The nice folks at Weiser Books were kind enough to send me their new Tarot Deck, The English Magic Tarot, by Rex Van Ran, Steve Dooley and Andy Letcher. I’d like to take a little time to express my thoughts about it.
First, let me say that this is my first tarot deck. I am a complete novice. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by tarot cards, and totally jealous of those who have dedicated the time to become adept at reading tarot. So this review comes from a novice point of view.
The deck and the companion book came nicely packaged in the box pictured at the beginning of this post.
Before I broke the seal on the decks, I began by reading the book. There is a foreword by Philip Carr Gomm. He gives a short overview of English Magic, and how this tarot deck fits into the English magic realm. Incidentally, this is the second book I’ve read with a forward by Philip Carr Gomm, the other one being in a wonderful book entitled The Druidry Handbook, Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth.
The next chapter gives some background to the period of England’s history that the design of the cards reflect. There is a short discussion as to what English magic is exactly, and an interesting discussion about how tarot and magic fit in our enlightened worldview today. Then a brief page or two as to how the English Tarot came to be.
The bulk of the 160 page book is about a page devoted to the meaning of each card in the deck, and thoughts on interpreting them when reading tarot. To try to remember something about the card and its’ meaning, I held each card as I read the corresponding page. Obviously, it will take some time to remember what each card represents, so there is some work to be done there for me.
Next is a section giving instructions on using the cards. This was basic enough to get me started, but certainly not a complete how-to of reading tarot. I look forward to reading more books on the basics of tarot, so that I can apply that knowledge to this deck. The last chapter is a more defined technique of reading tarot that links to English magical technique. That was an interesting few pages. The author described a technique to connect the deck to English magical practice.
The cards themselves remind me of the artwork found in graphic novels. They are very stylishly drawn and vibrantly colored. The imagery lends itself to many interpretations. The art clearly reflects the time period of early English mysticism and magic.
Honestly, I can’t express enough how much I’ve enjoyed working with this deck, and reading the book. In the last two days, I’ve probably spent 15 hours with them. The history of English time period was such that I actually used a highlighter on many pages of the companion book. I’ve read lots of history as far as European paganism is concerned,but this took me to a time period with which I wasn’t all that familiar. So I learned something about history, as well as having my first tarot experience.
I believe that things come to me when I need them in my life. I’ve contemplated learning tarot for years, but never acted upon it. When Bonni at Weiser Books suggested I might enjoy this deck, and perhaps write a review of it, I think that was a magical happening. I had never been approached before, and at first I was a bit hesitant, since I hadn’t worked with tarot previously. But I took the plunge, and now feel that maybe the God and Goddess had something to do with the circumstances.
However it happened, I found this to be a wonderful experience, and I look forward to using this deck extensively as I learn more about reading tarot.
More information about the book can be found here at Red Wheel/Weiser Books online. The expected release date is October 1st.
As always thanks for reading, and
The English Magic Tarot
By Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, and Andy Letcher
Forward By Philip Carr Gomm
Published by Weiser Books 2016