Review: Magus Marseille Tarot & Witness Pendulums by Divination Magick

Reviewer: Madame Curator

The past few weeks have been one intense whirlwind because of work. So I was really elated when an eagerly anticipated package finally reached my office when I came back from my Paris/ Tokyo trip. Some good things are well worth the wait 😉

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Minus my new Harry Potter & the Cursed Child book, this is just part of the bizarre magic package that I ordered directly from the mysterious Tor Ravengael of Divination Magick. An American mystery performer who is constantly on the road for work, Tor did try his best at customer service but I would advise a little patience – especially if like me, you reside in the other side of the world from him.

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Let’s start with their brass witness pendulum. A witness pendulum is basically one that has a chamber, which allows you to put a small billet or tiny amount of liquid (oil, water, a strip of cloth, whatever you wish really) inside. What I really like about the Divination Magick pendulum is that it comfortably fits a rolled up billet (2.6cm x 10cm); more than enough writing space for a prediction for your favourite bizarre magic routine.

To be honest, this picture taken from their website does the actual product little justice. There is a nice patina sealed finish to the pendulum and I really like the weight when held. The pointed bob is about 5.5cm and it hangs dramatically from a metal chain 22cm long… perfect for stage work!

The brass pendulum handles well and I personally like metal pendulums (especially when they have an antiquated look) as they are much more forgiving than the pretty crystal ones, which are fragile and will chip if you’re not careful.

The Magus Marseille Tarot from Divination Magick is I dare say… Tor Ravengael’s beautiful brain child. I mean, all magicians know of the standard gaffs commonly used for poker cards – but how many dare to use the tarot for compelling storytelling magic routines that can elicit emotion and feeling from the adoring crowd? And to take it up a notch, Tor has come up with these wickedly clever beauties.

Ever inquisitive, I asked Tor how/ why he got the inspiration to personally create these marked beauties and their gaffs. This is what he shared:

“The gaffs I decided to include are basically variations of standard card gaffs that I have seen, that I thought might be useful for Tarot effects as well. The ribbon spread gaffs stemmed from a story based tarot effect I came up with long ago. I basically designed them just for myself for that one effect, but then decided other people may come up with uses for them as well, so I may as well include them.”

Cleverly designed and professionally printed in 3.5″ x 5.75″ standard tarot card size (considered large when compared to a regular deck of playing cards), these 22 Major Arcana Tarot cards (plus six gaff cards) are based on the actual tarot designed by Jean Noblet in the 17th century.

Their faces are common for Marseille style tarot decks, which are still in use today… and they pass off as the real deal. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’re probably wondering if the sides look aged as well. I’m happy to report that there’s no need for you go through the messy procedure of sponging the sides of this stacked deck with paint/ dye/ tea because it looks authentically aged all around!

Its carefully antiquated appearance lends a touch of mystery and the markings are easy to spot. Not only are you able to know the specific card (there is no way to make a mistake unless you have very bad eyesight), you can also quickly tell its orientation from the subtle one-way design on the card’s back.

The cards come packed in a nice and simple drawstring pouch, as seen the first photo I shared above. I can’t wait to find a spot of time to work on my bags; there’s so much you can do to add to the aged look.  Eugene Burger in his book “Mastering the Art of Magic” describes making a card look very old by using shoe polish, so maybe you’d like to try his method but for the cloth bag after doing a standard tea/ coffee dip staining, for extra texture… Just a thought!

Resource material wise… Tor personally recommends the works of R. Shane (available from the fine folks at Lybrary.com) for creative use of his tarot gaff cards; also included with the standard deck are six gaff cards: Double face: Fool/Fool, Double face: Fool/Devil, Double back, False five card ribbon spread on the front and back, False five card vertical ribbon spread front with a Devil back & One duplicate card

As for me, I highly recommend TC Tahoe’s books if you want a solid source for ideas in performing the pendulum and tarot cards. A compilation of clever ideas from some of the best modern mentalists and mystery performers, they’d serve you well in inspiring new performance routines.

So in summary, if you’re in the market looking for a reliable yet beautiful set of marked tarot cards and brass witness pendulums, the artisans at Divination Magick should be the first guys you approach. Made with pride, they’re well worth the investment and should last you for ages!

I’d strongly recommend dropping Tor an email first, communicating what you need exactly as they can very easily come up with a special deck for your specific requirements. One thing for sure, they’ve found themselves a new fan girl!

Available directly from Divination Magick. Check out their website for other related bizarre magic products!

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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