Monthly Archives: April 2012

Review – Art Through the Eyes of the Soul Oracle

Art Through The Eyes of the Soul Oracle

Author: Cheryl Yambrach Rose
Artist: Cheryl Yambrach Rose
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281-722-7

“This oracle deck is a vehicle to provide persona
intuitive guidance from the mythic beings and
Divine entities that inhabit sacred sites and spaces.”
~ From “How to Use the Oracle”

“Art Through The Eyes of the Soul” is a 52 card oracle deck, accompanied by a 108 page companion book. The presentation is true quality – the cards and companion book come in a hard cardboard box with a lift off top. The image on the top of the box is that of the Lake”, which is also used on the cover of the companion book. On the back of the box is information on the deck, along with a small illustration of the card back. Did I mention that this deck is gilded? This deck would have been awesome without the gilding, but the gilding adds a sense of magic and “otherworldliness” to it. Kudos to the author/illustrator, and kudos to U.S. Games Systems, Inc.!

The original paintings for this deck were done in oil, giving the cards a stunning depth of color. Many of the paintings in this deck were featured in Rose’s book “Art Through the Eyes of the Soul”. Here she explains her journey as a visionary and Neo-Mythic artist, the four mythic lands that she bases her work on (Narnia, Avalon, Bohemia, and Lemuria), as well as her habit of tuning in to a subject through the eyes to paint a psychic impression. (I am brought to mind Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman, and her deck “The Sacred Rose Tarot”. Here the figures in the deck have black spaces for eyes.)

Rose suggests that meditating with the images connects the Seeker with the energy field of the location where the painting was conceived. The Seeker weaves their own fate by tuning into their higher self and allowing that spontaneous connection to answer their question or suggest advice. Drawing a single card to ask for daily guidance, or to use in meditation, acts as a catalyst to the Seeker’s own thought process.

There are also iPhone and iPad apps for this deck that include music and animation.

It is suggested that the cards be cleared before using them the first time, using either incense, or smudging them with sage. It is also suggested that they be placed on the Seeker’s sacred alter, along with other objects that are charged with significance by the Seeker’s own thoughts and intentions. The cards will absorb the Seeker’s vibration, allowing them to become a powerful personal tool. The bag may then be placed in a velvet bag, or some type of container, to hold the essence of the Seeker close. It is advised that the Seeker not allow anyone to play with the cards, or to treat them disrespectfully.

The companion book shows each card with a black and white scan, card title and date painted, an expanded meaning, and the story behind the card. Card subjects include Anastasia, Ariadne, Sophia, Eriu, the Goddess Sovereignty, the Glastonbury Goddess, the Hermit, Iona, Lady of the Lake, the Lord of Lyonesse, Merlin, Oceana, Redwood Shamanka, the Third Pillar, Wolf Child, and more.




The cards are approximately 3 ½” by 6”, of glossy card stock. The backs show a blue/black cave like setting, showing a path moving into light on the left hand side of the card. At the bottom of the card we see the eyes and forehead of a female figure, wearing a decorative headpiece. There are two thin gold lines around the edge of the card, with gold imagery at each of the four corners. The edges of the cards carry a gold gilt.




The card faces have a ¼” plain gold border, followed by a ¼” gold border with imagery. At the bottom of the card is a cream colored block showing the card title and a key concept.




The card entitled “Lady of the Lake” carries the key concept “find and hold Your Own Power”. The imagery shows a female figure, standing, both hands holding a sword, pointed down, with a waterfall behind her. The expanded meaning reads: “Stop giving away your power to others. Have the self-confidence to stand firm. Others will be Inspired by your strength and commitment.”








The card entitled “Eriu’s Eyes” carries the key concept “Look through the Mist – find the Mystery”. Here we see a body of water, with swans in the foreground. In the background we see an island, with a larger than life head of a Goddess appearing in the sky behind it. The expanded meaning is “don’t cloud your judgment with doubt – believe! The secret of Divine creation is within you. The Goddess is waiting to help yu manifest your dreams.”








The card entitled “Faery Goddessmother” carries the key concept “Magic is Alive – Ask Your Divine Child”. Here we see a female figure, standing, with a bowl of magical orbs in her hands. A young girl in a beautiful dress stands in front of her. In back of them is the forest, with Mt. Shasta in the distance. The expanded meaning is “Ask your question with a sense of lightheartedness. Adopt the unhindered enthusiasm of youth to open the free flow of ideas and answers from your guides and guardians. Keep your child-like wonder and imagination active, while living in the world. Dream …”



The card entitled “The Great Goddess” carries the key concept “Regeneration – Death and Rebirth”. We see a female figure, dressed in a blue gown, her left hand at her side, her right hand held out in front of her. The expanded meaning is “One life cycle ends and another begins. Flow with the cosmic rhythms to become the master of your own fate.” The year listed under this card is 1989.



The card entitled “The Burning of the Sage” carries the key concept “Visualize healing”. Here we see a female figure, facing the left hand side of the card. In her right hand she holds sage. Over her right shoulder we see a white bird/ In the distance, in the left hand corner, we see the pinnacle peaks of the Castle Crags. The expanded meaning is “Address health issues with positive visualizations. Use your intuition to connect into your energy field and identify the causes of your distress. Research may be necessary to get a balanced view.”




