If you can’t wait for the Shadowscapes…

April 1, 2009 § 2 Comments

I got a pleasant surprise today when I unpacked a delivery for our other store. I instantly recognised the artwork on the cover of Dancers in the Dusk, one of the new roleplaying releases that arrived. Look, it’s by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law!


Aaaahhhh. So lovely…..

What I like about Lo Scarabeo

March 2, 2009 § 7 Comments

This week, I’ve had the great pleasure of perusing the new Lo Scarabeo Tarot Gallery, which is a lovely big hardback book featuring full colour samples of all their decks. To a tarot geek, it’s a thing of beauty; even though I know of all these decks, and even though I have – at one time or another – stocked most of them, I still get a thrill at every page turn. Decks that I thought I didn’t like somehow come to life when viewed in a double page glossy spread. Even – and this shocked the hell out of me – the Tarot of Reincarnation, which still may not look much like a tarot deck but does look extremely attractive.

I’m guessing the Tarot Gallery has been produced to create desire in retail stores. Browse these pages and dare to resist our wares!  However, this is much much more than a superficial selling tool. They’ve clearly invested a lot of time and effort in making it. The cards are actual size, which is great, and for those decks that feature gold and silver impressions, LS have glued a copy of the card to the page. Also, the sheer number of decks is mind-boggling. I counted 96! And these are in-print decks mind you, not discontinued ones (and it doesn’t even include any of the upcoming 2009 releases)!

Sometimes a lot of Lo Scarabeo bashing goes on at certain forums. Certain people seem to get personally offended that LS “churn out” so many decks with different themes every year, as if being prolific was a sign of low standards or even worse…gasp…commercialism.

But being prolific is just what I like about Lo Scarabeo: you never quite know what they’re going to do next. You may groan at the thought of a UFO Tarot or roll your eyes at the latest “Tarot of the Little Pink Pixies” (I made that up), but there’s no denying they always give you something to talk about. And there’s also no denying that they produce some very good and very beautiful decks: the Universal Fantasy, the Classic Tarot, the Nefertari, the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Samurai Tarot…I could go on. Sometimes a deck is a “miss” but often their decks are resounding hits. 

What’s more, they have an energy and enthusiasm that you just don’t get from US Games/Llewellyn/AGMuller/etc. Lo Scarabeo constantly dare to try new things. Why not have a UFO Tarot? Why not a Manga Tarot or Tarot of the Robots? It’s important I think to remember that LS make playing cards as well. Some people like playing cards with cats on. Some like playing cards with cheeses of the world. LS seem to extend the same vision to tarot. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tarot deck featuring mermaids?” Does it need to be justifiable in some serious, studious tarot way? Of course not  – and anyway, who gets to decide what can or can’t be a tarot deck? Sometimes all a deck needs to be is pretty, or interesting. To a collector, all a deck needs is the word “tarot” in its name. 😉

They’re also willing to experiment with the format. They’ve brought out no end of mini tarots, and the lovely – and under-appreciated – grand trumps. They produce bags to match their decks. Last year they added spread cloths; this year they’re trying their hand at rune sets and some shiny chakra thingies. Last year they published a gorgeous book about their first 20 years. And this year they’ve produced this Tarot Gallery.

That’s why I like Lo Scarabeo, and why I think they’re still probably one of the most exciting – and hardest working – tarot publishers around. So there. 🙂

New Year’s Day

January 1, 2009 § 4 Comments

New Year’s Day is my favourite day of the year. After the excess, pressure, and general mayhem of Christmas, New Year is a welcome relief. Whereas the success of Christmas seems to be all about the various trappings and preparations, New Year requires no special equipment – you just need to keep one ear open for Big Ben. And because it’s so simple and so short a celebration, it’s magical in a way that Christmas can never be.

For me, New Year is a time of great promise, hope, optimism, enthusiasm and joy. I look forward to the long year ahead and believe that I can spend it doing whatever I set my mind to. I always associate the Ace of Swords with New Year – because it’s so bright and pure; because that shining blade pointing north is just like the hands on a clock pointing to midnight; because it symbolises good intentions, fresh ideas and new resolutions; because its crisp clarity is the perfect partner to the cold month of January and because, like New Year, its influence eventually fades. As the year progresses, I seem to get more and more bogged down by bad habits and sidetracked by trivialities but on January 1st, my newly laid plans seem so easily achievable.

My New Year’s wish for 2009 is that I will write more and read more, and relish the time spent doing both.

Happy New Year.


