Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, Discs.
Court Cards: King, Queen, Knight, Page.
Major Arcana: Traditional titles, with the following exceptions: Priestess (High Priestess); Faith (Hierophant); Wheel (Wheel of Fortune); Hanging Man (Hanged Man).
You can dream things and those images may fade with time
I dream things ..... and paint them
Tarot of Dreams grew from the work that Ciro Marchetti did with his first (gorgeous!) deck, the Gilded Tarot. This project, from the start, was very "high voltage", and it definitely shows in the end product! I can proudly say that I was able to be there from the beginning, following the progress of this stunning deck and CD as Ciro shared scans of his work, as well as his thoughts.
This is a masterful project, well executed by artist Ciro Marchetti, the highly knowledgeable author/artist Lee Bursten, and the extremely talented Carlos Andres Rodriguez. It consists of an 80 card deck (the traditional 78 cards from the Tarot, a stunning graphic of the Tree of Life, and a front card that is signed and numbered by Ciro himself), along with a CD that is worth much more than its weight in gold. This project is being independently produced, and is not a limited edition. However, each deck will be signed and numbered by Ciro.
The opening screen to the CD asks the user if they have Apple's Quick Time and the Adobe Acrobat Reader, two programs that were used in making the CD, and that are necessary for viewing it. There are two icons with links to the sites where these programs can be downloaded (for free) if the user does not already have them installed on their computer.
Clicking on the "continue" button takes the user to two screens - the first screen carries the messages on dreams that I quoted at the beginning of this review, and fades into a second screen that carries a dedication to Ciro's wife, Maria. This screen fades into an introduction - very "Star Wars", with intense music and visual effects that include pulsing color, flying planets and astrological glyphs, ending with visual representations of each of the four elements. Take the time to watch this intro at least once - it is amazing!
The next screen that comes up is the main screen. In the middle of the screen is the link to the Major Arcana. Directly above this, in small letters, is a link entitled "Plain Styled Minors" that takes the user to forty Marseilles-styled cards. Above the link to the Marseilles-styled cards is the link to the suit of Swords. To the right of the Major Arcana link is the link to the suit of Coins. To the left of the Major Arcana link is the link to the suit of Wands. Under the Major Arcana link is the link to the suit of Cups. On each of the four corners of the circle is a colored ball, representing the four suits: the upper right hand ball is colored green; the lower right hand ball is colored gold; the upper left hand ball is colored blue; the lower left hand ball is colored red. Surrounding this we find links to: "Links", "Symbols & Spreads", "Credit", "Extras", and "Backstage".
"Links" consists of:
Links contains live links (I checked them, they do work!) to Ciro's site, Carlos' site, Richard Jeffries "Orpahlese Tarot" site, Aeclectic Tarot, The Tarot Association of the British Isles, the American Tarot Association, Tarot Passages, and the Tarot Garden. Not a bad haul!
"Symbols & Spreads" consists of:
1. A color graphic of the Tree of Life, with a text key to the left (with a keyword and the Hebrew title for each Sephiroth).
2. A nine card "Story Spread", developed by Lee Bursten. (This spread may bring you more information about yourself, and your situation, than you really want to hear! It is a serious learning tool.)
3. A chart of the 22 Major Arcana complete with Hebrew name and corresponding symbol. (i.e. Magician, Beth (House) )
"Credit" consists of:
1. Ciro Marchetti: concept, design, illustration, production
2. Lee Bursten: Tarot of Dreams "Tree of Life", Story Spread, content advisor
3. Carlos Andres Rodriguez: visual effects, animation, interactivity, general programming
"Backstage" consists of:
"Backstage" consists of two examples of the process of creating this deck: (1) how the little dog in the Seven of Pentacles was created (he has a real life counterpart , Mr. Forest!), and (2) how the helmet for the Knight of Wands was developed. All of the images in this deck are original, painted digitally. There was no use of photos or scanned images. Ciro - you done good!
"Extras" consists of:
1. Wallpaper: There are four wallpaper's to choose from (the Aces of each of the suits). (The Ace of Cups is currently my wallpaper.)
2. Screen Savers: There are two screensavers: one with images from the Major Arcana (now residing on my computer!), and one with images from the Royals of each suit.
