Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Deck Review: Witches Tarot

Llewellyn's promotional photo of the kit

Ellen Dugan (author) and Mark Evans (artist), Witches Tarot. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-7387-2800-1. (Link to the publisher)

Genre: divination, card decks
Subgenre: Tarot, witchcraft
Format: 78 cards deck with companion book (paperback)
Source: I bought this in used condition at Half Price Books. I own this deck.

This deck has become a favorite of mine, and it is one I comfortable using on a regular basis. Though I have other decks, this is a deck I go back to often.

Let's start with  the companion book, Witches Tarot Companion. The book is arranged as follows:

The Hermit -IX card. Old man in brown robes on a cold mountain, holding up a lantern
The Hermit- IX. I consider this my personal card in Tarot.
  • Introduction. Here, Dugan discusses her own Tarot journey, goes over some of Tarot's symbolism, and writes on how to do readings for yourself and others. 
  • The Major Arcana. Goes over every Major Arcana card. For each card, you get a full page black and white illustration. You also get a text describing the card and its symbols, meanings, keywords, deity associations, astrological associations, and reversed meanings. You get a good amount of information. You may or not use it all. For example, I do not use astrology with my Tarot yet, but I like that the information is there. 
  • Minor Arcana. For each card, you get the full page black and white illustration, description, meanings, keywords, and reversed meanings. For court cards, you may also get elemental associations and astrological associations. For each  suit, cards are arranged Ace to Ten followed by the suit court cards. This is an arrangement I tend to prefer versus books that separate the court cards; it makes it easy for me to find what I need. 
  • Tarot Spreads. A selection of spreads to use. It also includes a section on using court cards as significators.
  • Magick with the Witches Tarot Deck. Spells and directions for using the cards in a magic practice or craft. It includes seven spells for specific purposes such as abundance, protection, and to enhance your studies. 
  • Two appendices. One for Minor Arcana number and court card meanings. The other for symbols in Tarot cards. This second appendix is a handy glossary for the symbols and images used in the cards. 
  • Bibliography. A small list of books to keep on learning. 

Justice -XI card. Woman with crown, red dress, green cape. On right hand, holds sword pointing up, On left, holds the scales of justice.
Justice-XI. Always an important card for me.
The book provides a lot of good information and material. I am sure if you are a witch of other magic practitioner, you'll get a lot out of it. However, if you are not a witch or other magic practitioner, you can still get a lot of value from the book. It is a good Tarot reference book anyhow. A strength of the book is its positive tone without being too sugary. I can always find something uplifting when using the book with the deck. In addition, the book is easy to read, and the language is clear. For beginners, it is a good book to learn the basics of Tarot.

Mark Evans does the art on the cards. The art is brilliant, colorful, in a realistic style. It has an overall fantasy theme. The deck draws mostly on Rider Waite Smith, so if you can use that system, you can use this deck. I say mostly because there are one or two cards that differ from traditional RWS such as the Five of Swords. Still, such small deviations do not detract from the deck or its usability. Images are also very clear and clean. You can read these cards by meaning or intuition as the images provide plenty of material to work with. Note also that some cards are renamed to better fit the witches' theme, but the overall concept is preserved. For example, The Hierophant is The High Priest; The Wheel of Fortune is The Wheel of the Year, and The Devil is The Shadow Side. Additionally, there is some diversity in the images, i.e. people of color, but very few. Overall, the images are very traditional.

Queen of Wands. Redheaded woman in yellow dress on throne with wand on right hand.
I like this Queen of Wands.
Cards measure about 4 1/2 inches by 2 3/4 inches, a good size to use and manage. They are made in your typical very thin Llewellyn cardstock, so if you shuffle your cards hard and often, they will probably not last long. Still, for me it is a deck I can easily pick up and use whether for personal use or to read for others. It's good size makes it comfortable to use and shuffle. Its colorful, clean, and nice art makes it easy to interpret.

I have personally used this deck for personal readings and reflection as well as reading for others. In reading for others, I find that clients respond to the deck well. If you want a deck to read for others that feels comfortable, safe, and accessible, this is a good selection. Also, if you use the RWS system, but Pamela Smith's art is not your thing (it is not mine as much as I appreciate her and her place in Tarot history), this deck is a good alternative.

Whether you are a witch or not, this is a deck anyone can use. I definitely recommend this deck. Additionally, if I had to give a Tarot deck as a gift, this set would be a good choice.

Page of Cups. Little girl holding cup with fish inside cup. She stands in ocean, wave behind her.
Page of Cups. In this deck, pages can be male or female.

On a final note, I got my personal copy used, so it came in one of the flimsy cardboard boxes Llewellyn used to pack Tarot kits in. Llewellyn as of this post has been upgrading its kit boxes to a more solid box with a magnetic closure. Odds are that is the packaging you may find if you go buy a new deck kit now. For me, the package and cards were in very good condition, aside from very minor scuff on a card which was no big deal (likely basic wear), so whoever had them before me did not treat them too hard. They've served me well, and I continue to use them to this day, and I likely will keep using them. When I go out to read for others, I usually take three to five decks with me, and this one always comes along.

5 out of 5 stars for the whole kit.

Note: Except for the promo photo as noted above, all images of cards are photos I took from my personal deck to help illustrate the review.

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