The card entitled “The Goddess Sovereignty” carries the key concept “Become Your Own Sovereign”. Here we see a female figure, in a lavender dress and veil, holding a cup in her hands. Behind her we see a lavender rose opening up. The expanded meaning for this card is “Envision and insist upon being treated with integrity and respect.”









The card entitled “Libuse, Prophetess of Prague” carries the key concept “A New Door is Opening – Step Over the Threshold.” We see a female figure, standing, with a falcon on her left arm. In the background we see a castle, as if she is seeing it in her mind. The expanded meaning for this card is “Doors open to allow us the opportunity to reach our fullest potential. Do not fear unknown territory.”









The card entitled “An Cailleach Bhearra” carries the key concept “Break free – Regain Your Youth and fly”. We see a female figure, facing the left hand side of the card, a white bird in front of her, holding up a corner of her cloak. The expanded meaning for this card is “Transcend time and space and all known boundaries. Adopt positive patterns that regenerate your body to begin a new cycle of growth and opportunity.”







The card entitled “Redwood Shamanka” carries the key concept “Retreat Into Nature – Solitude”. We see a female figure, with red hair and a red gown, seatged, facing us. In front of her right shoulder we see an animal allie, in back of her left shoulder we see a second animal allie. The expanded meaning for this card is “Take time out for yourself. Leave the daily routine and return refreshed and renewed.”






The card entitled “Beneath the Veil of Sophia” carries the key concept “Create – Activate Your DNA”. Here we see a figure dressed in a lavender robe, unveiling herself as a creatrix. The expanded meaning is “Let the arts be a catalyst to bringing your inner visions and ideas into form. Anything you can dream you have the power to create.”





There is incredible energy in this deck – I feel that it is a valuable tool for those from all backgrounds, and those of all ages. In these cards we see the world of myth and magic – it become so real to us that is feels like a parallel world, a parallel reality. This is a wonderful deck for these changing times!

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 30, 2012 in non-Tarot divination


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Review – “The Hobbit Tarot”

The Hobbit Tarot

Author: Terry Donaldson
Artist: Peter Pracownik
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281-677-0

“The Hobbit Tarot” is a 78 card theme deck, following the traditional structure of the Tarot, with the overlaid theme of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work “The Hobbit”. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana are defined as the major mysteries/themes around which our lives orbit (birth, death, love … things that are universal to all of us), while the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are said to represent situations and events in life. Traditional titles are kept for the Major Arcana, with Strength at VIII, and Justice at XI. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins, with the Court Card titles King, Queen, Knight, and Page.

In the introduction to the accompanying LWB (Little White Book), Donaldson notes that the world that constitutes “The Hobbit” is a world of gentle magic and mystery. He likens the journey of Bilbo Baggins to the journey that we all follow in life, clinging to what is known, with a disdain for change. Each character that was chosen to represent a particular Tarot card was chosen after due consideration. In bringing together the world of the Tarot and the world of the Hobbit, a new personae has been created. Reader response and feedback is encouraged, through the respective sites of the author and the artist.

Terry Donaldson is a professional Tarot reader, guide, and healer. He currently runs the London Tarot Centre through his shop in London. He has assisted Peter Pracownik with the creation of “The Dragon Tarot” and “The Lord of the Rings Tarot”.

Peter Pracownik is at the forefront of what is termed the Visionary School of art. He has made his mark in both the UK and American markets in the New Age/Fantasy School of modern artists. His prior work includes “The Dragon Tarot”, “The Lord of the Rings Tarot”, the “Imperial Dragon Oracle Deck”, and the “Woodland Wisdom Oracle Cards”.

The LWB presents the cards in text only – no scans. There is a discussion of the card background (greatly appreciated in a theme deck!), followed by the upright and reversed divinatory meanings.

There is a very special section where spreads relevant to the Hobbit theme are presented, including The Ring of Gollum Spread (giving a great over-view/snapshot of where the Seeker is at the time of the reading), The Sword of Aragon Spread (an expanded Past/Present/Future spread), and The Arkenstone Spread (a spiral spread that is read in storytelling fashion).

The box that the cards and LWB come in shows an illustration of the Four of Cups on the front, and the Fool on the back. The cards are 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”, of glossy card stock. The backs show a ¼” white border, surrounding a gray/blue inner background. Super imposed on the background we see the Ring of Power, complete with its script “One Ring to rule them all”. The backs are reversible.

The card faces show a ¼” white border, followed by a smaller gold border. The Major Arcana show the card number, in Roman numerals, and the card title across the bottom of the card. The Minor Arcana Pips show the card number, in text, and the suit name across the bottom of the card. The Court Cards show the card title and suit across the bottom of the card.

Some of the cards in this deck evoke traditional Tarot well, some do not. The Magician is a card that works, but not in the traditional manner. All of the elements are represented, but we do not have the traditional “As Above, So Below” gesture, and the magician himself, represented by Gandalf, is older. The Hieropant, represented by again by Gandolf, works well. He is working with deep magic through the crystal on his staff, and the owl above him representing wisdom is quite appropriate.