3. Letterheads: There are four letterhead available, each in PDF format. The heading for each of them reads: "Readings from the Tarot of Dreams". One letterhead has the Fool's mask and tri-corn hat centered on it; one letterhead shows the Fool on the right hand side; one letterhead shows a Knight in each of the four corners; one letterhead shows the Aces in each of the four corners.
4. Guidebook: This is in PDF format, and consists of the following sections: (1) Tarot of Dreams Intro (21 pages); (2)The Major Arcana (51 pages); (3) Cups/Wands (34 pages); and Swords/Coins (33 pages).
The Tarot of Dreams Intro consists of an artist's preface; an author's preface; an introduction; esoteric symbol systems in the Tarot of Dreams; reading the cards; the Story Spread; introduction to the Major Arcana, followed by the Major Arcana; introduction to the Minor Arcana, followed by the Minor Arcana; a bibliography and suggested reading.
The Major Arcana consists of an introduction, followed by text on each card in brief and in depth.
Cups/Wands, and Swords/Coins each consist of text on the card in brief and the card in depth, it's sphere on the Tree of Life, and its astrological attribution (with the exception of the Aces).
5. Orphalese Tarot: This is a free download of the Orphalese Tarot shareware. The Tarot of Dreams has been designated the default deck for this version - thank you Richard! Included are extensive notes on each of the cards. All of the features included on the downloadable version from the Orphalese Tarot website have been included in this version, including access to the Tarot Zone (a private website for users of the Orphalese Tarot program).
Going back to the main screen, clicking on the Major Arcana link takes us to a circular figure with a blue center, surrounded by 22 silver balls, each representing one of the Major Arcana cards. Moving the mouse over one of the 22 outer balls will bring up a graphic of the card connected with that link. Clicking on the link brings up a screen with an animated card on the right hand side (the animation is fascinating, awesome, and, along with the music, definitely lends itself to meditation), and text on the left hand side.
For example, the card of the Fool shows the following animation: a kitten's paw batting at a flying butterfly, movement of the white dove, and a shimmering, glimmering crystal ball. The text for the Fool is as follows:
Being Foolish, playing the fool, making fun of something. The beginning part of an endeavor or journey. An unorthodox or nonconformist approach. Being a catalyst for change.
Path on the Tree of Life:
Sphere 1 Consciousness (Keter) connect to Sphere 2 Energy (Chokhmah). As the Fool's journey begins, consciousness manifests itself as pure energy, without any rational or ethical restrictions.
Aleph means Ox. The ox is used to till the fields, preparing them for the introduction of seeds, which will eventually grow.
Uranus, the planet of eccentricity, originality, and anarchy.
Clicking on one of the suits brings up another circular graphic, with the center circle representative of each particular suit. Swords shows a graphic of the sky, accompanied by the sound of wind. Wands shows a graphic of a volcano erupting, with accompanying sounds. Cups shows the sea, accompanied by sounds of water. Coins shows a pastoral scene, accompanied by the sound of birds. (Note: Mouse-over on the Major Arcana and Suit links brings up the graphic and music associated with that link.)
From the suit of Swords, we have the following:
Ace of Swords
A new idea or inspiration. An "Aha!" moment which brings tremendous opportunities.
Sphere on the Tree of Life:
Sphere 1 Consciousness (Keter). You are becoming conscious of the mental and intellectual potentials available to you, both in your own mind and in the world around you.
Astrology: Not included on the Aces.
Clicking on the "Exit" link on the bottom right hand side of the main screen takes the user to a screen that asks: "Are you sure you wish to quit?" Below that are two options: "Awaken", on the right hand side, and "Continue Dreaming", on the left hand side.
The cards are larger than a regular deck - approximately 3 1/2" by 5 1/2". There are two versions available: Satin finish on regular stock, and Glossy finish on slightly thicker stock. (You will also need to indicate whether your operating system is Windows or Mac, so that you receive the right CD. There are no exchanges once the CD has been sent out.)
The back of the cards is done in dark gold, with a graphic in the center, and dark gold edging, with one of the four elemental symbols on each side of the card. It would not be possible to tell whether a card was drawn upright or reversed before it was turned over.
The card face carries the same dark gold edging, surrounding the inner graphic. The Major Arcana carries the card number in Roman numerals on the top, and the card title on the bottom. The one corner shows the astrological glyph, two corners show the spheres on the Tree of Life that the path of the card connects, and the remaining corner shows the Hebrew letter. The positions will change depending on the positions of the spheres on the Tree of Life.
