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Review of the Witches Tarot

This article was written by Barbara Moore on December 14, 2012
posted under Witches Tarot

Summary:
This deck is for every witch who wants a deck rich with magickal symbolism. In the magickal world as in tarot, associations and correspondences are of major importance. Ellen Dugan combines tarot and witchcraft together to create something that feels fresh and yet also familiar. It's like coming home to the magickal world of your dreams.

Full Review:
Ellen Dugan, the creator of this deck, came by her understanding and love of tarot organically. She was already a practicing witch when she picked up her first deck of tarot cards over twenty years ago to use as an aid to help her clients relax while she did psychic readings. Through solitary study, she discovered a natural connection between her spiritual path and tarot. Eventually she wanted a deck that would be a strong, elegant deck that would be a loved tool in her magickal work. She never found that deck, so she decided to create one.

The art is beautiful, very evocative. The images are based on the Rider Waite Smith traditional (but minus the Christian symbolism, obviously), so it is a very easy deck to pick up and start reading with right away, if you are already familiar with RWS symbolism. But the images are more than RWS images in witchy clothes on a witchy stage. These cards are symbolically rich. Every flower, landscape, clothing color, type of jewel, tree, fruit, and animal in these scenes has meaning and significance to the practicing witch. Consequently, this makes it a perfect deck for experienced witches, familiar with all these associations, to learn tarot more easily. It is also a great deck for tarot lovers wishing to deepen their magickal practice.

The book that comes with the cards is a treasure chest of knowledge. Each card is carefully described; associations (such as deities, astrological, or elemental) are given when appropriate, full, in-depth meanings are provided, as well as keywords for both the upright and reversed meanings. Ellen designed spreads that reflect both the deck’s theme and tenets of witchcraft, such as The Triple Goddess Spread, The Four Elements Spread, and the Wheel of the Year Spread. These are spreads like you may find in other books with an important addition. You see, for Ellen this is a real witch's working deck, with real witch's information. The spreads include appropriate charms and magical practices as part of performing the divination.

In addition to the divination instruction, the book also includes a chapter on magickal working along with eleven new spells, one, appropriately enough, to help enhance your tarot or magickal studies. The book includes several useful appendices; my favorite is the symbol dictionary that not only lists and describes the symbol and its meaning but also tells what cards the symbol is found in. This all on its own provides a lot of inspiration for studying the cards in groups based on shared symbols.

Here is an example of how symbolically rich a single card is and how much attention has been paid to every detail (excerpt from the Queen of Cups):

A royal, rich necklace of sapphires, silver, and pearls is around the queen's throat. The pearls are linked to the element of water and prophetic dreams, and the silver is a receptive metal. The sapphires are naturally linked to the element of water, and their presence in the queen's silver crown and on her necklace strengthens her psychic awareness and is associated with love and serenity. A small bouquet of wood violets, white roses, and purple foxglove lies in her lap. The flowers in her lap correspond to the element of water. The white roses symbolize loving emotions; the violets, faithfulness; and the foxgloves are a magickal flower of protection. The white roses scattered at her feet on the beach on left as an offering to the seas from whence she gather her elemental power.

In terms of the images themselves, other than a few name changes, anyone familiar with RWS will find this deck extremely easy to work with. Here are the name changes:

Hierophant is now High Priest
The Wheel of Fortune is now The Wheel of the Year
The Devil is now The Shadow Side
Judgement is now Karma

Mark Evans' art combines a look of fantasy that incorporates photographs of real people, grounding the images in the real world. This works on both an artistic and symbolic level. Witches are said to be people with a foot in this world and one in the spiritual world. These cards have one foot in fantasy and one foot in reality. Each image is indeed a portal.

Deck Attributes
Name of deck: Witches Tarot
Reviewer's Byline: Barbara Moore
Publisher: Llewellyn
ISBN: 9780738728001
Creator(s) name(s): Ellen Dugan
Brief biography of creator(s): Ellen Dugan, also known as the Garden Witch, is a psychic clairvoyant who lives in Missouri with her husband and three children. A practicing Witch for over twenty-nine years, Ellen is an award-winning author of over a dozen books and a highly respected tarot reader.
Artist(s) name(s): Mark Evans
Brief biography of artist(s): Mark Evan is an award-winning artist who has created storyboards, concept designs, and production illustrations for hundreds of clients around the world, including Coca-Cola, Walk Disney, and Marvel Comics.
Name of accompanying book/booklet: Witches Tarot Companion
Number of pages of book/booklet: 302 pages, all in English
Author(s) of book/booklet: Ellen Dugan
Available in a boxed kit?: yes
If yes, are there extras in the kit? No
Magical Uses: all magical purposes, including education
Reading Uses: General
Theme: Witchcraft
Tarot, Divination Deck, or Other: tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: yes
Does it have extra cards? no
Major Arcana cards? If yes, what are they?: Hierophant is now High Priest; The Wheel Fortune is now The Wheel of the Year; The Devil is now The Shadow Side; Judgement is now Karma
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits? No
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards? No
Why was deck created?: To provide a tarot deck by a witch designed specifically for witches.
Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck: The accompanying book is very complete and provides a great foundation even for beginners.


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