I Meet the Alchemist of The Lost Code

I love the design of this kit. The matte black magnetic box with images in black gloss looks fabulous as does the typography and layout of the book. I like the cards and had no trouble identifying them, and they are nice cardstock and lamination.

I’m about halfway through reading the book and already images and snippets of writing are leaping out to me. I got the itch to doodle around with a journal, so I bought a midi-sized Paperblanks journal with blank white pages, that has a magnetic foldover and a cover based on an 18th century Persian watercolour that was found inside a book. It is on the upper right in this photograph.


I wanted to find a more Renaissance-inspired cover but this was what they had and it’s very pretty and has brown and gold accents that pick up colours in the cards and book of The Lost Code.


Lots of plans and words ahead. If the blank paper is like the lined paper in Paperblanks journals, it will take my fountain pens, and I’m going to use my bulletproof Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink for this.

I made two bookmarks from the band around the box, and it gives me a chance to pull out my two big books on alchemy and art and history. I hope to randomly tie things in as I like to do and just have fun puttering around with this deck.




Database Walk Through Ecumenism

Let’s tiptoe through Database Monday on Thursday. I seem to be having an allergic reaction to something with the mad itchies coupled with insomnia at 2 a.m.

This is the Kazanlar Tarot by Emil Kazanlar published in 1996 by A.G. Müller, a deck I traded for and almost never use. This is just my kind of deck with mythology, history, folk tales, religion and bits of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. This delicious mix appeals to me. I wonder if there is too great an ecumenical bent to absorb it adequately to use? No matter, I generally do single cards anyway.


I like a certain amount of exploring, of looking things up, of understanding and comparing, but this seems a bit like stodgily working through James Joyce and trying to figure out the references. Still, I like a good workout. Dang, I only gave it a 4 out of 10 rating in the database.

I think I need another look at this, so I’ll find it and use it for a bit. No wonder I liked it so much that I traded for it, look at these interesting cards. Kazanlar wrote and illustrated the deck, and I always feel that denotes extra passion and commitment to the ideas, to getting the art to reflect accurate ideas.

Click to enlarge.


Here is the blurb from my database on it:

The ecumenical attitude allows that different religions lead equally to God, so Kazanlar refers to this deck as The Ecumenical Tarot.

The Kabbalah references lead to the both the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible. For reversed meanings, the Kabbalistic Sephiroth changes.

Kazanlar was born in Iran from a father of mixed Persian and Turkish origin and his mother was Hungarian, so he grew up with two different religions. He also has some reference to the Islamic Koran in the deck and Hindu mythology.

The pictures range from the Indian dynasty of Moguls in the Wands (Clubs) suit; to the history and legends of Hungary in the Cups (Hearts) suit; to Persian history and fables like The Thousand and One Nights and imitation of Persian miniatures in the Discs (Diamonds) suit;  to Egyptian hieroglyphs and the history, customs and mythology of ancient Egypt in the Swords (Spades) suit.




Database in Denmark

No, it isn’t a Shakespeare deck and Hamlet, It’s the Javanne Tarot by author Karen Javanna Jordell, and illustrator Annelie Zofia Bisgaard. The Danish book was translated into English by Serena Rose Blossom and is bound between acetate covers. I ordered it from a shop in Denmark and had it shipped to Canada (which you can still do today.)


Years ago, one of my tarot compatriots told me about this. She no longer speaks to me since assuming I’d said something in an e-mail I hadn’t. We could all ditch e-mail and get back to real communication.

However, she got me interested in this deck and she had great interest in art decks as she was training to be an art therapist and the illustrator of this deck is an art therapist. K. Frank Jensen gave this deck an awful review, and ripped into the art on this deck, and ridiculed it. Really, art is subjective and I rather like these cards and the women who created them. I also think art therapy is very important. Frank may be a tarot “expert” but he’s closed-minded in some ways.


The 90 x 90 mm cards have matte laminate and are of very high quality cardstock. The original art was done on 1 meter square canvases by Annelie, who was inspired by two books: Between Worlds and On the Path. The author, Karen Javanna Jordell, has been working with the tarot over 25 years.

The deck is unique because each card can be turned in four different directions. In this way the cards can show you “where you are in your inner landscape at this exact moment.” I actually never use the four directions but consider the four directional write-ups much like I do reversals, where it all can go into the interpretation.

My deck came in a dark green silk bag with leather cording and some glass beads on the ends. As understand it, at the time I ordered it each deck came in a unique bag with odd beads. I’ve seen others in red silk: another from of creativity in coloured silk and beads. These days they don’t come with a bag, I think they are packaged in a box.

It is still available at the website if you are interested. Make sure you order the English book. It is 365 Danish Krone (DKK) which converts to about $60 CAD or $55 USD plus shipping. That is a good price for a book and card set.

As in all decks, some cards are better than others but it’s a nice set and holds up for me. I find the art rather joyous and colourful and the book is well written and insightful.



Database Flies with Icarus and Silenus

This is one of my favourite decks. I like comics, and Mike Indovina has several featuring his character Silenus as well as this wonderful tarot deck packed with mythology and interesting scenes.

I owned a red car for a year which we called “Hector” after the famous Trojan hero killed by Achilles. The day I received this deck in August 2009, we were on holidays and went out, but some guy in a Dodge Ram truck smashed us to smithereens, and I remember my hesitation in wanting to go out on a different day, and that I should stay in and explore my new deck.

Always listen to your feelings. Silenus knows.


I have enjoyed many draws with this, and the cards are small at 89 x 64 mm but they have lots of details. Silenus was a learned satyr in Greek mythology, and people often tried to capture him to force him to impart his wisdom; even the famous King Midas did that. Silenus might have tutored Dionysus and helped the gods in a fight against giants, he is everywhere, which makes him an apt narrator for the tarot journey.

