Made from a collage of Victorian era steel engravings of late nineteenth century figures and settings, these black and white cards in the Victoria Regina Tarot are complicated and fascinating.
See card images of the Victoria Regina Tarot
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
First impression - book and deck -
outstanding! Good thing, too, as the box they came in literally
fell apart (as if it weren't glued together at all) and
had to be stapled back together!
At 3 1/4" by 5
1/2", this deck is a little larger than some. It is done
on good quality stock glossy stock with a slick
finish, so it will be a little difficult for those with
small hands to work with. However - they will find a
way, as this is really a "one of a kind" deck ... a
genuine "find". It is done with the use of collage, in
black and white, based around a Victorian theme and
using Victorian engravings.
The backs of the cards are
white, with a black edging 1/4 " in from the edge,
followed by a smaller black edging 1/8 " from inthat. In
the center is the profile of Queen Victoria,
surrounded by a lotus like circular edge. A white edge
surrounds this, with three cornered leaves coming out from
the circle at the four corners.
The face of the cards
has a 1/4 " white edging, with the central picture
outlined in black and the graphics done in black and white.
At the bottom of the card is the card number and
name. The symbols for the suits are unique to this deck,
and to the Victorian era. Wands are represented by
steel writing pens; Cups are represented by mason jars;
Swords are represented by guns and Coins are represented
by pocket watches.
The introduction contains some
background on the Victorian era, but not enough to become
overwhelming. It serves its purpose well - as a backdrop for the
cards in this deck.
The pictures in the book, as in the
deck, are black and white. For each card there is a scan
of the card, a description of the energy of the card,
an interpretation and a short section on what that
card could be in the Seeker's life. There is also a
wonderful note at the end of each card on the sources for
the graphics for that card. An added comment here -
although this is a Victorian deck, there is cultural
diversity - i.e. the Four of Coins references Asian culture,
while the Star references a seeming Gypsy culture and
the Nine of Wands references African culture.
all of the cards, especially the Aces (all of them),
the High Priestess, Strength, the Two of Coins and the
Hermit. The example below shows the write-up for the Two
A man stands holding two
clocks, one in each hand. He is dressed for the outdoors
and stepping forward. He may have lost his grip on one
of the clocks, or he may be about to regain it.
Behind him is an inverted stonework
The Victorian era was a time of great invention, yet
it held on fiercely to the traditions of the past.
People traveled by railroad and steamship. The cities
were lit up by gas, and then electric light. But even
without considering questions of poverty, of those left
behind by progress, there were always old things existing
with the new. Candles did not cease to exist when gas
lights became available in the house. While some wanted
the newest mass-produced fashions, others sought out
designers like William Morris. The nineteenth-century Arts
and Crafts Movement in England and the US explicitly
equated the new and modern with the shoddy and ugly and
strived to return to the grace and style of earlier times.
At the same time, Morris was influenced by Karl Marx
and the socialists and understood the extent to which
many were not able (and had been historically unable)
to acquire beautiful things.
The clocks we see in
the Two of Coins may show the same time, or t hey may
be twelve hours apart. Are we attempting to balance
opposites, or are we failing to see connections? Just as the
Victorians attempted to resolve their fascination with the
new with a respect for tradition, we often find
ourselves faced with forces that seem to be pulling us in
opposite directions. It is a delicate balance that we must
maintain. One of the lessons that we can learn from this
card is that we must take an active role in life. We
cannot stand passively by and expect everything to work
out. The goal is to understand our options and act. If
there are conflicts, we must attempt to understand them
and resolve them. If we forget the lessons we learned
in the past, we may not be able to understand what
happens in the future. If we cling too tightly to what is
safe and secure, we will stagnate and not make any
progress in our work.
The Two Of Coins In Your Life:
Two Of Coins, with its focus on balance, can refer to
problems of financial juggling or trying to make ends meet.
Or it may be other resources that you are trying to
balance. If you're overextended at work or at home or both,
it may be time to make some decisions. Unless you
want to keep juggling forever, you have to decide which
things are most important and which you might be able to
drop, even if only for the moment.
Notes on Sources:
The figure on this card was originally shown "Slipping
the Greyhounds", that is, releasing his dogs at a
I always go to the back of the book
first (after playing with the cards) - looking for new
spreads. I was not disappointed. Sarah gives some very nice
tips on setting up a reading, forming the question and
interpreting the cards. She presents a Five Card Spread for use
as a general spread; the Victoria's Sceptre spread as
a spread for use in dealing with creative endeavers;
and the Victoria's Chalice spread for dealing with
emotional questions (this spread has a sample reading along
The Victoria Regina Tarot Deck and companion
book are very well done - in fact, a true joy to work
with! I recommend this deck (and book) highly to all
Tarot aficianado's - at all levels.
PS - It came with
its own very lovely Tarot bag!
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 Andryh
The new Victoria Regina Tarot is a clever,
"chimerical" sort of a deck. Yes, I said chimerical. Not
the sort of word used in everyday language, but very
suitable in describing this unusually enchanting deck. A
chimera, in case you are wondering is a figure of Greek
mythology: A creature having the body of a goat, the head of
a lion, and the tail of a serpent... a creature with
perhaps an acute identity crisis! This deck too is made
up of various, sometimes unlikely components.
Nevertheless, it manages to maintain a very solid identity, won
with its strong Victorian theme. My old Webster's
dictionary by-the-by, defines the word "chimerical" as: 1:
existing only as the product of unchecked imagination :
fantastically visionary and improbable and 2: given to fantastic
schemes. A rather befitting description of this mesmerizing
That I should even give a deck such as this a
second glance is more than a little odd. I would
certainly have astonished and more than a bit skeptical had
someone only a few short weeks ago told me that the
darling of my tarot collection would be a black-and-white
collage deck. I have always run the other direction when
confronted with a dreaded collage deck. I have in the past
found them apprehensively tacky. And black-and-white
decks have before elicited nothing more from me than a
But alas, there is no denying it. I adore this
deck. Here's why: Firstly, the art is utterly
beautiful. Compiled from various pieces of clip-art, the
cards have an almost 3 dimensional quality about them.
A feeling of depth is very evident throughout the
deck. The creatrix has so seamlessly mingled the images
on these cards, that it is really hard to tell this
is a collage deck at all. Secondly, this deck has so
much visual interest. Compositionally, it is full of
whimsy and quaint detail. A good example of this is the
seven of cups card. A prim Victorian woman posed under
a full moon, surrounded by a "flock" of
winged-monkeys. A strange and intriguing card among many in this
deck. The suits are very untraditional, wands are
depicted as fountain pens, cups as Mason jars, coins as
pocket watches, and swords as guns. Sounds strange, I
know, but it really works for this deck. While the
author has taken great liberties with the cards, the
Rider-Waite influence is evident: So much so, that anyone
familiar with the Waite tradition will be able to read with
this deck right out of the box. Lastly but not least
importantly, I am pleased to say that this deck and book set is
of an amazingly good quality. The relatively large
cards are of good stock. Sturdy, pliant and well
coated. The card edges are smoothly polished. The
accompanying book is paperback, but well constructed. I would
comment on its content, but I have as of yet read very
little of it. This deck also comes with a little black,
satin-lined, velveteen pouch which is perfectly sized for the
cards. It is of surprisingly good quality too. The set
is priced at about $34.00, which is terribly
reasonable considering the excellent quality.
This deck is
really the nicest thing to burst on the tarot scene in a
long, long time. Even if it doesn't sound like your cup of
tea, check it out. You may be surprised. I certainly
am. Surprised and delighted.
Review by Violet Gargoyle
I am not a professional reader as much as I am a
collector of card decks, and I am not normally a huge fan of
Llewellyn's decks either. Though I did thoroughly enjoy this one,
not just from an artistic point of view, but from
a historical one as well.
From my studies in
folklore and history, I found that this deck included
plenty of both. Not only do you get the
cards, but the included book detailed the symbolism
embedded within them, the source of the original picture
(often from old Victorian post cards or greeting cards,
occasionally from newspaper illustrations of the day), and
historical references. The historical information provided as
well as the symbolism in the cards made for a great
read, and anyone interested in the Victorian
age will also find a thorough and useful bibliography
at the end for suggestions.
The translations of the
suits were wonderful: fountain pens for wands, watches
for pentacles, mason jars for cups, and rifles for
swords - all in their height during the Victorian Age. I also
got a kick out of seeing Oscar Wilde as King of
Fountain Pens (Wands).
The major arcana features characters
from the day and scenery transformed to be appropriate
for the age. The court cards were very
reflective of the important figures in Victoria's life or
that of her immediate descendants. All the Queens in the
Minor Arcana are Victoria herself, in different stages
of her life.
The only real flaw that I could give to
this deck is that card images occasionally appeared a
little too cut and paste. On other cards this system
worked well, but here and there the overall effect of
some of the cards looked too out of place. Buyers should be aware that in keeping with the theme, all of
the images are in black and white. There is no color
whatsoever on any of the card images.
All things considered,
this is not only a fun deck, but the book is a fun read
and a neat source for Victorian (and Edwardian in some
Review by Louise Kronvall
Much of what I might say about these cards has
already been stated by others reviewing them, so I will
try not to repeat too much needlessly. I did,
however, wish to discuss these cards from my own particular
point of view, in case others might be in the same
position as me.
I wasn't really looking for cards the
day I bought this deck. I was in a nearby college
bookstore, browsing rather idly, just sort of letting time go
where it wished. I did have a small amount of free
money with me, and had thought that perhaps I might pick
up a nice copy of Leaves of Grass, or the new Lillian
Gish biography if they had it. I'd always been
interested in tarot cards, but never really thought I would
ever find a deck I could justify buying.
only had a few decks to choose from, and at first I was
only glancing with the most casual of interests at
them. I don't remember what the other two decks were --
I believe one was a fairly straightforward
Rider-Waite type deck, and another I remember as being based
on an Egyptian theme. And there was also one set of
Victoria Regina cards. These I picked up, and looked over
for quite some time before returning them to the
And as may be expected, by the end of the
afternoon, after repeatedly returning to the shelf,
re-reading the description of the deck, re-inspecting the
artwork on the cards, and so forth, I found myself
carrying them home. Something about the images spoke to me
- I felt I understood them even without really
knowing much at all about tarot cards or their meanings.
