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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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  • 10:24 Anybody have a good recommendation for a dragon-themed Tarot deck that actually has useful Rider-Waite-related symbolism? #
  • 11:21 My body temperature plummets when I get hungry. Naturally, that means I don't especially feel like even getting up to go to the cafeteria. #
  • 13:47 The more I use vim, the more I like it. It has a nasty learning curve, but it speeds up my work significantly. #
  • 15:27 This hyperproductive afternoon brought to you by caffeine, @sooj, and trying desperately to write some automation before I get a new task. #
  • 19:59 Sleepy. Have been all day. going to bed early. #
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Could you elaborate on what you mean by 'useful Rider-Waite symbolism?'

There are two dragon decks that immediately come to mind--I tweeted you about 'em, but if I look farther afield, I'll need a clearer idea.

Zipping off to aeclectic.net (A passable tarot site, in my opinion), there seems to be at least one other 'Dragon Tarot', text written by a Nigel Suckling, illustrated by Roger and Linda Garland. Definitely get a sense of 'work dragons into more traditional iconography' from this one.

Lucky you, I just spent the last TWO DAYS obsessing over dragon-themed Tarot decks! And I do mean obsessing over them for the whole entire day and way too late into the night! Instead of writing on Nanowrimo!

There are four dragon-themed Tarot decks. (There's another one called "Golden Dragon," but it's not actually dragon-themed.)

1. Dragon Tarot illustrated by Pracownik. You already use that one, so I don't need to describe it. ^_^;;

2. Celtic Dragon Tarot, designed by DJ Conway. This one is based on Rider-Waite. You might try it. I'm not super wild about it, but I do think it was successful. One of Conway's goals was to make it have different imagery from the Rider-Waite while having the same meanings and structure, though... so maybe that's not Rider-Waite-ish enough for you... but in my opinion, she still stayed very close to Rider-Waite, aside from removing some Christian symbols that she was uncomfortable with. The minors are illustrated, like in the Rider-Waite, which is really helpful for divination. That's the main reason why I would prefer it over Pracownik, even though Pracownik is more... dragon-centric; the dragons in Celtic Dragon aren't protagonists, they're companions, assistants, and pets. It doesn't have any shocking imagery (gore, nudity, etc), if that's a factor for you in choosing a deck. My main disappointment was that the deck didn't seem to be drawing on any Celtic myths or any myths about dragons. That's not really a problem, I guess.

3. Dragons Tarot published by Lo Scarabeo. It's based on Crowley-Thoth, not Rider-Waite. You might remember me ranting about this one when I bought it. Short version: I was excited to see a dragon-themed Tarot where they actually tied historical myths and legends into it, but it turned out not to be a deck that I could fall in cozy glee love with. Lots of gruesome dragon-slaying, naked women, and even a drunken rape on the Seven of Cups. I don't mind decks that have some teeth to them, but it went farther than I was comfortable with. At first, I thought they'd screwed up the symbolism on a lot of cards (it's an Italian publisher, so I thought that maybe it was designed for gaming, not divination... gaming decks don't need accurate symbolism) but then I researched the Crowley-Thoth system more. It turns out that the deck's symbolism is correct, it's just emphasizing the characteristics that are unlike Rider-Waite.

4. Dragon Tarot by Nigel Suckling. The Majors look Rider-Waite based, judging by the Lovers, but the minor pips are unillustrated, even less so than those by Pracownik. Not enough cues for divination, in my opinion.

So... out of those, I would say you should try Celtic Dragon. Your Pracownik is awesome. Did you manage to pick up the book that goes with it yet?

There are some more dragon-themed oracle decks out there, but oracle decks are not Rider-Waite Tarots. (Some of 'em were kind of doofy, to be honest.)

Ever since I first learned about the Tarot when I was a kid, I've tried designing a dragon-themed deck from time to time. That's why I've had super high expectations for every one of them that I find. (And why I feel sort of jealous when they do manage to do something that I like, 'cos I wish I did it first.) Sometime, I'll figure out where those sketches ended up. Yesterday, I was typing like mad on my Palm, designing a dragon-themed Tarot that was deliberately unlike the four extant dragon-themed Tarots, while trying to do it better than any of them, the way I would have liked to do it.


