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.