Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Spirit Hill Tarot
[The link above is to the deck images with excerpts from the book version. The review below is based on the CD. The art is the same in both.]

Other books by Stoney Riley

[With his bio and contact information.]

There's an hermetic quote I ran across recently: "Without imagination spirit is not perceptible." This new and unusual art Tarot deck can help us let go of surface knowing and allow perception of the deeper and more subtle realms. Even those of us already familiar with this allowing of intuitive responses within ourselves, can benefit from the inspiration of these incredible images on Stone Riley's deck.

I do not presume to be sure how someone with no knowledge of more traditional Tarot images and meanings would fare with this deck. They might fare better than I, with no pre-conceptions to intrude upon awareness or to entice comparisons and wanderings. That said, I have found my years of study of many different deck images actually afford me a ground from which I can take off when viewing these stirring images. Ultimately, I only know I find these art pieces challenging and rewarding, and that there is something extremely nourishing and satisfying about engaging in a dialogue with their worlds.

Some of Stone's Spirit Hill images have a clear visual connection to more traditional Tarot images, such as The Hanged Man:

While others are not clearly related to more traditional images, such as the Page of Fire (Stone calls the four suits earth, air, fire and water):

Some of Stone's images are reminiscent of petroglyphs and other American Indian art, and all are suffused with color and movement, many having nature images. A most intriguing thing is how diverse the images are. There is not a single "style" uniting them. Each card is a world unto itself. Yet there is a sense of community about them as a whole.

The Spirit Hill Tarot designs are art and, IMHO, can be appreciated as art alone, i.e. with no concern for their being Tarot cards. To quote the first sentence from the entry on the CD about art theory: "Spirit Hill Tarot is a massive demonstration of a theory of painting called 'New Modern Art'. According to this theory, we can now create a visual language with immense communicative power by merging the genres of Modern art." On the CD there is also a wonderful chart showing "New Modern Art Theory in a Nutshell." Stone also speaks to Tarot history, shares all of his poems for the Major Arcana, gives brief suggestions for doing a reading, and discusses paganism ("...small religion, big art project"). It is also possible to print out a full color copy of the deck from the CD (Yes!).

After making my first notes toward this review, I had a dream. In it, I was working on the end of this review and decided to compare The Ace of Cups from the Rider/ Waite/ Smith deck, The Thoth deck, and the Spirit Hill Tarot to show "a progression," as the dream called it. I had not yet actually viewed the Ace of Water (Cups) in the Spirit Hill Tarot, but the dream made it clear I should. I was amused and moved on viewing the Ace of Water the next morning to read on it: "Awaking in a Dream." :-)

Those words on the bottom of Stone's Ace of Water are ultimately how I feel about his deck: it is fertile, beautiful, and pleasurable. Suffice it to say, spending a bit of time with all of the Spirit Hill Tarot images and only working at length with one so far (see my post here on The Four of Earth) has been one of the best recent experiences I've had with a new Tarot deck. (At one time my collection numbered 120 decks.) Whether one is a Tarot newbie, an experienced reader, or somewhere in between, I believe it will richly reward imaginative, receptive viewing. I highly recommend the Spirit Hill Tarot.

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Please see the top of the sidebar for my background with the Tarot and a recommendation to beginners.

‘til next time, keep opening to Spirit and enjoying The Tarot,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)**** SEE ALSO: Roswila’s Dream & Poetry Realm for some articles about Tarot.****


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading your blog entry at my Bloglines account. The Page of Fire image was making my monitor screen dance :-)

I really like the art in this deck and I'm glad you've reviewed it. I don't like abstract images themselves, but I do like images like these that reflect a concept as much as they illustrate it. The link between image and concept is then much like linking between verses in a renga-- not direct, but thought provoking.


1:06 PM  
Blogger Roswila said...

The Page of Fire almost makes the view in I.E. dance, too! How appropriate for that card. Generally speaking, of the four elements fire "moves" the fastest, then water, then air, and the slowest is earth.

I'm delighted you like this deck. What you say about how art such as this acts like linking in renga is a delightful insight. I'd not thought of that.

BTW, I've been thinking (always a dangerous thing) about writing linked 'ku for the Tarot. Maybe just the 22 Majors for a start, and illustrating them. Actually, come to think of it, the words on each of the Spirit Hill Tarot cards make them very haiga-like, don't they?

I am soooo looking forward to printing out my own copy of Stone's deck so I can actually touch it. There's something so gratifying about physically working with the cards. Online viewing is wonderful, but it's not at all the same.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Stone Riley said...

Roswila, you are right about the number being submerged in the picture. In fact, for the Minor Arcana I made the paintings first, then assigned them to cards. It seems that Tarot is so inherent in my imagination that when I went to look, I found all the Minors on hand in works already done!

The question about using elements instead of numbers will need a bit more thought. Basically I'm a Druid instead of a Pythagorean, but what does that mean? I hope to post some thoughts about this soon.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Roswila said...

Stone's answer above is to a comment on my previous post about his Four of Earth (Pentacles)....

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Stone.

5:29 PM  

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