Review by Solandia
The Orphalese Tarot is versatile, flexible software for laying out tarot spreads on Windows platforms. Although this is simply a tarot shuffling and dealing program without any designated meanings, its flexibility makes it an ideal desktop companion for the reader familiar with the meanings of tarot cards.
After installing the Orphalese Tarot software and the required Microsoft .NET framework, and when the program is first run, the back of a tarot card (the top of the 'pack') appears on the screen. This simple graphic hides a versatile tarot tool with a multitude of options. Unlike conventional card reading programs for that require your undivided attention and are little changed in presentation from cards laid out on a table, the Orphalese Tarot software gives you a range of display options. You can have a floating tarot spread on your desktop, or cards stuck all over that boring Word document. The cards even minimises easily to the system tray.
Right clicking on the tarot card brings up the main menu and its list of options. Here you can toggle the background on or off, choose your desired deck and spread, even print your reading or capture a screen shot. Sort the 'stack' of tarot cards in ascending or descending order, shuffle, seeded shuffle (requires entering a word, phrase or number), collect the cards, or spread them out for free selection. There are also options to deal cards face-up, use 22, 52 or 78 cards; or, uniquely, to change the percentage of cards to be displayed reversed.
Hitting F1 will bring up the Control Panel. (You can also access this from the right-click menu.) This is an area for recording your notes and insights gained from your spread, with a few more program options are hidden here. There are buttons to increase or decrease the size of the displayed cards, and change the card backs or background image or colour.
The only tarot deck installed with the software is a black and white version of the Marseilles Tarot. No other decks are loaded with it, but there are nine or ten others available on the Orphalese website for download. Half are US Games decks, such as the Ibis Tarot or the Morgan-Greer, half are unpublished and include such gems as Kayne's Celtic Tarot and the Discordian Tarot. The website also has a couple of extra spreads and some new backgrounds for the software.
The Orphalese Tarot software is shareware and is initially free to download and use, but on the downside, a 'register now!' box will popup every ten minutes until registration. Unregistered copies are also restricted to three tarot decks only and do not have access to the online networking features.
My only quibbles with the software - and they are minor - are: free selection of cards is a little clumsy; the control panel is maximised in height when opened, and spreads are always dealt immediately under the 'pack'. Otherwise, this a brilliant little program for learning or experienced tarot readers who spends any length of time on the computer, at work or home. Its flexibility and customisation options make it an ideal desktop companion.
Note: This review covered Orphalese Tarot version 3.1.2.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Shareware - Version 4.3.1
* free download - unlimited free trial
* $9.99 to register
* CD available - $14.99 plus shipping
* Microsoft .NET software (free download - 21 MB)
* Windows 98, 2000, NT, ME, XP
* Internet Explorer 5.1 or higher
I want to state right at
the beginning of this review that this is an end user
review - written by a non-techie. It will cover the
actual use of the software, not the technical background
behind it. Let us begin!
The Orphalese Tarot is an
absolutely wonderful system to work with! In a way it is very
simple, and in a way it is complex. The structure is set
up so that it is easy to understand and easy to
navigate. It has a great deal to offer Tarot students, Tarot
readers, Tarot collectors, deck creators, Tarotists working
with creating new spreads ... there are endless uses
for this software - and no one loses!
Richard Jeffries, is offering his work as Shareware, with
free unlimited usage. If one choses to register the
software, the price is quite inexpensive at $9.99.
differences between the registered and unregistered software
are: (1) that you can only use up to three different
decks under the "my decks" featured with the free
version, and that (2) you can access the internet forum,
but are limited in using it.
software itself it quick and easy - it was painless, even
for me! Now - the .NET download - that was another
story! It was also painless, but at 21 MB is a huge
download, meaning that it takes a great deal of time (an
hour, if memory serves me well), and takes up space in
your hard drive. Note: There is are notes online that
will help you work through any problems that you may
encounter with this download.
So - what can this program do
for you? In a word - a lot! The start up screen is one
Tarot card on a colored background (which I changed -
mine is now royal blue!). Actually, this screen was the
only problem that I have ever had with this program. I
brought the program up after not using it for several
weeks. There was nowhere on the screen to get anything
going! I clicked on the card - nothing. No icons for a
help screen - nothing. I was about to delete the
program and reinstall it, when I had a brainstorm. I went
under "programs" on my start-up screen, brought up
Orphalese Tarot - and one of my three options was help! I
immediately found out what I actually knew and had forgotten -
that one must right click on the card on the start-up
screen to bring up the menu that drives the program! Now
I was ready to play.
