Harrow of the Week: The Survivor

Harrow of the Week: The Survivor

The end is the beginning. 

This week’s Harrow card, The Survivor, at first appears to be a sign of ill omen. A battered warrior sits on a throne, surrounded by the ghosts of his fallen comrades. At his feet lie the treasure from his adventures as well as the tools he used to help acquire them: a sword, a shield, and a magic staff. Despite the gold and riches at his feet, the Survivor seems to be staring off into space.

While this may look bleak on the surface, in reality, this is a card of courage and perseverance in the face of tragedy. The Survivor comes from the suit of Shields, the suit associated with Constitution and endurance. It is also aligned Neutral Good, which is the alignment of pure altruism and compassion. Certainly, the Survivor has had his endurance put to the test and survived, even if his spirit may feel broken.

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Witches Tarot Deck by Ellen Dugan – Inside the Box

Witches Tarot Deck by Ellen Dugan – Inside the Box

Back of the Witches Tarot Cards - Triple moon in stars

Witches Tarot Back

Review by Jane R Hansen

How do you make a Tarot Deck for Witches: No, not the pointy-hat halloween kind of witches, but Wiccans and others who practice the Craft of the Wise?  Well, I suppose it’s like stirring a good spell. You bring everything you know to the table and select just the right ingredients to get the job done, and you work with nature, make room for the magick, and create a clear image to manifest. This seems to be what Ellen Dugan has done in her Witches Tarot, as she worked with award-winning illustrator Mark Evans to take the traditional symbols of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and brought in a supporting cast of plant, animal and otherworld folk. She also renamed four of the major arcana cards with slightly different names. But more on that later in this review.

Her companion guide spells it all out in detail. You can definitely read with the deck right out of the box, if you are adept with the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) type deck. The renamed Major Arcana make sense, and the rest of the art is mostly a variation on the “standard” art of the RWS deck.

Queen of Wands with cat on lap from Witches Tarot Deck

Queen of Wands

Flora and Fauna

For you herbalists and gardeners out there, pay attention to the plants in the cards. Ellen put some serious thought into the meanings… she isn’t known as “The Garden Witch” for nothing, you know. The Monkshood in the Ten of Swords. Not only is the plant poisonous, but in the language of flowers, monkshood says a foe is near.  This gives double weight to heed the warning of the card to pay attention to your instincts and keep your back to the wall! Throughout Witches Tarot, the flowers and plants have meaning and they are explained in the companion book.

Seven of Cups Witches Tarot Deck

Seven of Cups

What is a witch without her familiar? For you cat-lovers, our favorite familiars do show up in expected and unexpected places.  The Queen of wands has a friend on her lap, but the seven of cups also has a the kitty in a cup. Awe, isn’t that cute! But you’ll also find our feline friends on the High Priestess, Page of Wands, Two of Wands and the Three of pentacles. That’s not even counting the Lion in strength or on the World Card.

But wait, there’s more! Yes, as you wander through the world of Witches Tarot you’ll see a rabbit, stags, ravens, an eagle, hawks, lions, horses, an ibis, wolves, a dolphin, butterflies, dragonflies, a white hind and I’m sure there’s more I didn’t spot when compiling this listing. Best of all, with everything that’s in there, it never seems out of place. [Read more…]

Tarot – the Early Years

Step into the history of the Tarot with this article by our own Chuck Boe, M.A. He introduces us to the earliest known decks created for the Tarocchi card game in Italy, and then in moved into France and became more recognizable as the Tarot we now use for divination.

Chuck Boe

Chuck Boe, M.A.

Chuck received his Masters Degree in Human Development from Saint Mary’s University in 2008, with a focus on Goddess Studies and Tarot.  He began his Tarot studies three decades ago, in 1981.

