace of Cups on the front. Inside are a card signed by the creator showing which number in the limited edition the deck is (mine is 40/100), a guidebook, and the cards themselves in a jute tarot bag with silver threads running through it. The jute is rough to the touch and seemed an odd choice for a deck that otherwise has quite an ethereal vibe to it, but no doubt it is more environmentally friendly than other options.
The cardstock is quite thin, but not flimsy; those who like flexible cards for easier shuffling will appreciate it. A slight glossy finish also helps with this. That said, the cards are quite a bit larger than a standard RWS deck, and I found I had to stretch my fingers to shuffle them.
The cards are in a photocollage style, which is not normally my taste, but works very well in this case. The print quality is good, although in some of the images the details seem slightly blurry – a higher resolution might serve the artwork better. The cards have narrow black borders and the backs are not reversible.
The suits are the standard Cups, Swords, Wands and Pentacles, and the Major Arcana follow the RWS structure, with Strength as VIII and Justice as XI. Three cards have been renamed without changing the meaning: the Hierophant becomes the Guide, the Wheel of Fortune becomes the Wheel of Destiny, and The Hanged Man becomes Perspective.
The artwork for each card is a creative reinterpretation of the RWS imagery, and anyone who is familiar with RWS should be able to read with this deck fairly easily; some of the Minor Arcana may require a little more background knowledge than the Majors. In test spreads, I found I could read it readily without having to refer to the book. Not that referring to it would be a chore, however – it is one of the best books I have seen accompanying a deck. It allocates a full two-page spread to each card, Minors as well as Majors, with a full-page colour photograph of the card; a relevant quotation from a famous figure (some examples include Gandhi and Iris Murdoch); keywords; detailed meaning; an affirmation; and a task for working with the card, such as a journal prompt. There is also a good selection of spreads, a sensible set of guidelines for how to conduct a reading, and useful introductions to each suit and to the numerology of the Minors.
Zodiac symbolism is present in many of the cards, so the deck will suit readers who enjoy incorporating astrological insights into their readings. Winged creatures appear frequently, especially butterflies and dragonflies, adding to the impression of enchantment.
This is a very feminine deck, with almost all the human figures being young, slender white women. Three women can be read as Asian. There are very few male figures, and when they do appear, it is always alongside a woman and usually as a minor character within the card (the only exception being the man in The Lovers). This is clearly a deliberate choice on the artist’s part, as is particularly evident from the Emperor, Knight and King cards, none of which show human figures.
Rather, the Emperor and King cards show empty thrones and the Knight cards an empty medieval helmet, whereas the Empress, Page and Queen cards show actual women. As I strive to maintain a dynamic equilibrium of masculine and feminine energies in my own practice, I found this imbalance rather offputting, but it would suit readers and querents who prefer to focus on the feminine. I would also have preferred to see a greater variety of ethnicities, body shapes and gender presentations.
I would use this as a deck to accompany dreamwork or to delve into the complexities of emotional issues. Fittingly, the suit that resonates most with me is Cups, represented by beautiful crystal goblets. My favourite card is probably The Sun, possibly because I have a devotion to solar deities. I love the rich colour of the sunflowers and the lion. The overall feeling I get from the deck is meditative and as enchanting as the name suggests.
The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams
By: Yasmeen Westwood
Illustrator: Yasmeen Westwood
Published by: Yasmeen Westwood