Category Archives: Books


BLOG TOPIC: Awaken the Heart

“…the still point of the center of the fixed stimulates germination and the awakening of the heart.”

What a lovely saying from our wrangler, Joy Vernon. Joy tasked this group of bloggers to discuss this subject. She gave us some ideas and her own thoughts on the subject.

We thought we would share two new books that show this idea of awakening the heart in action since writing does involve being still so your heart can awaken. We think both books are great examples of this process. How about you?

First up is the brand-new Chrysalis Tarot book from Toney Brooks with art by Holly Sierra.

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Chrysalis_9HermitStoryteller This illustrated companion book to Chrysalis Tarot explores the spiritual journey of self-discovery and transformation that leads to higher consciousness. Part I examines the magic and energy of the Otherworld that guides you on this journey. Each of the five chapters focuses on a character from the Chrysalis Tarot illustrated with an original sketch by Holly Sierra. Toney Brooks relates wisdom from New Physics, the Collective Unconscious, archetypes, healing, and chakra work.
Part Two of this book expands on the interpretations of the 78 cards. In addition to Toney’s insightful descriptions, Holly shares the inspirations for her Chrysalis Tarot artwork and presents her original black and white sketches for each card. Chrysalis_3Empress

Next is a personal journey into the Deviant Moon Tarot with Patrick Valenza. In his Deviant Moon Tarot book, Patrick takes us on a personal journey from his childhood drawings to the finished Deviant Moon Tarot.

DeviantMoon_BookCover DeviantMoonBorderless_1MagicianTalented artist Patrick Valenza presents uniquely alternative interpretations of traditional tarot with symbolism inspired by childhood dreams and visions. This fully illustrated book takes you behind the scenes of Deviant Moon to glimpse the creative inspiration and artistic technique that gave rise to this popular tarot deck. Patrick also offers expanded meanings and interpretations, for both upright and reversed card positions.

Two very different visions of Tarot brought to you in deluxe, hardbound format to enjoy throughout the years.

Which will you get first?


Deviant Moon Tarot Companion Book: Sample Page King of Coins

Here is the King of Pentacles sample page from the Deviant Moon Tarot companion book.


King of Pentacles


The stout King of Pentacles proudly displays the silvery emblem of his industrial dynasty. He is a powerful individual, who has worked diligently through the years to attain his status. Unlike other kings, he does not rest on his riches. He involves himself in every aspect of his kingdom, from major to menial tasks. Being a perfectionist, he often toils inside the factories alongside common laborers, making sure each product meets his strict specifications.

The king's impressive crown of smokestacks shows that business is always foremost on his mind. Unfortunately, this preoccupation leaves little room for spirituality. The pressure gauge fixed in the crown’s center signifies mental stress, which is inherent to his position as an executive. When the meter gets too high, the king releases steam and converts his tension into useful energy.

The king’s mighty suit of armor conveys his steely determination to succeed. He has fought hard to build his empire, and he will do anything necessary to maintain it. However, underneath that worn exterior, there may be a woman dying to break free! Such femininities include a studded kilt, high-heeled shoes, earrings, polished fingernails, and the dainty way in which his pinky sticks up. These attributes subtly express his soft caring nature, which he often has to hide when dealing with ruthless business competitors. One might also interpret the king as a female who has assumed masculine qualities in order to compete in a male dominated world.


Upright meanings:


The King of Pentacles signifies an enterprising figure that will likely become wealthy through his business ventures. This captain of industry is not only a strong administrator, but he is also an authority in his field. He is a wise investor and is proficient in all types of financial matters. Learn all you can from this shrewd character! Always look for ways to capitalize on unique opportunities. Be sure to set high standards and demand nothing short of excellence from yourself and others. By practicing self-discipline and control, you will be successful in everything you do.

The card may also represent an organization that prospers because of skilled management. In a well-ordered establishment such as this, supervisors lead with integrity and strive to bring out the best in their workers.



Reversed meanings:

When reversed, the King of Pentacles often represents a materialistic person fueled by greed. Beware! This crook may try to swindle you out of your hard-earned money. He might disguise himself as an honest financial consultant or a sincere investor. In this position, the card could also signify a supervisor who exploits his underlings for profit.

Perhaps you are the corrupt one! If so, you must realize that you are only cheating yourself! It is time to turn your dishonest values around, for your lust for gain will only cause you to lose your soul in the end!

In this position, the king might also symbolize business mismanagement. A once promising venture will fail because of inefficiency, fraud, or unethical practices.



