Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Review: Swagatam Tarot

Swagatam Tarot
Author: Pankhuri Agarwal
Artist: Aishwarya Ravichandran
Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing, June 2023

Description: 92 cards, 200-page guidebook, box with magnetic closure lid.

Card Size: 3 1/4 x 4 1/4

*Reprinted and Revised, June 2023

"Welcome to the Swagatam Tarot. The word Swagatam means “welcome” in Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages in the world. Based on Indian culture combined with the philosophies of Hinduism, the rich and unique images of this 92-card deck invite you to explore concepts of healing and self-exploration that have been around for centuries."

The guidebook begins with a short introduction. "This deck is based on Indian culture. It contains healing and lifestyle concepts that have proved to be of importance to well-being over many centuries. In this deck you will find details on how to use these for your personal benefit..."

The Swagatam Tarot introduces an extra suit - Smoke, which represents the element of Ether. The Minor Arcana has been grouped by numbers. For example: the Aces are represented by mudras or hand gestures, and the Eights are represented by Trees. The Major Arcana deals with traditional Indian concepts of well-being. 

Two spreads, Elemental Spread and Lifestyle Spread, are given to guide you in using the deck.

The Major Arcana are presented with a full-page card image, card number, keywords, reversed, and meanings of the illustrations. 

As you can see, the keywords and reversed keywords are based on traditional Tarot meanings. The paragraph covers the traditional Indian concept of the illustration. The author suggests, "The Major Arcana deals with traditional concepts of well-being but are applicable to every person worldwide!" 

After a brief overview of the suits and how to use the gestures, the Minor Arcana cards are grouped by number, with a full-page image of the first card, the group, its representation, and a short summary of the group as a whole.  

Each card is presented with a full-page image of the card, the name, representation, the Keywords, Reversed, and the traditional Indian concept of the illustration. 

After reading the reviews, I really wanted to love this deck, but I couldn't connect to the images. The concepts of the illustrations seem like a snap-shot education on India. I couldn't find a way to apply the grouped representations and the concepts of the illustrations to a reading. And, the many unknown words on the cards were distracting.

I took a step back from all of this and did a short 3-card reading, focused on using the deck without all of the above. I focused on the traditional Tarot meanings, but also referred to the guidebook. I was impressed by the results and found myself incorporating impressions from the book. 

The short 3-card reading, with images of the guidebook page for each, will give you a glimpse into the cards and the concepts of the images.  

Layout: Past, Present, Future
Question: What do I need to know right now in this moment?

The past position revealed, Ten of Smoke, a card from the extra suit. Referring to the guidebook was a must to get an idea of what the card was signifying. 

Ten represents Seasons and in this case Early and Late Winter. The concept of the illustration covers what constitutes an India winter and an association with foods. The fact that the Winter card shows up as we approach the end of winter was impressive as the cold weather collapses into the past.

The keywords: much need break from trials, respite, rest, finality, peace, suggests: I may be coming out of a long winter's rest. I have definitely used this winter to find peace with things in my life. 

The present position revealed, Four of Swords. Four represent Colors (Natural Dyes), in this case Sindoor/ Kum Kum. I assume after reading the concept of the illustration section this is Red. It is produced by crushing the red seeds of the Sindoor tree fruit. Uses of the Kum Kum are included in the summary paragraph. 

The keywords: prayer, faith, trust, peace, quiet, suggests: I may have found, or am still searching for, the before mentioned peace and quiet. I do feel I'm close to figuring out how to relax and just be in the present. 

The future position revealed, Ace of Pentacles, represented by the Hand Gesture, Prithvi Mudra, which balances the Earth element. The summary paragraph mentions healing the root chakra, which was also mentioned to be strengthened by the Kum Kum.

The keywords: new beginnings, completeness, prosperity, grounding, suggests: A possible future of success in finding my way, discovering new beginnings.

Overview: What I need to know right now in this moment is... My periods of rest and search for peace are bringing me toward the moment of success in finding my way to a new beginning. I may feel like I'm struggling through this, because trust me rest is not something I do often, to the point that my body is insisting rest and not taking no for an answer, but I am almost there. The light at the end of the tunnel is very close. Have faith, send out prayers, and I will begin to see success. Doing some work with my Root Chakra may help ease the feeling of struggle. 

I recommend this deck to anyone who wants a glimpse into Indian culture, a seasoned reader looking for a change of pace, and/or deck collectors. If the images above speak to you, this deck may well be worth your consideration. 

*As mentioned above, this is a reprint of the original, which had some publication issues. When purchasing, be sure to get the new print.

(Review Product supplied by Schiffer Publishing)

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Review: The Magic of Numbers

The Magic of Numbers: Numerology's Power Revealed
Author: Lori Reid
Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing, 2023

Description: 80-page paperback book

Book Size: 5 x 7

The Magic of Numbers is an easy-to-use, simple read. The guide will give you a glimpse into the doorway of Numerology.

