✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Elemental Power Tarot, by Melinda Lee Holms

Elemental Power Tarot, by Melinda Lee Holms
CICO Books, 978-1782499220, 64 page, 2020


Elemental Power Tarot is a beautiful deck, which uses rustic, muted tones and hand-drawn images to create an earthy look. What is unique about this deck’s approach to the tarot is that none of the cards feature images of people — only inanimate objects and animals are featured in the images.

The author and designer, Melinda Lee Holm, explains in the book accompanying the deck that it is her intention the querent superimposes themself in the images instead of see another person there. So, for example, The Fool card depicts a winding dirt pathway that meanders out off the side of a cliff, as if the querent themself were taking this risk instead of watching it be taken by somebody else. Likewise, the High Priestess, Empress, and Emperor all depict empty, yet appropriately decorated thrones. Meanwhile, the Heirophant depicts a Buddhist meditation shrine on the side of a path.

I quite like this approach as it challenges the querent to truly see themselves in the midst of the situation at hand and not simply as a passive observer. Some of the cards seem to present environmental messages as well — the Death card portraying a bee on a skull and crossbones, and Judgement shows pollution buried underground. Each Major Arcana features both an astrological symbol and a Hebrew glyph to invite the querent towards further insight into the meaning of the card.

However, the only thing I do not like about this deck is that the cards of the Minor Arcana only show the element (Swords, Wands, Cups or Disks) in the amount of the card’s number. There is no scenic image to help discern the meaning of the card. My good friend exclaimed as she picked up the deck that she would not be able to read the cards because she’s trained in the method of reading solely based in intuitively interpreting images. So from this light, this deck is not the best choice for someone who is on the newer side of reading tarot and doesn’t the meanings memorized. Still, the accompanying guidebook is thorough and easy to read, so really anyone willing to take the time can get an accurate reading using this deck.

The book accompanying this deck is actually quite exceptional. Holm starts off with instructions on how to perform a 5-element ritual to welcome the deck into your life and initiate its prophetic power. From there she includes suggestions on phrasing questions in “tarot speak” to get clearer results as well as an intuitive technique she calls “reading the room.” Holm offers her readers 3 different simple spreads to get started: classic 3-card, 5-card and 10-card spreads. The spreads are clear and easy to follow — the 10-card is based on the classic Celtic Cross spread for those who may be familiar.

The book also includes a chart of all the Hebrew glyphs and astrology symbols used on the Major Arcana cards in the deck. This quick-reference chart is something any tarot reader would greatly appreciate, as she side-steps all the esoteric rigamarole and gets right to the point with clear, one word meanings.

In terms of the individual card descriptions, the book offers each card in the deck a symbolic interpretation, a guidance, and a challenge (though it isn’t specified, a querent might favor the challenge if a card is reversed). What is remarkable about this deck is that in the book for each of the Major Arcana cards Holm includes a section called “Apothecary” where she pairs an herb with the card and offers instruction on how to use it.

For example, The Magician: “Cinnamon activates personal magick. Sprinkle it on porridge, boil the sticks to make tea, or use it as a room freshener in potpourri.”1 This was a wonderful addition that helps to connect each reading to the realm of nature, while also learning about the uses of different herbs in energy work.

The Body Tarot, by Emma McArthur

The Body Tarot, by Emma McArthur
CICO Books, 1800650965, 72 cards, 66 pages, April 2022

After reading tarot cards for so long, I am always excited for adapted decks that use the tarot as a foundation to build from to create something novel. This is exactly what Emma McArthur has done with The Body Tarot, which bridges the magic of the body and the subconscious to reveal hidden insights. Integrating Western and Chinese medicine, this deck offers a unique look at what’s going on inside of us both literally and figuratively.

In the guidebook, McArthur explains how studying the physical form of our bodies deeply impacted her art and gave rise to the idea for the deck.

“When I first began doing anatomical drawings, I was astounded at the complex structure of our flesh, bones, and blood. The patterns, shapes, and colors enchanted me and I wanted my art to reflect how little we know of our inner workings and introduce that to my audience. It began conversations about the body that showed me that many of us are in the dark about what we actually look like on the inside. ”1

Then McArthur realized this lack of knowledge of our internal physical structures was similar to the hidden, mysterious workings of our subconscious mind too.

“This then made me think of how we often do not know the workings of our subconscious mind and we traverse situations reacting instinctively without realizing why we’re behaving in a certain way. It seemed to me that the tarot, rather than simply a predictive divinatory system, is also a profoundly useful tool to discover the impulses hidden within us. In this way, the idea of the tarot deck was born.”2

But this is no ordinary tarot deck. While it does have a twenty-two-card major arcana, there are no court cards, which I’m sure might prompt a sigh of relief for some readers since they can be challenging to read at times. In their place is a fifth suit, Metal, which corresponds to the suit Pentacles, as does the suit Earth. The other three suits are Wood (Swords), Fire (Wands), and Water (Cups). This integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine into the suits makes for slightly different interpretations than the traditional tarot deck. But once understood, it greatly enhances the readings, particularly if one has some background knowledge about Chinese medicine.

Regardless of your level of knowledge about Western or Chinese medicine, though, the cards themselves are helpful in determining their message. There is a keyword at the bottom of each card to assist with interpretation. The major arcana cards in The Body Tarot even have the name of the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) card on them too for easy reference. Admittedly, the minor arcana is a bit more of a leap to learn since one has to remember the corresponding traditional suit with each Chinese element suit, but the keyword leans a hand in figuring out the meaning, as does the resourceful guidebook.

One of the most interesting aspects of the minor arcana cards is how each element suit has both a main and secondary organ association, which is featured on the card. For instance, the main organ of the suit Fire is Heart and the secondary organ is Small Intestine, both of which are featured on all the cards. For me, this added layers to the interpretation of the card because it felt multilayered.

I am someone who enjoys the interpretive process of discerning a card’s message, so I would piece together the information about the heart and spiritual intestine from the guidebook plus what I know about the traditional meaning of the card and come up with my own intuitive approach. Granted this didn’t work as well on the Metal suit, since that one felt a bit foreign to me, but in a delightful way. It’s even prompted me to learn a bit more about the Chinese elements, since this one is rarely included in Western practices.

