Reviews & Recognition

THE GLASS KEY

Three of my illustrations appear in Jim Burrow's role-playing adventure, The Glass Key, winner of the 2010 Rogue Trader Adventure Contest from Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop. Rogue Trader is a science-fiction/fantasy role-playing game.

SOCIETY OF CHILDREN'S BOOK WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS

My portfolio won Best in Show at the 2008 Big Sky Region Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators convention.

TAROT DECK REVIEW BY ARNELL ANDO

The following is from 2002 when you could purchase The Eternal Dream Tarot deck. I no longer sell the deck.

I've always been a fussy Tarot deck collector, only wanting the most beautiful, symbolically rich and deeply inspirational decks in my collection. As more and more commercial decks become available to us, I find the occasional jewel, for certain, such as the Victoria Regina Tarot which was published by Llewellyn earlier this year. But I have a special place in my heart for the unusual and evocative indie decks, designed and self published and sometimes even handmade and sold by the artists themselves. This is one of those rare finds. Thanks to Saskia on the Comparative Tarot List (an online group), I was able to follow tracks to this treasure of a deck created by the young artist, John Glock. After ordering it directly from the artist, who kindly agreed to inscribe it to me, I waited anxiously for its arrival, which fortunately took only four days.

I was immediately spellbound by the intricate, detailed depictions of the cards, each one more captivating then the next. This is a 22 card deck of Majors with no titles or numbers depicted. The artist has his own perception of which Tarot archetypes are represented on each card, but leaves it up to you to decide which cards best represents your own understanding of the meanings. The cards do come arranged in an order that seems to fit well with my own choices for card placement; however, I may switch a card or two around the more I study and work with this deck. The quality of the printing is excellent, each card is stark black and white; crisp and dramatic. They are sealed in protective lamination trimmed close to the edges. The cards measure 4 1/2" x 3 1/4". There are no borders on the cards, save for a narrow black edging, giving them maximum visual impact. The card backs are an attractive B&W design and reversible.

I should probably reiterate that the artist purposely doesn't divulge the meanings of his cards, so the following interpretations are my own perceptions. My first impression is that this is a very deep, introspective artist, who dwells in the dark and wildly imaginative recesses of his brilliant mind, where shadow and light create powerful worlds of illusion and extremes. His attention to detail and shading is impactful and invites us to delve deeper within our own soul. Take, for example, what I consider to be the High Priestess card in this deck. A naked woman, holding something close to her heart, stands calf-deep in murky waters of the unconscious. There appears to be an entrance to a castle, and the two traditional pillars of the High Priestess are present, if a little cracked and worn from age and a rocky history we can only imagine. The crescent moon is illuminated against a brick wall behind her, casting a triangular light (often associated with the female gender, the pyramids and other such mysterious things). Ascending stairs invite us deeper inside the card. Two gargoyle-like masks top the pillars, keeping those who are not ready or brave enough at bay. This card is both stark and welcoming at the same instant.

Another favorite of mine is what I deem the Empress card. Her eyes closed in serene contemplation, she gently rubs her round belly. In direct contrast to this peaceful image, note her long, sharp, pointy fingernails and the elaborate tattoo of a tree across her stomach and breasts. It seems to be growing even as I look at it. These cards are all so powerful that it's difficult to choose only a few to share in this review.

The Hermit is weathered and old. His weary eyes tell of much sorrow and pain, yet his face is somehow gentle and kindly. His pursed lips seem to be mouthing a quiet chant. His wisdom has been at great cost to his spirit.

The card I think of as the Hanged Man depicts a large clock with a Sun/Moon dial and astrological symbols where the numbers are usually displayed. A naked man hangs from the pendulum, swinging back and forth, from one extreme to another: pleasure, pain, love, hate, creation, destruction...throughout eternity.

This next card makes for a very unusual depiction of the Temperance card. Two strangers share a sidewalk of some cluttered industrial city. One is a homeless person, set up for camp and resting against a building, while the other creates beautiful graffiti art on that same wall, breathing life into a tired, dismal, overburdened city. Temperance is a card often abstract and difficult to define for many, but here, instead of a naked woman, urn in hand, with one foot on earth and the other in pools of the unconscious pouring, mixing the elements,  we have an artist mixing liquid colors and imagery and creating a new alchemy to evoke the guardian spirits and inspire all that pass by.

