I’ve been working with the Marseille tarot lately and I quite like it. I’ve been finding a lot of clarity with it. When I “interviewed” the deck it said that its strength was in helping me reconcile conflicts [Temperance] and that has proved to be the case. I used it to find clarity with what the Knight of Swords has been trying to tell me and that seems to have worked. I basically told the Knight if I hadn’t gotten the message correct, he should show up again and so far he hasn’t. Fingers crossed.

This Marseille deck came to me in a strange way. Many years ago Llewellyn publishing offered a subscription service called, “Enhancing Your Mind Body Spirit.” The basic deal was that for a low monthly fee they would send you how-to cards and spiritual chatchkes on a variety of New Age stuff. (This was back before New Age became a subject of much mockery.) What can I say? It sounded like a good idea at the time.

It wasn’t long before I realized it was a diletante’s dream: one month I’d get an essence oil and/or incense and/or a couple of rune stones (building towards a full set) and/or small crystals, et al., and some cards I could file in my special notebook on such subjects as Reiki, aroma therapy, astrology, or whatall. Some months I would get a few Llewellyn reproduction cards from the Marseille tarot.

Although I almost never used the how-to cards (they were superficial treatments at best and designed mostly, I think, to get you to buy Llewellyn books on subjects that caught your fancy), the subscription was relatively cheap and I liked the chatchkes. I also had a lot more disposable income back then, so I let the thing ride much longer than I would have otherwise. But I did reach a point where I thought it was ridiculous and was just about to cancel the membership when Llewellyn sent a notice that they weren’t making enough money on this scheme and would discontinue the service. They phrased it nicer than that, but that’s the essence. They also said members shouldn’t worry about the partial rune and tarot decks or the incomplete cards sets because they’d send out one final large chatchke shipment. When I got mine, it had a complete set of runes, a complete Marseille deck (leaving me with about one and a third sets each), a final set of how-to cards and crystals and oils and incense. I put everything away and didn’t think about it again.

Until I pulled this Marseille deck out of my tarot box recently. There was no accompanying interpretation booklet. I suspect there were cards for that but in the chaos following my mother’s stroke in 2012 and the caregiving that followed, I put them somewhere “safe.” I’ve never found them again, of course. So I downloaded this, the late Yoav Ben Dov’s “CBD Tarot de Marseille” interpretation guide.

I quite like using this guide. So maybe that’s I find this deck so soothing at the moment. That’s at least one good thing that came out of Llewellyn. I know many people are skeptical of them these days, but back in the olden, pre-internet days, they were one of the only places—besides musty old esoteric libraries or specialist/used bookstores—that you could find stuff on mysticism and the occult. The internet has brought a fundamental sea change in these studies, but I am still grateful for those life rafts Llewellyn set adrift. They let me know that I may have been seriously weird, but at least I wasn’t alone.