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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Deck Review -- Tarot of the Cloisters

Tarot of the Cloisters by Michelle Leavitt, US Games 1993

The 'rose window' is a detail associated with Gothic churches and cathedrals, a round window characterised by a design radiating out from the centre in spokes or petals. They weren't known as 'rose windows' until the 17th century.

Tarot of the Cloisters by Michelle Leavitt attempts to translate the cards of the Rider Waite Smith deck into 78 rose windows. I'm really not sure why the deck is called 'Tarot of the Cloisters', because there is no cathedral that I know of that features rose windows in the cloister. (The cloister is an enclosed garden in the cathedral or abbey with a covered walkway where the holy orders could stroll in contemplation or meditation. Or maybe to have a barbecue. :) ) I suppose 'Rose Window Tarot' didn't conjure up the cathedral atmosphere in the minds of the publishers.

Apparently this deck is quite hard to find; I didn't how hard to find until after I recently bought it in a little occult shop in Burnham on Sea for £8. There were two of them there -- maybe I should have bought both of them!

Each card of this deck creates its own take on the RWS original, puts it in a round format, divides it into 12-14 wedges, and these are further broken up with black lines. Most of the images look less like stained glass windows than a painted piece of glass that has been dropped and shattered. Some images are more successful than others in creating the 'stained glass' feel, and those are the images which seemed pieced together rather than a whole being broken. But apart from that little bit of nit-picking, it's a very attractive deck.

Here are some of my favourite cards. It's really hard to tell if they're upright when you're putting them face down on the scanner, and when you try to close the scanner, they spin! So most of these are slightly rotated:

This brings up an interesting aspect of these cards -- reversals. It is quite difficult to shuffle a round deck so that cards remain upright, which leaves you with the dilemma of whether to leave the cards in the position they are turned over, or spin them around so they're all upright. My tendency is to turn all cards upright, as you know, but it occurred to me that these degrees of spin can be very telling in a reading. Which way is the card tilting? Past? (For me, that's to the left) Present? (the right) Or is it that the figure in the card is leaning toward one card and away from the other? Is the card looking up to the known, down to the shadow? All of these little subtleties can come into play with the rotation of the round cards. It's an interesting aspect of the deck.

My advice is, if you see this deck on offer at a price that's agreeable, don't hesitate to grab it. It's a good one!


  1. Tauni Love at Facebook offered this great tip for round cards:

    'One unique advantage I've noted with round cards is the greater meaning to be had from reading each card in accordance with its slant. I always parallel each card's direction with the cycles of the moon (upside down = dark moon, left slant = waxing gibbous, upright = full moon, right slant = waning gibbous, etc.). With that aspect added to the Daughters of the Moon imagery, I typically only need to draw a single card for my own readings.'

    Thanks, Tauni!

  2. I let mine go years ago, most of the faces look like the artist took an eraser to them.
    On the other hand I do love the round decks I now own, Songs for the journey home, and Dreamtime Oracle.

    1. I agree, the faces are a bit fuzzy. I'd love Songs for the Journey Home, and haven't even heard of Dreamtime Oracle! (Time to shop?)

  3. I think I tried reading the Motherpeace using something along those lines (could be they suggested it in the book). For me, it added too many permutations, but then, I still like spreads :D

    1. I don't make a strong analysis of every card's exact angle, but if it calls attention to itself, I take note. :)