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Review – Shadowscapes Tarot App

Version: 1.3.4
Size: 24.7 MB
Language: English
Developer: The Fool’s Dog, LLC
Artist: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Author: Barbara Moore
© 2012 – 2013 The Fool’s Dog LLC

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4.5, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Shadowscapes screen shot 1

The “Shadowscapes Tarot” is one of my favorite Tarot decks – gentle, with awesome fantasy imagery, drawn from fairy tales, myths, and the folklore or diverse world cultures.

I was thrilled to hear that there was an app out for this deck, and that the functionality was top notch! It is very easy to use, and would work well for either beginners or more seasoned readers. It incorporates full screen, high resolution card images, and includes 11 built in spreads, 8 of which were designed by Barbara Moore specifically for this deck. The Free Form option allows the user to create their own layout, which works well for those that define new layouts for each reading, depending on the questions being asked.

The user may choose to work with reversed cards or not, and they may also choose to work with the Major Arcana only if they wish. This is very detailed artwork, so the option to zoom in on specific areas within a card is a definite bonus! Readings can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail. (Note – Facebook requires iOS 6.)  The shuffle and cut feature is animated, and there is an option to use voice prompts. (Note: the randomizer function for the Fool’s Dog apps was developed by a gentleman by the name of Jason, who has a strong history with an incredibly popular Sudoku game. The randomizers for the two apps share many features.)  It gets even better with the ability to customize card meanings and reading cloths.

Shadowscapes screen shot 3

 

The landing page offers the user the following options: New Reading, Draw A Card, Today’s Card, Journal, and Explore.

Clicking on New Reading presents a page that can be accessed with or without voice prompts. (I left the function on – the voice is a very pleasant one.) At the top of the page the user enters their question, and then picks a spread from the following options: One Card, Past, Present, & Future, The Spirit Spread, the Celtic Cross Spread, the Free Form spread, Problem & Solution, Message, Balancing Act, Is Love In The Stars?, Dream Come True, and A Journey. Under settings, the user has the ability to chose a reading cloth, allow reversed cards, use Majors only, draw the cars from the top of the deck, fan the cards, or see a list of cards, draw the cards face up, or go straight to the reading, skipping the shuffle, cut, and draw functions. (Note: The cards can be shuffled in a riffle or wash, and can be cut if the user wishes.) The icons for riffle, wash, cut, and draw run across the bottom of the page.

After the cards are drawn, the user taps on them to turn them over (unless the user chose to draw them face up.) The top left hand corner of the page carries an icon that allows the user to leave the reading if they wish. The bottom left hand side of the page carries an icon that leads to an interpretation of the cards that shows the spread as a whole, along with each individual card. The icon on the bottom right hand side of the page allows the user access to the journal function. Clicking on the icon on the top right hand side of the page allows the user to turn the voice function on or off, edit their question, draw additional cards, change the reading cloth, and share their reading.

Tapping on each card rings up a full screen image of the card, with an explanation of the card position, a short synopsis of the card meaning, and a link to the full text from the companion book.

Clicking on the Draw A Card or Today’s Card links brings up a random card, with a short synopsis of the card, and how to place it in your life. There is also a link to the full text on the card from the companion book. Clicking on the card allows the user to access the card meaning, and to access the journal function.

Clicking on the Journal link allows the user to access the journal function, where they can review/edit previous journal entries.

Clicking on the Explore function presents the user with links to About This Deck, Cards, Spreads, Reading Cloths, The Book, Using This App, and a Catalog of Decks.

About This Deck talks about the background of the deck, where to purchase the physical deck, how to use this app, and credits, which gives the bios for both artist and author.

Clicking on Cards brings up thumbnails of the cards, which expand to a full screen image when tapped. Across the bottom of the page are icons for accessing the Majors, Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles.

Clicking on Spreads brings up an explanation for each spread,

Clicking on Reading Cloths brings up a page that gives the user a series of diverse color and texture option for reading cloths, including using their own image.

Clicking on The Book brings up a page that accesses the Shadowscapes companion book in digital format.

Clicking on Using This App leads to an in-depth manual for this app.

Clicking on Catalog of Decks brings up an inventory of the decks available from The Fool’s Dog, LLC, which includes a Tarot Sampler, the Wildwood Tarot, the Fellowship of the Fool Tarot, the Steampunk Tarot, the Rosetta Tarot, the Holy Light Tarot, the Tarot of Trees, the Druid Oracle Cards, the Housewives Tarot, the DruidCraft Tarot, the Wizards Tarot, Beginner’s Guide To Tarot, the Crystal Visions Tarot, the Ghosts & Spirits Tarot, and the Zombie Tarot.

I love this app, and I think that you will too! Caroline Kenner told me a little secret that I will share with you … in all of the apps from the Fool’s Dog there is a spell written into the software that is designed to link the apps to the oracle of the Tarot. It was gifted to Caroline by the Wiccan priest that married her. Caroline … thank you for sharing that!

