Journals and Books of Shadows, Tarot

Object Writing in your Tarot Journal

I learned about object writing from the books of Pat Pattison, who teaches songwriters to evoke memories in the listener by involving all the senses while writing. Writers tend to get too much in the head and forget about the body, and this exercise reminds you to ground your writing in the physical.


The idea is that you write about a physical object using all of the senses. Pattison says we have seven senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and he also includes body and motion. He defines object writing as “timed, sense-bound writing usually done first thing in the morning.” He likens it to free association. The rules are simply to write, focusing on your senses, and to set a timer and stop after ten minutes, so that you don’t burn yourself out with long writing binges followed by droughts of not writing at all.


The Tarot is entirely symbolic. The only things included on the cards are things the artist put there and the reason they were included is because they symbolize something. If you include object writing into your Tarot journaling, you get a treasure trove of material that involves all of your senses in the cards.


For example, you write for ten minutes about a red rose.


What does the red rose look like?

I mean, it’s red, and it’s a rose. Sure. But we’re going beyond that. Is it still a bud or has it unfolded? Are the petals starting to darken around the edges? Are any of them falling off? Is the stem upright or is the weight of the blossom causing it to droop? Does the sight of the rose remind you of the elated feeling you had when a dozen red roses where delivered and you thought they were from Brian. Joy! But then you read the card and they were from Toby. You didn’t feel that way about Toby and now you had to tell him this, and, furthermore, Brian didn’t feel that way about you.


What does it smell like?

Do you enjoy the scent? Or is it too cloying like the time the smell of all the flowers on the casket and around the room at your grandmother’s funeral overwhelmed you and you had to go outside and breathe into a paper bag.


What does it feel like?

Perhaps you can still feel the soft velvet of it on your cheek that time you stayed at a hotel the same weekend there was a wedding and the wedding party left dozens of flower arrangements behind and the guy at the front desk said you could have them, they’d just be thrown away, so you and your lover took a single leftover rose back to your room.


What does it taste like?

Does it remind you of the rose petal chicken with pomegranate that your roommate made for her boyfriend but he broke up with her over a text so instead you ate it with her while you drank all night and listened to her talk about how much men suck (only for her to get back together with him the next day!).


What does it sound like?

Do you hear the snip of the bypass shears as your grandmother trims the rose bush that she grew from a cutting she brought from her mother’s garden when she got married?


Try to fit as many sense memories as you can into your Tarot journal before your ten-minute timer goes off. Next time you flip over the Magician and see his red roses, you won’t just know they’re supposed to mean something. You’ll feel their meaning in a visceral way. Better yet, you’ll have a personal relationship with the symbol rather than trying to memorize what someone else said about its meaning.


This is a partial list of symbols commonly found on Tarot cards that you could explore in object writing. There may be other symbols on your deck. Flip through your cards and make your own list of the symbols you see depicted.


Tarot Symbols for Object Writing:

Apples
Armor
Bluebells
Blindfold
Boat
Book
Butterfly
Candle
Cat
Chains
Church
Cliff
Crystal
Crystal ball
Cup

Dog, domesticated
Dog, wild
Dove
Feather
Flowers
Globes
Grapes
Grass
Horse
House
Ivy
Knapsack
Laurel wreath
Lavender
Lilies
Lotus
Ocean
Owl
Pillars
Pomegranate
Pumpkins

Rabbit
Raven
River
Roses
Rose, white
Rose, red
Scales
Scroll
Ships
Stream
Stone, square
Stone walls
Sunflowers
Sword
Throne
Trumpet
Vegetables
Wand
Water
Wheat

Here are some bonus words.

These are less tangible, as in you might not be able to hold them in your hand, but you can still come up with some associations for them.

