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Review: The Alchemical Visions Tarot

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this deck from Weiser Books in exchange for a review. Bonus for all US mailing address readers, Weiser gave me a special 33% off discount code JYMI which you can use on the whole site! This link expires 01/JAN/2020.

The Alchemical Visions Tarot
By Arthur Taussig, PhD.
Published by: Weiser Books
ISBN: 978-1-57863-641-9

The Magician from The Alchemical Visions Tarot
The Magician from The Alchemical Visions Tarot

When people think of tarot decks, they think of hand-sized cards with pictures on them which are used to divine fortunes or give advice. Not all decks are created equal and The Alchemical Visions Tarot is unique in its design. This is an oversized deck. At 5” by 7” it’s one of the bigger sized decks I’ve held. Which leaves me to the notion its creator, Arthur Taussig, PhD., crafted this deck for a specific purpose of reflection, self discovery, and deep dives into the study of alchemy and other occult sciences.  

This deck is 10 years in the making. Taussig spent a lot of time studying alchemy, Kabbalah, archetypes, and psychology to bring this deck to life. He even did his own deep dive into tarot studies with the Marseilles tarot and the Rider Waite Smith deck where he would spend many days in close comparison studies with each system. All of this study led him to carefully craft The Alchemical Visions Tarot. His goal for this deck was “to respect the past, summon the mystical powers within the cards, and yet be a deck that would visually speak to the modern Traveler on the path of individuation.” And I think he hit his mark.

The Six of Wands from The Alchemical Visions Tarot
The Six of Wands from The Alchemical Visions Tarot

In a recent discussion on Tarot Visions, Rose Red, Benebell Wen, and myself spoke about the idea of an everyday tarot versus the occult tarot. For me, The Alchemical Visions Tarot is a perfect example of an occult deck. The oversized cards feature a unique combination of intricate imagery: black and white backgrounds which  brightly colored figures are placed in the forefront. This combination of styles lends itself well to a deep-dive study of the occult practices it contains, and the idea of using a deck to understand one’s self better. An occult deck has thicker card stock, is oversized so it can stand up or be placed somewhere for reflection and study, and makes the reader think about connections relating back to themselves and various metaphysical studies. While the every day reading deck is smaller, fit in the hand, has card stock which is easy to shuffle, and can be interpreted intuitively. 

The Knight of Coins from The Alchemical Visions Tarot
The Knight of Coins from The Alchemical Visions Tarot

I am not sure I could read with this deck for every day use. And that is fine with me. For this deck, like Wen’s Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, and many other occult tarot decks which come before them, is a great study deck. One you will want to savor the imagery slowly and you uncover the intricate details and symbolism contained within each card. This is a deck which will change your outlook of tarot and the world you live in once you work with it. The deck itself comes with a 182 page companion book. The book contains a short introduction to Taussig’s work, and the practices he taught himself to create the deck. Then each card is explained in detail with meanings and occult lore. The book does not include spreads, which also lends in to the idea that this tarot is meant for self-study.

The box is also a nice touch. It is made of a sturdy, thick cardboard and closes with magnets. Weiser Books crafted a lovely presentation with both cardstock and box, and The Alchemical Visions Tarot will last a long time. The printing for the book is not set in a standard book size. The typeset is small, so it may be harder to read. I would love to know if Weiser offers a pdf version of the book for the vision impaired.

Bottom Line: If you want to go deep in a deck study then The Alchemical Visions Tarot is perfect for you. This deck has a wonderful archaic feel in that it reflects medieval alchemical paintings, combined with modern day lore. The oversized cards allow for a better view of all the minute details.

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December 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Shadow
How: 3 of Wands
Helper: 28. Freedom

December 2019 Planning Spread.
Me wearing the Lilith mask

I love this Shadow card. When I first saw it, I couldn’t help but compare the image of the person with a mask on to the mask of the goddess Lilith I wore back in 2012 for a Fall Equinox Festival ritual. If you compare the card in the spread above to the image here, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Uncanny isn’t it? Anyway, Shadow is the theme for this month. December is traditionally a cold month where not much goes on. You can find me writing or reading, usually by a warm fireplace. The theme of shadow is to look at my shadow sides and do some work around it. Time to shine the light in the remaining dark corners of my psyche, and see what comes up. What more about myself can I learn during the cold, sleep month?

The 3 of Wands describes how I’ll set about doing this. I usually think of this card as the future visioning card. It gives me the ability to look at where I’ve come, what I want to do, and how to see the path between the two dots. Illuminating the dark spots and shadows is very beneficial for visioning work because it gives us new ways of seeing where we may hold ourselves back. So, I need to be more objective in my thinking and understand how the resistances or shadow sides both help and hinder where I want to go. The image shows a triangle, setting boundaries necessary to create containers for the future. The triangular shape also echoes the mask in the Shadow card, too.