The Minor Arcana show the card number at the top, and the suit at the bottom. In the upper right hand corner is the astrological sign, and in the upper left hand corner is the planetary sign. Aces show the elemental sign in both corners.
The Court Cards carry the initial for each title ("K" for King, "Q" for Queen, "Kn" for Knight, and "P" for Page), with the elemental symbol in both corners. Each card carries a highly developed character image - from the lovely by serious looking Queens; to the youthful Pages (all facing forward) that each look as if they know a secret or two; to the dashing Knights (all facing to the left), each on his own magickal steed (the Knight of Coins a dark horse, the Knight of Swords a light horse, the Knight of Cups and the Knight of Wands both ride magickal creatures that I cannot name!); to the oh so serious Kings (each facing forward).
The artwork in this deck is astounding! Ciro combines traditional imagery with non-traditional and fantasy forms ... and comes out with a deck that has the ability to take the user into a totally new world, a world of amazing possibilities. In the Magician, we see a very "Merlin" like character, holding a crystal ball in one had and a staff in the other, surrounded by the imagery of the four Aces (superimposed over a glowing Lemnescate). In Faith (the Hierophant), we see the picture of a praying, "Dali Lama" like figure, with a circle of glyphs super-imposed over him representing various philosophies. We see the Chinese ideogram meaning "Joy Together" representing Confucianism; the Star of David, representing Judaism; the Crucifix, representing Christianity; the crescent moon and star, representing Islam; the Dharmachakra (wheel of life), representing Buddhism; the three Sanskrit letters aa, au, and ma, which combine to form Aum, or Om, representing Hinduism; the Pentagram, representing Neo-Paganism; the "happy human", representing Humanism; and the Yin/ Yang, representing Philosophical Taoism. the animation on this card is mesmerizing! In the Fool, one of my favorite figures, we see a figure with a tri-corn hat and mask - but no head! This is meant to represent the "nothingness" of the Fool. If you don't look close - you really don't notice this, either.
The Three of Cups, with its "Carnivale" type masks floating over the cups, reminds me of Mardi Gras. The open scroll in front of the Priestess (High Priestess) contains the message: "Darkness into darkness, The key to all mystery." The Empress is quite an astounding card also - appearing to come up from the ground (as in being "grounded" in the ground), the Empress is seen wearing a green hooded gown, holding a luminous baby in her hands. In front of the Empress we see the abundance from the fields. The Lovers certain gives us something to think about, as we view a male and a female figure, arms around each other, seated in front of an arch, facing a series of candles. Very telling that we are seeing them largely through a veil!
The Ten of Coins shows a forest scene, with an arch in the middle, through which we see ten flowing golden coins against a dark orange background. Look closely at that forest - there are faces in the trees on either side of the arch! The Hermit, being one of my birth cards, is always a favorite with me. Here we have a Hermit-like figure seated in contemplation on a mountain ledge, with a glowing globe on the end of a staff by his side. The Devil is all too real, with a black robed figure in the background, holding chains in either hand, with a nude figure crouched in a birdcage in front of him. Note - the figure wears the tri-corn hat of the Fool, and the door to the cage is open!
There is so much more that I would like to say, but every review needs to end somewhere. I have enjoyed the journey of birth for this deck and CD, and now am embarking on the journey of finding out all that they can be for me. If you would like to read how this journey went for the author and the illustrator, interviews can be seen here and here. I want to thank both Ciro and Lee for taking the time to share their thoughts with us. I would also like to thank Ciro for responding to each and every question that this very "non-techie" person had once the deck and CD were in her hands!
The CD runs very well - I was astonished that I was able to work with it as well as I did. Well, OK, not exactly astonished, but very pleased with myself! The links all function well, and the fade in/fade out between screens is very gentle. Moving from screen to screen, and around the same screen, is effortless. The mouse-overs are a sight to behold - I wish my coding ability went that far!
The inclusion of the Orphalese Tarot is such a joy - I lost my copy in a computer crash, and had not been back to download it again, even though I loved working with it. A HUGE thank you to Richard Jeffries for making the Tarot of Dreams the default deck for this version of his software. This project ended up with four highly talented individuals - Ciro Marchetti, Lee Bursten, Carlos Andres Rodrigues, and Richard Jeffries, who were all on the same page, and whose work complimented each other in a mind-boggling manner.
