Deck Review: The Vintage Wisdom Oracle by Victoria Moseley

I knew I needed this deck the moment the first images were posted on U.S. Games’ Facebook page. The term “vintage” is applied to a great many things these days. I’ve even seen it applied to my favourite raisin pudding recipe.

Seriously, it’s a delicious pudding.

In any case, the Vintage Wisdom Oracle is a deck that combines photographs, paintings, and drawings in collage to form its images. You might recognize John Waterhouse’s paintings or the enigmatic gaze of Mata Hari. Nymphs cavort while their mortal counterparts sit in quiet contemplation. Animals (particularly butterflies) feature in many cards, as do flowers. The colour palette is generally soft (with a few exceptions) and many of the images are sepia photographs with splashes of colour, adding a touch of the dramatic to the luscious imagery. Even the packaging has an air of luxury (silver gilt edges!). If you’re the sort of person with a more conventionally “feminine” aesthetic–flowers, pearls, soft colours, you will probably find a lot to like in this deck.

The cards measure 5 5/8” x 3 ¾” which makes them practically impossible to shuffle with my small hands. The upside is that it’s easier to make out details in the art. Each image is surrounded by a border in gray, mauve, or dark blue. The card backs have a woman’s face in the centre surrounded by a design that reminds me of an old jewelry box, which I feel is appropriate for a beautiful deck with a very old feel. The only words on each card are the card titles. They are non-reversible but the companion book indicates you can read with reversals if you find they are helpful.

The arrangement of the cards in the companion book is in alphabetical order with no images of the cards, only text. There are also a few original spreads:  the four leaf clover spread, the spyglass spread, the penny farthing spread, the walled garden spread, and the chatelaine spread, using four, four, seven, nine, and six cards respectively. I love it when deck creators make an effort to create their own spreads instead of just relying on one card pulls and three card spreads with maybe one spread that’s specifically designed for the deck.

It took me a long time to write this review because I was finding it difficult to connect to this deck. The art is beautiful, but I didn’t find that the messages I was receiving from it were relevant to the question I had asked. Today I happened to draw “Discernment” which is about not dividing your attention too much, and I would say that’s relevant to how I’ve been feeling lately.

I have two major criticisms of this deck. The first is that the characters can seem a bit “stiff” (no doubt because they are from older paintings and photographs). The lady in the “Adventure” card, for instance, doesn’t quite evoke a sense of joy or excitement. I didn’t feel like some of the cards really meshed with the description in the book. The “Healing” card features a vintage “medicine woman” (who is white, so I assume she’s supposed to be a doctor or an herbalist), but the way she is dressed (in pearls) and her expression don’t say “Healer” to me. In fact, she looks like a younger version of my deceased great aunt, dressed for a night on the town. I also felt like this is one of those decks that focuses more on, say, self-actualization than practical matters. It might be of more use to some as a tool for meditation or contemplation than an actual “reading” deck.

The other major criticism I have of this deck is that there are only two cards with characters of colour on them, all Japanese. The companion book refers to these Japanese ladies as “geishas”. I have no way of verifying if the paintings are indeed of geishas, but it struck me as potentially problematic that Japanese women are singled out in this way in an otherwise lovely deck.

Make no mistake, this deck has stunning art and I don’t think I have a more stunning box for any of my decks, but despite its beauty it took me quite some time to connect to it.

Deck Review: Oracle of the Mermaids

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Or as I’m now calling it “Self Love/Self Care Day”) Since I’m emphasizing self love on this day, I thought now would be a good opportunity to review a deck I love.

I’ve been a fan of Selina Fenech’s art since I learned of the existence of the Wild Wisdom of Faery Oracle, so when I found out that she was doing the art for a mermaids deck, I knew I had to have it and it instantly went on my deck lust list.

As usual, let’s start with some technical information. The cards are large-ish: 3.67 x 5.50 inches, and are very glossy, each card has a number at the top and the title and keywords at the bottom. The cards also have a thin border in “pearl” shades. The card backs show a blonde mermaid with hair that would make Rapunzel jealous. The backs are non-reversible. The cards come in a sturdy box. Included is a 168 page companion book by Lucy Cavendish. The companion book includes instructions for a three card spread, two five card spreads, and a “Mermaid Celtic Cross” which is like a standard Celtic Cross with an extra card. I personally don’t like to use spreads with oracles, but someone else might find them useful.