For those who want a more straight-forward reading and aren’t as interested in playing around with the layers of these cards, the guidebook is also immensely helpful. For each card there are additional keywords and a description of the card’s message. Here’s a little sample of the guidebook for The Eyes, or the Chariot traditionally:

“Around 80 percent of our sensory perception comes from our eyes, if we are sighted. While we often hear the truism that appearances can be deceptive, for the most part, the other saying that “seeing is believing” is the one we follow. This card is telling you that your eyes are not deceiving you and the succes you may have been craving is your for the taking. There is an element of divine help (if you believe in a higher powers) or dumb luck (if you don’t), but the greater part of the victories indicated by this card will come from grit and faith in your own abilities.”3

I chose this description for this card because it appeared in a reading I was doing for a querent asking about making a career shift. Since I was reading with the deck for the first time, and it was a social get-together rather than a professional reading, we consulted the guidebook. The indication seemed clear she should pursue the opportunities in front of her and the combination of her own determination plus a bit of luck would pave the way.

As for the card illustrations, this deck is vibrantly colorful and beautifully simplicity. McArthur describes how she was influenced by Gray’s Anatomy, a 19th century medical reference book, by Henry Carter. Peering into the marvels of the body is such an interesting way to also delve into the wisdom of the subconscious, and McArthur does a wonderful job stimulating the reader visually to assist in making these connections.

I even spent time meditating with some of the major arcana cards, such as the Eyes, Ears, and Muscles, while doing an awareness breathing exercise through my body. Connecting to the physical body part helps me to better embody the messages I’m receiving from the deck, which is a neat aspect to it that is different from other tarot decks.

All in all, The Body Tarot is a very special synthesis of science and intuition. The blend of Western and Chinese medicine makes for multi-faceted readings that can be as straight-forward or layered as the reader feels called to explore. The learning curve of this deck will be inciting for readers who have the traditional tarot down-pat and are looking for new avenues of insight and creative interpretation, while beginners will be able to gather ample information from their readings through the descriptive guidebook. The best part of this deck is the connection it fosters by making the internal visible, prompting further curiosity and deep appreciation for all that goes on in the unseen realms of body, mind, and soul.

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure
Findhorn Press, 9781644113745, 44 cards, 159 pages, March 2022

I have used many oracle decks since I was first introduced to them three decades ago; some resonate with me and some don’t. However, the Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards by Swan Treasure had an immediate energy to them that I had never before experienced when first introduced to a deck. I had a strong feeling that there were many nature spirits and energies present that seemed to spill out of the box as I held the deck. 

Findhorn is not new to me. I had read quite a few books on this magical place in Scotland and how the nature spirits worked with the ecovillage’s founders Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean on a barren landscape. With the help and direction of nature spirits beautiful gardens were created which eventually developed into a “planetary village” and the Findhorn Foundation which has a “spiritual lineage of cooperation with the subtle realms.”1

“The land surrounding the Findhorn community is indeed a blessed place, tended by a host of powerful and benevolent spirit forces.”2

Treasure worked with the subtle realms to write and illustrate this deck. The author bio reads:  “Her life is dedicated to raising human consciousness through co-creative spirituality so that we can remember, experience, and awaken the beauty of being fully alive on this planet.”3

The deck was “born” in 2018 at the Co-Creative Spirituality conference at the Findhorn Foundation. The pictures on the deck came through using a “meditative technique called touch-drawing”4 using only the hands and fingernails on tissue paper placed on a board on top of colors.  Spirit beings were invited to participate in the co-creation of the deck.

“The messages that have been received in connection with each of the spirit beings depicted in the cards encourage us to reconnect with our essential nature, to expand our awareness to new realities, to activate our full vital energy, and to engage our power of co-creation with the divine, opening to the joy of partnership with the subtle realms.”5

Each card image represents a spirit made visible to us in an understandable way. 

The deck follows the shamanic medicine wheel and the cards within the wheel can be used as a “tool to access the support and assistance of the spiritual realms both as a path for self-actualization and for divination purposes.”6

Treasure emphasizes patience and time in getting to know the energy of the deck. She recommends at least eight weeks to connect with these subtle realms, to experience the practices of the cards, and to enter the gateways of these energy portals. She also recommends that one asks permission before entering these spaces, with words such as “Am I allowed?”7. Swan also provides  details on consecrating the deck, and how to initiate opening and closing ceremonies when using the deck, all centering on spending time with these energies, not rushing, and extending respect to these guides. 

The deck consists of six sets of seven cards, each set representing a gathering of spirit beings associated with the four directions of the medicine wheel plus the directions of above and below. Within each set of seven there are three “significant” cards: a guardian spirit, a turning point, and a spirit akin to an animal or flower. She offers card layouts and types of readings, including the Shapeshifter Reading, The Essence Reading, and The Chakra Alignment Reading. There is a description for each card that includes a communication from the spirit, a focus, and a practice. 

The card illustrations are subtle and beautifully colored in tones that match the message of the spirit attached to the card. The Blessings card holds the appearance of a figure cloaked in white with what could be branches or hair emanating from the being’s head flowing upward. The predominance of the color green in the card is highlighted with bits of purple, the message being “let your presence be a blessing.”8

This card represents the Angel of Findhorn, who reminds us that we are living miracles. The focus of the card is on laughter, homecoming, and miracles. The practice encourages making drawings of angels and writing on them, “you are loved, I bless you”9 and signing them as the Angel of Findhorn.

The Victory card kept appearing in my work with the deck. Victory comes from the Realm Above with the message that the “warrior within uses resistance to awaken.”10 The colors of the card are various shades of green flecked with yellows, blues, and spots of red. The face of a strong figure predominates.

Victory represents the spirit of inclusivity that encourages one to “quiet down, go within, drop the survival fears that keep you enslaved.”11 The focus is on respect, balance, and contribution. The practice encourages a reflective pause. 

