Mystic Dreamer Tarot
Mystic Dreamer Tarot
by Heidi Darras, text by Barbara Moore
was a little surprising for me. My first perusal of the cards left me feeling a little flat. Although I was impressed by the artwork, I wasn't terribly moved or inspired by it. It wasn't until I did my first reading with the deck that the cards came to life. Within the context of a reading, I began to recognize the effectiveness of the symbolism, the overall depth of the imagery. After several readings I was feeling a warm familiarity with the cards. For me, these images have really been like dreamscapes that I did not enter into until working directly with them .
Mystic Dreamer Tarot
was created from many different photos, digitally manipulated into complex collages. The artist, Heidi Darras, states she wanted her tarot deck to have "an aura of mystery and dreaminess." Indeed it does. The colors are muted or pale, textures shimmer or shine, there is mist and starlight, throughout there is an ethereal quality - even to the people. The landscapes have that rather disconnected feel that landscapes often have in dreams - in a dream we can so easily step from one scene into another, no matter how incongruous the transition might be in reality. There is a little of that incongruity in these cards, but we can accept it, just as we can accept it in our dreams. The Hermit is a good example of this, and the companion book makes mention of it, saying, "The Hermit stands on an impossibly constructed stone arch. Why is it constructed like that? ..." The cards are full of such symbols that could have come directly from our dreams, and like the symbols in our dreams, they can all deliver important messages.
One symbol that Darras continually uses is the raven. These black birds find a place in many of the cards, often significantly close to the central figure. Of the ravens, Darras says, ".ravens symbolize the secrets of the subconscious, showing us things that we would prefer not to know. They represent a feeling of foreboding, an important message, or something in our lives that needs attention." The moon is prominent in many of the cards, and the sky takes on deeper meaning demonstrated by how it is depicted - often swirling with clouds, colored in mystical hues, or fading somewhat surrealistically into the horizon. All of these elements combine to create a very dreamlike background.
As dreamlike images, each of the cards can liberate us from the constraints of the conscious, and they adeptly give voice to the subconscious. It is easy then, to read with these cards and to garner insight from them.
Some of the cards are truly striking or beautiful. Of the Major Arcana, I especially like the High Priestess, Chariot, the Star, and Judgment. The High Priestess is stunning in her pure white gown. The moon is visible at her feet, surrounded by clouds, and behind her hangs a banner upon which are depicted a tree, bearing fruit, and a spiral staircase. The Chariot is unusually dark and shadowy. There is an almost spooky or eerie quality to the landscape, and in this card, two ravens circle the driver and her horses. The card very clearly demonstrates the need to harness energy in order to move forward with focus and direction. The Star is a very pretty card, showing a young woman emerging from a river, reaching for a butterfly that is beyond her grasp. Above her in the sky is an eight-pointed star, shining brightly, and a dim constellation in the shape of a pentacle is seen set back in the night sky. The eight-pointed star is said to represent "the creative and regenerative energy of the universe," which is contrasted with the pentacle, which represents the five senses. The indication is that one must follow the purer message of the universe. Judgment shows a bright angel in starlight, sounding a trumpet. Although the scene below her is turbulent, overall the card offers a feeling of peace and security.
It's difficult to select just a few Minor cards to discuss. Like the Major Arcana cards, they generally follow Rider-Waite symbolism and composition, but within the context of this mysterious dreamscape. The illustrations are complex and rich with meaning. For example, in the Ace of Wands, a woman sits by a large boulder that has been split by a wand, the tip of which holds a shining orb. In the distance is a castle, and birds swoop across the sky. Closer sits a raven, and beside the woman grow purple flowers. The cleft in the boulder indicates that "a new path is open," the castle "promises great things to come." Energy, passion, and opportunity are also indicated by the symbols of this card. In the Nine of Pentacles, the pentacles take the form of beautiful sunflowers that form the foreground of the card. A woman stands just beyond them, a bird sitting lightly on her hand. The scene is a vineyard, ripe with fruit. This card represents "the achievement of good things," but these symbols also show what is most important in this success. "The bird represents spirit, which the woman values most of all, in spite of her great material gain. She has accomplished much because she has listened to her spirit and followed her heart." The only cards I am not as crazy about are some of the Queens and Kings, which tend to look a little forced, more posed than natural.
The companion book, The Dreamer's Journal
, shows Barbara Moore's talent for writing about tarot with newness and fresh insight. She provides solid instruction for beginners, and offers thought-provoking interpretations and opportunities for introspection. Numerous useful spreads are included, for a good variety of purposes. There is a brief discussion of dream work, with one accompanying spread. Warm and inviting, the book enhances the ease with which the deck can be enjoyed.
Although this set has an ethereal, mysterious presentation and focus, it can of course be used for any type of reading. The dreamlike quality of it will very likely reinforce the intuitive response many people have to the cards, and will strengthen the meaning of their readings.
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Mystic Dreamer Tarot at Llewellyn
Card artwork by Heidi Darras
All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2021