The Chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, the publishing company who brings to the U.S. many tarot and oracle decks including those from Lo Scarabeo, has died.


From the Llewellyn blog:

It is with profound sadness we share the news of Carl Llewellyn Weschcke’s passing. He passed peacefully on Saturday, November 7 surrounded by family. He was 85.

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke was Chairman and the driving force behind Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., the oldest and largest publishers of New Age, Metaphysical, Self-Help, and Spirituality books in the world.

The full article can be read here.

While not everybody likes Llewellyn for being a business that caters to the “101’s,” the fact is that they are a business who has done well under Weschcke’s guidance.

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I’ve been pondering the subject of oracle decks produced by Doreen Virtue for some time now, but haven’t felt motivated to write what amounts to a defense for their existence and usage. Among the self-proclaimed tarot cognoscenti, Doreen’s decks are anathema to their hard-won, occult (meaning hidden) knowledge. My opinion is that those endless criticisms of her work tend to be less from firsthand experience, and more from the group-think that pervades the online tarot community.

Image by Steve A. Roberts that became Empress; click to visit artist's gallery page

Priestess of the Woods, used as The Empress. (c) Steve A. Roberts. Click image for artist’s gallery store page.

Having been a tarot snob myself in the past, I know exactly where most of those criticisms are coming from. I also think most of them are from people who haven’t touched a Virtue oracle deck, let alone given one a chance. I would like to share some opinions on working with a couple of these decks. Can they be hard-hitting, or are they the fluffy marshmallows that the tarot community claims?

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So I recently wrote about an eBay experience. Aside from the general hassle of the incident, it was occurring in the wake of losing my oldest cat. She got sick, seemingly out of the blue, on a Sunday in mid-June. Wednesday morning, we decided it was her time to go, and made the difficult decision dreaded by every pet owner: to have her put to sleep. She was 17 and had led a good life full of love.

I want to mention my experience with a card deck that I discovered during this sad experience.wisdom_of_avalon

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I previously wrote about an eBay experience, where I purchased a tarot deck that wasn’t as described, and had to initiate a return. I appreciated that the seller initiated a return with minimal fuss, and was disheartened when he then opened a case against me with eBay, claiming that I had damaged the card box. This was disheartening, as I’d never had any negative experience or need to return something on eBay.

So, while I waited to see how this case and resolution would work, I did a Lenormand spread. Those of you who have learned from Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle will recognize my “no-layout”-based style for this reading. It mirrored my situation and outcome quite well.

ReadingEbayBook – Dog – Scythe – Fish – Mice – Heart – Cross
(French Cartomancy; click image to view full-sized)

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Last week, I bought a copy of the almost-mythical Greenwood Tarot on eBay, from a seller who goes by the name of camera_bear. The cards were advertised as “never being shuffled” and like new, without any marks. The seller publicly answered another buyer’s question, restating this same thing. The seller had excellent feedback, so I felt comfortable in buying the deck, at a reasonable price.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment upon receiving the deck. The “unshuffled” cards were not in order; the cards had gunk all over the borders, which only comes from being handled and used; and these “unmarked” cards had one that was very badly creased.


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Earlier this week, I made my regular pilgrimage to the used bookstore, where I always hope to find some new and perhaps obscure deck of cards. Yeah, I can’t help it, I’m wired that way. I found a new deck; not necessarily obscure, but certainly outside of my “zone:” The Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards: Spiritual Teachings of the Sioux, by Chief Archie Fire Lame Deer with artist Helene Sarkis.


I’m not normally drawn to Native American themed decks or spiritual trappings. Aside from the every-present risk of made-up New Age teachings and an awareness of inappropriate cultural appropriation, that is just not something that’s ever called to me. However, when I saw this box on the shelf, the cover caught me and after looking through the cards in the store, I found them appealing enough to purchase. I liked the bold art style, the predominance of earthy tones, and that the deck depicted a lot of animals and nature without relying on people.

I have no idea if the source of these cards is legit, in terms of presenting authentic teachings. They seem earnest and respectful; and I haven’t seen anything negative online yet. Only one review at was negative, seemingly on general principle, which was encouraging. In any case, my interest was the possibility of reading these as an oracle deck on my own terms, with any education they may provide as a bonus.

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This past weekend, our winery group had our first outing of the season. The weather was refreshingly cool. In fact, a little too cool, as we quickly migrated from a picnic table outdoors to an inside table. Others must have felt the same because before long, the inside was packed.

My readings have become a popular part of the winery events. So, what decks (or other reading tools) to take, and what format to use?

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Isn’t it funny how our tastes can change over time? We start our card reading explorations drawn to certain types of decks. We may start with a Waite-Smith tarot, and find comfort in decks following that same pattern, or which are also illustrated such as the Robin Wood or Hanson-Roberts. After some time we may wake up and decide we prefer more realistic artwork. 


Waite-Smith 8 of Pentacles

 Or we find the Marseilles pattern to be “dullsville,” and some years later enjoy sinking our teeth into this classic pip pattern and it’s suddenly “coolsville.” Our interest in occult tarot decks like the Golden Dawn and Thoth may wax; our interest in making associations to kabbalah, astrology or i-ching may wane.


Thoth Tarot

The tarot audience was psychologically focused in the mainstream for some years, I think, coming out of the classic books in the 1970s. Now tastes have changed and predictive models and styles of reading cards are becoming acceptable again.

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I got the Celtic Lenormand oracle deck today. I had been on the fence about this one for a while, while seeing it in-progress at the creator’s blog. I’m not a big fan of the myriad of themed and art-heavy Lenormand decks; but I’m not immune to any new deck that I find attractive, readable and resonant with my personal interests or taste. The Celtic Lenormand does target that area for me, with its Celtic theme and art by Will Worthington (whose illustrations of the Wildwood Tarot read particularly well for me).


Ring – Clouds – Book – Dog – Snake

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It’s a snow-filled Valentine’s Day, so it’s time for a relationship reading. A deck relationship, that is! My other half is at work for the afternoon, so I spent some time getting to know my recently purchased The Faeries’ Oracle. The artist is Brian Froud, and the excellent companion book is authored by Jessica MacBeth. (Coincidentally, last night we watched The Dark Crystalan 80’s movie whose look was conceptualized by Brian Froud.)

I asked: “How can I best work with this oracle?”


The Master Maker — Honesty — Death
(click for larger image)

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