Friday, 31 July 2015

Lenormand suit by suit: Clubs

This week I've looked at the suit of Hearts and seen the Man's journey, Diamonds and considered the perils of trying to make a living and keep one's head above water, Spades and the 'hysterical' (in the Victorian sense) distractions of the Woman. These suits showed a few ups and downs, but overall, they didn't seem like they were simply out to get us. Where, you may wonder, are all the events that are just deeply crap? Here they are! The suit of Clubs.

Are these Club cards a progression? Do they tell a tale? I'm not sure if I can string them into a story, but they certainly represent the 'unpleasant occurrences of one's life, from dishonest folk or individuals with power over us, to misfortunes, grief and unhealthy situations,' as Andy Boroveshengra's book Lenormand: 36 Cards says. They are:


Ring - Cross - Mice - Mountain - Fox - Bear - Whips - Snake - Clouds

The suit appears to me to show a progression of no-good, very-bad things, from potentially hurtful (Ring) to the trials of Job (Clouds).


French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
The Ring is the beginning of this suit, and it may seem like a strange suit for this card to be in, as it represents commitment. We like to think of commitment as a good thing, especially the kind of commitment represented by a ring. But when you think about it, commitment is a very risky business. People look at a commitment or a contract as insurance that they won't get hurt, but as soon as you sign on to something you are putting yourself at risk of being betrayed, robbed, injured or wronged in some way. We know this. That's why we say to each other, please make this promise to me that you won't betray, rob, injure or wrong me. Because we know we are putting ourselves into a position where that has become more likely to happen. 

The Cross is a burden that must be borne. I wrote my thoughts about it a while back here: Lenormand Cross. In that post three years ago, I said that the card probably points mostly to burdens and not necessarily religion, but I do believe that depending on the reading it serves as a symbol for any (or lack of) religious belief, tradition, or spiritual practice. And heaven knows (if you'll pardon the expression), that can become a big old mud hole for people to drown themselves in (or try to drown each other in). 

Then comes Mice, and we might think, well, how can mice be worse than  a cross, but the Mice card represents the nibbling away of the good stuff in your life, and that is like a kind of torture that just goes on and on -- ugh! Like Prometheus who has his liver eaten every day by an eagle, only to have it grow back overnight so that the eagle can eat it again the next day, forever. UGH! 'Nibble nibble like a mouse, who is nibbling at my house?' *Shudder*

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo

From the nibble-nibbles to the BIG BARRIER of Mountain, we then encounter what's even more painful than situations that can hurt us -- and that's people that can hurt us. The Fox tries to use us, the Bear to control us. 

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
The Whips torment us, the Snake confuses, entices and betrays us, and the Clouds! Well, the Clouds cover everything over with gloom and badness. 

The Ring is a risk, the Cross a burden, the Mice steal, the Mountain blocks, the Fox exploits, the Bear dominates, the Whips bring strife, the Snake betrays, the Clouds blacken and disturb everything. 

So hip hip hooray for the suit of Clubs! 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Lenormand suit by suit: Spades

Continuing on with my stream of consciousness work-though of the Lenormand playing card suits...Today it's Spades.

I have used Lenormand cards to do readings for a few years now, and I never noticed how the Spades suit is actually the mildest one in the deck! This is probably because 1) I never paid particular attention to the playing card insets until now, and 2) I associate Spades with 'bad stuff'. This is quite clearly not the case in the Lenormand system. Just look at all these positive cards:

Woman - Tower - Letter - Garden - Anchor - Ship - Child - Bouquet - Lily 

In Andy Boroveshengra's book Lenormand: 36 Cards, Spades are described as the suit that 'deals with the most generative areas of life, such as relationships, hopes, and all the things that make life worthwhile and cause it to flow so easily.' 

I've been thinking about this. The word 'spade' makes me think of a shovel, and that makes me think of gardening, which reminds me of sowing and reaping, which reminds me of fertility, which reminds me of Woman! And here we are at the beginning of this suit, with Ace of Spades, woman. The Man, Ace of Hearts, may have been (in the sexist paradigm of Lenormand that I'm creating) the source of life, but the Woman is the one who nurtures and harvests it, like any good gardener would plant a seed and bring it to fruition. 

