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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tarot deck that focuses on the Elements, 29 May 2005
By 
Margaret A. Foster (Quakertown, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tarot of the Four Elements: Tribal Folklore Earth Mythology and Human Magic (Paperback)
Isha Lerner is a professional astrologer, a tarot consultant and a flower essence practitioner. She has also provided us with some lovely tarot decks: The Triple Goddess Tarot, The Inner Child Cards, and the Power of Flowers. Amy Ericksen is the artist who created this deck, and is a member of the Petaluma Art Council. She has several art credits to her name.
This deck explores the tarot in the association of the elements. This deck is comprised of seventy-eight cards. The "Minor Archana" four suites of the elements each having 10 numbered cards and four court cards. The "Major Archana" has twenty-two cards.
The art style is folk primitive. This meshes with the focus of the Major Archana being a journey of the shaman. The cards are very colorful, using mostly prime colors, and the background designs compliment the style of the art.
In the Minor Archana, the elements are represented by the traditional symbols; swords for air, cups for water, stars for earth and wands for fire. The cards are also enhanced with designs representing the elements on each card; waves for water, flames for fire, green leaves for earth and clouds and blue sky for air.
Some of the numbered cards include the number of symbols the card represents against a symbolic design, for example, each of the earth cards has the number of stars for the number of the card, five stars on the Five of Earth. However, there are exceptions. The Five of Air has five sword blades incorporated into a stylized bird image and there is the Seven of Fire, a Caduceus in flames to name a few.
The Court cards are stylized figures; page, knight, Queen and King. Each card is clearly numbered for easy identification. The Court cards are also clearly labeled as are the Major Archana cards.
The Major Archana follows the "Fools Journey" as a shaman. This part of the deck is much more visual and the symbols are more defined than in the Minor Archana, and rightly so. This part of the deck depends on images, and the images are very powerful here. While some may present a more familiar appearance, like the palm trees on either side of the Priestess representing the columns of the more familiar decks, there are other images that suggest a more shamanistic or primitive or tribal association. The Empress is much more the woman/mother/womb of the world, a more "Gaia" feeling to her than traditionally presented. The Emperor is much more the male, more phallic, while the Priest is presented as tribal or shamanic figure rather than as a Pope or the traditional Hierophant. However, the twenty-two cards do correspond to the traditional Major Archana, and are easy to follow. Some attributions of the cards have been changed, such as Judgment is Realization, and World is Universe and the changes are easy to follow.
The book, expertly written by Isha Lerner, goes into much detail as to how these cards should be interpreted. As they are Shamanic cards, the play of numbers, the form or shape of the designs and colors are critical to interpreting these cards. Ms. Lerner gives us a chapter on interpreting numbers, responding to the color associations on a spiritual level and there is a chapter on shape interpretation, symbols and some background on images and Archetypes. There is also a card by card interpretation, with black and white images of the cards to allow you to read, meditate on the card and get a much fuller and deeper meaning that you will need to work effectively with this deck.
The book enables us to understand the thought process and pattern of the changes suggested by the cards, and understand that the focus of this deck is very elementally suggestive and shamanic in its symbolism. Ms. Lerner is quite good at making the correspondences for the Major Archana easy to understand and follow. The card by card interpretations for the Major Archana are well written, explained and make it easy to meditate on the cards, find the meaning for ourselves and work with the deck.
The book also contains some basics on using the cards for readings, layouts, and spreads. There is a lot of information in the book and it should not be overlooked when working with the cards. Ms. Lerner has gone into detail here without being boring or redundant, and makes the book a perfect accompaniment to the deck. I believe everything is here for the reader to get a good working overview of the deck.
My only note is the shape of the cards. I found the cards to be wider than a normal deck and because of this the deck was a bit awkward for me to handle. Maybe because of the shape of my own hands which are small and elongated, but I did find myself wishing the deck was a bit narrower. A person with larger hands may find the deck a bit more comfortable. This is a personal preference, but one which I consider important as handling the deck is part of the tarot reading process.
However, the reading process itself was interesting; I came up with some very insightful and spiritually focused readings for both myself and a friend. While different in appearance, the differences are not that vast and the deck can be used by someone with knowledge of the standard tarot deck without much of a learning curve. The book is a great tool in working with the deck.
If your practice is more shamanic in focus and you have not found a tarot deck that is in sync with your form, you may want to give this deck a try as a fine tool for reading and interpreting. This is a lovely deck from Ms. Ericksen, a different kind of a deck and beautifully executed. Accompanied by the book from Ms. Lerner, this is a lovely presentation, well thought out and put together. boudica
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Tarot of the Four Elements: Tribal Folklore Earth Mythology and Human Magic
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