Posted in Tarot

Brady Tarot 2nd Edition “Unboxing”

I put “unboxing” in quotes because I did not start at the “package it was shipped to me in” level, because that just felt silly.  I’m starting with the items that came out of said package.

These three things were what came out of the package I received for backing the Kickstarter for the second edition of this tarot deck.  Before I go further, a bit about the background and concept for the deck itself.  The images for this tarot deck are images of North American wildlife done in linocut by Denver-based artist Emi Brady, with influence from Native American cultures and art.  (The Kickstarter for the first edition, which I missed out on, goes into some detail about what a linocut is, if you’re curious.)  The second edition decks are now available to buy online, and some of the proceeds from sales are being donated to environmental and Native American charities.

Okay, now on to the contents of those three mini-packages…

The tarot bag had my enamel pin in it; there were three soft enamel pins available as add-ons, each one based on one of the cards.  The tarot bag is nifty, but it’s too small to hold the deck in its box; if you want to put the cards in it, they have to be loose.  (It was a freebie, though, so I’m not complaining, as such.)

Here’s the best shot I could get of the pin I got.  It’s based on the Sun card.  It’s not a color I would normally wear, but for some reason it just really spoke to me as a pin.

Here’s what was in the thin, flat envelope:  a print of an owl, and a sticker of the owl from the Hermit card.  Like the bag, these were freebies exclusive to the Kickstarter campaign.  I need to get myself a frame to put that print in.  :)

And, of course, the box contained the deck itself.

Signed, even! :D

The box is pretty darn snazzy.  It has an obi (to borrow the Japanese term, as I have no idea what that would be called otherwise), and an easy-to-open two part structure, each half in a velvety black with gloss UV printing on it.  Again featuring the Hermit, presumably because it’s such a great image, and/or because it resonated best with the 3,000 people who bought the first edition.

Here we have the guidebook (also black-on-black cover) and the deck itself.  The cards have a matte, velvety texture that feels wonderful to the touch, but does make them much harder to shuffle.  (Actually the second deck I’ve gotten with that kind of finish; I even have photos all ready for a review of that other deck, but then this one arrived and I thought I’d do an “unboxing” for my next post instead.)  The cards have gold edging, but it’s slightly more matte than most, so it doesn’t show up very well in the photos.  (Looks very nice in person, though.)  The guidebook contains information about the species of animals on the card as well as the meanings for the cards.

So, I went through the deck and picked out a few cards that really spoke to me to show you.  As you can see, each card has a title added, giving a partial interpretation.  Also, the suits have been changed:  they are now Roots, Arrows, Horns and Feathers, and the Page/Knight/Queen/King hierarchy has been changed to the more organic and less Eurocentric Son/Daughter/Mother/Father.  While there are no humans in this deck (aside from some human skulls on a few cards), there are various allusions to humanity, primarily in the form of Native American art or ornamentation, such as the Mayan iconography on the 10 of Roots there, or the pot on the Daughter of Feathers.  (I’m not positive which culture that pot belongs to; it reminds me of the ones I saw in Acoma, but it may be one of the other pueblo cultures, as their art is sometimes quite similar.)  The 6 of Feathers really reminds me of the traditional Mexica (aka Aztec) story of the founding of Tenochtitlan, wherein the Mexica people were wandering in search of a homeland and knew they had found it when they spotted an eagle with a serpent in its talons.  (Which is reflected to this day in the Mexican flag, of course.)  The bird on that card is actually a hawk, not an eagle, but that doesn’t change the association it brings me.

The guidebook also contained this suggested spread, so I decided to try using it as best I could over my utter inability to shuffle these cards.  (I don’t know if there’s just a trick to it that I am ignorant of, or what, but I cannot seem to shuffle tarot cards to save my life.  I keep having to do weird things like dealing them out randomly into half a dozen piles and then shuffling those, and so on.  I don’t think it’s working properly at all.)

As with the last tarot review I posted, I’m going to show the relevant guidebook pages along with the cards, because I think that gives you a good insight into the thoughts behind the deck.  (Also, since I don’t have the card meanings memorized yet (beyond a few of the major arcana cards, anyway), I have to consult something to know what my reading means.)

So…there is the question, right off the bat, of whether or not this deck is intended to have reverse meanings; the guidebook doesn’t cover them, which suggests that it is not.  Then again, not much about my current situation fits “Happiness, especially after a period of difficulty.”  Although I guess I do have a plenitude of “Simple pleasures.”  Of course, while I don’t feel like the regular meaning of the Sun fits my situation, I don’t think an inverse meaning really does, either.