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
Having stared at this line for a while, I believe the Herzberg Motivation Hygiene Theory will work here, too. You just have to put yourself in a decidedly 18th -19th century mindset. With the Woman as the significator, we can view the cards that are near and far from her, as well as the numbers of the suit, and identify those factors that are most essential for survival but also most taken for granted (both high in number and far away) and those factors that are least essential for survival but that loom large in supposed significance in day-to-day life (both low in number and near). The near cards are of great concern and distraction to the Woman. To understand this, think like the characters in a Jane Austen novel.

Of primary concern to the Woman is security, particularly a long life with a secure old age (Tower). Obtaining this is of utmost importance to the 18th/19th century woman, and pretty much the only way for her to get it is to get herself a husband. As any reader of Jane Austen can tell you, that's just about all that Austen characters talk or think about. Must. Get. Husband. Must. Secure. Station. In. Life. FOR. LIFE.

Very much tied up in this hunt for a bottomless pension are the next two cards, and they remain of primary importance to the Woman after marriage as well: Letter and Garden. It is hard to fathom how important the letter was to a certain class of female in bygone days. In Victorian London, the post was delivered 7 times a day. You could actually carry out a complete conversation all in one day, through the post, and people did so with alacrity. A lady could spend hours each day on various correspondences. It is the obsession with letters that created the epistolary novel. Have you read Les Liaisons Dangereuses?

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
The letter writing is all part of the wider social picture, represented by the Garden card, which is not a card about nature at all, but about community, society and public standing. A garden can be considered the taming and refining of the natural, and few things are more tamed and refined than 18th-19th century social life. So many rules and regulations! So many ways to 'ruin one's reputation' and no longer be 'received by polite society'. All so deliciously complicated and distracting, for these ladies who have secured their future and now have long, empty days to fill.

I think it's interesting that the Anchor and the Ship fall next to one another, and that the Anchor is closer to the Woman than the Ship. A bottomless supply for the long haul (Tower) is not actually as essential to survival as stability in the here and now (Anchor). So this card is higher in number, but further away from the woman, because it is more essential for survival but also more taken for granted in daily life. The Ship is often seen as travel, and it can be read as that in this suit work-through as well; travel is less important to the Woman but its absence would be felt. The Ship, according to Andy in Lenormand: 36 Cards, can also mean an inheritance, gift or trust fund, and that would no doubt be something taken a bit for granted by the Woman but keenly missed if it were not there!

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
So now we have arrived at the last three cards, which, being furthest from the Woman and yet the highest in the suit, would represent those things most taken for granted by her and yet most essential to her being. They are Child - Bouquet - Lily, and to me they seem inextricably linked. Until quite recently, women have been seen as being entirely ruled by their reproductive system, and all their emotions, needs and very being find the reason for existence in procreation, nesting, and fecundity. A woman's whole happiness lies in a healthy reproductive system and her progeny.

In contrast, the line of Hearts, linked to the Man, shows a much more balanced experience of life, with motivations and hygiene factors that have to do with matters both higher (spiritual guidance in the Star) and more fundamental (basic shelter in House). This does not surprise me, because as I mentioned in my Hearts post, the male was considered the more fully developed as a human being. The female weaker and defined solely by her reproductive system and pettier concerns.

This makes sense to me. So far so good! Onward tomorrow to have a think about Clubs. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Lenormand suit by suit: Diamonds

The Lenormand suit of Diamonds is the Alemannic suit of Bells, and according to Andy Boroveshengra's book Lenormand: 36 Cards, is associated with the season of summer. The nine cards are:

Sun - Clover - Birds - Key - Coffin - Book - Scythe - Path - Fish 

I notice that 6 out of 9 cards are outdoors/nature cards and easily associated with summer life and activities -- Sun, Clover, Birds, Scythe (first harvest being traditionally August 1st), Path and Fish. The Sun shines in summer, the lawns are full of Clover, Birds everywhere, first harvest takes place (Scythe), we like to go walking (Path) and fishing (Fish). Simplistic, but effective. I've looked through the rest of deck, and though there are more animal and nature cards, none seems as overtly 'summery' to me as these. Only Garden, and it is in the suit of Spades, and I have a few ideas about why that I will cover later.

Andy says in his book that the Diamonds suit deals with 'matters concerning one's prosperity, the precarious nature of life, and one's individual cares and concerns.' So even though the Diamonds represent summer, which we associate with fun times, they can represent stress, or as Andy says, 'a need to be cautious or that your shoulders are too burdened.' In a way this makes perfect sense. I imagine summertime must have been very stressful in the past. It is a relatively short time and in that time, people needed to get all the growth and much of the harvesting done to sustain them through the long, cold winter, the spring, and through to the next summer again. That's a lot of pressure. It also helps make the connection between summer and financial matters and the 'precarious nature of life'. I imagine it must have seemed like one great big crap shoot, summertime. Happy and joyous because it's filled with light and warmth and food, but lots of worries, too.