The art is simply gorgeous. This is one of those decks that I’ve shown to others where they’re instantly captivated by the art. One of my absolute favourite cards in this deck is “Sanctuary” which depicts a mermaid (representing Melusine) lounging in a bathtub. Another card I loved is “Freedom” which depicts a pirate mermaid with a skull and crossbones shirt and a cutlass lying next to her. Obviously taste in arr varies, but if you liked the art in the Wild Wisdom of Faery Oracle, chances are you’ll like the art in this one too.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting too much from the companion book. I found the companion book for the fairy oracle to be one of the fluffiest companion books I’ve ever read, and while I don’t think this one is as bad, there were still passages that raised an eyebrow or two for me. For instance, while Lucy Cavendish talks about how society creates unrealistic expectations for men (hello patriarchy), she then goes on to say that men suffer “in some ways even moreso than women” which….no…..just don’t go there. References to Atlantis and Lemuria are common in this book, and at one point there’s a jarring shift in tone from talking about relationships and the importance of taking time for yourself to talking about how Atlanteans conducted cruel experiments on the poor Lemurians. Still, I did appreciate the messages about loving yourself and setting firm boundaries.

This deck has become my self-care deck. If I’m feeling down and need a pick me up. I pull a card from this deck, although you can also use it for relationship readings. I did some readings for others and the feedback I received was that the deck was pretty accurate and helpful.

If I had any gripes with this deck, it would be that there’s not a whole lot of diversity in either body type or race (three cards clearly depict mermaids of colour), and it’s also a very heterosexual deck, with one card “Yearning” looking like a cheesy romance novel cover. I was particularly annoyed by the explanation for the “Soul Cage” card, which turned a story about the friendship between a male fisherman and a merman into a story about a man being rescued by a mermaid, and it’s actually not an old fairy tale at all, but the invention of its author, Thomas Keightley. I should also note in case anyone who follows this blog is tokophobic, but a few of the images in this deck depict pregnant mermaids.

Despite these annoyances, I really like this deck and I think any mermaid fan should check it out. It easily has the most appealing art of any of the mermaid/sea themed decks on the market for me at this time. If it had the racial diversity of, say, the World Spirit Tarot or the diverse body types of the Mythical Goddess Tarot, it would have been that much better, but as it is, it’s still a great deck, especially if you’re into mermaids.

Deck Review: The Halloween Oracle

Well my plan to do the thirteen days of Hallowe’en totally backfired but now that it’s actually Hallowe’en and I am not recovering from eye surgery like I was last year, here is a review of a deck that I’ve been saving just for this occasion: the Halloween Oracle!

As much as I hate the cold, I adore autumn. I love the colours and the food, autumn is just a magical season, and Hallowe’en is a holiday I look forward to celebrating year after year. I mean, Hallowe’en is the one time of year where I can dress in outrageous costumes and eat all the candy and it’s perfectly normal and expected.

In general, though, I’ve been looking to acquire an “autumnal” deck. I have decks that I associate more with spring and summer, but few that are autumn themed or seem “autumn-esque” to me, so when I saw that the Halloween Oracle was in the works I knew I had to have it.

 

The Halloween Oracle has 36 cards and comes in a sturdy box with a slim guidebook. The card stock is thin and the cards are glossy. The cards stuck together when I took them out for the first time. The card size is roughly 5 ½ x 3 ¾ inches, and the entire deck is almost thick enough to make shuffling an annoyance with my small hands. The cards have a black border, the card title, and a line of text as well as the image. The card back is black with a variety of Halloween symbols (ghosts, brooms, etc.) in grey and are non-reversible, although this oracle doesn’t use reversals. The guidebook contains instructions for a one card draw, three card spread, and six card Jack O’ Lantern spread. The entries for each individual card include a small image of that card, a short verse, and some text on how to interpret it.