December 29, 2008 § 6 Comments

It’s been a busy few weeks…

I am now a member of TABI – the Tarot Association of the British Isles (after protesting that I’m not a “joiner”).  So far, so good. They seem like a decent bunch and although I had reservations to begin with about what I would actually get out of joining, I do feel that it was a good move. I could, if I wanted, be a “silent” member and not get very much out of it at all (as I’m not, currently, a professional reader). Instead, I seem to have got stuck in and am looking forward to not only being part of the membership but also to helping to steer the Association and, indeed, tarot itself, towards bigger and better things. My that sounds presumptuous, doesn’t it? 😀

One instant benefit is that I have a new outlet for my writing. A while ago I wrote a tarot article for Prediction magazine who, in their infinite wisdom, didn’t want it. That article has just been published in The Tarot Reader, TABI’s quarterly e-zine. And I’ve got a whole stack of articles planned for future issues, so that’s very exciting. I’ve decided that 2009 is going to be an industrious year of reading and writing for me.

What else? Oh yes, for Christmas Hubby gave me two beautiful bags from Baba Studio (the Alice Shower of Cards and the Fairy Hunt). They really are lovely. The first one seems to rather like my Lunatic Tarot, which was feeling a bit chilly all naked out on the kitchen table. And the second one features an image from the Fairytale Tarot, which is now winging its way to me from Amazon, courtesy of some Christmas money from the in-laws. I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long to get here as it will be my Deck of the Month for January. Sadly, the Lunatic Tarot didn’t get much playtime in December, the main reason being that…

I now have a daughter. More beautiful than a thousand Baba Studio bags, more lovely than any new tarot deck, and more fascinating and enthralling than any number of articles I could ever dream up. She is keeping me busy – hence the lack of recent posting and hence also, this rather perfunctory post. I am not yet at the stage where I have anything intelligent to say, but I wanted to prove that I could still write something!

We will say nothing of the fact that it took me three days to write it…

A Helping Hand

December 1, 2008 § 5 Comments

Something else I got for my birthday last week was Rachel Pollack’s Tarot of Perfection – a collection of tarot-inspired short stories. I’ve only read the first two so far but, oh my, I thoroughly recommend it. They are just wonderful – magical, exotic, wise. A real pleasure to read. Plus the book has a lovely cover!


This post was inspired by the second story in the book, “The Pickpocket’s Destiny”. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story is about a pickpocket who consults an oracle to discover his true purpose in life. On each occasion, the answers he gets are – to him – disappointingly uninspiring, yet he follows the oracle’s advice anyway and eventually, over time, his small blind steps lead him to his great destiny.

The story is a beautiful, subtle illustration of the nature of destiny and what happens when we consult oracles such as the tarot. Those who consider tarot reading and fortune-telling to be a form of cheating would do well to read it, for it demonstrates both the possibilities and limitations of divination.

When we consult the cards, we are often given insight not only into our present circumstances but also into the possibilities that await us in the future. It is, of course, up to us to mine those possibilities in order to create our destiny. At any given time, however, we are only shown a small piece of the puzzle. It is as if we walk a dark path, unable to see our own hands in front of our faces, and tarot is a torch that we carry with us – bright enough to illuminate the next few steps perhaps but no more.

Eventually, as more and more steps are illuminated, we may eventually start to see the bigger picture – a sense of the path we’re on and where it leads. But on the whole, all tarot does is encourage us to keep moving forward, steer us in the right direction, and hold our hand as we tentatively place one foot in front of the other in the dark.

Now I’ve seen it all…

November 30, 2008 § 6 Comments

For the tarotist who has everything…else, that is:

Tarot Toilet Seat

The Supernal Tarot

November 5, 2008 § Leave a comment

What…never heard of it? Ah ha, I know something you don’t know. Actually, I’m cheating a bit because the Supernal Tarot isn’t technically a tarot deck, although it’s pretty damn close.

Roleplaying games and tarot cards have crossed paths before, but with Keys to the Supernal Tarot, White Wolf’s latest supplement for the Mage: the Awakening franchise, they’ve not only crossed paths, they’ve met for coffee, caught a movie and well, you know…

Let me be clear – there are no cards. But there’s a shiny hardback book with two 2-page spreads showing each one of the 22 cards in lovely technicolour. And the book itself is also quite a treat for tarot lovers – it opens with a short piece of fiction about a reading (using playing cards – duh) and then each of the 22 cards has a chapter devoted to it, with a nice bit of background about the card and how it can be applied to your Mage character.

Want to see more? View the preview PDF here. Meanwhile, here are some piccies:

On the Edge of Reason

November 3, 2008 § 1 Comment

On a live television show I’ve just been watching, the guest talked about the Rider Waite Tower card and its similarity to the events of 9/11. No surprises there. What did shock me, however, was that this expert was able to spew complete nonsense and make it sound like authoratitive and reliable insight.

