Way of the Horse is a unique set of 40 cards of equine archetypes and illustrations, designed to offer simple wisdom for personal insight and growth. The deck comes with a 255-page companion book.
What's included Way of the Horse comes in an impressive, fold open box, very sturdily constructed. On the left side is a compartment out of which slides the companion book, which is a hardback, cloth-bound, stitched book of 255 pages, including index. The title is embossed on cover and spine. There is no paper book jacket, as you sometimes find with this sort of binding, but then the book does come in its own slipcase. The paper quality is just a tad on the pulpy side rather than slick. The edges of the pages are very slightly ragged, all in all it has a very old-school feel to it. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that the book fits VERY tightly into the slipcase, so that I've had to pry it out with the end of a ruler when I want to get it out of the box. I have solved this problem by using a length of ribbon looped under the book as it goes inside, the two loose ends left hanging out, so that I can grab those and pull the book out.
On the right side of the box is a compartment for the cards, which are encased in their own tuck box. A ribbon is included attached, in the usual way, so that you can use it to pull the tuck box out of the compartment. Too bad they didn't think to include this on the book side. The tuck box was similarly so tight that I couldn't get it open, so once I did get the cards out, I cut the flaps off both ends of the box so that the deck can slide in and out, like a matchbox. (I did the same to my Titania's Fortune cards).
The cards The deck consist of 40 illustrations of horses. The cards have only the numbers on them. I wrote the titles on with a gold pen. The cards measure 3.5 x 5 inches (roughly 9 x 12.5cm) and though all feature horses, they are in a variety of styles as far as format. Some cards are portrait, borderless. Some are landscape, borderless. Some are portrait with black borders on all sides, some are portrait with black borders at top and bottom only. Some are landscape with black borders on top and bottom only. This doesn't bother me, though. In fact I rather like it.
The cardstock is of a decent thickness and relatively unlaminated. They are matte, with rounded corners. The stock is pleasant to the touch, neither sticky nor waxy. The one thing that slightly bothers me about them is that my deck is warped. The cards are slightly bowed, so that when I handle them, they 'pop' back and forth, the bow moving front to back. It's not a deal breaker for me but would drive some people mad. (Probably the same people who would faint dead away when they saw my handwriting scrawled across the cards in shiny gold pen!)
The artist, Kim McElroy, painted over 300 images of horses for this deck, which were then narrowed down to 40. They range in style from almost photo-realistic to impressionistic, and actually I have to say I love each one of them. They are beautiful.
It must be said, though, that one could probably not read this deck easily fresh from the box, without looking at the book. I believe with the titles, one could make a better job of it, which is why I wrote them on, writing the names of the paintings rather than the keywords provided. For me, lovely as they are, the paintings alone would not be enough to work with. BUT, if you didn't want to write on the cards, I can say that the book is amazing, worth a read, and each story told in conjunction with the card is memorable enough that you might not have to look at it twice, most being based on anecdotes from Linda's personal experiences with her own horses.
The book We learn in the 16-page introduction that the idea for this deck took shape over at least 3 years, and was influenced by Brian Froud's Faerie's Oracle. In fact, it was that connection that led me to buy this deck. As I am such a fan of the Faerie's Oracle, I thought I would mesh well with the creators of this deck. The story is, Kim and Linda wanted to do a deck of wisdom cards wholly unrelated to tarot, and took the Faerie's Oracle as their example. They did a draw with the Faerie's Oracle regarding their deck, and drew: Epona's Wild Daughter! Linda's business is called 'Epona Equestrian Services', and Epona's Wild Daughter is card number 54, a number that Linda says is 'oddly synchronistic in her work with horses', for reasons she has never fully grasped. Her life coaching method, equine-facilitated mental health and human development programme, is called 'The Epona Approach'. It all seemed to fit very well indeed.
Each card gets roughly 6 pages of text. There are no card illustrations included, which is a pity. The author, Linda Kohanov, calls upon her personal experience, the writings of Eckhart Tolle, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Karla McLaren, Don Hanlon Johnson, and a wide variety of other writers of mind-body-spirit. As I am a big fan of Eckhart Tolle, and am attracted to the teachings of Krishnamurti, I find I click very well with this book. I am currently on chapter 5, a card called 'Dominance', which shows a close up of a horse being reined in hard, and addresses the tendency to misuse power.
The system 'For experienced card readers, any layout you've learned is relevant,' Linda writes. 'The only caution I would make is that the desire to control or divine the future is much more human than horselike; using these cards to try to predict what's going to happen may lead to confusion. The equine mind is primarily concerned with the nuances of what is happening...Horse wisdom is about developing creativity, authenticity, and leadership.'
In other words, this is a deck for personal insight and growth. Which is precisely what I like in all card readings, including tarot, so no problem! There are no answers in these cards. There are only areas for examination, exploration and growth. Kohanov says they are divided into four archetypes: experience, relationship, creativity and transformation. BUT, there is no Matthews-esque complicated and elaborate system here. You simply draw the card or cards and take what you need from them. That's a relief!
This is a
beautiful deck with a remarkable companion book, and worthy
of anyone's collection, whether you love horses or