The Earliest Decks

In my research on the Tarot, I have learned that the Tarot began in Italy some time between 1410 and 1442, when the major arcana cards were added to the four suit deck that existed in Europe since the 1300s. The Tarots birthplace is mostly likely Milan. In a letter written to Queen Isabelle of Lorraine by her agent in 1449, he describes two Tarot decks he acquired for her. These decks originally were created for Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan (1392-1447). The oldest desk was designed by his astrologer, Marizano of Tortona, sometime between 1412 and 1425. A third deck was created in 1441, by the painter Sagramoro, who was hired to create a deck as a gift to Visconti’s daughter, Bianca (1425-1468). She was given the deck at a party in her honor. Unfortunately, none of these three decks or individual cards survive.

Cary Yale Visconti Tarocchi Deck

Cary Yale Visconti Tarot ReproductionThe oldest Tarot deck still in existence, again created for Visconti, is housed at the Yale University Library. It is known as the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot. It contains sixty eight cards, nineteen are believed missing. In order to reproduce the deck for current students and readers of the Tarot, these missing cards have been recreated. This deck was originally created by the artist, Bonifacio Bembo, in 1445. There are six royal cards in each suit: the King, the Queen, a male and female Knight, and a male and female Page. The major arcana includes Faith, Hope and Charity along with Temperance, Strength, Justice and Prudence. These are the seven cardinal virtues. None of the major arcana are titled or numbered.

Modern decks have 78 cards, but the Cary-Yale Visconti deck has 86. Visconti cards are larger than standard tarot, as well.  The reproductions measure 3-3/4″ x 7-1/2.”  Since each deck was originally hand-made, it is no wonder the corresponding reproductions are so large.

Visconti-Sforza Tarocchi

Viscont-Sforza Tarocchi DeckThe next most complete deck in existence was created for Francesco Sforza (1401-1466) who became Visconti’s heir after marrying Bianca. This deck is known as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, as well as the Colleoni-Baglioni or Francesco Sforza or even the Visconti-Sforza Pierpont Mogan Tarocchi. Trumps and face cards have a gilt background, while the “pip” cards have a flower and vine motif. The original cards are now divided between the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the Accademia Carrara, and the Colleoni family of Bergamo, Italy.  This deck is available as a facsimile reproduction of 74 extant cards from the 15th century plus four cards recreated to replace cards missing from the initial deck.  This deck, too is jumbo-sized, at 3 5/8″ x 7.”  In the box, it’s about the size (and weight) of a brick.

But when did the card game of Tarocchi become Tarot and what form did it take? In 1449, Charles VIII of France invaded Milan. Milan remained under French control until 1535. The Tarot spread to France during this time. Still, some scholars believe differently, since tha Tarot of Marseilles differs somewhat in size and style from the Visconti decks. Read more about Tarot de Marseille elsewhere on the web>

Tarot of Marseilles

Tarot of MarseillesIn 1507, Tarot decks were being manufactured in Lyon, a city near Marseilles. This French style deck became known as the Tarot of Marseilles. There are no extra cards, just the standard 78, and the images, reproduced from woodcuts.  These illustrations are less ornate and more familiar to the modern day Tarot enthusiast.  One difference from most modern decks is the way the pip cards (the numbered cards for each suit) do not have story illustrations. They are closer to playing cards.  “In the Tarot de Marseille, the pip cards in the suit of swords are drawn as abstract symbols in curved lines. On the even numbered cards, the abstract curved lines are all that is present. On the odd numbered cards, a single fully rendered sword is rendered inside the abstract designs. The suit of wands is drawn as straight objects that cross to form a lattice in the higher numbers; on odd numbered wands cards, a single vertical wand runs through the middle of the lattice. On the tens of both swords and wands, two fully rendered objects appear imposed on the abstract designs. Cups and coins are drawn as distinct objects. Most decks fill up blank areas of the cards with floral decorations. ” Wikipedia

All three of these decks, the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot, the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, and the Tarot of Marseilles are still being reproduced. These decks offer great insight and knowledge into the history of the Tarot. They are all for sale at the Eye of Horus Tarot Shop. They make great gifts and purchases for Tarot, Art and History enthusiasts.