Not quite objects bonus words:

Angel
Banner
Bull
Caduceus
Castles
Circles
Clouds
Clouds, gray
Dolphin
Eagle
Fields, cultivated
Garden

Hills
Lemniscate
Lightning bolt
Lion
Moon
Mountains
Mountaintop
Olive branch
Ouroboros
Path
Rain
Rainbow

Ram
Road
Skeleton
Sphinxes
Spiral
Sun
Sunset
Stars
Stormy sky
Triangle
Wings
Winter

Book Reviews, Tarot

The Light Seer’s Tarot (Deck Review)

The Light Seer’s Tarot is so gorgeous. My 19-year-old son, who never pays much attention to my decks, has commented on this one because it’s stunning. He’s especially drawn to that Knight of Swords.

Can I just pause for a moment to appreciate how awesome decks are now? I bought my first deck in 1999 and I’ve bought countless decks since, but the ones coming out in the last five years or so have really upped the game. So many great creators taking Tarot to the next level.

Anyway, back to this particular deck. It’s borderless and thankfully has no Roman numerals on the Majors (Roman numerals are the bane of my existence). Suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles and Courts are Pages, Knights, Queens, Kings. The cards follow the standard RWS system with nothing renamed or extra. So it reads right out of the box but it’s also completely re-envisioned with all new imagery.

Backs are reversible.

Any “dusty” look is from the fanning powder I put on, not the design of the cards.

The little book that comes inside the box contains spreads: Light of the Day Draw, Light and Shadow Spread, Light Worker Illumination Spread and Calling in Love Spread. I went to the website for the deck and was delighted to find a free downloadable PDF called The Field Notes that you could print and pop into a binder or import into an app like GoodNotes and use as a tarot journal with this deck.

The differences between the book that comes with the deck and the PDF are that, while they both contain brief meanings for the upright (Light Seer) and reversed (Shadow Seer) positions, the book describes the picture, while the PDF gives you questions to explore that relate to the picture. There is also space to take your own notes. Both the book and the PDF contain an affirmation for each card. The PDF also contains a new spread, the Trust Fall Spread (my favorite of Chris-Anne’s spreads for this deck).

This deck seems particularly well-suited for meditation and, of course, shadow work.

5 out of 5 stars

The Light Seer’s Tarot

Chris-Anne

Hay House

2019

Book Reviews, Tarot

The Naked Heart Tarot (Deck Review)

Rarely is a tarot deck as stunning as The Naked Heart. The art style is most similar to The Wild Unknown Tarot, but with a lot more white space to let the cards breathe. There are also symbols on the cards to remind you what element or astrological sign the card represents.

The deck mostly follows the RWS structure (Strength is 8, Justice is 11) but there are no humans depicted on the deck (unless you count an eye for the Magician). Suits are Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles.

Most of the Majors have their familiar names, but The Empress and Emperor have become the Earth Mother and Sky Father, while the Hierophant is now the Sage and the World is the Universe. There is an extra card, numbered XXII, called The Naked Heart.

The backs are reversible and depict a crystal grid. The small book that comes with it has a section called How the Grid Works that explains how you can use crystals with your cards.

The biggest change from a standard deck is the court cards. Here they are animals, so the Wands are foxes, the Cups are blue whales, Swords are panthers and Pentacles are bison. Ranks have been changed as well. Pages are Innocence, Knights are Movement, Queens are Heart, Kings are Spirit.

There are a few spreads in the book: The Naked Heart Spread, Inner Child/Goddess/God, and New Moon and Full Moon Spreads.

The card stock is just about as perfect as it could be and the size is standard for tarot decks.

This deck would be perfect for somebody who loves the Wild Unknown Tarot and its shift from traditional imagery of people in medieval costumes and Eurocentric social rankings. It might look like an advanced deck, but it incorporates enough symbolism into its clean imagery that a beginner could start with this deck.

If you need people on your cards because your intuitive way of reading relies on the scenes and emotions of the characters, then this might not be for you. I know a lot of people read body language from the humans on the cards and there isn’t any of that here. Some of the animals are somewhat expressive but none of them is a person sitting on a sofa crying or positioned on a hill and fighting.