The Three of Cups is a stretch, represented by the companions taking a rest in the forest, Even knowing the story, the Hermit, represented by Beorn, is more than a stretch. Temperance, represented by Bolg, shows the warrior nature of “tempered steel”.

Strength shows Thorin Oakenshield getting ready to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the Dragon Smaug.



The Ace of Wands shows Gandolf with is fire-throwing wand.







The High Priestess shows two pillars holding up a royal arch. Over one pillar is a circle of light, over the other a circle of dark. In between the pillars is an open book – the left hand page reads “The lost key to the Book of Dain”, while the right hand page reads “Lord of the Misty Mountain”. Over the open pages we see a crescent moon.




The King of Coins shows Dain the Second seated on his throne. Over his head, inscribed in Runic lettering, are the words “High Lord Dain, Son of Nain, Misty Mo…”.









The Nine of Cups shows Elrond’s Last Homely House.









The Queen of Swords shows a female Wang calling for her pack.

The World shows the Dragon Smaug sitting atop a mountain of treasure. 




In this deck we see superimposed on the traditional Tarot a world of Elves, Dragons, Dwarves, Wizards, Trolls, and the occasional Human. This is a collectors deck for those that connect with the Hobbit theme, or those that like mystical, fantasy art. It is not a deck for beginners, and it is not a deck to learn from. As an addition to any collection, it is invaluable, as it stretches the imagination and brings new perspective to the world of the Tarot and the world of Bilbo Baggins.

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Review – Playing Card Oracles

Playing Card Oracles
Divination Deck

Author: Ana Cortez, C.J. Freeman
Artist: C.J. Freeman
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281-525-4

By their numbers, suits, and pictures,
The cards communicate
And begin to tell their story
Each time we shuffle fate.

The “Playing Card Oracles” is a 52 card deck, with three additional cards: an information card that presents the companion book to this deck (“The Playing Card Oracles: A Source Book For Divination”), a card giving the background on author Ana Cortez and illustrator C.J. Freeman, and a card discussing the tie between playing cards and the mysteries of the ancient oracles. The deck is accompanied by a 26 page LWB (Little White Book).

The introduction starts out with the thought that the construction of a playing card deck is not haphazard at all … that it contains a clearly thought out intention, and a purpose far greater than ordinary gaming. Connection is made between the 52 cards in the deck, and the structure of 52 weeks in a year. According to the introduction, playing cards are a perfect reflection of a Fixed Lunar Calendar. Within the structure of such a calendar, we can chart events that have not yet happened. The playing cards in this deck feature unique artwork that is meant to help the reader discover the secret wisdom of the ancient oracles.

The suits are associated with the elements: Diamonds/Fire, Clubs/Air, Hearts/Water, Spades/Earth. Key concepts are also included for each suit: Diamonds – prosperity, creativity, self-confidence, transformation, spiritual growth; Clubs – ideas, thinking, dreams, communication, detachment; Hearts – emotions (love, passion, hate, fear, etc.), sympathy, healing, the subconscious; Spades – labor, career, housing, the physical body, discipline, responsibility.

In the prelude to the card presentation, Cortez notes that the explanations for each card are only meant as clues. It is suggested that the reader let the images, colors, and total impression of the cards inspire the reader’s interpretation of the reading.

Each card is listed, with text interpretation only (no image). For example: the Ace of Diamonds (Ignita) reads: “The gifts waiting here include the creative ability to will our dreams into reality as well as attract money and resources. The Five of Spades (The Circle of Crows) reads: Encircled by the haunting crows, the way out from fear and frustration is unclear.

The basic template for spreads with this deck uses a four card foundation. Spreads presented include the Present Spread and the Cat Spread. The definitions for the card positions include associations with the elements and with parts of the body: Diamonds/Fire/the Head, Clubs/Air/the Throat, Hearts/Water/the Torso, Spades/Earth/The Feet.

At the back of the book there are several blank pages to use for note-taking.

It was noted in the introduction that this system is entirely unique from regular playing cards, and from the Tarot. It is stand-alone … there is no comparison. This deck is best used in conjunction with its companion book.

The cards are 2 ½” by 3 ½’, on glossy card stock. The backs show a ¼” cream border, followed by a double black inner border, followed by a second ¼” cream border. The center image shows sworls and symbols in black and cream. Technically, the backs are not reversible, but in reality they are, due to the nature of the imagery.

The card faces have a cream colored background, with the icon for the suit in one corner, and the title and number on the court cards. The pips (numbered cards) show a simple image in the background, with icons over the image. The court cards show a simple figure, along with an accompanying animal.



The Queen of Spades (Morgana), carries the number 12. She is shown in profile, body facing the left hand side of the card, but looking out at the reader.


The Ace of Diamonds (Ignita) shows a red diamond shape, with an image behind it.






The Six of Diamonds shows three rows of two Diamond icons, over a gray background with a castle towards the back of the card.


The Eight of Clubs (The Scales) shows a gray and white background of clouds, with eight black Club icons over it.




The Queen of Clubs (Leah) is shown in profile, facing the right hand side of the card and looking to the right. In the background is a cream colored moon, with a black bird flying in front of it.


The Six of Spades shows a barren background, with a castle in the distance. Six black Spade icons are imposed over the image.





