Zolar’s Astrological Tarot

So I got lucky a couple weeks ago and scored this weird little thing off Ebay. US Games published it from 1982 until fairly recently–I want to say 2014?–but before then, it was published by Zolar’s publishing company.




The box has wear. I’ll probably tape it as I don’t buy stuff like this for an investment. I buy it because I like it. Getting it for what I did with the box and the LWB was definitely a score. The cards are in near mint condition and were probably never used. The colour change around the edges is likely due to age.


It’s an odd little deck. It’s 56 double sided cards. The Minor Arcana are on one side, and this includes the Knights of each suit. The Major Arcana are on the other side along with astrological cards to fill in the gaps. I’m not sure how to use the astrological cards as such. The Tarot part I can do in my sleep.


The colour scheme leaves a lot to be desired. It’s bold, it’s clean, but orange and mint green? Really? I think it was originally salmon pink, and it does appear pinkish orange when not in pictures, but 50+ years have changed things. Colour plates can change as they age and this may be the case here. I don’t know. I’d like to get my hands on a USG copy but they’ll cost me about $50 a pop. I could also do without the keywords printed on each card, but at the same time, it’s part of the deck’s charm. The side of the box says ‘Nothing to learn!’ Hell, where’s the fun in that?!?


The cardstock is on the thin side. I wouldn’t trust it. Then again, I’ve had really thin decks that I thought would crease or fall apart and they still hold up. Yes, Lo Scarabeo, I’m looking at you. Still, though, I wouldn’t subject these to a lot of use just because of their age.


The main thing that gets me, though, is the fact the cards are double-sided. The flip side of the Moon is the 8 of Pentacles/Diamonds. So the two can never appear in the same reading in this deck. That’s ridiculous. Any readings with this deck will lose a lot of nuance just because of this. Also, how is the user to tell which side is the front and which side is the back of each card? Usually decks will have uniform backs. Maybe this was an attempt to save cardstock, but it doesn’t work. Maybe the sitter is supposed to close their eyes when they shuffle? Uhh…sure, whatever.


I’m still glad I scored a copy for my collection, though. This is a deck that probably should not be revived. I can’t see where experienced readers could really use this well. It’d also just confuse the hell out of beginners. If people want keywords, they can try to scare up a copy of the Starter Tarot, which does have keywords on each card, or take a marker and write keywords on each card in their deck. It’s up to the user, basically. As for ME reading with this deck, it’s not going to happen unless someone specifically requests this. It’s an interesting novelty, though.




Richard Cavendish – The Tarot

So I’ve finished The Tarot by Richard Cavendish. I got it about a week ago–I ordered it from Amazon but wondered why it took two weeks to get here. Once I got it, I read the mailing label and it came from the UK. So that explains that.

I got the hardcover edition for the princely sum of $7 including shipping. Technically, it was free, as I redeemed points on My Coke Rewards for a free Amazon gift card. So that was a definite bonus. My copy is considered to be in ‘good’ condition, though honestly I’d classify it as ‘very good’ as the only real wear other than slight yellowing of the pages was a few minor tears in the dust jacket that I repaired. It’s available in softcover too, but this book is also out of print to the best of my knowledge. If you want a copy, I suggest you get one as soon as you find one in a condition that’s to your liking.

So the content page is this:
Author’s Note

Origins and Legends
The Universal Key

SECTION TWO – Interpretation
The Cabala
The Twenty Two Trumps

SECTION THREE – Divination
The Cards and Their Meanings
Layouts and Readings
Notes to References in the Text
Illustrations Acknowledgements

The introductory section that introduces the history of the cards is quite an entertaining read. It goes into some depth about them and explodes some of the myths that have grown up around them.

The overwhelming majority of the book is the second section that deals with the 22 Trumps/Major Arcana. He goes into quite a bit of detail about the symbolism of each card, which is both entertaining and useful. Unfortunately, the pip/Minor Arcana cards don’t get the attention of the 22 Majors. They never do. *shakes head* I honestly, though, would buy this book for this section alone. The part on meditation is actually fairly brief. Then again, there’s not much one can say when it’s an experience unique to each individual, so I had to consider that, too.

The third and final section is what most people will buy this book and Tarot cards for, and that is divination. He explains briefly the suits and each card’s meaning within that suit. He also includes brief descriptions of each of the Majors and how they can also be used in divination. After this, he gives several spreads and practice readings to try. I’ve been reading cards longer than a good number of you have been alive, and I always find sections like this useful. Some of the meanings are not the ‘traditional’ ones, necessarily, but that’s not a bad thing. They seem to stick very close to the ones Eden Gray gives in her books much of the time.

Another real strength of this book is the illustrations. It’s lushly illustrated throughout with both black and white and colour plates. Quite a few historical decks get decent representation here. As for ‘modern’ decks, this book was originally published in 1975, so a lot of the decks current readers may use obviously weren’t designed or published yet. But if you like looking at various historical decks, this book is also worth it for the plates of those alone.

There weren’t many flaws I could really find with this. One big one, though. is that some of this material has been superseded by newer work. That happens and there’s nothing that can be done about this. Another is an issue with Cavendish as an author. Evidently he’s still alive and kicking and in his 80s, God bless him. But I have some of his other works like the Encyclopaedia of the Unexplained: Magic, Occultism and Parapsychology, 1974 and The Black Arts and one thing I do NOT like about him is his fawning admiration of Crowley. Aleister Crowley is probably not someone I would have liked very much–I probably would have beaten the crap out of him before I turned him in for stealing–but he *did* have some good ideas that seem quaint now, but were way way ahead of their time in their day. Knowing this, I’m surprised the Thoth deck wasn’t really represented here. Anyway, know that Cavendish is a Crowley fanboy and take everything he writes about Crowley in that light. If you do so, you should be fine with this and his other works.