I originally intended to use coins for this suit rather than pentacles. The borders of the cards were to be royal purple, and the images would have pictured wealthy citizens dressed in 18th century fashions. However, by the time I began working on them, I realized that the opulent theme I had planned, as well as the color palette, would have been similar to what I already created in the Suit of Cups. At that point, a dark, gritty, industrialized premise seized my imagination. Decaying factories replaced Arabic style palaces, and a blackened color theme absorbed the jeweled colors in darkness.

Deviant Moon #Tarot Companion Book: Sample Page 3 of Wands

We are pleased to share with you some sample pages from Patrick Valenza's upcoming Deviant Moon Tarot companion book. A long awaited treat, this book expands upon Valenza's vision of his celebrated deck. We know you will enjoy seeing some of the early sketches of this terrific deck.


Three of Wands


Upon a grassy hill, an expectant mother anxiously awaits
the blooming of three wands. A chunk of orange amber glows hot on her belt,
signaling that birth is eminent. Having committed massive energy into the
growth of this new life, she reflects on the journey that has brought her to
this moment. Although she is hopeful for success, the number three represents
unpredictability and the chance that things may not develop as imagined.

A vine-like umbilical cord connects the young mother’s
swollen belly to the wands. Her warm blood streams through this vital link,
which nourishes the blooms and keeps them alive. Her exposed breast shows her
readiness to foster the plants after they flower; however, she keeps her other
breast tucked under her arm in a guarded fashion. This might imply that she has
mixed feelings about the perpetual responsibilities that lie ahead.

In the days before raising these wands from seed, the
young mother was immature and wild. Nurturing something greater than herself
taught her to focus on creation instead of destruction. She has flipped her
fierce warrior mask around to the back like a cloak, revealing the caring side
of her personality.

From afar, the deviant moon imparts its spirit upon the
buds with its silver breath. The young mother has done her part, and now the
universe will complete this unique creation.


Upright meanings:


The Three of
Wands represents the circulation of creativity from one form to another. Like a
mother with child, your life force flows into your creations and sustains them
until they can survive on their own. You have given so much to bring your ideas
into existence, and they are flourishing brilliantly. Although this should be
an exciting time for you, vicious thoughts of self-doubt run in the back of
your mind. As you contemplate your efforts, you may be wondering if you planned
well enough to ensure favorable results. Stop worrying and let your remarkable conceptions
unfold naturally.



Upside down, the Three of Wands says that a creative endeavor will go wrong
despite your best attempts. While you meant well and tried to think of
everything, the little mistakes you made along the way will compound into a
tremendous failure. Regardless of any setback, you must remember that you did
not waste your time. Learn from your errors, conceive a better plan, and try

Perhaps the negative aspects of your character are getting the best of you,
making it hard to concentrate on projects or see them to fruition. Realize that
neglect or a lack of dedication may also lead to your creations demise.

Unfortunately, this reversed card might predict a miscarriage or premature



of Wands” -Rough Sketch-2007

In this early variation, three
impaled skulls mark the boundary between a pristine environment and a polluted
industrial zone. Deadly toxins leached from the factories contaminate the water
and encroach upon the countryside.



Tea Leaf Fortune Cards – Months

In Rae Hepburn's Tea Leaf Oracle, one of the three groups are the twelve months. This is to help you determine timing for some of the layouts. You can lay out the months and then the cards to see what will occur in a given month.


Do you use any specific sequence to determine the timing of your readings? What do you think of this oracle's use of timing in this way?

If you love the artwork, you can read an interview with Shawna Alexander here.

Remember that everyone who comments on this Tea Leaf Oracle series (which started on Monday of this week) will be put in a drawing. One winner will get a Tea Leaf Oracle reading done by Stella.

Sneak Preview of Deviant Moon Book

Fans of Deviant Moon Tarot have asked for a companion book, and we have heard you!

Patrick Valenza is busily writing detailed descriptions of the cards with expanded meanings. He is also sharing insights into his own creative process, with personal anecdotes on what inspired his beloved Deviant Moon characters and their settings.

Here's a sample page (FIRST DRAFT) for the Magician Card.






I . The Magician


The novice magician performs on stage to the shadows of an imagined audience. Though he has not yet achieved mastery of skill, he envisions a time when he will be competent in his craft. This innate confidence lays for him a mental blueprint on how he can one day reach his goals. There is great effort and concentration expressed on his face as he wields the four symbols of the minor arcana. With time, practice, and patience, he will become fluent in them all.  In spite of inheriting the gift of four hands, he must still labor diligently to reach such a high level of craftsmanship. He dips his forefinger into a cup of blood, demonstrating that his art does not come without pain or sacrifice. The box at his knees is a material manifestation of the cosmos, symbolizing  that mortals, as well as gods, can revel in the rewards of the universe through hard work, will, and perseverance.



