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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January's Theme: "Path"
Volume 4 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Tarot of the Four Elements; Tribal Folklore, Earth Mythology, and Human Magic
Isha Lerner
Illustrated by Amy Ericksen

ISBN# 1-59143-030-5

At first glance the gaily coloured cards seem whimsical, but looking further reveals they are anything but na´ve or childish.

Inspired by primal symbols, tribal art, and sacred geometry, Amy Ericksen has created a deck that puts us in touch with nature, and our deepest, creative selves.

Often the term 'primitive art' is misused to describe someone who has had no training, or is not terribly gifted at drawing; that is definitely not the case here! Amy Ericksen is a skilled artist. She has created a multicultural and timeless deck, which vibrates with life and is rich in symbolism.

The cards appear to have been painted in watercolour, although they have richness and vividness more like that attained with guache.

The images are archetypal yet imaginative. Every detail appears to be well thought out, with the intention of awakening our feelings, imagination, and intuition. The Tarot of the Four Elements connects us to nature, and with nature's spirits. Many of the cards are filled with patterns such as dots, stars, and spirals. Ancient symbols, such as handprints, body art, and masks, seem to hark back to ancestral memories. Still, there is a lightness to this deck.

Because the emphasis is on growth and lessons, rather than events, this is a wonderful deck for daily readings. Because its images and colours touch deep, emotional places, I find the readings often stick with me, making this an excellent deck for more important issues.

The Major Arcana uses mythical images, and represents a total, and circular, journey of evolution, with each card representing a current stage of initiation.

The Fool greets us as our spirit guide, and is numbered 0. Justice is number 8, and Strength number 11. Most titles are the traditional titles. Those two that have been changed, still reflect traditional meaning. The Hanged Man here is called 'The Shaman'. Judgment is now titled 'Realization'.

The four suits are titled for the four elements of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. The wide border around each abstractly depicts the element, in corresponding colours. This gives the advantage of easily seeing which element(s) may predominate in any given spread.

The Minor Arcana represents everyday magic, the changing circumstances of life. They are lightly pictorial, more like a Thoth tarot than a fully pictorial Rider-Waite-Smith. The card's number is printed along the top, and the name of the element along the bottom. In this deck the number of each Minor connects with it's correspondingly numbered Major.

Elemental beings illustrate the Court cards, which are titled the Page, Knight, Queen, and King. All knights are seen with an animal totem. For example the Knight of Fire, appears with a fire dragon, the Knight of Water is a merman, and appears on the back of a dolphin.

Isha Lerner is the author of the full sized accompanying book. This one of the best books written for a deck, I've seen.

While it contains everything you need to read with the deck, and then some, this book may inspire you to go deeper and deeper. You may find yourself running to your library to read more about tribal art and symbols, Jungian archetypes, Joseph Campbell's 'inherited image', sacred geometry, Pythagorean numerology, and colour theory.

The second chapter, 'The Magic of Numbers, Form, and Color', is a real treat. The information in this chapter is enough that one would have a foundation to read any deck they picked up.

The 'Using the Tarot' chapter contains four simple, yet powerful layouts. I love that the number of cards used is given such importance. For example, because the number three represents manifestation, the spread titled 'Manifesting Dreams and Visions', is comprised of three cards. The author reminds us that by adding a card, we would shift the energy of the reading.

Three pages are devoted to each of the Major Arcana cards. A large black and white image of each card, occupies three quarters of a page. Each card's pages contain a discussion of the traditional image, the Tarot of the Four Elements image, the elemental message, and then a summary with key words.

Approximately one page is devoted to each of the Minor Arcana, along with a small black and white image of the card.

No reversed interpretations appear in the book. The author explains, and I wholeheartedly agree, that while there is nothing wrong with using 'reversed' meanings, there is a duality inherent within each card.

The backs of the cards have four stripes, repeating the borders of the Minor Arcana. Those who prefer to read with reversed meanings may wish to know the back is not reversible.

Wider than the average deck, the cards measure approximately 9 x 11 cm. The set comes nicely packaged. The deck fits into two recesses in a box, with the book sitting on top. The box then slides into a sturdy slipcase.

Appealing to those with an earth-based spirituality, especially those following a Shamanic path, the clearly written book makes this deck easy enough for the beginner, yet with plenty of depth to interest the experienced reader. The primal symbols and colours evoke personal responses that differ from reader to reader, making this an excellent deck for the intuitive reader.

This is one of those tarot decks that get better and better, the more you use it. The Tarot of the Four Elements is a deck not to be missed!

Reviewed by
Amanda Bureguard

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