by Linda Atkinson (purple_scorp on aeclectic)
I first discovered Orphalese about 18 months ago, when I was researching the different types of Tarot Card Software for comparison and review for a magazine article. Orphalese compared reasonably well, though it lacked some features that were available in a competitor’s software (albeit for a much higher registration fee). Since that time, Richard (the programmer) has extensively developed Orphalese and I would now consider it the leading Tarot software. It is so refreshing to see a programmer who is committed to the continual improvement of the software and as such, Richard is very receptive to enhancement requests.
Orphalese is available in the following languages: English, Spanish, Danish, German, Swedish, Greek, Hebrew, French, Russian, Italian and Portuguese.
The software is designed for the Windows operating system (excluding Windows 95) but in the installation notes, it claims it will also run on a Macintosh with a suitable Windows emulator. Further software/hardware information is detailed in System Requirements at the end of this article.
Version 6.5 was released in December, 2005. Version 7.0 is currently being Beta tested and is due for release shortly. This software is unbelievably good value as it sells for about the price you would pay for a tarot deck. Now, let me add that you can download the unregistered version for FREE. Yes, free. It doesn’t give you access to all of the features that are unlocked when you register, but it is still a wonderful little program in its mini version. You can use the free software for as long as you like, however, in line with all shareware, once you decide you want to keep it you are expected to register your use and pay a registration fee. This will then allow you to install the software on up to three computers.
So, what can you do with this software? I’m going to tell you about the registered 6.5 Version (so keep in mind the unregistered version does not have all of this functionality – or has reduced functionality, and you can only use three decks).
The Orphalese software is similar to some of those online free tarot reading websites that you may have used. Orphalese organises a place on your computer, where you can store electronic images of the cards in your deck(s).
When you register this software, you are given access to a community forum where you can upload and download decks and spreads. In the deck/spread exchange, there are currently over 650 decks and over 150 spreads. Some of these decks include card notes/interpretations. That in itself is worth the registration fee!
So, you can store your decks (and information about your deck), and create your own spreads. (Figure 1) You can organise your Decks, Spreads, and Readings into a folder structure that you create. You can even associate a spread to a deck, so that when you want to use that spread, it fetches the appropriate deck and lays out the cards accordingly.
Orphalese is so flexible, that you can have the deck sitting on your desktop, and just click on it to draw as many cards as you desire. (Figure 3) Then, you can drag them around your screen to place them where ever you wish. So, it’s brilliant for doing readings on the fly, when you don’t want to use a particular spread. Even if you do use a spread, you can draw further cards should you need to clarify any of the cards in your reading. You can also use two different decks at the same time.
If you are like me, and you prefer to hand select your cards rather than deal them from the top of the deck, you can fan the deck on the screen….. run your mouse along and click when you feel the urge. (This is called Free Selection). And, if you want to use your real deck to do the reading, but want to use Orphalese to record your reading notes, you can use the Free Selection tool and have the cards displayed face up in ascending or descending order (making it easy to select and lay out the same cards as your physical reading).
Orphalese even caters for reversals in that you can tell it what percentage of cards you want to appear reversed. For me, I don’t read reversals so I’ve set my percentage to zero.
There are two tabs to record individual card notes so that you can store the LWB (Little White Book) meaning, as well as your Personal Interpretation. (Figure 2) Both tabs have a place where you can enter upright and reversed meanings. You can set a pop-up notes feature so that a card’s notes will display as you roll your mouse across the card. (Figure 3)
Once you’ve done your reading (using your own selection or a spread), you can copy the spread notes, the layout of the cards, and the card interpretations into a master screen that then becomes your reading notes. This is done simply by the click of a few buttons (and you are given a template in which you can hand-select the items to include). You can then write additional information such as why you’ve chosen that deck/spread (which is what I do when I read for others). (Figure 4)
The reading notes can then be saved and re-read at any point down the track. You can also email a reading (which is very handy if you are reading for someone else). So Orphalese is like an electronic journal.
My very favourite feature is “Compare Cards”. (Figure 5) It is a function that allows you to compare the same card from different decks. So in other words, you can view say The Fool card, for example, from every deck that you have on the Orphalese system. You can do this by hand-selecting which deck folders, and individual decks within those folders that you would like to display. Clicking on any of the cards loads that deck as your current deck. You can even click on a button to load a random deck, for those times when you’re not sure which deck you should be working with.
There are so many wonderful features in this program that I could go on writing for days. But, instead, I’m going to strongly urge that you go and download the unregistered version from www.orphalese.net and have a play. The unregistered version downloads with a sample deck, so you can instantly start reading.
Now, one last important note. The programmer has in the past, offered this software as freeware/shareware and as such, registered users have access to a life-time of free upgrades. For new registrations after the release of Version 7, you will need to pay for major upgrades.
System Requirements: Windows 98 or greater. (It can run on a Mac with a Windows emulator – please contact the programmer for further Mac information). Orphalese is compiled to run on .NET Framework Redistributable (Dotnetfx.exe) which is free, and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. The Minimum hardware requirements are Pentium 90 MHz CPU, 32Mb RAM, 256 Colour 800 x 600 Graphics.
Linda has also made significant contributions to discussions on Aeclectic’s TarotForum including the thread ‘Orphalese Tarot Software’ (see it online here).
Thank you Linda for providing this positive reflection and details of the software.
A small additional note that Mac users do not normally choose to run a PC emulator, so the suggestion by the programmer needs to be carefully considered by Mac users. J-M David, editor