I highly recommend Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards. I’ve absolutely loved connecting with these cards. This deck has a very powerful elemental energy that results in accurate, heartfelt messages. It’s perfect for the springtime, as the nature spirits are in full bloom. If you do decide to get yourself a copy, I strongly suggest that you take the time to experience all that it offers as it introduces you to the unseen realms that have chosen to work with us.

Zodiac Moon Reading Cards, by Patsy Bennett

Zodiac Moon Reading Cards, by Patsy Bennett and illustrated by Richard Crookes
Rockpool, 9781925924268, 36 cards, 84 pages, March 2021

Patsy Bennett is a journalist, a psychic intuitive, and an astrologer with over 25 years of experience. Writing horoscopes for magazines and newspapers in Australia and around the world, she has also written several books and is a speaker and teacher in the area around her home in Byron Bay. She created the Zodiac Moon Reading Cards as a “powerful 36-card set and booklet depicting the Sun, Moon and eclipses through the zodiac signs.” I watched a YouTube video of Bennett and listened to an interview to get a better idea of her astrology background.  She’s the real deal!

I was intrigued by the use of eclipses in this deck.  Although we will only see four eclipses in 2022 (there were four in 2021 and six in 2020), it is interesting to note the energy of an eclipse in each zodiac sign–and this is what Bennett has captured. She features the twelve Sun signs, twelve Moon signs, and the twelve eclipse signs.

Due to my study of astrology over the past two years, I have been interested in anything that focuses on the zodiac, the Moon, or other planets.  She does a great job of explaining the energy of the Sun, Moon, and eclipses, as well as the twelve zodiac signs.  Her language is easy to understand and very informative. Bennet includes two spreads for the deck, although I decided to focus on one-card readings for my initial foray into these cards.  The guidance shared in the booklet is very rich and detailed.

When I saw this deck, my interest was piqued, as I wondered how the guidance for these cards would be revealed, so I dove right in, deciding to use the cards for my weekly Coffee & Cards group. 

Initially, I asked a question for myself, posing a query around a work situation.  My card was Eclipse in Leo.  Keyword:  Compassion with Tagline: “Shine brightly like the star that you are.”1  The verbiage in the guidebook suggested that I consider this time to be a turning point and remember to use my skills in both compassion and creativity. It also guided me to more self-care and a focus on activities that I love.  

I took this guidance to mean much more to me about a personal project I am about to undertake and saw it as a “green light” to move ahead. It also urged me to: “Keep the channels of creativity and happiness open with an active and optimistic mindset.”2

Next, I pulled a card for each of the women in my Saturday card group.  One woman asked a question regarding her new job prospects.  The guidance she received came from the card Sun in Sagittarius with Keyword:  Adventure and Tagline: “Stride out into new territory.”3  Similar to my experience with my card, she felt that the card answered a different question she had regarding taking a trip to South America to work with her Shaman.  At the very end of the passage, Bennett shares “If you asked a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, the answer is ‘yes’.”4

Another woman asked a question regarding starting a website to sell tarot decks. She has been studying and buying decks for over twenty years.  Her card was Eclipse in Aquarius with Keyword:  Awakening and Tagline: “Your deeper resolve rises.”5  She shared that just this week, she had made a decision to stop job hunting and focus 100% of her energy on setting up her website for teaching Tarot and selling cards. She felt that this card confirmed that decision. One paragraph really stood out in the guidebook for her:

Digital and technological ventures can reach a new level. You may see your abilities in the digital world in a new light. Avoid being consumed by technology; Ensure you create balance in your life between technology and everyday concerns.6 

She shared in the group that while she had a little experience in developing a website, the new technology was a concern.  She took this card to be her confirmation that she can handle whatever comes her way and that her resolve to provide not only cards for sale, but also educational information and support for people on a spiritual journey will be key.

The cards are a little larger than most oracle decks and hard for my small hands to shuffle in the traditional way.  However, by mixing them up on a tabletop or doing an overhand shuffle, the cards can be shuffled for each use.  The cards are of a medium to light-weight card stock and I’ll have to be careful not to bend the cards.  Also very glossy, the cards are highly varnished on both sides.  I noticed that I had to turn off the overhead light to photograph them for sharing online. The highly varnished surface reflected the light and distorted some of the graphics. However, this is minimized by turning off the light. The deck and guidebook come in a beautiful box, with an indentation to hold the cards and a magnetic closing flap.

Bennett and her illustrator have done a beautiful job of matching the keywords and taglines with images that bring the verbiage to life. The guidebook is easy to read and has been printed in full color, including color photos of each card.  It is arranged in Zodiac order from Aries to Pisces for each of the three sections. Bennett has provided two ways for you to find your card or cards, if you are unfamiliar with the natural order of the Zodiac signs:  1) She has numbered the cards from 1 to 36 and 2) there is also a Table of Contents.

I really enjoyed working with the Zodiac Moon Reading Cards.  The messages were clear and the guidance was detailed and flowed beautifully from the guidebook.  This deck would be great for anyone who wants to learn more about the Zodiac signs and the energy of the Sun, Moon and eclipses.  No prior knowledge of astrology is required and this is really helpful for most people.  I’m also planning to keep this deck close by and refer to it when the Sun and Moon moves into each sign.  This will help me continue to build on my knowledge of the qualities for each of the Zodiac signs.

The Wanderer’s Tarot, by Casy Zabala

The Wanderer’s Tarot, by Casey Zabala
Weiser Books, 1578637597, November 2021

There is room for everyone to improve in life, but sometimes we don’t know where to start. The Wanderer’s Tarot by Casey Zabala appears to be an amazing jumping-off point for this particular activity; only time will tell, and I doubt time will prove this observation wrong. Casey Zabala is a creator after my own heart, believing in divination as a means of healing self-discovery and personal empowerment. Her deck, The Wanderer’s Tarot, is a tool I will be keeping in rotation for a long time.

This box is just superb! The design is simple, but the sleek all black design with white text is inviting. The artwork present is barebones, but alluring. The picture on the back made me immediately paw through the cards to see which card art inspired it (it’s the Wanderer of Stones).