First let me say that the art is gorgeous. It reminds me of the Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards. However, the Halloween Oracle uses a warmer colour palette, which is an interesting choice considering that many place an emphasis on the dark and creepy on Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of bones (and entire skeletons) in this deck, and you’ll find werewolves, witches, and zombies, but none of the art is especially grotesque or gory, and this deck contains cards such as “Forgiveness” and “Joy” as well as the expected assortment of monsters. I would even say that this deck is appropriate as a general autumn deck, not just Halloween specifically.

I think the biggest issue with this deck for me is that the card text often doesn’t seem to “mesh” with the card or the associations most people would have of the chosen image. For the Vampire card, for example, the text reads “Emotional intelligence”. The text in the book talks about cultivating emotional intelligence against emotional vampires, things that “drain” a person, but I didn’t really get how that had anything to do with vampires until I read about it in the book. The text just seems really vague. It would have been better, in my mind, to have text that said “Things that drain you” or “Cultivate emotional intelligence” or whatever. I think one of my main problems with this. I also think that for an oracle that seems to sell itself as a more “generic” Halloween Oracle, the card meanings seem to have a more specific purpose, that of self-improvement or realizing your full potential, so I found it difficult to use it for readings on more practical matters, like employment and romance. On a more personal note, the author has a tendency to use the word “synergy” a lot, but that’s more of a personal quibble as I am easily annoyed by constant repetition. Oh, and this may seem obvious, but I definitely wouldn’t treat this guidebook as an authoritative reference on Halloween customs because it’s really not. Lastly, although the art is gorgeous, there are an abundance of “sexy” women in this deck, even on cards where there’s really no need for any human figures to be there at all (like the “Midnight” card). In fact the only unquestionably male figure is on the werewolf card, and while he is practically naked and buff, that still doesn’t change the fact that there are a bunch of sexy women to his one sexy man. This was the one thing that really bothered me about the art.

Despite all these negatives, the Halloween Oracle isn’t a bad deck. It is a very nice deck and one I can definitely see myself using. I just feel like it could have been so much more than it is. One thing this deck definitely does capture for me, however, is the magic of fall, and Halloween in particular, and for that, I’d say this deck is worth a look.

Deck Review: Attuned: A Moon Cycle Deck

[The following review may be triggery for tokophobia, nudity, and some images are NSFW]

It’s been awhile since I did one of these, hasn’t it?

File this one under “I shouldn’t like this deck so much but I do.”

I’ve been interested in this deck for a long time. I really loved the bright colours and the way the images seem to flow like water. It reminded me very much of my Mythical Goddess Tarot (NSFW). But I didn’t pick it up because I thought it was out of print and therefore expensive.

However, I found it on etsy and it was actually reasonably priced. (I was actually expecting to pay twice that for a self-published oracle deck) and it was like I fell in love with it all over again. So now here it is in my hands and I’m ready to tell you about it.

Let’s get the obvious points out of the way first. This deck is very New Agey and Menstrual Moon Mysteries-centric. Well, actually not so much about periods, but as you can no doubt tell from the deck’s name, there’s a lot about moon cycles. In fact, the deck is designed for daily contemplation over a 28 day lunar cycle (as there are only 28 cards). The cards are large and a pain in the ass to shuffle, but that makes them ideal to prop up and use as focal points for meditation or to decorate a shrine or altar. The only issue I really had with the cards themselves was that the card stock is very flimsy, not paper thin, but definitely not up to rough handling. The cards came with a nice bag and a leaflet with meanings for each card.

The selling point for me was the art, however. I love the art. This deck has some very vivid colours and a very curvy, flowing art style. The figures on each card seem to gently sway to music only they can hear. It’s also very brightly coloured which also brings to mind the Mythical Goddess, which has the same kind of flowing art style and bright colours.

The “Gemini” card from Attuned: A Moon Cycle Deck

This deck is best used for meditation but I have had some success doing one card readings with it. (Although I did find parts of the paragraph for each card irrelevant to the readings.)  I wouldn’t say it’s really a reading deck though, it’s best used for meditation and contemplation. The creator recommends drawing a card starting on the first day or your menstrual cycle (if you menstruate) and drawing a card each day until you’ve gone through the whole deck. Alternatively, you could just draw a card on the new moon and do it that way.

