Full Moon Dreams Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone
Review by Diane Wilkes
Even not-so-obsessed tarot collectors have decks that they despair of every wrapping their gluttonous paws around. In that category for me is the Full Moon Dreams Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone. I first saw the deck in my friend Michele Jackson's collection; she got one of the rare, self-made copies back in 1996 or 1997, when the deck was first completed. When I heard Lunaea was no longer making them, a grudging, covetous ache gnawed at me once in a while, because even then I knew collage decks were my personal passion.
Years have passed and even my seemingly insatiable greed for collage decks has been somewhat sated. I have quite a few that I really love and cherish, which has made me more particular in my desires and my tastes. I like decks that expand my understanding of a card--but don't stretch me out of shape beyond all measurement. I value beauty and complexity. And I am particularly fond of decks that indicate a cohesive artist's vision, even if it is not my own and the cards themselves are artistically diverse.
The Full Moon Dreams Tarot fills those requirements and more. While it is my understanding that the deck, like Topsy, "just grew" and was initially created as a personal deck, it reflects the artist's deep sense of everyday magick. There is a solid underbelly of earth-based spirituality liberally spliced with modern celebrity and symbolic archetypes. While I would prefer fewer cultural icons in terms of artistic longevity (one picture of Princess Diana is more than enough for me), some of these figures do provide a pictorial shorthand to the average querent.
The Major Arcana are unnumbered, so there's no Strength/Justice dichotomy to face. Card titles are standard, except the Wheel is the Wheel of the Year, The Devil is The Underworld, and The World is Completion. The Majors range from the too-cute-for-words Fool and Sun to the the more brooding and mysterious Magician, High Priestess, and Justice cards. Some of the cards are simply perfect, such as The Empress (at top), whose ripe fecundity is echoed by the green and fruitful background. Sean Connery is the successful and sexy Emperor and the Dalai Lama alters a mandala as Completion (The World).
But what about the aforementioned earth-based magickal cards, you ask. While there are others that make my point, I'll focus on the quaternary of Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel (of the Year), and Justice.
Strength contains the time-honored young woman and a lion, but that's where tradition ends. The naked and nubile maiden has certain demure qualities, but her proud perch atop the golden feline radiates boldness and as much vital life force as any big cat. The Hermit shows a caped woman sitting by a body of water at dusk, in contemplation. The natural world, not a cave, is her source of wisdom and nourishment. The Wheel of the Year's title illustrates my thesis, but the image is a better exemplification--a Ouija board at the center speaks to the unknown, but the dividing slice of life sections surrounding it illuminate the earthly cycle that constantly spins. Justice is a cave-dwelling shaman whose blindfold helps her be in touch with the unseen truth, as well as that which is tangible. The owls remind her to pierce all veils with discerning wisdom.
The Underworld (traditionally, The Devil) shows Persephone about to enter Hades, and the card interpretation focuses on exploring the dark shadows of the psyche. While I often see that as the role of the Moon, I can certainly accept and utilize this attribution.
The suits are Fire, Water, Air, and Earth and the elemental associations are the same as those of the Golden Dawn. All of the Fire cards contain red and/or orange, Water at least a dash of blue or green, Air, white or blue, and Earth, brown or green.
Unlike the Majors, some of the Minor Arcana's relationship to traditional imagery and/or meaning is subtle and occasionally obfuscatory. For instance, the Two of Fire depicts a crone in the middle of a street holding a candle. The autumnal scene combined with a glowing pumpkin evokes feelings of Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, not something I normally identify with the Two of Wands. The idea of paying attention to your intuition is usually a by-product, not the central interpretation of this card. But this disconnect worked well when I was doing a reading for a friend--I ended up doing a powerful guided visualization with her to answer a question with which she had been wrestling, connecting her with her dead grandmother.
That is what I mean by this deck bursting with everyday magick, encouraging you to create your own connection with the mysteries. That particular technique was completely spontaneous and not one I would have thought of with another deck.
However, if you are uncomfortable with taking unexpected byways, be warned: this deck has a few of them. The Five of Fire depicts a dancer stretching in a lightning-streaked sky of flame. The keyword for the Six of Water is "Regret" and shows a saddened Princess Diana ruing her marital memories. The Five of Earth, normally perceived as a card of impoverishment, shows Erda and other primal earth symbols, and the booklet interprets this card as "time to give thanks for simple gifts." This spin on a typically challenging card isn't really that different a path--just an alternative perspective.
And most of the cards are quite easy to interpret if you have a grounding in the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery--plus they bring something new and exciting to the reading table. The Two of Air emphasizes a pro-active, informed and discerning reflection--flexibility instead of rigid passivity. The Six of Earth is another favorite: the three pairs of givers/receivers depict a wide range of reciprocity, reminding us that we can give and receive in so many different ways.
The Court Cards are Child, Guardian, Queen, and King. I had a little trouble adjusting to the Guardian ranking, but then I started to like it. As I said, stretching is good, as long as that basic shape is maintained.
The deck is wider than standard tarots, and the backs, though beautiful, are not reversible. The cardstock itself is durable, matte, and not slippery--and the image quality is excellent. The companion booklet is almost 100 pages, spiral bound, and contains the card interpretations that are also on the artist's website. It also has an introduction, some brief "Working with Your Cards" instructions, and two unique spreads, as well as a beautiful spread/meditation on entering your own tarot temple. The booklet contains a number of helpful insights, such as the noting of the difference between the evolved Lovers, who are completely unified, yet look outward and the couple in the Two of Water, who "see only each other." I do wish the artist had identified the various famous people she chose to represent particular archetypes; because I rarely go to movies, watch television, or read tabloids, I am woefully ignorant of current celebrity.
The Full Moon Dreams Tarot comes with a velvet drawstring bag--it's lovely, but it doesn't close securely enough to suit me. (I have been informed that has been rectified with the newer bags.) A moonstone is also included, which adds a magical quality. In addition, the artist created a beautiful collage tarot temple postcard with a meditation that comes with the deck. While this is not an inexpensive deck (it's almost $100, including shipping), it is a beautiful, eminently usable deck that makes for a special holiday gift for your favorite tarotist--which is most likely yourself. I am thrilled to have my copy--finally!--and admit that it has been worth the wait. There are less than 100 copies left of this 250 Limited Edition, so don't dally. You wouldn't want to find yourself in my former position of grieving over a deck you really want--but can't obtain.
|Strength VIII, Justice XI||N/A|
|Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana||X|
|Traditional (RWS) Suits (Wands, Chalices, Swords, Pentacles)||X|
|Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions Rods--Air; Swords--Fire||X|
|Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")||X|
|Smaller than standard||X|
|Larger than standard (approx. 4 1/2" X 3")||X|
See all the deck images and/or order the Full Moon Dreams Tarot here.
Images © 1996, 2005 Lunaea Weatherstone
Review and page © 2005 Diane Wilkes