The spine is completely blank: there’s no name, no doodles, just black inky nothingness, which I only see as an issue if you display your decks on a shelf of any kind with spines facing out. But then again, you could resolve this issue with a sticky tab or, dare I say, writing on the box yourself! The opening mechanism is a hinge style clam-like lid. Now, I wouldn’t go shaking it about, but it stays quite secure. I would trust this box to protect the cards on the go if you take a deck with you.

Now onto the cards themselves. The card stock is great. They have a good amount of give without feeling thin and aren’t obnoxiously thick, I have small hands so card sizing is very important to me in a deck. If I can’t shuffle the deck, I’m less likely to use it and will then feel bad about neglecting it.

The cards were thankfully held together not by plastic but rather by a simple black paper band that I was able to slide back on after removing if I was careful… up until the point where I stepped on the band like a goofus. Off topic, so let’s get back on track with the edges of these bad boys. They are so shiny! I have in the past gone out of my way to color the edges of some of my other decks, but these cards came pre-treated with a shiny silver, and I am in love to a degree.

On flip through, the cards stuck together much more than usual, and my hands came away with a faint dusting of silver the first few times of handling. This silver is a gorgeous contrast to the solid black background of these cards. The backs lend themselves well to reading reversals. The circle in the middle with lines radiating off of it gives me “light at the end of the tunnel” vibes, and I like that a lot. These cards are a bit wider than your standard deck but it is still very shuffle-able.

Reading with these cards is a bit tricky though. The numbering for both the majors and the minors are not consistently placed, so I find myself looking for the numbers or names on some cards. I do, however, appreciate that the majors don’t use the traditional roman numerals and the minors are denoted by tally marks only.

It makes you think a little when doing a reading, and that’s kind of the whole point of the deck: diving deeper into the mind and self to better your existence. The minor arcana is drawn in a very pip like style which, in my mind, would prove a bit hard for a new reader to understand as there isn’t any of the traditional RWS context images to help them out.

We’re gonna talk about that smell now. This is my biggest problem with this deck. Trying to riffle shuffle them the first time made it more obvious than when just holding it. If smells trigger any issues of yours, let these cards air out. Set them on a window sill or a table spread out for a few days, otherwise you will not have a fun time. Do the same with the box, leave it open before storing them.

Enough tough talk, let’s look at the guidebook. The book isn’t so much a book as it is a pamphlet with quick info on the cards. Zabala makes it pretty clear that we’re supposed to sit with these cards and come up with our own personal meanings and really suss out how these cards make us feel when they come up, rather than treat the guide like it’s some kind of god.

Our major arcana cards get a few keywords apiece, which is pretty standard fare. The minor arcana got an interesting treatment though. The only bits that get any kind of in-depth meaning is the suits and court cards, as they were changed for this deck. Pentacles are now Stones, Swords are Knives, Wands to Feathers, and Cups to Moons. There is a short explanation of each of the suits on their own panel.

But the truly interesting part is how the numbered minor arcana are treated. We get a numerology cheat sheet of sorts that we have to pair with the traits of the suits to get our meaning. The courts are a bit tricky; they feel like their own entity completely divorced from the RWS courts. I couldn’t figure out a one-to-one correspondence, so here they are for you to decide: Philosopher, Goddess, Prophet, and Wanderer. I won’t say anymore on them as I feel you should pick up this deck to sate that curiosity and support the creator yourself.

There is an option to purchase a more in-depth book from their shop for $20 USD. I would suggest picking up the book with this deck, even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. In the description of the item it says there are spreads, in-depth meanings plus reversals, and a brief history of the tarot in the big book. As of writing this, the full guidebook is out of stock on Zabala’s shop, but here’s a link to the book itself anyway for your viewing pleasure.

The sheer amount of self-reflection I’ve been forced to do with this deck is unreal. From the moment I pulled my first card, it was already reading me to filth. There is a brutal honesty in these cards that most of my other decks also have with me, so I guess that’s just how I get messages best. Tell me straight up — no sugar coating, hit meh!

While I don’t feel any more connected to the wider world around me through the work I’ve done with these cards, I feel more grounded in myself. I’m setting down roots that I need to start reaching for the cosmic truths this deck wants to throw at me. So, if you pick this one up, get ready for a journey cause you’ll be going on one whether you think you want to or not.

The Wanderer’s Tarot holds lessons that I think everyone should hear regardless of how you identify, and I would love to say everyone should pick up a copy, but I can’t. Are you open to looking into yourself? Can you admit to yourself that things need to change and are you capable of enacting those changes? If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, then this is not for you at this time. This change is what the deck wants for me and what it will want for you. It will make you think, it will tell you the same thing as many times as it takes to get you to do something about it. It will fight you FOR you to ensure growth is happening.

The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot, by Ashawnee DuBarry and Coni Curi

The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot: Deck and Guidebook for Fierce Women, by Ashawnee DuBarry with illustrations by Coni Curi
Red Wheel, 1590035259, 80 pages, 78 cards, October 2021

Despite tarot reading becoming a booming trend in recent years, few readers seem to be discussing the esoteric foundation of the common Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck. Essentially, the RWS deck is steeped in tradition of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which drew from the Qabalah, astrology, numerology, Christian mysticism, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Enochian magic, and Renaissance grimoires. Talk about overload!

As a seasoned tarot reader and energy worker, I’ve been on a mission to find tarot decks with a different energy for my readings. The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot: Deck and Guidebook for Fierce Women by Ashawnee DuBarry has been so immensely rewarding to discover. A deck that isn’t steeped in occult traditions that I don’t practice NOR a patriarchal framework? Yes yes yes! This is what The Scared Sister Tarot offers.The energy feels so deeply resonant with my spirit, and the good vibes of this deck have been shining through in all my readings so far.

The box for this deck is hefty, and I love it. Looking at the image on the box makes me feel ready to take on the world. I love that there’s some weight to the deck. Yet, the cards themselves are the perfect fit for one’s hands. Measurements aren’t really my thing, but I would say they’re a little taller than normal play cards yet a bit more narrow in width. Basically, they fit in my hands perfectly and make it really easy to shuffle.

Opening the box is a color-pop of oranges, yellow, red, and light brown tones that make the cards feel infused with solar energy but also grounded. The back of the cards have lovely, luscious pomegranates on them, which is the perfect representation of Divine Feminine energy, as they are known for being a symbol of fertility and abundance.

Illustrator Coni Curi has done a marvelous job featuring a multitude of women in this deck. As you go through the cards, it becomes evident there’s one “no size fits all” model for women. This concept is bolstered by the intent of the deck to tap into the different facets of Divine Feminine wisdom, through both the major arcana and different suits of the minor arcana.

“The Sacred Sisterhood deck was created with inclusivity in mind, from trans folk to cis-gender- all are welcome, unlike the original tarot, which centered its images and descriptions around hte old gender roles. True sisterhood is all about coming together in a sacred space to support one another, no matter how  you identify.”1

The representation in the deck is remarkable. From multiracial relationships between women to women with disabilities, vast identities and body types are portrayed. And this diversity  imbues the deck with a feeling of empowering solidarity, as though I want to see “I see you! I know we’re all out here doing our best, learning what it means to embody this Divine Feminine feeling in our life.”  It’s beautiful because it feels so REAL. This is what womanhood looks like, and it comes in so many shapes, sizes, shades, and orientations, which is something worth celebrating.

While there is plenty of symbolism for each card, Curi didn’t stick to the traditional tarot imagery. I enjoy the modern take on the cards’ meaning and alternative representation to the traditional RWS tarot. One of my favorites is the Judgment card that has a winged angel playing a saxophone as two women dance beneath her. 

There’s a simplicity to the cards too. Each card has a solid-color background that emphasizes the main image on the card. This makes it so the reader isn’t lost in detail and can easily connect with the image that is popping out to represent the card.

Additionally, the emotion of the women featured on the cards is also something that makes this deck unique. Curi has clearly conveyed sadness, discontentment, happiness, and sovereignty. The women of the deck help to connect with the many emotions of life, tapping the reader into their own feelings. Beginner, intermediate, and expert readers all will be able to find meaning and resonance with the imagery of the deck.

Though, I will mention the one thing that threw me off a little at first: the card names are written in French! For instance, The World is called Le Monde and the Ace of Pentacles is called As De Deniers. Luckily, from the imagery and general knowledge of romance languages, I’ve been able to figure out what each card is, but it definitely was a stumbling block that  made initial reading not feel as intuitive as it might with a deck in English. Now that I’ve been reading with this deck though, I feel pretty cool for knowing the French name for these cards though!

Plus, the guidebook is a huge help for understanding the card’s meaning. I love it so much!! I think it’s one of the best guidebooks I’ve ever seen. It’s large, easy to read, and very colorful. DuBarry offers a complete guide to working with the deck, including tips for getting to know the deck, shuffling, and doing readings. What I liked most though is the suggestions for how to use the deck aside from just doing readings, which included things such as candle magic and shadow work. There’s also plenty of spreads to use with each card position thoroughly detailed.

The cards’ messages are all very meaningful. DeBarry clearly conveys each card’s essence through their interpretation. For every card there are keywords and meanings for the card upright and reversed, plus the best thing about this guidebook, which is the answer for yes/no questions.

HALLELUJAH! This yes or no meaning guide has been so incredibly useful. You often hear the advice to shy away from yes/no tarot questions, but so often I just want some quick insight about if I should do something or not, and this guidebook is perfect for those questions!! I so very much appreciate this being shared.

Moving through each definition, DeBarry strips away traditional meanings of each card, so that readers can see the card’s energy through the lens of the Divine Feminine. I especially loved the card and message for The Hanged Woman, traditionally The Hanged Man, which reads:

“Take some time out, as this will give you the space you need to pause for a moment and analyze what may need to be released for the sake of growth. The Hanged Women can also represent a person who looks at life in her own way, not allowing herself to be influenced by the actions or opinions of other people.”2

I’ve been reading tarot for over a deck, but this was the first time I identified personally with the card. Why had I never thought to view it as The Hanged Women? It’s like this simple shift of making it so I felt seen within the card completely changed the way I identified with it.

The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot has become my go-to for both quick questions and more reflective readings. Reaching out for the deck has started to feel like calling up my bestie to talk about life. There’s a gentleness to the deck, though it has consistently given me the honest advice I needed to hear in the moment. I trust it because I feel it has my best intentions at heart.

Plus, reading or meditating with this deck taps me into an empowered sisterhood solidarity, and I love envisioning other women also using it, pooling our collective Divine Feminine wisdom for healing, divination, and spiritual growth.  I highly recommend this deck for beginners, as it is perfect for getting to know the cards (with maybe the exception of the French! Lol), as well as intermediate to expert readers that are looking for a new way to explore the energy of tarot.

The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck, by Deia Circcarelli

The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck, by Delia Ciccarelli
CICO Books, 180065085X, 160 pages, 72 cards, January 2022

You’ve most likely heard of people having a guardian angel. Perhaps you’ve even prayed to your guardian angel or felt their protection, love, and guidance. But did you know that you can learn more about your guardian angel based on your birthday?

The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck by Delia Ciccarelli features the 72 angels of the Kabbalah, also referred to as the 72 names of God. Ciccarelli explains that there is a guardian angel for each day of the year and on the day we are born, certain angelic qualities are given to us through this guardian angel. Understanding the gifts of our angel reveals special qualities about ourselves and the purpose of our life structure.

“The guardian angel in Kabbalah is also referred to as “the Angel of the Incarnation,” and it tells us what we have come to manifest in ife and reveals our purpose. Knowing our angels helps us to understand how we work on an energetic level and what we need to change within us to transcend to a higher state of being.”1

As soon as I took the cards out of the box, which is nice and hefty for storing them safely, I was overcome with a feeling of calmness. This tranquility made me feel deeply at ease, initiating a moment of inner peace. I hadn’t realized how scattered and discontent I had been feeling until I was washed in this gentle, healing energy.

