Review: Millennium Thoth Tarot – artwork by Renata Lechner

It’s here! The last deck in the Thelema trilogy with artwork by Renata Lechner and published by Lo Scarabeo. About a year ago I wrote my review of the Arcanum Tarot deck and now it is time for a review of the last deck in the series.

As with the other decks in the trilogy it comes with a nice box and a small booklet. The box is sturdy, and will protect your deck, so it isn’t necessary to get a tarot pouch for it. I find that to be a big plus. Besides the box itself is nice looking with images taken from the deck. I wonder if they are randomly chosen or if they are among the artist’s personal favourites. In my previous review I mentioned that I did not find the booklet that interesting. I don’t know if its writer Jaymi Elford read my review (probably not), but this time around the booklet is a whole lot more interesting.

This time it left me feeling quite impressed. I will not go into details of it, as I think you should get the deck if you find it interesting, however I will say as much that they present an elemental alignment spread. Instead of shuffling the whole deck together you shuffle each suit and the Major Arcana separately and position the cards in the formation of a pentagram. It’s a very interesting idea and I am looking forward trying it out for myself. It definitely felt like the booklet gave me something extra. Very nice!

Unlike the two previous decks in the trilogy, the Millennium Thoth Tarot is based upon Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. The booklet provided points out the differences made by Aleister Crowley and the traditional RWS deck, which is great for those not already familiar with the Thoth deck. A bit sloppy though that his name is misprinted in the booklet. It’s a minor thing and not really something I care about, but it should have been possible to get it right.

Artwork and Symbolism:

The artwork continues with the same style as the previous decks in the trilogy with borderless cards and the title situated at the bottom of the card.

The artwork is of course based on the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley, and those who are familiar with it, can recognize the artwork and symbolism from there. I cannot claim that I understand all of the symbolism in the Thoth Tarot, as it is very complex, and Aleister Crowley struggled to write simply. It seems to me though that Renata Lechner has done a good job with it. They are quite rich in symbolism, but there are a couple of cards where some elements from the original Thoth seem to be missing, For example the Lovers and the Aeon cards (The Aeon card looks absolutely stunning though!).

In my opinion these are also some of the most difficult cards to understand in the Thoth deck. Even Crowley himself states in the Book of Thoth that the Lovers and Art are two of the most obscure and difficult trumps. I also think a lot of people find the Aeon card hard to break into.

In any case, I don’t think you would get the Millennium Thoth Tarot unless you already have an interest in Crowley’s tarot, so it could make for some interesting comparison and contemplating sessions where you examine both decks at the same time. And I don’t think that there are differences will be any major issue. I find the deck to be quite true to the original symbolism of the Thoth Tarot.

As with the two previous decks in the trilogy I really like the visual style. Again, because of the art style some of them might come across with a bit of a feminine vibe (although maybe slightly less so than the previous two in the trilogy?). It’s not much of an issue though. The only card I personally don’t like so much is the Magus. He shows a lot of skin in Crowley’s version too, but as it is not as photo realistic it becomes less prominent. Here he reminds me a bit too much of the Knights of Flowers from the Game of Thrones TV-series.

The Court Cards also follow the Thoth Tarot with Princesses, Princes, Queens and Knights rather than the standard Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings from the RWS.

The Minor Arcana cards are also looking great, but I disagree a little with the design of these. The reason for that is that in Crowley’s Thoth the Minor Arcana cards had titles, but they have been omitted from the Millennium Thoth Tarot. The Minor Arcana cards in the Thoth deck is quite abstract compared to regular RWS tarot, so it makes it a lot more difficult to remember the cards. I find that the card title helps a little bit with it, but as they are omitted here it there will be quite a bit more to memorize. Abstract images are also more difficult to connect to intuitively.

Millennium Thoth Sample

The Magus, The Lovers and the Aeon from the Millennium Thoth Tarot

Conclusion:

The Millennium Thoth tarot is a great addition to my tarot collection, and it is probably a deck that I will be using quite a bit. Some decks I enjoy just because they look nice and never use them, but this one has plenty of interesting symbolism and great artwork. It is much prettier than the original Thoth, which is why I find it appealing to me.

