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The Mythic Tarot Deck

by Juliet Sharman-Burke & Liz Greene. Illustrated by Tricia Newell

The Mythic Tarot Deck & Book Set
Price: $24.95
Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 3 x 5 inches; or 77 x 129 millimeters.

Back of card: Solid black with a small emblem of the four suits drawn in gold line.

Book included: Yes, 217 pages, dimensions: 5 x 7 inches; or 127 x 177 millimeters. Also includes black reading cloth with positions of the Celtic layout in gold printing, 20 x 24 inches, or 50 x 60 centimeters.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster. Printed in Hong Kong.

Comments: Liz Greene has a reputation as an expert in mythology. This deck suggests otherwise. We show you the Magician of every deck as the Magician is a key card in the series. Look closely at this one: His left hand is upraised, the right hand points down. This is the reverse of the Magician in most of the other decks we've seen. In magical work - or any kind of work, for that matter - the right hand is active, the left hand is passive. It's instinctive. We ourselves are left handed & after struggling with left/right dominance in pranic healing, we found it was far simpler & much more powerful to gather with the left, project with the right (left hand passive, right active), just like our right handed counterparts. So it seems unlikely to us that this card represents a left-handed magician, & why would they show a left-handed magician anyway?

We should also point out the identity of the Magician in the Rider-Waite deck (circa 1910) is none other than Jesus Christ himself. Put a beard on him & think of all the miracles (feats of magic) he did. The Magician is not necessarily Christ in pre-Rider decks, but is most certainly Christ in nearly all post-Rider decks. In the Mythic Tarot we again see the familiar white tunic & red cloak & what looks very much like a laurel wreath/crown of thorns on the head. We are not preaching Christianity but rather trying to show how pervasive Christian imagery can be & what implications can be drawn from it.

So this Magician draws energy from the ground and projects it into the air. You might think this is about the same as air conditioning the great outdoors on a hot summer day, but this is the Magician, not the Fool, so we must presume he knows what he is doing & is confident of success. Normally Magicians draw the energy of the spirit from "above" & project it downward into matter: The priest or holy man who blesses us in our heavy physical bodies. The Magician in this deck does the reverse. The act of taking energy from the material & projecting it into the spiritual is what happens at death. Not the allegorical death as in the Death tarot card. The real thing. Death. The soul (energy) leaves the body & goes elsewhere, leaving the body lifeless - a bit like the landscape around this magician, denuded of all life. So it seems to us this Magician is up to no good!

So this Magician is not Christ nor a Christ look-alike. He is a contra-Christ or an anti-Christ. In the book that comes with the cards, he's called Hermes. There's two Hermes. One Hermes was known as Mercury or the Winged Messenger of the gods. This is the Hermes to which the book refers, but the Magician card in no deck we've seen could be this Hermes as the Winged Messenger was not a magician. (To be fair, this seems a common mistake in Tarot & we really don't know why.) If the Magician is Hermes, he is Hermes Trismegistus (eg, thrice blessed), also known as the Egyptian god Thoth, who was a magician. The magical Hermes wrote the Emerald Tablet with its famous magical expression, "As above, so below", which both the belt & the magician's hands (pointing above & below) symbolize. On this card, the red cloak covers the belt, which, together with the reversed hand position makes a muddle of the symbolism. Believing him to be more a messenger than a magician, the book calls him a trickster & accuses him of treachery - & the trickster idea in relation to the planet Mercury is technically wrong anyway as Mercury is a sacred planet (references: H.P. Blavatsky, Alice Bailey & others). Nor will any sane magician stoop to mere tricks. They leave that to the jugglers who work on stage, sawing women in half & other such rubbish.

Another card caught our eye as well: The Hanged Man. But the card does not show a man who is hung. It shows one who is crucified upside down. The Hanged Man traditionally has only one foot restrained. This card shows one foot & one arm securely tied to the ground with the other arm presumably tied down as well: Crucifixion. The one who was crucified upside down, as all Christians know, was St. Peter. To the book's credit, it describes this card as "an image of voluntary sacrifice for a greater good", which is the classic spiritual definition of crucifixion, though the authors seem oblivious to what is clearly shown on the card itself. It may be the authors had some other deck in mind, a Greek mythology deck, perhaps, but since the cards are what they are, this just makes things even more of a muddle. Here's a practical tip on reading cards: If the card shows one thing & the book says another, forget the book! You'll go crazy otherwise.

To the authors, the Hanged Man represents Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods & gave it to mortal man & who then spent the next thirty years chained to a rock with a buzzard eating his liver. The myth does not specify in what position he was chained but does make clear - by implication - that he was not crucified. The man on this card is not chained and does not have a wounded liver. So long as we're mentioning wounds, the crucified Christ had a wound at his liver, caused by a sword. We wonder if the Gospel stories are hinting that Christ, like Prometheus, stole fire from the gods & paid with his life.

So we wish authors Liz Greene, Juliet Sharman-Burke & artist Tricia Newell well. Maybe someday they'll do another deck & get a few of the details right. Meanwhile, should either the Magician or Hanged Man card from this deck turn up inverted in one of your readings, take it as blessings in disguise. Or anything else you like. You - the Tarot reader - make the final determination.

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