The final mudra is Freedom. This helper assists in being open and brings balance to the body. Freedom is a goal for examining our shadow sides. We want to be free of old beliefs and patterns that no longer support us. Being able to thank these darker sides and let them go, gives us space to bring in new helpers and new patterns. I love that this mudra creates the space and balance for doing shadow work. It’ll be a great helper to use when the resistance arises. I’ll also incorporate this mudra into my morning and evening rituals.

And this closes the 2019 series on using tarot (and oracle cards) to help guide you through a year’s worth of planning and going deeper in your life. I have grown to enjoy the three card monthly spreads and already know which three decks I’ll be using for 2020! Wow… it’s hard to believe 2020 is only a month away.

Do you have any cool year-long planning spreads or ideas? Let me know, I’m always on the lookout for new spreads to try.

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November 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Authenticity
How: 3 of Cups
Helper: 25. Brilliance

November 2019 Planning Spread.

Coming out of the deep work I’ve done over the last few months comes Authenticity. This theme asks me to consider all the parts that make up me, and really live all of them to their fullest powers. Accept who I am, and what I offer, and bring this into the forefront of everything. Ethony’s booklet says, “Accepting yourself is one of the greatest, most freeing gifts you can have in life. Allow yourself to be who you really are and live your life to the fullest.” Living a true authentic life is hard to do. It means you go about your business without giving thought to what most others may think. It means acting in accordance to the morals and guides you create for yourself. I love that this theme comes out of a deeper examination of some of the building blocks of what creates an authentic life.

The 3 of Cups teaches me how I can live an authentic life this month. I look at this card as a celebration of all that I love and cherish. Being able to feel a deep passion for people and ideas helps me live authentically because it supports the choices in life. I can honor the abundance in my life and know the bonds I have with everything help guide me. Not everything has to mean something, sometimes it’s good to celebrate life as it is.

Brilliance is the mudra helper. It assists in radiance and focus. If living an authentic life means to share and shine your gifts with others and the world, then this mudra can help that light I carry shine. I’ll incorporate this mudra into my morning and evening rituals.

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October 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Mantra
How: Ace of Swords
Helper: 19. Commitment

October 2019 Planning Spread.

This month I’ll be looking at what mantras I speak to myself. A mantra is a repetition of word(s) we say over and over again. Mantras are usually associated in spiritual systems. I like how Ethony broadens the idea of mantras to include the repetitions of ideas, or saying, we tell ourselves. She says, “You are being urged to use positive and kind words about yourself and when you talk about yourself.” Words have power, they really do. And to have this theme come after the notion of Truth is a powerful and positive reminder of the power of words. I am horrible when it comes to praise and kindness to myself. I have a hard time treating myself in the same way I treat others. Therefore, I see myself learning to rewrite, overwrite, and generally learn how to be the best friend to myself. Time to craft new words for myself.

How I’ll be doing this is in the Ace of Swords. I see the Ace of Swords as the seed to new ideas, new ways of thinking. It will help me craft these kind mantras for myself. Brainstorm new ways to make these habits hold and give me the power to create clear directions. I love the image in this deck. The sword is growing out of the third eye, almost as a beacon for others to see. People sense energy patterns. If I can rewrite the mantras I project out to the world, maybe I can learn to live more truthfully.

Commitment is October’s mudra. This helper card aids in determination and focus. It takes a lot of willpower and desire to overcome old patterns. I’ll be needing this position to boost the desire and focus for examining my mantras. Again, I see some synchronicity in with the other cards of this spread. I’ll also incorporate this mudra into my morning and evening rituals.

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September 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Truth
How: The Moon
Helper: 38. Spiritual Truth

September 2019 Planning Spread.

I’m being asked to speak and tell the Truth this month. Truth, according to the Awakened Soul Oracle, has a few meanings. It asks that I examine the stories and words that I state and share. Are they truthful or do they contain bits of fiction in them? I’ve always had a fondness for the mnemonic, THINK. This is a series of questions to ask yourself before you speak. There are a lot of nice graphics you can download for reminders. In any case, I liken THINK to being truthful this month. How true are the words and beliefs I have? What is the best way for me to share them with others? How objective am I really? These ideas will be a focus for me this month.

The Moon is a perfect companion for truth. The light of the moon bends and casts shadows. The light does not give a truthful glow to the objects in its path. The Moon asks me to look deep in the shadows and to shine the light on them. Am I really seeing things as they are? What advice can the darkness give me. What shifts can the Moon give me this month? I suspect this work will take me through the darkness and back into the light. I look forward to shining the light and uncovering truths I haven’t seen or refuse to see.

September’s mudra is Spiritual Truth. Again, I’m amused to see the theme and helper cards are almost identical. Spiritual truth assists in illumination and integration. Both are necessary for this month’s delve into truth. I’m sure using this mudra and the study of The Moon will help me not only gain insights into how I work and see the world, but it’ll help me align these beliefs to my higher desires. I’ll also incorporate this mudra into my morning and evening rituals.