The Letterheads, and all of the PDF pages, are not strictly text. Each page is formatted "as" a page, with boundaries and background color - it is a joy to see such continuity. Speaking of which - one of the first things that impressed me was the use of the graphic from the front of the box being used on the front of the CD case, and on the CD itself. The Cappie in me (and there is a lot of it!) loves this!
In my opinion, Ciro has definitely raised the bar for what can be done in the Tarot world. Would we have ever seen a project this inclusive from a publishing company? My thought here is no, we would not. The cost here is well worth it, and I hope that other people who are considering indie projects take note, and pursue their dreams too.
One last word - the text on the CD version is much shorter than that in the Guidebook. Read them both - Lee has a lot of interesting things to say! Also, Ciro advises that the CD may play better if downloaded onto your computer. The space needed here is approximately 530 megabytes.
© July 2005
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 Solandia
"Nothing in Tarot is absolute, and the answers are to be found in your own mind and heart... and in your dreams."
I’d been waiting for over a year to see the Tarot of Dreams - the long-awaited collaboration between artist Ciro Marchetti of the Gilded Tarot, and Tarot reader and scholar Lee Bursten of the Gay Tarot - in its physical form. After it had been released, I then had to wait an extra month when Australia Post lost my first copy of the deck. Finally, the cards of Tarot of Dreams were in my hands.
Looking through the cards, at first I was struck by the incredible vibrancy of the colours. Images first seen on a computer screen sometimes don’t live up to expectations when seen in print, but the Tarot of Dreams’ vivid hues almost leap off the cards and the very large size of the cards - 14cm by 9cm – show off the luxurious and sumptuous artwork to best effect. Each of the cards has been created in Ciro’s trademark digital artistic style, as was first seen in the Gilded Tarot.
The images have been drawn with the use of a graphics tablet, often from a photographic template but every part is original and rendered in Ciro’s unique style. The costumes and accessories place the figures in the classical to medieval European period (with some fantastical additions, naturally) and there are a few mechanistic touches. The people featured on the cards range in age from children to the elderly; and while most are young and beautiful or strong and muscled, they aren’t all entirely slim or unwrinkled. Ciro’s initials are hidden on each card, some easier to find than others, but not usually obtrusive or distracting – no more so than the PCS signature on every card of the Rider-Waite.
The structure of the deck has a Rider-Waite foundation, in its Kabbalistic and astrological association and minor arcana imagery, but it freely departs from the blueprint and isn’t bound by Rider-Waite traditions. The suits are named Cups, Swords, Wands and Coins. Strength is positioned at VIII and Justice at XI; the Fool is numbered 0. The major arcana have mostly familiar titles, except for the Priestess (High Priestess), Faith (Hierophant), Wheel (Wheel of Fortune), and Hanging Man (Hanged Man). The elemental associations are regular, but the colour associations are a little different - Wands are in red/orange/yellows, Coins are green, Swords are blue and Cups are yellow. Ciro explains his choice for Cups in the guidebook; that water is really colourless – it is only blue when reflecting the sky, and in his location he often sees water as golden because the sun there sets over the water.
It was hard to choose my favourite cards from the Tarot of Dreams; there are several. The Empress: an older woman whose lower half is a tree, her top half robed in green and holding a baby; acorns, wheat, apples and corn in the foreground. The Magician: a wise and white-bearded man seated on a red and golden throne; in one hand, a tall and ornate gold staff, in the other, a crystal ball shining light onto the four tools in the front of the card. The Hermit: particularly for its background, though the white eyeballs of the white-robed hermit are a little disconcerting. The Star is also gorgeous – a blue-toned woman with a crown of stars pours rainbows from the vases in each of her hands. The background is an ocean, a dark night sky, and a bright white eight-pointed star rising over the horizon.
Beyond the aesthetic appearance, I think the interpretation of Faith (known as the Hierophant in other decks) is inspired. A bald, wrinkled man bows his head and clasps his hands at the level of his chin; nine religious symbols are superimposed in a circle over the middle of the card – Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Pagan, Taoist, Hinduism, Humanism and others. It’s a rather more inclusive and less definitely Christian interpretation than the traditional image! The Nine of Swords is very effective with its feeling of nightmarish menace, where tree limbs become claws scratching at the window in the middle of the night. In the Three of Swords, the inclusion of a tearful woman next to the heart pierced by swords that brings a stronger sense of emotion to the card. I also like the Eight of Coins, where a man works at his desk, passing the coins through a mechanical device; on the shelf being him stands a copy of the Gilded Tarot.
