My Tarot...

This is a Work-In-Progress, so not everything is up to my usual standards - YET! :-)


Like many enthusiasts and practitioners of Tarot, I have collected a number of decks over the years (I mean - there's been so many of them!) and for a number of reasons - but mainly because I am drawn to their beauty and symbology.  To me, each deck is both a collection of wonderful artwork to be admired and inspired by, and a book - a tale of the Long Journey of Life - from Ignorance and Inexperience, usually symbolized as The Fool, to Wisdom and Skill, usually symbolized as The Magician, in search of the understanding and knowledge to rule or succeed in their World - that needs to be read and experienced and, subsequently, assimilated into my own ever expanding reality.

Again, like most Tarot practitioners, I tend to limit my readings to only one deck - in my case, my oldest deck, the Rider-Waite. However, I do not stick rigidly to this as a hard-and-fast rule. Sometimes, the aspects or symbology of another deck apply more closely to the environment in which the reading will take place, or are more closely akin to the querent and their hopes and situation. Also, as, again, is often the case with Tarot practitioners, I find that there is no such thing as "One Deck Fits All", and a deck that may be right for most readings will suddenly have limitations in symbology or meaning when a certain situation, problem or specific interest arises.

So, here is a list of the Tarot decks I own, with a little blurb about each, and a link to the Aeclectic Tarot website where more information about the deck is available.

1) Rider-Waite-Smith

Most commonly known as the Rider-Waite deck, but more correctly as the Waite-Smith deck and often the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck, this is the most popular in modern Tarot, and is the standard upon which many other decks are built. It is deemed to be the "first modern Tarot deck", and frequently appears in the Top 10 lists of Tarot decks as published by Aeclectic Tarot.

My own deck was bought for me by my maternal Great Grand-Mother, on October 31, 1980, which is the day I was born! However, the deck was not given to me until over 10 years later, when I began the change from "childhood" into "womanhood".  I was then given specific instructions on how to cleanse and prime the deck, before I could use it.  After that, I had to study the meaning of each card, and work with my Great Grand-Mother practicing readings and insights, awakening my intuition and perception.  Many were the nights I spent studying a particular card or reading, seeking to find the underlying meanings and the hidden messages, learning the relationships between Tarot and Astrology, Tarot and Science, Tarot and Mythology. So many tendrils and tentacles to something that seemed, on the face of it, so simple!

The Fool card shown here is the classic starting point when studying Tarot, and this representation is often the first Tarot card many practitioners discover.

2015 Update: If you want to get some real insights to the RWS deck, then reward yourself with a copy of Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot by Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin. This book is a must read for any devotees of Tarot, and tells the whole story around the development of the deck, the people involved, its roots in Golden Dawn symbology, and gives some amazing exposure to the sources of the imagery used by Pamela Colman Smith.

Read more about this deck at the Rider-Waite page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

2) Celtic

It was a long time before I even considered buying another deck of Tarot cards, during which I (officially) studied psychology, criminal psychology and criminology at Uni, and unofficially studied the Occult, Witchcraft, Shamanism, Druidism, as well as many of the World's "official" religions - Christianity, Buddhism, Tao, Islam, Mormon, Hindu - and their many variations, seeking the Truth behind the force that urges us to Believe!  The only thing that eventually impressed me about all of these "major" delusions was the breadth and variety of their fantasies! But my studies of numerous pagan and Wiccan theories brought me full circle to The Key - which is what the word 'Tarot' means - and I began to study the cards and their symbology in much more depth.

A logical place to start my more serious investigations into Tarot seemed, to me, to be the elder mythologies of Europe - Greek, Roman, Norse, and, of course, the ancient race and religion of The British Isles, Celtic. So I invested in the Celtic Tarot deck developed by Courtney Davis and Helena Paterson. 
Almost immediately on opening out the deck I learned two important facts about modern Tarot (i.e. Tarot as developed from the late 19th century onward) that I hadn't previously been aware of:
  1. A lot of modern tarot decks are based on the Rider-Waite deck, while another significant portion are based on the Aleister Crowley / Golden Dawn Thoth Tarot, while yet another large group are true individual decks, and
  2. Disappointingly, the "Pip", or number cards, of the Lower Arcana suits are not always illustrated in the same way that those of the Rider-Waite deck above are.
Having said that, this Celtic Tarot is beautifully illustrated in a style similar to that used in The Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne gospels, which Davis mixes with other Celtic styles like La-Tene.  The Major Arcana are richly bedizined in Celtic heroes, heroines and warriors, fitted into the roles of the cards.  While the deck follows the Rider-Waite standard, it is difficult to use for some aspects of reading, such as reversed cards, as the Pip cards do not allow for that type of use.    