I find this an interesting system to work with, and the cards themselves fascinating. (Cortez gets points for not putting a border on the cards!). I do feel that it is best to use this deck along with its companion book (see my review of the book here – This system could be used by all ages and backgrounds.

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Tarot


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Review – Voice of the Trees

Voice of the Trees
A Celtic Divination Oracle

Author: Mickie Mueller
Artist: Mickie Mueller
Llewellyn Publications
ISBN #978-0-7387-1554-4

“Voice of the Trees” is a 25 card oracle deck based on the Celtic ogham (the sacred Celtic Tree alphabet). It comes with a 216 page companion book (Voice of the Trees – Companion). The only quibble that I have with this deck is the packaging. The boxes that Llewellyn uses are apt to come apart rather easily. So far, the outer box is intact, but the inner white box that the cards would be kept in has come apart. It would be nice to actually have a nice box to store the cards in.

The imagery in each card reflects a specific tree, with its associated symbolism, lore, spiritual traits, divinatory meaning, and ogham letter. It is indicated on the back of the box that this material is easily adapted to work with meditation, affirmations, tree magic, and use as a guide for personal transformation. The image on the front of the box is that of saille (Willow).

The image on the cover of the companion book shows a warrior, kneeling on one knee, spear in her right hand, shield in her left hand, forest behind her. In her preface, Mueller talks about watching the branches on the polar trees outside of her home. She knew that these branches contained the answers to some deep mystery, and pondered the trees deep roots, mirroring the branches that reached up into the sky.

She also wondered what we have in common with trees, and whether we are part of each other, or are perhaps both part of something greater. She notesss that trees give us shelter, that we harvest food from them, we have made weapons and shields from t hem, and used them for fire to keep warm. Mueller notes that it is around these fires that we shared fellowship, stories, and ritual.

Mueller talks about the tree as being a sacred symbol representing t he three mystical realms: the branches reaching into the sky where we access our higher powers; the trunk representing the physical world; and the roots representing the gateway to the lower spiritual realms and inner mysteries. An interesting note here is that knotholes are used by shamans a passageway for spiritual travel.

In her introduction Mueller speaks of the deep wisdom contained within all trees in general, as well as the important teachings that specific varieties of trees have for us. She notes that shamans develop a connection with the trees that flourish in their specific areas. The ancient Celtics developed a simple alphabet for teaching their spoken traditions, called the ogham. The tree ogham assigns three ranks of trees: chieftans, peasants, and shrubs. Mueller goes further into the differentiation, and notes what to expect in the section on each tree: the Celticname’s pronunciation and definition, the status, letter, divinatory meaning, reversed meaning, symbolism and lore, physical information, and a divining charm.

(There is an important note that the last five oghams in the book were included because Mueller believed that they further contributed to the readings, but it is up to the individual whether they want to use them or not.)

In the section on how to use this oracle, the reader is encouraged to pay attention to how the images make them feel. (I assure you – it would be hard NOT to connect with these images!) Mueller talks about reading the expression on the figures, as well as their stance and gestures. The associated ogham and tree names are at the top of the card, with keywords along the bottom.

Mueller notes that a reading shows the energies in the Seeker’s life at the time of the reading. The reading becomes a map of where the Seeker has been, where they are now, and where they are likely to be heading, were no further action to be taken. Instructions are given on dedicating the cards, as well as creating a crane bag.

In the “field guide” section of the companion book, readers are encouraged to note how the people and animals are interacting with the trees in each card. The images are meant to evoke an emotional response. The divining charm is seen as a poetic gift from the tree, drawing upon the old teachings, as well as the tree’s status.

Each card is presented with a full size black and white illustration, the card’s Celtic Name, Letter, Status, Divining Charm, Divinatory Meaning, Reversed Meaning, Symbolism and Lore, and Field Guide.

At the end of the book is a chapter devoted to Ogham Tree Devotionals, along with a meditation. In the following chapter on Ogham Tree Magic we see how to use the energy of the trees to heal, to find an answer to a question, to create a protection talisman, to bring love, prosperity, unlock success and heal the earth.

Spreads presented include the Dragon’s Eye Spread, the Oak Tree Spread, and the Newgrange Spread.

There is a significant bibliography at the end of the book for future reference.

The cards themselves are 2 ¾” by 4 ½”. The backs are a brownish-yellow, with four trees around a concentric circle in the middle of the card, which is reversible. The card faces show a ¼” brownish-yellow border, with the Celtic name and the name of the tree across the top, with keywords across the bottom. The cards are done in pastels of green, reddish-brown, gray-white, light yellow and light blue.

Every single one of these cards drew me in! However, it is technically illegal (and unethical) to show scans of all the cards in a deck, so I will talk about a few, and show scans of others.

Fearn (Alder), shows a long haired male figure, seated on a little island in the middle of water. He is wearing a yellow shirt with what appears to be a red sash over it. Surrounding him is the forest. The keywords here are oracle and teacher. Gort (Ivy) shows a female figure wearing a green cloak and an ivy headdress. The keywords here are tenacity and self.

