Elksinger's Perfected Tarotelks1.jpg (24284 bytes)
Review by George Leake
by H.M.Nelson Deck (publ 1983) and Book (Publ 1985) apparently sold separately.
This one seems quite rare and has no ISBN #. Published by Children of the Water, Austin, Texas. One of the best alternatives to classic Waite, Thoth, et al, to come out since the 60's. Influences here are broad, and include Native American, so here it is with the rest. Other influences include a kind of pan-cultural shamanistic flavor and very strong alchemical, Western astrological and kabbalistic elements. Every trump though has been re-thought and transformed, though the influences back to Thoth, Waite, Marseilles and so on are present. The art is splendid, particularly the use of color. Suits are also transformed. Each penultimate (in place of the King in Waite) card is a mythical being representative of that suit. The suits are Salamanders/Fire/Wands (mostly trees, culminating in the Everflowering Tree), Avians/Air/Swords (Birds, ending with the Phoenix), Mariners/Water/Cups (Amphibians and Water dwellers, ending in the sage/zenlike "World Turtle"), and finally the Terrestrials/Earth/Pentacles (Lizards, Monkeys, Bears, etc, finally the Unicorn). Fire cards represent "Primal Urges", Air "Primal Action", Water "Knowing-which-needs-no-thought", Earth "Manifestation of Spirit". Following a basic introduction to the cards there's a chapter on the magic squares of the 7 planets of the ancients (q.v. Agrippa) for use apparently in the meditation exercises. Nelson brings up a rare point "According to occult lore, 22 is the number of bones in the human skull!" He then links 22 to the "universal spirit", a concept which evokes eerything from the Hermeticists' Macrocosm to the Great Spirit of the Native American tribes. Later, Nelson asserts that numbers were important mnemonic devices for storing information in the days of the oral tradition. This is to justify his obsession with numerology I guess. He gives a brief history on this reliance on numbers in Babylon, Egypt & elsewhere, and then we find his charts beginning with the Septenaries of God, Universe & Man, and then several Schemata reminsicent of charts one finds in Crowley's 777. Thereafter, Nelson tells us why his Tarot is perfected. "When Aleister Crowley offered Aleph as the Fool's letter, it fooled thousands & chaos intensified. Naturally this affixed Beth with the Magician, Ghimel with the Priestess" and so on. "This cannot be, as Aleph equates to #1." Nelson then assigns Than to the Fool, Aleph with the First card, the "Virgin", an Artemized version of the Magician, Beth to the 2nd card, etc. Nelson also reverses Justice (Evaluator) and Strength (Chrysallys), to 8 and 11 respectively. He claims that 11 stands for "union with all" according to the ancients. Eight he says has always been equated with Universal Law. Similar arguments justify transposing the positions of the Hierophant/Discriminator and the High Priestess/Fountainhead (no Ayn Rand jokes please). Now we have female/lunar cards in 1, 3 & 5 positions (Virgin/Magician, Creatrix/Empress, and Fountainhead/Priestess, respectively) placed this way in order to parallel the changes of the moon and the three faces of the "Goddess". In between the three graces are two masculine and solar cards, i.e. the Discriminator/Hierophant and the Doorkeeper/Emperor. Then come the sections detailing the deck's use. Much of it revolves around its stated purpose, meditation and prayer. Beforehand, more charts, these detailing astrological correspondences. Nelson relies heavily on his own reading of Sephirotic attributions. The Pilgrim (Fool) method instructs us to meditate on pairings of cards within groups of seven. The Emerald Tablet method (the best innovation in this book, imho) tells us to meditate on a different trump card on a certain fragment from the Emerald Tablet. Nelson's alchemical emphasis in the way the figures are painted helps this process.Then comes "Charging the Cards for Divination" which includes a suggested 10 card spread and a series of color visualization exercises. Not unlike Golden Dawn rituals. Then comes the standard straight up and reverse divinitory meanings of the cards. No significator suggested. Finally, he ends with a schema for "The Transformation of the Hermetic Tree of Life to the Qabalistic Tree" which I suppose is good for visualizing the penultimate Fire card, the Everflowering Tree. Conclusions? Needs further study. I hope this deck can become available to the general public.
Copyright George Leake, 1996
See more cards from Elksinger's Perfected Tarot Deck
Images Copyright (c) 1983 H.M. Nelson

To buy this deck: the price of the Elsinger's Perfected Tarot is $85, and the book is $60.


This page is Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson