Tarot of the Millennium - Mary Susan Chamberlain and Ziba Vilmanis-Westenberg (1984)
Review by Diane Wilkes
Tarot of the Millennium is a Majors-only deck that was multi-cultural before multi-cultural was cool.
My discovery and search for this deck made me believe in the maxim, "If you put out the energy of desire to the Universe, it will deliver." I was watching the Tarot Network News video that stars numerous luminaries in the California Tarot community. In Mary Greers segment, many decks surround her, and I spotted a card that arrested me with its beauty--and its complete unfamiliarity. I freeze-framed the shot with the card, and committed it to memory. Then, I pored over Kaplans Encyclopedia of the Tarot, Volume Three until I found the card--needless to say, it was the aptly named, Tarot of the Millennium.
This was several years ago, and U.S. Games hadnt updated their catalogue to reflect that this deck was no longer available, so I blithely ordered it from them, only to discover it was out of print. I contacted my favorite new age store, Sagittarius, and they didnt have it, so I called all the local new age stores in the Philadelphia area, including the suburbs. Nothing. I contacted Weisers, The Bodhi Tree, and other famed occult bookstores across the country. I continued to have no luck. This was in the pre-Internet Dark Ages, so I had less sources to scour than I would have today.
As any tarot collector could tell you, this can be a disheartening process. My desperation was so great that I called Mary Greer to ask her for suggestions. She agreed to pick the deck up for me if she came upon it in her travels, but had no new leads.
Since I hate to bother others, I suspect this last act convinced the Universe that I really had to have this deck. So, when I contacted Sagittarius again to ask if they might have it somewhere as a sample, the owner looked upstairs. Sure enough, they had it--and gave it to me for free. Damn, I love the Universe!
This deck is the prize of my collection. The artwork is exquisite and the colors are striking and subtle simultaneously. The Fool is a Native American woman with a fierce tiger that could be her power animal as she towers above a semi-circle of mountain peaks, dwarfed by her power. A white dove, the symbol of peace, flies above her, leading the way. The Magician, an Egyptian, is surrounded by a golden spiralling aura, with a golden pyramid of light topping him. A golden medallion hangs about his neck, and he holds a wand upward, and points below to a series of magickal symbols that float in the air, although he is standing firmly on the black and white checkered floor. As above, so below. One foot is on a black square, one on white, showing the importance of being grounded in yin-yang energy.
One of my favorite cards is the High Priestess. Blue-prism crystal shards provide a fitting background for this mysterious veiled woman dressed in silky filmy iced-blue, surrounded by crystal points. An equal-armed silvery cross glows from her neck, and she is crowned by the symbol of Isis, in which sits a small blue globe. She, too, has the black and white tile for a floor, and grapes and other fruits nestle at one side of her. Dianas bow is supposed to be to her right, but I can barely make it out. Her feet are obscured by a shiny silver crescent moon, and the pillars in which she is ensconced are smoky black and white crystal. In one hand she holds a scroll, the other is formed in a meditative pose. This is, perhaps, my favorite High Priestess, because she is not only exquisite, she seems to contain the requisite allure and mystery that I seek in this card.
I could describe each card in order, but suffice it to say that the author and artist had a vision that expresses a multi-culturalism that is truly...millennial, for lack of a better word. The pregnant Empress sits under an actively flowering tree that radiates sunlight, yet her shield is not replicated in the card of the Emperor--she has her own royal insignia. The angel in the Lovers card has a rainbow for a halo and delicate white feathers flowing, but her face is obscured by the sword held by a golden knight who is deciding between the dark-haired Madonna or the naked blonde temptress holding a goblet of hedonistic pleasure. In the Temperance card, you recognize this angel--only now you can see the serene grace of her face. The light from the Hermits lantern radiates in a manner that could be described as psychedelic--the emanation is very vibrant and alive. This is a wonderful card for meditation. The Devil is delightfully sardonic-looking; you can practically hear him mordantly intoning, "Welcome to my nightmare."
The ice-tinged Moon is another favorite card of mine. An Asian woman serenades the cold blue waters with a golden harp, as the Triple-Goddess Moon sends down Her lunar waves of psychic power to lull the waters into a magical enchantment. The Star card is the one I glimpsed in the Tarot Network News video: a Polynesian woman bathed both in the starlight above and from the cask of water which she pours on herself. She also waters the garden at her feet--she is self-nourishing and is able to nourish others.
In this deck, Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. The backs are royal blue rimmed with gold, with a golden Tree of Life in the middle of the card. Cards are standard size.
If you ever get a chance to purchase this deck, may the force be with you, too. It is a wonderful deck for meditation, as well as reading.
Review Copyright 1999 Diane Wilkes