Quert (Apple) shows a female figure in a white dress with a black hooded cloak, holding apples in her hands. She is surrounded by apple trees. The keywords here are choice and healing. Coll (Hazel) shows a fish jumping in a stream, with the forest in the background. The keywords here are inspiration and wisdom.

Ngetal (Broom or Reed) shows a female figure dressed in white, with a light green covering over her head. She is sweeping in front of a hut with a thatched roof, with herbs hanging from it. The keywords here are cleansing and vitality. Ur (Heather) shows four hand clasping, bound lightly by a cord. A green valley shows in the background, with a planter in the foreground showing purple flowers. The keywords here are transition and partnership.

Saille (Willow) shows a female figure in a red dress and green cloak, holding a bowl of water in her hands, and looking up towards the sky. Surrounding her is the forest, with an owl in the air to her left.

Duir (Oak) shows an oak tree with a deer standing in front of it. The keywords  here are strength and endurance. Tinne (Holly) shows a green forest, with a warrior ghost face set into it, holding an ax. The keywords here are challenge and justice.

Muin (Vine) shows two hands holding a red container. Behind the hands we see a grape vine, loaded with grapes. In the middle of the picture we see the image of a face in the leaves. The keywords here are completion and harvest.

Idho (Yew) shows a female figure in a yellowish-white dress, standing in the middle of a tree, stirring a cauldron. The leaves on the tree above her are green. The keywords here are gateway and mortality.

This is a wonderful deck, and a great way to align ones-self with tree energy. It is appropriate for individuals of all backgrounds, and all ages. I read for myself using the Dragon’s Eye Spread – it affirmed what was there, and showed a great prognosis! I was highly pleased! This is said tongue in cheek, as you know. We work with the energy that universe deals us. In my case, it did happen to show a happy outcome.

© April 1212 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in non-Tarot divination


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Tarot Card Meanings App – iPhone & iPad

I am very pleased to be giving you a heads up  on a wonderful app from Karyn Easton, the awesome lady that behind the deck that illustrates my book, “Tarot, Birth Cards, and You”. She has just come out with an app for the iPhone and iPad that is based on teaching Tarot card meanings. What a wonderful gift for the Tarot community!



Brief and full card meanings are given, as well as handy hints and hidden
meanings. And … the Tarot card designs can be used as background wallpaper!  With the swipe of a finger, this app will give the user access to traditional card meanings, compiled from some of the best traditional card meaning sources available. There is a handy hint for each card in both its upright and reversed position. One tap brings the desired card up, then tap the meaning to see it, or rotate the card with your finger to see it in reverse.



The information contained in this app is compatible with any 78 card Tarot deck. Illustrations are from Karyn’s “Tarot Lovers’ Tarot” deck (which can be seen on

To read more about Karyn’s Tarot app, and to purchase it, go to

(c) April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Tarot


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Review – Devil (An Unauthorized Autobiography)

I recently received an incredible package from an incredible lady – Lena Ruth Stefanovich. She shared with me two of her books, and the decks that go with them. I am both honored and humbled to be able to have this material in my hands. The first book was “Lo Triumpe”, which you can see here:

The second book is “Devil – An Unauthorized Biography” (OKF, Cetinje, 2011), a collection of stories based partially on Jewish culture and the Tarot, and partially on urban living in general. The deck that accompanies this book is the “Vaudeville Tarot”, by Spanish artist Francisco J. Campos. More on this deck can be seen here –

I love this book – it comes in the original language, with some English translations at the back of the book. In his preface Sanjin Sorel notes that Tarot, like the Jewish culture, provides the framework, without which reality would be the metonymy of emptiness. He feels that Stefanovic writes of an absent presence, the figure of melancholy seems to be the solution that brings salvation.

Also from Sorel’s preface: “Dreams, inner disputes and doubts, the continuous contrast of reality, imagination, and memories … these are all the elements from which Lena Ruth’s literary world is built.” Sorel gives Stefanovic the highest praise when he states “Interestingly, Lena Ruth executes the concept primarily through poetry, which additionally, by genre, destabilizes the concept. In any case, the book is diverse, but thematically coherent.”

In his preface Tanja Bakic speaks of the genre of Stefanovic’s previous work as contemporary fairytale. The implied dilemma between the esoteric and the mystic form the foundation for her current work, this time through the genre of poetry. Is this book poetry, fairytale, mystical, esoteric … or a combination? Stefanovic addresses the archetypal images, and the darkest parts of the soul.

I loved the preface by Stephen J, Mangan, as he describes Stefanovic as a lady who “gets things done”! (Mangan played the role of friend and translator for this book.) From his preface: “When Tarot, poetry, the devil and his burlesque meet therefore, they need no introduction – it is no meeting of strangers – but a reunion.”

Pavle Goranovic, in his preface, speaks of poetry in prose as an artistic expression in which language itself serves as a tool of evocation and estheticism. He defines different pieces of this book in different ways: microfiction (Baruch and Olyechka), poetry (The Cleaner), narrative poetry (Tzadikkim; Burlesque), and vignettes (Carte Fine).

In his preface, the artist, Francisco J. Campos, describes Tarot as a tool that combines symbols in a random manner to give an answer. Campos both acted in vaudeville, and worked on the production end. He saw this as a magical world, and brought it into the world of Tarot.