Read more about this deck at the Celtic Tarot page on the Aeclectic Tarot site, where a superb and detailed review by Steve Winick is also available.

3) Mythic

In continuing my research into the symbology within Tarot cards and its relationship to the archetypes that populate our collective unconscious minds, I next turned to a deck that was tied closely to the classic mythology of the Greeks - aptly named the Mythic Tarot.

I was glad to see that this deck was one where all of the pips are also illustrated, depicting scenes from various Greek legends, such as Jason and the Argonauts finding the golden fleece, or Perseus confronting Medusa and the other gorgons. Perhaps these attachments to external stories make the deck more difficult to learn from for the unpracticed reader, or make it harder to see the relationship between the esoteric meaning of a particular card and the image depicted, but I find this deck is more interesting because it doesn't directly apply the image to the proscribed meaning. To me, this makes the deck more useful for the practiced reader, as it gives them greater room in which to develop their own understanding of the cards and their interpretations. Tarot is, after all, a matter of bringing your individual knowledge and experience to divine the relationship between the cards as dealt, and not what others might expect you to say.

The card I have shown here is The Star, from the Major Arcana.  Those of you who have read my blog posts before know that I hold great affection for The Star card in any deck.  It is the great card of Hope, bringing a successful outcome to most readings. This particular Star shows the erstwhile Pandora, kneeling naked before the box of evils which she has just unleashed upon the World.  Above her shines the beautiful, radiant Star of Hope, which, if you remember the legend, was the only thing remaining in the box when everything else had fled. 

Read more about this deck at the Mythic Tarot page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

4) Royal

So, I bought this deck, like most of my purchases, on a whim, just to see what the artwork was like. It was relatively cheap, and very colourful, which is what really caught my eye.  One aspect of the cheapness of the deck was that it appeared to be a mass-produced deck, and another aspect was the fact that the pip cards were not illustrated, which is always a bummer when investing in a Tarot deck.
Still, the deck is relatively easy to use, and follows the Rider-Waite tradition.  The lack of illustrations on the pips allows the novice to get used to the Major Arcana and Court cards more quickly, and will also spur interest in acquiring more detailed decks once this one has been mastered - so pros and cons all around.
One interesting fact about this deck is that, because it apparently is no longer available in standard print, it is now classed as a rare deck, which, for its actual production value, is rather odd.  I did see this deck on sale in a book store recently, so I suspect it has now been reissued.

Read more about this deck at the Royal Tarot page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

5) Renaissance

Returning from my expedition into the unknown, my next deck was once again built from mythologies of the past, this time depicted in an art form reminiscent of wrought metals. The Renaissance Tarot draws on Greek mythology and standard Tarot symbology, to produce a deck in the Rider-Waite tradition.

I liked the unique style of this deck, and its uncluttered representation of each card makes it an easy deck to learn with. The symbology is clearly represented alongside the mythological root of the card, especially in the Major Arcana. Because of the simplicity of the art form used, the pip cards are not illustrated with significant scenery, but they at least have some depiction related to the theme of the suit, and are not just basic pip counts. This makes them more useful than undecorated pips for large spreads.

Read more about this deck at the Renaissance Tarot page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

6) Nova

So, one day, a wee while ago, there I was, wandering around my local Chapters (used to be an awesome book store, until they "Indigo-ed" the crap out of it!) Anyhoo, there I was, minding my own business, standing in the queue for the registers, when I saw this little display of small box sets, one of which was this sweet, dinky Box of Tarot. So - of course - I just had to buy it.
Turned out, this little Tarot deck is actually called the Tarot Nova, and it is really quite a fun, yet serious deck. Sure, the cards are small, although there is an even smaller version than the one I have! The artwork is somewhat esoteric, as one would expect for a Tarot deck, but does follow the Rider-Waite tradition. It's simplistic imagery makes it an ideal and interesting deck for younger students, giving them a surreptitious introduction to the arcane aspects of Tarot in a more user-friendly form.  The backgrounds are all black, making the imagery standout, and the cards are finished with a high gloss cover, that makes them easy to shuffle, even thought the card is quite thick and rigid.