A few of the minor arcana cards gave me some difficulty at first, as they diverge from traditional imagery and interpretations and I needed some study of the guidebook to make sense of them in a reading. The Ten of Coins shows a path through an ivy-covered stone fence, carved with a face each side, leading to an orange-glowing forest on the other side, and stands for the ‘magic in the ordinary’, the ‘beauty and potential hidden in the material things around us’. The Six of Swords depicts a masked and hooded woman, standing and facing us on a boat that is moving slowly through the water towards us. In brief, it represents ‘quiet, steady, cautious progress’ and ‘diplomacy, tact, guile’. Neither are typical for these cards and some others, but the explanations make sense of the imagery once understood. The Pages were a similar situation. They show a young person from the shoulders up only, and while they have differing expressions and backdrops, I needed some explanation as to their personality and motivation.
All cards have heavy borders around each Tarot scenes. The borders have a cylindrical look, containing the card’s title and number in Roman numerals, astrological symbol, and, for the majors, a Hebrew letter and two Arabic numerals representing its position in the Tree of Life. The Tarot of Dreams uses its own system of placements designed by Lee Bursten, rather than the Golden Dawn’s.
Ciro’s original vision for the Tarot of Dreams was to create more than the usual deck-and book set. To fulfill his concept, there is a companion CD for the cards rather than the usual companion book or little white booklet. The CD (which is available for Windows PCs or Macs) has a pretty interface for accessing the meanings, guidebook, extras, credits and so forth. The main section has images and basic text for all 78 cards, and the major arcana images are animated – flames flicker, water falls, light shimmers, eyes open and close, wheel rotate, lightning strikes the tower, and Death ages, to name a few effects. It’s an inspired addition; I found that after looking through them, I could see the animations in my mind’s eye when I again used the cards and turned up the majors in a reading.
The Extras on the CD include four letterheads, two screensavers, four wallpapers, the Orphalese Tarot software pre-installed with the Tarot of Dreams cards, and a PDF document of 78 cards including plain pip-style minors for those who prefer them. I personally thought these minors, though a nice idea, were a bit of waste of Ciro’s skills – the fully illustrated minors are absolutely stunning and the plain minors were, well, plain.
The Guidebook, thoughtfully and well-written by Lee Bursten, is also in PDF format. It is split into four sections – Book Intro, Majors, Swords & Coins, and Wands & Cups. The book introduction is fascinating, providing as it does background on both Ciro’s and Lee’s collaborations, how they came to work together on the deck, and what each contributed. The deck’s esoteric symbol systems are explained (the Kabbalistic, Hebrew letter and astrological associations and choices), followed by an intelligent and inclusive discussion of reading the cards. Lee covers choosing meanings, controversial issues such as reversals, predicting the future, and ethics, describing his own methods of reading as illustration. The Intro ends with an explanation of the Story Spread, a nine-card spread designed especially for the Tarot of Dreams.
The Major and Minor Arcana section of the Guidebook duplicates the card info on the main CD, providing sections on the Card in Brief; Sphere on the Tree of Life for the minors, or Path of the Tree of Life and Hebrew Letter in the case of the majors; Astrology; and then adds the Card in Depth. The In Depth information explains the symbolic choices on the cards in respect to more traditional images, and offers interpretations (that are by no means set in stone – they are suggestions only). Court cards are split into sections of Personality, Stage of Growth, Approach, and Sphere on the Tree of Life.
The cards come packaged in an organdy bag inside a square cardboard box, along with a CD in a slipcase. The deck has two extra cards bringing the total to eighty: one is a numbered and signed title card (mine is #608) and one has a representation of the Tree of Life as used in the Tarot of Dreams. The deck is also available in two different finishes, glossy and satin, and I have the glossy version which emphasizes the colours but does mean there is a little extra glare if looking at the cards under strong light. Finger marks also show up more easily, but water or other stains are more readily removed.
The full Tarot of Dreams package is relatively expensive at US$83/$90, but with so much included along with the actual cards, it is worth it. It’s a minor shame there is no paper booklet with basic meanings for the newcomer to the deck, so the guidebook either needs to be printed out or readings done next to the computer in the initial stages. However, as the package is being independently published and distributed by Ciro himself, it was a necessary decision in order to keep the deck’s costs from getting any higher.
