THE BOOK OF SHADOWS TAROT REVIEW
The Book of Shadows Tarot is the first volume of the two-volume deck designed by tarot specialist Barbara Moore. It is the ‘as above deck, which focuses on the divine and universal energy and the other deck will be called’so below’ and will focus on human experience in the present.
Lo Scarabeo have finally issued an apology for their horrible Elemental Tarot (reviewed by myself at the time it was released about two years back) with the help of their Book of Shadows Tarot.
What a great excuse! A Wiccan deck that is bursting with beautiful sensual images, that are exquisitely elaborated and rendered in vivid colors. It’s bound to be a self-respecting witch’s favorite deck.
What is this deck got to have to do with it’s counterpart, the Elemental Tarot? It’s simple Both decks utilize the four elements to explain the meanings of minor arcana.
As per Paracelsus, Austrian occultist Paracelsus (born Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus of Hohenheim on 1493) there are four elementals : Gnomes representing the element of earth (pentacles) Sylphs for air (swords) and undines that represent water (cups) along with salamanders that represent fire (wands).
In relation to the minor arcana, I’ve often been depressed when I have been presented with decks in which the images on minor cards have meanings that differ from the commonly accepted interpretations. It can be frustrating, even! (I consider traditional to be derived from the Rider-Waite/ Crowley or Golden Dawn tarots).
Isn’t it much more enjoyable to break the rules when we know the rules in the in the first place?
This deck is a complete departure from the usual significance of minor arcana however, it’s done so well that it doesn’t really have any significance.
For instance the suit of fire (traditionally Wands) depicts the planets starting with Ace and ending in Ten The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, the Stars. The LWB says that this suit is typically was associated with Wands and depicted by Salamanders illustrates the astrological and cosmic aspect of space’.
THE BOOK OF SHADOWS TAROT CARD DETAILS
The planets are all depicted by male Gods All the planets are represented by male Gods, with the exception of Venus obviously. The Moon isn’t represented perhaps because the Moon is in the Major Arcana? However it is also the case that both Star and the Sun appear in the majors.
Tarotists are aware trying to make different systems (astrology or tarot I Ching, runes, and so on) work within the framework of Tarot is nearly impossible. In the final analysis, even minor imperfections are both normal and unimportant.
The suit that is Air The suit is connected with Swords and symbolized by Sylphs illustrates the various aspects of divination and interpretation of the world. Of these there is clearly that of the Tarot’.
The numbered cards are starting with Ace and Ten. Dreams and the Pendulum, Scrying, Omens, Palmistry The Attendant I Ching, Meditation, the Runes as well as the Tarot.
The idea of drawing various ways of communication with the spirit world fits perfectly in this particular suit.
It is the suit that represents Water The traditional suit tied to Cups and symbolized through Nixies depicts the appearance and faces of the Goddess’.
This is a perfect choice. The symbolism to Cups / Water traditionally deals with different aspects of Love in the purest and most impure form. Each of them is direct channels to the goddess.
From Ace through Ten The Chalice along with athame, Athame, Aphrodite (and Eros), Flora and Fertility, Bridget (Healing), Bellons (War) Sarasvati (Wisdom and Culture) Ma’at (Justice), Cerridwen (and Taliesan), Lakshmi, Hecate.
The cards in this suit feature images that represent the traditional meanings of cards more precisely than the three suits.
It is the suit worn by Earth The suit that is traditionally connected with Pentacles and depicted by Gnomes, embodies the magic of the natural world as well as that of the earth’.
Between Ace and Ten, The Human Bodyand the beach, Plant Life stones and Crystals, Mountains and Waterfalls, Trees and Forest, Sea Creatures, Air Creatures, Land Creatures, a full day.
The Court Cards are used for each of the four suits The four suits are represented by the following The Knave (traditionally Page or Princess) is depicted as the elemental in the suit. The Knight, Queen , and King are now renamed Maiden, Mother and Crone as well. The archetypes are, according to Wiccan tradition the three phases in women’s lives – prior to birth, after childbirth and post-menopausal.
These phases are also symbolized through this Triple Goddess symbol, illustrated on the back of cards (new moon, full and old moons) with a pentacle written inside the moon’s full phase. (The cards can be reversed).