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
The Sun is out, it's summer! Will we be Lucky this year? Will Happiness be on our side? (Clover) The Voices of worry niggle. Lots of talk. But we also might get to take a nice break some time this season.(Birds)

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
This season is the Key to everything. (Key) If we don't get this right, if luck is not on our side, we're dead. We might barely break even, or we might lose everything. (Coffin) It's the unknown, you see. We just don't know how things will turn out. All we can do is follow the Farmer's Almanac and hope for the best. (Book)

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
We begin the first harvest of our labours, though much of it is yet to come. It's hard work, and we never know what the yield is going to be.  Even after all the work of bringing the harvest in, there are dangers that could strike - a barn burning, infestation of rats, or damp getting in and spoiling the lot. It's a scary and dangerous proposition, this business of life. (Scythe) We have so many choices to make this season -- what to plant, when to plant it, how to tend it, when to harvest it, how to store it -- it's hard to know where each option might lead. (Paths) At the end of it, we hope to prosper. (Fish)

Caitlin Matthews in her book The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook says that Diamonds represent 'dynamic energy, enterprise, strategy, luck, money, wisdom, and decisions,' all of which makes perfect sense to me in the context I've explored here.

This helps me get a handle on the Diamonds.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Lenormand suit by suit: Hearts

www.phrases.org.uk
You may be aware that the suits we in the English-speaking world are familiar with are French: Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds. You also may be aware that our beloved tarot suits are actually Italian playing card suits, and that you can go into any news agents in Italy, apparently, and get a playing card deck that uses these emblems. Thus you may associate Clover with Swords, and consider that to be the suit of thoughts, Spades as Batons and see that as a suit of action, Hearts as Cups and view that as emotions, and Diamonds as Coins, concerned with finances and security. That's a natural reaction for a tarot reader learning Lenormand, but guess what? Though the Lenormand deck uses French emblems, they are not interpreted as either French or Italian -- they are in the Alemannic, or 'German-Swiss', tradition. So a Club is an Acorn, a Spade is a Leaf, a Heart is a Flower or Rose, and a Diamond is a Bell.

What the heck, we tarot reader students may ask, does that mean?

I am only just learning this and my blog is serving as my 'learning journal', so do set me straight if I go wrong, but I'm going to take a look at each suit in turn this week, gleaning information from the books of Caitlin Matthews and Andy Boroveshengra, and adding any flashes of insight of my own as I go (a dangerous proposition.)

Today's suit is Hearts. I've chosen to examine Hearts first because Andy's book, Lenormand: 36 Cards, teaches that Hearts are associated with spring, and I thought it would be nice to look at the suits in season order and consider how this information may colour meaning. Plus, I just like things to be in some kind of order. (The seasons are Hearts - Spring, Diamonds - Summer, Spades - Autumn, Clubs - Winter).

According to Andy's book, the Hearts suit deals with 'domestic affairs, daily life and immediate surroundings'.  Caitlin's book says that Hearts deal with 'home and friendship; emotion, love, trust, encouragement.' So, Hearts are about the home and and the day to day. One could say that Hearts are about the essence of life, or the basics of life.

It may come as a surprise that the suit of Hearts is associated with masculinity. As Andy only hints at but I will dare to expand upon, this no doubt hearkens back to ideas that males are more fully developed human beings spiritually, mentally and emotionally, whereas women are mere slaves to their reproductive systems and thus have much a narrower, underdeveloped and erratic experience of life. How Victorian. (The feminine suit is Spades -- which sounds doubly bad, but it turns out the 'Big Bad' suit in the Alemannic system is not the Spades but the Clubs. More on that later.)

