Monday, February 08, 2016

Testing, Testing: The Raven's Prophecy Tarot

I love ravens. Smart, regal, and HUGE!

My first brush with them came in the summer of 1971, when my then-husband (a good ex) and I and our small black puppy camped the thousand-mile stretch from here in south-western Ontario all the way north and west almost to the Manitoba border. We were looking for lake property that we could afford; and eventually found, fell in love with, and bought, an island.
It was almost time for us to head south again, and the deal was not yet finalized (it would still be "Doris' Island" for a few more days), but our real estate agent sort of kind of implied that we might pitch our tent on the island without getting into trouble. We hitched a boat ride from the lodge owner on the mainland, who must've squealed on us, because we heard later that Doris was none too pleased that we dared stay overnight on her island.
It was an overgrown jungle, so we didn't get to see most of it that first summer. But we did hear odd clucking noises coming from the tops of the spruces and pines. Chickens? Roosting way up there, on an uninhabited island in a northern lake? No way! Then what was it?

Ravens, keeping an eye on their turf from on high, using one of their many voices. The poultry one.

Then there was this book by the versatile* Candace Savage, bought several years ago when I was researching something un-tarot related. (Sorry, the 's' on Jays didn't fit into my scanner.)
I was already crazy about crows, those sassy squawky guardians of the park near my childhood home. After reading Bird Brains, a collection of well-researched tales about the brainy brassy birds of the Corvid family, my fondness grew to admiration!

*Another of Candace Savage's wide-ranging interests is the history of witches in our world.

Back to the Raven's Prophecy Tarot.
A deck with Raven in the title? For me, a no-brainer (pun intended).

As usual when interviewing a deck, I prepared questions that seemed necessary for this particular pack. Shuffled the heck out of it, cut it into as many piles as there were questions.
Look at the first question below, and the cards that appeared; this cracked me up!

1. Why are there so few Ravens pictured in this deck? I find that disappointing.
Three of Cups

Ha, I guess you told me! The Ravens only appear in the suit of Cups, and three of four cards that came out to talk to me are Cups!
There's definitely a message here. Hm.
Some ideas that come to mind:

  • This is a deck where the emotions expressed are filtered through the hearts and minds of the ravens themselves. So the ravens naturally 'live' in the suit of Cups, the Watery suit of our feelings.
  • Ravens are powerful birds. To have them strewn throughout the entire deck would be too much of a good thing, and might tend to weaken their impact.
  • The iridescence of the raven's plumage is used in the artwork throughout the deck, carrying a bit of raven-ness to each card.
  • The three ravens are rotating counter-clockwise. There may be something in this, but as of now I don't know what. (The direction of skaters at public rinks? Water circling drains?)   

2. I'm tempted to lop off your borders. Any thoughts?
The Star 17

I get the feeling that you're going to make me do all the work here. Am I right?
No answer. Just ancient wisdom standing by, waiting for me to think things through by myself. OK, I'll give it a go.

  • There's a peaceful symmetry flowing here, a pleasing balance between raven-black and colours. It's perfect just the way it is.
  • The borders are narrow, and their orange colour has been pulled from the card's drawings. Tastefully appropriate.
  • The bright borders are a frame for the artwork. To cut them off might make each card seem less important. As they are now, each is a small work of art.

I'm convinced. No border whacking for this deck.

3. Your images are quite simplistic. Would you put yourself into the same category as other sparely-illustrated decks like the Wild Unknown, to name just one?
Ace of Cups

I'm a young deck, a fledgling, unique in the vast world of tarot. Please don't lump me in with others, but let me find my own way to your heart.

Allow me to find my own voice, and stretch my wings, in my own time.

If you are patient, we can grow together, side by side.

Once we are better acquainted, and I have shown you what I can do, you may decide that I am similar to other decks. It will be a conclusion based on knowledge, not conjecture. and I will be accepting of that.

4. I have yet to peek into your accompanying book. Is that a travesty? Insulting?
Five of Cups

Neither of those, but a bit sad. Our book contains thoughts about our deck and its images that may enrich your perception of our cards. It is titled Illuminating the Prophecy.

Your view of what an image might be trying to say may be a bit dimmer, more illusive.
Although, we are so evocatively drawn that further words may be unnecessary.

Did you know that our creator has written many books? Among them a series called The Raven Cycle. You may like to investigate that one.

As a matter of fact, Book I of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle is in the stack of books waiting their turn on my bedroom floor. It will make for great reading on the train to Toronto for another bookbinding course later this month!

The back.

The end.

P.S. You may notice that both authors linked from this post feature photos of themselves being nuzzled or licked by large mammals.