Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The Dragon Tarot, by nature, is a
specialty deck. It will appeal to those of us who find
dragons and dragon lore appealing. You won't find
traditional visual symbolism here - but you will experience a
deck that is artistically well thought out and well
presented, and eminently "usable".
dragons as ancient symbols of knowledge and power - in
virtually every culture of the world. The very word "dragon"
comes from the Greek word Drakoni, which means "the
seeing one". In The Dragon Tarot, Donaldson calls on
dragon legends from around the world to present a saga of
myth and magic. There is a very interesting section
called "Dragonland - A Traveler's Report" , in which the
reader is allowed to experience the adventure and magic
associated with dragon energy.
In "Your Journey", Donaldson
presents techniques that allow the reader to access their
imaginations. In "Mastering The Tarot", he shows the reader how
the cards come together to tell their story.
myths run the gamut of experience - from those
encompassing greed, lust and the dark side of our personalities
to (primarily from the Middle East) to those
symbolizing wealth, power and supremacy (primarily from
China). Some of my best "growing up" memories are of
watching the Dragon winding it's way down the street at
parade time. It was fascinating, exciting, colorful - a
whole other "world"!
The Dragon also has its place in
astrology, which is not something that I was aware of. The
Dragon's Head (also called the North Node) represents the
karmic lessons that we are to learn in this lifetime. How
much more important can anything get - this defines
what each lifetime is!
Each Major Arcana card is
presented with a black and white scan, a description of the
card, and section where the card "speaks" about the
archetypal energy that it represents, the divinatory meaning
of the card (in the upright position only), and a
short discussion of additional symbols that have been
placed on the card.
Each Pip is presented with a black
and white scan, a sentence on what the Dragon guide in
the card is trying to accomplish and the divinatory
Each Court Card is presented with a black and
white scan, a description of the energy of the card and
the divinatory meaning. There is also a short addendum
to the court cards, with the admonishment that while
the court cards represent either male or female
energy, that this energy exists in both males and females
- each of us carries dual energy.
does not present reversed meanings, he does indicate
that they are a question mark that needs to be paid
attention to - that the energy of the card is in some way
not working as it should.
In the section on spreads,
the Celtic Cross is presented, along with two separate
readings that are left to the reader to interpret along the
lines of key questions that Donaldson presents.
Donaldson has done something quite interesting with the
three card spread - he has presented several different
possible questions dealing with different life situations
(relationship, home, career, life path, children's education and
life path). There is also the beginning of a work sheet
that show the reader how to bring the cards together in
The cards themselves are on good quality,
glossy card stock. At 2 3/4" by 4 1/4",the cards are
easily worked with by those like me that have small hands
- a definite plus! The backs of the cards have a
1/4" white border, with an inset background of deep
purple. A light blue and white dragon is placed in each of
the four corners of the inset - the four dragon tails
are interwoven in the center. Behind the dragons there
is a diamond-like schematic outlined in fine gold
lines. The cards read the same upright and reversed, so
there would be no way to tell which position the cards
were in before they were turned over.
The majors are a
combination of dragons and traditional symbols. They have a
1/4 " white border, with the number and title of the
card in black lettering against white across the bottom
of the card. On either side of the title is placed a
glyph of the astrological sign associated with each
card. The only title change is that the Hanged Man
becomes the Hanging Dragon.
The pips have the same 1/4"
white border, with the name and number of the card
across the bottom. The pips are not illustrated in the
traditional manner - they contain a dragon "guide" and the
symbols representing their respective suits. On either
side of the title are glyphs representing the element
of the respective suit.
Some of the cards in this
deck are fairly true to traditional Tarot, and some are
very different. The traditional cards for me were the
Tower, which is represented by a Tower, lightening, water
and fire; the Moon, which shows a full moon in a night
sky, overlooking two pillars - one on either side of a
flowing stream, with a dragon between them; Justice, which
shows a dragon head between the two pillars of justice,
holding a set of scales in his mouth over a globe of the
world and the Wheel of Fortune, which is depicted as a
wheel with twelve spokes, each containing a glyph of one
of the signs of the zodiac. Perhaps the most
traditional card is the Three of Swords, which is seen as
three swords piercing a heart.
A card that I found
beyond traditional, but very well done, was the Sun. Here
we see dragon wings surrounding a lion face, around
which are placed glyphs of the twelve signs of the
zodiac, with flames surrounding them. In the mouth of the
dragon we see the Yin/Yang symbol.
Strength also falls
into the "same but different" category. The top of the
card shows a night sky, the bottom of the card shows
green hills in daylight. The middle of the card shows a
lion and a dragon on either side of a caduceus, which
has fiery flames at its top. It appears that the lion
and the dragon are having a wonderful time playing
Donaldson ends the book with a section on dragon myths from
around the world - ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, North
America and Mexico, China, Japan and the West.
Dragon Tarot opens up the imagination, just as the author
intended it to. While not for all people, and definitely
not for beginners, I found it interesting and believe
that it has a place in the Tarot world.
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.
Review by Charlie Taylor
When I first became interested in reading the tarot, the one thing that I had a problem with was finding a deck that suited my feelings and represented ME. I did a lot of research, and most suggested that the best decks to start with were either the Rider-Waite or Robin Wood. So I took a look at each of them, and I saw why they were highly suggested, but the pictures didn't seem to mean anything to me. That's when I decided to let my real interests do the talking.
Then one day I stumbled upon the Dragon deck, and I felt like my prayers had been answered! The artwork and symbolism, combined with the rich history, myth, and mystique that surrounds dragons in general, turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. The use of many rich colors was something that I felt, at that point in time, many other decks didn't seem to have (although now I know otherwise). But, my absolute favorite part about this deck are the Major Arcana. They were (and still are) like nothing I had ever seen before. The capture all the symbolism of traditional tarot decks, but they also contain a draconic twist that is sometimes a bit funny (in particular, the Hanging Dragon card!).
All in all, the Dragon Tarot was the first deck I ever owned, and it remains my favorite to this day. I highly suggest this deck to anyone who doesn't feel connected to the more traditional decks, and longs for something deeper. It is very hard to put into words all that I feel with this deck, so you may be better off experiencing its power for yourself, but believe me, you won't regret it! Again, I have seen many decks in my days, but none of them compares to the power and imagery of the Dragon Tarot!
Review by Steve S
When I first saw the Dragon Tarot, I couldn't help but be reminded of good times in middle school, playing Dungeons and Dragons games with my friends, and wondering exactly why we couldn't get dates to save our souls. This may be one of the better rendered decks out there, however one has to step back and admire the simplicity of its cliche imagery. The typical Fantasy-genre Dragon is depicted in beautifully colored scenes reminicant of late-80s period D&D bestiaries.
Even those who are fortunate enough to have not played the game during their adolescent immaturity, can still relate to the imagery. Almost everyone has seen depictions of Dragons in various forms; on T-shirts, posters, television, movies, videogames, and even toys and books. There are Dragons in mythology, and bedtime stories. To most Westerners the word Dragon conjures up images of oversized, winged reptillians breathing fire. All while some schmuck is standing in front of that 4000-degree inferno wearing a metal suit in hopes to rescue the fair maiden, heat-conducting metal shield and all.
This is the utter beauty of this deck. Its images are something everybody can identify with in some way. This makes learning the deck a breeze for complete beginners, and a valuable reading tool any expert can pick up and use right away without thinking about how to adapt to its iconology and symbolism. Any one who has used a Waite deck will feel right at home reading the Dragon Tarot.
The Dragon Tarot uses the Waite deck as its basis, given the transposition of the 8 Strength and 11 Justice cards from the 8 Adjustment and 11 Strength / Lust of the Thoth and Golden Dawn decks. The only card with a changed name from the Waite deck is that of 12 The Hanged Man, to 12 The Hanging Dragon. I must confess that this name change brought about a good laugh when I saw that card.
There is some traditional Waite imagery, such as that of the three swords piercing the heart on the 3 of Swords, and the hooded figureholding a lantern on 9 The Hermit. However, most images are original workings developed by the author and artist to better fit the maenings of the cards with the theme of the deck.
The book, either sold seperately or with the deck as a starter kit, is very well written and easy to follow. It details the authors experiences with Dragons, and gives valuable insight into the creation of the deck's imagery. Peter Pracownik takes considerable effort to bring the images to life as he details Dragonland (his own fantasy world), how to read with this deck as both a divinatory tool and guided meditation, and details a story behind each card. The whole deck soon becomes a journey through Dragonland, and is left up to the reader exactly how far they go with it. The book advises readers to use the book and cards as a guided meditation to bring about the full meanings of each card. Between this and practicing readings from the examples in the book, to live humans will bring about divinatory knowledge, in theory.
As for me, I read the book for good-times sake, but left alone the recommended method of absorption as it seemed a bit too juvenile to relive days of role-playing past. The back of the book details the story of Dragons from earliest known myth, to modern Fantasy and Science Fiction. Not many stones were left unturned for this section. Very well researched, and nicely presented. For me, this was worth the price of the book alone.
The meanings of the cards differ slightly from traditional divinitory meanings, however you may apply traditional divinitory techniques and meanings to the cards. The book states that reversals are up to the reader on how to interpret, therefore no reverse meanings are given, save for the 22 Major Arcana in the booklet that comes with the deck. Suits are color-coded for easy identification of the elements. Red for Wands, blue for Cups, grey for Swords, and green for Coins. The Major Arcana are presented with its Astrological correspondances by the addition of glyphs in boxes on the lower right hand corner of the cards. Additional triggers are present on some Major cards, but sadly enough, not all of them were fortunate enough to recieve one. This would have been an invaluable tool for the deck, and a big downfall on its behalf, as this deck is geared more for the novice.
The court cards differ in that of the King and Page recieving Alchemical triangles of elements / sub-elements, the Queen and King recieving traditional Chess-piece crowns, and the Knight being the lone Dragon who recieved no special treatment at all. Maybe in reference to those of us who were dorks in adolescence, wondering why no one would take us seriously.
This deck was bought for me, I had to make a choice. The person who bought me this deck was considering it for purchase, however got talked into buying a more-expensive Oracle which was not suitible for Divination. Without telling me which deck she was considering I picked out two decks to show her I wanted. The Tarot of the Old Path, and the Dragon Tarot.
When reading other people, most people react quite well when seeing the Dragons. Alot of them make comments about how great the artwork is, and want me to show them each and every card. I am ever so thankful for this deck, and though I am partial to the Book of Thoth, I continue to use the Dragon Tarot as my primary reading deck.