One thing to keep in mind is that this is a very, shall we say, “feminine” deck. There’s only one figure I can see that seems a bit more “masculine” and few card images look androgynous. There are plenty of breasts on display but others are covered by the figures’ arms. One image, the “Birth” card, actually startled me when I came to it, as it shows a woman giving birth to the moon in a patch of red. I would say if you’re tokophobic that you might want to skip this deck, because it certainly gave me pause when I saw it. This is definitely one of those decks where I’d say you pretty much have to be in the intended demographic (in this case, cis women who menstruate) in order to get a lot out of it, but your mileage may vary.

I like this deck. I’m not sure what it is about this deck that I like exactly. It’s yet another deck that I shouldn’t like for a variety of reasons but I like all the same. If you would like this deck for your collection, you can buy it off etsy.

Tarot Review: The Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince

As you know, I collect tarot decks, you may also know that I have a sub-collection of goddess decks, so when I heard about the Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince (the same lady behind the Tarot of the Crone) and saw the Moon card, I knew I had to add this one to my collection.

First, a little clarification as to what is meant by the phrase “dark goddess”, by, “dark goddess” Lorenzi-Prince means goddesses and mythical figures who are “beautiful or horrible, loving or wicked. What they share are powers that are disturbing, or considered disturbing when in female hands. These are the powers of suffering and shadow, of sex and sovereignty, of magic and mystery, of death, violence, and transformation”  (p. 4). As you can see, this definition is pretty broad and not all the goddesses in this deck are what most people would think of when they hear the term “dark goddess”, but I suppose there are more than a few “goddess tarot” decks and this is a good way to differentiate from those even if I don’t think the label “dark goddess” applies to every goddess in this deck.

As usual, some more technical details. The deck is in the RWS tradition.  The cards measure 5.5 x 3 inches (just large enough to make shuffling difficult for my small hands) and are glossy. They come in a sturdy box with a 27 page full colour LWB. The cards themselves have a gray border with the card title at the top and the name of the goddess depicted in the image at the bottom. The backs are a blue “fish scale” pattern that is non-reversible. Some of the majors have been renamed: The Emperor is Sovereignty, Temperance is Alchemy, the Devil is Corruption, the Tower is Destruction, and Judgement is Liberation. Strength is VIII and Justice is XI. The suits are Fire (Wands), Earth (Pentacles), Air (Swords), and Water (Cups), and the court cards are Amazon, Siren, Witch, and Hag.

One thing I really like about this deck is how Lorenzi-Prince tried to depict the goddess in the style of her home culture. Ishtar, for instance, wouldn’t look out of place on a Babylonian temple relief, whereas Gaea is depicted in the same sort of style and pose that resembles one I’ve seen on a Greek vase (and yes, some of you will be delighted to hear that Hekate is depicted as a young women, not a crone). While many of the cards are stylistically different, the artwork is still very consistent. It’s also a very colourful deck, but the colours definitely aren’t as bright as, say, a deck like the Mythical Goddess Tarot). They’re a bit more muted.

Perhaps surprising for a deck that includes a wide variety of goddesses. the LWB doesn’t contain a whole lot of information, just where the goddess is from and a short phrase that I’ve taken to be the “message” of the card. (Note that there is apparently a full companion book in the works.) The LWB includes two spreads, a two-card “Substance and Shadow” and a five card “Goddess Be With You” spread as well as some more general information on the deck itself.

It’s actually a shame that this deck didn’t come with a more informative book, because this is definitely one of those decks where you need to know a bit about the goddesses in order to see how each one corresponds to the traditional meaning. For instance, the Banshee is appropriate for the Nine of Air, as the Banshee’s scream, which heralds death, is certainly the cause of much anxiety! But others might definitely throw you for a loop if you aren’t familiar with that goddess. The other problem is that the images tend towards simplistic, just the goddess and maybe some symbols or a simple landscape, pretty as the art is, I don’t really get a sense of movement from this deck (with a couple of exceptions) although, as I said, the art is very pretty. The fact that this deck does require some knowledge of the goddesses in order to really see how they “fit” the RWS meaning probably means it wouldn’t be the best fit for beginners.

However, when used as a non-tarot oracle deck, this deck is fantastic.

