By Stephanie Arwen Lynch
Mystic Dreamer Tarot, by Heidi Darras
The Dreamer's Journal, by Barbara Moore
Llewellyn Worldwide, September 2008
From the soft-sponged pink of the box to the muted quiet, almost diffident, cards, the Mystic Dreamer Tarot is a very feminine deck. On my first pass through this Tarot deck from Llewellyn, I was struck by all the female faces gazing back at me. The second time through, I focused on what are traditionally depicted as masculine cards, such as the Five of Wands or the Seven of Swords.
Females rule this deck of dreamers. There is a languid, liquid feeling that is enhanced by the soft art of Heidi Darras. Darras is a self-taught digital artist who thanks the wildly popular Deviant Art site for her inspiration and focus. In the book she talks about how she turned to computer art while her child slept. I think you can pick up that sense of peace in her art.
The accompanying book, written by Barbara Moore, is not your average bigger-than-normal LWB (little white book). From the opening pages of personal insight to the lined blank pages, this book is truly meant to encourage one to journal. My complaint would be that there are not enough pages. I would love to see a truly blank book produced that would offer some images of this deck but leave room for a real journal.
Barbara Moore delivers in the descriptions as well. Her notes include interpretations of reversed cards. For those who are familiar with Moore’s other Tarot books, this is a variance for her. Apparently the meanings came to her. I do like the little Intuition notes on each card that challenge you to reach a little deeper to find other meanings.
And of course you get the bonus spreads you expect. However, this goes beyond as well. I counted. From the simple variations on the three-card spread, to the more involved spreads, there are twenty-four different spreads. This includes a few two-card spreads as well as a one-card draw. I think this alone makes this a great deck for a beginner.
According to the artist notes, the imagery in this deck was intentionally stripped of Biblical symbolism. I’ve never thought of Christianity as something overbearing in the Tarot. Apparently, the artist wanted to offer something truly different. I don’t think there is any inherent problem in any of the cards. Only one image jarred me. One of the Queens is so obviously digitally manipulated that she comes across as a bit garish to me.
But then you have the sheer intimate beauty of the World card. WOW. Just wow. This card blew me away. The imagery is your typical world, but Darras moves that typical into something truly outstanding. Look very closely at the card. Can you find all of the animals? There are the four corners of course, but delve into this one a bit more.
Or the Hanged Man, who is actually a woman. The halo over her head is a crescent moon. One vine has fruit while the other doesn’t. The ravens on the two vines bring to mind Hugin and Munin. What better companions for the Hanged Man than Thought and Memory! For me, this Hanged Man hits many of the points I personally look for in this card - that being the idea of sacrifice, choice, and learning.
This is a deck to be meditated on and dreamed with. Mystical Dreamer Tarot is an aptly named deck. Overall, this is a deck I’d happily recommend to someone just starting out with Tarot who wanted something less traditional but not so far a field from the Rider Waite Smith system. You could easily pick this deck up and any of the basic books on Tarot to begin learning this art. Well done, Heidi Darras and Barbara Moore.