Each card is absolutely beautiful. In the guidebook, Ciccarelli makes note that angels are high vibrational energy and not the well-known imagery of a being with wings. Therefore all the images feature serene, elegant images of women dressed in flowing robes. It was comforting to see the feminine aspect of angels. There were some I thought might be male angels, but even if so, there is a very womanly feel to all the images in the deck.

Swirling energy and color give a sense of motion to this deck. The energy of the cards is not static; it certainly feels as though it’s flowing through the reader, but in the most gentle way possible. Holding the cards, or even just gazing at them, activates subtle healing and loving energy within me. Instantly, I feel safe and surrounded by a divine presence.

Ciccarelli shares different ways to connect with the angel of the deck in the guidebook. She suggests invoking the angels, meditating with the angels, and doing oracle readings with the cards. There are four spreads shared for readings, indicating what each card placement means when arranging the cards.

However, there is no divinatory meaning for each card like in most oracle decks. Rather, the reader has to piece together an intuitive understanding of the reading based on the attributes and qualities of the angel. I think it’s easiest to do just a one or two card pull, rather than the more complex spreads. I’ve found them to be especially useful for meditation and journaling.

The guidebook is a hard-covered small book. For all 72 angel oracle cards, there is an epithet, dates of their guardianship, name pronunciation, zodiac sign association, angelic choir level, and their associations and qualities. There’s also a picture of each card, making it nice to browse and learn more about the angels even without using the deck.

Immediately, I went to the guardian angel of my birthday: Manakel. I was very surprised and pleased to see that the listed qualities are some of traits I’ve always most loved about myself, including lasting friendships and finding work quickly. I’ve never hesitated to quit a job because I instantly get a new one! And I always cultivate meaningful, lasting friendships that last years, even decades. Knowing these angelic traits and aspects of my birthday make me appreciate these qualities in a new way.

Another one that I really felt connected to was dreams because I’ve always found meaningful symbolism in my dreams and even considered becoming a professional dreamtender. Now, knowing the qualitiesI feel like I know what aspects of my life to cultivate and grow because they resonate with my guardian angel Manakel. The deck is also very useful for learning the Hebrew names of the angels, as well as the different levels of the angelic hierarchy.

I’ve learned so much about each one through reading the associations, and I’ve enjoyed looking up friends’ and family’s birthday cards to see if they reflect traits about them – and they do! This has helped me when giving advice to people too; I could help them to see these attributes they possess, uplifting their perspective and attuning them to their inner gifts.

All in all, The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck is immensely illuminating. The beauty of the angels shines through each card, alleviating all negative feelings and bringing tranquility and peace to any situation. Connecting with your guardian angel is truly a life-changing experience. This meaningful deck will teach you more about your life path and purpose. It’s an incredible access point to connecting with the angelic realm at any time.

Archangel Fire Oracle, by Alexandra Wenman

Archangel Fire Oracle, by Alexandra Wenman and illustrated by Aveliya Savina
Findhorn Press, 1644112787, 40 cards, 144 pages, April 2021

I love angels. Communicating with angels was one of my earliest spiritual experiences. As I continued to connect with angels through books and decks, I discovered sometimes angelic wisdom gets locked in New-Age conventionality and trappings. When I started to explore esotericism and discovered the work of John Dee, I realized there was a magical art to communicating with angels. Sigils became an important part of my work with angels. Since then I’ve been trying to rediscover the relationship between angels and alchemy.

Archangel Fire Oracle by Alexandra Wenman is a true delight to discover for this reason. It goes beyond the positive, affirming messages of other angel oracle decks, connecting the reader with the genuine essence of each angel. The deck is a blend of color healing, alchemy, and angelic knowledge intended to facilitate awakening in the readers. In addition to learning more about each archangel, Women guides readers to tap into the most divine aspects of themselves through the meditations and exercises that facilitate spiritual awareness, transformation, and a deeper connection to the angelic realm.

There are forty archangel cards in this deck. The archangels are grouped in seventeen suits, each based on a healing color ray or sacred flame. I really enjoy visually seeing the archangels through these different color prisms. It adds a visual connection to each angel, as well as helps to identify archangels that are similar in energy.

The cards themselves are beautiful and some of the best depictions of the archangels I’ve ever seen. It’s very clear the illustrator of this deck, Aveliya Savina, had a strong relationship with the angelic realm and a very intuitive understanding of these energies. There is tons of symbolism in the deck, from animals to flowers, that infuse the cards with meaning. All the elements are represented (fire, air, earth, and water), as well as connections to the solar system and earth. There’s also some mythical energy that opens the reader’s consciousness to different realms.

I have so many favorite images in the deck that it’s hard to choose one. For instance, Rikbeil (11) is shown almost wearing a space suit with sweeping pink wings engulfing his body. Then there’s UFO-like flying saucers in the corner of the cards. It’s neat because the cards aren’t pushing alien-angel connection or anything (I’m so leery of that!), but it is an innovative, modern display of the resonate energetic meaning of the card, which reads:

“Rikbiel is known as the “Chief of the Divine Chariot: – the Merkabah. This Cherubim is said to be the “Power of Love” and he helps us to recognize the incredible power of having loving thoughts. A harmonizing angel, who can influence centrifugal force and find the most loving point between two opposing forces, Rikbiel is especially helpful to call on when working in group situations. Rikbie maintains co-operation and promotes open communication. Like the cosmic diplomat in his oracle card, he shows us that when a group strives towards a common goal based in integrity, they can achieve great things.”1

But while Rikbiel has a cosmic unifier vibe, other cards, such as Asariel (22) have aqueous energy. In this card, Asariel is portrayed with a seashell crown, holding a trident. There’s a hermit crab and treasure chest at her feet, while dolphins and an orca whale leap in the background. I’ve loved gazing at it and inviting the marine energy into my aura. The guidebook explains how she calls us to move with flow, trusting our intuition and dreams.

This deck just really stands apart from others due to the masterful artistry, which is relatable and ignites the imagination, prompting readers to understand the archangel’s energy in a way that goes beyond traditional interpretations of them. Savina’s artwork is perfect for contemplation, meditation, and using the cards on an altar, which is what I’ve been doing most frequently.

