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…]

Beneath the Below is a River – Wendy Rule Dives Deep

Beneath the Below CD Cover

Beneath the Below CD:

Here’s how it begins . . . a movie soundtrack and two musicians reaching for deep and ethereal, an otherworldly fantasy about a Moth Boy; a film which lent itself to dark and dreamy audio visions. Beneath the Below is a River began life as a collaborative soundtrack to the short film ‘Hugo’, directed by Nicholas Verso. Wendy and collaborator Craig Patterson were so pleased with the outcome of the soundtrack that they expanded it into a full length album.

This is not the first time Wendy has created ambient music. Although all of her CDs have some of that soundtrack quality, she worked to create almost theatrically faerie atmosphere in Deep Within the Faerie Forest–a collaboration with Gary Stadler. But that does not make these CDs twins, like so many of the ambient titles out there. Where the Faerie Forest is light and uplifting, Beneath the Below resonates like a waking dream and draws you back down into the underworld to explore further.

In fact, any artist or writer would find this music makes a great background for the creative process. It would probably also be amazing to have in the background of a Tarot Reading.  Imagine a room with dark velvet drapery, red wine and frankincense and add Beneath the Below is a River, and you have a modern, sophisticated Goth Salon…  Listen to mp3 samples

Hekate and the Voice of the Crossroads

Hekate is an ancient Goddess and one who is often seen as a Goddess of sorcery and of Witches.  But what is the source of Her power, as in who and what She really is behind the mask of the being known as Hekate (among other names)?  Can we ever really understand Her in Her entirety anymore than we can understand any God in their entirty?  I ask this question because, so far as my experience and my research into this question and others regarding the nature of the Gods has led me, the Gods as we know Them are masks (albiet living masks) for powers that otherwise we have difficulty relating to and connecting with. We need a personality, even if one not necessarily all that human. The closer you get to Their source, the less human and understandable they become.

The personality is Hekate, the Queen of Ghosts and Shadows, the lady of the crossroads.  She is a Goddess of the promise, of the oath, of secrets, of sorcery and spells. I would say She is a Goddess of the mystery where the earth and the waters meet, an old mystery beyond the understanding of words. She is magick without words, magick in the bone and in the flesh. She is the Lady of the Bones, including the bones you throw to divine the future and to work spells.  She is the conjurer’s Goddess of graveyard dust and bones and, in this way, She is related to her sister-Goddess, Fate.  She is priestess to Fate, or perhaps the foreshadowing of Fate that lies upon us when we are called to make a choice, in that moment of in-drawn breath before we swear ourselves to a new path.

Hekate is the Goddess of clocks and of masks, but not so much of what they represent as what lies between the ticks of the clock and behind the black eyes of the mask.  She is what peers out of Time and behind the skin of the world.  She stands between the stillness of the North and the whirling of the West.  And yet, all these words and images can but hint at who and what She really is because we can no more grasp that stillness and that whirling than we can stop the heavens from turning.  We can sometimes touch them, but we cannot step fully into them…not and remain ourselves.  Can we truly know Her and can we even hope to try?

Like Semele, if we ask and are granted the “Full Monty” of the Gods—in her case, of her lover Zeus—we would burn up and die.  Our flesh simply can’t stand up to that kind of unclothed connection to the Divine.  And yet, like Dionysus, who was “born” of the ashes that we left when Zeus reluctantly appeared in His full might and glory before Semele, we can be reborn of our own meltdown those rare times that we do ever so briefly glimpse the Divine, whether what lies behind Hekate or any other God or Goddess.  The question is what way do we want to go?  Whose mask do we want to peer behind?  They are all roads to the Divine Source and to those powers that emanate off that Source, yet some resonate more to us than others.

Hekate’s way is one that has three choices, the three roads that lie before you when you come to the crossroads.  You stand with your back to the way you have come, and now the decision time is upon you.  Two of the roads represent the dual nature of the world—past and future, up and down, male and female, night and day—and the middle road is that which lies between them, the road of the shaman, the road to fair Elphame, the Otherworld.  We can pick the road of light or the road of darkness or the road that winds between them, partaking of both and neither.  As a Witch, I know what road I’m most drawn to, but then I must admit that, despite its occasional hardship and heartbreak, I enjoy sitting on the hedge.

Copyright © 2009, Veronica Cummer, All Rights Reserved.

Veronica Cummer is the Author of Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft and Masks of the Muse