Overall, The Naked Heart Tarot is a fantastic deck.

5 out of 5 stars

The Naked Heart Tarot

Jillian C. Wilde

independently published

2019

Tarot

5 Reasons Not to Keep a Tarot Journal

Every book on tarot has an obligatory section where the author tells you that keeping a tarot journal is the best way to learn. They can’t help it. Someone told them and they passed it along. And you know what? Maybe it was great for them. The person who wrote the book might actually learn best through keeping a journal. Again, this is a person who wrote a book. So that sort of thing comes naturally to them.

You might not be that person. And that’s ok. It’s ok to be you and it’s ok to approach tarot in your own way.

Journaling is a lot of things, but is it the best way to learn to read tarot cards? Maybe not.

We want to be diligent students. We aim to take comprehensive notes. Have you ever seen a set of encyclopedias? Back in the day, instead of the internet, people could have a set of books on their shelf and those books would have entries, in alphabetical order, of just about anything you might need to look up for school. Capital of Maryland. Length of the Nile. Ancient Greek mythology.

There was no way for these books to be comprehensive even though there was a volume for each letter of the alphabet, so you could subscribe to the yearbook. Now you’d have a huge shelf with an A-Z set of encyclopedias, and at the end would be identical books with years on the spine filling you in on what changed since the set was published. Covid-19. Biden/Harris. Myanmar.

Imagine this: you could have an entire shelf of journals like your own set of encyclopedias. One journal per card. 78 journals. Then your own yearly journals of readings. You could buy borrow or steal every book every written on tarot and carefully copy it into the journals. Now you’d have all the information you could find on every card in your deck (or all of your decks).

At the end of the day, did it help you read the cards?

There are correspondences for everything imaginable. Musical notes, Hebrew letter, herb, perfume, astrology. Suppose you compile all of them from all the available literature from the beginning of tarot and you write really super small. Now what? What are you even using those references for?

See, someone somewhere was playing with a deck of cards and came up with those references. Not from a book, originally, but from the cards themselves. A musician came up with the musical note that corresponds with each card and a student of Kabbalah gave each card a Hebrew letter and a gardener correlated each card to an herb. If you’re tone deaf and never studied Kabbalah and don’t know basil from rosemary, how exactly are these correspondences supposed to help you?

People talk a lot about finding a deck that speaks to you, but you also need correspondences that speak to you. If you’ve studied astrology for years, then those correspondences will help you learn tarot. But if you’ve never even looked up your own birthchart and barely know your sun sign, how will copying, “Saturn in Sagittarius” into a notebook help you understand the Ten of Wands?

If you study astrology later, you can look up the astrological correspondences then. And if you don’t, who cares? Just because tarot can be a lifelong study doesn’t mean you need to assign yourself homework in classes you don’t even want to take.

Journaling is a lot of things, but it’s not reading tarot cards.

1. Don’t keep a tarot journal if you’re going to be overly perfectionistic.

Are you trying to get an A on your tarot journal? Do you think a better tarot journal makes you more authentic a reader or proves your years of study or legitimizes you in any way? Don’t do that. It’s just a journal.

2. Don’t keep a tarot journal if you’re going to confuse reading and writing about the tarot with reading the tarot.

Is keeping a guitar journal the best way to learn guitar? It might be helpful to keep a brief log of your practice and jot down a few pointers, but hours on hours with the guitar in your hands is the best way to learn guitar, not hundreds of pages of journaling about guitars.

3. Don’t keep a tarot journal if it makes learning tedious.

Why are you giving yourself too much homework when you just want to play? If you bog yourself down, you won’t want to do it at all.