I had all nine of these cards laid out in a line in front of me and it occurred to me that this arrangement reminds me of Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory (aka Motivation-Hygiene Theory). In a nutshell, what motivates us are higher level needs; the basic fundamentals are not motivational, we only notice them when they are absent. It's a workplace theory, but it seems to me to be a truth about life, and I noticed it in this line of nine.

projectmanagementtraining.net.au/

If you look at the line, which consists of the cards put in order by suit and number, we have Man - Stars - Tree - Moon - Rider - Dog - Heart - Stork - House. The line starts with Man, and if you consider both the near/far reading method and the number of suits, you can see that the things with the higher numeric value (companionship, love, variety, housing) are things that we tend to take for granted until they're missing; they are far from the Man, because he pays less attention to them, but have a higher number value, because they are more essential to life. That's what reminded me of Herzberg's Theory. The things closest to the man (a sense of a mission in life, of guidance, longevity, recognition and being valued, especially at work) are the things that he finds rewarding and motivational, but which are not 'hygiene factors' (ie, physical life necessities) and thus have a lower number.

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
Whether you see the Ace as the source of or the pinnacle of the suit, it comes as no surprise that the Man is the Ace of Hearts. Following through with the sexist bent of the suits, Man is the source from which life springs. (Woman is the Ace of Spades, or the source/pinnacle of growth and cultivation. The man starts the life, the woman incubates and harvests it, so to speak.)

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
So carrying on the line, above we have recognition and praise, especially at work (Moon), vigorous activity promoting health (Rider), loyal companions (Dog)...

French Cartomancy, LoScarabeo
...and finishing the line, love (Heart), change/growth especially in domestic matters (Stork), and of course the home itself (House).

Well, this certainly helps me get my head around the Hearts suit, and if nothing else, provides a framework for remembering what playing card goes with which Lenormand emblem. I wonder what will spring to mind when I examine the rest of the suits. :)

Thoughts?

Monday, 27 July 2015

TABI Conference 25 Jul 2015

Tarot Association of the British Isles Conference
Birmingham, UK
25 July 2015 

Seeing all my online tarot pals is great, and it's even better when the workshops at a conference bring me new tools for my cartomantic magic bag. If I had to describe the 2015 TABI Conference in one word, it would be 'meaty'. There was a lot of really useful content and learning going on all day long, and my Aquarius/Queen of Swords self was loving it. Hooray for generous, knowledgeable presenters and a room full of enthusiastic readers to practice with.

Check-in and Goody Bags
Okay, it is a little disconcerting to me to be greeted by name by people I may or may not recognise (well, let's be honest, it's a little disconcerting to me to be greeted) -- and  I often can't remember names even when I recognise a face! Caroline Blackler greeted me nearly as soon as I walked in the building, and I am sure I gave her a look that said 'I know you but I can't remember your name, please pretend you don't realise this.' I think she knew, but she didn't let on. :)

photo by Vivianne Kacal 
There was a fabulous raffle, but I didn't take part because I either currently own or once owned every deck on offer -- and there were some really good ones, including a signed copy of Cilla Conway's Byzantine Tarot, which I noticed the winner then asked John Matthews to sign as well. Lucky girl! Our goody bags were pretty amazing: a TABI mug, a TABI bumper sticker, a Llewellyn tarot bag, and two decks, a heart-shaped deck (which I gave to a tarot colleague to use as a giveaway at her meetup) The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus (a John Matthews deck that really doesn't do it for me at all and will be given away at some point), and a book of our choice. I didn't take all this stuff because I didn't need it, but there was a lot of good stuff there.

How to Read with Reversed Court Cards - Alison Cross 
But here's where the REAL good stuff started. Alison is far too humble about her tarot knowledge and teaching gifts. A little less of that, please! She managed to cram a lot of content and hands-on work into this short session, the main crux of which was to teach us two techniques for reading tarot reversals.

photo by Vivianne Kacal
Method 1: Interpret as elemental rank and suit opposite. For example, the Queen of Swords is Water of Air. The opposite of Water is Fire, the opposite of Air is Earth, so the reversed Queen of Swords would be King of Pentacles, Fire of Earth.

Method 2: Switch the elements in the card title. For example, Queens are Water and Swords are Air. Change Water of Air to Air of Water. That would be Knight of Cups.

I've been testing out this skill on Steven Bright's Tarot Thoughts posts on Facebook. :)

Tarot and Love - Jane Struthers

I tend to shy away from 'Love' readings, and so I wasn't sure what I was going to be learning in this workshop! But then Jane starts talking and she's this amazingly knowledgeable astrologer and tarot card reader, and taught us three fantastic tarot spreads. Alas, I was too slow to buy her book (greedy witches!) but was able to order it online as soon as I got home, which of course I did! My favourite one was the Personal History spread, which uses 6 cards:

1. Your attitude two months/years ago (or whatever time frame you pick)
2. Their attitude two months/years ago
3. Your attitude one month/year ago
4. Theirs one month/year ago
5. Your attitude now
6. Their attitude now

I really enjoyed working this spread with my partner, who was using an unusual and hard to find oracle deck that clearly is meant for her.