After a short introduction to Numerology, "Depending on the different levels of interpretation, numerology can be as easy or as complex as the practitioner might want to make it..."

Chapter One: Birthdays offers you the calculations to obtain your Destiny Number, an overview of each number, and an exercise that will open your eyes to the cycles within your life. 

"...the critical importance about your actual date of birth is that this number will reveal insights into your life cycle and into the sequences of events that are likely to occur to you throughout your life."

Chapter Two: What's in a Name? gives you the calculations and methods to obtain your Expression Number. "When decoded, the Expression Number of a name yields valuable insights into the power of its sound." Each Expression Number is explained in the personality profile. There is also a table of Harmonies showing the numbers that will be harmonious or at variance with your Expression Number.

Chapter Three: Love and Attraction gives an overview of each Expression Number in Love and In Partnership with other Expression Numbers.

Chapter Four: Work and Money offers suggested occupations for your Destiny or Expression Number with an overview of each Number at Work.

Chapter Five: Keys to the Door gives the calculations needed to find your home's personality. A House-Personal Compatibility Table identifies if your house number is compatible or discordant with your birthday or destiny number. Each House Number is explained in a Character Guide to your House.

A short Conclusion and an About the Author closes this short dive into Numerology.

"Understanding numbers opens our awareness, shows us the interconnections that govern our lives and gives us the knowledge we need to control our destinies."

I recommend this book to anyone who has the desire to take that first step into studying Numerology or if you are just a little curious about the whole aspect. 

The Magic of Numbers makes it easy and uncomplicated for you to get a taste of what the Power of Numerology is all about. 

Grab your copy at  Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing.

(Review Product supplied by Schiffer Publishing)

Friday, January 5, 2024

Review: Nightfall Tarot

Nightfall Tarot
Author: Amory Abbott
Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing, 2023

Description: 78 cards, 128-page guidebook, box with magnetic closure lid.

Card Size: 3 1/2 x 4 7/8

"The Nightfall Tarot is a darkened interpretation of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, shrouding the scenes of the classic deck in eternal twilight. While maintaining each card’s original meaning, the Judeo-Christian symbols in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck have been interchanged with Norse runes, Icelandic staves, Wiccan, and other chthonic occult symbology."

The Cards are made of high quality, thick card stock and have silver edging. The full deck measures almost 1 1/2 inches thick. Traditional riffle shuffling seems impossible with this deck. But, as I tend to do overhand shuffling or smooshing to avoid damaging cards, this is not an issue for me. I've experienced very little flaking of the edging. 

The card back design: "The symbol on the back of each card is Skuld's Net, a Norse design more commonly referred to as the Web of Wyrd, the term Wyrd meaning fate. It represents the connectedness between past, present, and future: a net made of nine crossing staves which contain the shapes of all of the Norse runes."

The artwork of this deck is amazing. The darkened images are full of details and symbolism. Although the images vary from the Rider-Waite, they hold enough of the familiar to follow the traditional meanings.

The 5 of Swords contains two men, who the author suggests are twins, while the Rider-Waite features three men. The battle is still the same: no one wins, although one is defeated. Footprints in the sand give clue to the recent battle.

Three Swords lay against a large sand dune, while the other two lay abandoned in the sand. The clouds are dark, with no signs of blue, while the Rider-Waite features a blue, cloudy sky. The image is breathtaking. You feel the despair and devastation vibrating in this card. 

"This Wheel of Fortune features a Vegvisir, an Icelandic stave symbol used to guide travelers through rough weather. It is encircled by the Ouroboros-a serpent eating its own tail-to symbolize the cycle of death and rebirth. Surrounding the wheel in a storm are the four natural elements wind, water, fire, and earth, guiding each safely toward their destiny, in the endless cycle of self-renewal."

The guidebook begins with a brief introduction to the deck and then dives into the cards. The Major Arcana cards are presented by number, name, keyword/phrase, image description, reversed keyword/phrase and a full-page image of the card. 

The Minor Arcana cards, divided by elements, are presented by a small image, card name, keyword/phrase, image description, and reversed keyword/phrase.

The Readings section offers a summary of three suggested spreads: the one-card, three-card, and Celtic Cross. The three-card spread summary offers two possible layout positions. The Celtic Cross spread is briefly explained, with short descriptions of each position. The guidebook closes with a four-page Author's Note.

While impressed by the quality of this deck, my main delight is with the amazing artwork. I can see this deck easily serving multiple purposes: readings, reflections, creative prompts, meditations, shadow work, and more. I'm very excited to add Nightfall Tarot to my ever-growing collection.  

I would recommend this deck to any reader: novice, expert, or anyone in between. When new readers ask which deck to start with, my go-to answer is the Rider-Waite deck. I would easily offer this as an alternative first deck.

Grab your copy at  Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing.

(Review Product supplied by Schiffer Publishing)