The Tarot of the Crone is a tarot of transformation and the Crone's journey. Previously available as a limited edition deck of only 100 copies, it has now been reprinted in a second edition, with card titles and borders.
It is an amazing thing to know that one has been with a deck from start to finish - which is exactly the case for me with The Tarot Of The Crone. I don't know Ellen personally, but I was on an e-list that Ellen was on, and had the very rare privilege of hearing her thoughts as her deck progressed, and seeing each card as it was born. What a wonderful journey Ellen gifted us all with!
The background for The Tarot Of The Crone is diverse - Ellen's own preference for the Thoth Tarot, her personal understanding of the maiden/mother/crone archetype and her own earth centered spirituality. All of this shines through in an awe inspiring way within this deck. BTW - did I mention that Ellen is also a wordsmith par excellence!
I was so very excited when Ellen wrote me that a deck was available - I had been on a waiting list for this limited edition deck and thought that I really had no chance at ever seeing it become part of my Tarot library of decks. I almost fell over myself in my excitement at getting the deck from the mailbox to the house so that I could open it! No one can make a presentation like Ellen can!
The outer wrapping was lovely deep purple tissue paper. (Yup - I am a purple lady - I love t his color!) Gently laying the tissue aside, I found a black, spiral bound book, with a lovely black Tarot bag on top. This was held together with a wine colored ribbon (which now adorns my letter opener!). Tied into the ribbon was a miniature wand. I was literally overcome with emotion - the care and thought that went into this presentation was amazing! I want to take the time to give credit to two people - Crystal Sage, who did the Tarot bags, and Arnell Ando, who did the miniature wands. Kudos, ladies - you did a wonderful job, and became part of an absolutely marvelous project!
I unwrapped everything very, very carefully. The miniature wand now resides in the bag, with the cards, along with a piece of rose quartz. Then I turned to the book. It is spiral bound, with the front and back pieces solid black - no lettering, nothing to take away from the impact of the color. The book itself is approximately 5 1/2" by 8 1/2", and 98 pages long.
In the introduction, Ellen talks about the Crone, and who she is as an archetype. Short and to the point. This is followed by a chart discussing color associations. I think this was a marvelous way to introduce this deck, and certainly set the tone for the work to be done here. Ellen describes the Major Arcana as the Crone speaking directly to our souls. Once you see her deck, you will see what she means! The sequence of the Major Arcana follows the Thoth and Tarot de Marseilles decks, with Justice as 8 and Strength as 11.
In the section on the minor arcana, Ellen presents a highly usable chart on the numbers and their meanings. She defines the elemental qualities as follows:
From the book:
Fire: Spirit. Personal power, Charisma. Vitality. Personality. Spirituality.
Water: Heart. Soul. Emotion. Devotion. Intuition. Dream. That which wells up from the depths.
Air: Mind. Thought. Knowledge. Mental processes. Abilities. Achievements.
Earth: Body. Flesh. Self. Home. World. Reality.
The Court Cards are referred to as Face Cards - each being a different "face" of the Crone as expressed through the elements. They are how we express our own Elemental power.
The Face Cards are defined as follows:
Beast: The primal instinct of the power. The wild and whole expression of the element.
Witch: The focused use of the power concerned with fulfillment and expression of self.
Grandmother: The mature expression of the power concerned with family and community.
Shadow: The element's overdone, destructive and transformative powers.
Each card is presented with a black and white scan, followed by the energy of the card speaking through poetry. There are no keywords, nothing to take away from the "bare bones" of how Ellen sees it. Works for me!
The cards themselves are approximately 3 3/8" by 5", of good quality, non-coated cardstock. They will need to be handled with care, as they are not coated, and they are slightly large for smaller hands to shuffle. The backs are solid, coal black - containing more than a hint of the depth, energy, and intensity of this deck. The faces are to the edge - no borders, nothing to limit their energy. The artwork is somewhat primitive in style, and haunting in nature. If you don't want to address your shadow sides, please have the courtesy to pass this deck by so that it goes into the hands of someone who will make best use of it. There is no text on the cards at all - you are left alone with the imagery and the messages that the Crone has to offer. They are intense, and will take you into worlds that you will need all of your courage to enter. The gift here is one of transformation - The Tarot Of The Crone acts as a mirror for all that is your soul.
Look at this card closely - see the tiny star in the middle of the void of the Crone? This is the Fool - falling through space and starting upon a new path. What incredible trust in Universe we need to become this person! From the book:
To know me, you must first know this -
In the Beginning, as in the End,
There is Nothing.
Behind your ordinary world
Behind all manifestation
Lies the Void.
I am the emptiness surrounding the universe
I am the uncertainty of the electron
I am the nothingness hiding in your soul
In the Void you have no name
Words do not exist
You have no memory, no past or future
Time does not exist
You find no landmarks, you have no body
Matter does not exist
You may still exist
A mere spark of awareness
But that is enough
That is where you begin
When I first saw this card, I immediately thought of the Trickster from Native American tradition. A scary fellow, but one that you are ever drawn to. Power beyond measure. Look at the power in that vibrant red outline, and the shining yellow eyes! Can you feel the power of those fangs? Always remember - the world of the Magician is a shadow world, a crossover world - one part illusion, one part reality. From the book:
I am the Something
That comes from Nothing
I am the Mistress of Illusion
I am the Mistress of Reality
I am the One
Who passes between
What a powerful message this card brings us! This IS what tradition is all about - our personal reflection of our ancestors - a reflection that goes many layers into the past. Dedicated to Rachel Pollack, certainly an icon in her own right, this card is the Door of Time.