The guidebook is phenomenal too! For each of the seventeen suits, Wenman provides the corresponding chakra, crystals, essential oils, magical sigils, and star system. This information alone was worth having the deck for because it opens up so many doors for connecting with each angel. I’ve always been very interested in the relationship between constellations and the angels, and this guidebook has been extremely useful for exploring this.

For every archangel, there is an overall description of their essence, a message from them (a quote of guidance, guidance on how to meet the archangel in the energetic realm through visualization, guidance for diamond fire alchemy with the archangel, and a section on becoming the angel (invoking their energy).

What I love about this wealth of wisdom is that it’s suitable for all levels. Beginners will be content to receive a message from the archangels and learn a bit about their energy. Those who are ready to experience the healing of the archangel might want to do the visualization to meet them or the diamond fire alchemy for spiritual healing or transformation. Then for those who feel experienced enough to invoke the archangel, the final section is very useful in how to embody the energy of the archangel.

While the techniques and exercise require a bit of a time or energetic investment on behalf of the reader, they are truly powerful. As I mentioned, I’ve been very interested in learning more about the archangels, their sigils, and their relationship to the constellations. But Wenman’s guide book helps to take my explorations to a new level through the visualizations and invocation exercises. It’s so useful to have guidance about how to connect with the angels in this way, rather than just having to trace sigils out of an old grimoire I found in PDF form.

Overall, Archangel Fire Oracle is the most authentic angel oracle deck that I’ve come across thus far. Wenman and Savina have successfully channeled the archangels into imagery and a guidebook that is relatable, easy to use, and most of all, soul-stirring. The archangels have been liberated from outdated forms and antiquated definitions of their energy. In this deck, the archangels’ essences shine through, opening readers into a current of love, peace, and spiritual transformation.

The Moon Oracle, by Caroline Smith and John Astrop

The Moon Oracle: Let the Phases of the Moon Guide Your Life, by Caroline Smith & John Astrop
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781590035306, 128 pages, 72 cards, November 2021

In this whimsical and colorful deck of cards and the accompanying guidebook for The Moon Oracle, authors Caroline Smith & John Astrop have created a system that tracks moon phases, moon mansions, and shares information on key Goddesses. Smith also provides the beautiful illustrations, which are rich with history and symbolism. Astrop and Smith were married and worked together to create this deck.  After a prolific career as a designer of children’s books, Astrop passed away in 2013.  Smith is an illustrator who worked alongside Astrop and also contributed to their creation of The Elemental Tarot, which was also released in 2021.

In the guidebook, Smith and Astrop chronicle the influence of the Moon from Shakespeare to scientific references. The eight phases of the Moon are explained as being similar to stages in plant life. Smith then utilizes this symbolism in her illustrations of the eight Moon phases in each of the four elements. This creates a section of 32 cards with colors that reflect the element and artwork that reflects the Moon phases as plants.

Did you know that the earliest astrology was Moon based, rather than being Sun-centric. For example, the Roman “Emperor Augustus used his moon sign, Capricorn, on his coinage.”1  This idea forms the basis of the 28 moon mansions. 

The final section of cards comprises 12 goddesses and each aligns with a Zodiac sign. In addition to providing information for a reading, any Goddess card that is drawn also “presides over the question. She acts like a guardian Angel or fairy godmother who looks after your interests.”2

At first glance, the deck’s symbolism may be hard to read and understand.  However, the authors have done a great job of explaining how to use the different phases, mansions and goddesses for divination. I decided to test the deck with one of my Facebook groups.

I did a simple one card reading for ten people, and every person shared that the message was spot on and very helpful for helping her navigate some area of current life. These readings were all done for what I call a “general” reading. In other words, no one asked me a question beforehand. I simply pulled a card for each person and then shared a portion of the message from the guidebook. One friend said that the message was “eerily resonant.”

The information in the guidebook for each card is succinct, insightful, and rich in symbolism. The more I worked with the deck, the more clues and symbols I found, such as all eight of the phases of the moon appearing on each of the Moon Phase Cards, with the phase highlighted in a darker color for the specific card selected. 

The creators of this deck also include several original card spreads to make utilizing this deck easy and beneficial. To make it simple to pull the correct Moon Phase card for the day you are divining, there are Moon Tables in the back of the guidebook for 2016-2032.

I also did a five card reading for myself utilizing one of the spreads shared in the guidebook. The spread I utilized was called  “The Elemental Cross.”3

My question revolved around whether it was time to create an astrology class I had been contemplating.  With the messages from the five cards, I learned that 

  1. It’s an ideal time to start.
  2. If I decide to jump into this situation, it will be successful.
  3. Good planning is required and no need to be perfectionistic.
  4. I have all of the elements I need and may want to think outside the box.
  5. A systematic approach is best, allowing things to fall into place.

What a great reading!  I’m ready to go!

The last card also included a message on timing and the month of “September” was referenced. To me, this means that it may take some time for the pandemic to slow down its spread, and as people are returning to a more “normal” way of life, I might plan my class for Fall 2022. 

This deck would be best for a more experienced card reader and someone who has a basic knowledge of astrology, including the cycles and phases of the Moon.  I’ve been studying the Moon for over a year and I had to read and re-read the information to make sure I was understanding the symbols and selecting the correct card. For most of the spreads outlined in the guidebook, you’ll want to separate the deck into the three parts:  Elemental Moon Phases, Moon Mansions, and Goddesses. This is unusual, even for an oracle deck.

Since I tend to just “jump in” with most oracle decks, I was not initially aware of this and it led to a kind of muddled reading the first time I worked with the cards. I would say that most people will want to read the Introduction and the material for each of the three different parts of the deck. Without this background information on The Moon Oracle system, it may prove confusing and you might not receive a clear reading. Even with the spreads included, you may want to go through the directions and their sample readings, to make sure you understand how to use the cards for best results.

