This is a new photocollage deck, created by musician and artist Leila Vey of The Great White North (Canada). It is self-published; however, the artist is currently looking for a commercial publisher. Leila Vey has completed a hefty 250 page book to accompany her deck. I was fortunate enough to be able to download an electronic version of the book, a perk which was offered on her website to those who placed orders for the set prior to publication. The published version is spiral bound. See also Lee Bursten’s very informative review of this deck; I have to second his accolades regarding Vey’s slant toward spirituality and self-empowerment. What I find refreshing about the book is Vey’s straightforward and accessible approach. No esoteric mumbo-jumbo here. On the contrary, she goes to great lengths to explain her concept of tarot and spirituality: “The power is in the person, not the cards”. She states that she follows the traditional Golden Dawn correspondences, and has attempted to convey her imagery “without references to Christian cultures and theology.” The result is an “Everyman’s” tarot deck, which includes full illustrations on all 78 cards. The artist says in the book’s introduction:
“ In honour of my own heritage I chose to use ancient Northern European culture from which to draw my images. I have chosen to use a surreal photographic style, rich with colour and symbolism. My cards are not limited to a specific timeframe, but draw upon images spanning thousands, even tens of thousands of years. The images, however, are just as relevant to life today as they would have been in ancient times. This is the magick of Truth, and this is why I have named my deck the Tarot of Timeless Truth.”
I especially like that Vey has included a section entitled, “Things to Consider During a Reading,” in which she covers some non-threatening tools for becoming accustomed to working with the tarot in general. She directs the user to look for Major Arcana, count the Court Cards, look at the position, color, and mood of the cards, note the significant numbers, and the supporting or opposing cards. These are wonderful cues for those new to working with the tarot, and excellent reminders for those of us who have forgotten how to keep it simple. The text also includes a section of different spreads, including some interesting variations, as well as the standard Celtic Cross.
The text includes a key which describes the individual elements of the Major cards, consisting of key words for both natural and reversed/shadow positions, suggested questions, a description of the card’s content, and suggested divinatory meanings, as well as a section which covers the correspondences of the symbols she has chosen to incorporate. The author emphasizes the importance of the user’s intuition, and encourages personal interpretation.
Vey includes many symbolic references in her Majors, which are relatively unobtrusive and may be utilized or bypassed, as appropriate. These symbols appear in the lower left corner of each card, and include the correlated path on the Tree of Life, its associated Hebrew letter, the traditional astrological sign or planet, a rune, and a crystal. All the cards, with the exception of the Aces, include a Keyword in the bottom border of the cards. The style of this deck, including the format and content of the cards, reminds me very much of the Quest Tarot, which was recently commercially published.
When I really examined the detail of some of the individual cards, one of the first things that struck me was that The Timeless Truth’s Fool lacks a companion on his journey; there is no dog, no crocodile, no butterfly. Every time I look at the image, I feel like an important element is missing. The signpost that marks the crossroads is marked with the rune “Wunjo,” meaning “Light,” along with the glyph of the card’s ruling planet, Uranus, and the Hebrew letter, Aleph. However, in the process of creating her deck, Vey apparently made some changes to her initial symbolic associations on particular cards, because the rune that appears on the lower left of the card is “Dagaz”, symbolizing transformation, meaning “Day”. The rune Wunjo is also indicated on card XXI, The Universe, although the assigned rune, per the text, is “Mannaz” (Self; Man). The rune Mannaz is also assigned to the Magician card. Card XVIII, The Moon, includes two Hebrew letters, but no rune, although the text assigns “Laguz” (Flow; Water). Cards VIII (Strength) and XIX (The Sun) are both assigned the rune “Sowelu” (Energy), which could be intentional, but is not addressed in the text. There are 26 runes, so there are more than enough to associate one with each Major card without having to repeat any. The Temperance card is assigned to the rune “Ihwaz”; however, the glyph on the card is a simple diamond shape, and not a rune at all.
Vey’s deck supports the traditional suit associations of Air-Swords, Earth-Pentacles, Fire-Wands, and Water-Cups. The cards all have a latticed border which lends depth to the imagery of the cards. As with most decks, I am enraptured with specific cards and disappointed in others.
My absolute favorite card in the deck is Judgement. This is one of the images in this deck that really comes alive for me. It’s a refreshing take on the usual angel-with-a-trumpet scenario, eloquently expressing and personalizing both the angst and the acceptance that accompany an important life transition. The Queen of Pentacles is one of the most realistic photo collage representations I’ve encountered. The two mediums flow together in such a way that the resulting image isn’t choppy and distracting, as it is in some of the other cards. The Minors are executed with the same attention to detail as the Majors; I particularly like the simplicity of the Ace of Cups.
Some examples of cards that miss the mark with me are the Chariot, the Three of Swords and the Princess of Wands. The Chariot is my least favorite card (see top) in the deck; its style is cartoon-y to a degree that doesn’t follow the style of the other cards. As Lee Bursten points out in his review of this deck, the digital addition of beards on some of the male figures could use some refining to make them look more natural. I can’t get past the aqua bathrobe worn by the central figure in the Three of Swords; she doesn’t look sorrowful; she looks like she ate some bad sushi. The Princess of Wands is an example of a card where the photocollage doesn’t appear natural. The body is seated facing forward, yet the face of the figure looks back over her shoulder. The effect could have been softened if the shoulder had been angled slightly so that it didn’t look like a photograph of a head pasted onto a body it doesn’t belong to.
The Tarot of Timeless Truth is, all in all, an exciting new deck in its genre. It is currently available in the standard flip top box, and the cards themselves are of good quality card stock. By all means, visit Leila Vey’s web site. There’s a great deal of additional interesting related information to be found there. Perhaps when the author secures a commercial publisher, some of the stylistic annoyances can be reworked.
Kimberly Gibbs Fordham (also known as Kimber) has been fascinated with the tarot for the past 30 years. She has done readings and taught classes on Tarot, Wicca, and Astrology at Escape into Reality in South Windsor, CT. She also has a lifelong passion for Tudor and Stuart British history and renaissance faires (check out www.plaiddragon.com). Kimberly now resides in Dallas, TX and is currently working on her second tarot deck.
2003 Leila Vey
Review © 2004 Kimberly Fordham
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes