TAROT OF PRAGUE




Have you ever wanted to visit a magic city? There are a bunch of them in the world, but some rank above others. To me, Tokyo has always been the most magical city in existence until I was introduced to Prague by this tarot, which was made by the wonderful Baba Studio. Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov have made some of my favorite tarot decks to look at; everything is quality over quantitiy. I know recent times have been a little hard for them, but they make excellent products that enchant their clients. I am one of them! The Tarot of Prague came into my collection off Lisa Friedrbord Lloyd, a wonderful professional tarot reader and blogger whose writing I have come to resonate with. She's got quite a handful with Tarotize, Love Dove Tarot and Seer Pathways. I ran into her listing on Ebay by the time I was ready to attain a copy, and I was delighted with mine upon its arrival.

I have read through the book and also some of the stories published on the internet about Prague. The tarot deck has built its reputation also through notoriety and magical events happening throughout the city and with those who have used it. Examples of this include stories of chambers you may not have noticed before that suddenly seem to be there, or little alleyways you're looking for that you could have sworn were there last night. You can find the hanging places for alchemists and magicians, or perhaps the periodical delight of ghost musicians playing past their times. I don't want to spoil all the magic for you, but here is a little taste of the stories contained inside the book:

SIGNATESIGNATEMEREMETENGISETANGIS
ROMATIBISUBITOMOTIBUSIBITAMOR

The translation of this would be "Revel yourself in the form os a sign (in the sky) in vain you reach for me, I am your desire. Rome, through movement (stars) suddenly love comes to you." Its purpose? Well, apparently it was put there to fool any demons that might want to harm the tower. It is believed that these demons, faced with a word puzzle, would read it again and again, unable to figure it out, until they became exhausted and went away. Who knows, perhaps it worked? — The Tarot of Prague. Karen Mahony. p. 22-23.
The inscription is also in the back of the cards, which means the deck itself can be used in ritual of high or ceremonial magic. It's a practical choice for those who work with charms and/or spells, and those who believe in magic as an alternate lifestyle. The story I chose is not the most impressive of the ones available inside the book, but I trust it will pique your curiosity to find out more about Prague and this wonderful tarot deck. Imagine being able to walk through the city with these cards in hand or in your bag and coming face to face with the characters contained in the cards. It would be fun to follow the signs and see where they take us to; no doubt a wonderful adventure. Since we can't just hop in a car and drive over, I decided to pull up a Baba Studio creation: All That We See or Seem is But a Dream Within a Dream.




 I was drawn to the First Edition Tarot of Prague because of its storybook binder cover, closed by golden ribbons. I have #1361 in my possession, but would gladly get a backup for my collection if another copy were to come up for a reasonable price. The tarot bags that were made for this deck are almost impossible to find online, but I have good faith that one of the Moon will pop up at some point. There has not yet been a tarot conquest I have not made, so keeping fingers crossed!

I really like the card stock of this deck because it is durable and the color printing is vibrant. It may not be easy to shuffle because the card stock is stiff and you do need to keep in mind that this is an out of print deck, but I find that I can work with it nicely if I employ an overhand shuffle. It is kept in a wonderful binder with the little white booklet attached to it, but I have not yet read it for fear of not being able to get the bows just right afterwards. I love keeping my cards either pristine or well worn, and this deck begs to be kept pristine so that it will last through years of loving use. I guess that even though I am curious about the little white booklet, I find salvation in the large book that it comes with. The stories it narrates and the connections drawn from the city to the cards are really thoughtful and add a little spice to this deck.

I recommend this deck to seasoned readers, people that are already comfortable with the definitions and traditions of reading with cards. If you desire to use these in rituals, they're good for that too. It is easy to find metaphysical principles hinted in the symbols of the cards, and manifesting through a reading as an underlying subject. This can be limited to a deck that you use to read for more mundane situations and sitters, but will really sing to you if you are open to its darker allusions. It draws connections from the divine to the mundane and the Hellish. Where you take it is in the end up to you.



INTERVIEW WITH THE TAROT OF PRAGUE:


What is your most important characteristic?
Two of Cups. We got off on the right foot. This card suggests that the Tarot of Prague provides alchemy of two into one. The soul and the mundane blend harmoniously to coexist, as do the landmarks of the city in collaged unison to spring into life the principles of the tarot. Lastly, to bring together the magical features of the city of Bohemia with a tarot reader that perhaps lives far, far away. I am sure that there are many lucky tarot readers – with the creator of this tarot deck amongst them – that live in Prague and are able to refer back to the scenes they see day to day in their readings. I can’t imagine what it is like to live there and refer to the ancient stories to aid me in my relationship with the cards, but I know that somewhere out there, someone enjoys that luxury. I delight in a very kind of Prague – the one nestled in my imagination. It grows with secret passages that may or may not exist and fuels my imagination to run wild with possibility.

