Review of Enchanted Lenormand

Review by Treewitch / Margo Benson

I am delighted to have to the chance to review this exquisite Lenormand deck. I love the Lenormand system, and to work with deck created by two of the most knowledgeable and creative experts in their fields, is a treat indeed.

Caitlín Matthews is the author of over 60 books, covering shamanism, the Arthurian legends, tarot, Lenormand, diaries and fiction – and her knowledge regarding the history of cartomancy makes the accompanying book a worthy addition to any collection.

Virginia Lee is an artist based in Devon, and is known globally for her beautiful works of art depicting Tolkien’s Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. As a Tolkien fan, I immediately felt a sense of familiarity when I looked at these cards for the first time.

This is the Second Edition of The Enchanted Lenormand, introducing a new box and additional cards to the set.

The box contains a pull-out draw and the cards and book fit neatly inside. The cards measure 5.5cm x 8.5cm so are conveniently small when reading the larger spreads that Lenormand is often used for.

The extra cards included are an additional Man and Woman, plus The Diviner – a card depicting Madame  Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand herself. This card can be used to represent the seeker and, to quote the book, “…to act as the deck’s own oracle and teacher.”

The artwork is unique, in that every card shows a crystal ball nestled in branches entwined with ivy. In the centre of each ball is the subject of the card, and this is where working with this deck comes alive. Virginia Lee’s scenes don’t feel like static images, but have a life of their own – as if you are really peering into a crystal ball, and this makes for very exciting reading. The backs of the cards are beautiful too, showing 4 playing card aces and the symbols they represent.

The accompanying book is masterful! Caitlín Matthews fits into 160 pages more information than many authors manage in much larger volumes. Whether you are new to Lenormand, or an accomplished reader, I highly recommend the book. Inside are thorough descriptions of each card (which are reproduced in colour) keywords, the impact the card has, how it reads for work, love and well-being. There are examples of reading each card in combination with others, plus short tales and myths covering each subject. There is advice on how to read, and a good selection of spreads to work with, from working in pairs, to ‘The Big Picture’, where all 36 cards are laid out.

Here is an example of a familiar 3×3 layout and you can see how mesmerising the cards look in a spread such as this:

Another aspect of reading these cards that is tackled superbly, is the inclusion of how to accommodate the playing card inserts. Many times this vital component is glossed over, or even left out altogether. In The Enchanted Lenormand, the pips are explained and examples are given which help the reader gain an important extra layer to their reading and, as a playing card reader myself, this makes me very happy!

So, for anyone considering purchasing a new deck and book – or if you are new to the idea of learning Lenormand, I highly recommend this one. The Enchanted Lenormand lives up to its name in every way.

Caitlín Matthews’ work can be found at: Hallowquest

The art of Virginia Lee can be found at Virginia Lee

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Deck: The Enchanted Lenormand

Created by: Caitlín Matthews

Illustrated by: Virginia Lee

Published by: Watkins
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Review of The Fountain Tarot

Review by Treewitch / Margo Benson

Image: www.fountaintarot.com

The Fountain Tarot is a sleek, contemporary and clever deck, and is a dream realised by its creators. The three friends, Jason Gruhl, Jonathan Saiz and Andi Todaro, conceived the idea of a tarot deck and each applied their creative expertise to bring it about. They were not experts in tarot knowledge at the beginning of the project, but spent a long time studying a multitude of decks and learning what had come before. They wished to continue to honour the hundreds of years of tarot. This involved deep research into archetypes, symbols, story-arcs and design elements. Then there was the paper quality and the accompanying booklets. In their words, they wished to create, ” A fun and magical tool for self discovery.”

They have done just that.

The Aces and extra card, The Fountain

Each of the 79 cards (I’ll come to the extra card) was painted in oils on wooden panels and were worked on over the course of a year. The models used to depict the character archetypes are friends, family and fellow artists, and the flavour of the deck is along the Rider Waite Smith mode (apart from naming Justice as VIII and Strength as XI).

The style is crisp and fairly stark at first glance, but the more you look, the more you see. There are fine details to be found and the imaginative concepts in each image make for clear and efficient understanding.

The physical attributes of the box, book and cards are superb. The box shimmers like a molten mirror with a wrap-around magnetic lid. The LWB is just over 100 pages of information, keywords, meanings for both upright and reversed cards, plus some sample spreads. The cards themselves are edged in silver, which looks and feels beautiful.

The Fountain, in the words of the creators, “…exists outside and beyond the cycles of birth, death, time and form.” In a reading it can suggest, “Oneness, a moment of cosmic clarity.”

Example of the majors and the back of the cards

As I was becoming familiar with the deck, I asked other tarot readers what they made of The Fountain: It seems that people either love it, or leave it out of the pack altogether. Most of those I spoke to left it in and felt that it pointed to a connection to the universe, a gift from the Source of all that is. Many felt that the message from The Fountain centred around accepting and embracing one’s intuitive abilities, and were actually very moved by it showing up in a reading. The very first card I drew for a reading for myself was The Fountain, which I took as an omen to leave it in!

The backs are inspired (among other things) by Mexican churches, incorporating ancient and modern geometric shapes.

Some of the Courts

The colours are tranquil and the minimalist depictions make the deck both straightforward for those familiar with the RWS system, but the absence of a plethora of symbols invites intuition and imagination. In the few weeks that I have come to know The Fountain Tarot, it has become a favourite in my collection.

Some of the Minors

I highly recommend visiting the creators’ website for more insight into this extremely cool deck, as well as videos and news concerning further collaborations and projects.

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Written by Jason Gruhl
Created by Jonathan Saiz
Designed by Andi Todaro

Self published by The Fountain Tarot

 

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Book Review: Kitchen Table Tarot

Review by Treewitch / Margo Benson

Melissa Cynova runs the successful blog, LittleFoxTarot.com, where the ideas for this book first took shape. What a great cover this is! I like the Amy-Winehouse-meets-The Housewives-Tarot look, where you can imagine the no-nonsense lessons and advice from the author. Inside the reader gets exactly what is described, an intimate and friendly chat about tarot with a friend. With no frills.

The book is about the size of a contemporary novel with 271 pages. It isn’t going to be “The only guide you’ll ever need”, but it is aimed towards the beginner’s market in a down-to-earth manner, and covers a significant amount of material very efficiently. The author quickly dispels old myths and tales of needing someone to gift you your first deck; the need to sleep with your cards under your pillow, and so forth. The reader is very much encouraged to pick up the cards and start reading.

The deck used to demonstrate the meanings and interpretations is Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot, and each image is reproduced pretty much full size in black and white with text that includes upright and inverted meanings. Each major arcana card is accompanied by an affirmation e.g. The Emperor, I am directing: Temperance, I am balancing (which is repeated for Justice). The author advises the reader to use a Rider Waite Smith deck, or style thereof. She refers to this throughout the book as the ‘Basic Deck’.

Cynova also adds her own anecdotes and experiences, which brings the interpretations into a reality not always found in other guides. The writing is refreshing and the author’s voice is sassy, direct and humorous. Naturally such a voice will make sweeping statements about meanings at times but, as with any tarot lesson, the reader is free to take or leave as much or as little as they choose. Alongside the humour and straight talking though, is support and kindness. I can imagine Cynova clutching your hand and saying, “You’ve got this. You’re OK”.

I do have two little quibbles – when the author suggests a bunch of suitable RWS style decks, the 1JJ Swiss Tarot appears on the list, and I would imagine this non-illustrated pip, Marseilles type deck somehow popped in there by mistake. The other quibble is a little more serious. Cynova is obviously a huge fan of Pamela Colman Smith (‘Mother of Tarot’) … but to say, “This is arguably the beginning of the tarot deck as we know it” dismisses several hundred years of important tarot history and may mislead a beginner into thinking tarot only existed from the 1900s. I think the intention is to focus on RWS for the purposes of the book, but some judicious editing there would be welcome in future editions.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book. The reader is encouraged to find their own slant and fit the images and meanings into their own lives. Deeper esoteric associations are pared down in order to simply read the cards. Kitchen Table Tarot is an exciting and enthusiastic read and I would recommend it for sure.
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Kitchen Table Tarot
By Melissa Cynova
Published by Llewellyn (2017)
Review by Treewitch

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Book Review: Llewellyn’s Complete Book Of Tarot

Review by Treewitch / Margo Benson

Anthony Louis is known to many as the author behind the popular titles, ‘Tarot Plain and Simple’ and ‘Tarot Beyond the Basics’. He is an astrologer, physician and psychiatrist and is well known on the lecture circuit.

Faced with what he says is the daunting task of writing a ‘complete anything’, he says in the Preface that: ‘This book would follow certain principles to offer a “complete” and even-handed approach in the space of a single volume.’ He has succeeded in doing just that, this is a wonderful book! I highly recommend it to anyone from beginner to professional and beyond. This is a thorough walk through the world of the tarot.

Louis delivers an enormous amount of information in a concise manner. He has an easy voice and adds interesting and humorous personal experiences. The 309 pages cover a massive range of subjects, including:
Where Did the Tarot Come From? A Capsule History of the Tarot
Will the Real Tarot Please Stand Up – a fascinating chapter on the structure of the deck and a journey through development from the early Mamluk decks to the versions we use today, including themed and oracle decks. Louis spends time discussing the main types of tarot; Tarot de Marseilles, Rider-Waite-Smith and the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot.
Being an astrologer, the information concerning astrological associations covers a great deal. Louis includes uses of birth cards, timing within a reading, and plenty of clear tables showing how zodiac signs can map onto the cards. In the Appendix, there are tables noting the positional differences between the Tropical and Sidereal calculations.
There are dozens of exercises and spreads to try, with plenty of examples of reading methods and ethical considerations.
More chapters cover other useful additional correspondences such as numerology, Kabbalah and the Tree of Life, and elemental dignities.
When Louis goes through each card, he does so with the inclusion of such esoteric heavyweights as French occultist Etteilla, the British occultist Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, Arthur Waite, Aleister Crowley and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Each card is presented with an interpretation from each of these ideals, showing the development of meanings over time. Each card is seen with its astrological and numerical association; its associated Hebrew letter; myths and archetypes; positive and negative keywords, and the meanings when a card is read upright or reversed.
The deck used throughout the book is Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot with the images shown actual size and rendered in black and white.
Anthony Louis and Llewellyn have produced a terrific resource with this book. When people ask for a recommendation of that one book, which is able to pull together myriad aspects of the art of tarot – give them this one!
Author: Anthony Louis
Publisher: Llewellyn
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