Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tarot Decks For Cat Lovers

I have two cats and anyone who's ever been owned by cats knows that there are times it's a love hate relationship.  We love them and we're pretty sure there are days they hate us.  Cats are complex and self-contained.  In nature, that's how they confuse their enemies and friends alike.  They have a vested interest in never appearing at a disadvantage and that's why we often don't know they're sick until it's too late.  They can breeze into our lives and then just as suddenly leave.  I've inherited cats when moving to a new location and lost others.  I've watched their aloof facade crumble at the death of an owner or animal friend and watched them disappear for months at a time until they've finished grieving.  Contrary to popular opinion, they don't simply forget you if you give them away.  They will pine for you every bit as deeply as a dog - even more so.  They just try to never let it show.

I have a couple of cat tarot decks, both Rider Waite based:  The "Tarot of Pagan Cats," by Magdelina Messina and Lola Airaghi and "The Baroque Bohemian Cat's Tarot," by Alex Ukolov and Karen Mahony. And I love them both for very different reasons.

Pagan Cats act in the true nature of cats.  As in real life, they inhabit a stage set by humans, though humans never appear in this deck.  In the 5 of Swords, it's a large black and white cat who's gathered the weapons.  He sits on them, ignoring all as he watches a magical light spiral upwards.  "What swords?" he asks.  Cats are all about self-interest, which is the moral aspect of the 5 of Swords.  Bring a new object into your home and watch your cat walk over it and sit down.  He is judging how this object relates to him and how his perspective of life changes when viewed from this position.  Don't kid yourself.  Your cat takes ownership of everything you bring into the house. He's just letting you use it.

The Pagan Fool prepares to follow a butterfly off a cliff.  He dreams of himself on a purple cushion with a bowl of cream at the ready.  Life would be sweet.  The Fool makes his final appearance all grown up in # 21, The World.  He's seated on his cushion, the bowl of cream a reality.  There is no better place to be in his mind and he is fulfilled.

The Bohemian Cats approach their tarot journey in an entirely different manner.  They've claimed genteel, human society as their own, wearing their baroque costumes of brocades and velvets as if born to them.  Ladies flourish fans and young dandies stroll about with walking sticks against backdrops of formal gardens and palaces.  Baba Studios, creator of this deck, is located in Prague.  This city is an historic jewel, romantic and complex.  How could these cats be otherwise?

The exquisite, baroque feline in the 3 of Swords holds a cupid whose heart is pierced by three blades. Her expression is a careful mix of sadness and gentle reproach.  A young Tom offers a pot of flowers to the older female in the 6 of Cups.  His heart is in his eyes.  The actions  and expressions of these cats mirror our own, yet still manage to hold on to that feline mystery and allure.

Enough about the depictions in these decks, though.  How do they read? Beautifully, but in two completely different ways.  Pagan Cats have an outspoken flavor; abrupt, sometimes blunt to the point of rudeness.  It's much like what happens when your own cat reviews your outfit and finds it lacking "Are you really going to wear that? Outside?"  I try never to get dressed or undressed in front of my cats.  The cards in Pagan Cat Tarot are clear and there is little chance to misunderstand their intent.  It's a mixed blessing sometimes, but they are fun to read, accurate and the cat's whimsical actions will leave you chuckling.

Bohemian Cats also read clearly and accurately.  However, they have much better manners and rely on nuance rather than in over-the-top symbolism.  The reading experience is gentle - concise messages received and understood.  These cards have the flavor of a day in Catopia- a civilized place filled with poetic imagery and romance.  Males are chivalric heroes and their damsels, both effective and intelligent.  Some decks make you want to sink into their world.  The Bohemian Cats deck is like that for me.  Still, I'd be cautious about entering their world.  I believe humans in a Catopian society could easily find themselves collared and belled.

If you're deck shopping, I encourage you to check out both of these decks.   They have much to offer.  And who doesn't like to look at cat pictures?

On a side note, Baba Studios creates some of the most beautifully illustrated and collectable decks out there.  They are currently working on a deck based upon "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," and I'm here to tell you it looks magnificent.  I can't wait!

Lady Oracle  

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