Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“The Kingdom Within Tarot” was brought into being to facilitate a visual journey of the archetypes through the Tarot, based on the ancient systems of astrology and Qabalah, In the introduction, we are told that through working with this deck we will begin to remove our own spiritual blindfolds that hold us back from seeing the truth. Everything that is needed to read with this deck is included with the deck/companion book kit. For those wishing to do a more in-depth study, the author has written a more comprehensive book, “The Alchemy of Tarot: Practical Enlightenment Through the Astrology, Qabalah, and Archetypes of Tarot”.
It would probably be a good time to note here that the Paths on the Tree of Life as expressed in this book do not correspond to the traditional Paths as they are presented in most metaphysical texts. The system followed here is based upon that presented in the “Restored Tree of Life”, as presented by Charles Stansfield Jones, an initiate of Aleister Crowley. This material can be found in “Q.B.L” (also known as “The Bride’s Reception”), and “The Egyptian Revival” (or “The Ever-Coming Son in The Light of the Tarot”).
This deck works as a tool of divination, but it is also a tool for the study of life, and for reuniting the reader/Seeker with their own “Kingdom Within”. The deck carries traditional titles for the Major Arcana, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The Minor Arcana suits are entitled Wand, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The Court Cards are entitled King, Queen, Prince and Page.
What we see here is a modern approach to the Tarot, and its mysteries. Incorporated in this book are astrology, archetypes, the “Hero’s Journey”, a correlation between the Court Cards and the sixteen Myers-Briggs personality types (I loved this!), and Qabalah as seen through Achad’s Restored Tree of Life.
The deck and 176 page companion book come in Schiffer’s now trademark hard cardboard box, complete with a lift top, magnetic closure, and ribbon on either side to prevent the top from opening too far back (which would break the spine). The text and graphics on the top of the box are repeated on the front cover of the companion book. This is a very quality presentation!
The Major Arcana are presented with a large black and white scan, the card title and Path, a description of the illustration, the astrological meaning, key phrases, and upright and reversed divinatory meanings.
Court Cards are presented with a large black and white scan, a description of the illustration, the associated archetype, the significance of the archetype, the upright divinatory meaning ( through Level of Power, Astrological Association, and Actual People), and the reversed divinatory meaning.
The Minor Arcana Pips (numbered cards) are presented with a large black and white scan, astrological association, Path, description of the illustration, key phrase, upright and reversed meaning.
At the end of each section (Major Arcana, Court Cards, and Pips) there are pages for taking notes. At the end of the book templates for the following spreads are presented: the Triangle Spread, the Cross Spread, Yes/No Spread, Timing Through Season and Timing Through Astrological Signs.
The cards themselves are 3 ½” by 5”. The backs show a sun with a smiling face in front of a tree with leafy green branches. There are stars showing in the dark sky, and planets in the tree and on the ground. I was tickled to see that as intricate as the image is, it is reversible!
The card faces are drawn to the edge, without borders. The imagery is strong, making use of intense color, and is computer generated collage.
Major Arcana show the card Title, card number (in Roman numerals), and the across the top of the card. In the upper left hand, and lower right hand corner colored spheres correlate to that cards Path on the Tree of Life. The emphasis for the Major Arcana is the 22 Paths on the Tree of Life. There is an added card in this deck – numbered 23, and entitled Kingdom Within All. It has no Path, Hebrew letter, or planetary attribution,
The Court Cards show colored spheres in each of the four corners: Kings are gray, correlating with Chokmah (the Father). Queens are black, correlating with Binah (the Mother). Prince’s are golden, correlating with Tiphereth (the Son), and Pages are equal divisions of russet, navy, citrine, and olive, correlating with Malkuth (the Daughter). The title and suit are across the top of each Court Card, with keywords across t he bottom.
At the bottom center of each of the Minor Arcana cards is half of a colored sphere, representing one of the Sephirah on the Tree of Life. Across the top of each numbered card are the card number (in text) and suit, with keywords underneath.
Some of the imagery in this deck is traditional, some is not. The Fool is quite an interesting figure, surrounded by crackling energy, with a bow floating under him, as he steps off a planet, and a swan, pierced by the Fool’s arrow, plummeting down in front of him.
The Empress shows a lovely Geisha in a Japanese garden, while the Chariot is an oh so modern minivan, complete with mother driving her children into their driveway, while her husband stand welcoming at the door.
The Page of Pentacles ( the Newborn King) shows a cherubic baby in a cradle. The Magician shows the stern face of the planet Mercury, surrounded by eight doves and raised upon a dais with a rapt crowd in front of it.
This deck could be used by any level of Tarot student, and would appeal to younger readers/Seekers especially, because of its updated imagery. Things to take into consideration when reading with this deck include the foundation (the Revised Tree of Life), and the tri-level interpretation of the Court Cards. (The author does strongly recommend interpreting the levels in a specific order – Level of Power, Sign Correspondence, and actual people.
© August 2011 Bonnie Cehovet
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.