I have just received in the post the full set of cards by Alexander Daniloff and boy, are they beautiful! I had been longing for them for a few months and as I found with a bit of extra money at the end of last month, I decided to treat myself.
Apologies for the poor quality of the image, but I’ve taken the photo with the only camera I’ve got: the one in my mobile phone and it’s not ideal; I should invest in a proper camera! Anyway, if you want to have a better look, go to his page: www.daniloff-art.it and have a look. You can purchase the whole deck or just the Major Arcana.
I’ve made a selection of the ones I liked more at first glance: Herakles in the 7 of wands; the amazing Chariot; the ever-so-sweet Wheel of Fortune…
I particularly love his take on the 8 of wands: all those weapons, each with a different point, make me think of how we have to use different approaches to crack a particularly difficult goal.
As you can see, it follows the classical Rider-Waite design in some of the Minor Arcana, but I don’t see that as something negative. The artist’s graphic language is so personal that he succeeds in making them new and different; plus it makes them quickly understandable. My favourite suit in this deck are the Swords.
My only issue is that they are so beautiful that I don’t want to shuffle them; I feel like my hands are paws and I’m going to damage them, as if they are flowers or a new-born baby.
Once I’m over being lovesick, I’m going to ask them something, I don’t know what yet. Although, now that I see the cards I picked up again, they may be telling me something already! What do you reckon?
Today I’m not going to talk about a particular card. With my exam quickly approaching and all the assignments that are still coming up thick and fast like rapid fire, I haven’t had the time to go deeper in the symbolism of a specific card. So, in the meantime, I’m just going to do a quick review.
The book in question is Heart of Tarot An intuitive approach, written by Amber K & Azrael Arynn K. It talks about a different way of reading the Tarot: The “Gestalt Tarot“. It caught my attention because my sister, who is a trained Gestalt psychologist and an art-therapist, had told me the powerful impact these techniques have.
Gestalt psychology is a school of thought that deals with psychological problems using imagination and creative visualisation. Its focus is in how we organise our outlook in life, how we cope with difficult situations and it helps us in changing our perspective. In a sense, it has an animist point of view: everything around us has a meaning and a voice provided that we listen to them; gestalt practitioners work with metaphors and try to bring us back to a sense of wholeness. A couple of years ago I had therapy with a Gestalt psychologist, who also used hypnosis, for some ongoing issues and I have to say that the results I got were amazing and long-lasting. Sorry, sister, I should’ve listened to you earlier!
For example, one of their most powerful techniques is called The Empty Chair. There are always 3 chairs in the room even though it’s just you and the therapist. So you’ve gone there because you have some unfinished business with someone or something: they are no longer around or you can’t get an agreement because no one wants to lose face or you feel unable to express your anger or it can also be a part of yourself that you dislike…
So you speak your truth to the empty chair, warts and all, without holding anything back. Then, you sit in the empty chair and that’s when the magic happens. Once you are in the other chair, you are the other party and you also speak up. The insights and revelations that come up from that are truly eye-openers.
Gestalt Tarot, a technique developed by John McClimans, works better if the querent doesn’t know the meanings of the card because it may interfere with the free flow of ideas. It is also recommended to use a deck where the minor arcana have drawings such as Rider-Waite, the Morgan-Greer (that’s the one used in the book) or even the Crowley Thoth Tarot. There are plenty, but it’s better to choose one rich in symbolism.
Then you use a spread of your liking, as any will work. Along the book they use many different examples, including a full Gestalt spread and a condensed Gestalt spread. I won’t describe them, they are loosely similar to an astrological spread. But the core of the technique are the questions that the reader asks the querent:
What so you see in the picture?
What are they doing?
How do you think they feel?
What are they thinking?
How do they interact with each other?
How would it feel to be like that?
And so on. Then the cards are read as if they were telling a story. After that, the reader asks the querent to notice any patterns: colours, numbers… It is very important that the reader lets the querent to speak freely and doesn’t guide his/her interpretation of the cards by using open questions. To finish, the reader summarises the key points of the reading. It should hopefully have brought light to the issues the querent had.
It is a very niche kind of reading: it requires a reader trained in Tarot and Gestalt psychology to really deliver insightful results. Plus also I am not sure that anyone expects to do all the work when going to a Tarot reader! Nonetheless, I think that it may be a good tool for self-reading, provided that you can detach yourself from what you know about Tarot. Easier said than done!
It also includes some chapters on type of clients, creating your own deck, how to teach tarot and tarot magic and herbs and stones, which I thought they were odd because they didn’t really have much in common with the rest of the book. Not really sure what the point of including them was.
IMHO, not for everyone but I did find the extensive chapter about how to ask good questions in Tarot very interesting. Often overlooked, it is a really really useful skill in life, I may write about that in future.
I bought my copy in a bookshop in Avebury, when I went to see and touch*! the stones. I am gutted that I haven’t found any copies of the pictures I took there to show you how lovely it is; I’m lucky enough that I live at 1 hour of distance from it so it’s a frequent picnic place. If you are in the UK and haven’t visited it, please do so. If you are not, keep it in your mind if you ever decide to visit this country.
So I bought the book and the husband fell in love with the selenite on the left. He even made a base with perspex to illuminate it from behind with green LEDs.
If someone is interested, it’s published by Llewellyn Worldwide and the ISBN numbers are.