Claim No. 1: The Tower card in the tarot (specifically the Rider Waite – no mention was given of there being any other type of Tower card) includes a “symbol”, tucked away in the bottom right hand corner of the card – so obscure that most people don’t even realise it’s there. This symbol, apparently, shows the awakening of the kundalini and how remarkable that this should appear on the Tower card, as it relates so well to the kind of traumatic spiritual awakening experienced by so many enlightened folks.

The symbol he’s referring to? Yes, that’s right – it’s Pamela Colman Smith’s initials, which can be found on every single Rider Waite card.

Claim No. 2: In order to truly appreciate the significance of this symbol and it’s relation to the Tower card and – indeed – civilization, we must understand that these cards go back over 3,500 years, to Ancient Egypt.


Out to Lunch

September 30, 2008 § 1 Comment

I am going to take a brief hiatus. It’s probably not necessary for me to announce this – an absence of posting would indicate much the same thing – but I guess I feel like I’m being slightly more courteous by putting up the “Out to Lunch” sign.

There’s a lot I want to write about (after having nothing to say for so long!) but I am tired and feeling a little bit 10 of Wands and I should be taking it a bit easier I think. Only two months left of my pregnancy and I’m starting to feel it.

Anyway, I will see you anon, whatever that means.

Discrimination? Really?

September 10, 2008 § 4 Comments

The latest hoo-ha in the tarot community concerns a tarot reader in Seattle, WA, who was allegedly discriminated against by the King County Solid Waste Division (KCSWD). In a nutshell, and as reported in the Seattle Weekly, the KCSWD solicits small local business to donate their services at a reduced rate to be distributed as gifts during the holidays, “in the hope that grandmothers and other gift-givers will replace ugly sweaters with experiences that generate less trash”.

Alexandra Chauran offered her skills as a tarot reader, crystal ball diviner and tea-leaf reader and was turned down. The American Tarot Association (ATA) have leapt to her defence, issuing a press release and writing to lots of county officials, as well as the editor of the Seattle Weekly, etc. etc. You can read their press release here at the Aeclectic forum.

Okay, so I’ve a feeling this isn’t going to be a popular post but I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. It seems the KCSWD has been running this Waste Free Holiday Program for a few years. They clearly invest time and effort and probably money into running it and, as it’s for a very good cause (saving the planet) they want it to be as much of a success as it can be. Presumably they have a limited amount of space and a particular audience in mind, so they want to include the services that they think will most appeal to that audience.

So they reject a tarot reader because they say tarot is controversial. Well, tarot IS controversial. Yes, it’s the 21st Century. No, there’s absolutely nothing satanic or occultish about tarot. We understand that but a large part of the population still doesn’t, hence the controversy. I could happily give a wellness spa break to almost any member of my family but I’d have to think very carefully about who would appreciate a tarot reading. It just doesn’t have the same mass market appeal.

The KCSWD explained they have also rejected financial planners and tutors. “We try to limit it to something you would see on a wish list,” said Megan Sety, of the division’s Recycling and Environmental Services department. Fair enough then.

It’s important to note that – unlike the Miss Toronto tourism officials – the KCSWD didn’t cast any disparaging remarks on tarot at all (you know, associating it with witchcraft and the like). They just simply – and politely – refused Chauran’s offer, and now they’re in hot water. So if someone offers you their services, you’re not allowed to reject them? I’d understand if Chauran had offered to rescue orphan kitties and they’d turned her down because she was a tarot reader. That would be discrimination. But they didn’t really reject her…they rejected the service she was offering and it’s the service that they’re passing on to the public. I run an online store and I get approached a couple of times a week with link exchanges – most of which are relevant and most of which I politely refuse. I exercise my right to select the most appropriate content for my site’s visitors. God forbid I have to start accepting all of them for fear of discriminating against anyone.

Perhaps the KCSWD’s only error was to be so up-front and honest about their reasons for turning Chauran down. They could have just said the program was full this year, and saved themselves some hassle. Guess they won’t make that mistake again.

As for the ATA…well, I don’t see that it was necessary for them to weigh in on this. Well, okay, if you like, use it as an opportunity to educate the public about tarot, but don’t use it to accuse the KCSWD of discrimination. Don’t take everything so personally guys. Yes, it’s a shame – I’m sure there are lots of people who would be delighted to be given a tarot reading as a holiday gift – but no one’s got hurt and no one’s missed out. There’s no fight to be fought here.

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