A Pagan/Witch-friendly deck, the Witches Tarot has substitutions such as Pan for the Devil, and the Seeker as the Hermit. Knowledge of the Qabbalah would help interpretation, as each of the major arcana correspond to a place on the tree of life. The cards are painted and borderless.
Ellen Cannon Reed,
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - Llewellyn 1992 Llewellyn 2007
There are many things about this deck that make it attractive to those who follow the Wiccan/Pagan path and/or the Cabala. Reed and Cannon have made an extensive study of both traditions to create a deck that successfully blends both, making them both much easier to grasp. If you are better versed in one of these traditions, then you'll grasp the other with ease using the Cannons method of interpretation.
The deck itself is comprised of what looks like a series of perfect, borderless little paintings. The images are rich in colour that is starkly contrasted with a plain black back illustrated with a simple silver pentagram. I think using this deck for clients would undoubtedly convey mystery, magic, and titillation. They wouldn't be bored, I can assure you! That Strength card is particularly arresting; depicting a stunningly beautiful, dark-haired, naked, young woman, sensuously, and dreamily engaging a lick from a tiger - it's a powerful, and memorable image.
The Hanged Man was another card that froze me in mid-shuffle. The card depicts a defined, muscular older man (why he isnt naked too...?) with a bushy full head of grey hair, and beard placed upside down on a wooden cross with rune symbols lined up on each side of his head. This image is representative of Odin hanging on the Yggdrasil Tree. The colours in this card are simply beautiful, featuring vibrant red half disks, one below Odin's head, and one up at his feet, and in between these brilliant red disks, is a dark, star speckled, indigo sky. I could name many other cards that gave me pause, such as, the Horned One, representing the Devil Card, or the Death card, but it would take me pages and pages to go through them all.
This is the first deck I've seen which depicts the people cards as all the same except for their clothing and associated objects. The Cups Court cards are holding cups, the Swords Court cards, swords, etc. and their clothing is representative of the climate and lifestyle they are depicted living in.
The accompanying text is well written, easy to understand; a remarkable accomplishment in light of the complex concepts presented. Certainly no one could say this was a lightweight or superficial investigation into these traditions, yet I found the book well organized, easy to comprehend, and down to earth. The order in which the Majors are presented follows the Tree of Life rather than the numbers on the Majors themselves which take some adjustment, but I doubt there was a better way to relate the two, since the Majors are obvious in their order placement due to the numbers on the cards themselves. I recommend this set to all serious students who are especially interested in understanding the Tarot through the lens of these two traditions.
I was initially drawn to this deck by the stunning use of color in the artwork, which is crisp and clean. As I took my first look at the deck, I could tell it was one that would be easy to read intuitively, without the LWB or the companion book, also by Ellen Cannon Reed, as the imagery on each and every card is quite evocative.
This is not a Rider-Waite clone, and in my opinion, not a deck for a beginning reader. Those who have used RWS style decks extensively will find this deck quite different, as it combines tarot imagery with pagan and Qabalistic symbolism. Most of the Minor Arcana cards (along with a few of the Majors) are interpreted very differently from Rider-Waite style decks. I do not think one would need to be a master of the Qabala to read with the deck, although some basic knowledge of the Tree of Life would add to the readerís full use of the deck.
As with many pagan styled decks, the element of air is associated with Wands and fire is associated with Swords. The Devil has been replaced by The Horned One (the masculine force of deity) and The Seeker has taken the place of The Hermit.
The biggest challenge for me personally, and one of the only drawbacks to the deck I have identified in my limited use is interpretation of the Courts. Court cards in this deck have no interpretation that stands on its own ≠ instead, they are used to modify the card immediately after the Court card. For me, that means laying a spread face up ≠ something I do not like to do. I prefer to lay a spread with all cards face down, and turn them over one at a time, forming an initial impression of the spread as a whole, then going back to interpret each card in sequence. Still, this is certainly not a fatal flaw, and in time, Iím sure the Witches Tarot will number among my favorites of my modest collection.
The deck I own has borders, while≠ the initial release of the deck was with borderless cards, which, in my opinion, would make the eye-catching art even more stunning.
This deck came to me through my participation with an on-line tarot list. The deck was presented as having Pagan origins and Qabala oriented -- I have a Pagan background and am in the process of getting deeper into the Qabala -- perfect fit!!
Reed presents the Qabala in a very interesting manner -- concentrating on the Paths, rather than the Spheres (which she presented in her book, "The Witches Qabala"), and presenting them in reverse order, so that you work your way "up" the Tree of Life. At the end of the book she presents guided meditations for each path, which appealed to me, having worked with meditation, visualization, crystals etc., from the beginning of my Tarot experience.
One thought that I had concerning this deck was how to present it to my clients. (I allow my clients to choose from among several decks for their readings.) The back of "The Witches Tarot" is black, with a silver Pentagram inside a silver circle. I thought that this might be "off-putting" to some people. Then I read a comment from another reader, whose complaint was that you "knew" when a card was reversed because of the placement of the Pentagram, which is slightly to the top of the card. I laughed -- I had missed this completely!! I no longer had any concerns about presenting this deck.
The meanings of the cards, especially the major arcana, are very similar to the traditional meanings. And they are presented in a very interesting manner in the accompanying book -- descriptions of the Waite, Golden Dawn and Witches Tarot cards are given, followed by upright and reversed interpretations for the Witches Tarot.
The illustrations themselves are done in a beautiful, muted color format. There is some nudity, but it is presented in context. In the Nine of Cups we see a very modern woman, dressed in blue, sitting before a table. On the table are nine cards, face up, with cups on them. For some reason I see me as a reader in her.
In the Wheel of Fortune (The Cycle of Life) is presented by showing the stages of life from babyhood to the aged crone. Again, I see myself and my life in this card.
I highly recommend this deck for anyone wanting to understand the Qabala better, whether you have a Pagan background or not.