Mystical Dream Tarot (£24.99 rrp) By Janet Piedilato Illustrated by Tom Duxbury Published by Eddison Books Ltd ISBN 978-1-85906-453-5
I tiptoed into The Mystical Dream Tarot as though entering a strange land. This deck felt so removed from any other I have encountered that I was simultaneously fascinated and fearful of it.
I be bamboozled by the weird and complex imagery and symbols? Would I
be transported into nightmare territory? Actually, I found myself on
a sort of submarine for the soul which can dive down to inner
consciousness, and then surface again for matters more mundane.
is probably worth following advice by author Janet Piedilato to study
each card initially without reference to the descriptions and
meanings in the sturdy 160-page guidebook. Although the images are
based on dreams she has experienced over many years, she encourages
us to find our own way with the cards, allowing intuition and memory
to reveal the solutions we seek. Doing this enabled me to explore
free of any external distraction and to create a personal bond from
Piedalato brings an impressive array of experience to bear in her
creation, listing transpersonal psychology, complementary healthcare
and ordained ministry among her qualifications. She is utterly
convinced of the healing and guiding power of dreams, and that her
deck can give us access to keys of hidden understanding within
ourselves. I love the bit in the guidebook where we are asked to
treat the cards as friends and allies: “…They can become
treasured companions, guiding and comforting us in the dark hours
when we feel lost…”
The deck has a traditional 78-card structure and, while the pip cards retain their usual designations, the courts become Lords, Ladies, Spirits and Dreamers. Many of the Majors are renamed: The Fool becomes The Innocent, Death is Wise Fox, and The World is Serpentia Sol, for example. But it is in the images we depart most drastically from any traditional Tarot association. Symbols are drawn from myth, legend, religions, as well as some common and personal dream themes. Not only are many outlandish, but most of the pips do not offer any clear visual clue to their identity other than the title printed at the bottom. And this is where we are truly freed from the strictures of other Tarot systems.
art is exquisite. Yorkshire illustrator Tom Duxbury has reimagined
Janet’s own depictions of her dreams to produce a hauntingly
beautiful body of woodcut prints. He gives depth, movement and
perspective with clever composition and a limited but inspired colour
palette which permeates the cards with an other-worldly mystique.
The card stock is good quality, making this quite a substantial deck. But it is still flexible enough to riffle shuffle with ease, and the smooth glossy finish assists in that process without casting a visual glare during readings. A pleasant silver and grey backing facilitates reversed interpretations.
box is tough and attractive, though I would have preferred the option
of one that holds just the cards rather than having to carry the book
well as giving plenty of information about each card, the guidebook
offers ideas for working with dreams, including spreads, sample
readings and “incubation portal readings” — meditations to
usher dreams into the seeker’s sleep.
My first actual reading was a revelation. I asked what I needed to know about a friend who was in dire straits, a long way from home, and the card that leapt out was the Three of Cups. In common with many of the other images in the deck, this one bears no resemblance to the corresponding Rider Waite Smith version. It depicts a cauldron of bubbling liquid whose steam forms into the shape of a lion. Behind the animal arises a spear which points to a turreted castle in the sky. More steam leads toward a distant sun and a moon on either side of the main scene. Quite different from the RWS cabal of three women holding goblets aloft, although the guidebook does follow some traditional meanings.
I gazed at the card, it began to draw from my consciousness a rich
bank of ideas and meanings. Some of these ran parallel to the RWS
card, but that was partly coincidence due to the subject matter of
the question. Pertinent characters, scenarios and solutions all
appeared to me, woven into the card’s symbols. There also emerged a
deep spiritual insight which quite took me aback. The card is
continuing to suggest ideas.
I looked at the guidebook definition of the card afterwards, and
found it illuminating, my own interpretation had provided more than
enough useful information. Incidentally, the day after the reading, I
heard that one unexpected possibility presented to me by the card was
actually going to become a reality.
am tempted to say that this is not a beginners’ deck, but that
would not be quite right. It is merely a different system which can
be internalised and developed like any other. Those who are willing
and able to untether themselves from the shore and cast adrift into
the far reaches of their consciousness can read these cards. However,
this is clearly not a choice for someone wishing to embark on any
conventional Tarot learning method.
I anticipate my copy of the deck being a marvellous exploratory vehicle for dream work, self-development, meditation and past life readings, and for bringing an extra dimension to more run-of-the-mill Tarot tasks.