Four of Wands
This card takes your breath away! Symbolism par excellence - the four corners, the four elements, the arms raised to the heavens - manifestation personified! From the book:
Four of Wands - Command
I set the boundaries
I know the names
I call on the powers
And they answer to me
I call on my power
And say what will be
Two of Swords
I do not think there is anyone out there that will not identify with the image of the Crone looking into the mirror. It is sometimes scary - it is sometimes enlightening - it is always empowering. From the book:
Two of Swords - Reflection
I have the power
to see my Self
To see within
To see beyond
To see Reality
Changed by my Looking
Beast of Swords
This card immediately brought to mind Native American spirituality. The strength and splendor of the Crow - and it's connection with bringing forth knowledge between the worlds, is awesome. And the truth shall set us free. From the book:
Beast of Swords - Crow
I go where the road does not
Shadow of Cups
Have we all not felt like this at times - drowning in our emotions, incapable of movement? Bodies suspended in the waters of time? The water is soothing as it laps against our bodies - yet we cannot breathe! From the book:
Shadow of Cups - Drowning
All I feel
is all I am
And I am
At $130 (this includes shipping), this deck is not cheap. It is also not a coffee table deck, IMHO. It is a deck that takes one beyond where they have been, and transforms them into who they can be. It is a deck that deserves respect, and will need to be worked with to be understood. For those who wish to do the work, I cannot recommend this deck enough.
NOTE: This is a limited edition (100 copy) deck, and Ellen has had over 100 requests for the deck, so no more are currently available.
Those of you who have the (sold out!) premier edition of Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s “Tarot of the Crone” will be very excited to see the second edition of this deck (available through Leisa ReFalo at TarotConnections.) It is a 78 card deck, and comes with a beautiful silk bag (there is a choice of colors for the bag on Leisa’s site). A companion book is in progress (currently due out late March or early April), with a 22 page PDF document available for download at this time.
The cards are 2.6” by 4”, with a 1/4” white border, with the card number and title/suit in black lettering along the bottom.
The Major Arcana in this deck are seen as representing times when the Crone is speaking directly to your soul. When appearing in a reading, they are seen as challenging and powerful opportunities.
The Minor Arcana represent different qualities of our magical, emotional, mental, and mundane lives. They are read through the influence of both their suit and their number.
The Court Cards different aspects (faces) of the Crone among the Elements, including Beast, Witch, Grandmother and Shadow.
The artwork is carried over from the premier edition, and the coloring is a close approximation, with the yellows being closer to gold or white (depending on the card), and more of a rose coloring in cards such as Strength that carried a brownish tint. The reversible backs of the cards are deep lavender with a gray-white spider web design.
The accompanying PDF document provides background on the deck, on Ellen’s interpretation of the colors, and the color scheme for the suits (Wands are Red and Yellow, Cups are Red and Purple, Swords are Blue and Yellow, Disks are Green and Brown). This is followed by an interpretation for each of the 78 cards. From the book:
1 – Magician
A mask with living eyes bursts out from the darkness of a cave. The Magician is the force that can manifest out of the void and out into the world. She is the ability to appear and act as one wills, the confidence to live one’s own life and no other, and the power of originality. But the mask is also illusion. Your very body is the mask your soul wears, how your soul happened into flesh at the time of your birth. The Magician is one who knows both reality and illusion, and who crosses between.
The animal of the mask is the Crone manifesting in the form of her familiar, her first companion, and her aide in the making of magic. Magic crosses the boundaries between worlds, bringing the energies of spirit into form, and dissolving forms back into essences. Magic will do the same for you, if you have the courage and the confidence to take it into your hands and shape it to your will.
In the section on the Minor Arcana, there is a short presentation on the elements, the numbers, and Ellen’s definition of the “Faces” (Court Cards). From the book:
Beast – The primal instinct of the power. The wild and whole expression of the element.
Witch – The focused use of the power concerned with fulfillment and expression of self.
Grandmother – The mature expression of the power concerned with family and community.
Shadow – The element’s overdone, destructive and devouring power.
Ace of Wands – Will
A dark strong fingertip is alight with wild yellow fire. The pointed finger is the instrument of will, leading you into action. This Ace is a magic wand; it sets the intention, it creates direction, and taking it up is the first step in making magic. You have the wand with you; the seed and root of your power is in your very life. It’s now time to recognize and claim it. Take it up. Take in this energy. Don’t let it be a mere flash in the pan. Take it in, and tell it where it needs to go from here. The path begins in you.
Shadow of Swords – Machine
An impassive face made of glassy shards gazes out with eyes resembling those of a flesh and blood person. When the power of thought is taken to extreme, and loses touch with the experiences of the reality that taught ti, the Machine is born. The Machine believes her ideas are reality, or that her ideas are in fact cosmic law, like two and two making four. A glimpse into her world can dazzle and illuminate, but do not forget to breathe. A grand scheme, where everything fits just so, is a brittle one.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the premier edition of “Tarot of the Crone”, and have enjoyed working with this edition also. There is a definite difference in energy between the two decks … the premier edition carries a great deal more impact, as the Crone certainly should! The smaller size, along with the inclusion of borders and titles, presents the same energy, but on a smaller scale. I don’t think that this matters one iota to the Crone … she will have her say, wherever she can be found!
© Bonnie Cehovet