The Star card is utterly blissful. Large, lazy starfish attached to craggy rocks for shelter and scraps of food, living a seemingly peaceful existence at the depths of the ocean.

For what appears to be the Moon card, a woman sits on top of the world. She cradles the Moon lovingly in her arms. She looks sad and alone, her long hair flowing in the starlit sky. This card evokes in me my own dual feelings of existing on this planet with all its beauty and blatant destruction and mad chaos.

There’s no little booklet, but the artist shares this sparse description on his website: "Based on traditional and alternative tarot philosophies and spiritual beliefs, as well as psychological concepts, The Eternal Dream Tarot stresses expanded creativity and interpretation. Unlabeled and undefined, this 22 card black and white tarot deck reveals the power of your imagination."

I recommend this deck to collectors and art lovers and those that enjoy meditating on alternative meanings of the Major Arcana. It is a steal at only $25.00 for a handcrafted deck and the artist will sign or inscribe it for you upon request.

Excerpt off Artist's website [in 2001]:

Imagine this is like a summer lemonade stand. Here you are sweating in the sunlight of all sorts of commercial products made by people you don't know, aren't even sure exist, and all the products have no distinguishable markings except for the corporate logo; then you see a youngster squeezing his lemons, mixing his sugar and water, and sweating out in the sunlight just like you. He knows his stand won't make him as powerful as the sun (although he never stops believing that people will come from around the world to buy his lemonade, trivial as a glass of lemonade may be). All he wants is to give the travelers a little refreshment in the world of commercial capitalism, and maybe, just maybe, make enough to buy more lemons, sugar, and water. Here's my lemonade stand. Would you like a glass?

Arnell Ando is the artist and author of Transformational Tarot and the Hero's Journey Tarot.  She also illustrated the Storyteller Tarot written by Diane Wilkes.  She is a Certified Tarot Grand Master who gives wonderfully inspiring workshops all over the country on creating your own tarot.  She has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and is a certified Expressive Arts Therapist.

Review © 2002 Arnell Ando

This review appears on Tarot Passages.

TAROT DECK REVIEW BY K. FRANK JENSEN

The following is from 2002 when you could purchase The Eternal Dream Tarot deck. I no longer sell the deck.

The Eternal Dream Tarot is one of those few new tarot decks that still can catch my deeper interest, in contrast to the endless number of mass market packs, constantly being put out by the big tarot factories that dominate the market. In its outer form, it is a small, modest pack: 22 black and white drawings printed on fairly thin cardboard. Yet at a closer look, these images open up for a world so different from what we find in the always so predictable standard packs.

The deck is created by USA artist John Glock, who also produces and sells it himself. It is not a limited edition deck, but it looks like one and the quality is excellent. The cards, which come in a box and sleeve cover, are relatively large (80 x 117 millimetres) and they are surrounded by a narrow black border. There is purposely no accompanying booklet to tell the viewer details about the cards. There are no titles nor any numbering, which leaves it to the viewer to decide which card is which. At first, it appears to be quite easy but by the end of the process you may find that you made some mistakes on the way. Then you go back again, and realize that many of these cards actually hold elements from various tarot cards and that each owner may come up with her/his own conception of how they relate to the traditional tarot. As the author states on the cover. "Based on traditional and alternative tarot philosophies and  spiritual beliefs, as well as on psychological concepts, The Eternal Dream Tarot stresses expanded creativity and interpretation".

If you are minded for it, you can spend a good time relating to these images - which I highly recommend - searching for your own universe in their symbology. You can also make a visit to the artist's unique website at www.codefreespirit.com to read more about his artistic philosophy and see many of his other works.

"What I create should not lead to answers; what I create should generate a new question.  The creative journey is not finding the right answers, but creating the right questions.  This site is dedicated to those answers I thought I knew and the questions that I have yet to ask".

You can also order the deck from this site for the modest price of US$27.00

K. Frank Jensen is the founder and editor of Manteia, a now-defunct tarot magazine. For his significant contributions to the tarot community, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Tarot Society at this year's World Tarot Congress. He has one of the greatest tarot collections in the world.

Review © 2002 K. Frank Jensen

This review appears on Tarot Passages.