Perhaps you get an itch to pick up your deck and do a quick spread. But you don’t think you have time or patience to pull out your journal and record today’s date and the moon’s phase and astrological sign and the weather and which deck you used and the spread you used and how many cards are majors and how many are minors of each suit and how many are aces or courts cards. Sheesh. I doubt this is why you wanted to learn tarot in the first place. You wanted to throw down some cards and read them and put them away, not write an entire research paper every time.

4. Don’t keep a tarot journal if it keeps you from picking up the cards.

If you can’t use that deck you want to yet because you’re not done with the assignment of journaling all 78 cards, then something is amiss. Don’t let this idea that you need to journal to be doing tarot “properly” keep you from doing tarot at all.

Doing more readings, not more journaling about the cards, will make you a better reader.

5. Don’t keep a tarot journal if it makes tarot less fun.

Play with the deck.

Play with it some more.

Never lose sight of the tarot’s kinship with other decks of cards. At its root, card decks are games. Shuffle and play.

Is keeping a poker journal the best way to learn poker? Again, jotting down the occasional note might be helpful. Reading a book on poker might also be helpful. But playing a lot of hands of poker, preferably with lots of different people, is the best way to learn.

Suppose you were sitting down to play Monopoly for the first time. So you got a Monopoly journal. First you copy all the game instructions into it and then set aside pages for each property. Then you bought ten more games with different themes and compared them. What is Park Place called in this edition?

Imagine that this is making you not even want to play Monopoly. A lot of people find the game tedious to begin with, but what if you think you need to keep meticulous records of each turn. What did you roll? Where did you land? What happened?

For a certain type of person that sounds fun, but for almost everyone else, it sounds like all the fun has been sucked out of the game entirely. You don’t want to suck all the fun out of tarot.

There’s nothing wrong with journaling about tarot.

A lot of people love journaling. There’s nothing wrong with reading tarot books and jotting down something interesting the author said. It can be interesting to look back at some of your past readings. Some of them. You’ll know the big important ones that need ten pages of thoughts and feelings about them. Listen to your intuition and journal when you want to, not because you think you have to.

Don’t make it a chore. Don’t make yourself feel guilty. Don’t get an idea that you’re inadequate or doing this wrong or failing in some way. There is no way to fail at this. It’s your journal. Whatever you do or don’t do with it is right for you.

Just play with the cards.

Pick up your deck, push aside your books and journal, and play. Shuffle. Lay them out. Shuffle again. Look at all the pictures.

Sort them into piles:

cards you like vs. cards you dislike

cards you usually like but not in this deck

cards you don’t always care for but are stunning in this deck

fast cards vs. slow cards

static cards vs. dynamic cards

cards you’d use to represent love, money, career, acclaim, depression, anxiety, fear

Don’t make detailed lists in a notebook. Just look at the cards, sort into piles, shuffle and sort again by different criteria. If you like, put all the cards in order. Then shuffle again. Or keep them in order when you put them back in the box. Whichever you prefer.

Don’t keep a tarot journal. Unless you want to.

If you want to, keep as many tarot journals as you like over your entire lifetime. It’s your journey with the cards. Do it your way.

Book Reviews, Tarot

The Everyday Enchantment Tarot (Deck Review)

There’s a lot to love about this beautiful deck, with the artwork being at the top. Poppy Palin takes the cards and brings them down to earth, switching out the medieval and Renaissance imagery with scenes that look like our lives today. The cards retain their traditional names. Court ranks are Page, Knight, Queen, King, and suits are Blades, Wands, Cups, Coins. Backs are reversible.

This deck is more serious than most about diversity. There is not only racial diversity and representation of sexual orientations, but there are also a variety of ages, levels of physical ability, as well as people of different socioeconomic levels, from doctors and lawyers to construction workers and waiters to the homeless.

various ages, races, and sexual orientations are depicted
Cards show people who have had a mastectomy or who use a wheelchair or who have Down syndrome or blindness.
Rock star, construction workers, a surgeon who works at a research hospital for breast cancer.
Lawyer, farmer, waiter, tattoo artist.