Several stories and poems have been translated at the back of the book, including “Darkness and I”, “Burlesque”, “The Devil (An Autobiography)”, and “Baruch and Olyechka”.

From the book:

The Devil (An Autobiography)

Do you not know me!

I am your adversary in this tale;
that arrogant voice born of doubt
and fostered by fear.

I dwell in the constant storm
of your uncertainty,
sprouting in darkness,
fed by your fury
and drinking up your pain
until you stumble and fall.

Still you dismiss me with a smile,
denying my existence
as I bury you alive.

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Tarot


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Lo Triumpe

I recently received an incredible package from an incredible lady – Lena Ruth Stefanovich. She shared with me two of her books, and the decks that go with them. I am both honored and humbled to be able to have this material in my hands.

The first book is “Lo Triumpe” (OKF, Cetinje, 2008), a book of short stories based on the Tarot. The stories themselves I cannot comment on, as they are not in English. The 22 card Major Arcana deck that accompanies this book is entitled the “Black Mountain Tarot”, and is illustrated by the inimitable Emily Carding. The deck came nicely presented in spreadsheets of four cards each. In her foreword, Emily notes that Lena left the choice of the theme for the deck up to her – Bravo Lena! You two ladies together are incredible! A not so small point – this was the first deck to be published in the newly independent Montenegro!

More of the cards can be seen here, on Aeclectic Tarot- . Images in this deck were inspired by historical figures, architecture, modern life, ancient mythology, folk tales, Christian, Pagan, and Muslim spirituality, Montenegro’s stunning countryside and rugged mountains, and, as Emily states, even a view of an optimistic future.

The incredibly good news about the “Black Mountain Tarot” is that a second edition ( which will include an intro written by Lena, along with a couple of her stories) is due to be released by the Tarot Media Company ( Yes, it was supposed to be out in 2011 – keep an eye on this page – the deck, along with Lena’s stories, is worth it!

© April 2011 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Tarot


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Review – Simply Deep Tarot

Simply Deep Tarot

Author: Chanel Bayless
Artist: James Battersby
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN #978-0-7643-3984-4

The “Simply Deep Tarot” follows the traditional Rider-Waite format, with 78 cards, traditional titles for the Major Arcana, Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The four suits of the Minor Arcana are entitled Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins, with the Court Cards entitled Princess, Knight, Queen, and King.

The cards come in what is coming to be viewed at the “traditional” Schiffer packaging – sturdy lift-top box, with a magnetic lid. The coloring on the box and the 96 page book are blue/green, representing the emotional realm of life. The cover of the box shows the “ghost” of a female figure, cards in hand. The back of the box carries background information on the deck.

The purpose behind the “Simply Deep Tarot”is to take the reader deeper into the cards on an emotional level, while still providing a connection to everyday life. In her introduction, Bayliss indicates that she sees the Tarot as a window into the soul. This window has many layers, layers that Bayliss sees as emotional memories, and the reader needs to be able to penetrate these layers to gain the most from the cards.

Isolating and exploring each individual emotional layer is the technique that Bayliss recommends. A hint that she gives is to remain detached, so that one does not become afraid of the wisdom they are accessing. She also suggests that the reader be very aware of their own energy during a reading, to the extent that information is given on working with the chakras and energy.

Spreads were deliberately not developed for this deck, as Bayliss wanted the reader to go deeply into each card to pull out the meaning. Spreads are developed with the idea of accessing the story, and Bayliss feels that this can be done, and is done, as the reader accesses each successive layer of the cards.

Each card is presented with a small black and white scan, keyowrds, and upright and reversed meanings.

In her conclusion, Bayless writes “Understanding the roots of our emotional and spiritual origins is the number one best thing that we can do to understand all of the choices that we’ve made in life, that we will make in life, and that will affect the direction of the path that lies before us at this exact moment.”

The cards are 2 ¾” by 4 ½”, and are a sturdy, glossy card stock. The backs are a blue/green, and reversible, showing the same “ghost woman”, holding her cards, as the front of the box. The cards are color coded, with a solid strip of color across the top and the bottom. The Major Arcana show the card number, in Roman numerals, and the card title across the bottom. The Minor Arcana Pips (numbered cards), show the the card number (in text) and the suit name across the bottom of the card. The Minor Arcana Court Cards show the card title and suit across the bottom of the cards, and a solid color across the top..

The coloring on this deck in in depth, with the suit of Wands coded peach, the suit of Cups blue/green, the suit of Swords a yellow/green, and the suit of Coins a light green. The Major Arcana cards are coded to their elemental quality. The art style is somewhere between fantasy and reality, with the imagery not always following traditional lines.

The Fool is shown walking a tightrope between two sides of a canyon, while his dog watches from the bottom, near the river. The Empress is seated on a swan, while the Emperor stands with a scroll in his right hand, and his left hand holding on to what looks to be a pipe, with a wheel on the top. I love the Hierophant, who is pictured in a brown robe, with a squirrel under his right arm, and a bird seated on his left hand.

The Lovers shows a formally dressed couple having a picnic. The Chariot shows a young person standing in a ray of sunshine, his arms outstretched, with loose ropes tied to each wrist, leading to the side of the card. Strength is actually seated on t he lion, whom she has muzzled. Justice shows an individual seated on the right hand scale (as we view the scales), while seated on the left hand scale is a figure in a red robe with white collar and cuffs, a sword in one hand and an open book in the other.