To test this deck, I decided to enlist the help of my followers on tumblr. I did a series of readings using the simple “Substance and Shadow” spread. I would choose two cards, make a note of the phrase accompanying each card in the LWB, and interpret using the phrases as a jumping off point for my intuition. I did occasionally refer to the goddess’s story when I was familiar with it, but I was much less reliant on traditional tarot meanings.

The result? Well, I’d originally thought this was just going to be an “art” deck, but it’s been so scarily accurate that it’s now earned a place as a reading deck. All of the responses I received back ranged from “pretty accurate” to “wow that’s so accurate how did you do that?” The individual cards seemed to take on personalities. Lethe, the figure on the Four of Water became a card associated with lethargy and being stuck in the past, whereas Thyone (Semele), the Ten of Fire, became a “check” for desires that were expressed in other cards, not really a “burden” which is the most common interpretation of the Ten of Wands. I usually don’t have that much interest in my “tarocle” type decks, but this one does such a good job as an oracle that I feel the need to keep reading with it. For those of you who are looking to use this as an actual tarot deck, though, remember what I said above. I would say it’s definitely possible, but I’ve had amazing success using it as if it were just a regular oracle deck.

I’ve already touched on some of the issues I have with this deck, but I would have loved to see more goddesses who are actually “dark” as opposed to the very broad definition that the creator uses. What about more goddesses associated with the night, like Nott or Nyx, or, since the deck includes “monstrous” women as well as goddesses, what about Angrboda or Gullveig? What about depicting Hellenic deities in their chthonic aspects?  For instance, depicting Persephone as Queen of the Underworld instead of showing her more popular transition from the underworld to above ground). Certainly, they wouldn’t fit as well into traditional tarot archetypes, but I’m actually a bit disappointed that the deck emphasized more “popular” aspects of certain goddesses.

For those who are concerned about such things, the deck does contain some nudity. A particular offender in this case is the Fool, Sheela Na Gig, who has a disembodied vulva, it definitely wasn’t the first card I was expecting to be staring up at me when I opened the box! While I do like that this deck is very diverse, those of you who are sensitive to cultural appropriation might wish to give this one a pass on principle (although the art itself does not appear to be problematic, but some may take issue with a goddess like Oya as the Witch of Air (as I’ve seen similar complaints in the past).

Overall, as a tarot deck, I would say the Dark Goddess Tarot definitely requires further study to be useful in that capacity, as an oracle deck, however, it worked fantastically for me and it really is a lovely set of cards even if there’s not a lot of information in the LWB and the images are a bit static. This is definitely not a deck I’d recommend to everyone, but if you like goddess-y things and you’re okay with the criticisms I mentioned above, this deck might be of interest to you. You can buy it and view some of the art here.

Deck Review: The Animal Wisdom Tarot

As many of you already know, I have a small collection of tarot decks. The only portion of my collection that I would call a sub collection is my collection of “goddess” decks.

But I definitely have a thing for animal decks, whether mythical or not, I find it much easier to work with animal and natural symbolism than the more conventional Medieval Christian-inspired art, particularly where the court cards are concerned. (I loathe court cards in general) but something about animal imagery fires my imagination.

So here I am with the Animal Wisdom Tarot, a deck I’ve been lusting after since I fist saw preview images of it. It is authored by Dawn Brunke and the illustrations are by Ola Liola. The entire thing is published by Cico Books.

Read More »

Deck Review: The Arthurian Tarot

It’s time to break up the Serious Business with another review, don’t you think? (For those of you who only recently followed me, I post reviews of things when I’m bored, which is all the time.)

The latest addition to my ever-expanding tarot and oracle collection is The Arthurian Tarot by Caitlin and John Matthews. Just to be clear, this is not the same deck as Legend: The Arthurian Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson, the similar names apparently confuse people. The edition I bought is the newer version in the green box with white bordered cards. There is an older edition (Hallowquest) with black borders, but it’s out of print and really expensive.

I’m of two minds when it comes to tarot decks, I like my decks to be as “traditional” (particularly RWS traditional) as possible, but at the same time, I like it when decks do something different (but not too different). There isn’t a single deck that completely satisfies these contradictory impulses, so I have to settle with sometimes preferring my RWS clones, and sometimes wanting something different.

The Arthurian Tarot definitely falls in the “something different” category.

