Deck Review

The English Magic Tarot – a Review


I really wanted to like this deck.

I usually do reviews on decks that I absolutely adore. I was initially excited reading about this deck before it came out. It sounded right up my alley. This deck is centered around its title English Magic – primary the occult revival of the nineteenth century and the Golden Dawn.  It has a lot of potential and I see what the creators were trying to achieve, but I think they fell short.

This deck was created by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley and Andy Letcher published by Weiser. It comes in a box with a 149 page guidebook. The box itself looks good on my book shelf. It is sturdy and of good quality. I also like the guide book. It actually has some good card interpretations which can be used outside of this deck. I enjoyed flipping through and reading their take on each card. You can tell that they did put a lot of thought into this deck.

What I do not like are the cards themselves.


I hate the backs of these cards. I just think they are ugly. They are not totally reversible due to the colors of the cards under the hands. I was really hoping this deck would have something more abstract that went in line with the theme. I think the image is a very odd choice and off putting. The card stock is flimsy, they easily bend. If your a heavy shuffler these will definitely wear over time. It doesn’t feel very high quality. The cards are just very thin.


Each suite is color coded with a very large border. I think the borders are too intrusive. I also favor borderless decks though. The large borders take away the details of the wonderful artwork. I do like the style of artwork in this deck. Its very whimsical and has a cartoonish feel. Interestingly, the Major Arcana does not have borders. For me this is my favorite part of the deck. I really love the Majors. I just really wish the entire deck looked like they do. I think I’ll end up taking out the Majors and using them on their own. There are interesting little phrases and words written on each card in different magical alphabets consisting of Runic, Enochian, Hebrew. I am not familiar enough with the runic alphabet to be able to read these messages without looking at some reference material. I have enjoyed deciphering the hidden images and phrases. They add a nice little depth of meaning to each card. Due to the color coding of the minors and the adherence to the Rider-Waite tradition this could be a good deck for a beginner. The meanings are easily accessible to those of a less advanced degree.


Overall I don’t see this as a deck I’ll be reaching a lot for. I haven’t done very many readings with it because I just can’t get into the energy of the deck. I have it on my shelf as mostly a collectors item. I would love to hear if you have a differing opinion. There are some great things about this deck, I just feel like some of the artistic choices really hinder it from all that it could be.

The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Magical Round-up Vol I

Below is the weekly round-up of articles and news I have stumbled upon that struck my interest.  This post was intended for the weekend, but I’ve got quite a busy weekend ahead so I’m rounding up a bit early this week. Links to all of the articles discussed are listed. Did something interesting happen this week that I missed? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

Frater Barrabbas Publishes new Book – Spirit Conjuring for Witches

Frater Barrabbas Blog – Spirit Conjuring for Witches

Frater Barrabbas has a new book out on spirit conjuring. Actually this book came out in February so I am a bit late to the game. I’m sure this will be as much as an interesting read as his other books. If anyone has read it I would like to know your thoughts. I’ve put this on my list of books to purchase my next book buying round. I think this is an area that is lacking. I don’t see a lot of good solid literature on the subject of spirit conjuring without is getting a bit goofy or cheesy,  I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this.

Self Proclaimed Psychic Steals Thousands from Clients

Los Angeles News – Self Proclaimed Psychic Steals Thousands

News like this gives legitimate tarot readers and psychics  a bad name. This scenario is far too common. Events like this are why divination frequently gets lumped in as a gimmick and fair attraction to the outsider. Always research the person your intending on getting a reading with. Always go with someone who has a presence in the community and positive reviews from others.

Donald Weiser Dies at 89

Donald Weiser dies at 89

I’ve always been more partial to Weiser publishing than Lewellyn. Both produce great titles, but Weiser has always seemed more sincere in their efforts to me. Lewllyn comes out with a lot of books. Almost too much. Most of it in my opinion is re-hashing previous books and more new-age type of stuff. They do have some gems. If your reading a book on magic I would say there is a 80% chance that it is published by one of these two. I hope Weiser publishing continues on publishing great work and maintaining their high quality standards.

