Monday, 6 April 2015

Voyager Tarot Review

As well as being crazy about radio listening, I am seriously interested in The Tarot. I came across it several years ago when girls I worked with introduced me to it and ever since I have been hooked. My first deck was The Barbara Walker tarot, which I worked with for about a year. But I struggled with her court card collection of rather inaccessible (to me anyway) God and Goddesses from the ancient world, and I then moved onto the Mary Hanson Roberts deck for a year or so. To cut a long story short, after around three years I came across a period when I felt that if I didn't seriously change direction in my tarot studies I would end up putting it aside altogether. You see, I use the tarot as a tool for self-growth and have never been interested in its more divinatory nature. But each book I read would give such different, and often opposing, meanings to the cards I was getting confused and disillusioned by the whole the thing.

To put it another way, I felt the cards were trying to tell me certain things, to guide me in certain ways, but that the definitions in various books and often even the images themselves were not helping me try to understand them.

I had come across James Wanless's Voyager Tarot on the internet and more recently in Toni Gilbert's "Messages from the Archetypes" book. I especially liked the fact that a keyword was printed on each card, including the "court" cards, and that the words chosen by James Wanless matched both my own experience with the cards and what I felt intuitively. The move towards a more modern, accessible, fresh, "new-age" style (the very things that put me off these cards in the past) now appealed to me enormously. And so I lovingly put my Hanson Roberts, Barbara Walker, and Sensual Wicca cards away, and bought the Voyager cards, along with Jame's Wanless's book "The Way of the Great Oracle".

I had seen a youtube video by a lovely lady who was clearly rather disappointed by the voyager cards. I remember one of the things she commented on was how the voyager tarot was sometimes completely unrelated to the traditional meanings of the Waite cards. One of the examples she mentioned was the three of swords of the Waite deck traditionally associated with sorrow and unhappiness. In the Voyager the card is the three of crystals and named "creativity", as it represents the mind of the Empress. It is a very different interpretation. But I had already experienced a similar dichotomy with Barbara Walker's seven of pentacles. I had had a dream - an exceptionally vivid and emotional dream about human hopes and dreams all amounting to nothing and ending in tragic failure and death. The energy lasted with me for days. That very next morning I drew Barbara Walkers seven of pentacles "Failure" card and thus made a very real and personal connection with 7 pentacles and failure. Yet later, as I used other decks, I realised it could mean different things. In the Sensual Wicca it shows a lady nurturing a seed and indeed I drew it then to represent the need to nurture new beginnings and not give in too quickly.

What I am trying to say is that there didn't appear to be a "right" or "wrong" interpretation for the tarot cards. It depended upon the deck you were using, the books you were using, your experience etc etc So I wasn't too concerned that James Wanless's cards didn't always sit side by side the Waite ones. In fact I was glad they didn't, as I have come to regard Arthur Waite as a pompous and rather unpleasant-sounding man. If you have ever read Waite's "Pictorial Key to the Tarot" you will know what I mean! I read somewhere that he said the lovely artist for his cards, Pamela Colman-Smith, had to practically spoon-fed his design for the High Priestess. Really, what a thing to say of the artist of your deck! It's not as though his designs are all that great anyway: in my mind his major arcana pictures are unnecessarily full of obscure, archaic and often rather dark and negative symbolism which seemed typical of these early occultists and to my mind is neither pleasant to look at nor particularly helpful.
The key occultists of that day (I am thinking Waite and Crowley) seemed unbalanced, pompous, disturbed, unpleasant, egocentric personalities I personally wouldn't want to meet. I was glad to be moving away from them and personally no longer wanted a deck that had any links to them at all.

Anyway, what if the three swords piercing the heart didn't mean sorrow. What if, as Rabbi Dovid Krafchow writes, they represent knowledge that pierces the heart. Isn't that what creativity is? Knowledge that goes so deep it requires a creative outlet. Like a great painting or a symphony. The boundaries between "right" and "wrong" are already beginning to blur for me.

In other examples of apparent differences between the Voyager cards and the traditional ones, I have found that if you look deeply enough there are similarities, it is just that the Voyager cards go one or two steps deeper as they move away from a two-dimensional divinatory explanation towards a deeper, more spiritually helpful three-dimensional one.

I can't imagine going back to my old decks now. The Voyager tarot has helped me learn about hidden aspects of myself I didn't even know existed. They have helped me become less critical and judgmental of myself and more loving and accepting. I feel that a spirit and energy of love and healing comes through the Voyager cards that was previously blocked by my old decks. Does this give the impression they are wishy-washy, overly sentimental, new-age nonsense? I hope not, as that is not the case at all. They are honest, and gentle, and illuminating and they tell it as it is, free of the baggage that we carry around with us and then use as a background against which to interpret life, cards, events, people. I love these cards and am about to order The Voyager Tarot Companion by R.Lloyd Hegland. And so in a few weeks I will comment again on this blog about that new book and about any further information you may find helpful if you are considering using The Voyager Tarot.

Thanks for reading.