I would not get it however, unless you already have the original Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley. It is somewhat necessary to remember the Minor Arcana titles from that deck, so it would be good to have both decks so that you can compare and see the similarities or else it is going to take a lot of difficult memorizing work to remember everything. The thing is that as they are so abstract, that I don’t find it that simple to connect to them intuitively.

In my previous review of the Arcanum Tarot, I suggested that you could mix the different cards you like the most of the trilogy. When I wrote that, I did not realize that the Millennium Thoth Tarot would be based this closely on the Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, so I would advice against that now. I suppose it is still possible, but it would feel a bit more messy now with different titles and the order of the Major Arcana not being the same.

The booklet also suggests that you need a little bit of patience with tarot, and I agree with that in particular for this deck. If you do give it some time and patience, I think that its deep symbolism and nice artwork will feel very rewarding. Just don’t choose it as your first tarot deck, as it may be a little bit on the complex side and might discourage you. If you are really interested in the Crowley Thoth Tarot, get that one first if you don’t have it already, then get the Millennium Thoth Tarot next.

All in all I am positively surprised by this deck. Unexpectedly it will probably stand out as my favorite deck in the trilogy, as I am using Crowley’s Thoth quite a bit. I had also not expected such a new (to me at least) idea in the booklet. So It was definitely worth getting for me.

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Millennium Thoth Tarot (2019) by Renata Lechner. Published by Lo Scarabeo.

Review: Gods and Titans – by Stacey Demarco (Oracle Cards)

I thought I would give it an attempt to review this deck of oracle cards called Gods and Titans. It is made by Stacey Demarco, who also has made a similar deck called Goddesses and Sirens, which I might review later on. I have the feeling that these two decks of oracle cards would work better together. Beyond Words Publishing is the publisher and the deck is illustrated by Jimmy Manton.

First of all, I have to say that I am not all that familiar with oracle cards. This is actually my first deck of oracle cards, and I don’t intend to use them for divination. I think regular tarot cards are more than sufficient for that use. I am not saying that it is not possible to do so, I definitely think it is possible, but it is just not my cup of tea. For me it makes more sense to draw a single oracle card and contemplate or meditate over it. That is what I got them for.

I have actually had some aversion to oracle cards. Mainly because many of them have too much of a feminine vibe. Gods and Titans is being marketed as a masculine oracle deck and it definitely seems like they have succeeded in making a deck that isn’t too soft around the edges. It is even mentioned in the booklet of the deck that this deck is meant to bring back “the Masculine Divine” to our modern spirituality. Good. It feels like a breath of fresh air. And that is why I felt that I could buy them and actually put them into use. As a male, it can be difficult to identify with regular oracle decks. I am curious about the Goddesses and Sirens deck now. From the box set I don’t have the impression that it is very feminine deck either, despite its title, but I will have a proper look at it in another review.

I don’t have any particular concerns about the card stock. I see that some people have complained, but there are no concerns here. Treat the cards with respect and there should be no problems. The cards are rather large compared to regular tarot cards and as I am not someone with extremely big hands, it feels a bit clunky to shuffle them, but that’s okay. The positives for having large images make up for that as that is better when you just want to focus on a few cards like I intend to do anyway.

The images of the Gods and Titans are generally nice, but there is a lot of yellow, red and orange colours here. It definitely feels masculine, but maybe slightly over the top. For example I don’t find it necessary with the orange/yellow background for the Dionysus card. He isn’t a war god. It’s not necessary to go full on He-Man mode to make it masculine. It is not an issue though, merely a small observation from my part.

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A nice touch is the booklet which includes a small introduction to the different Gods and Titans, but also a small invocation or prayer to each of the cards. Some are even with small ritual suggestions. That is not something for me to review though. How you look at that depends on your magical background, what tradition you work in etc.  As I understood it from the booklet Stacey Demarco is a practitioner of witchcraft herself, so maybe it gives a little bit of flavor of that, which I found interesting.

