✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Wild Lands Tarot, by Leah Shoman

Wild Lands Tarot, by Leah Shoman
Sacred Scribe Publishing, 9798987986608, 78 cards and 96 page guidebook, 2024

Wild Lands Tarot initially caught my attention because of the design. I’ve been fascinated by pictorial decks lately and the polaroid aesthetic of this deck especially appealed to me as a lover of all things vintage, so I knew I would have to give Leah Shoman’s creation a try.

Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed.

The pictorial base of the deck was beautiful, and the silver-foil embellishments were an unexpected addition that served to enhance the connections between the photographs and the specific card that they represented. However, the images selected for the deck seemed to be a little eclectic rather than revolving around a specific theme; the majority were either Japanese or Egyptian in nature, though occasionally there were some based on landscape photography as well.

I would have appreciated a section of the guidebook dedicated to the selection of the images. Why did Leah choose a particular image for one card over another? Why did she blend the images together or choose to overlay them like she did? Some explanation around those topics would have given the deck even more depth that I personally would have enjoyed.

The guidebook that came with this deck contained a dedicated page for each card, as well as two different spreads, and some information for a one-card draw. The interpretations follow what has become standard for Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) based decks.

However, the Wild Lands Tarot did rename two of the suits. The deck has the traditional Wands and Cups, but has replaced Swords with Ankhs and has renamed Pentacles to Coins. As you can imagine, most of the Egyptian themed images belonged to the suit of Ankhs, while Coins and Cups were primarily landscape and nature-based photography, and the suit of Wands contained primarily Japanese imagery.

The Major Arcana is where all three of these themes collided; some were Egyptian coded, others Japanese, and still others landscapes. The thing that most seemed to anchor the images to the cards they represented was the silver-foil overlays, which really helped to bridge the gap between the image and the traditional RWS majors. Without the foil images, I don’t necessarily think that I would have connected a lot of the photographs to their corresponding archetype.

The cards of the Wild Lands Tarot, in keeping with the vintage polaroid aesthetic, were shaped like the film that you would have to shake until they developed. (Yes, I know you remember those!) While that shape is not at all common in the world of tarot, I feel like it added to the appeal of the deck and the sense of nostalgia and hiraeth that permeates it. It is, however, an odd shape to shuffle and the cards weren’t the most comfortable to handle. They also have pointed corners, which isn’t something particularly prevalent in tarot, which tends to favor the rounded corners for comfortability and/or ease of use.

As far as handling goes, though, I absolutely loved the thickness and feeling of the cardstock. It’s definitely on the thicker side, which is my personal preference (I feel like it will last longer); coupled with the smooth yet still tactile matte finish, I was almost in cardstock heaven. Shoman got that aspect of her deck, in my opinion, just right.

When I pulled the deck out to give some friends readings, they all agreed that they loved the back of the cards. The light blue color gives a hint of the whimsy of the deck while keeping true to a more natural color palette. The silver foil is also present on the back, where it outlines a triple moon surrounded by the signs of the zodiac.

When it came down to it, though, I had a bit of difficulty actually reading with the Wild Lands Tarot. Shoman’s photography, as I’ve mentioned throughout this review, was stunning; however, I really struggled to visually connect the cards, possibly due to the lack of cohesion among images.

Overall, I feel that Wild Lands Tarot is best suited for people who prefer to use cards with surreal and whimsical imagery in their readings. Despite its lack of a single, cohesive theme, this deck brings a sense of beauty and nostalgia for all that once was, and all that could be. I, for one, am glad to have it in my collection to fulfill my longing for far-off places that I may never truly come to know.

The Sirens’ Song, by Carrie Paris and Toni Savory

The Sirens’ Song: Divining the Depths with Lenormand & Kipper Cards, by Carrie Paris and Toni Savory
Weiser Books, 9781578638062, 144 pages, 78 cards, August 2023

Being somewhat of a newbie with Lenormand cards, I jumped at the chance to work with The Sirens’ Song: Diving the Depths with Lenomand & Kipper Cards by Carrie Paris and Toni Savory with contribution from Tina Hardt. The Sirens’ Song is a combination divination kit that contains 40 Lenormand cards and 38 Kipper cards. (What I know about Kipper cards would fit in an earbud!)

Paris is one of my favorite diviners and deck creators and I had an opportunity to meet with her for coffee at a tarot event several years ago. She is a generous, incredibly creative and gifted teacher and mentor. I’ve also “met” Savory on Zoom via her World Divination events, and her knowledge and enthusiasm for various types of card divination is contagious! When I heard that the two of them collaborated on this kit, I was very excited to learn more.

Paris has created four other tarot and Lenormand decks, as well as numerous charm casting kits. Her The Relative Tarot and The Beloved Dead kits are two of my favorites for communicating with the ancestors for messages and guidance to live my life. Paris is a very talented artist, who blends art and graphic elements from across many eras to create her decks and frequent Facebook posts. She has a master’s degree in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination from the University of Kent, UK. Learn more about Paris at her website.

Savory (aka The Card Geek) founded the World Divination Association and hosts virtual teaching events several times a year with a collection of teachers and mentors. She is also well-known for hosting free events with classes on tarot, Lenormand, Kipper and other types of cards. She has created five other decks and written five books on card divination. Savory has researched Kipper decks for more than ten years, including spending time with the families of readers going back several generations. See more at her website.

Contributor Hardt is an author, who has worked with Paris to create the guidebooks for The Relative Tarot, The Beloved Dead, and The Sirens’ Song. She considers herself a diviner and enjoys sitting in circles and communicating with departed souls.

