34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This is the first deck to be released from the Dual Deck titled Book of Shadows. This first component is titled Vol. I, "As Above". Vol. II, "So Below" is to be released in March of 2013. As Above is a full 78 card deck where it is not a RWS "clone". In her blog, Barbara mentions that she has taken more liberties and strayed from the standard RWS format. She states that the companion deck So Below will be more RWS friendly. This first deck is a more mystical and spiritual deck, where the As Below deck is said to be more down to Earth.
The cards are all painted, no CGI here! You will also not find the "faces of people" some find bothersome. The artistry is wonderful! This deck features the collaborated works of Simone Gabrielli, Grzegorz Kryinski, Franco Rivolli, and Pietro Scola di Mambro. For anyone worried about the unity of the deck due to multiple artists, I do not find it to be a problem. While there are some artistic differences to be found within the deck, the deck is very cohesive and united as a whole.
The Borders are a deep blue, with a bit of green undertone. The Numerals are held within a grey Triple Goddess symbol as the united Waning, Full and Waxing Moons. The cards' imagery is contained in a thin grey outline. The font and titles of the card are also in grey, in an all-capital font which is a flourished print. The titles of the cards are all done in English, no multi-lingual Lo Scarabeo titles to be found here!
The backs of the cards are also bordered in the deep blue-green, with a thin grey outline separating the main image from the border. The image background is of a starry sky. The foreground features the Triple Goddess symbol of Waning, Full and Waxing Moons. These Moons are done in a tarnished brass, with the Full Moon containing a Pentacle etched in a purple overlay. This symbol is taken from the card III - The Goddess. There are two sets of this symbol; top and bottom. The bottom symbol is reversed, so that the cards are completely reversible.
In the As Above Major Arcana, Barbara Moore has re-named most of the traditional titles (with the exception of XXI - The World), but managed to stick with a RWS format. -That is, 22 Cards numbered 0 - 21, with her equivalents to Strength as VIII and Justice as XI. The Majors are titled with their Roman Numeral at the top, and Moore's title at the bottom.
In the LWB provided with As Above, Moore lists the Majors in the traditional format, giving the numerical value, traditional title, and her title:
0 - The Fool - The Summerlands
I - The Magician - The Elements
II - The High Priestess - Wisdom
III - The Empress - The Goddess
IV - The Emperor - The God
V - The Hierophant - The Book of Shadows
VI - The Lovers - Beltane
VII - The Chariot - Transformation
VIII - Strength - Spellcasting
IX - The Hermit - The Path
X - The Wheel - The Wheel of the Year
XI - Justice - Mabon
XII - The Hanged Man - The Circle
XIII - Death - Yule
XIV - Temperance - Ostara
XV - The Devil - Lammas
XVI - The Tower - Omens
XVII - The Stars - Imbolc
XVIII - The Moon - Samhain
XIX - The Sun - Litha
XX - Judgement - Initiation
XXI - The World - The World
The Suits are: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. The Aces are labeled as "1", and the Courts are: Elemental, Maiden, Mother and Crone. Moore equates these with the Traditional Knave, Knight, Queen, and King. The Elemental has the Alchemical Symbol at the top, The Maiden has a Waxing Moon Symbol, The Mother a Full Moon Symbol, and the Crone a Waning Moon symbol.
The suit of Fire is the Astrological component of the deck. Ace (1) is The Sun, 2 - Mercury, 3 - Venus, 4 - Mars, 5 - Jupiter, 6 - Saturn, 7 - Uranus, 8 - Neptune, 9 - Pluto, and 10 is The Stars. The Planets are depicted in the backgrounds with their mythological God/dess gracing the foregrounds. X - The Stars depicts the Sun Sign Zodiacs amongst a celestial background. The Elemental is a Salamander slithering amongst lit candles. The Maiden is a woman dressed in red, with red hair, holding a lit long-stemmed candle. The Mother is a woman dressed in red, with red hair, standing before an open flame. The Crone is an older woman in red, who holds an extinguished candle.
The suit of Air is the Divinitory and Sense of Reality aspect of the deck. The Ace (1) is titled Dreams, 2 - The Pendulum, 3 - Scrying, 4 - Omens, 5 - Palmistry, 6 - The Attendant, 7 - I Ching, 8 - Meditation, 9 - The Runes, and 10 is of course The Tarot. The Elemental is the Sylph surrounded by clouds and blank pages flitting through the Air. The Maiden a younger woman searching through a natural area; it appears to be night, and she is surrounded by golden birds. The Mother is a woman amongst the clouds where books fly around her freely. The Crone is an old woman gingerly holding the biggest book yet closed. The Minors depict scenes and situations where the Sylphs can be found interacting with otherwise realistic scenarios.
