Review by Katerina Dohnalova
The Feng Shui Tarot is created by the mother and son duo – Peter Paul
Connolly has drawn the cards and has written some sections of the
accompanying book, Eileen Connolly has written the LWB and most of the
At first I would like to introduce the review reader to the meaning of
feng shui as explained by Adeline Yen Mah in her book “Watching the
Feng means “wind”; shui means “water”: feng shui, or “wind and water”,
is a traditional Chinese concept linking the destiny of man to his
environment; it aims to ensure that people live in harmony with their
surrounding. Metaphorically, feng shui should be translated as
“geomantic omen”, meaning that a person's surroundings will influence
his fate. The closes equivalent to feng shui in the western world is
The LWB has 47 pages and lacks any deeper introduction to feng shui.
There is a brief introduction which states: Feng Shui, like Tarot, is
also designed to make you aware of harmony, discord, blockages, balances
or imbalances in your life... Tarot offers a similar service, only at a
more esoteric level. It also states that the Feng Shui deck is composed
like a traditional Tarot deck and should be used as such. It is not
meant to give the reader a feng shui reading, but a Tarot reading with
the meanings of the cards illuminated by visual examples of feng shui.
Simple core and reverse core explanations are given for each card in the
LWB, however these are the traditional tarot meanings and have no
explanations from the feng shui perspective, thus the reader is left
wondering why the cards are designed the way they are.
For the reasons above I suggest you buy the Feng Shui Tarot accompanying
book, which provides a greater deal of information on this deck and any
owner of this deck will find it utmost useful.
The accompanying book has 232 pages. The chapters are as follows:
- Tarot is a Vehicle
- Getting Started
- The Tarot Deck
- The Major Arcana
- Verification Cards (this is a chapter on court cards)
- How Feng Shui and Tarot Connect
- The Feng Shui Tarot Deck
- The Celtic Cross Spread
The book reads well, and is quite informative on the history of tarot,
how to work with it and how it relates to feng shui in this deck. I find
the explanation sufficient.
The majors have 2 page explanations. These contain Dominant element, Tri Gram, Direction. A feng shui meaning of the card follows. Each card also has its Tarot
meaning: core aspect, reversed aspect, contemplation, reversed
contemplation, directive, reversed directive and thought trend. Each card is shown in black and white.
The minors and court cards are the same, with a section called the
“proximity” instead of the “thought trend”. Proximity informs you what
it means when various cards are found next to each other in a spread or
what it means when multiple cards of a certain suit or number are
together in one spread.
The Majors bear traditional titles, with exception of the Death card
which has been renamed to "Transition" and the Devil card which has been
renamed to “Materialism” (even though the figure in Materialism has an
appropriately devilish greedy look on his face). Justice is 11 and
Strength is 8.
The majors somewhat follow the Rider Waite, even though, for example, the
Fool in this deck is not seen as about to set off on a path of life, but
as a woman who appears rather still and calm. Therefore at first sight
without consulting the accompanying book this card's message is
confusing. Other than this I think the majors have a smart design and
reflect the philosophy of both tarot and feng shui well. Justice is
a lone woman figure holding a paper umbrella with two containers
balancing on her shoulders (these are instead of the traditional two
Waite swords). The book explains that symbol and character of one
container is yin and the other is yang, thus Justice urges you to
maintain the inner balance between your ego and your higher self as you
receive what you give. My favourite is the Strength card showing a
figure practicing the art of tai chi in front of a stone wall with a
shadow of a tree. According to the authors this man is focusing and
manipulating his Chi energy, maintaining the inner strength.
I also like the Temperance card, a beautiful serene woman with a flowing
green robe holding two Chinese cups of tea. The Moon card is a far cry
from Waite, but it is a beautiful display of magical realism. It shows a
gate through which you can see a figure on a boat on a placid lake. It
is like looking through a gate of your own unconsciousness and hidden
aspects of your mind. The Tower shows no people falling out of it, but
the “rapid change” of this card is depicted by a tornado's activity of
the storm which has damaged one of the towers. Quite a nice approach, as
feng shui is about the nature's elements among other things.
When I have first bought this deck the Star card immediately caught my
eye. There is a beautiful waterfall pouring out of a stary night and
wind chimes hanging to the left of “the star figure”. Metal Wind Chimes
are used in Feng Shui to attract Good Fortune in our Homes and Offices.
They also clear any bad luck brought by the feng shui of times or by the
“feng shui flying star”, thus allow for the new beginnings and a change
of luck. Unfortunately the star figure herself looks a bit sad and
meditative rather than optimistic and twinkly.