My main issue with the deck is the amount of different pantheons it takes its Gods and Titans from. Here you find a mix of a wide range of deities from western, eastern and even Mayan/Aztec culture. I find that rather overwhelming and I doubt that most people will have a relationship to all of these pantheons. I think most people, like me, will have one, two or maybe three favorite pantheons. There are Gods in here that I never even heard about before I opened the box. So it is very difficult for me to have an opinion about those Gods and what they are supposed to represent. Maybe it would have made more sense to include fewer pantheons, but have both male and female gods and goddesses included in the same deck and instead organize the decks by different pantheons. I might actually do that and add the two decks together and remove the cards I don’t feel any connection to. There is a very big chance that there are some cards in here that I will rarely work with, or even work with at all.

It doesn’t mean that Gods and Titans is a bad oracle deck though. It is definitely one of the few out there on the market today that probably will feel acceptable for men. And if you are looking for a decent set of oracle cards it might be worth picking up these. I think even women would appreciate that the deck feels rather differently than the rest of the oracle decks on the market today and it could be relevant for them if they are looking for something else than the ordinary “only positive vibes” oracle cards.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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Gods and Titans by Stacey Demarco – oops, looks like someone else made it into the picture as well.

Review: Arcanum Tarot – artwork by Renata Lechner

I am not sure how many reviews I will be doing on this blog. I guess it depends a little on whether I get any feedback from it and people seem interested in them. I suppose there are plenty of people doing reviews already. I only recently got this deck and as it was released in April 2018, I thought why not.

The first thing I want to say about this deck is that it is created by an artist called Renata Lechner and that it is the second deck in a planned trilogy of tarot decks. The first one was released in 2015 and is called the Thelema Tarot (it has nothing to do with Aleister Crowley’s religion. It’s similar in name only. It doesn’t even follow Crowley’s swaps for the Thoth deck). The Arcanum was recently released in 2018 and a third deck called the “Millennium Thot Tarot” is due to be released either in 2019 or 2020. It is therefore difficult not to compare them to each other and talk a little bit about both decks released thus far. The review is meant for the Arcanum Tarot, but most of what I say here will be applicable for the Thelema Tarot as well.

I don’t know anything about Renata Lechner or any of her ideas around the tarot, so this review will be based on how I experience the deck and my own tarot knowledge.

Arcanum Tarot, as the Thelema Tarot, comes with a neat little box that protect the cards. It is definitely a nice upgrade from most other decks which only get a simple box. This box offers some additional protection for the cards and it looks quite nice too. It also comes with a small color-printed booklet with brief meanings of the card meanings written by Jaymi Elford. You don’t get this deck for the booklet though. I don’t find it descriptive enough to be of any particular interest, but could be of use if you need to be guided to what you see on the images.

Artwork:

The artwork was what brought the Thelema tarot to my attention and the Arcanum tarot continues the trilogy in a similar style. Visually they look quite similar to each other. Both are borderless with the title of the card neatly situated at the bottom of the card. and have rich colorful style with almost photo realistic images. The cardback has a nice design, but I don’t think it is meant to symbolize anything in particular. I think it is just  a fantasy design that looks quite cool. At least, it doesn’t tell me anything.

I think the artwork is the main strength of this deck. Most of the images are really beautiful with a nice colorful and glossy print.And I think I prefer the artwork in the Thelema deck slightly over this one. The aesthetics of both the decks give me a slight feminine vibe, which I think is the case with a lot of visually pleasing tarot decks.

For some of the cards that might even be an issue. They can perhaps be a little too beautiful when they are supposed to communicate a little bit more of their raw energy, but generally it is not too much of a problem.

Card Examples

Arcanum Tarot at the top and Thelema Tarot at the bottom. The three first cards hint at a future blog post and Temperance I just added, because  it’s my favorite tarot card from any deck.