The suit of Water is the Faces of the Goddess aspect of this deck. While the suit of Fire depicted mostly male Gods, the suit of Water appropriately depicts mostly female Goddesses. The Ace (1) is The Chalice and The Athame (depicting The Great Rite), 2 - Aphrodite (and Eros), 3 - Flora, Creation and Fertility, 4 - Bridget - Healing, 5 - Bellona - War, 6 - Sarasvati - Wisdom and Culture, 7 - Ma'at - Justice, 8 - Cerridwen (and Taliesan) - Magic and Transformation, 9 - Lakshmi - Prosperity, and 10 is Hecate of the Otherworld. Barbara has included many Goddesses from different cultures, and managed to include the iconic Goddesses of the Wiccan and Pagan Cultures. The Elemental chosen are the Nixes, creatures made of Water splashing happily amongst Water. The Maiden is a young woman standing in the sea at sunset, while a dolphin makes its way out of the Water. The Mother is a woman reaching to the sky as the rain pours down upon a rather barren landscape. The Crone is an older woman, supporting a bottle (which looks rather like a wine bottle) with its liquid contents safeguarded.
The suit of Earth contains the natural World and Earthy aspects of our planet. The Ace (1) is The Human Body imposed on Pentacle, surrounded by the Elementals of the Suits, 2 - The Beach, 3 - Stones and Crystals, 4 - Mountains and Waterfalls, 6 - Trees and Forest, 7 - Sea Creatures, 8 - Air Creatures, 9 - Land Creatures, and 10 is titled A Full Day; where we see the Earth in the celestial stars, Sun atop, Moon below, Gnomes gracing the Earth's surface. Gnomes are featured in every Pip card, while the Elemental has a close-up. The Maiden is a young woman happily making her way through a field of flowers. The Mother is a woman standing amongst a field of grains. The Crone is an older woman standing in a winter scene, relishing the falling snowflakes around her.
Overall, I'm surprised and shocked how well Moore's themes mesh with the traditional titles and card meanings. They fit so well together, that I'm baffled no one has managed to come up with it before! Truely, this is THE Pagan/Wiccan deck for me! I can see so many uses for it besides the standard divination purposes based off just the Major Arcana alone! The Goddess and God cards could be used for meditation and contact with the divine. The Sabbats cards would make lovely alter decorations for these special times of the year. This deck is not just a Tarot deck, but could supplement and encourage deeper Pagan and Wiccan spiritual studies. Myths, God/desses, Sabbats, Astrology, and Divination techniques are portrayed being a welcome introduction for those unenlightened. Inspiration and meditation, among many others, are other ideal uses for this pack of divinitory cards!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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First off, I'm not a Pagan or a Wiccan. That being said, I love this set! See, I'm a Roman Catholic that believes that, to be closer to God, I can tap into my own power to communicate his words and actions. When I first looked in the book and read About The Book of Shadows and so forth, I was worried I had gotten a deck that might not want to connect with me just because I'm not Wiccan or Pagan. I was wrong about that and felt fine having it in my hands. It's a bit of a stretch to relearn all the card types as they have all been renamed for the purpose of the ideology given, but the way the beautifully created decks were created with so much symbolism (which I prefer to do my readings with anyway), I don't have that much trouble. The book that comes with it is also in color and explains in a detail the both decks wonderfully so I don't feel stupid after I give a reading. This is the first deck of two (the second to be released in March) and I'm looking forward to seeing the second in action next to it's twin.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
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As a collector and tarot enthusiast, I have to say, I LOVE THIS DECK. Now, I am NOT into the exacting of details and archetypes that some find necessary in their readings, but I certainly appreciate well thought out symbology. Anyway, the art is just gorgeous, and the book is informative but not to the point where you lose your own ability to interpret. This is the first half, or "As Above" half of the two part kit. Unfortunately, the "So Below" half is also included in the full-color book, so if you like surprises, stay away from the book!!
Anyhow, this is a non-traditional set, but I think it's well worth it. I will definitely be pre-ordering the second half as soon as it becomes available.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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I got this deck to familiarize myself with Wican concepts and to give me very different angles on the Tarot. It does all of that and more. Like someone else said, though the cards are very different, one can still read them fairly closely to a regular Tarot deck. That being said it is different enough that it takes each suit to interesting depths. She uses the planets for the suit of Fire, Goddesses for the suit of Water, Divination Methods for Air, and Landscapes for Earth. The artwork is wonderful and filled with meaning beyond what the book describes. It does have a few negatives. The cards are a little flimsy in my opinion, but have held up well enough. I like the Maiden Mother Crone she uses in the court cards, but the deck contains no masculine reads within the court; often leading me to wonder how I should read the Elemental which seems an awful lot like the Aces. I love the information she provides on the the Holidays in the Major Arcana, but would like a little more depth.
