“Tarot of the Dream Enchantress” is all about dreamtime – that bridge between our conscious and unconscious/subconscious selves. Moore notes that Tarot and dreamtime are well connected, as they both work from a foundation of symbols and images. This visual language helps us to move beyond our rational defenses and access our true feelings. She also notes that we dream not only at night, but during the day also. According to Moore, our dreams carry a power all of their own. Combined with the images from this deck, where the Dream Enchantress has woven mystical messages into each card, we can reach new levels of understanding.
This is a traditional 78 card deck. The Major Arcana carry traditional titles, with the exception of the Wheel of Fortune, which becomes the Wheel. Justice is VIII, Strength is XI. The four suits are Wands, Chalices, Swords, and Pentacles. The Court Cards are entitled Knave, Knight, Queen, and King.
The accompanying LWB (Little White Book) follows the Lo Scarabeo tradition of being in five languages: English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. The cards are listed with short explanations of the energy that they carry, but no scans. From the book:
0, The Fool: Are you on a journey to discover the world or discover yourself? What is the difference, really? Don a mask, experience the world as someone else, and discover a new part of yourself.
Queen of Pentacles: Even when surrounded by luxuriousness, in the end, all that really matters is what you see when you look at yourself.
Ace of Chalices: A spot in your heart that was once empty is now filled. When viewed through overflowing joy, nothing ever looks the same.
Nine of Swords: Nightmares torturing sleep are usually considered a bad thing, But for some, the pain of remembering is more comforting than the ache of forgetting.
The cards themselves are approximately 2 5/8” by 4 ¾”, on good quality card stock. The backs show a ¼ white border, surrounding a green and gold, reversible design. The faces show the same white border, with the card inset showing a ½” black border at the top and bottom of the card. The numbered cards show the suit in gold in the middle of the top border, and the number in white in the middle of the bottom border. The Court Cards show the suit symbol in the middle of the top border, and the symbol for the card title in the middle of the bottom border. The Major Arcana show the card number, in white Roman numerals, in the middle of the top and bottom borders.
The art style is fantasy, using muted coloring. If there is one thing that I would like to have seen done with this deck, it would be to have an explanation of the background of the images and art on the cards.
I found this deck to be very easy to work with, and many of the cards to be outstanding. Some of my favorite cards were the Ace of Swords, which shows a fairy-like figure holding her hand out towards the clouds, palm up, with an upright sword hovering over it; the Queen of Wands, which shows a female figure, dressed in green, seated in a tree, with a wand in her right hand; the Eight of Pentacles, showing an artisan at work; and the Eight of Cups, which shows a female figure with wings kneeling at the edge of a pond, looking at her reflection in the water. I loved the imagery, with repeated figures with wings, and images within images.
This is not a beginners deck, as the imagery, while beautiful, is not traditional. There is also a certain extent of nudity (although very well presented). Those who are interested in art decks, in collecting decks, or in the dreamlike quality of the artwork, will appreciate this deck.
Dreams, it is said, bridge the gap between sleeping and waking; their mysterious whispers filling the night with manifestations of our subconscious hopes and fears. In waking life our day dreams symbolise our hopes and desires, our wishes and our wonderings, allowing us to escape from mundane reality in to worlds of fantasy. In the Tarot of the Dream Enchantress by Lo Scarabeo these worlds are brought to life in the exquisitely beautiful art of Marco Nizzoli. Upon these cards dream like scenes are populated by lithe and fantastic characters. Blue skinned, tailed, and elfin eared these fey creatures ask and answer all the questions posed by our dreams.
The Tarot of the Dream Enchantress is structured in the usual and familiar manner. There are 78 cards in the normal formation; 22 trumps and four suits each with ten fully illustrated pip cards and four court cards. In this deck Justice is VIII and Strength is XI; however there are no titles written upon any of the cards, instead they are indicated by a combination of number and symbol. The backs are fully reversible and feature a pleasing design of foliage and flowers that is reminiscent of the work of William Morris. Artistically this tarot deck has one very obvious quirk, it is filled predominantly with females, although this is done in a way that is feminine rather than feminist. Nevertheless male characters are rare and relegated to subsidiary positions whilst the typical male archetypes of King, Emperor or Hierophant are played by masked females, showing that in the world of dreams the dreamer can be what ever they wish. Beyond this one particular aspect of the deck the depictions upon the cards are within normal limits, there is nothing too outré, nothing too disturbing or strange, whilst still remaining different enough to hold the interest and provide a challenge for the reader.
The Major Arcana, numbered with Roman numerals at top and bottom, include some novel and interesting depictions of the standard meanings. The Wheel shows a woman standing at the wheel of a great sailing ship indicating control over ones own destiny whilst still being caught upon the fickle winds of fate. The Hermit pictures a woman walking away from the viewer toward a river, strange stone faces stare up from the ground around her as though they are the last memories of hermits who have gone before, making the reader wonder if the woman, in her turn, will one day join them in their strange isolation. The Devil portrayed in the Tarot of the Dream Enchantress is again a female figure. Horned and tailed with the cloven feet of a goat she looks out at the viewer with a gaze that is both temptation and danger. She is alone, there are no chained figures to intercede for us, her eyes are direct and challenging, the temptation and the danger is ours to face. The Moon card is especially beautiful, here we see a young archer bend her bow beneath a clouded moon as the hare, symbol of magic and witchcraft, runs in the background telling of the risks and rewards to be found in the darkness of the night.