The combination of Ciro’s graphic artistry and Lee’s Tarot knowledge and insight make for stunningly vivid and detailed cards that also have surprising Tarot depth. The Tarot of Dreams takes Tarot into the future – don’t miss out on this stunning and groundbreaking deck for your collection and for your readings.
Review by Christopher Butler
A bewilderment of riches is the only way I can think of summing up the Tarot of Dreams. It is not just a tarot deck; it is a lavish, self-contained tarot system that breaks boundaries and sets far reaching new standards for tarot publication.
This is a long overdue review on my part. The Gilded Tarot has been my deck of choice since its appearance in a limited edition two years ago. I reviewed both the limited edition and the commercial publication a year later. At the time I felt that no deck could match it in terms of beauty and artistic excellence. I would qualify that statement now by saying that it has indeed been surpassed but only by this, it’s follow up project.
Everything here has reached a new level. Ciro has created a set of images that are even more detailed and technically accomplished and there is a depth of meaning and symbolism that sets it aside from its predecessor (and many other commercial decks for that matter). You only have to look at one or two cards to realise just how breathtaking this is. My own personal favourites are The Chariot, Strength and the Knight of Coins. The richness and detail are such that you find yourself stepping into the landscapes portrayed; a factor further enhanced by the fantastic animations of those very scenes on the accompanying CD Rom.
The cards themselves are ‘Thoth’ size i.e., larger than a standard deck and can be ordered in satin or gloss finish. Satin finish decks are printed on a standard US. Games cardstock of the type used for decks such as the Morgan Greer, slightly silkier than a Rider Waite. Gloss copies such as my own are printed on magnificent gloss finish stock that is thicker and weightier than the average. Both are wonderful and personal preference will apply when ordering. This is a standard 78-card deck supplemented by a signed and numbered back card and a title card depicting the Tarot of Dreams version of the Tree of Life. The deck comes housed in a high quality black organdy bag, similar to those provided by Llewellyn but a little more substantial.
Before writing this review I decided not to try describing the artwork in depth, it would be pointless as I couldn’t do it justice just view the cards and marvel. You'll find it hard not to place an order.
The package would appear to be expensive but bear in mind what you get far more than most deck and book sets could ever offer. The handsome blue box contains a CD Rom instead of a book a veritable treasure chest full of gold and jewels. Lee Bursten’s outstanding guidebook is contained within the disc, along with a second fully illustrated and animated guide to the deck, replacing the normal white booklet. The animated versions of the Major cards are fascinating, adding extra layers of meaning to the existing still images. If this wasn’t enough you also get four desktop wallpapers, based around the four aces, four customised letterheads for printing out your readings, two elaborately animated screensavers (all else is gaslight!) and a free copy of the Orphalese Tarot reading software. For this latter program, you are given an alternative version of the deck with plain style pip cards should you prefer to give ‘Marseilles’ style readings.
Special mention should be given to Lee Bursten at this point. He wrote the text for the whole package and acted as content advisor for the cards. Unlike the Gilded Tarot, this deck has Kabbalistic, Astrological and Hebrew letter correspondences. The deck as a whole has far greater depth and Lee’s text captures it all to perfection. The Gilded Tarot book may have explained the Artist’s symbolism very beautifully but didn’t go much further. By contrast, this does full justice to Ciro’s inspiration and also goes into a lot of detail with regards to esoteric symbolism and reading technique. The mark of a really good accompanying text must be that you could give the package to a novice and they could come out at the other end a competent reader. Lee has succeeded admirably this is approachable but very substantial.
Most of the symbolism is traditional, with its roots in the Golden Dawn but there are modifications, notably with regard to assigning paths on the Tree of Life. This may be a concern to some, but if like me your Kabbalistic knowledge is limited or you have a more advanced grasp of the discipline and are open to new interpretations this won’t be a problem.
There is so much more to say about this set. Even now I look at what I’ve written realising that I can’t do justice to either the artist or the author. On both counts this is a rare achievement that defies the written word. All I can suggest is that you buy it and experience the magic for yourself. It is a defining set that has changed the goal posts for presentation and marketing. The Tarot of Dreams has a depth and mythic magic that make it wholly unique.
Chris Butler discovered the Tarot in his teens
whilst watching a James Bond movie. Now, almost thirty
years later, he has illustrated three oracle decks and
five Tarot decks. He is the illustrator for the Quantum Tarot, published by Kunati Books.
