Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The history of
this deck and book are as amazing as the deck and book
themselves. Purely by chance (if there is such a thing), Brian
WIlliams saw the "Light and Shadow" Tarot images at the
Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS). He was so impressed
by Michael Goepferd's linoleum block cuts that he
felt that the deck "had" to be published. Brian
approached Michael about writing a book to go with the deck,
as there was a much greater chance of the deck being
accepted for publication if there was a book to accompany
it. The result of this coming together is a book and
deck that are cohesive in nature, as well as strong in
spirit, focus and intent.
Brian wote the book as a
collaboration with Michael - feeling that the words should
reflect Michael, and not himself. The words are gentle,
yet strong. They flow freely, and they never waver. We
see here two gentlemen that have honed their craft
well, and gifted the Tarot world with a marvelous
The "Light and Shadow" Tarot carries with it many
levels of energy and understanding. The first level would
be related to physical presentation. The very manner
of creating linoleum block prints is such that areas
that are to appear white are cut away, and that which
remains will show as black. Without color to "distract",
the energy of the concept or thought that the card
represents comes through with a major impact.
level of understanding is very connected to this use of
white and black, or positive and negative space. The
Tarot in and of itself it a spiritual journey, a tool to
be used for personal exploration. In setting foot on
this journey, we are putting forth an implicit
agreement to work with the "shadow" sides of ourselves.
These shadows are the corners ofo ur lives that we
refuse to bring into the light, for fear of what we will
see. They weigh us down - they are our "baggage". We
empower ourselves by searching our out baggage - by
shining light into the recesses of our souls. In my
opinion, the "Light and Shadow" Tarot is an excellent deck
for this purpose.
The cards in this deck are large -
4 1/4" by 5 1/2", which is something that I would
normally complain about, as I have small hands. For
whatever reason, I found this deck easy to handle - and
well worth the effort! The backs of the cards have a
white border, with a narrow black border forming a frame
around four hands - each hand holding a representation
of one of the elements. I found t hat this gave power
to the deck.
The face of the deck has a white outer
border, a narrow black inner border, then a second white
border that frames the picture. For the major arcana, the
numbers are on the top of the card, with the title on the
bottom. The pips show the number across the top and the
name of the suit across the bottom. The court cards
show the card title and suit across the bottom.
of the cards starts with a short poem from the work
"Incantations", written by Mark Hannon. There follows a discussion
of the card, and a section on its divinitory meaning.
For the most part, this deck follows very traditional
Tarot lines of interpretation. Where it departs is that
the females represented in this deck are strong - a
good balance for the male energy, which is something
that is not seen in all decks.
These are also the kind
of cards that one needs to look at - and then look at
again! There are layers upon layers of symbolism here.
For example, the Four of Swords shows a figure seated
in front of four swords that are placed so that their
tips touch. That is a first impression. Look again, and
you will see that the hands of the seated figure are
held together, palms facing each othe, and pointed
downward, to the center where all four swords meet. Man has
become the catalyst for his own understanding.
Magician is a story within a story, within a story. There
is immense detail within this card - and remember,
this is a block print, not an etching or a painting. In
the middle we see the smiling face of the Magician -
who looks very Jester like. Surrounding him we have
two triangels - one pointed up, one pointed down. Over
the Magicians head we see the symbol of Luminescence.
Above the Magician we see an array of fish, to the right
we see a sword, to the left a Wand, underneath we see
a Cup. All tools of manifestation. Between the Cup
and the face of the Magician we see a small figure,
seated, with knees drawn up and what appears to be rays
surrounding the head.
Each card is drawn in this manner -
relaying the meaning of the card at first glance, deepening
the meaning each time one returns to it.
recommend this deck to anyone doing Shadow or Shamanic work,
or to anyone who simply has a deep appreciation of
art. It is easy to work with, and true to Tarot
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.