The Five of Coins shows a male figure, collapsed on the ground in front of a barred doorway. In front of him is a female figure, standing, with five coins flung over her shoulder. The Seven of Coins literally shows a male figure watering his crop. The Queen of Coins shows a female figure, holding a bowl filled with bread and produce. The Two fo Swords shows a figure seated at a table, in front of an open book, his head in his hands. Over his head a swords and a feather are crossed.

The Magician both draws me into the picture, and makes me wonder. We see a figure seated at a table, in a blue, hooded cloak. On the table in front of him is a candle, a book of spells, a knife, a pencil, what looks to be a bowl of pebbles, or perhaps coins, and a flower in a vase.

The World shows a tree against a night sky, with the world cradled safely in its trunk. The Ace of Coins shows a coin, with a male and female figure on it, and a plant growing up from it.

The Six of Swords is another puzzling card for me. The figure of a child sits in a boat that is being manned by a figure in a long, brown, hooded cloak. This cannot exactly be an ocean, or even a river, as a spigot is running water in on the left hand side of the card. The boat isn’t going anywhere anyway, as the six swords are planted firmly in the water in front of its bow.

I love the Nine of Swords! We see an individual, sitting up in bed, head in hands. Above him/her are seven swords, each with its own little “thought cloud”. The thoughts are: Why me? Out to get me. You will fail! Worry. Gossip. I’m not good enough. Will I get in trouble? It won’t work. And What will happen?

The Two of Wands shows a painting, sitting on an easel at the shore. Two paint brushes hover in the air in front of it, while we see a turtle in the sand to one side. The Queen of Wands shows a very happy lady, in a bright red dress, with a wand in her right hand. She is standing between two burning cups. The Three of Wands shows three hands, each holding a match. The top two matches are lit, with the bottom match being held up to be lit by the upper matches. The King of Cups is very prototypical, with the King seated on his throne, full cup in his left hand.

This is a deck that can be easily worked with, and that might appeal to children, if the reader works with children. It is a deck that, along with its companion book, can expand the nature of a reading.

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Review – Tarot Tour Guide

Tarot Tour Guide
Tarot, The Four Elements, And Your Spiritual Journey

Author: Christiana Gaudet
Jupiter Gardens Press
ISBN #978-1-938257-05-6

In her introduction, Gaudet notes that she is working from many different levels with this book, including as a tour guide for beginning students, and as a source of new perspectives and ideas for more experienced readers (including viewing the Tarot as a spiritual journey).

A metaphysical understanding of the four elements has been a cornerstone of Gaudet’s spiritual journey, which shows through clearly in this work. The premise here is that the four elements provide the framework for Tarot, magick, and a balanced life. From the back cover: “Your spiritual journey begins when you are present, conscious, and intentional in each moment.”

Also from the back cover – what you will find in this book:

• Tarot as a tool for your spiritual growth.
• Understandable interpretations for all seventy-eight cards.
• Instructions for reading Tarot for yourself and others, using several Tarot reading styles.
• Eight Tarot spreads, along with instructions to create your own Tarot spreads.
• An introduction to Tarot magick, along with several Tarot spells for love, healing and prosperity.
• Meditations and exercises to expand your understanding of Tarot, and of yourself.
• Ways to summon and connect with the four elements for balance and healing.
• Ways Tarot can help you in all aspects of life, including career, relationships, spiritual growth, creative development and communication with the spirit world.

Gaudet encourages readers to keep a written record of their Tarot journey in a Tarot journal, making notes on the cards, and your impressions of them. Work done on meditation, ritual, and journeying can also be recorded here. This makes it very easy to go back and review first impressions, add future thoughts, and basically see where you were/are at any point in time. She also encourages the Tarot student to create some type of Tarot alter, which is simply meant to be a sacred space that honors the Tarot work being done by the individual. In the same section Gaudet gives the reader simple instructions for using meditation to increase awareness of their spiritual journey. There are a lot of these “hidden gems” in this book!

The cards are presented in text format only – no scans. A verbal description of the Rider-Waite card image is given, along with the basic energy that the card carries, and what the card would mean in a reading, in both the upright and reversed positions. While this is very basic information, it gives the reader a solid foundation for reading the cards, and for developing their own understanding of them.

At the end of the Major Arcana section several exercises are presented, including Identifying With The Fool, Key Words, and Meditation. For advanced students is an exercise on working with best liked and worst liked cards.

Exercises for the Pips (numbered cards) include the Four Elements Reading, Storytelling, and Runs. For advanced students there is an exercise focused on the Four Elements.

Court Card exercises include Key Words, Significator, People In Your Life, What To Do?, and Numbers Exercise. For advanced students, there is an exercise entitled “Expand the Role of Tarot in Your Life”.

Gaudet presents four basic methods for reading the Tarot: interpretive, intuitive, psychological, and archetypal. That’s a great place to start developing a reading style, IMHO! Along with a discussion of the various styles, the exercises in this section include an intuitive exercise and an exercise on interpretive reading.

