Soul Bites Reviews: Everyday Witch Tarot

img_0139Last Friday I picked up the brand new Everyday Witch Tarot by writer Deborah Blake and illustrator Elisabeth Alba.

I was feeling blue last week. I was feeling really blue. I thought a little retail therapy might help. I browsed around my guilty pleasure Llewellyn books for a while until I stumbled upon Everyday Witch Tarot. What a lucky find.

I am an admirer of the books Deborah Blake has written for Llewellyn, especially The Goddess Is in the Details. It was a great comfort when I went through a spiritual crisis six years ago while I was miserable and living in a godforsaken town. My soft nostalgia for that feeling of comfort and what I remembered of Blake’s witty, honest, and straightforward style was an excellent recommendation for the deck.

I looked at the illustrations next and was sold. Witches everywhere. Classic witches, conflicted witches, silly witches, serious witches, hats, brooms, black cats—all that deliciously fun stuff we try so hard to be too grown up for, but which deeply feeds our souls. Finding that deck hit me particularly because of the rippling series of epiphanies I have had lately regarding my own identity as a spiritual being and my need to embrace play, joy, and lightheartedness in my magical practice.

I had it delivered and the minute deck hit doorstep, I was on it, tearing away the shrink-wrap.

The smell. Oh the heavenly smell. I realize neither Blake nor Alba had much to do with that, if anything, but whoever printed that deck must have laced their ink with olfactory crack. For those of you who love the smell of new, glossy books, you are going to adore the first unboxing of this deck. It is as if the smell were put there on purpose to herald the delights inside.

The cards are, like Blake’s writing, clear and uncomplicated yet deeply meaningful. Blake and Alba must have been mind-melded on this point. The cards are not cluttered with superfluous esoteric symbols simply for the sake of making the cards feel more highbrow and woo. That is a pet peeve of mine—tarot decks that take themselves too seriously being sold to readers and witches who also take themselves too seriously. Alba’s cards are plainspoken and to the point. There is no mistaking the meaning.

So far, my two favorite cards are The Chariot and Temperance. I saw that bright red ride and laughed a great belly laugh. Oh yes. That is the witch I want to be and that is the crossroads at which I have been idling. With Temperance, I have to admit, the cupcakes and martini tickled me. How does this card know my life? It’s a happy mystery. How do the rest of the cards also know my life? That’s an even bigger, happier mystery.

Pause for a note here on accessibility:

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here much, if at all, but I have albinism and am legally blind. I have had the devil of a time finding tarot cards I can visually take in as a whole. Most tarot cards, Goddess bless them, are so crammed with art and symbolism it is extremely difficult for my eyes to make heads or tails of them. They are also usually low-contrast, (to make them look ye-olden I suppose), which is even worse for my eyes.

When I started reading tarot seriously, I used Golden Tarot. It will always hold a special place in my heart. I used it when I worked as a telephone “psychic” and read cards over the phone. Unfortunately, it is the very definition of all the problems I mentioned above. It is low-contrast and cluttered—cluttered with beautiful things, mind you, but cluttered nonetheless.

I swung hard the other way with my next deck and purchased Tarot of the Absurd. I don’t use that deck much anymore. I dig those cards. I dig those cards truly. I adore original artwork in tarot decks and some of those cards look like the landscape in my mind. They are high contrast and uncluttered. The only problem with the Absurd is that I could never get nuanced readings with it. The answers came out very surface, cut and dried, and even cold. I’m sure that is not inherent in the cards. Most likely, it is a psychological reaction I have to the stark black and white.

The third deck I received as a gift from a now-estranged friend. It is the Prisma Visions TarotIf you haven’t seen it, you must. It is, by far, the most beautiful deck I have ever seen. If laid next to one another, each minor arcana suit forms a single piece of artwork. Those cards, all of those cards, are magnificent. The problem? The art is so intricate that I have to use a magnifying glass to appreciate what is going on in each one. That’s fine when I’m reading for myself and have all the time in the world, but when I’m reading for other people or have only a short time to read for myself, those cards are not a good choice.

So where, oh where is the deck for the visually impaired? Where is the deck that is uncluttered and has good contrast? That can be easily read? That offers nuanced readings?

It’s right here on my desk-of-an-altar. It’s Everyday Witch Tarot. I’m sure it will not gather dust. I have used it every day for the past several days. The readings have been accurate, detailed, nuanced, and easy to understand and pass along.

Another thing I like about the design of the cards is that the meanings are made so plain in the artwork that your clients can get in on the action. I’m a big believer in collaborative readings where the client gets as involved in the process as the reader. Those kinds of readings are far more fun and productive than those where the reader attempts to hoard all the universe’s secrets for herself.

The accompanying book is pure joy. Blake’s writing style is wise and witty as ever. Reading the card descriptions and explanations, you feel as if you are consulting a knowledgeable friend, not a grand oracle or some wise guy who thinks he’s funnier than he actually is. That is priceless.

The physical attributes of the book are also wonderful: glossy pages, beautiful design, pages for notes. Polished from start to finish.

Two words: Buy it.

More words: You won’t regret it. The broad smile you can’t keep from crossing your lips every time you thumb through cards is worth the price alone.

-M.

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About M. Ashley

Essayist and poet, my work has been rejected by some of the finest journals in America. Fortunately, it also gets accepted from time to time and has appeared in equally fine journals such as Word Riot, Inlandia, Brew City Magazine, and SageWoman among others.. In 2002, I was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Vanderbilt University. For no good reason, I possess an unnecessarily dark humor which is why being third generation California Inland Empirian delights me so. My gods are weird. I once received $350 for writing a smartassed essay on “why the wise use of water is important in my daily life”. I am undoubtedly the Greek god Hermes’ special snowflake. I’m pretty sure I got into college via a series of fortuitous clerical errors. When I had to grow up and get a real job, I decided against it and stayed a writer. I have worked many odd—and I mean odd—jobs to support my habit: Commercial writer for country music hopefuls, resume massager, WalMart fitting room attendant and switchboard operator, telephone psychic.
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