Theoretically, this should be one of the best decks of our time. However, the size. My goodness the size. When you open the box, there is a book printed in landscape format and the book is under the deck in two stacks.

The cards are heavily coated, don’t shuffle well, and even though my hands aren’t tiny it’s a stretch to even put my thumb below the cards and hold them with a finger at the top.

Everyday Enchantment compared to Radiant Rider Waite
Size comparison Everyday Enchantment versus Radiant Rider Waite.
The card on top is from the Tarot de Maria Celia, which is a joy to shuffle. Then the Radiant Rider Waite. Finally, the Everyday Enchantment. You can see how much larger it is than a comfortable size for me.

They could have been smaller if they didn’t have the ugly borders around the picture. But since the titles of the cards are in the bottom border, if you trim the borders off, you will lose the card titles and the images themselves differ so much from a standard deck that you might not be able to figure out what card you’re looking at if you do that.

five out of five for artwork; two out of five for being impossible to actually shuffle (If a borderless mini version came out it would be one of my favorites).

The Everyday Enchantment Tarot: Finding Magic in the Midst of Life

Poppy Palin

Schiffer Publishing

2018

Book Reviews, Tarot

Tarot de Maria Celia (Deck Review)

I don’t usually take to Marseille-style decks, but I really fell in love with this little deck. Tarot de Maria Celia is a reinterpretation of the Marseille deck by Filipino artist Lynyrd-Jym Narciso, who previously created the Vanessa Tarot. Like the Vanessa Tarot, this deck is small (close to playing card size) and comes in a tin. That’s where the similarity ends, though.

Maria Celia is a redrawing of classic tarot in a modern color palette. I realized, looking through it, that part of the reason I never took to Marseille decks in the past was the primary red, blue, yellow palette. Amazing what a difference color can make. The images themselves are redrawn but in a classic style. They don’t look modern, and in fact they have some ivory and cream distressing to look aged.

I totally wrote those numbers on the cards myself with a Sharpie because I suck at Roman numerals. If you hate the way it looks, relax. It will not be on your version!

At first glance, I thought the backs didn’t show reversals, but as I playing with the cards a bit I realized that, although the design itself doesn’t show reversals, the distressing gives it away if you look closely.

The titles of the cards are in French, so the Magician is Le Bateleur. Suits are baton (wands), coupe (cups), epee (swords) and denier (coins). Court ranks are Valet, Cavalier, Reyne, Roy. Justice is eight, Strength is eleven. The Roman numerals are old school — nine is VIIII instead of IX, fourteen is XIIII instead of XIV.

There is a tiny stapled pamphlet (the LWB, or little white book) that explains briefly how to read pips if you’re intimidated by decks without scenes on the Minor Arcana. I think this deck will appeal even to people who think they don’t like this style of deck. It got me so excited I wanted to try again with traditional decks, which I sort of gave up on years ago.

I took this picture before I broke out the Sharpie and attacked my cards. This is what they look like out of the tin.

I basically think this cute little deck is the most Tarot of all Tarot decks that I own. I absolutely love it.

Five out of five stars

Tarot de Maria Celia

Lynyrd-Jym Narciso

US Games

2018

Book Reviews, Tarot

Radiant Wise Spirit Tarot (Deck Review)

I think this is currently my favorite RWS deck. People always tell you that you should start with the Rider Waite Smith Tarot, and there’s something to be said for learning the archetypal cards behind so many innovative new decks. It helps you read the new decks right out of the box. But the RWS decks themselves aren’t always something we enjoy reading with. I do think this version has made some helpful changes.

The first thing you notice is the new color palette. For a deck that’s been around more than 100 years, this soothing antique palette is a better fit than some of the more garish colors we’ve seen on other editions.

