Blue Moon Tarot - Julie Cuccia Watts       

Review by Diane Wilkes

There is no denying the artistry of Julie Cuccia Watts.  If you have seen the Ancestral Path Tarot, you know what I mean: her sense of color and proportion are pure Temperance and there is no absence of soul and spirit, either.

Julie created the beautiful paintings that comprise the 22 cards of the Blue Moon Tarot a year or so ago.  In fact, they were on display at the second World Tarot Congress in Chicago.  As an attendee of that conference, I can tell you that the passion and intensity of the large and dramatic paintings inspired awe in everyone who saw them.

I bought a set of the 22 images as notecards,  then known as TARO,  Ancient Wheel of Wisdom, and waited patiently for the opportunity to own these compelling images in deck form.

That day has come.  I discovered that Julie was selling the deck and obtained one tout-de-suite.  The cards have clearly been printed out from a high-end color printer, because the colors are absolutely brilliant.  Unfortunately, some of the detail found in the original paintings is lost--that was inevitable in the shrinking of the images.  Still, the intensity and atmospheric quality of the deck has survived intact.  I was at a small tarot gathering recently and showed the cards to two people.  One person was drawn to the feminist, pagan aspects of the deck; the other described it as "scary."

As I mentioned, the deck is clearly feminist and pagan.  The Hierophant looks like an attractive Druid priest, strong and gentle at the same time.  His bow lies behind him in a magical green landscape, and a luminous baby taps him gently with a glowing wand.  Judgment is linked with Samhain, and the image is of an eerily-lit menhir, the ghostly faces of the ancestors overlooking the rocks below. 

One of my favorite cards is The Wheel of Fortune.  It shows a jewel-toned zodiac wheel against a starlit evening sky, with a burning candle adding additional brightness to the night shadows.  You can feel the passion in this depiction of Strength--the card  emanates hot steam.

For all its beauty and the traditional card names, this is not your Uncle Al's tarot deck.  Each card is assigned to a pagan holiday (Beltaine, Candlemas, etc.) or a Full Moon, with The World as "The Center of the Wheel."  

Julie explains all this in a 25 page booklet that tells how she arrived at the deck's unusual context--the introduction is subtitled, "Reinventing the Wheel and shifting the Tarot Paradigm."  None of the astrological correspondences are based on the Golden Dawn or other traditions.  In fact, these correlations are based on Julie's studies and through a dream: "With a code given to me by a little lesbian woman with short black hair, the words were "Love comes between the Virgin and the Mother."  The Virgin I interpreted as Virgo/High Priestess and I saw the scales of Libra/Justice/ruled by Venus as the LOVE Is in 'the Law is Love.'"

Julie begins with the calendar of the Pagan New Year; the first card is The Emperor: Full Moon in Aries.  You only know this is the first card because it is the first card written about--none of the cards contain numbers.  The order of the arcana is unlike any you've seen before:

The Emperor 
The Magician
The Wheel of Fortune
The Chariot
The High Priestess
The Fool
The Lovers
The Empress
The Hierophant
The Sun
The Hermit
The Star
The Hanged One
The Devil
The Tower
The Moon
The World

As passionate and intense a writer as she is an artist, Julie throws together a lot of mythological correlations and concepts.  Unfortunately, she doesn't mix her words as clearly as she does her paints, and it is hard to make sense of her ideology and concepts.  She offers (consistently, but not always) several paragraphs about each card that are meant to explain several myths at once and how they correspond to the specified card.  Interspersed within the text are quotations from various authors and some unique applications of grammar.  There is a short section for "Other names," "Symbols," and "Attributes"--some of which are traditional, and some of which are completely new.  For "Justice," attributes listed are "Divine comedy; harmony; balance; the Law is Love, honesty, light heartedness, Freedom."  While I suspect there might be great value in her ideas, I find it impossible to decipher them.

I would recommend this deck highly for meditative purposes, as it is highly evocative.  While I wouldn't use it as a main deck to conduct readings,  I have found that it is absolutely ideal to use for timing and clarification purposes.  After I do a reading, if the querent wants to know when something is going to occur, I whip out The Blue Moon Tarot and pull a card out on top of the card in question.  I use Julie's lunar correspondences to determine the timing AFTER I read whatever she has written about the card.  Invariably, I have found that some phrase or sentence or myth parallels the situation perfectly and sheds additional (lunar) light on the issue.  

The deck and the illustrated booklet are both signed, and were priced very reasonably for a hand-made deck ($20 + shipping and handling).   Unfortunately, the deck is no longer available for sale at this time.  You can see more cards on Julie Cuccia-Watts' website--and keep checking it to see if it becomes available for sale again, as she states that it may.



The Blue Moon Tarot has been republished. It now costs $50. You can order the new version via Julie Cuccia Watts' website.



Winter Solstice
Cross-Quarter Day-December 21st
Card: Temperance

Temperance, the great cackler who gives birth to the Universe, is portrayed as an old Crone; The image is the Crone pouring light onto the earth, catching it in another vessel, pouring it back again; the pouring of measured water/rainbow-light.  Temperance is defined as the suppression of appetite as darkness devours light; darkness stops eating the light and the light slowly returns The following is an except from The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews (page 46): Honoring the Old One.

In the Celtic world, she is Cailleach, the Old Woman, who brings frost and snow and the bitter winds of Winter.  Among the Mandan Indians of North America she is The Old Woman Who Never Dies, who offers bowls filled with earth and sky, which are Mother, who carries great boulders in her apron, occasionally letting them fall, and who is perhaps a Creatrix from the beginning of time.  In each instance she personifies the cold, dark days, and brings the snow, which is seen as feathers emptied from her pillow...

Myths of Creation generally portray symbolic view of birth, first there is darkness, churning, liquid uterine environments (Kali's Ocean of blood)  The Mother alone in the dark abyss, a Void or the Deep.  Then suddenly there is the Light and consciousness emerges all is new.

Other names: Cailleach; The Old Woman Who Never Dies; Mountain Mother; Kali

Symbols: Yule, Solstice the sun standing still

Attributes: creating, healing, restoring, suppression of appetite.



Excerpted text Julie Cuccia-Watts
Review and page Diane Wilkes