Review by Sharon Gifford
I opened the box and there they were, delivered swiftly, and as promised. The Tarot of Dreams, I had wished for so long, have aspired to work with this beautiful Tarot deck. I have studied hard and now thanks to my focus of energies I am the brand new owner of the most beautiful set of Tarot cards I have ever seen.
That, however is only the beginning. The first day with my Tarot of Dreams I had to travel, so I took them with me, in the car I saw each card for the first time as I contemplated the imagery their aspects began presenting them selves to me, whispers of words came into my head and passing through the deck all human life was truly contained within.
The Major Arcana are masterful and powerfully connect with the life changing events they portray, worlds, phrases, notes of music all come to mind as I rest my eyes on the imagery of Ciro Marchetti’s vivid, profound and beautiful Art. I almost forget to admire the rich beauty of late summer in Wiltshire, so absorbed am I in the wonderful mysteries contained in the 80 cards held in my palm.
The Minor Arcana of the Tarot of Dreams is visually delightful and an inspiration to the spirit, each Ace a wonderful blessing for the whole suit, the court cards a reminder of friends past and present. A swirl of rainbow magic follows a journey through The Tarot of Dreams and emerges into life crisp, defined and perfect. Energies connect with both Heaven and Earth and many other, some perhaps unexpected dimensions along the way.
Ciro Marchetti writes in his introduction, “…I have provided some scenery along the way, but now this journey is yours to take, one with no limits of time or distance. I hope you enjoy it.” The scenery provided by Ciro is masterful, visually stunning, rich and with vibrant energies showing the depth of circumstance that is the human experience past, present and future.
The cards are oversized and of sturdy card, I still use my Gilded Tarot for readings each day, as I need to be able to handle the cards competently with one hand whilst holding the phone with the other! So I will spend some time in private contemplation of these wonderful new cards and practise manipulating them with just one hand before I begin using them each day for work.
I took the Tarot of Dreams into my garden yesterday, I sat by the lavender and enjoyed the roses, geraniums and carnations for a while, I leaned back and watched the clouds roll by in the huge London sky, they became visions of faces and smiles. When I looked down the Fairies were gathering admiring the beauty and skill of Temperance at the top of the pile.
Yesterday, I spent every spare moment sewing a Tarot bag, from deep blue brocade, with gold ribbons and coins that fell from a belly dancing belt, it jangles nicely, and it and the gauze bag that came with the Tarot of Dreams will protect my cards and, to be honest contain their powerful, full on energy so I can carry on with my daily tasks, perhaps a little. Make no mistake the Tarot of Dreams is a powerfully magical deck of cards.
I have studied Tarot and give Tarot readings for work, but I felt I had attended a master class after having travelled through the deck just once. I feel sure they will give my readings a depth and accuracy that will become my hallmark as time goes on. I usually work with the Gilded Tarot Ciro’s previous Tarot Deck which has developed a humorous sub text, that can sometimes cause me to laugh out loud during a reading, it will be so much fun to work with the Tarot of Dreams and discover the personalities of my new deck, to delve into the intracies of human life with such magnificent tools at my disposal, there truly are no limits.
When I returned from Wiltshire I was able to look at the CD that comes with the Tarot of Dreams, a work of Art in itself, visually gorgeous with meditational music and animated Major Arcana, the cards are exlained in brief with astrological correspondences and referrals to the tree of life, another master class and a meditaional tool. Looking through the Tarot section of the CD holding the cards I felt blessed and inspired and as if I held life’s great mysteries in the palm of my hand.
There is an in depth book, screen savers, one of the Major Arcana and one of the court cards, letter heads and introduction to the team that compiled this work of great Art on a CD that is easily downloadable.
I have had to force myself to walk away leaving my Tarot of Dreams safely in their magical bag because the joy and potential is making my head spin! This is a sublime and perfect deck for beginner or for the more experienced students of life alike.
Though once again the Tarot of dreams call to me, they, it seems, feel ready to accompany me through my busy working day, to lend me guidance, inspiration and a deeper insight into how I may interpret the divination clearly and accurately. We may have a long journey ahead of us. I feel there will be interesting times ahead the scenery will be glorious, with no limits to time or distance.
Ciro Marchetti, as a witch I may not bend the knee but great Art will cause me to bow as a sign of respect to an Artist who is a such master of his work, with tools such as the Tarot of Dreams at my disposal I feel my own work will be more magical, relevant and creative, thus magic continues……………
Sharon is a practising Witch, Psychic, Tarot
Reader and Medium. She writes under the name of Mother
Damnable in London England.
Review by Nisaba Merrieweather
This is a later, slightly smaller edition of the original collector’s edition of the Tarot of Dreams, measuring 7.5 x 11.5cm. Self-published, it does not seem to have an ISBN number or publication date, bearing only the original copyright date of 2005.
Both items are presented in an attractively mottled blue box of robust construction that folds itself closed and stays closed due to embedded magnets, a nice touch which I appreciate in a deck. The accompanying booklet, also of the same size, is less than a conventional accompanying book but far, far more than a LWB, giving you a wealth of information on each card. It is printed on rather nice-quality flexible paper, making it easier to open, read and use than some similar books I have handled recently. The cards themselves seem to be on quite good cardstock, with a light, satin-matt finish. I believe the original edition had gilded edges – to keep costs down these have been sacrificed and the edges are plain. The richness of this deck is now all in the design.
In addition to the cards that users of the previous addition are familiar with, Marchetti and Bursten have opted for the inclusion of four extra Minor Arcana cards which I suppose are Court Cards, one in each suit: The Palace of Wands, Swords, Cups and Coins. These extra cards are, in the style of most Marchetti art, gorgeous, lavish, colourful and a little over-the-top, and are designed to be interpreted as providing (or needing) particular styles of environments. In the accompanying book, Bursten describes how to read these cards, suggesting, for example, that: “… the Palace of Swords could indicate that you will find yourself in an environment where you’ll be intellectually challenged …”. As a part of my preparation for reviewing a deck I like not only to spend solo time with a deck and then read for strangers with it, I also like to show it to thoughtful Tarotista friends of mine, and carefully observe their reactions. When someone whose opinions I’ve learnt to respect saw the Palace cards, she went silent and thoughtful, and found them acceptable and pleasing, and not only for the pleasing artwork. She then went on to do an informal killer-reading for me, and a Palace card emerged and was very expressive indeed.
I am not overly familiar with Marchetti’s earlier deck the Gilded, but I’ve been told by people who know it and whose opinions I respect that in some ways it seems as if he hadn’t really internalised Tarot yet, and his more recent decks are philosophically superior. I cannot comment on that – it seems to me that this deck, which is the only Marchetti deck that I own or am overly familiar with, is very well thought out indeed. This is a man who has a good grasp on Tarot and knows that he wants a Tarot deck to express.
Artistically, too, Marchetti is talented. Working with digital imagery, there is none of the patcvhiness that characterises lesser decks constructed in the digital medium: either the technology has vastly improved, or Marchetti is particularly skilled, or a combination of both these factors is in play. It is certainly a masterly piece of work.
I personally find the deck visually appealing because I have a taste for detail and for lush, rich colours which Marchetti seems to share with me. I have spent a fair bit of time with it, and I find it throws lucid, clear readings and appeals to the majority of clients. It is not an intimidating deck – even images like the Devil and the Tower, both executed in warm colours with a great deal of gold, are too lovely to be really scary.
There are some cards I like very much – Death and the Ten Swords are two of them, and I love the iconic ornate Cup used in all the Cups cards – but there are a few that I feel could have been improved on, such as Judgement. There are also three cards which due to my own past history really, really don’t work for me: the Eight Cups, the Two Wands and the Nine Wands. These three cards all show disembodied steps floating in the air, a visual idea that would have worked for me if my child hadn’t spent a great deal of time playing “Frogger” and “Croc” on the PC when she was younger, both games that feature steps or stepping-stones that like these cards are floating unsupported in the air. Try as I might, I cannot shake that first instinctive thought that I need to hop my frog from one to the other. That is my own baggage, though, and not the fault of the design – but it may affect other past users of Hasbro computer games.
The overall tone or theme of the deck is one grounded in fantasy; and for people who like that style and like richness of detail and colour, this will be a very successful deck. For those who are a little more conservative and like their decks to be redolent of the centuries of Tarot tradition or to be unplaced in space and time, this deck will be less successful. Also, people with more ascetic tastes who like their decks spare and their colour palettes restricted may find this deck a bit overwhelming. I personally like it, and I will use it in the future.
Nisaba discovered Tarot in the 1970s and did her first paid reading in 1981.
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