What are your strengths as a tarot deck?
Six of Cups. Melancholy of olden times and meeting with a friend once lost. In this card we see children drinking in plain sight of day, but I think those children are actually adult people remembering olden times. If we mix it in with what this deck does, then we take into account the stories that the city has witnessed. In personifying the city through a tarot deck, we learn from the alchemists and villagers of old. We also learn from current people from Prague going through current things. It is the gift of knowledge through aging, and feeling as if what we are doing is in fact catching up with an old friend. How delightful it is to get up to speed on what has been going on in the past years!

What are your limits?
Two of Swords. Whoa! What a mean bite. To a closed off mind, no words can resonate. I feel as if the texture and shape of the swords in an X means that resonance will not continue if we are not ready to see what we need to see in the situation. The lion at the bottom is crowned, but looks possibly frustrated or scared. It is the lion of Bohemia reminding us that those that wish not to see will in fact not get it, no matter how many times we repeat ourselves. Behind the blindfolded lady lies the city and what seems to be the bridge. It feels like the secrets are in the city, but as outsiders, we may not directly participate in the magical ceremonies carried out therein. That’s okay, at least we can enjoy the journey through the cards.


What are you here to teach me?
The Devil. Well, it’s there in black and white. The horned devil towers over a stage of puppets carrying out his plans. It lacks color and life as a naughty allusion to what our lives turn into when we don’t question why things run as they do. This card says that in conforming to the limits of society, we turn to lifeless puppets. To me, this is a creepy connection to make. I almost feel as if it is suggesting total rebellion; to take off the chains and to see things in color. In color could be much more fun, but also dangerous according to the suggestions of this deck. I should not have been surprised to read this, and I find it quite surprising how subtle yet persistent the message is. I’m dancing around this one in failed attempts to word it correctly, but then that’s the game it’s trying to present. Bravo!

How can I best learn to collaborate with you?
Six of Wands. Moving forward full force with little to no regard for traditions and perspectives of the past. This is saying to just go for it and to celebrate. The statuesque angels send their blessings and their protection as the soldier rides forth in victory on a horse statue. The vehicle is not really there or alive, but it suggests that the rider can still go where he needs to. It suggests magic and bringing inanimate figures to life. They look so real though that you have to wonder whether or not they already are. This interview has been quirky and entertaining, and honestly a little scary.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
The Fool. There is no outcome because it’s just the beginning. That sounds like something a revered Magus would say. There are principles of an afterlife suggested, even though it is quite clear to me I can’t take physical belongings with me to the afterlife. It suggests that this is just the first step or stage to a really long journey to enlightenment, and that there never really will be an end.


Which card do you want to show off?
Ten of Swords. Lack of life or an attack on that which feels as if it has no life. Over the sleeping woman we find an array of menacing swords and the towers eerily looming overhead. It is a confirmation that this deck can be scary if we let it, and it has a rather sinister personality to it once we get to know it more deeply. It is a confirmation that even in an inanimate object we can find life is etched or divined into it. We either keep on climbing or find ourselves warded off. I choose to keep climbing.

How do you see me?
Page of Swords. Where other decks see me as Queen of Swords or Wands, this one sees me as a page. Youth and smarts aid the Page of Swords, also the awareness of a sharp mind. Writing is a great way to make confusing thoughts into clarity. See how this androgynous page looms over the rooftops of the city, sword in hand and ready to take on any areal challenges. The city seems like a dreamscape, and fades towards the horizon. There is only so much reality manifested near us, but a world yet to be discovered if we step out of our tiny box. Into the ether, the quest for knowledge commences.

How do you see yourself?
Five of Swords. For the first time ever we have two cards under this category. The first one is rather aggressive, the deck presents itself as a green monster concocted from our dreams, nightmares and fears. He seems very real as he wards people off in his defense. What he guards is a mystery and a treasure of old, judging by the arch over them all. The arch compliments the World card up next.


The World. What a glorious sight indeed, here we have an angel in between worlds inviting us to have a closer look into transcendence. It is reminding us that as soon as we are ready, we may set forth into another layer of consciousness and higher learning. It waits for us at the threshold into another world, and once we are ready we will venture through the gate into an unknown world.

I guess that’s the secret that this deck guards. The secrets of preparation for the next life while we deal with the happenings of the life that comes later. If we seek it for the wrong purpose, we turn back empty handed. If we accept the proposal it gives us, we can move forward. The treasure of knowledge comes after getting the riddles right and mixing our own alchemical formula to get where we want to go.



I don't think I have been faced with a deck that opens up to me with such an enticing and scary proposal. To onlookers, this will be a farse and a dramatization to build a name for a deck that is already out of print. To me, it's rather scary to have developed this connection with a tarot deck that has been sitting in my collection for approximately four to five months. I find in the Tarot of Prague a world of magic as carried through depictions of a magical city that lies far beyond my reach. This isn't a marketing ploy, this is tarot.

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