The deck comes in a sturdy box that holds the cards in a type of shadowbox indentation.  There is also room for the oversized guidebook to sit on top of the cards.  This box slides easily into a nice slipcase in the same rose color as the other box.  The guidebook is a larger size and has a rose card-stock cover. Each of the cards is shown in black and white on the page that gives the symbolism and meaning.

The deck itself is printed on a nice glossy card-stock, in rich, jewel-toned colors.  The back of the cards is printed in silver with the image of the winged goddess Artemis, a lioness and a deer.  The cards are a nice weight and fairly easy to shuffle. The cards are 3 X 5, so if you have smaller hands like me, you may want to use an overhand shuffle for the cards, rather than a riffle shuffle.

My favorite card in the deck is Moon Mansion #25, Rebel.  It features a red-headed lady hanging upside down in the nude.  It features both Uranus and Mercury in Aquarius, which is Astro-speak for “cares very little for rules and tradition.”4

Not only am I drawn to the illustration, I also love the message:

“If this card is drawn there is the potential for exceptionally bright thinking that produces sparks of genius. It indicates a powerful devotion to a cause. You are certain that your position is correct no matter how ‘out on a limb’ you seem to others. You must be prepared to act totally out of character to achieve your intended aims.”5

For those of you who are utilizing the Moon and her 28-day cycle and 8 phases to steer your life, this deck presents a divination tool for even better navigation.  

 I really enjoyed working with The Moon Oracle and look forward to more divination adventures.  This oracle card set would be great for an astrologer, an astrology student, or someone who wants to learn more about the Moon and using the Moon for guidance. 

Empath Activation Cards, by Rev. Stephanie Red Feather

Empath Activation Cards: Discover Your Cosmic Purpose, by Reverand Stephanie Red Feather
Bear & Company, 1591434173, 224 pages, November 2021

Empath. What’s an empath? According to Merriam Webster an empath is “one who experiences the emotions of others.”1 Now I get it, I’m quoting a dictionary, but this is important. Important to me as a person and important to this review.

I have from a very early age basically been a sponge for emotions. I could feel and access the vibe/feel of a space or hone in on the strong emotions of an individual with relative ease. And long-ish story short, it messed me up a bit. Young me not knowing how to handle all this extra data was so overwhelmed with processing that, that working on my own personal emotions fell to the wayside and is still developing today. 

I’m opening up about this here because I know I’m not alone in this experience. I don’t doubt that there are many empaths out there who aren’t entirely aware of this side of them. who don’t quite know where they fall in this world and are just kind of floating aimlessly and going through the motions of adult life. Empath Activation Cards: Discover Your Cosmic Purpose by Reverand Stephanie Red Feather claims to help you figure that out, it says that it’s a rite of passage and being “cross-cultural in design”2 will touch everyone who handles them. I had to test these bold, bold claims made by Red Feather for myself. 

Right off the bat, I was hooked on the box. It is bright, it is eye-catching, and dare I say a bit gaudy. Bright red, featuring a magnetic flap closure that just shouts, “Look at me I’m important!”, right into my eye sockets. You can’t look away once you catch a glimpse, so much so I have to make sure the box is behind me while writing this to keep from going to play with it.

Structurally, it’s pretty tanky. Like it could handle a decent toss across a bed or into a bag with other items without dumping your cards everywhere. The flap is a bit tricky to get open one handed, so be aware of this if you end up having like 50 things going at once and only one free hand.

On opening the box the first thing we see is the guidebook. The book itself is a good size and fits well in my hands even if it doesn’t like to lie flat just yet. Inside, we have a quick foreword by Daniel Moler (“Author, artist, and a sanctioned teacher in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, a cross-cultural shamanic lineage”3). After this foreword there’s an introduction by our creator Red Feather and then four main sections where the card meanings and exercises are separated into.

In this introduction, Red Feather gives us her personal definition of empath. There’s five main aspects listed, and I highly recommend picking this deck up to learn more. It then talks of a couple ways to use this deck. Obviously there’s the regular reading method, but there’s also the meditative journey. You can opt to either work through each card in numerical order or do like a weekly draw and work with that card for a time.

A recommendation is made in the intro to “cleanse your deck with sage, sweet-grass, or palo santo”4 as a means to activate and bond with the cards. Yet, this makes me a little uncomfy. I get the cleansing bit, I really do, but why sage? Why sweetgrass? Why palo santo? I’d love to hear Red Feather’s reasoning, as well as a clarification on if it’s common sage or not, and possibly a note to make sure you source your stuff as ethically as possible.

“The deck has life force and each oracle has its own consciousness and message beyond the meaning written on the card.”5

The cards themselves have an energy. They make my tummy do flip-flops when I pick them up; good flip-flops but flip-flops nonetheless. Our front facing card in the first slot is called Abundant Universe, which is fitting. There is nothing but possibility ahead of us, we just need to see it. 

The cards in this deck make you think. There are no quick keywords in the meaning sections. You really need to sit down and think about the meaning of the cards you have pulled to really and truly understand them. I have been sitting with card 1 Abundant Universe since I got the deck (which has basically been a full month), and I am still pulling new meaning from it.

There is so much going on in these cards. The colors are wonderful, and if you can blur or unfocus your eyes, I highly recommend doing that at least a little bit when working with a card. Something about doing that opens new avenues of understanding for me and it might do the same for you.

Personally, I think the meditation route is the best use for these cards. This is because the shuffle feel is a bit off due to them being rather wide and the drastically different personalities contained in each card would distract me in a spread larger than a single draw. Our author provides us some spreads, but I doubt I’ll be using them except for the Ascension Initiation Sequence one. This particular spread outlines a smaller meditation sequence that is tailored specifically to what you need at this moment. Just an FYI, a plate stand makes a great card holder for use in meditations.

I would recommend Empath Activation Cards, even if you don’t identify as an empath. Slowing down and connoting to yourself and the wider universe is something we could all stand to do. I know it’s hard to sit down and slow the mind, but aren’t the challenging things the most rewarding in the end? So, start up a practice of slowing down, meditating, trying journaling on these cards or other things in your life. Your mind and body will thank you in the long run.