© 2000 – 2013 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Tarot

 

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Tarot Spreads

Tarot Spreads
Layouts & Techniques To Empower Your Readings

Author: Barbara Moore
Llewellyn Publications
2012
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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Review – Steampunk Tarot

Steampunk Tarot

Author: Barbara Moore
Artist: Aly Fell
Llewellyn Publications
2012
ISBN #978-0-7387-2638-0

“What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.”
~~~ from the introduction

The “Steampunk Tarot” is a traditional 78 card deck that is steeped in the very untraditional world of steampunk. Traditional titles are used for the Major Arcana, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with the Court Cards entitled King, Queen, Knight, and Page. I am not a gamer, nor have I ever been. This particular world flew way under my radar! In her introduction, Moore notes that anyone with a penchant for sci-fi, and anything in Victorian clothing, will more than likely feel at home in this world. She also notes that while steampunk has its roots in the past, it continues to evolve in response to changes within our society.

I was interested to see that the seeds of the steampunk movement came from Victorian era writers such as Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells – all of which bring up fantastic reading memories for me! The term “steampunk” was brought into use in the 1980’s when writers were rediscovering the alternative worlds that “might have been”. Moore also notes that the setting for these worlds was traditionally Victorian London, but that this is changing. Personally, I love Victorian London and the Sherlock Holmes milieu!

The deck comes packaged with a 294 companion manual. The one quibble that I have with the packaging is that while a white pasteboard box is included to house the deck, it would have been much nicer if the deck had come in a box of its own. The box is done in tones of brown and gold, with an illustration of the Queen of Pentacles on the front (which very much reminds me of Barbara herself), and info about the book on the back. I love the phrase that heads this section – “Where The Past And Future Converge”! And the notation that the “Steampunk Tarot” offers a glimpse of the future through a lens to the past! This is indeed the Tarot at work!

I am going to do something a little different here. Barbara has penned such a unique table of contents that I am going to include it here, verbatim:

Introduction – in which we find interesting information.
Chapter 1 – Tarot Basics – in which the fundamentals of Tarot are provided
Chapter 2 – Major Arcana – in which the keys to the major cards are given
Chapter 3 – Minor Arcana – in which the minor cards are illuminated
Chapter 4 – Court Cards – in which we meet the people of Tarot
Chapter 5 – Spreads – in which we learn how to lay the cards
Farewell – in which we part with gratitude and good wishes

In her introduction, Moore gives the reader a bit of background for the steampunk genre, and discusses whether this is just a novelty deck, or whether it is more. She notes that all genres of decks reflect our current struggles and concerns as a culture. I have to agree with her here. While this deck will not be a major reading deck for me, I will use it to push the envelope in reading, especially when information may be coming, but is not flowing as smoothly as I would like to see. The new perspective that a non-traditional deck gives us is worth its weight in gold!

I love the scan that accompanies the chapter on Tarot basics – it is the Hierophant, which shows a very grandfatherly type figure seated in his chair, books on the table next to him, and a young boy and girl seated at his feet, paying rapt attention to what he is saying. This is a chapter in any book where I will say take with you what works, and leave the rest behind. There is good information here on reading the Tarot, but nothing is ever written in stone. What Moore does do is make you think, which is the most important thing one can do when reading the Tarot. (I am referring to reading in a conscious manner, not “over-thinking” every little thing.) I loved her suggestions that when practicing reading read for an imaginary querent (Seeker), pretend that a celebrity has asked for a reading, or use the Court Cards as people to read for.

The cards are presented with a full-page black and white scan, a short sentence (called “flavor text”), which adds character to the card, the core meaning of the card (largely taken from Moore’s “Tarot For Beginners”), and a discussion/exploration of the card. Some cards will also contain a section called “reading tips”. These are hints to help enhance the reader’s reading experience.

While defining the Major Arcana are representing the theme of the story, and the Minor Arcana as the scenes and actions that carry out the theme, the Court Cards are seen as the people living, experiencing, and animating the themes, scenes and settings.

Spreads included at the back of the book include the one card spread, the three card Past/Present/Future spread, a seven card spread with one card that moves up and down the spread, the six card Panoramic Photograph (basically the first six cards of the Celtic Cross), and a five-card spread called the Difference Engine (aka Magical Mesocosm). What is so very cool about the Difference Engine is that it incorporates the outcome card from the previous spread! I loved this idea!

The card backs are a muted brown/gold – rather antique/sepia looking. There are gears in the background, with the icons for the suits of Wands and Cups on the top, and the icons for the suits of Swords and Pentacles on the bottom. The backs are not reversible. The card faces have a ¼” black border, with the Major Arcana showing the card number in Roman numerals and the card title across the bottom. The Pips (numbered cards) show the number and suit in text across the bottom of the card, while the Court Cards show the title and suit across the bottom of the card.