Those are all of the dragon Tarots that exist, so far as my research can find, even when looking on foreign-language websites. I am truly obsessed. ^_^ So you know for a fact that those are the extant dragon tarots to choose between.

Well... actually, slap me with a ladder and call me all rung, but it appears that there's a FIFTH dragon-themed Tarot: deck from China with a mild dragon theme to it and slightly manga-style artwork, which sounds delicious, but you probably won't have any luck finding it anywhere. It's Tarot Style II Dragons. See a few teeny tiny samples at http://strangerealms.multiply.com/photos/album/106/Tarot_Style_II_Dragon# Looks like the pips are unillustrated. Most of the Tarot decks that I've seen from Asia are designed for gaming and art, not divination, so the symbolism might not be all that useful.

Other than the four... um... five dragon-themed Tarots, there are bunches of other Tarot decks that have various mythological creatures on them.

You can see all the images from the decks that I described in my earlier comment, and I do mean all the cards from the whole deck:

Dragons Tarot published by Lo Scarabeo:

Celtic Dragon by Conway:

Dragon Tarot by Nigel Suckling:

If none of them satisfy, you can try out the next-closest thing to a dragon-themed Tarot deck: Tarot decks themed around various other mythological creatures! Or you could just shrug and use Rider-Waite or one of its closest clones, nevermind the dragon theme. If you'd like to go on the Quest For The Very Most Special Tarot Deck (something I've been on lately!) I really encourage you to browse around on websites that let you view the entire Tarot deck, because that is the only way to ever pick out a deck that you'd like to use. Use the sites that I linked above, plus these:

http://www.tarot.com/tarot/decks/index.php (The images here are very small, but might be sufficient for some decks)

http://www.tarotkorea.co.kr/gallery/list.php (Lots of decks from outside the United States are here)

http://sumada.multiply.com/photos (This is one of the only sites that includes the booklets, too)

...OK, count me completely and totally wrong on the "those are all the dragon Tarots that there are." Pfft. All I had to do was state my findings as a fact and then all of a sudden I would stumble across more while I was looking for the ones that I already knew about. Why didn't I ever see them before!? I guess the remaining ones are just super rare, maybe; the four that I'd known about before come from relatively big publishers, but there have always been Tarot decks that were self-published or even just one-offs.

Dragon Tarot, by Lynn Secrist, self-published in 1991. It's black and white, and it's printed on circular cards. The dragons are protagonists, as in Pracownik's. This page has a few previews.
Somebody in Ohio is selling a deck of them... has desc and photo.
Oh, jeez... I looked at a cached eBay page, and somebody was selling that deck for $399. Aaigh! Yep, it's super rare.
Tarot Garden lists it with a bunch more sample images, but they say it has less than 78 cards? Odd.

I can't find any other references to Tarot Style II: Dragon, except for a few collectors claiming that they own it.

Hope you don't mind me spamming you like this. XD

Further examination shows that Secrist's Dragon Tarot isn't strictly a Tarot deck. It has either 49 or 42 cards (reports differ), divided up into suits distinguished by color of card stock. Most of it is based on the Tarot major arcana, and apparently some minor arcana and court cards, but there's also unusual cards: "Yes" and "No."

Unrelated to these, if you want a dragon-negative dragon-themed non-Tarot divination deck apparently drawn by a fifth grader, you couldn't meet your needs much better than this.

Un/fortunately, that's not quite what I'm in the market for.

These are the same four I ran across. It's comforting to know I didn't miss anything readily accessible, I guess. It does leave the market open, though!

I don't have the Pracownik-specific book, but reviews on Amazon marked it fairly poorly. I love the art in that deck, I just can't read it very well; I suspect it's just more practice that will help me, because I don't know the card meanings well enough. Still. The Minor Arcana aren't illustrated quite vividly enough to reinforce my shaky knowledge.

I know a good chunk of the Minor Arcana well, but a good third of it I'm really quite weak on the meaning of. The sweeping majority of the Tarot readings I've done, I've done for myself, and those cards simply don't come up. So yes, I need more practice, but with subjects other than me; I tend to fall into my patterns, as do we all, but it doesn't help me see variety in the cards!

I'm browsing learntarot.com right now, and realizing that I have, literally, never seen the 2 or 4 of wands in any reading I've done for myself. Same for the 3 of Cups or Pentacles. That's not a large number of cards I've never seen, but given the number of Tarot readings I've done for myself, it still sticks out as an anomaly.

I do want to go back to using the Dragon Tarot deck, I just don't have the meanings of the minor arcana memorized well enough for the subtle hints on the cards to be sufficient.

I agree with your conclusion with the Celtic Dragon Tarot being the most visual of the decks. I'd have to get over my distaste for paying royalties to D.J. Conway, though- which is a step I might be ready to take; I've got a post on that in the works.

I had the opportunity to buy the Scarabeo deck last weekend. I'm glad I didn't, I think. I'd rather have the Rider-Waite meanings down before trying to learn a different system of interpretation and symbolism, and a plurality of reviews- yours included- mentioned it being quite a bit darker than I might want. Not that I need a happy fluffy deck o' light, but pain, anguish, and strife don't need to be primary themes, either. It's enough to distract from the other meanings of the cards.

I might pick up the Suckling deck to use for the handful of games I've got rules for that use Tarot decks. (Two of them are board games more than card games...) I'd just as soon not try to do readings and game-playing with the same deck, mostly because the latter would probably provide headaches to all involved.

Anyway, thanks for this information; I'll be looking around at the other decks, too!

Re: Never seeing certain cards come up in a reading.

That's happened to me, too, but I haven't heard someone else talk about it before. It's weird. Even though I'm familiar with all the rest of the Tarot, I'm still very hazy on the entire suit of Wands because it comes up in my readings so rarely. It doesn't even matter which deck I'm using, so it's not like it's just a case of a bent or sticky card fouling up a shuffle. All the rest of the cards come up with the odds that you would expect. I'm more likely to end up with a bunch of Majors than a couple of Wands.

As the Penny Arcade version of Aleister Crowley would say: "It needs more wand."

Re: Conway.

I dunno, I've decided Conway is OK after all, in a friendly shrug kind of way. I realized the other day that one of my biggest, hugest mistakes that I've made since getting into communities of otherkin and magic-using people is in becoming snobby about books I haven't read based on somebody else's bad review. It's really just snobbery, and I wish I'd been wise enough to never fall for it in the first place. Some of the books, I might have really loved them if I hadn't heard bad things about them from other people.

Re: Gaming with Tarot decks.

If you're gaming with Tarot decks, you need to look for a specific kind of design: the suits need to be easy to tell apart at a glance. Decks where the suits are distinguished by color-coded borders are the best for that, because you can tell what you've got in your hand by fanning them out and just looking at the very corners, the way you can do with Poker cards. (There are some Tarot decks designed for gaming that have the number and the suit written on the corners, like Poker cards, so they're ideal, but relatively hard to find in the US.) Otherwise, you've got to pull out the whole card to look at it if you want to see what it is. Or you can fan them out vertically so you can read the caption at the bottom edge of the card... that looks silly, but that's how it works.

By those terms, I don't think the Suckling has a huge advantage for functioning a gaming deck...? *takes a look to make sure* Well, the Majors have a subtly different border and a turquoise caption bar... but the Minors all have the same border as each other, and the same blue color of caption bar.

If you want a fantasy-themed Tarot deck for gaming, I'd recommend the Tarot of the Elves (published by Lo Scarabeo) instead, which does have color-coded borders... I was thinking of picking it up just for playing Klondike solitaire. It has illustrated minors, which might actually be less good for gaming, even though it's better for divination.

What games are these that use Tarot decks? I've never heard of any, aside from Tarock. I am super curious, do tell! :D

I'm sleepy now and will respond to the rest of this later. But, re: nontraditonal Tarot games: I was thinking of Gnostica- and, by extension, Zarcana, from which Gnostica was refined. Check them out at the Wunderland Toast Society: http://www.wunderland.com/WTS/Ginohn/games/Gnostica/GnosticaRules.html

Ooo pretty. *bookmarks*

Gnostica can be played with a non-stacking Icehouse set. Modern plastic sets stack, but classic wood and several varieties of homemade sets don't. I have punched cardboard sheets intended to be folded into Icehouse sets, which I bought on clearance for $0.50/full Icehouse set, so if you're curious about the game and need pieces, I can get a set workable for Gnostica to you.

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