 Lenormand - Andy Boroveshengra
I was so happy to finally meet Andy Boroveshengra, Lenormand expert, card and palm reader, and writer! He is just the nicest fella you'd ever want to meet and I got a lot out of his presentation.

I bought Andy's book, Lenormand: Thirty-Six Cards, and was very pleased to get it signed! The content of the book is much like we have seen in Andy's online courses 2013-2015. It's great to have all that valuable information gathered in one place. I am chuffed to own this book.

In his presentation, Andy shared some of the information from the book. Just when it seemed like we were about to get our cards out and start digging in, it was over! That was a quick 90 minutes -- which means I was thoroughly absorbed the whole time. I would love to attend a full day workshop with Andy.

Reading the Marseille Pips: Skills from Previous Centuries - Caitlin Matthews
Photo by Vivianne Kacal
(Can I just go totally fan girl here and say this...Caitlin Matthews greeted me at my table! She recognized me! How tickled was this little girl from Arkansas?? Very!)

I came to this conference specifically to hear Caitlin speak about Marseille pips. She gave us a handout packed with information, and then explained it and guided us in a few old-fashioned spreads that were just great fun to play around with. I love this traditional stuff and would love to immerse myself in it for a while, and leave behind contemporary counselling style readings and churned out LoScarabeo and Llewellyn decks that add nothing to the tarot world and in fact may even harm it. Controversial? Shrug.

(If you're wondering what's going on in the photo, that's Caitlin's demonstration of the typical RWS reader's reaction when faced with a table full of pips-only cards. Gaaaaah!)

What a great day it was. It just made me sad to think it's another YEAR before we can do it again. A year is long...too long. This is all just too good to happen only once a year.

Photos by kind (and patient) permission of Vivianne Kacal. Thank you, Vivianne! :) 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Stretching the old brain cells with M. Lenormand

Eagle-eyed folk may notice I've accidentally got two cards switched around. This has been rectified.
Can you see it (without looking it up)?

This is what the Lenormand houses look like with just playing cards. The Lenormand, I learned from Andy Boroshevengra yesterday at the TABI conference, is not a deck or an oracle, but a system of reading playing cards. It uses 36 of the cards. To use the Lenormand system, you remove the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s from a standard playing card pack and there you have it. But you'll never figure out the order they go in without memorizing it. There is no discernable logic or reason behind the order. Andy says there is no way of knowing what the thinking was behind this order, because we don't have the notes of the creator. The cards were originally published as The Game of Hope sometime between 1798 and 1801, by a man called Johann Kaspar Hechtel, as part of his board game. It could also be used as a playing card deck (for games that did not require a full deck, I assume) or to tell fortunes. This pack was later published with the Lenormand name and is the basis for all subsequent Lenormand decks. It also doesn't help if you know how to do traditional playing card readings, because the Lenormand system is very different.  How (and why) did Johann Kaspar Hechtel come up with this? It's a mystery!

For a Grand Tableau, I have always laid out a larger Lennie in order and then dealt a smaller one on top. Never learned the order of the cards. I've decided to remedy that.  I've been reciting and quizzing myself with the order of Lenormand and card numbers over the last few weeks. My goal is to be able to call out the number when told the emblem, call out the emblem when told the number, and be able to name the cards above, below, and to the left and right of any card called to me by name or number. I am now adding to my goals reading Lenormand style using only playing cards, no Lennie deck.

I've made this old playing card deck into a kind of concentration game by writing the Lenormand house name on the back of the card, so I can look at the playing card and guess the name, flip it over to see if I'm right, or lay them out face down and read the house name, have guess at the playing card, and flip it over to see if I'm right. Keep playing until I get them all right. (I noticed the switched cards when I was writing on the backs. Have you spotted them yet?)

Hey, it's a hobby and keeps me off the streets.

