by Juliet Sharman-Burke & Liz Greene
“Working with historical material as well as analogies between the Tarot, astrology, alchemy, and the Kabbalah, we explore the seventy-eight cards of the Tarot deck, both Major and Minor Arcana, through the illuminating lens of Greek myth, so beloved by Renaissance artists and writers at the time the first Tarot cards appear in Western culture. This gives Tarot an accessibility often lacking in more esoteric approaches.”
The Mythic Tarot Study Kit is a two volume CD boxed set with more than 8 hours of content recorded at a two-day Tarot workshop held by the Centre for Psychological Astrology in the UK in October 2007. The presenters, Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Green, take us on a journey of discovery through Tarot history, meaning, mythology and more.
Psychologist, astrologer and well-known Tarot expert Juliet Sharman-Burke and astrologer and Jungian analyst Liz Greene are the creators of the Mythic Tarot. In Part 1 of Volume 1 Juliet talks about the decks creation and of how she and Liz had wanted to create images that had mythological resonance due to myth’s great psychological and archetypal content.
The Mythic Tarot, first published in 1986 (illustrated by Tricia Newell), is one of the world’s most popular Tarot decks and its success would be largely due to the effectiveness of the mythological associations utilised in the deck and the fact that they elucidate the archetypal meanings of each of the cards so effectively. The way the archetypal characters contained in the Tarot are intertwined with the life experiences contained in Greek mythology is extremely effective in revealing profound truths that are reflected in our lives today. In Juliet’s words “The utilisation of mythology makes the whole process richer and deeper when it comes to making interpretations.”
Also in Part 1, Liz presents an overview of the various theories of the origin of Tarot and covers the big names of the 18th to early 20th centuries: Jean-Baptiste Alliette (better known by his pseudonym Etteilla), Antoine Court de Gébelin, Eliphas Lévi, (born Alphonse Louis Constant), through to Arthur Edward Waite and the Golden Dawn.
The remainder of Volume 1 features the Major Arcana, and here Juliet and Liz have attributed a Mythic character or story to each card, giving a sense of meaning to the divinatory interpretations of the card. We meet a huge cast of characters, such as Demeter the Earth Goddess as The Empress, Persephone the Queen of the underworld as The High Priestess, and Pan the God of sexuality and untamed passion as The Devil.
Volume 2 features the Minor Arcana and as with the Major Arcana, each card is discussed in depth. One myth flows through each suit of the Minor Arcana from the Ace to the Ten and once you are familiar with the myth and see how it is broken down over the ten pip cards you can look into each image and really tap into the divinatory meanings. It is a clever approach. In the suit of Wands there is the story of Jason and the Argonauts, in the suit of Cups we meet Eros and Psyche, Swords tell the tale of Orestes and the Curse of the House of Atreus, and the Pentacles present the myth of Daedalus. Throughout the presentation of the Minor Arcana Juliet and Liz also address numerological symbolism including associations with the numerology of the Kabbalistic Sephiroth, or Tree of Life. The Court Cards have also been given their own individual myths which complement their divinatory meanings and their astrological associations are also discussed.
As Liz states “Tarot is a syncretic system… a way of harmonising different traditions that seem unrelated yet at the same time have points in common that can be melded together to create something new.” Tarot is connected with a whole range of systems because it reflects archetypal patterns of the human journey of which all symbolic systems seem to partake on some level. Liz and Juliet’s presentation includes correlations with astrology, the kabbalah and alchemy, including an additional section on the Major Arcana and the twenty-two alchemical plates of the Splendor Solis.
If that were not enough content, on Volume 1 there is a section on Tarot spreads, including information on laying out a spread, and sample readings for each of a Three Card, Triangle, Horseshoe, Planetary, Celtic Cross and Star Spread. On Volume 2 an electronic format enables us to deal random cards in various layouts which presents an excellent opportunity to learn the meaning of the cards and to become familiar with the various spreads, including a Weekly Guide Spread, which is a great way to watch the way the images reflect the week. There are certain limitations however in that the same card may appear twice in the same spread, which would obviously not happen in a spread that was laid out with physical cards. Nevertheless it can be an interesting exercise to read that same card in the two different positions.
Visually the Study Kit’s content would essentially be the powerpoint presentations that Juliet and Liz used during the two-day workshop. It certainly would be more dynamic if there was actual video footage of Juliet and Liz, but that said, the visual material presented is certainly satisfactory. For the most part, images from the New Mythic Tarot (published 2009, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli) have been utilised in the presentation. Images from the Sharman-Caselli deck also appear in the presentation on the Major Arcana.
On a technical note there are clear instructions on how to operate the CDs. The Study Kit does require a Flash player to be installed on your computer and for those who do not already have Flash installed there is a link to download Flash free from the internet. This link can be found under ‘working with this CD’ on the menu page of each CD.
The Mythic Tarot is a deck that is rich with content and is great to read with. For anyone who has not yet explored this deck I do highly recommend it, especially if you are relatively new to Tarot, as it can take your knowledge of Tarot to a whole new level. The book which often accompanies the deck is very detailed and an indispensable source of information in helping you get a true understanding of the mythology and psychology contained in the deck. But now there is an exciting alternative.
The Mythic Tarot Study Kit is a new and convenient tool for studying the Tarot. The content can be viewed whenever and as often as desired. You can make a cup of tea, insert the CD, pull up a comfy chair, and off you go… you’re just one step away from a deeper understanding of the Tarot. And for anyone who is already familiar with the mythology utilised in this deck this tool is an excellent way to refresh your knowledge.
The Mythic Tarot Study Kit was published in 2009 by Astro Logos Ltd, and retails for £39.95 or £34.00 for non-EU ex VAT (plus shipping). To purchase the Study Kit visit http://www.astrologos.co.uk/astrology-shop/studyshops/
Stella Luna © 2010. All rights reserved.