The Fool in Radiant Wise Spirit, Radiant Rider Waite and Albano Waite, no filter
The Moon in Radiant Wise Spirit, Radiant Rider Waite and Albano Waite, no filter
Wheel of Fortune in Radiant Wise Spirit, Radiant Rider Waite and Albano Waite, no filter
The Sun in Radiant Wise Spirit, Radiant Rider Waite and Albano Waite, no filter

The second innovation is removing the borders. I remember several years back when people were talking on the now defunct Tarot Forum about using paper trimmers and corner rounders to remove borders from decks. I’m glad the publishers were listening, because I personally can’t get a professional cut at home using my arts and crafts supplies. Plus, if they’re published without borders (rather than trimmed) they are the same size as a standard deck (rather than smaller) so the illustrations themselves can be enlarged. This pulls you into the pictures more and helps them feel more immediate.

This is literally the most standard of decks (as in the RWS is a standard deck and this deck has changed nothing about the line art itself). Suits are Swords, Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Courts are Page, Knight, Queen, King.

Backs are reversible.

lily and rose backs

They come in a solid box (not the flimsy kind where you’re going to wear out the lid opening and closing it) with a small booklet written by Sasha Graham. The only spreads in the booklet are one card, three card, and Celtic Cross.

The card stock itself is as perfect as it can get. Thick enough to not feel flimsy, but not too thick to shuffle. Glossy enough but not plastic. They feel durable.

I would recommend The Radiant Wise Spirit Tarot for anyone looking for a RWS deck to study or read with, especially if the previous color palettes were the main thing turning you off from RWS to begin with.

5 out of 5 stars

Radiant Wise Spirit Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, colors by Barbara Nosenzo, text by Sasha Graham

Lo Scarabeo

2019

Book Reviews, Tarot

The Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot (Deck Review)

I love the Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot Deck! It’s beautiful.

It reads right out of the box for anyone who’s familiar with the Rider Waite system. It also comes with a little booklet that includes a full-color picture of each card and an introductory upright and reversed meaning. There are three sample spreads in the back, named Eureka!, A Peek Behind the Cyclops’s Eye, and Blown to Smithereens.

Backs are reversible (and they’re gorgeous — not enough decks have backs that I like as much as these).

Courts are Page, Knight, Queen, King. Suits are Needles, Candles, Potions, Presents.

The majors are all beautiful and a lot of the minors are as well, but some of the minors are basically pips and, while they look nice, they’re not as inspiring in a reading as the ones with characters.

The cards have a glossy finish that doesn’t shuffle well right away. I spent several minutes separating the cards into stacks in lieu of shuffling because they were clinging to each other. They become easier to shuffle the more you work with them.

Anyone who likes Tarot and The Nightmare Before Christmas will definitely want to get this deck. It’s not perfect, but it’s charming. It’s illustrated by the same woman who illustrated the Dark Wood Tarot.

4 out of 5 stars

Disney and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot Deck

by Minerva Siegel, illustrated by Abigail Larson

Insight Editions

2020

Book Reviews, Tarot

Tarot del Toro (Deck Review)

If you’re a fan of Guillermo del Toro as well as Tarot, you may like this deck. It illustrates the major arcana and court cards with images from del Toro’s films (or, in the case of The Magician, the man himself!). For example, The High Priestess is Nuala, the elf princess from Hellboy II. The Lovers depicts characters from The Shape of Water.

The booklet that comes with it is small but engaging. It begins with a foreword from Guillermo del Toro, in which he says:

My mother read the Tarot to anyone that would ask her — regardless of the time or setting. She always carried her deck of cards, nestled in a velvet pouch inside her handbag, and treated it with great care and respect. The edges of the cards were worn and stained from the frequency and familiarity of their handling.

Guillermo del Toro

Most of the booklet is written by Tomas Hijo, creator of the deck, and it explains his process of rewatching the films and selecting how to translate the imagery onto the cards. There is a little story about a Don Miguel, blind tarot reader from the town of Salamanca, who helped in the deck’s creation and who teaches some spreads in the back. This may be true but it has a mythical quality to it that may be exaggerated. I found myself flipping to the Hierophant to see if maybe I’d find Don Miguel there (instead I found The Master, the supreme vampire from The Strain).