Read more about this deck at the Tarot Nova page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

7) Golden

So there are, apparently, a few "Golden Tarot" decks floating about in the Tarotsphere. The version I have is by Liz Dean, and is Golden by virtue of the colouring used for the framing rather than the use of gold leaf to decorate the cards, as in The Golden Tarot of Klimt (see below!)
This deck is another that is based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (see #1), but is yet another that has undecorated pip cards. Again, this makes it easier to learn Tarot with, and is picturesque enough to be a good springboard into decks with deeper symbology and artwork.

Read more about this deck at the Golden Tarot page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

8) Egyptian Grand Trumps

While the true origins of Tarot are lost in the mysterious depths of antiquity, many experts in the history and research of these occult tools believe that there are correlations to Tarot design and usage in artifacts found in ancient Egypt, and specifically in 22 decorated panels carved into the stone walls of the grand gallery of the Great Pyramid that can be equated to the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.  Personally, I think it is highly likely that some form of divinatory tool set was used in Egypt and in other middle-eastern nations at that time, and that these could easily have been adapted over the millennia to provide the foundation of what we now call Tarot.
A short time after I had bought the Golden Tarot discussed above, I saw this Egyptian Grand Trumps deck in a book store, and felt an empathy with the illustrations that prompted me to buy the deck - even though the Grand Trumps designation meant that the deck was only the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, and not a full deck.  Naturally, I had read much of Egyptian archeology and mythology, and found the deck fitted in well with what I had learnt over the years.
The 22 cards are beautifully illustrated in the Egyptian Mythological tradition by Silvana Alasia, and the deck is actually a large-scale version of the Major Arcana from her full 78 card Egyptian Tarot deck. I am currently resisting the very strong urge to buy a copy of Silvana's Tarot of Nefertari, which is a richly decorated Egyptian deck with beautiful gold foil accents.  The card illustrated here is, naturally, The Star, which is depicted in the usual naked female format, pouring water onto both land and sea.

Read more about this deck at the Egyptian Grand Trumps page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

9) Fenestra

The best experience when getting a new Tarot deck in the accidental find that sort of speaks to you as you pass it by in a book store or arts and craft shop. That is how I came across the Fenestra Tarot, its imagery seeming to draw me in from the first moment I clapped eyes on the deck. The next thing I look for, after that initial attraction, is what I call the Power Cards. These are the cards in a deck that really speak to you as you work through the imagery - the cards the you as the reader identify most closely with.
The designer and artist of this deck, Chatriya Hemharnvibul, who I am happy to call a friend, has developed a rich tapestry of an art-deco touched with manga style, giving her characters large, doe-eyes and wistfully appealing physiques, married to the deeper symbology of the RWS deck. Her wistful use of sheer fabrics to bring a slight touch of decency, maybe, is warming, too. But for me, among her many powerful images, the most powerful is that of the Ten of Swords, which, as you can see, I use as a backdrop for this blog. Here, Chatriya has changed the victim from the usual male to that of a voluptuous female - is it the same woman as shown in The Star card above? She is lissome and almost naked, and impaled on the 10 Swords in a vicious representation. I still tremble with emotions when I see this card. It speaks of so many powerful emotions - Love turned to Hate, Passion turned to Anger, Vengeance, Pain and, yes, even Desire! This is a masterful piece of art in its own right, let alone as part of a deck of Tarot cards.
Check out the Fenestra Tarot page on Aecletic Tarot to learn more about this beautiful deck

10) Necronomicon

Like many, many others, I first came across references to The Necronomicon while reading the horror stories of H.P Lovecraft. Many of Lovecraft's tales revolve around the Cthulhu Mythos, and The Necronomicon is the legendary central text surrounding the cult of the Ancient Ones and the Elder Days. Like so many before me, I became intrigued with the mythology that has grown up around The Necronomicon over the years since Lovecraft introduced the book to an unsuspecting world.  Was it an actual occult work from some distant past, or was it purely a creation of Lovecraft's vivid and detailed imagination? This argument continues to this day! Most believe that it truly was a creation of Lovecraft's, while another faction believes that Lovecraft merely drew his information from a number of esoteric or arcane manuscripts, and maybe synthesized or extrapolated the mythos from these to serve as the foundation to his eldritch tales.
Over the years, many have sought to bring to the general public various "completed" versions of The Necronomicon, in order to fill the gaps left by Lovecraft. One of these - undoubtedly the most detailed and complete version - is used by its author/editor, Donald Tyson, as the basis for this Tarot deck.  The artwork is, naturally, very dark, portraying the various demons and gods that the book gives worship to, while the minor arcana suits tell various tales that provide backdrops to the illustrations on the cards. The card I have chosen to show is the Ace of Swords. I love the way the eyes in the face blaze through, while the rest of the face seems hazy and indistinct.
While this is a difficult deck for the starter, it is, nevertheless, a powerful and energizing astrological and meditative tool, and, for those fascinated with horror, gothic, or the dark arts, is a must have for their collection.

