Orphalese Tarot

The Orphalese Tarot is versatile, flexible software for laying out tarot spreads and doing your own readings on the computer. There are a huge amount of decks now available for use with this useful program.

Shareware - Published by Orphalese

Review by Kate Hill

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 Half are US Games decks, such as the Ibis Tarot or the Morgan-Greer, half are unpublished and include such gems as Kayne's Celtic Tarot and the Discordian Tarot.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 is the owner, 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

System Requirements:

* 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!

The creator, 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. The 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.

Downloading the 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" directory. 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 same spread.

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 advantages are:

Student: The ability to view and use different decks and spreads, and to keep notes on them for future reference (along with the ability to print notes and spreads). The ability to export reading notes and spreads to WP venues.

Tarot Professional: The ability to view and use different decks and spreads, the 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 using the spread that is already on the screen). The ability to export reading notes and spreads to WP venues. Full color screen capture, allowing the creation of full color images.

Tarot Collectors: Have the ability to "use" decks without physically handling them. The ability to share decks and notes with other collectors in the internet forum area.

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.

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