On the Business of Magick

On the Business of Magick – The Houston Chronicle

This is actually an older article. There is a little shop in Houston called the Magick Cauldron. It has managed to successfully stay in business for 30 years. I loved reading this article about how they have managed to stay in business in such a niche market. This was a fascinating look into the ownership of a occult supply store.

Psychic Protection – a Recitation Ritual

Benebell Wen’s Blog: a Psychic Protection Recitation Ritual

Everyday whether you know it or not your absorbing and giving off energy both positive and negative. A good practice is learning how to strengthen your aura and psychic field so your not so effected by the energy of others. As she says consider it “metaphysical sunscreen”. Benebell Wen has put together a fantastic MP3 meditation to help you with just that. This MP3 is free and open for download, the best part is its free. If your around someone at work who makes you feel drained all the time it is likely that are giving off some bad mojo and your absorbing it or they are stealing your energy (have you ever heard the term that someone just sucks the life out of a room?).





Deck Review

The Dark Exact Tarot – a Review

I love black and white decks. There is something so mystical and mysterious about them to me. One of my top 5 decks is the Hermetic Tarot, it is just so striking and filled with symbolism. I’m glad that we are starting to see more black and white decks produced. I feel that this has been an area sorely lacking for some time. The Dark Extract Tarot is produced by Coleman Stevenson in Portland Oregon (I’ll be going there in June for vacation woo-hoo!) . Her Etsy can be found at the end of this review and I urge you to go support her in this endeavor. This is another that I have been keeping my eye on. It is currently in its second edition, which is what I am reviewing here.

Lets start off with the packaging. You have three options when ordering. You can receive it in the standard cardboard flap box or upgrade to a pouch or felt case. I originally ordered this deck with the felt case. I usually keep my tarot cards outside of the boxes in little pouches so the boxes and the cards don’t get so worn. I love to keep the boxes on display on my bookshelf. After I ordered this I quickly messaged her and requested to also receive the box and she was kind enough to oblige. I love the little felt pouch made by Omnicollective, I definitely think it is worth the upgrade. The cards fit so snugly. It just looks nice on my altar. It is sturdy and very well made. This could be great for traveling.

This is a very striking minimalist deck. It relies on your intuition. I can see those who rely heavily on the Rider Waite tradition will have difficulty, which can be a good thing as that this deck will force you to look at the cards in a different way. Tarot is so much more than the Rider Waite tradition and I love seeing decks that challenge that. Every card features very minimal symbolism in both the major and minor arcana. This deck has an almost art deco quality to me, which adds to its uniqueness. Each card has just enough symbolism to allow your mind to come to its own interpretations. It relies heavily on sharp lines, geometric symbols and unspoken symmetry to tell its story. I’ve been using this deck for my daily card pulls and have really been enjoying exploring and reflecting on the images.

The cardstock is very smooth and glossy. Initially I had trouble shuffling these cards. They were sticking together out of the box. They have become more easy to shuffle over time. They are a good standard size and fit well in the hands. My only complaint is that the cards are so glossy fingerprints can easily be seen on them. But the black glossiness is so gorgeous that it is easy for me to get over. One suggestions I would make is after purchasing this deck is to go through one by one and separate each card to get rid of the stickiness also if your like me you want to go through and look at each card one by one and soak each one in.

Overall I think this is a unique deck that could be great to add a special flare to your readings. If your looking for a minimalist non-traditional deck this is it. Some people will be drawn right off the bat to this deck and others will automatically be turned away. It reminds me of the Orbi-Fold tarot which has the same effect on people either way. Personally I am so glad to have this one in my collection and  really look forward to seeing what Coleman comes out with next.

The Dark Exact Tarot Etsy Shop

One a side one I have started an Etsy shop of my own. It is focused on Tarot readings and my jewelry pieces. Besides Tarot, jewelry making is a creative outlet for me and helps keep my occupied while my husband is working. I just started making enough pieces that I feel ready to part with some of my collection.