Read more about this deck at the Necronomicon Tarot page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

11) Legacy of the Divine

Around the end of 2008, I started to see some images from a new Tarot deck called Legacy of the Divine. The artist was Ciro Marchetti, and, to say the least, his artwork was stunning! While following the RWS tradition, Ciro had totally transformed the symbology of Tarot, using modern tools and techniques - digital artwork in a modern portrayal, that somehow made the artwork much more vivid and real than has ever been achieved by using traditional methods.
The detail in Ciro's artwork is breathtaking, to say the least. His skill is unparalleled by any modern Tarot artist I have encountered so far, and makes the deck a joy to behold. In fact, it is fair to say that there is so much imagery in these cards that is probably detracts from their use as a tool for divination, and is more a representation of what can be achieved by a true artist producing profound and emotive art for the sake of Art itself. A higher form of Tarot artwork than we usually see? Undoubtedly. A deck for gazing into and dreaming or meditating about? Absolutely! An inspirational foundation for stories and myths based on Tarot? Definitely! And, looking back on my blog posts, I can't believe I haven't done one on this deck and Ciro himself! I shall rectify that shortly! :)
This is one of two Ciro Marchetti Tarot decks that I own, and is my favourite one by Ciro. See lower down for a write up on the second deck.
For more information about the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, check out the page on the Aeclectic Tarot site.

THE WIP SPOT! Everything from this point on is  Work-In-Progress, so stay tuned for updates as the WIP Spot moves down the list!

12) Gilded

13) The Thirteenth Deck - Tarot of the Acolyte

The 13th Deck for me is, undoubtedly, the most important and influential in my collection! 

"Why is that Ashen?" I hear you ask! (I did - honest injun!)

Well - Tarot of the Acolyte is the deck I am developing and designing myself.  Like the Cthulhu Mythos that grew out of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, and which feeds the continuous interest in The Necronomicon, I am developing a Tarot deck that reflects some of the characters and environments in some of my stories, and which will continue to grow and feed into new writings I have yet to discover.  Seeking characters, scenarios and symbologies to make this the broad-ranging deck I was trying to develop, as well as bringing together the wonderful aspects of erotica and horror for the background stories coming out of the cards, is a challenge and an expedition into the realms of pagan and organised religion, pychological archetypes, and historical discovery. 
You will notice there is no image of a card for this deck - just a prototype for the Queen of Storms. That is because I am not a very good artist myself, and I am looking for a partner (or partners) with who to develop that artwork for the cards.  I will write the descriptions - and you can produce the beautiful visions I need.  Then we will publish! Interested?  Drop me a line!.

14) Decameron

WOW! Tarot and Sex! My two favourite subjects! :) I even wrote a blog post about that very subject - and this very deck!
Seriously, though, being an erotica writer always has you on the lookout for toys and tools that can be used to inspire your urges, so to speak.  I'd known of The Decameron by Boccaccio for pretty much my entire life, my father having read pieces of it to us when we were children, and having read parts of the book myself. Interestingly, I never found the book as erotic (and entertaining) as these Tarot cards, which are based on some of the tales in the book.
And I have to say - this deck is VERY graphic erotica. The scenes include a huge range of sexual activities and proclivities, all wonderfully depicted in a style that is guaranteed to spark interest. Boccaccio was, of course, Italian, and it took two Italians - Luciano Spadanuda and Giacinto Gaudenzi - to dream up this delightfully naughty interpretation of Boccaccio's stories.
Having said that, the use of this deck for any kind of divination or meditation is pretty thin - unless it's sexual meditation you're looking for. Nevertheless, as a representation of Tarot, and as a work of art in its own right, this deck is definitely a masterpiece that would grace any collection.
For more information on The Decameron deck, check out the page on the website.

15) Wildwood

For a long time I followed a Wiccan tradition, and delved deeply into that mythology. Ultimately, my beliefs stretched far beyond the limitations of any organised religious restriction of any sort, but I still research and investigate all of the great theologies of the World.
This deck caught my eye because of its connotations around what was once called the Old Religion of Great Britain.  Whether Wiccan, Celtic, or Druidic in some other form is open to debate, but the fact is these cards relate closely to the traditions of Earth worship and knowledge that stems from those times before the modern "One God" religions of the last two millennia.
These cards are beautifully illustrated to depict the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Heroines of that time of understanding. Tied closely to what is termed "Forest Lore", this deck speaks of traditions long past that were of more mutual benefit to the Earth and its inhabitants than the current, highly polarising and divisive religions of today. Certainly, life was more of a struggle back then, with dangers and challenges unknown of today - but the message here is that not all change and "modernisation" is for the good - either of the planet or its inhabitants.
For more information on the Wildwood Tarot, visit its page on the Aecletic tarot website.

16) Legend Arthurian

17) Alchemy 1977 England

I really don't know what possessed me to buy this Tarot deck.  Maybe it was the wonderful Gothic artwork, or maybe it was the "English" connotation.  I have to be honest, as usual, and say I am always disappointed with decks that do not follow through with the full Tarot experience, and which leave their pip cards (the Aces thru 10's) with basic imagery that just counts the card number, as this deck does.  However, some of the imagery on the Major Arcana, as well as the decorated Court cards, somewhat makes up for the lack of pip adornment in this deck.  Another feature of this deck is the fixation on Skulls/Skeletons, and Dragons.  Like the Necronomicon deck above, this deck is based in a Dark Fantasy world, which limits its potential to fulfill the full promise of the breadth of experience that Tarot truly covers. While lovers of the Gothic theme will appreciate this deck, it will lack interest for those more experienced with full-breadth Tarot decks.
Not a good deck for the novice, as it leaves so much missing from the imagery that tying it to the interpretation of the card can be difficult for the unpracticed reader, but, as a tie in to some of the modern Vampire and Werewolf romances, a very entertaining deck.

18) Wizards

Welcome to Mandrake Academy - essentially a school for Wizards! Hmm! Pre- or Post-Harry Potter (which I've never read anyway - and don't intend to!)
This is the basis for the Wizards Tarot - essentially an educational romp through the mysteries of the arcane and the occult.  The backstory to this deck fills in a LOT of useful knowledge about a very wide range of tools and aspects of divination, astrology, and arcane arts - covering fields such as Herbal Magic, Runes, Spellcraft, Lunar and Solar Magic, Astral Travel, and so on. All of these - and much, much more - are covered in the manual that comes with this deck - which almost makes it worthwhile buying the deck just to get the book!!
Seriously, though, this Rider-Waite-based deck comes with some beautifully illustrated cards, with the major arcana being based on the Professors that teach their various subjects at the academy.  While the artwork is obviously created using modern technology, it is, nevertheless, wonderfully done. And the pip cards are decorated, too! The four suits of the minor arcana are used to depict four of the races that populate the world of Mandrake Academy, but remain fairly true to the RW standards.  This makes the deck easy for experienced RW users to follow, but, given the wealth of information in the rather large LWB, this deck is ideal for novices too, giving them a huge foundation in the mysteries of Tarot!

Find out more about the Wizards Tarot on the Aecletic Tarot site.

19) Tarot of the Illuminati

20) The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus

21) The Golden Tarot of Klimt
22) Thoth
23) Romany Fortunes
24) Babylonian
25) Night Sun
26) Lenormand
27) Merryday*
28) Witches*
29) Sacred Rose*
30) Gypsy Oracle*
31) Daughters of the Moon*
32) Egipcios Kier*
33) Sacred Path*
34) Ibis *
35) #####
36) Oracle of Visions
37) Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn
38) #####
39) Nefertari's Tarots
40) Tarot of the Pagan Cats


2015 - I had thought to stick to these, but I have had a number of recent additions to my collection, including Merryday, Sacred Rose, Daughters of the Moon, Witches Tarot, and more! So I will be adding to this page in the next few weeks - completing the outstanding, and updating the new.
Then again - maybe...


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