Monthly Archives: June 2016

Deck Review: Linestrider Tarot

Before the Steam Summer Sale sweeps me away, I thought I’d do a quick review of a recently released deck even though I still have quite the backlog. The Linestrider Tarot originally appeared on Indiegogo, but although I love the art, Indiegogo isn’t my favourite crowdfunding platform and I didn’t have the money because I’d committed to a couple projects on Kickstarter (including the upcoming Spirit Cats deck, which I backed despite being allergic to cats). When I heard that Llewellyn was releasing a mass market edition, I decided to wait than spend at least twice as much buying it from the artist. This review is for the mass market edition, obviously.

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The Linestrider Tarot is by Siolo Thompson. The cards are the typical size for Llewellyn decks and borderless, with the same thin cardstock as the Green Witch Tarot. The backs are a mirrored inkblot design in pale blue and gray. The deck comes with a full companion book which includes instructions for generic three card and five card spreads. The lack of custom spreads might disappoint some readers, but she also talks about some interesting reading techniques that she picked up on her travels. My favourite one is “exalting the aces” where the aces are seen as influencing the entire reading, but these techniques are optional. The entry for each card includes keywords, a section on the artwork and meaning, and corresponding numbers, birthdays, and plants. Notably, both major and minor arcana have at least a page of information on them (usually the minors get less page space dedicated to them). Another helpful aspect to the companion book (especially for newcomers) is that it gives you tips as to how to interpret cards in relation to other cards (so, for instance, the High Priestess being surrounded by cups cards).

I can say with confidence that the Linestrider Tarot is one of the prettiest decks in my collection. This deck has a very watery feel, the images don’t so much move as flow. The images are mostly black and white with splashes of colour. For the most part, the images incorporate RWS symbolism, although there are a few interesting interpretations. The Nine of Cups depicts “the cat that got the canary” and the explanation explains that there’s a certain smugness to this card as well as a feeling of satisfaction. The images also include many animals as prominent figures in the cards as well as humans and plants. It’s a very nature-based deck that is not explicitly marketed as nature-based. The artist draws from a variety of sources for inspiration. I was surprised and delighted to find that the knight on the Five of Swords was inspired by the Heide Knights from Dark Souls 2. I never thought I’d find a Dark Souls reference in any of my tarot decks.

I have been using this deck to predict what will happen during Critical Role (which is a great webseries about a bunch of nerdy ass voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons) and so far it’s been pretty straightforward and accurate. The deck often addresses themes of change, transformation, and personal growth, and does so in a gentle (but firm) way.

The issues I have with the deck are small in comparison, but I would have liked to have seen the plant correspondences elaborated on, especially since the same plant can have a variety of different correspondences. Sometimes the plant imagery isn’t explained at all, as is the case with the High Priestess, who clearly has pomegranates around her neck even though it isn’t mentioned in the write up or the correspondences. Some of the astrological correspondences might also be off (the one I noticed was that she assigns Scorpio to the World when that card is usually assigned to Saturn) astrology isn’t my thing so I don’t care as much, but if it’s important to you I’d recommend double-checking the correspondences in the book. Perhaps most baffling to me is the sexualized Page of Pentacles, who is demurely sitting and examining an apple. Unusually, there’s no commentary on why the artist chose to depict this particular page in this way.

The Linestrider Tarot is a beautiful deck which stays faithful enough to the RWS system that I think it would make a good deck for beginners, but perhaps not their very first deck. The companion book is one of the more thorough companion books I’ve read, and is full of insights from the artist that still leaves room for your own interpretations. This deck gets a definite recommendation from me, especially if you like nature-based symbolism but don’t like when nature-based decks assume that you must be Wiccan.

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Deck Review: Flower Reading Cards

It’s supposed to be getting pretty hot around here for the time being, and since spring is well underway I understandably have flowers on the brain. There’s a patch of tenacious violas growing at the corner of the house, and the lilies are starting to bud. I’ve also bought some pretty basic culinary herbs which I hope will survive long enough for me to enjoy them.

One of my issues with many plant and animal-themed decks is that they rely more on New Age beliefs and practices like flower essences and vibrations than their botanical profile or behaviour in the wild. One example is the Magic of Flowers Oracle, which I just reviewed. I feel like a lot of decks talk about lessons we can learn from nature, but often don’t take into account observations scientists have made about these plants or animals when those observations could enhance readings with the cards. In fact, I’ve noticed many decks assign meanings to plants or animals that either don’t make any sense, or don’t make any sense at first glance.

The Flower Reading Cards are not perfect in this regard, but it’s still a great deck that deserves a spot on your shelf if you’re into nature decks.

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The deck is published by Rockpool Publishing and comes in a sturdy yellow box. The author and illustrator is Cheralyn Darcey, who also created the Australian Wildflower Reading Cards. The cards are large, measuring about 3.5″ x 5.25″ and glossy. The cards have a thin white border, the name of the flower, and a single keyword in addition to the image. The guidebook has four original spreads and the entry on each flower has a meaning, challenges associated with this card, botanical profile, and information about the place depicted in the card from this flower’s country of origin.

The artwork was created on linocut with gouache paint. I’m not sure what that means but those of you who are familiar with art terminology can appreciate it. The end result is stunning. The bright flowers stand out against the black and white background.  While the Magic of Flowers deck has a more mystical, almost fantastical feel to it, this deck feels a bit more naturalistic. Even the box is a cheerful yellow. There’s something about these cards that make me smile whenever I pick them up.

I did my usual thing and recruited some willing test subjects and the results were pretty accurate. Although, this is one deck where I often needed to consult the book, especially if I wasn’t familiar with a particular flower. Unlike with the Magic of Flowers cards. I didn’t have a whole lot of trouble finding a relevant message for the querent. This would be a good “pick-me-up” deck, as a one card pull each day, or even to decorate an altar or shrine space if real flowers aren’t available.

If I had one criticism of this deck, it’s that sometimes it’s difficult to see how the keyword relates to the flower. I personally associate jasmine with sensuality and pleasure, but in this deck, jasmine means “success”. I like that the author included some botanical information on each flower, but I would have liked to have a bit more information in that section. In general I think there should have been more of an explanation for associating keywords with certain flowers, more about how the properties or folklore supports the messages each flower has to give.

As much as I love the bright colours of the Magic of Flowers deck, the Flower Reading Cards are definitely one of my favourites. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves flowers.