The Tarot Esoterica Etsy Shop


Random Musings

Tarot and the Spirit lists 25 definitions of the spirit, here are just a few:

  1. the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
  2. the incorporeal part of humans: present in spirit though absent in body.
  3. an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action: the spirit of reform.
  4. the soul or heart as the seat of feelings or sentiments, or as prompting to action: a man of broken spirit.

I would like you to take a moment and think about what the spirit means to you. Can you identify with any of the above?

Let me just start on my ramble and try to explain myself…

Tarot consists of four elements, these elements are fire, water, air and earth. In addition to these four elements there is a fifth – the spirit. To me, the elements are encompassed by the spirit. The spirit relies on these more material elements just like the elements rely on the spirit to be imbued with the life force or aether. If we take this into consideration we can see how the entirety of the Tarot relates to the spirit. Some people only associate the Major Arcana with more spiritual matters and the Minor Arcana with more mundane day to day matters. I feel like every part of the Tarot can be related to the spirit and soul. Through each card we can learn a life lesson to better our spirit on its journey in this lifetime. Matter and spirit are not totally separate forces, they are closely intertwined. There is a symbioses between the two. The mistake I think many people make is seeing these at two totally separate things.  Let me break down each suite and explain further.

Wands – Fire: This suite represents the fire that ignites your spirit. It relates to intuition and that creative spark. Have you ever heard of someone having a creative spirit or a fiery spirit? The spirit houses this drive. Its important to nurture your souls creativity and passion. If we look across the suite of wands we see all of these characters poised to take off on some passionate endeavor, we see the wands themselves shooting across an open landscape with such force behind them. The spirit is being driven and directed in the material realm to feed upon the fire within. Likewise our material body and soul is being fed by the spirit.

Cups – Water: The Cups represent the whole range of human emotions. We can look through this suite and see the full spectrum. Emotion by default is closely and mostly related to the Ego.  Even though most of our emotion is rooted in this there is a higher spiritual emotion or exaltation we experience. Have you ever been so moved during ritual or spell work you could feel it in your core? I do believe that your spirit can be moved in the presence of god to an emotional state we as human beings cannot comprehend, it is the closest thing to being one with god that we can feel. To me this s most closely pictured in the ten of cups, the pentacle of emotional completion.

Swords – Air: Reason, justice, logic, the intellectual realm is the sphere of Hod – these are all of the things we see represented in the Swords. The swords deal with our minds, whether is be mental anguish or happiness. The realm of Fire is greatly dependent on Air to see it through. Once we birth a creative idea or endeavor we need our intellect and reason to see us through to make the best outcome. It helps govern the spirits creativity and direct it to an appropriate end.

Pentacles – Earth: Malkuth – or the material realm is a direct manifestation of the subconscious and the spirit. The spirit uses the human body and earthly realm to manifest into form. If we look throughout the journey of the Pentacles we can see the trials and tribulations the spirit faces manifesting in the material. The spirit uses the human body and material realm as a vessel in order to expand and grow. Each experience we face in this realm has a direct impact on the spirit and what we will face in the next incarnation.

You may have a totally different viewpoint and disagree with me entirely and that is totally okay! A trap I think many people get in is seeing things only one way based on one particular source. My opinions change over time like everyone else based on my experiences. Do you see things differently? Is there any suite that you feel is more related to the spiritual experience?