First, the basics, the cards measure about 2.4″ x 4.5″, each card image is bordered by a white border (which forms a sort of “window”) with a knot design in the upper corners. The backs are green with a gold knot pattern and fully reversible. The deck comes with a little purple booklet that has card meanings and spreads designed specifically for the deck. The suits are spears, swords, grails, and stones, court cards are maiden, knight, king, and queen.

Let’s talk about the art, shall we? The first thing you should know about the art is that you can’t trust images that you see online (including the ones I’m going to show you) because not only are most of the images of this deck of the OOP black-bordered deck, but the colours seem faded when compared to how the deck looks in person. At first, I was skeptical that the white borders wouldn’t be a distraction when I read with the cards, but I’ve actually found that the borders are more of a help than a hindrance with the system the Matthews have set up (more on this later). The images are brightly coloured without being eye-poppingly bright.

I suspect what will ultimately make or break this deck for you is its non-traditional system. For starters, nearly all of the majors are renamed. The Fool becomes The Seeker, The High Priestess becomes the Lady of the Lake, Justice becomes Sovereignty, and so on and so forth. The only cards that remain unchanged are the Star, the Moon, and the Sun. Even with the name changes, the majors are more or less RWS-esque in their imagery and meanings.

The minors, on the other hand, are landscape scenes (apparently of actual landscapes in Britain that you can visit) with few (if any) human figures. Each suit is also tied to a particular season. This is an interesting idea, as the images lend themselves more readily to meditation. but may seem a bit lonely if you’re used to minors with a little more movement. The scenes are meant to draw the reader into the images, to derive meanings from their experiences rather than just doing things as the book says.

Actually, I think one of my biggest gripes is the Little Purple Book, because while the interpretations it gives for each card are about as RWS as RWS can be, I suspect the average reader would be a bit puzzled by the choice in imagery, especially since at times the Arthurian legend doesn’t seem to mesh well with each card. Spear Five, for instance, is supposed to represent the combat between Balan and Balin, two brothers who unknowingly kill each other. The image shows a large stone with two crossed spears leaning against it. Now, I suppose you could figure out that the card has something to do with competitiveness and strife, but it just seems like a lot to remember for that many images.

Personally, I found it much easier to go “into” the scene in the card and interact with the objects there. As an example, I pulled Spear Ten from the deck and tried to imagine myself on that path with the two crows, and what I felt was this feeling of foreboding (crows, I might add, kind of freak me out) and the spear to my left was bloody, as if it had just been used in a battle. It was just a really creepy, not-nice card, and I didn’t really want to hang around there anymore.

This wasn’t even really a reading, this was just me pulling a card to try the method outlined in the book.

Oh, and the deck did have a moment when it kicked my ass. I decided to use the “Soul Protector” spread to get some help with my writing. The idea of the spread is that you are “assigned” one of the Majors to help you with your issue, in much the same way that King Arthur would assign a knight to help people in trouble in the stories.

Suddenly, there’s Gawain staring me in the face….

And I’m all like “Ohai, Gawain, I should get back to writing my queer version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, shouldn’t I?”

Also, Gawain is probably my favourite knight.

Did I mention this was after I shuffled and scattered and cut the deck like crazy?

Yeah, the deck kicked my ass. It was the best ass-kicking ever.

Besides the not quite helpful book, the other gripes I have with the imagery are small. Gawain, for instance, has now been nicknamed “Pillow Knight” because his shield looks like a pillow, and I have no idea what possessed the artist to draw the Green Knight like he’s someone trying to camouflage himself by pasting an entire bush to his body.

Oh, and then there’s one of my pet gripes–cards that look like other cards. This deck is driving me crazy with it, because Sovereignty (Justice) looks a lot like the traditional Temperance card (even with a white and red river) and the actual Temperance card (the Cauldron) reminds me of the Wheel of Fortune, because round things and fate. Sovereignty is probably the one card in this entire deck that is bugging the crap out of me.

It is not okay to make cards that look like other cards, OKAY?!

Overall though, it’s a pretty deck and an interesting deck to read with.

Okay, done talking, have some pictures:

img030 img031Sorry for the hugeness of the pictures.