Symbolism:

Neither the Thelema Tarot or Arcanum Tarot have the esoteric symbols added on to them. There is space to add them yourself if you want, but I am not a fan of adding my own ugly handwriting to my cards.

It seems to be based on the traditional Rider-Waite Smith symbolism and the cards have the same names and numberings as in that deck.

The images here are a little different from the Rider-Waite Smith deck and that makes it a little bit more difficult at times to capture the essence of the cards. Subtle differences can sometimes make a significant impact on how the cards are being perceived. Some cards are also quite far from the traditional images

If you are very familiar with the Rider-Waite Smith you will recognize them though, but it also means that you probably need that Rider-Waite Smith knowledge in place already to use this deck properly.

Conclusion

If you already have the Thelema tarot, and you like that one. I would consider getting this deck too. If you don’t already own the Thelema tarot, I would probably consider getting that one first. Not only is it the first deck in the trilogy, but I also think its imagery is a little bit better.

The beautiful artwork is the main reason to get any of those two decks. They’re both not great for symbolism, but it works quite ok if you already are familiar with Rider-Waite Smtih.

Big plus for the nice box that comes with it. Definitely something more publishers should be doing and it saves you from buying extra tarot pouches.

The card quality is also good and I am not afraid to use these cards (just don’t put them under your pillow while sleeping).

Another idea, that I guess some tarot purists will hate, would be to take the favorite cards from each deck of the trilogy and put them together to your own super-deck with the cards that resonate the most with you. They are all the same size, so it would work.

Overall I am glad to have both Thelema Tarot and Arcanum Tarot in my collection. As the decks are both visually pleasing I find that they are great for tarot contemplation sessions for those cards that I think capture their essence in a great way.

Arcanum Box

Arcanum Tarot (2018) by Renata Lechner

Choosing your first deck is easy!

I know there are a lot of blog posts about this already. Most of them will tell you to find a deck that “resonates” with you or give you a list of a few good options. I, on the other hand, have a much simpler solution. Just get the standard Rider-Waite deck as your first deck.

The reason for that is that it is the classic deck and it still has the esoteric symbolism in it that is lacking in many more artsy decks. It is also the most used deck in the world and most books, articles, videos etc. will be using this deck when teaching tarot. So when using this deck there is always a lot of source material that you can refer back to. That is not the case with most other decks so it can be very difficult when you are left alone with a short booklet and images that no longer holds the esoteric wisdom in them. Chances are therefore that, if you choose another deck, you are more prone to get stuck and therefore give up more easily.

The Aleister Crowley Thoth deck is obviously an excellent deck, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. It certainly is rich in symbolism and it even corrected some mistakes in the Rider Waite deck, but for the most part, to most tarot readers, that isn’t going to matter all that much. If you are heavily into the kabbalah and pathworking and so on, you will need to know about this though. It is probably the deck with the second most material published though. Just be prepared for quite a challenge and a lot of motivation if you start out on this one.

The main strength of the Rider-Waite is that it also has the minor arcana painted with imagery that will give you clues to the “meanings” of the cards. The Thoth deck is a lot more abstract and therefore more difficult to start with.

Having that said, if you get a second and a third deck your choice is going to be a lot harder. Then you can go with whatever you prefer. I have gotten some decks just because I like the artwork. In those cases though, I still use my Rider-Waite knowledge when using those decks. I don’t “learn” a new deck. I use what I already know and and all I have done with the new deck is that I have substituted the physical images. Sometimes they can bring new ideas or perspectives to the table, but when you have that Rider Waite base knowledge you can always return to that and be certain that “everything” is there. If you go for the Thoth Deck I would consider relearning a few things though.

There are some exceptions of course when choosing a deck, for example, if you are taking a course which is recommending a particular deck. I did that myself, but that course wasn’t focusing on the tarot for tarot reading, it focused mainly on the major arcana for contemplating sessions. It was excellent for that purpose, but when I wanted to learn how to do proper tarot readings the minor arcana cards in that deck were too abstract, so I still ended up with having to switch my deck to Rider-Waite when I wanted to learn regular tarot reading.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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