Random Musings

My Ancestral Altar

Above is my ancestral altar. The majority of it is dedicated to my grandmother. She brought me home from the hospital when I was born and raised me as her own. I did not know my mother or father until later in my teens. My father did come around more as my grandmother was his father, however, my mother was nowhere to be found. Now we are slowly starting to get to know each other, but I still do not equate her with my “mom”. I was very blessed to be raised by my grandparents. My grandfather passed right before my high school graduation. My grandmother passed about a year and a half ago. It was devastating. After that I decided to set up an altar to her memory as well as my grandfathers.
I do believe that it is very important to remember those that came before you. They laid the groundwork for who you are and where you are today. I do not know what exactly happens when you die. Nobody really knows because nobody can come back to tell us. That adds to the great mystery. When can theorize and postulate. Everyone has their different beliefs. I do believe spirits are a very real thing and it is possible to contact the dead, or something on the other side. The most disturbing thing about my grandmother dying is I did not feel her presence after she passed. Some people claim they can feel their loved ones around. She always swore that she could feel my grandpa sit on the edge of the bed and he also left her pennies. I felt none of that. I tried to, I even tried to make contact and there was nothing. Maybe she moved on or experienced reincarnation, I do not know.

My altar consists of many of her favorite possessions. She collected cookie jars and beanie babies. I also have a lock of her hair from her passing. I leave out offerings and flowers. She loved tomatoes so I frequently leave them out with some fresh herbs. I have other items from her lineage such as her fathers pocket watch and her mothers perfume. Sometimes I smell it to feel close to them. I’ll say a small prayer for protection over it and light candles. The act of this also sets the mood in my sacred space for my meditations and tarot readings. Its a nudge to say “hey if anyone is out there and wants to give me some guidance I’m open!” Many people who regularly work with spirits believe they are aided by opening the channels and asking for their loved ones assistance.

Even if she is not being “appeased” by my offerings it offers comfort to me. In a way it makes me feel close to her still. If she is out there actually watching over me then her presence should be acknowledged.

Below are a few of my tips for keeping an ancestral altar

You do no have to keep an altar for every single relative –  You cannot obviously have an altar for every single person that passed. It should be kept restricted to those who touched your lives the most. That is where the connection is going to be the strongest, and if you are doing spirit work the biggest chance of success is going to be with the deceased you were closest to, not your 3rd cousin Bill who you may have only seen once.

You do no have to keep an altar for those relatives you did not get along with – If my father passed today I would not add him to my altar. He is an alcoholic and meth addict who was verbally and mentally abusive to me throughout life. Why would I honor someone who treated me so cruelly? Your altar should be something you want to do for your loved one, not because you feel obligated. Also I would not want my fathers negative energy in my sacred space. If you calling down the spirits and you believe this energy is tangible you only want to bring positive energy down.

Add offerings regularly – Having an ancestral altar is an interactive process. Consider it the place where you keep conversation with your loved ones. Would you invite your mother to sit at a table covered with dust and cobwebs? Most people would spruce up and at least dust before inviting relatives over. Tending to the altar can be a ritual itself. Keep it clean and tidy. Leave out offering regularly. I leave out food and make sure to throw it away when its gets spoiled. You wouldn’t feel your mother a rotten tomato. The act of leaving offerings should be treated with respect. It has become such a habit for me to keep it tended that I actually feel bad if I don’t.

Your altar doesn’t have to be huge and elaborate – I’ve seen some elaborate and gorgeous altars on pinterest and throughout the web. There are no rules to how big your altar needs to be. It is very personal. Every person will be different based upon their family and traditions. Do not feel like you have to go big or go home. You might have limited space or not very many family possessions. The altar is not about the size or how many things you put on it but the meaning that goes into it itself. If you even have just one picture and candle that is alright because it was constructed by you to create that link. The bottom line is that it is yours, nobody else’s.

If you have any pictures of your altars please share them. Is there any special way you honor your dead?

Card Reflections


Did anyone notice in my last post I spelt the word least wrong in the title of my post? I draft medical office leases for doctors as my day job and I guess I had work on my mind! It has been corrected. I can’t believe it took me this long to notice.