Deck Review: The Stolen Child Tarot

Something I’ve never really understood about the tarot world (apart from swords being associated with air while flammable wands are associated with fire in defiance of all logic) is why anyone would want a majors-only deck. I understand that the majors represent archetypal forces that include the minors, and many find the majors useful for meditation and such, but I can’t help but think that you’re buying a fraction of a deck for the price of a full deck (I’m talking a full deck with fully illustrated minors, not pips).

So, yeah, The Stolen Child Tarot is the first majors-only deck to be added to my collection. The deck is the creation of Monica Knighton (who also illustrated the Tarot of the Dead and The Healing Tarot)  who was inspired by the Yeats poem of the same name, particularly this passage:

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

True to its name, there are many children in the deck, but another key feature is that there are no human-made objects in any of the cards. Justice is not represented by a woman with scales and a sword, but by an orderly colony of bees, the Magician is a gleeful child in a fox’s skin. Most of the cards feature children, some of whom take center stage in the action, others have more or less blended in with the environment.

The cards themselves are 3.5 by 4.75 inches, and the card stock is unlaminated heavy archival watercolor paper, quite flimsy, but I’ve held flimsier decks. The backs are non-reversible and have a checkerboard pattern with a diamond in the center with representations of the four elements: a salamander, a fish (looks like a koi fish), a bird (seagull) and a squirrel. The deck comes with two title cards and two cover cards and comes packaged in a portfolio, but you’ll want to have a bag handy to store them in. The majors themselves are also untitled and not numbered. The deck doesn’t come with a LWB but the artist offers a PDF guide for free download.

Generally speaking, I don’t see any particular card that I really dislike, and that’s quite the feat, considering that there’s usually That One Card that I wish didn’t exist in my otherwise perfect decks. The other thing I really like about this deck is that, even though the majors aren’t numbered, titled, or strictly speaking “traditional”, I can tell what each card is just by looking at it (although the High Priestess might be mistaken for the Empress at first glance).

Also, some of the images are downright adorable. I love how the Empress and Emperor cards are set up, with the Empress (a brown bear) looking to the right and the Emperor (a polar bear) looking to the left, and the children in the bear outfits are so SQUEE! I JUST WANT TO CUDDLE THEM! (If I didn’t run the risk of being mauled to death.) I absolutely adore the Strength card (this is a card I usually dislike in tarot decks for no particular reason) which shows a girl hiding behind a bison, one hand gently grasping his snout in a way that almost seems protective, and then there’s the Lovers, and the Hermit, and….

Yeah, this deck, it’s awesome, and unlike a bunch of other decks I own that have children in them, I didn’t find any of the children depicted in this deck creepy in any way.

I suppose now you want to see pictures, eh? Fine, here are some pictures:

The Empress
The Emperor
Strength
The Star – for variety’s sake

Seriously though, these images don’t compare to what the deck looks like in person.

The one sticking point I can see for a prospective buyer will be price. And I will admit that I did get this deck at a discount, and at $40, well, remember what I said about majors-only decks and pricing? Still, keep in mind that this is a limited edition (only 500 will be printed, my number, in case you’re wondering, is 486) and the artist has obviously put a lot of care into the product, but, yeah, kinda’ pricey, I get it.

Bottom line: The Stolen Child Tarot is a gorgeous deck and now I’m really sad that the Kickstarter for the full deck didn’t work out, because I think a full deck would be amazing, but if you have the cash to spare, are in the market for a majors-only deck and you really like nature-y decks, you really can’t go wrong with this one.

Review: The Heart of Faerie Oracle

I’m mad at you, Internet.

I’m mad at you because everywhere I looked, reviews for this deck always chose the creepiest or the most colourless cards to show off, and because of that, I deemed the art “too creepy” for my tastes and avoided this deck.

And I’m mad at you, because this deck is easily the most responsive oracle I own.

Ask a bunch of ATers (even those who aren’t into non-tarot oracle decks) what their favourite, most reliable oracle deck is, and I guarantee you a good chunk of that sample will mention Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Oracle. The Heart of Faerie Oracle, a joint effort between Brian and Wendy Froud, is in the same vein as the earlier deck (it even has some of the same cards), but focuses more on relationships.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “So is this basically The Faeries’ Oracle: Love and Romance Edition? Is this like Doreen Virtue and her Legion of Angel Decks to Inject Fluff into Every Facet of Human Existence?”

