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Summary: A deck that will appeal to lovers of dragons, especially in a Celtic context. As this deck follows the RWS "standard," it will be usable by beginners and pros looking for an additional deck to add to their collection. A must for lovers of Lisa Hunt’s artwork.
The Tarot can be used for many more purposes than just giving readings. One of the most powerful uses of the Tarot is as part of performing magick. Few books really go into this, especially books that come with a deck, and you'll be pleased to see that A Guide to the Celtic Dragon Tarot includes such a section.
The book also includes a section on using this Tarot for "meditation" ("guided visualization" might be a more accurate term). Try one out and in no time you'll be out on the astral plane. The reason for this can be found in the very design of the artwork of the cards. Most decks either have art that goes all the way to the edge of the card or have a clear and precise boundary and a clear border. This deck has a grayish border, but the artwork seems to feather into it. There’s no clear line where the images end and the border begins. By looking at a card it is easy to "go off" the edge of the image and onto the astral plane.
Most people will get this deck to do readings. As the names pretty much follow those of the RWS deck, just about anyone will be able to use this Tarot. The images, however, can be quite different from the RWS. The Fool isn’t walking off a cliff, the Magician is a woman, and the Lovers are two dragons. That said, Lisa Hunt’s art is quite remarkable. Although done in watercolor, it is not limited to the pastel-like wimpiness of the paints we used as a child. There is also brilliant, intense color used to amplify the meanings of the cards. In short, Hunt’s mastery of the medium is used to great effect. Her studies of different types of animals allowed her to create different types of dragons that are filled with passion and life. The backgrounds are primarily simple watercolor washes or stones with some plants with the use of some Celtic imagery. However, this is primarily a deck about dragons.
Because the symbolism of the cards is so unique, the key to understanding this deck should be in the accompanying book. It should be pointed out that Ms. Conway is primarily known as an author of Pagan books. Many people getting this deck will be fans of her Pagan writing and not people with a strong focus on the Tarot. Therefore, I would think that her book should appeal to Pagans, beginning and experienced Tarot readers, Celtophiles and lovers of dragons.
To sum up this review, the beautiful art of Lisa Hunt is enough to make this deck a part of any Tarot reader’s collection of decks. It’s great for meditation and to help people achieve astral projection.
For doing readings, the symbolism on the cards is unique, and the descriptions in the book and their symbolic meaning will speak to many people readers.
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Creators’ names: D. J. Conway with Lisa Hunt
Artist(s) name(s): Lisa Hunt
Brief biography of artist(s): Lisa is an internationally known Tarot artist whose work includes The Shapeshifter Tarot, the bestselling Celtic Dragon Tarot (Llewellyn), and Fantastical Creatures Tarot(US Games 2007); voted a top 10 Tarot deck for 2007 by Aeclectic Tarot. She is the creator of the award winning Animals Divine Tarot (Llewellyn 2005), earning her a 2006 COVR visionary award. Lisa is also the author of the fully illustrated meditation book Celestial Goddesses (Llewellyn 2001). Lisa loves to read and has an impressive collection of books. She has spent her life studying and sketching fairy tales, myths, legends and other fascinating subjects that have driven her muse. She also holds a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Jungian Psychology/Art & Drawing. Lisa lives with her family in Florida.
Name of Accompanying Book: A Guide to the Celtic Dragon Tarot
Number of pages of book/booklet: 240
Authors of book/booklet: D. J. Conway with Lisa Hunt
Brief biography of Ms. Conway: A native of the Pacific Northwest, author D.J. Conway has studied the occult fields for over 35 years. Her quest for knowledge has covered every aspect of Paganism and Wicca to New Age and Eastern philosophies; plus history, the magical arts, philosophy, customs, mythologies and folklore. In 1998, she was voted Best Wiccan and New Age author by Silver Chalice, a Pagan magazine. She lives a rather quiet life, with most of her time spent researching and writing.
Available in a boxed set?: Yes
What are the extras in the set?: An additional box to protect the deck
Magical Uses: Astral projection, Meditation
Reading Uses: Romance, General
Ethnic Focus: Celtic
Artistic Style: Graphic art realism and impressionism, tempered by characteristics of the medium used
Original Medium: Watercolor
Theme: Dragons and Celtic concepts
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Primarily yes in the names of the cards, but the symbolism can vary dramatically.
Does it have extra cards?: Yes, it has two additional cards that briefly illustrate two readings. One explains a five-card spread called "Influence of Elements" and the other is a nine-card spread called "Past Life, Present Life." The latter is called "Past Life, Present Influence" in the book, where both readings are explained in a bit more detail.
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: Yes, The Devil is renamed "Chains" and the Wheel of Fortune becomes "The Wheel."
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits?: No
Why was deck created?: The idea for the deck came into being when Ms. Conway was writing the book, Dancing with Dragons. She worked with Ms. Hunt with a goal of avoiding "all New Age looks and designs, striving instead for an atmosphere and symbolism that blended perfectly with dragons—that of the Celts…We chose to use only landscapes from the Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales."