Zerner-Farber Tarot Reviews
A reworking of the Enchanted Tarot by the same authors, the Zerner-Farber Tarot deck uses more vibrant colours and removes the borders from the cards so more of the quilted, fabric tapestry artwork can be seen.
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - St Martins Press 1997
Review by Tarotlova
One day I decided to go to a bookstore and get some nice tarot cards. Ones that really spoke to me. These cards by Zerner-Farber did just that. Their slightly whimsical, but not at all cartoonish designs grab the attention without being gaudy or obtrusive. All of the cards are detailed, and there is no less detail in the minor arcana. Something which is rather rare, Iíve found. There is such detail on the scrollwork on the edges of the cards that they draw the eye. I have spent hours contemplating the Queen of Hearts and the ethreal beauty of the Star. Very few cards do not have people on them. I feel that this humanises the deck for me, and I believe, for the recipient. The back of the cards are a purple that fits well with the rest of the deck, with a pretty Z F pattern. Not extremely interesting, but I think that the back should be quieter or it takes away from the rest of the cards.
Something strange with this deck is that the suits are not conventional. Pentacles, Swords, Wands and Hearts. The Heart suit obviously corresponds to the Water suit in conventional decks. Judging from the meaning of Water, Hearts are also appropriate. I did not find this to be a problem. I now have a hard time, though, using decks that have the Water suit. Easy to switch, not so easy to switch back, I guess.
The cards, unlike some decks I have seen are very happy. Love is a strong influence in this deck. You can tell that this deck was a labor of love for the cards. What else would make anyone create 78 tapisries of this quality? I like this deck for beginners, and people who tend to take the lighter side of readings. I know that I prefer to deal with a small light issue rather than a deep theological problem when I am reading for other people, and this deck really puts forth that feeling.
Review by Christopher Butler
Most Artists (myself included) dream of finding a publisher for their tarot deck. It's a very lucky person who has their deck published twice by two separate publishers! Amy Zerner and Monty Farber are two such lucky people! A husband and wife team, Amy Zerner, an award winning and extraordinarily talented artist created the artwork, while Monty Farber co - divised the deck and wrote the accompanying books.
I first came across this deck as the Enchanted Tarot, published in the UK by Connections. I was doubly thrilled therefore when I discovered this edition - a regular playing card size version published by US Games inc. I have increasingly found myself using this deck for readings and it's great to have a pocket sized version for travel purposes.
The cards themselves measure approximately 2.25" x 4" and are borderless. The back design features a simple reversible monogram incorporating the couple's initials set against a rich maroon background. These are less slippery and slightly less easy to shuffle than is the norm for US Games. Nevertheless the finish is durable and has a pleasant feel to handle. The design practicalities alone may determine which edition of the deck you plumb for - The Enchanted Tarot edition sets the artwork on a white background within a colour coded border. The card titles on the borderless edition described here are set on a colour coded stripe at the bottom of the card - Purple for the Majors, green for Pentacles, blue for Swords, orange for Wands and pink for Hearts (which replace Cups).
The artistry is quite extraordinary and shows very well why Amy Zerner's work has attracted so much attention and so many awards. Indeed there is nothing quite like it in the published corpus of tarot. Each image is a vastly intricate fabric collage, incorporating many techniques which include embroidery, applique and fabric printing and transfer. In a strange and beautiful world delicate lace sits comfortably next to the stripes off an army uniform. Victorian ladies mix with buddhist monks, mediaeval knights, arabian conjurors and nijinskyesque dancers. This is the strange realm of the story teller and Zerner realises it to perfection. Don't be put off by the prospect of 'needlework'. These images are neither frilly nor frothy. They are powerful and beautiful and have a way of insinuating themselves into your heart.
On a purely subjective level I look at this deck and just know that it could only be the work of a woman. Ask me why and I really couldn't tell you. It goes beyond style or technique and I'm certainly not one of those chauvinists who thinks that because it was sewn it has to be woman's work! Rather it radiates gentle but firm feminine power and has some sort of vision and perspective that would elude a male artist. Put simply, as a man I couldn't do this but I can richly appreciate and celebrate it.
This deck is certainly not a Rider clone but there are similarities enough that anyone versed in the Rider tradition won't take long to come to terms with the differences. The most significant of these is the substitution of Hearts for Cups. I thought this strange at first until I realised how used I was to seeing variations in the other suits. Coins are often substituted for pentacles, disks, stones etc. Wands are often Staves, Rods or Clubs. In any case the substitution is very successful within this context and is used to reinforce the suit as the realm of the emotions.