Tarot del Toro is in the Marseilles style, meaning the numbered cards of the minor arcana are “pips” which do not show scenes of people doing daily life things. If you don’t read with pips and you intend to read with this deck, that might disappoint you. Normally I would say, “Well, there’s no shame in using the guidebook” but in this case the book has longish explanations of the major arcana, brief paragraphs about the court cards, and almost nothing to say about the pips.

Suits are Blades, Wands, Goblets, and Discs.

Courts are Valet, Knight, Queen, King.

Backs show upright or reversed cards.

Though the illustrations and color palette are in the style of older decks, the card stock is slick and plastic. They could take some breaking in before they’ll shuffle smoothly, as they like to stick together. Some tarot readers use fanning powder in cases like this (available at magic shops).

If you’re a fan of del Toro, you’ll probably enjoy the deck. If you’re just looking for a Tarot deck and you’re not familiar with del Toro’s work, this may not be a great place to start. If you’re ambivalent about his films or find them too dark, you’ll probably feel the same way about the deck.

3 out of 5 stars (mostly because the pips were uninspired)

Tarot del Toro

Inspired by Guillermo del Toro, illustrated by Tomas Hijo

Insight Editions

2020

Book Reviews, Tarot

Witchling Academy Tarot (Deck Review)

If you like Harry Potter or the magical girls anime genre, you’ll enjoy Witchling Academy Tarot. The book that comes with the deck is small but fun. It follows the adventures of Charlie, an apprentice at the Witchling Academy of Magic. The Major Arcana has a story about Charlie’s battle against Corrupt Magic, and it tells the Hero’s Journey through leaving home for the first time (the Fool) to completing the first year at the academy (the World).

Each of the Minor Arcana suits is a house that students are sorted into.

“House of Wands will learn how to channel fire magic through their wands and hone their wand-battling skills. The House of Cups will focus on the art of potion crafting while learning to enhance power with their water magic. The House of Pentacles has a full curriculum on healing and growing plants with earth magic. Last but not least, House of Swords Apprentices will be taught how to master their swords, using air magic to enhance their abilities.”

p. 1

Each of the suits has its own story to help you understand the progression from Ace through Ten. I feel like this would be great for a beginner, as it ties all the cards together rather than having a seemingly unrelated deck of 78 cards to memorize. The character of Charlie is central to the deck and this helps ground the story so we can remember what each card means and where it fits in the overall. Charlie also has a little blue and white parakeet familiar named George who appears on most of the cards.

Two of Pentacles

This is a friendly deck that makes the cards approachable. Each card has a Daily Incantation, which is like an affirmation, such as for the Two of Pentacles, “I can easily balance all my tasks with beauty and grace.” Then it has a Magical Meaning, which is what we’d usually call the upright meaning. These are positive and upbeat and have advice like, “Manage your time, energy, and resources well, and you will not lose your balance. You can handle any challenges that are thrown at you.” Then there’s the Shadow Meaning, which corresponds to what we usually call the reversed meaning. For example, “The Two of Pentacles reversed is warning you that you might have overcommitted and are being overwhelmed by your schedule.”

There is a short section in the back about how to use the cards for spells or spreads. It keeps the upbeat tone of encouragement. “All the professors and I are so proud of your dedication. There are no right or wrongs, and everyone who attempts a spread will pass their finals! So what are you waiting for?”

I’d recommend this deck for beginners, young readers (or young at heart readers), girly girls, or anyone who wants to see how the Tarot can be integrated with storytelling. This deck follows the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) meanings and the backs are reversible.

five out of five stars

Witchling Academy Tarot

Pamela Chen, illustrated by Mindy Zhang

Llewellyn Publications

2021