27 May 2013

Review - The Book of Shadows Tarot

 I stumbled across the Book of Shadows Tarot about six months ago and was immediately intrigued by the concept.  This tarot is actually two decks; As Above and So Below.  The first deck, As Above, has been out for a while now and is designed to address the spiritual side of the question at hand.  The second deck, So Below, has just come out and is designed to address the mundane concerns of the query.  Quite an interesting approach no?

As witch with some strong Wiccan leanings this tarot immediately caught my attention.  I always enjoy exploring tarot the strong Pagan or Wiccan undertones because they resonate with me a lot more than the more ceremonial and alchemical underpinnings than classic tarot, like the Rider-Waite or Thoth decks (not that I don't use them from time to time).

The So Below deck has all the cards of a standard tarot, while the As Above deck is a little different.  The As Above deck is a larger than standard tarot deck that uses its own version of the major arcana.  For example, it has The Summerlands rather than The Fool and Wisdom rather than The High Priestess.  It also has a card for each of the Sabbats.  The So Below deck has all the cards of a standard tarot deck, but with Wiccan imagery. 

Both decks have the four standard suites  The As Above deck using The Elemental, The Maiden, The Mother, and The Crone as trumps.The So Below deck uses the more standard Knave, Knight, Queen, and King as trumps. 

I really enjoy the way the two decks work together.  The As Above deck is full of fantastical, mystical imagery, while the So Below deck has images of everyday life that I think will be familiar to any practicing witch.   It's nice to see a tarot system that actually addresses the dichotomy of the mysticism of the mind everyday reality.  It makes translating the reading into practical advice very easy.  The only criticism I have of the decks is that the imagery is too female heavy.  I'm a card carrying feminist (I went to Wellesley, it's sort of requires), but magick is not all female and the lack of male energy in the cards is palpable.  As a woman it's not really a problem for me, but I'd be interested to see how it worked in male hands.

I decided to do a simple 3 card (past-present-future) reading to see how the two decks work together.  I asked the simple question: what do I need to know?

From the As Above deck I got: Initiation, 8 of Air, and 4 of Fire.
From the So Below deck I got: 10 of Chalices, Knave of Wands, and The Hanged Man

From this I interpreted that in the past I had metaphysical initiation and mundane happiness.  In the present I have the mental clarity and focus of meditation, while biting off more than I can chew in the mundane (I took this to mean that my focus would help me deal with my having over loaded myself a bit).  In the future I have metaphysical action and mundane stasis - quite an odd combination.  As I'm planning to get started on my next book (which requires furious though and a still body) I'm going to take this as an OK thing.

It's an interesting combination of decks to use, but I think I like it.  I'm absolutely going to have to play with it more.

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