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)

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