Through this menu you can:
*delete the background, which means that the cards will appear against your desktop
*choose to deal the cards face up or face down
*set a per centage for reversals
*after dealing the card, leave it in place or drag it (meaning that you can then work with your own spreads)
*set the default deck
*shuffle the cards/sort them in ascending order/sort them in descending order
*resize the cards (important option when using larger spreads)
*choose to use round edges
*choose to support transparent regions (very cool for those designing a deck!)
*choose the number of cards in a deck (important when creating Majors only decks, or when
adding additional cards to a 78 card deck)
*choose a back design for the cards
*shuffle the deck
*do a seeded shuffle, using a word/phrase as a seed
* choose a deck to work with
*choose a spread to work with
*access the online forum
*add personal notes for each reading
There are several different decks that can be downloaded
from the Orphalese site. In general, these are cards
from independent deck creators, so there are no
copyright issues. An example would be the decks that I
chose: the Colman Smith, Aquatic, Futhark Runes, I Ching,
Analytic, Mary-el, New Millenium and Simple Oracle decks. I
spent a very pleasant time choosing and downloading
these decks - and had no problem accessing them once I
had them downloaded.
Another nice feature here: you
can use your own images as a deck - just download them
from your computer and you are off and running! (Hmmm
For my own use here - I could actually create an NBA
deck - a project that I started years ago by reviewing
a mock deck, at a time when the Chicago Bulls
reigned supreme. I could change it as players come and go.
Now - this is a thought!)
(Note: When downloading
images to use as a deck, the guidelines are: the files
must be named as numbers, from 00 through 77. The
software creator suggests associating 00 with the Fool,
01-21 with the Major Arcana, 22-35 with the Ace through
King of Wands, 36-49 with the Ace through King of Cups,
50-63 with the Ace through King of Swords, and 64-77
with the Ace through King of Coins. This is not
necessary, but will provide consistency.
The files must be
loaded into a subdirectory within the program's "Packs"
Once the numbered files are saved and in their
directory, they will appear under "my decks" on the menu and
are ready for use.)
There are also several different
spreads that can be downloaded from the Orphalese site,
including: Star, Celtic Cross, Three Card, Celestial Galaxy,
Golden Dawn, Romany, Seven Card Horseshoe, Sword, Tree of
Life and Yin Yang spreads.
Once the cards are drawn
they can either be left in place or dragged across the
screen - a great way for someone like me who likes to
play around with creating spreads to see how a spread
will feel and act - how the energy will flow, and where
I might want to make changes.
The true magick -
there are no canned definitions for the cards! The decks
are there, the spreads are there - the reader does the
interpreting! What more can one ask - and what a wonderful
learning tool that makes the Orphalese Tarot. An added
bonus - there is a section where one can make notes on
spreads that are being worked on or on interpretations for
readings being done. When these notes are referred to in
the future, the program will automatically pull up the
cards that were in the reading and set them out in the
There is also an online chat room - a
wonderful bonus for readers that do not have a room of their
own to read in, or for those who do not wish to set up
their own web site. Through this room you can chat with
other Orphalese users, send an IM, send payment for a
reading through PayPal and send the cards in a reading to
the person being read, so that you are both looking at
the same thing at the same time.
There is a diary
feature, so that you can leave a note as to when you will
be in the room. This serves to let other people know
when you will be there to chat, which is much nicer
that just checking in and "hoping"!
I recommend this program to
everyone - from student to seasoned Tarot professional. The
Student: The ability to view and use
different decks and spreads, and to keep notes
them for future reference (along with the ability to
print notes and spreads).
The ability to export
reading notes and spreads to WP venues.
Professional: The ability to view and use different decks and
ability to work up new spreads, the
ability to keep notes on spreads, and to print
spreads and notes, the ability to do readings on the
internet and accept payment
for them online. The
ability to do comparative readings (i.e. change the deck
the spread that is already on the screen).
The ability to export reading notes and
to WP venues. Full color screen capture, allowing the
creation of full
Collectors: Have the ability to "use" decks without physically
The ability to share decks and notes
with other collectors in the internet forum
Deck Creators: The ability to have your
decks seen and used, and to get that very
important feedback that will allow you to market your decks
to best advantage.
One last note: while the current
Shareware is for an unlimited free trial period, the site
notes that in the future it may become necessary to
charge a subscription fee for the internet forum. Anyone
who was previously registered would retain lifetime
rights to the use of this service. My personal feeling is
that out of respect for the work that the creator of
this software has gone to - if you want to use the
software, pay the very small registration fee!
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.