Finally… it’s the main arcana. A treasure to be found.
Each of the cards has been changed names, but remain true to their original meanings. They’ve simply been interpreted using the Wiccan viewpoint.
The Fool is also known as ‘the Summerlands’ (cynics will think of the Lord Summer Isle’ from the “Wiccaman” movie from 1973, which starred Christopher Lee).
The Magician is the ‘elements A hand appears at each corner, holding an object, such as a cup, a sword pentacle, and wand.
The Priestess’s name is Wisdom during a solar eclipse she holds in her hands an athame and the crystal chalice. Her gown flows effortlessly into the waters surrounding her.
The Empress is “the Goddess’. I would have liked to have had a glimpse of an actual Dragon in this painting but I’m that dissatisfied. A Goddess’ sacred animals is the main focus (a Hare) over which two women look at the viewer while carrying a tray full of apple slices (another representation of Goddess, in reference to the pentacle which appears in the middle of an apple when it is cut by half).
The Emperor is “the God Pan’. Pan himself. I’m not sure if I’m really enthralled by the appearance of his horns that extend in his ears descending before rising up like a buffalo , but whatever my personal feelings it’s beautiful to be able to see him. (I prefer the more traditional goat-like image. Pan can be half goat but not buffalo!). In this scene Pan is joined by two wolves.
The Pope is known as ‘the Book of Shadows’. I believe that the Goddess or Dragon Herself has decided to appear in this picture however whether this was an intentional choice by the artists isn’t certain. (The tail of the Dragon is visible from the middle of the book). I’d like to believe Gaia’s un-seen hand influenced the layout of this picture.
The Lovers are ‘Beltane’ is the perfect occasion for the blessed union of the two heart. The lovers are seen in the clouds over the beribboned Maypole with celebrants wearing flower-adorned headdresses dance, with the ribbons of the Maypole on their fingers.
The Chariot’s name is Transformation.. This is a common title to refer to Arcanum XIII (Death). The skeptics might see it as a means to soften or sweeten the meaning of the card. Others might think it is an authentic, more direct interpretation. Whatever the case, it’s fascinating to see this meaning in the Chariot.
Strength is “Spellcasting” the LWB”Mastering yourself managing resources, causing change, and working with God’. In reverse, it means ‘being in control of your impulses, and blaming yourself for your own shortcomings’. The picture depicts an individual woman inside an arc of fire. (These words are reminiscent of the Kate Bush Wiccan song “Lily” from the ‘The Red Shoes’ CD).
The Hermit is the name of ‘The The Path’. A dreamy image of an individual walks in fearless the unknown, within a forest surrounded by bent branches. There’s no green in the wood simply black and blue, adding to the darkness in the picture. A hawk, perched on a tree, looks at him.
The Wheel of Fortune is ‘the Wheel of the Year’. A wheel is the main focus of the image on which are seated grapes, leaves, and a plethora of grapes. The zodiac appears on the outside of the wheel. Inside the inner circle are the symbols of the eight festivals of fire, appropriately placed according to the zodiacal sign. Inside is a third circle split into four quarters which shows the four stages that a tree travels across (barren in winter; bloom in spring, verdant in summer, yellows and reds to mark the autumn season).
The mid-point in the arcana major can be depicted beautifully. Justice is now “Mabon” which is an indication of the Autumn Equinox – when the daylight hours are beginning to diminish and Samhain is not far away. The image is split in two diagonally, with the top half is occupied by a lady in the most lavish summer scene standing on a rock holding a cornucopia that symbolizes the harvest season. The lower part is filled with a woman who is who is surrounded by the darkness. They are reaching out to one and almost touch.
“The Hanged Man” is also known as ‘the Circle’. On first sight, the picture can easily be misinterpreted as what is thought as a proper image of the Magician. A man of old age stands in the center of the stone circle, his arms raised in reverence. He invites the spirits of the world to join with his. They do indeed appear – four ghostly appearances of the four elements themselves. The LWBdescribes it as creates a sacred, safe, and safe space, setting limits, focusing solely on the spirit realm for a while. The reversed meaning is playing the role of the martyr, feeling powerless’.