I have tended not to refer much to the LWB as I rely on my traditional understanding of the card images coupled with an intuitive response to the imagery. I have read it all the same and I have to say that as they go this is one of the best written! Card meanings are given clearly and succinctly and the overall impression you get is just how much the couple believe in and enjoy what they do. Their joy is certainly infectious.
To conclude, I probably don't need to say just how much pleasure these cards have given me. When I read with it I find that I can more readily submit to my instincts rather than to my reasoning capacity. Do explore this or its sister edition by all means. If you take to it, like me, you'll probably find yourself buying both!
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 Bonnie Cehovet
Review of The Tarot Discovery Kit - A Dynamic Journey to Yourself and Beyond
It is always fun to work with material from Amy Zerner and Monte Farber - the quality is there, the presentation is dynamic, and the artwork ... well, the artwork is stunning, to say the least. "The Tarot Discovery Kit" consists of a traditional 78 card deck (the "Zerner-Farber Tarot"), with a gold silk bag to store the cards in, a sixty page companion book (the "Discovery Kit Guidebook"), and an interactive DVD.
The companion book begins by listing the individual cards, and the pages they can be found on. The sections are color coded: the Major Arcana is lavender, Wands are Sand, Hearts (Cups) are pink, Swords are blue, and Pentacles are green. The Major Arcana carries traditional titles and numbering (Strength is VIII, Justice is XI), the suits are Wands, Hearts (Cups), Swords, and Pentacles, and the Court Cards are King, Queen, Prince, and Princess.
In the introduction, Monte notes that the information in this kit was developed through the work that he and Amy have been doing for decades. Through Amy's art, and his words, their focus has been on making the truths inherent in ancient knowledge and personal power accessible to everyone. The Tarot works because it accesses true power and wisdom from within.
The is a comprehensive section on meditating with the Zerner-Farber Tarot, using the tool of White Light Visualization. The reader is literally walked through the process, which includes working with the DVD. Also included is information on how to work with the DVD.
There is a Quick Guide for choosing a meditation card, listing the card's name and number, along with the type of meditation and how it is placed in the reader's life.
There is a section on reading the cards, including doing one-card readings. The steps in doing a reading are listed as:
1. Select the question that is right for you. 2. Relax, repeat your question to yourself as you shuffle your Tarot card deck. Now pick a card to answer the question that you have selected. 3. Look up the meaning of the card you selected.
Each of the 78 Tarot cards are presented with a small color scan, the card name and number, a keyword, a message, and the outcome. From the book:
1 - The Magician: Energy
Message: You need to personally manipulate things to make your desires a reality. Tap the infinite energy of the universe through visualization. Inventory your resources. Use them to manifest the creative control you seek.
Outcome: You will personally exert creative control to make things happen your way. You may discover energy and resources that help you resolve your situation favorably. You may learn the power of visualization to help you manifest your dreams.
At the end of the book is an 11 card Celtic Cross Spread (including a Significator), a short paragraph on learning from answers that you do not like, and how to keep a Tarot Discovery Journal, including a template that covers your chosen card, your interpretation, and your reflection (notes made a some time after you have worked with a card).
The DVD plays a large part in this system. Original animations (and soothing music) make is easy to meditate on the cards through interaction with the sights, sounds and lessons within the card. Monte lists the advantages of using this system as including:
1. An increase in patience and compassion for others and yourself
2. Greater understanding of your circumstances and motivations
3. Strengthening of intuitive and psychic abilities
4. Moments of great joy, calm, and insight
5. Consciousness of the next step on your path
6. Awareness of the symbols around you
7. Memories of forgotten events and possibly past and even future lives
8. Experience of spiritual peace and power
The opening menu on the DVD includes six sections:
1. The Major Arcana
2. The Suit of Wands
3. The Suit of Swords
4. The Suit of Hearts
5. The Suit of Pentacles
6. The Tarot Discover Theater
Clicking on any of the first five sections bring up another screen where the individual cards are listed. Clicking on an individual card will bring up an animated meditation for that specific card. Each meditation lasts approximately one and one-half minutes.
There are five major "featurettes" on the DVD:
1. Entering Sacred Space - This is an excellent section that talks about the ability that Tarot has to take us deeply within ourselves, and how divination helps us make use of the power that we find there.
2. The Grounding Ritual - Here we find a soothing meditation that takes us through each of the elemental energies (Fire, Water, Air, and Earth).
3. What Is the Tarot? - This section is about Tarot history, and the type of knowledge that is held within the Tarot.
4. The Major Arcana - This section is a highly creative journey that the viewer takes along with the Fool. It puts each of the cards of the Major Arcana into wonderful perspective.
5. The Minor Arcana - This section goes into the meaning of numbers, the numbered cards and the court cards.
The deck itself is small - 2 1/4" by 3 3/4" - on good quality, glossy card stock. The backs are a muted burgundy, with inner light pink borders, with pink shell-like icons in each corner. In the center is what appears to be a letter graphic in light pink, set in such a manner that it would not be possible to tell whether the cards were drawn upright or reversed.
The face of the cards is a gorgeous fabric collage. At the bottom of the Major Arcana cards the number is set into a black diamond, form, with the card title in light colors against a colored background. The Pips (numbered cards) show the suit icon, with the card number and suit written in text against a colored background on the bottom of the card. The Court Cards show the suit icon, followed by the card rank and suit in text against a colored background on the bottom of the card.
The deck is absolutely stunning, the book is well presented, and the DVD shows creativity and easy accessibility. Movement between the screens was quite easy. While the marketing on this kit appears to be for the Tarot novice, I think that it holds something for everyone.
© 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.
Review by Tiercel
I adore this deck. It's my first love, and though I've got a couple new decks on the way - one just arrived today, the second later this week - I see myself going back to the Zerner-Farber again and again. I found this deck through a friend when I was first starting to research witchcraft. I was getting discouraged by the cost of my favorite decks, and when I stumbled across this one things simply clicked right into place- it was even on sale! The Zerner-Farber tarot has beautifully collaged images; people have said it multiple times, but it bears repeating: I find something new each time I go through a card in this deck, and can flip through the intricate, dreamlike cards for hours.
This deck is borderless, and I didn't realize how lucky I was to find such a nice style for my first tarot. The cards fan out beautifully, though it should be said that the cardstock is quite thin and delicate. I never shuffle hard, because I want to keep the cards nice as long as I can. I'm not a good shuffler and don't find fancy card acrobatics necessary to my readings, but if you're someone who subjects your decks to lots of wear and tear, this probably isn't the best fit. I've had it for almost four months, and a couple of my Pentacles cards are already slightly creased.
Another thing to keep in mind about the Zerner-Farber tarot: the pages and knights of the minor arcana have become princesses and princes, and the suit of cups has been changed into the suit of hearts. To me this emphasizes some of the decks strengths as a tool of emotion. In readings for myself and others- mainly over the Internet- it certainly doesnt shy away from harsh truths, but it will often approach them subtly, with a sort of gentleness and love alongside sometimes unwanted answers - I get a lot of relationship readings, so this happens very frequently. I wasnt sure about the hearts and court cards when I first met the deck (Im frankly not much for extra binary gendering in my divination practice), but theyve grown on me. It does bear noting, though, that the Princess of Hearts, for example, comes with a totally different connotation than the Page of Cups. That can be a bit jarring, at least I found it was for me. I didn't much enjoy the enclosed guidebook and am now picking it up for only the second time in months- I used online resources to learn card meanings. I tracked it down from under my bed to write this review and realized Im not as uncomfortable with it as I thought. Personally, I dont much enjoy notes on cards that link women and femininity to pregnancy or birth, for instance- to each their own but its not my style. That said, the book does give a keyword for each card, and emphasizes that the future isnt set in stone, providing advice and predictive suggestions. I appreciate that, even if the tone of it doesnt resonate with me.
I find this deck very easy to read, and quite forgiving for a beginner. Often, I draw upon the tried-and-true meanings of the cards, but its always interspersed with free association, holding each card closer to me to take in all its detail. They are works of art, and when they start to open up, they never really stop. Sometimes, I'll do a reading for someone and take a shower or go for a walk, and as I step away from the cards ideas start to flow through my mind uninhibited, and I find out what a tricky draw means. I know some decks can be stark or terse in their answers, but this one is, to me, overflowing with insight.
I haven't seen many people checking out the
Zerner-Farber tarot, which is a shame, as its beautifully
crafted and such a loyal companion. I absolutely recommend
this deck to anyone feeling drawn to it - I certainly
havent regretted it.