Tag Archives: Llewellyn Worldwide

Let the Fool’s Journey Begin

By Shawn MacKenzie

We are all Fools, starting our journey through life

with a faithful leap into the unknown.

May the wind catch our wings and the Tarot guide us on our way.

When a project reaches its end stage and publication looms like Smaug over the Lonely Mountain of Erebor, jumbles of emotions begin to stir. It’s a regular salmagundi of excitement, relief, joy, topped off with a generous dollop of dread. This describes to a T how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks as the launch date for my Tarot of Dragons gets close enough to touch. And, personally, I can’t wait to do just that.

In anticipation of this—and to appease the butterflies in my stomach—I thought I’d offer a glimpse into Tarot of Dragons’ companion book, Wisdom from the Dragon Realms.

While the bulk of the book focuses on interpretations of the Major and Minor Arcana, it also includes a brief history of the Tarot, a discussion on whether to invert cards or not (I choose ‘not,’ especially when draconic energy is thrown into the mix), and Tarot basics, from first touch to readings, simple and complex. After all, to work with the Tarot is to embark upon the Fool’s Journey; and every traveler can use a few guideposts along the way. Especially if you are new to Dragon Country, the Tarot, or both.

So, today, I want to talk about a few of the earliest guideposts on your way. 

Pleasures of Acquisition

Some people say that Tarot cards take on an added aura when gifted. It’s a nice idea and that’s how I got my first deck, decades ago. And it was certainly special for the giving. But through the years, I have added numerous decks to my collection, some were presents from friends and family, some I gifted to myself. Today there are so many decks available through traditional publishers and Kickstarter projects that I find being my own personal Gift Dragon is the most expedient way to get a deck. Especially if it’s one I am eager to lay my hands on. I find Un-birthdays—or Un-Hatching Days—provide a perfectly ubiquitous excuse for such gifting. So, treat yourself and enjoy.

Care and Feeding of Your Tarot

The Tarot is a tool for bridging our inner and outer worlds. And how should you care for such a tool? With respect, of course. 

I was taught that the best way to keep one’s cards was to wrap them in silk and place them in a special box or pouch. This would safeguard their energy. Now, this was back in the day when Tarot cards came in flimsy little boxes like regular playing cards. They practically cried out for extra protection. Times have changed; now many decks, including Tarot of Dragons, come in sturdy, elegant boxes, perfect for long-term storage. (I still use wooden boxes for my favorite decks. Old habits die hard.) 

Box or pouch, wood or cardboard, velvet or silk, the choice is yours. The important thing is that you treat your cards with the care and deference they deserve. To that end, don’t leave them lying about where your cat can chew on the corners or an oblivious guest watermark them with their cup of tea. 

The Tarot must also be fed. When you bring home your new deck in its pristine, cellophane-wrapped box, it’s a mystical tabula rasa just waiting for your personal imprint. A new deck is hungry to be claimed, and you need to feed it with your energy to make it your own. How you go about this is up to you. Some people do this through repeated use—also the best way to get acquainted with unfamiliar cards. For myself, I will put a new deck under my pillow and sleep on it for a few days, let my dreams seep into them. After all, Dreams and the Tarot both navigate the land of symbols. They speak the same language. Naturally, if I am not sleeping well or having bad dreams…well, that’s like dining on magic mushrooms instead of chanterelles. Not exactly lethal, but the energy can be unreliable.

So, guideposts are erected—initial markers to consider when getting a new Tarot deck, be it your first of your thirtieth, my Tarot of Dragons or your long-awaited kickstarter deck. To help you on your Fool’s Journey. 

Safe travels, my friends.

Author’s bio:

Shawn MacKENZIE (Southern Vermont) is a life-long student of the strange and mysterious—myths, arts, religions, sciences, the occult—as well as all creatures, seen and unseen, real, cryptic, great, and small. In addition to Tarot of Dragons, she’s the author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (OP), Dragons for BeginnersLlewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons, as well as numerous essays and fictions. Minnesotan by birth, she now lives in the shadow of the Green Mountains with nine cats, two rats, and an Amazon parrot. They are a constant inspiration. Working with the Tarot has been an integral part of her life for more than forty years. 

The Tarot of Dragons will hit bookstores in June and is currently available to preorder from LlewellynAmazon,Barnes & Noble, and bookstores and occult stores, large and small, everywhere.

