Tarot of the Sephiroth by Josephine Mori and Jill
Created by Dan Staroff -- Review by Valerie Sim Behi
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When I heard about this deck I got really excited. Having been pre-plugged as a living connection between the Tarot and the timeless precepts of the Qabalah, I looked at it as a golden opportunity to shore up my personal
metaphysical weak-point: the Qabalah. I have worked with Tarot and astrology both for nearly thirty years, but Qabalah and its splendid Tree has always been something I meant to "look into tomorrow"...You know what happens with tomorrow, it never comes...
I had the honor to meet Isabel Radow Kliegman at a Tarot workshop of Mary Greer's and Rachel Pollack's last month. I was enchanted with her and bought/read her book "Tarot and the Tree of Life". That excellent book left me thirsting for more easily-assimilated-Qabalah. It whetted my appetite. I wanted more. I had hoped with the "Tarot of the Sephiroth" to round out this education and continue on my path with Qabalistic studies. I was very disappointed.
This deck has a lot of information, some of it excellent, but nowhere in the little-white-book (LWB) does it mention the specific Sephiroths by name. Not once! I kept looking for Chesed and Malkuth and Geburah... in vain. They were nowhere to be found. Help me! I am a beginner! I need reference points! For a beginner to Qabalah, this is a Major (pun intended) faux pas. We need path names, not just colored-coded circles. If I were an expert at Qabalistic correspondences, this would probably not be necessary....but then neither would this deck...
And speaking of color-coded circles: the idea of a physical recreation via the cards of the Tree of Life as promoted in the LWB is intriguing, but the instructions for constructing it were very vague. I wanted to do this, but a nebulous reference to numbers 2, 3, 6 and 10 were not enough to pull it off...This card goes where????
And the most frustrating thing was this passage from the "Notes From the Artist": "Mythical and esoteric images and symbols are integrated with the spheres and paths and clarify the cards meaning. Further knowledge of
symbols and card associations may be gained through research and meditation." Really? And how so??? Care to give us a reference list for your research or a set of meditations? :::sigh:::
Okay... so I got beyond my *expectations* Expectations are never fair, right? I delved into the cards...
The art for this deck is well-executed. I can see that the artist had "training". But I hate it...Sorry!...How can that be? There are many paintings that I can value the artistry of that I would not want hanging in my living room. This is one of those paintings. I can tell it is "technically good", but I just don't like it. It feels cold and antiseptic. Don't ask me to explain; art is a subjective issue. The Courts (Queen of Wands, Princess of Cups) and most of the Majors (Empress, Temperance) are interesting, but I find the Thoth-like Minors downright ugly (3 of Swords, 5 of Disks). Where Lady Frieda Harris's minors are vibrant and evocative, these are "flat" and
lifeless in comparison. Other than those afore-mentioned color-coded circles, I see nothing that is new, innovative, or earth-shaking, and the large circles are visually intrusive on the Court cards. (King of Disks)
Moving on to a few things that I DO like. The back design is simple, but
attractive. It is a deep midnight blue covered with a sky full of small white stars.
The "Evolutionary State" meanings given for the Majors are good. Here are a few examples:
The Magician - Possessing the tools to turn possibilities into realities: clarity, concentration, will and wisdom.
The Wheel of Fortune - Opportunity to take charge and make changes by awareness of cycles.
And I really liked this overlooked meaning:
The Devil - Having a sense of humor; being able to see the spiritual truth behind the facade of appearances.
A ray of hope is found at the very back of the LWB where we find this statement: Coming soon from US Games Systems, Inc., "Guide to the Tarot of the Sephiroth" unlocks the secrets of Tarot and Qabalah.... I am looking forward to this book. Perhaps it will explain what is lacking in the LWB that accompanies the deck. Perhaps paths will be illuminated that had not even been glimpsed in the skimpy booklet? These concepts show promise far greater than does the sterile artwork of the cards themselves.
See more cards from Tarot of the Sephiroth here.
Read another review of this deck here.
If you'd like to purchase this deck, click here.
If you would like to purchase the companion book for this deck, click here.
Tarot of the Sephiroth
Josephine Mori and Jill Stockwell, created by Dan Staroff
Publisher: US Games
Valerie Sim-Behi is the founder and moderator of Comparative Tarot, an email list devoted to studying cards of different decks in comparison to each other. She has worked with the tarot for over 30 years, recently attending a Blake Tarot Workshop with Ed Buryn. Valerie created a spread that will appear in the book accompanying the Victoria-Regina Tarot by Sarah Ovenall, and has written various articles, including one on the Comparative Tarot method that will be published in Llewellyn's Tarot Calendar 2002. You can visit Valerie at the Comparative Tarot website.
Review © 2000 Valerie Sim-Behi
Page © 2000 Diane Wilkes