Overall, a very feminine deck full of mysteries that whispers to the unconscious as well as the conscious. And very spiritual, I have to say, I come from a Christian perspective and I really like the things she has to say.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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I was really looking forward to this deck, along with the So Below deck. Barbara Moore is a tarot guru and her tarot decks are usually so deep, profound and accurate. I thought this deck would be a wonderful appropriation of pagan symbology & tradition within the basic fundamental understanding of the tarot system. Instead, it is a complete departure from tarot, forcing archetypes and events of the wheel of the year into a hamfisted Pagan 101 course that, frankly, left me cold and irritated.
I find the deck impossible to connect with in any divinitory way, since the minor arcana has very little association with my 20+ year understanding of and work with tarot. The major arcana has been squeezed to fit the pagan wheel of the year, which is a lovely idea, but the finished product is true to neither tarot nor paganism in anything except a surface way. This is NOT a tarot deck. It is a very basic educational tool with beautiful imagery that completely rewrites the major and minor arcanas.
The So Below deck, bought separately to fit into the little slot in the As Above box, follows the RWS system, and actually is easier to connect with in readings, but feels like a hastily-created add-on, with the accompanying guidebook meanings being little more than very basic cliched definitions. I expect more from Barbara Moore.
For a set of decks that is supposed to be cohesive, this one feels forced together. The card stock is different. The As Above stock is so thick it makes shuffling difficult. The So Below deck that, again, must be purchased separately, is the thinner, Vegas card stock that shuffles well. So Below feels completely alien compared to the As Above deck in the artwork. Sure the card backs are complimentary, but that's about it. Paganism is all about cohesiveness/oneness of all things. The art of each deck actually clashes! These two decks just don't feel part of the same universe. I get what the creators were trying to do but, IMO, they really failed.
The guidebook feels like part Introduction to General Pagan Beliefs and part General LWB tarot card meanings -- certainly not the wonderful, poetic Barbara Moore insight I expected. And with many cards, the meanings vary so much from traditional tarot as to make it impossible to come to this deck with prior tarot knowledge without having to throw it out and try to figure out a new system.
I find it odd that the As Above guidebook contains So Below card meanings when the two decks must be purchased separately. I did purchase both but if you only bought the So Below deck, the accompanying LWB for that deck doesn't even have the same definitions as the ones in the back of the As Above guidebook. You really have to buy the As Above if you want a guidebook for So Below.
While the art of both decks is beautiful, this system just doesn't work for me. I think an as above/so below oracle deck, presented as its own original system, would have been better. The lack of cohesion with basic tarot interpretation just muddies up the waters for me and having some cards the same as traditional tarot but others wildly different just made me unable to connect to whatever messages all those gnomes and salamanders were trying to tell me.
Which brings me to the symbols in this deck. Ugh. I find many of the representations in the As Above deck to be pedestrian and downright childish. Don't get me wrong, I love fun magical stuff. I love the Twilight series and Tinkerbell, but i expect weightier, more thoughtful characters in a deck that is supposed to represent the divine in all things. Garden gnomes representing the earth suit feels to me like a silly, adolescent, cartoon version of earth energy. The sylphs of air aren't very different from the undines of water, either, making those two suits hard to discern. And then, the entire fire suit is represented by planets which is a cool idea but jarring, making the fire suit feel more importand than the other three and almost like another major arcana.
The So Below symbols actually connect with traditional tarot archetypes, but the messages feel to me less like daily life and more like a dumbed down exercise in interpreting the very surface of tarot. maybe if I'd seen the So Below deck without the As Above I could have judged it on its own. It is true to the traditional tarot meanings, but I don't find it to be particularly illuminating. (Selling a house as the death card? Really?)
I pretty much hate both decks. I really wanted to love this project.
That said, as a primer for Wicca/Paganism, As Above is a great jumping off point for those just starting out. Moore includes quite a few suggested Books to read, and covers the hermetic principles, elements, sabbats and esbats. BSome of the cards are truly beautiful and I can see using them for altar space, spell work and meditation. Just don't try to read with the deck unless you like feeling confused.
Overall, I wasted $42 on both decks since I won't be using either one for actual readings.