The Minor Arcane are likewise titled with only a symbol denoting the suit and the number, this time in Arabic numerals. Each card features a full pictorial illustration that generally contain the correct number of suit symbols worked into the design. Although in some wands cards the branches of trees, either leafy or bare, seem to do this duty. On other cards the suit symbols appear only partially as with the 8 of Swords where only the tips of the blades appear at the top of the picture, as swords of Damocles, a threat ready to fall.
Many of the Minors comply with the expected scene such as the lovers upon the 2 of Cups or the celebration upon the 3. However many of these familiar images are presented with subtle twists that alter or enhance the understanding. The falling leaves upon the 2 of Cups brings to mind the season of autumn and makes one wonder what losses these two lovers will experience, what grief and sorrow may be waiting in their future. Likewise the three; the celebrants here are blue skinned and tailed, their dance about the cups carrying the appearance of ritual. It makes one ask what these strange creatures might celebrate, what hopes and dreams they might summon by their dance. In keeping with these oddly altered images the ubiquitous boat upon appears upon the 6 of Swords but sails the air rather than water making one wonder what strange goals it strives for, what mysterious realms it might visit.
Other cards show familiar meanings in novel and interesting ways. The fight upon the 5 of Wands is not in progress but is seen in its potential form. Here we see an elfin girl poised above a traveller and we wonder, will she attack him? And why? Has he perhaps profaned some place or space that is sacred to her, or is he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? The popular nightmare scene upon the 9 of Swords is here subverted. Upon this card we see a man asleep, perhaps passed out through drink, whilst a beautiful yet demonic young woman is poised above him considering his sleeping face; an image that makes us wonder what dreams or nightmares she might bring, whether indeed she is but a manifestation of these or perhaps a creature such as a succubus, attracted by his drunken abandon.
Further cards appear at first sight to be totally atypical, gone is the uneven combat upon the 7 of Wands, instead we are given a gentle image of a woman and child relaxing in the sun outside their home. Unusual though this image is it takes but a little thought to see that the upbringing of a child is an undertaking as difficult and as fraught with danger as any battle. Upon the 9 of Cups the jolly innkeeper is gone and instead we see two masked figures in a boat being poled between trees as the nine cups hang misty and faint beneath the surface. This image shows us that we can be whatever we wish and go where ever we will, that we can wear the mask of all we desire.
The Court Cards are again untitled and here they are indicated by symbols for both suit and rank although they are named in the accompanying booklet as Knave. Knight. Queen and King. They are also easily identifiable through posture and pose both of which are familiar yet interestingly strange. All the characters upon these cards are female and the knaves stand with the symbol of their suit in an appropriate setting. The Knave of Pentacles dances upon the grass beneath a tree whilst the active Knave of Wands runs down a hill, a message in hand. The knights are all mounted upon creatures indicative of the elemental association of their suit; cups upon a sea horse, pentacles upon a beetle. Seated upon a variety of thrones the queens sit in state. The Queen of Wands is seated upon a throne cut perhaps from the same living tree as the staff she holds while the Queen of Swords crouches, gargoyle like, upon the battlements of a great castle, the wings of a bat sprouting from her shoulders. In keeping with this deck the Kings are portrayed by women, both enthroned and masked, each holding their suit signifier. As with other masked figures in this deck these masks appear to indicate that a role or title such as King is not the person themselves but a mask or costume that is worn and may just as easily be taken off again.
Accompanying the deck is a small booklet written by Barbara Moore. This includes firstly a short introduction to the deck and the role played by dreams in both real life and within the context of this deck. Following this is the main part of the text which gives short but revealing meanings for each of the cards to aid in interpretation. These are not generic meanings but are focused specifically upon the images of the Tarot of the Dream Enchantress. Lastly there are two specific spreads created especially for use with this deck and which deal with different aspects of dream and dreaming.
Undoubtedly this deck is primarily focused upon women. All major characters, masked or unmasked, are female and it is probable that it is women to whom this deck will appeal the most. However it's closeness to traditional tarot patterns would make it easy to read by most people with a modicum of tarot experience, whilst the curious and fascinating differences would make it an interesting experience for those looking for something a little different from the norm. Furthermore the fantasy nature of the images, the depictions of strange creatures and strange worlds would also make this a good story telling deck for readers who like their readings to be driven by the intuitive interpretation of the images upon the cards rather than predefined meanings drawn from books or tradition.
Altogether this is a very beautiful deck, the characters upon it are drawn with both grace and beauty and the small amounts of female nudity are handled with both frankness and sensitivity, never crossing the fine line between knowing innocence and lewdness. The characters, poses and facial expressions all serve to draw the reader into the cards, to enter the dreamlike landscapes for a fuller and deeper, more personal understanding of the variety of meanings possible within the structure of the tarot.