Work has been on my mind a lot lately. Ive been faced with several big choices lately that will impact the future of my husband and I. Like at the moment we are deciding on whether to sell our house and move to a totally different state and start over. In addition to this move I’m thinking of quitting my corporate day job and start my own business. I have a few different ideas, mostly I’m just so tired of working the in corporate world.  Ive been doing readings for these challenges seeking guidance from the all. Judgement has been coming up a lot. That inspired me to write a blog post about it. I think it is a card a lot of people have difficulty interpreting. As we get farther along in the major arcana things get more muddled. We go from defined archetypes to more abstract concepts. There is an accumulation of experiences leading up the the Universe where we achieve total enlightenment. Before  we reach that blissful state where everything is going great and we reach the pinnacle of achievement we have to go through a spiritual awakening. An epiphany or the last call to answer the angels trumpet.

The Judgement card can mean a time of self evaluation or meditation. You may be faced with some huge choices that will require very careful consideration. Most depictions of this card depict people rising from their graves at the sound of Gabriel’s trumpet. These people are being given second chance, they are undergoing a spiritual awakening.  To me there is a sense of relief and release, they are being freed of any burdens. The choices your now faced with are an accumulation of past acts and there will be fruition.  You may be at a cross roads. Upright this card is a good sign. Finally there will be breakthrough. If this card appeared in reverse I would caution one to take heed. There is the potential to miss out on momentous moments. This is not the time to get ahead of oneself or get cocky. Careful consideration and reflection is key. The decision ahead will be a defining moment. This may even point to to an eureka moment where the path or choice becomes clear.

This card is sometimes called Aeon. It connect Hod with Malkuth on the tree of life. It is ruled by the Hebrew letter Shin which means fang or tooth. Ideas are being manifested into reality at a final accumulation which is directly represented by the connection on the tree of life between Hod (the realm of mental capacity and ideas) and Malkuth (the kingdom, the final level of concrete manifestation).

This card can be a good meditative tool if you are working on bringing something to fruition in your life. Look at it to remind yourself of the brevity of your choices. What you manifest on the subconscious place will manifest on the conscious plane.  When Gabriel blows his trumpet for you will you be ready to make the choice set before you?

Some other correspondences going along with this card:

  • Its planet is Pluto which governs synthesis of information, evaluation, personal judgement.
  • This card can correspond to either fire or water. I can see it from both sides. This card exhibits a burning energy, but it still has much to so with the element of water and matters of the subconscious.
  • The herb associated if golden seal, which can be used as a laxative or antiseptic.

Do you have a different view of this card? What is your take?

Random Musings

Meditation – Everyone’s Least Favorite Chore

I want to take time to discuss meditation. I feel like whenever you bring it up people get grumpy. We live in a society where there is constant stimulation. People can’t sit still or go for five minutes without checking their phones or tablets. This presents a huge problem for those seriously wanting to undertake a magical path. Meditation is an essential first step in being able to control the self. If your not able to sit and focus for five minutes how can one possibly be able to sit for ritual or to cast a spell which requires such an intense amount of mental concentration?

One common misconception is that meditation requires the blanking of the mind. It does not. That is one form of meditation, and it is a very important skill to learn, however, there is so much more. You can meditate on a certain image, concept, breath, such a number of things. It is something that starts out slow to learn. At first one may be only able to sit for a few minutes without fidgeting. Over time this will grow.

You don’t have to sit for hours like a stoic Tibetan monk. I typically take about ten minutes most days. I would say a total of fifteen because it usually takes me about five minutes to sit and get into the proper state. It isn’t about the length of time you meditate, but the quality.  Consistency is key. I try to meditate at the same time every day. I find it easier, my body gets into a routine. I always burn some essential oils and begin by focusing on my breath and let my mind wander. It decompresses the day. I roll back through everything that happened and let my mind be a neutral observer. After I get into a light trance state I reel my mind back in and see where it goes. Sometimes I may focus on a goal or if I am studying a particular tarot card I will focus on that and the symbolism behind it.

I think in the next month or so I am going to put together some free material on my tips and suggestions on how to meditate. Ive become such a believer that it is a cornerstone of any magical practice that I can’t see any other way to practice magic without it being integrated. If anyone has anything that they have found helpful in developing a meditation routine let me know. I love finding new things to incorporate.