The Minor arcana suits are represented by the Four Celestial Animals. Unfortunately neither the LWB nor the accompanying book mention this,
even though the accompanying book explains about “the four cardinal
points of the compass, north, south, east and west each have a
corresponding animal associated with them” and further explains the
choice of the suits as below:
White Tiger – Suits of Swords (West) – a powerful creature evoking a
sense of strength, defense, and a need for control.
Green Dragon – Suit of Pentacles (East) – symbolizes intellect and power
with a serene yet potent spiritual sense.
Black Tortoise – Suit of Wands (North) – has the enduring qualities of
stability, longevity and security.
Red Phoenix – Suit of Cups (South) – a mythical bird of great beauty,
warmth, and undying inspiration.
As the accompanying book explains, Red Phoenixes (cups) relate to loved
ones, and concerns of love. White Tigers (swords) indicate emotional concerns, pressure and effort.
Black Tortoises (wands) indicate changing vibrations, activities and
movements. Green Dragons (pentacles) indicate monetary transactions,
loans, banking, and other financial situations. An additional list of
the general key words for each suit can be found in the accompanying
book. The animals are carefully chosen to represents the suits nature
These animals are shown on all minor arcana cards, there are people only
on the court cards.
My favourite is Red Phoenix Two. Surprisingly there are no two red
phoenixes “holding feathers” or touching beaks. There is a lone bird
looking into the distance, sitting next to a bonsai tree. But consult
the book before jumping to conclusions: the bonsai tree plays an
unexpected role from the feng shui point of view: the bonsai tree
symbolizes the fruition of a union grown from either the seeds of
friendship or the seed of love.
As Adeline Yen Mah writes in her book “Watching the tree”: To the
Chinese mind, the landscape is alive. Ridges on hills are seen as
tigers' manes or dragons' backs and feng shui masters search for them in
every natural vista.
An ideal site would be bounded by the Green Dragon of the East, the
White Tiger of the West, the Red Bird of the South and the Black
Tortoise of the North. In the countryside these animals are “discovered”
in the contours of surrounding slopes, peaks and valleys; in the city,
they are detected in the shapes and forms of neighboring buildings.
In modern terms, one's dream house (or tomb) should face south; on its
east side there should be undulating inclines or a hill, representing
the dragon; its west side should border a long, meandering path,
symbolizing the tiger; in front there should be the ocean or a lake,
depicting the bird; behind and to the north is a mountain, which
represents the tortoise.
The Court card titles are standard: Kings, Queens, Knights and Pages.
But the cards themselves look quite non-standard, the Queens and Kings
do not necessarily sit on thrones for example. In the courts the people
interact with the celestial animals, the site and the elements. They are
very feng shui oriented. My only objection would be that all of the
court cards have the same expression, i.e. look a bit expressionless.
Let's look at Knight of Wands for example (Black Tortoise Knight).
Normally you see a man on a horse boldly and happily looking for an
adventure. However in this case both the horse and the knight look quite
indifferent, if not tired. You have to read the book to
understand how the site, the tortoise and the knight interact to create
The design of the the cards is rather slim, long and shiny. The entire
pack is a bit heavy when shuffling; kids could have a problem shuffling
with their small hands. Each card has a black border with a strip of
beige on the right. This strip contains the card name in English and its
number in the Chinese name red stamp style, with a trigram on the
bottom. Trigrams and their connection to feng shui and I-Ching are well
explained in the book. The card backs are reversible with a Chinese
symbol of longevity on a beige background. They come in a box which
shows signs of usage after a while.
All in all I think that tarot and feng shui meet successfully in this
deck. I think a lot of thought went into the design and that the cards
respect both the tarot tradition and the feng shui concept. The deck has a meditative, positive and calm feel to it.
I would recommend this deck to anyone who likes standalone systems with
a theme and philosophy to learn from the accompanying book. This deck
reminds me of the Osho Zen Tarot, in a way that you do not learn
traditional tarot as such, nevertheless you are none the short as you
gain something else which the deck has to offer. I also think the art is very pretty, anyone with an eye for the beauty
of the Asian art will highly appreciate this deck.
I believe that you need the accompanying book to fully understand the
concept and for the deck design to make sense to you unless you are a
very experienced tarot reader AND an experienced feng shui practitioner
in which case the cards and their symbols would be probably very clear
Katerina is a non-tarot professional, but a keen tarot enthusiast. She also likes the Eastern philosophies and systems, for example Zen, Feng
Shui, Tao and the art of tea mastery.