Note: Since penning this, I was surprised by the arrival of my advance author’s copies of TofD. Reality strikes and it is as beautiful as I could have imagined. Thank you, Firat and everyone at Llewellyn.

9 Comments

Filed under Dragons, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Illustrators & Illustrations

Tarot of Dragons: A Mystical Adventure

By Shawn MacKenzie

Which came first, Dragons or the Tarot?

Dragons, definitely. When I was barely knee-high to a Vilnius Windwalker, I fell in love with Dragons. I mean, what kid wouldn’t? I read about them and wrote about them; I wandered with them through the wilds of Dragon Country. (On a particularly stormy day I even met Tennessee Williams there.) I’ve even collected a few, though it is not always easy to find a good Dragon these days. 

Working with the Tarot came later. I didn’t get my first deck until just after college—a classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck given to me for my 23rd birthday. That was forty-plus years ago, so you could say I’ve been living with both Dragons and the Tarot for a long time. With Tarot of Dragons I had the pleasure—and challenge—of being able to combine my knowledge and passion for both in one place.

How did the idea for a Dragon Tarot come about?

Tarot of Dragons was a gift from my publisher, Llewellyn Worldwide. Three years ago, almost to the day, my third book for them, Llewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons, was being presented at a sales conference. Barbara Moore, Tarot editor supreme, was there and liked what she saw. And she just happened to be looking for someone to do a Dragon deck; so, she asked my editor to reach out to me, see if I was interested.

Now, over the years, I’d often looked for a Dragon Tarot that spoke to me, only to be disappointed. The decks out there were, to my mind, pale or too human, with the Dragons often little more than props or decorative arm-candy. I never thought—nor had the resources—to create my own deck. To have the chance to fill the Dragon void. To create a full-fledged, intensely Dragon-centric Tarot. A deck that would merge the power and wisdom of Dragons with the mystical energy of the Tarot. On a note closer to home, Spring of 2019 was a particularly dark time for me and I desperately needed a new project. So, for reasons both personal and creative, Tarot of Dragons was an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse.

The joy of collaboration.

The one thing that gave me pause moving forward was the artwork. I could design the deck, conceptualize the cards, and write a book about them, but the actual art was lightyears beyond my capabilities. Seventy-eight cards in two-year’s time, not an easy ask. Fortunately, finding an artist was in Barbara’s hands (subject to the approval of myself and our art director), and she found the perfect person: Firat Solhan. Firat is a freelance artist from Turkey (bless the Internet!) who specializes in fantasy and sci-fi art.  

For this solo Dragon Country traveler, it was both a little daunting and very exciting to be collaborating with someone. That Firat, for whom English isn’t his first language, was able to take my (very) rough sketches and often intricate descriptions and bring them to life–what a pleasure! He would send me sketches, then I would send back comments, adjustments, notes. He would then do the final card.  

While Firat worked on the cards, I wrote the companion book, Wisdom from the Dragon Realms. A brief history of Tarot, interpretations for all the cards, some basics of Tarot reading, and Dragon-related layouts. Words—my comfort zone.

When all was done, one final check to be sure the cards synched with my text. Since Firat was working digitally, if there were any corrections to be made even at this point, they could be done without too much trouble. A far cry from the days of hand-painting. In the end, we had 78 exquisite cards. Just as I imagined them.

Not to mention a beautiful full-color book to go with them.

So, here we are, three years later with a launch just around the corner.

The Tarot of Dragons will hit bookstores in June and is currently available to preorder from LlewellynAmazon,Barnes & Noble, and bookstores and occult stores, large and small, everywhere.

Author’s bio:

Shawn MacKENZIE (Southern Vermont) is a life-long student of the strange and mysterious—myths, arts, religions, sciences, the occult—as well as all creatures, seen and unseen, real, cryptic, great, and small. In addition to Tarot of Dragons, she’s the author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (OP), Dragons for BeginnersLlewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons, as well as numerous essays and fictions. Minnesotan by birth, she now lives in the shadow of the Green Mountains with nine cats, two rats, and an Amazon parrot. They are a constant inspiration. Working with the Tarot has been an integral part of her life for more than forty years. 

Shawn MacKenzie

13 Comments

Filed under Dragons, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events