The artwork in this deck is digital, and just amazing! The colors are muted, and really make one feel that they are looking back into another century … or another world! The imagery is consistent throughout the deck, and features mechanical devices and gears of all kinds. The imagery in this deck is unique … at times following the traditional footsteps, at times not. The Magician, for me, is a card that is a bit off. We see a male figure holding a cup in his right hand, and a sword, pointed down, in his left hand. A wand lies on the floor at his feet, where he stands in the middle of a pentagram. This is the first card where we see the lemnescate, which in this deck literally glows! Very cool! The figure, however, does not carry the essence of the magical Magician for me … it more strongly resembles a stage magician. I also have a problem with the Empress, who is lying on a couch looking a bit wanton. The Emperor is appropriately reserved, and the Lovers is a gorgeous card showing a young couple holding hands, with an angel above them.

I adore the Chariot, which shows a mechanical vehicle with a female figure, standing, goggles on her head, one hand steering the vehicle and the other holding a beautiful blue parasol. Looks very “Mary Poppins” to me, but the parasol is actually supposed to be “steampunked” (modified with amazing gadgets and technologies, making it a useful weapon. Either way, it’s a great card!

The Hermit is very cool, with his lantern that glows, and appears to be smoking! The Wheel of Fortune is three gears within a larger gear – nicely done! Justice carries nice imagery (the female figure stands between two pillars, with mechanical scales in front of her. One hand is at her side, while the other is out,,, palm up, with Tarot cards appearing to fall from it. This card just does not resonate with me.

The Hanged Man has his arms outstretched over his head, but his leg is crossed, so the imagery still works. Death is a female figure, wearing white with black wings, riding a brown horse and carrying a scythe. There is a male figure behind her, with his back to her. This image works, if you stay with it long enough.

I adore the Devil, which shows a mechanized being running completely amok! The lightning struck Tower is another well done card that carries its message well. The Star shows a female figure in a black dress … which works very well! The Moon carries the traditional imagery of the moon in the background, the twin towers, and the crab. And the two animals. The Sun is also a solid representation of its energy, with a young couple holding hands in front of a fence with sunflowers behind it, a white dog at their feet.

One of the cards that I was ambivalent over was the Fool. Showing a chimney sweep in a tall hat, with a dog at his feet, I see more the court jester than the Fool. And yes, in many ways they serve the same function. The High Priestess to me looks like a stage magician’s assistant, seated between two pillars made up of gears, wearing a top hat, holding Tarot cards in her right hand, with her left hand on a globe, which is surrounded y Tarot cards.

The Hierophant I adore, with its image of a grandfatherly figure, seated, with books to one side, and a young boy and girl sitting raptly at his feet, crossed keys between them. The Ace of Wand is incredibly powerful, showing a mechanical hand grasping a wand with growth on one end. The Six of Wands is another powerful card, with a soldier riding a mechanical horse, carrying a lance with a wreath on the end, very much the victorious individual!

The King of Wands again looks a bit like a sneaky stage magician, standing behind his throne and looking out at the reader. The Two of Cups – absolute magic! A male and a female figure are standing, facing each other. Each figure holds a cup, and is pouring something into the beaker on the table in front of them, Above them is a blue and white yin/yang figure, which is sending blue and white streams of energy wound around each other into the same beaker.

The Eight of Cups is soooo steampunk! We see a female figure in the forefront, goggles on her head. Behind her is a mechanical mechanism, with eight arms outstretched, an upright cup on each arm. Soooo H.G. Wells! Along the same note is the Six of Swords. Here we see a male and a female figure in a “flying machine”, with a big balloon over them.

The Page of Swords shows a female figure in uniform, standing, with a sword in her right hand (resting on the ground), her left had on her hip. A baton hangs at her side. In the background we see an air balloon. The Two of Pentacles shows a female figure riding a pennyfarthing bicycle (Incredibly high front tire, much smaller back tire. I love the way the lemnescate is worked into the image by acting as the chain between the wheels!

Last, but not least, the Queen of Pentacles. Another card that I adore – this queen is standing, her left hand on a railing, a fan in her right hand, wearing a very smart golden gown, with golden gloves. I would not mess with this lady!

One last thing – the bios for the author and artist. They are at the front of the book, not the back … and they are just a unique and magnificent as the book and deck. Barbara Moore is in period dress, looking over her shoulder at the reader as she walks up a set of stairs, while Aly Fell is shown in a head-shot, wearing a top hat that has a band made up of gears. Incredible!

This is a theme deck, and will not be for everybody. The imagery is very well done, and some people will collect it just for that. The accompanying manual is also well done, making the use of the cards a little easier (especially in the case of a reader, like myself, that does not necessarily connect with the imagery). It is not a learning deck, but can certainly be used to good advantage by mid-level or advanced Tarot readers.

© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Tarot

 

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