Each card has a scene from Greek mythology that Mike paired with Rider-Waite meanings but he aimed for a visual echo of the Rider-Waite cards too. I don’t often think of it like this but it’s there is you compare. (Click to enlarge.)


I am fond of any deck that deals with mythology, but I wonder if this deck became ghettoized as a Comic-Con gimmick? Tarot people will often be disdainful of any deck resembling a comic. Not so, it is a fine deck with lots of depth and research. It would make a meaningful contribution to anyone serious about tarot and history, mythology and folklore. Here are some draws I made with it.

Ah, the Golden Fleece, Daedalus and his wings, and those centaurs having a bit too much to drink. Fearsome folk.

Mike Indovina has a B.A. in Fine Art (as do many comic artists) and you can still buy the deck directly from him. He has a guidebook for it too which I must buy at some point. He is another artist and thinker who deserves a much wider audience. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with a deck that has this much research and depth.



Take a Bite from the Database

It’s not as cheesy as it sounds, although the artwork is campy in spots. Ian Daniels is a good writer, bringing fresh insight and reflection to each archetype. I was quite impressed with the comprehensiveness of the book in comparison to other sets.

Yes, this is the blood-spattered The Tarot of Vampyres by Ian Daniels. I am not a vampire person, I thought Bram Stoker’s Dracula book was goofy and poorly written, and most of the vampire books I have read seem a bit lame, more like romance novels. I tried the first book of the Twilight series in graphic novel form and had to toss it.


But gosh darn that guy on the Six of Knives is absolutely to die for. (Click to enlarge)


I still think this is a worthwhile deck. One can get a bit jaded with the silliness of themed decks, but Ian has put such depth into the book and artwork that I would actually recommend this. The paintings are very lush with lots of decorative detailing. A few less drops of blood and this would be better for me but that’s the theme I suppose. I enjoyed many draws with it, and must get it out again.

Oh man, that Six of Knives……



The Queen of Coins in Black and White

Daily Draw March 22nd, 2013

I drew a card from the Tarot of the Absurd, and then I thought it might be an interesting study to pull the same card from other black and white decks, so this is a small study of the Queen of Coins or Queen of Pentacles.

The one that started it all:


Many people seem to attach the mothering gene to The Empress, but for me she is always this Queen. She stops to smell the flower, stops to nurture herself and others. There is something about the chair in this card, the cut-outs seem to allow for growth or change if not innovation, and the idea of movement and air circulating is here, like the openness this Queen has to others, like the tracery in the window, allowing and nurturing different paths.


Steve Bright has retitled the Queen “Nurturer of Pentacles”in his Fragments of an Illusion deck. In this case the queen is a Dad making sure he spends time with a young child even though he wants to fiddle on his computer.

In the Hermetic, she is associated with a goat for fertility. I like that he’s drawn a spiral on her helmet for snails and the fertility of the Earth too.

The Enigma makes mention of comfort not being for you alone, but something you give to others along with support. This drawing was a study for one of the angels in Da Vinci’s painting Madonna of the Rocks, so there is an angelic security or support hinted at here.

The Ship of Fools card displays the Queen with a mirror, an emblem of vanity and pride and it looks like a demon is going to roast her over a fire, an image the reminds me of several saints being tortured and grilled in history. The Queen seems unconcerned, a product of her grounded nature, although there is a hint that she might get carried away with material things and vanity.


Well, Queen Victoria had a lot of children herself and the stewardship of her people, which is a mothering concern. This is another very secure and dignified Queen and obviously fertile, generous too. There is that reciprocal idea of care and concern, also found in the Tarokado.

Ah the Ironwing, this is the Madrone of Bells, and the name madrone comes from the Arizona madrone tree which is a type of arbutus tree. My mother loved the Pacific arbutus. I was just copying out a poem for my Dad and I put an image of an arbutus with it. For me it is MOTHER and it’s so touching to see it referenced here. Proof that when you least expect it, a card will reach out to you. Collaboration and generosity, yet with productive work as crystals in a dark cave were transformed to provide the fruitful berries, and this Queen shares with animals too.

The Ravenswood deck shows the Queen with a necklace with a gold bull’s head. She has the freedom and wealth to share and seems very quiet and contained.

Le Tarokado is a French deck from Quebec. My French fell down on this one but it says something about everything being sacred and what returns is dedicated or consecrated. So in generosity and nurturing, the Queen has it returned to her and then she dedicates it to others again. Also in this card she looks very calm and contained, very grounded.


This card is so big I had to put it on its own. Again, you can see the goat association with fertility and also earthy impulses. I was interested that the dark and light aspect of the halves of the Queen is associated with versions of the Earth Mother from early cultures, and there is a suggestion of a third eye in the image. The darkness reminds me of the cave description in the Ironwing, where it is not dark and wet but fertile. Soil and growth and invention—I like the idea of invention as you grow things from your mind.


The Kaos shows another mother, nurturing a child. Comfortable and generous, secure productive and practical. She is really a great influence on people as well as taking care of them, she inspires us to be better, to work and be fruitful in many ways.

The Queen of Diamonds in the Diary deck also seems to have a third eye. The spider web on her face and the spider-like qualities of the jewel in her forehead remind me of the mythology of the Great Mother or Great Weaver, the creator of the world in several world mythologies. The web of life and mothering qualities are here, but there is also a watchfulness to this Queen, as a guardian to the Earth, a nurturing omniscience.

I don’t often get this card, but with my Dad going into a care home and his condominium being sold off, it does remind me of my Mom. She has been dead for twenty years but that was her home and as such it was an anchor or home base in the family and a reminder of her spirit.

The Madrone of Bells came to say “I am still here.” The other Queens say the same thing, and watch and comfort.