The second card is supposed to represent “What will send me on my journey?” and the card is an inverted card that right-side up means “Triumph.”  So, am I about to fail in something?  Or are there no reversed readings with this deck, and I’m about to succeed in something?  Since it’s looking forward, neither meaning is yet confirmed or denied.

This is where the reading starts to feel weird to me.  This position is supposed to represent the challenge I will face on my journey, and the card means inspiration and “deep emotional work.”  which doesn’t sound like a challenge; it sounds like a success, considering how much I have been struggling to get my ideas on the page.  (Well, on the screen.  I don’t write by hand.)

And then the next card is “What will help me” and the answer is “Conflict”?

Then we reach “What will I discover?” and get another card that speaks of inspiration.  If it’s challenging me, didn’t I already find it?

And finally, “What will I become?” is answered with a card that means satisfying, meaningful and productive work.  Even if you shift the meaning around a bit to represent someone who is engaged in said satisfying work, that…well, among other things, it doesn’t feel much like becoming anything.  I already have meaningful and (usually) satisfying work, since I work at a museum.

As you can see, nothing about this reading quite works for me, and I don’t think reversing everything’s position (I know I’ve seen that suggested, that sometimes if too many cards are inverted, or if the first card is inverted, then everything should be inverted because the deck was basically upside down (or maybe I was supposed to be flipping them longwise rather than shortwise)) would make it any better.  Ultimately, I think either the unfamiliarity of the spread or the fact that I absolutely could not shuffle them properly interfered with the reading and I just ended up with basic randomness.

In any case, it’s a gorgeous deck, and I’m sure I’ll get better readings with it if I try again later.  (Though goodness knows I’m more collecting these for the artwork than to use them.  Though I’d like to do both eventually…)

Anyway, before I end this post, I wanted to provide links to a few tarot Kickstarter campaigns I’m backing right now.  (There is a pretty big tarot community on Kickstarter, apparently.  A lot of decks seek funding that way.)  There are currently three I’m backing, which I’m presenting here by the amount of time left to their funding deadline.

The Deck of Many – Animated Tarot Cards

(Sorry for the screencap image there; evidently Kickstarter blocks the “save image” function.)  These are lenticular cards with brief animations on each card…

I am needless to say very excited about these! :D

They’ve posted the full major arcana in an update, and have promised to add representation for people of color to the full deck.  There are five days left in this campaign.  (Which has raised almost $800,000, with more than 6,000 backers, so I would expect there could be some slow-down in delivery due to the sheer number of backers, but they have done a number of campaigns for lenticular spell cards for Dungeons and Dragons, and have a lot of returning backers, so I think it’s very safe to say that the cards will be produced and delivered, which is not always guaranteed with Kickstarter.)

The Publishing Goblin’s Oracle Dice

These aren’t cards or tarot, but…close enough.  This is a set of dice that you roll as an oracle.  Like the ancient casting of the bones, only for the modern era. ;)  I love to collect dice, too, so this was a no-brainer for me.  The dice are being made by Q-Workshop, a very well known and respected manufacturer in Poland, which does good work.  (And yes, I do have some of their dice myself, so I am speaking with knowledge.)  They have stretch goals for additional dice, so that as more sets are bought, more dice are unlocked, and although there hasn’t been an update for it yet, I think we’ve actually unlocked the second one now.  There’s also an add-on for a neoprene mat to throw the dice onto, with different regions on it to clarify the reading.  There are nine days left in this campaign.  (Which has raised over $18,000, nearly four times its goal.  The creator has had two previous campaigns, which both appear to have been successfully delivered, and they’re working with a known and reliable manufacturer, so I think there is very little risk involved in backing this one as well.)

Lunaria Tarot

This is a tarot deck geared specifically towards writers.  The suits have been changed to Inkwells, Quills, Pens and Pages, and the hierarchy has been changed to Seekers/Apprentices/Artists/Mentors to avoid gender issues.  The major arcana are all centered around famous authors, and the guidebook’s interpretations are supposed to be specifically geared towards writers using tarot to help themselves over creative blocks and other issues.  As a writer with creative problems, I’m obviously eager for that part!  This campaign has 23 days to go, and has not yet met its funding goal.  (The creator has not run a Kickstarter before, so there is less certainty here, but honestly I find tarot cards to be among the least risky campaigns to back.  I think there’s only one I’ve backed that has failed to deliver so far.)

Posted in Tarot

Tarotbot (A Kickstarter Tarot Deck)

Since I claimed at the outset that this new blog was for my tarot collection as well as the Vocaloid tarot deck I was working on in my idle hours, and since the Vocaloid deck has become thoroughly stalled because my writing has not been stalled lately (it’s something I was working on when I couldn’t think of anything to write), I thought I ought to post about one of the decks in my collection.  And since I both just got a really good space to do photography and just received a deck in the mail, I thought this was precisely the time to start on that!

Like most of my decks, this is one I backed on Kickstarter.  It’s a robot-themed deck called Tarotbot, designed by Michael Murdock.  So far, nothing has been said about if there were spare decks printed up (though there usually are) or where they’ll be on sale if there were, but it’s probably a safe bet they’ll be sold on his Etsy page.  (It’s still relatively early in the fulfillment period; I imagine after all the decks have gone out then there will be an update about fulfillment being completed and where additional copies can be obtained.)

The box for the Tarotbot deck.

The box art is a little bit eerie, but not off-puttingly so.  (Sadly, it is not the nice two-piece box depicted as a possible box on the Kickstarter page.  It’s just an ordinary tuck box, and rather hard to open, even as such things go.)

The cards of the deck spread loosely out, face up, with the booklet below.

Here are the cards spread thinly out (teasingly out?), with the booklet below.  The cards are on an unusual stock; they’re thin, stiff and extremely shiny, so they almost feel like thin little sheets of plastic.  It’s not really what I’m used to in cardstock for any kind of deck, but it works beautifully, shuffles nicely, and suits the art perfectly.  The card on top there is one of the stretch goal cards, unique new cards for this deck.

The backs of the cards, and the opened booklet.  With a flash to show off the design on the card backs.

Here’s the back of the cards, and the booklet opened up (folded out, rather).  This photo was taken with the flash on so you could see the design clearly….

The same photo, without the use of the flash, showing off the gold foil work.

…and here’s the same shot without the flash, attempting to show how all those “yellow” lines in the previous image are all gold foil.  I wasn’t able to capture it well with my camera, but it’s very pretty in person.  The deck is edged in gold, too.

I had a look through all the cards and laid out a handful that particularly spoke to me in one way or another:

An assortment of twelve of the cards, face-up, just to display their artwork.

This mix contains two of the other stretch goal cards, The Anarchist and The Conman.  (I forgot to look at their meanings in the booklet that came with the deck, which was quite stupid of me…)

While I was at it, I decided to do a spread with the deck.  I haven’t done readings with most of my new tarot collection (an absurd situation!) because I didn’t have a good place for it and I had bought a book of 365 tarot spreads, each assigned to a specific day of the year…which really turned me off to trying to do readings at all, because many of them were badly done, tortured, and/or had zero usefulness to my life.  (Seriously, one of them was the “Get out of debt spread.”  Which says all sorts of terrible things about our society if the author of the book felt she could safely assume that was something that applied to everyone.  But it does not apply to me.  I have no debts, thankfully, so what was I supposed to do with that spread?  Likewise, all the myriad romance spreads were useless to me, as I am asexual and aromantic.)

Anyway, I decided to give it a go with this one, just doing a simple three card spread, the typical Past, Present, Future arrangement…

Three cards, face down, beside the deck.

So there they are, dealt out.  (Which actually gives you a better view of the gold foil than the photo above does…)

The first card has been turned face up.

First card, The World.

The booklet’s description of the card’s meaning is a bit blurry in this photo (sorry!) but it’s clear enough.

The second card has been turned face up.

The booklet's definition..

Second card, The Emperor, Inverted.

The third and final card has been turned face up.

The booklet's definition of the final card.

And the third card, the Six of Cups.

I think in this case, the World should be interpreted more literally as exactly that, the world itself as we knew it in the past.  The inverted Emperor’s connotations particularly of rigidity and coldness sum up our current world pretty well.  And the Six of Cup’s potential meaning of “healing” for the future is particularly apt, since if there’s anything that needs to be in the future for our current COVID-19 dominated world, it’s healing.

……

…and if there’s anything else that should be said in a post sharing a new tarot deck, I’m not sure what it is.  I’m new to this, after all.

(But hey, at least I’ve posted something for the first time since August!)