I did similar memory exercises with tarot when I first started out and I know those babies upside down backward forward inside and out. I want to get to the same familiarity with the Lenormand structure. At least I already have a feel for the Lennie card meanings, but that appears to be only half the battle. I'm up to the challenge!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Deck Review -- Lord of the Rings Oracle by Terry Donaldson

Today at the TABI Conference I acquired The Lord of the Rings Oracle by Terry Donaldson (Godsfield 1998). The front of the box marks it as 'an official Tolkien Enterprises gift set product,' which might at first seem like an endorsement from the Tolkien estate, but in actuality probably means permission was granted to use the name and intellectual property, which is not quite the same as being 'endorsed'. The set consists of:
  • large sturdy box designed to look like a book, with green ribbon tie closure
  • 79-page hardback guidebook
  • large heavily laminated (sturdy) map of Middle earth
  • plaster/resin disc with a hole in the middle decorated with runes which is meant to be the One Ring (the book calls it the Great Ring), but to me looks more like a dwarvish protection charm (an interpretation I actually prefer)
  • 40-card deck of illustrated cards 

The Map
My husband is both a Lord of the Rings fan and a cartographer. When he was a child, he drew maps of Middle Earth and this inspired him to create and draw maps of his own fantasy worlds. He grew up to be a mapmaker. So of course the first thing I did upon unpackaging the deck was hand him the map and ask 'Is this accurate?'

Instantly he pointed to the coastline around Gondor and said, 'This is wrong.' Then he noticed that Caradhras (a mountain that should be sitting on top of the Mines of Moria), Rivendell, and Lothlorien are all in the wrong place. And that the forest of Mirkwood is the wrong shape. It puzzles me. Tolkien maps abound -- and it's a small matter to put a name in the right place on a map. I mean, it's just as easy to get it right as to get it wrong.  It's a shame, because it is heavily constructed for a lot of use, and it is colourful. But knowing it's inaccurate puts me right off it. So I won't be using the map. I can get accurate maps of Middle Earth on Amazon for £3, if I decide I need one.

The Ring
You're meant to use the Ring item on the end of a string or ribbon (which you provide) as a pendulum with the cards and the map. You can also cast it across the map without a string and see where it lands. I haven't read this part of the book too closely yet, as I am not that much interested in this type of divination. I'm a card girl.


The Book
At 79 pages, the book is brief, but makes a decent effort at explaining how to use the items in the kit. After 15 pages of explanation, the card meanings begin, pages 16-57. Each card gets one page with full colour thumbnail, a description of the card, then three columns: 'Esoteric Meaning', 'Personal Indications' and 'Reversed Meaning'. There is more explanation and a series of card layouts at the end of the book.

If you've read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, you will understand these cards without the book. If you haven't, the cards won't make sense to you even with the book. This is only a 'plug and play' deck if you are a Tolkien fan and remember who everybody is and where everything is in the stories, and you are prepared to make connections and find meaning in these things as they apply to your own life. (Or the seeker's).

The Cards 
The art in this deck is widely criticized. Aeclectic Tarot gives the deck 1.5 out of 5 stars. It has been called 'vague'. I am guessing that is because the art is not detailed and is more like sketches done with colour pencils. Personally, I like the artwork. I find that the 'fuzziness' makes it more otherworldly. I'm glad it doesn't look like Tolkien's artwork or David Day's or Alan Lee's, and that it doesn't hearken to anything remotely like what is seen in Peter Jackson's films. This is good. I believe it helps to access my own inner versions of these beloved characters and settings, without becoming locked into popular imagery.


Lord of the Rings Oracle, Donaldson 1998
You can see from the above that the art looks, as some describe it, 'sketchy'. But I take exception to it being called childish or unaccomplished. This appears to be artist Alice Englander's preferred style. I like it. I don't like Ciro Marcetti's art style. Some do. It's as simple as that, really. 

There are also complaints that major characters have been left out. That's true, a lot of names are missing, but can you imagine how huge the deck would be if everybody got a card? The places represented in the deck do a good job of triggering thoughts of certain characters, and the system seems more about evoking places (journey through Middle Earth = journey through life) than about particular characters. 

Summary
I got this deck as part of a trade for my unused Daniloff Tarot. I am pleased with my trade, because I love Lord of the Rings so much, and this deck is a cross-collectible for me, as well as a tool to help me work more deeply with the themes, archetypes, characters and settings of Tolkien's truly gifted and rich imagination. These books have meant so much to me for most of my life, whereas I only bought the Daniloff because there was a group buy on TABI. No brainer. 

If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings and you respond favourably to the art work, you will probably enjoy this deck. If not, probably ought not bother.

 Namárië, ar nai aistalë Eldar ar Atani ar ilyë Léralieron hilya le
Eleni sílar antalyannar! 
(Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves, Men and all the Free Folk go with you. 
May the stars shine upon your faces!)

-- Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring