Monday, September 26, 2016

Testing, Testing: Dreams of Gaia Tarot

I've been stalling writing about this one.
I loved the pictures of the Dreams of Gaia Tarot on Aeclectic, announcing its upcoming publication. But I apparently failed to read the deck description and review, so when the book&deck set arrived I wasn't prepared for its differences, and there are a lot of them. The Majors are more like an oracle deck, with little resemblance to tarot. If the Majors aren't really the Majors, is it really a tarot deck?
I just don't know.

There are 25 Majors. This in itself isn't too unusual; we sometimes see one or more additional cards for extra inspiration. With this deck, however, just a few of the Major Arcana are what we expect, or appear where we usually find them. The Trumps have been renamed, re-ordered, replaced, and re-grouped. Ravynne Phelan, the deck's creator, has divided the 25 into:
  1. Choice (replacing the Fool)
  2. Stages of Life (8 cards)
  3. Reason for Being (8 cards)
  4. Influences (8 cards)

Perhaps I'm being too dramatic.

It is fairly common to unofficially divide the standard 22 Majors into four categories, showing us the Fool moving through life's experiences. The words are from Rachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom.
  1. The Fool
  2. Growing up (7 cards)
  3. Self-knowledge and transformation (7 cards)
  4. The cosmos beyond our narrow goals of self-improvement (7 cards) 
The Minors in Dreams of Gaia are in the usual four suits, named for the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and each suit has the usual fourteen cards. Nothing un-navigable structurally, although many of the key words are, again, not traditionally RWS in their suggestions. I'm reminded a bit of the Mary-El Tarot.

What questions does one ask a tarot deck that isn't truly a tarot deck? I don't know, which is why I've been putting off this review. I feel about as competent to write this post as the babe above!

Don't be such a chicken. Quit stalling and just do the damn thing.
OK, OK, I'm going already! And I'm doing the whole interview using only the Majors!
Suit yourself.
Is that your idea of a card joke? Very funny.

1. Why do you call yourself a tarot deck when you're really not?
In my heart I am a tarot deck. My creator intended that I be a true tarot, and has birthed me with love and heart, on the wings of imagination. If love be the intention, then surely the outcome will be wise and true, whether or not my outward appearance always conforms to your expectations. The tarot world is a kind and inclusive one, is it not?

2. What happened to the Fool's Journey aspect of the cards? There's no Fool.
Are we not all fools at some point in our lives? Especially as we grow up and learn the ways of the world. One of the wonders of youth is that it is constantly testing, erring, learning. Youth is the time of life for that. This deck has a special section for making fools of ourselves, picking ourselves up, and carrying on. So although we have no Fool card per se, the journey is here.

3. Can I read from the images as I usually would, or must I refer to the guidebook to make sense of things?
I am one of the easily recognizable images from most tarot packs, although I'm usually named The Hermit, and given the number IX. You are in familiar territory here! Wisdom is wise, no matter its number and name. If reading intuitively from the images on the cards is your strength, then you will soon find your way around my deck. Together, the art and the card titles will guide you. However, please do peek into my guidebook for a treat. You may find fresh thoughts to add to your tarot arsenal.

4. Are you insulted by my questions?
Do I look insulted? Of course not! Questions are the very heart of tarot, and where would this great evolving tradition be without them? And now I have a question for you, Teawoman. Is it possible that your self-image as a tarot reader is shaken a bit by my outside-the-norm appearance? Are you fearful that your experience will not be up to the task of reading with me? I hope you are not insulted by my question! And be assured that your skills in digging into an image and winkling out ideas will stand you in good stead with me. I look forward to working with you! 

Whew - done! ✔