Five ways to see the Tarot are presented:

• Tarot is a book of spiritual lessons.
• Tarot is a language.
• Tarot is a tool for stimulating creativity.
• Tarot is a means of communicating with the spirit world.
• Tarot is a set of magickal tools.

I love working with the 3X7 way of looking at the Major Arcana. Here we see this method presented as Body/Mind/Spirit, with cards I-VII representing the Body (Material World), cards IX-XV as Mind (Emotional World), and XVI-XXI as Spirit (Spiritual World).

The Tarot spreads included in this book are the Celtic Cross, the Seven Sisters, the Future Vision, the Lamplighter, Mapping the Spiritual Path, and Relationship. I loved this section, but I did have one major problem: the type here was too small for these older eyes to read!

The same issue with small type carried over into the chart for the Four Elements – great information, but presented in type too small for me to read. (I loved the spread presented in this chapter – the Compass Rose Spread For Elemental Balance.) Instructions are given for meditating on the Four Elements, as well as for calling them in. Anyone can do this, people! This is followed by separate chapters for each of the elements.

“Tarot Tour Guide” is packed with usable information, written in a straight forward, easily understood manner. It is packed with little gems of understanding, exercises to help the reader place the information actively into their life, spreads to play with, stories from Gaudet’s personal experience with her clients, and much more! It also lends itself to forming the foundation for classes of all types. I don’t generally say this, but I am going to say it here, because the thought has been coming to me since I began reading this book. If you want to base a class on material from this book, have the courtesy to acknowledge where it came from. Yes, the material here is that good!

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Tarot


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Tarot Spreads

Tarot Spreads
Layouts & Techniques To Empower Your Readings

Author: Barbara Moore
Llewellyn Publications
ISBN # 078-0-7387-2784-4

The questions that we ask of the Tarot, and the spreads that we use to answer them, allow us to access the powerful wisdom that the Tarot contains. The 78 cards carry the images, and the images carry the energy. On the back of her book Moore notes that in learning to format and use various spreads, the reader brings power, precision, and depth to their readings. In this book the reader will find nearly seventy different themed spreads that they can work with, or that they can use as jumping off places for creating their own spreads. She also notes something that I think is very important, and that is t hat in working with spreads, and in creating their own spreads, the reader will create (define) a reading style that is all their own. The reader can choose to:

1. Select a spread from the book and use it for guidance.
2. Perform a 78 card reading to deepen their understanding of the Tarot.
3. Modify classic spreads, or create their own spreads.

The book is very nicely set up with a page of contents, which lists chapters on basic concepts, designs and layouts, techniques to add to any spread, how to modify spreads, do it yourself spread design, and how to do a 78 card reading. In the back of the book are spread cross-references, an annotated reading list, an appendix with curious old spread, and appendix with elemental dignities, and an appendix with significators. There is also a page which lists the specific page where a spread layout is pictured.

In her introduction, Moore tells a wonderful story about the very first reading that she got from Tarotist Rachel Pollack. Rather than asking what her question was, Pollack asked Moore to “talk about the situation”. Pollack took notes as Moore talked, and came up with a unique spread from her own notes! This experience lead Moore to explore spreads and spread design on her own. One thing that Moore noted here resonated with me, and that is that she sees working with Tarot spreads as part of the pattern-creating process.

The first two spreads presented are the three-card Past/Present/Future spread, and a seven-card choices spread. Moore notes things like positional meaning blending in with the inherent meaning of the cards, and that even spreads without positional meanings still create a framework for the answer. She also notes that all spreads have inherent strengths and weaknesses.

The general categories that a reader might want to have one or more spreads for includes general, love/relationship, work/career, health, and spiritual life. Each reader works within their own belief system, using their own personal style and techniques.

In the section on design principles, Moore talks about balance within a spread, and the symmetry and spacing. She also addresses the significance of different geometric forms (square, circle, triangle, and cross.

The section on traditional spreads includes the Celtic Cross (with significator), the Horseshoe Spread, the Astrological Spread, the Star Spread, the Chakra spread, and the Tree of Life Spread.

General spreads include variations on the three-card spread, Barbara’s General Spread, a Generic Basic Spread, the Guiding Star Spread, the Elemental Advice Spread, the Royal Advice Spread, the Big Picture Spread, the Facing A Challenge Spread, the Heart versus Head Spread, the Action Plan Spread, the Three Gates Spread, the Winds of Change Spread, an expanded Past/present/Future Spread, a Past/Present/Future Spread With Options, and more.

The section on techniques to add to any spread is invaluable, in that it breaks the reader out of boxed in thinking and allows them to see things from a wider perspective. Techniques include working with pairs and triplets, changing your focus, and moving the cards.

The section on modifying spreads included information on changing focus, modifying positional meanings, altering the layout, or the number of cards used, and adding different techniques. Examples are given to show the reader how the process works.

The section on do it yourself spreads includes working with themes, working with quotes, positional meanings, the number of cards, and the position of the cards.

Being able to understand and work with spreads is at the heart of a Tarot reading, following the formation of the Seeker’s question. “Tarot Spreads” offers a wonderful foundation in showing the reader the many things that can be done with Tarot spreads. The reader is only limited by their own thinking!

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


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