Upright meanings:    

The magician shows that you are more than able to master any desired skill through practice, sacrifice, and a determined focus on your outcome. He encourages you to cultivate your potential abilities and to be willing to invest the time required to do so. Occasionally, you may feel overwhelmed or frustrated, however persistence to the task at hand will pay off. Stay confident in your craft, and believe that your creative power will manifest into tangible results. Be resourceful in your approach to all situations, remembering that you already have everything you need inside yourself to accomplish your dreams.


Reversed meanings: 

The magician reversed warns of the waste or misuse of your unique talents.  There may be setbacks in undertakings due to uncoordinated efforts, and you might find yourself unable to grasp new concepts as confusion sets in. This could also signify the lack of confidence in your emerging abilities. 



"The magician is based on another Venetian character created for a story I was writing in 1982. In it, a mechanical fish made of gold arises from the canal and takes a few citizens on a ride beneath the city. At the time, I was progressing in my work as a colored pencil artist, yet I was getting tired of drawing figures in a traditional manner. I felt the need to grow beyond what I was comfortable creating. When designing the magician's body, I used stylized shapes more and more, as abstraction began to influence my drawings. Multiple arms just came naturally for this figure, as it was a necessity for him to be performing with all four suit symbols. Reality started to bend with the needs of each card. It was a precursor to other odd body parts to come throughout the deck!"





USGS Celebrates Halloween!

Halloween 6 C Leaves falling, wind howling, spiders crawling and monsters roaming…

Yes, intrepid readers, we’re celebrating the thinning of the veil—a time of ghouls, flying brooms and haunted houses…


This month, look for spooktacular posts that will enchant, inform, intrigue and entertain you.

From a virtual costume party to ghastly giveaways, terroriffic spreads to “dark” deck profiles, the Fool Stop Tarot Blog is THE place to be during October!

So bolster your courage, don a mask and grab your trick or treat bag, because fiendish frights and frolicking fun are heading your way this Halloween!

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Image from the Halloween Tarot ISBN 0-88079-965-X

Ode by Stuart R. Kaplan

Emperor Balbi Small I've been reading the Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume 1 by U.S. Games Systems founder Stuart R. Kaplan, and, quite frankly, I am surprised at how absorbing, fascinating and engaging the materal is (this from one who dislikes history, I admit!). One of the gems in ths book is the poem Ode by Mr. Kaplan:


In this ode to ancient tarot cards

I touch with care new friendships painted
on pasteboard faces drawn
during man’s obscure dawn.

The single-ended carnival figures
clad in full-length costumes conceal
the profound knowledge of antiquity.

Each gamester skillfully plays
with the arcane figures at his command.
The fanciful trickster separates
the fool from his money while
the wicked fortune-teller
with astonishing accuracy lays bare
the great prophecies of life.

As one card falls another
dares to take its place
much like the evolution of life itself.

The relentless processional
out of the past
unmasks each symbol of the present
and portends the limits which exist in
the future.

Ency 200 Despite the sly tricksters,
the gamesters,
the crafty gamblers,
the fortune-tellers,
none can answer the simplest of arcane questions,
whether the Major and Minor Arcana
were created together,
or took form each born of separate genius.

One yearns to discover
the ingenious mind that started it all.

What chance to find
face to face the wit who wrote
life is but a game of cards.

Instead we resign ourselves to accept
the allegorical pictures which we do not
fully understand.

Beautiful cardboard face
I love you as an old friend
despite your unyielding guard
of the symbols shrouded
in the mysterious tarot pack
that beguile and defy us all.

Stuart R. Kaplan

The ISBN for The Encylopedia of Tarot Volume 1 is 0-913866-11-3, available at your favorite bookstore or retailer. If you don't see it, just ask.

The Emperor card at top is a stylized rendition of Stuart R. Kaplan himself, as painted by Domenico Balbi in the Balbi Tarot pack (an interesting tidbit found in Volume 1, along with a full-page grayscale replica of the card).

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Calling All Reviewers!

Woman Book U.S. Games Systems, Inc. greatly appreciates all those reviewers out there who take the time to review our decks and books.

If you're a reviewer who has reviewed a U.S. Games Systems deck, book or deck/book set, please email me at to let me know. Please be sure to include the URL for each review!

I'll be making Reviews Round-ups posts highlighting and linking to YOUR reviews, so even if your reviews are older, feel free to send them along, too.

— Janet