I just felt connected to them somehow.
first thing I did was red the companion book nearly from
cover to cover. I skipped a little of the preamble, and
for the time being, instructions for various card
spreads and so forth. I simply read the description and
interpretation of each card in order, knowing that I would never
remember everything, but that at least it would all be more
familiar to me in the future.
Each card's entry
features a depiction of the card itself, followed by a
description of the scene, a historical interpretation, and a
paragraph explaining the meaning of the card in a reading.
These two paragraphs, perhaps predictably, tend to
overlap each other somewhat. Finally, there is a short
paragraph explaining where Ms. Ovenall obtained her source
images for the card, which is perhaps not crucial
information, but is interesting nonetheless.
that has always held me back from immersing myself in
readings is the fact that I have not memorized/internalized
the meanings and interpretations of the cards, and the
thought to endlessly flipping through the book to find
them seemed to me as though it would ruin any sort of
meditative understanding of the spread. And of course,
without trying, I would never learn, and without knowing,
I would be relucant to try, and so forth.
think this is where the Victoria Regina tarot really
shines. The images are so complex and rich in symbolism
that it is a simple thing to formulate one's own
interpretation based on the image alone. One can do a complete
reading with only the most basic understanding of cards'
meanings, and then check back later for confirmation or
clarification, and not interrupt the feel of the reading. And at
least in my own case, the interpretations offered by the
text are very much in line with those I've come up with
I've only done a couple of readings for others
with this deck, and we used the same method, letting
the images on the cards speak to us and talking
through what we saw and felt, and then checking back
against the more formal meanings of the cards. I found
that there was a little more deviation here, but not
This is a wonderful learning deck, in my
experience. The images are complex enough to encourage
repeated viewing, clear enough to provide a firm sense of
their meaning, and open enough to allow varied
interpretation within the framework of each reading. I almost
feel as though I'm picking up the basics after the
fact, that the readings I do now are meaningful and
valid even as I learn, and I find this very encouraging.
My only fear is that somehow this understanding
of the cards will not translate itself well to other
decks I may use in the future (I would very much like to
own a few other decks in addition to this one), that I
may grow dependent on the Victoria Regina's
iconography, and be left somewhat adrift without it. Having
looked over many of the decks listed here, I have noticed
that many of them leave me feeling rather lost. Would
I be able to grow as comfortable with another deck
as I am with this one? On the other hand, it does
seem that this is a good arena in which to be choosy
My only other concern would be with
reversals. The imagery being as complex as it is, it's hard
to interpret them in a reversed position, and turning
cards this way and that mid-reading can be distracting.
This may settle itself in time, however.
highly recommend this deck to someone just starting out,
much more so, I think, that some of the decks I have
seen listed as good for beginners. Rather than being
taught how to read, you can teach yourself, and to me,
that's a much more meaningful thing.
Review by Annabel
I liked the Victoria Regina Tarot because it fills a gap - a purely modern interpretation of the tarot dates quickly but this version, inspired by the Victorian era, speaks to us across one and a half centuries and, like Dickens, is curiously apt.
However, the ink isn't black enough. Online the images look terrific with magnificent, Dore-like effects as though they were etchings, but the cards themselves are a lot paler.
Each card is a collage. The manual gives the sources; mostly they're drawings from news magazines of the period. Temperance, for example, seamlessly conflates an elegant mother (in backless gown with bustle) putting on a magic show for her children, a starry night sky snipped from an advertisement for paint, Niagara Falls, a salamander and - providing the pyrotechnics - mortar blasts from the battle of Tel-El-Kebir. Most court cards are represented by Queen Victoria and her immediate family. Pentacles are represented by watches. The industrial era launched the concept "Time is money" (also the study of railway timetables became an obsession for young and old). Wands become pens, signifying an era when writers could communicate to tens of thousands thanks to faster printing and increasing literacy. In place of cups there's the Maldon jar, a breakthrough invention which enabled the homemaker to preserve good things and serve them out of season. Swords are guns. The aggressive aspect of this suit is emphasised at the expense of truth-seeking, insight and rationality which the tarot reader will need to tease out from other details.
The deck works best for well-educated males or females with questions about generational conflict and moral ambiguities in a rapidly changing world. Ovenall's newly-devised chalice spread generates interplay with client because it shows consequences of alternative routes. The deck throws responsibility back on the querent and emphasises influences, seen and unseen, which come down through family the form of clannish behaviour and also echoes from ancestors, not far-off ones but those no longer living who nevertheless have had an impact on those alive today. My advice would be to read the manual from cover to cover and ingest the big picture before trying the deck out on a client. Although the images are compelling, they're complex and unfamiliar. Also, take the time to 'talk' to each figure depicted in each card before you use the deck professionally.
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