And the answer is no, no no no, not even close.

You see, the Heart of Faerie Oracle is more about relationships in general, not just romantic relationships (although there are cards that address that sort of thing), how we relate to others, and, of course, to Faerie itself (interpret ‘Faerie’ however you like, whether as a general sense of “enchantment” or in the sense of this deck being a gateway to the faery realm–just don’t eat the food).

So, before I get really gushy, some more technical details. The deck has 68 cards (sized 3″ x 5″), 65 cards are “named” cards, and 3 have images but no titles. Don’t worry, your deck isn’t defective. The set also includes a sturdy hardcover book, which is probably why the deck was so expensive initially (I bought mine for $10, though). The backs have a winged heart design and are fully reversible (even though the authors recommend not using reversed cards with this deck). Besides one card draws, suggestions for three card draws and one unique spread (which uses four or seven cards, depending on your need) are included. The colour scheme, to my eyes, seems strangely subdued, looks of browns, whites, and dark blues, it’s definitely not a deck that I would consider eye-popping (unlike, say, my Mythical Goddess, which has really bright, vibrant colours). There is a lot of colour in the deck if you give it a look through, but it’s not colour that particularly jumps out at me, or maybe I’m just used to looking at images that are saturated by pretty colours.

The cards are divided into seven categories: The Faerie Queens, The Queens’ Consorts, The Archetypes, The Sprites, The Ladies, The Tricksters, and The Journey. The Queens represent powerful forces and “feminine” energy, the Consorts being their “masculine” counterparts, whereas the Ladies deal with more personal issues and the Tricksters are….tricky, Sprites are generally positive, playful, joyful energies, Archetypes are “ancient energies of Faery” and the Journey cards take us not only on a journey through Faerie, but through life stages.

For some reason, I keep finding myself drawing the cards in pairs. I have no idea why this is, but it seems like each card I’ve drawn so far seems to overlap with its “partner” nicely.

I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago I was just like “So, what should I do now?” Knowing full well that I had a week “off” (A.K.A. when my mom’s not in the house to write). The cards I drew were the Smith (Creation/Bond/Promises) and the Queen of Hearth and Home (Courtesy/Hospitality/Welcome) which I interpreted quite literally to mean “You’re going to have a nice quiet home for a week, stop saying you’re going to write and WRITE!”

From this I have determined that this oracle does not fuck around.

Okay, I do have one quibble, and that’s that the descriptions can get a little fluffy at times, but there are definitely cards that are a bit more cautionary (the super creepy Prince of Shadows might as well be named the “don’t get into a relationship with this person, ever” card, as well as one that basically means that everything is going wrong). The cards certainly aren’t as fluffy as, say The Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle or anything Doreen Virtue puts out, but the deck does seem to focus on the positive overall.

And now, some pictures (I can’t promise they will be better than the ones on the rest of the Internet, but keep in mind they are a bit darker in person):

Shameless (Tarot-Related) Plug of the Day

Have you heard of the Stolen Child Tarot? It’s currently a majors-only deck created by freelance illustrator Monica Knighton, inspired by the Yeats poem of the same name. It is a nature-based deck with no human-made things depicted on the cards (er, except for the children).

I thought about buying this deck, but I said “Oh, she’s thinking about making a 78 card deck? I can wait.”

And so I waited….

….and now there’s a Kickstarter up for the full deck. I backed it right then and there, and then I upped my pledge.

So this is my shameless plug for the day. If you or someone you know might be interested in this, for the love of gods, back this project! Pledging $24 (+12 shipping for us non-Americans) nets you a deck, which isn’t really a bad price for a deck, especially since the majors only deck is $40 on Etsy.

TBH, the project needs a lot of pledges to succeed, and I don’t know if it’s possible to make that kind of money in eighteen days, so this is me doing my part to make this deck a reality, because I want to see it happen.

Now I need to write books to pay for my tarotitis treatment. I think it’s becoming manageable. I’ve only bought one deck this year. Books and video games are a lost cause, though (the books aren’t my fault though–they’re reproducing, srsly).

Anyways, here’s the link to the deck’s Kickstarter page again, pass it on.