Divination Tools Reviews

With so many tarot and oracle decks out there how does the novice and adept reader decide on a new deck? The Witches’ Almanac helps you separate the wheat from the chaff with our recommendations and insights.

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TAROT

The English Magic Tarot by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley and Andy Letcher.
A nod to British occultists of ...

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TAROT

Ghosts & Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt
...this deck’s imagery rather than being forced is a visual reinterpretation...
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ORACLE

The Mayan Oracle: A Galactic Language of Light by Ariel Spilsbury & Michael Bryner
The Mayan Oracle explores the end ...

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Reviews/rev-englishmagictarot.jpg The English Magic Tarot by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, Andy Letcher 

A nod to British occultists of the early modern period, the English Magic Tarot is a solid deck with a graphic novel feel. It is the collaboration of three artistic minds: Magician and comic book artist Rex Van Ryn, London painter Steve Dooley, and Andy Letcher, Druid and author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom.

It is interestingly a period tarot deck — cursorily dealing with historical happenings of the British Isles between Henry VIII’s ascension to the throne (1509) and the death of Charles II (1685). Drawing from such brilliant and enigmatic occult personalities such as John Dee and Isaac Newton, the deck is very animated. Van Ryn’s pen and ink work is highly dynamic, changing perspectives in a way that makes every card dance and bend, while Dooley’s coloring is bold and simple—a series of solid base colors each with a bit of earthy grit to them, keeping the deck’s feel rustic and warm.

The Major Arcana holds some great new twists on classic themes, while we are given a new series of wonderfully illustrative Minor Arcana cards, each with a thick bold border corresponding to their elemental attribution. The Majors remain borderless, but the entire deck from Fool to Page of Coins simply brims with life.

 
 
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Ghosts & Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt  

There are a myriad of theme Tarot decks available. Often an encounter with such decks is fraught with forced imagery and a stretch in metaphors. This is not the case with Lisa Hunt’s Ghosts & Spirits Tarot. While you will not find the standard variation of the Rider-Waite imagery, after a close examination of each card and a quick read through of the accompanying booklet, you will realize that this deck’s imagery rather than being forced is a visual reinterpretation drawing on ghostly images from the legend and lore of various cultures.

Lisa Hunt’s deck is standard in one aspect; it follows a traditional structure of 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana Cards. In the Major Arcana Strength is card VIII and Justice is XI, renaming card V the High Priest (traditionally the Hierophant) and card XIV Chains (traditionally the Devil). She also provides us with alternate names for each Major Arcana card, for example alternately naming the Empress as Guardian Spirit, hinting at the meaning and imagery of the card. In the Minor Arcana, she provides us with the typical suits of Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles, and conventionally naming the court cards of each suit King, Queen, Knight and Page.

Hunt provides an additional 79th card, which when it falls in a spread indicates that the reading bears closer examination and reflection. This cards, as is the case with the other cards, is rich in symbol with many faces looking back at you almost as if to say, look at this reading with many sets of eyes from many angles.

The booklet included with the deck provides insightful divinatory meanings which if they were presented by themselves would be well worth in-depth study. This is especially true of the insight provided for the Major Arcana. A prime example would be the meaning presented for the Fool, “…Preserve a child-like optimism as you explore new paths, but bear in mind that anything can happen along the way.” This kind of nuance is rarely provided in other quick meanings found in booklets that accompany various decks.

The sepia and muted colors of each card immediately draw you in and you get lost in the beauty of the presentation before you realize that you are surrounded by fantastical images filled with spirits that will speak to you if you allow them but a chance. Each of the cards is thoughtful in its approach to imagery, and only in the rare instance did this reviewer find an image too jarring to make the connection to the divinatory meaning.

The Ghosts & Spirits Tarot is indeed a rare find in themed tarot and well worth exploration by those who would like imagery that is off the beaten path of the Rider-Waite deck.

 
 
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The Mayan Oracle: A Galactic Language of Light, by Ariel Spilsbury & Michael Bryner
Can’t wait to find out what happens at the end of the Mayan calendar on December 12, 2012? The Mayan Oracle: A Galactic Language of Light, by Ariel Spilsbury & Michael Bryner, may have the answers you are looking for. Far from being a doom and gloom exposition of the end of time, The Mayan Oracle explores the end of the Mayan calendar as a rebirth rather than an end – the dawning of a cosmic consciousness. Includes 44 full color cards beautifully illustrated by the artist Oceanna, complete with instructions for harnessing the energy of Star-glyphs to read your own innermost knowledge.