Paris and Savory have beautifully created this kit with a compact box in hushed tones of gray-blue and aqua. The teal lettering and haunting image of the siren and some of her underwater friends grace the cover of the box. Printed inside the kit, this lovely invocation greets you:

“May the Sirens’ Song guide you away from rocky shores and lure you into the dazzling depths of your own truth and mystery.”1

Next, you notice the guidebook, which provides a brief history of both Lenormand and Kipper cards, as well as how this deck came to be. Paris created the original Sirens’ Song Lenormand deck in 2017. Savory asked her to create a Kipper Deck and then the two of them combined both decks “into a single treasure chest because, at their core, these two card decks are kindred divinatory tools.”2

“Both the Kipper and Lenormand cards long to tell the reader a detailed, no-barnacle- unturned story, in which the Querent is always the main character. The potential for discovery is enormous. . . . The Petite Lenormand can serve as a gateway to the Kipper.”3

The guidebook was expertly structured to introduce you to the Lenormand style of reading and descriptions of the card meanings before flowing into the Kipper cards and their unique card descriptions. The creators made it clear that the cards can be used alone or in tandem, and they showed how each deck has its own “ability to tell a story, to sing you the song that you need to hear.”4

Unlike tarot and oracle decks, which are read intuitively, Lenormand cards are read symbolically, and Kipper cards are read quite literally. Lenormand deals with the outer world while Kipper deals with the interpersonal. Read together, the story the Sirens tell reveals the hidden meaning to be found in both people’s everyday lives and in societal issues they face.

This kit is so much fun! I enjoy the graphics, with the beautiful artwork and symbolism. Each of the images has an underwater creature theme, from an octopus to fish and so on. The cards are marked on the back with either a K for Kipper or an L for Lenormand, so you can keep the decks straight.

The spreads in the back of the guidebook were so helpful! I especially loved how they showed a three-card Lenormand reading and featured the three cards in each of the three positions. Paris and Savory also share how to do the Grand Tableau style of reading, which involves using all the cards in either deck. The deck creators also shared how to combine the cards and read a Grand Tableau of 36 cards created out of both decks. However, I think I will master the four, five or nine-card spreads before I venture into the deep waters of the Grand Tableau!

Yet the coloring on the front is the same, so it is not easy to distinguish between the decks for someone like me who was relatively new to the two styles of cards. Yes, the Lenormand deck features the miniature card symbols from playing cards in the top right-hand corner. Yes, the Kipper deck has different card images. But it may take me lots of practice to be able to distinguish between the two decks.

The cardstock was a nice weight, and the cards had a matte finish. I loved the small size, which made the cards easy for my small hands to shuffle. The guidebook was also a great size to tuck into a bag or purse and was printed in four-color with thumbnails of all cards. The paper was glossy, and the font was whimsical, to complement the underwater theme.

Armed with this background information, I decided to give the Lenormand cards a spin. I created a question regarding the launch of a new program I wanted to present to my community. I decided to use Paris’s spread called “The Tell it Like it is Spread.”

  • What it’s all about. The situation. The issue.
  • What it isn’t.
  • What it is.
  • How it turns out.

And here are the cards I drew:

  • Book – Unknown, Secrets, Reveals
  • Mountain- Challenge, Struggle, Resistance
  • Stork –Change, Alteration, Shift, Movement, Progress
  • Heart – Well-being, Love, Goodness

Creating my own sentence from the key words and the placement of the cards as shown, I saw the following:

Sharing my knowledge is NOT going to be challenging, so I may move ahead to schedule the event and know that all will be well.

Great first reading!

For the Kipper Cards, I decided to do a simple three-card spread. I placed the Siren significator card to the right as I asked my question: How may I support my daughter at this phase of her life, after her recent break-up? I drew three cards and placed them alongside the Siren card. The cards lined up as:

  • Long Road
  • Hope
  • High Honors
  • Siren

From this, I saw that recognition, maybe a promotion was forthcoming, especially since it was next to the Siren card. Hope was the next card, meaning manifestation of love, fame and/or fortune. Finally, I saw Long Road, which could be indicative of a great distance or maybe a time of two years. The fact that the Hope card was next to it said that the time may pass quickly and the road may not be rocky. From these cards, I saw that my daughter’s job will be very rewarding, and there is hope for her future in both love and fortune, although it may take some time. Wonderful reading!

The Sirens’ Song would be great for anyone who wants to learn or practice Lenormand or Kipper. I was a relative newbie to both styles of reading, and I enjoyed learning them very much. I could see myself keeping this deck by my desk to refer to when I had a quick question. For now, I’ll be off to check out one of Savory’s videos on Kipper cards on YouTube!

The Shining Tribe Tarot, by Rachel Pollack

The Shining Tribe Tarot, by Rachel Pollack
Weiser Books, 9781578638178, 83 cards, 247 pages, April 2024

As a tarot enthusiast and reader for twenty years, I was excited to learn about the publication of Rachel Pollack’s revised deck The Shining Tribe Tarot. Initially published in 1992 by Aquarian Press, the deck was called The Shining Woman Tarot. In 2001 she changed some of the art on some of the cards and the deck was published by Llewellyn. The title was also changed to The Shining Tribe, which she felt better reflected the community of people drawn to tarot for divination and personal growth:

“The name was a kind of invocation, a hope that the deck would shine for others, especially in reading, and light the way for travelers on their own sacred journeys.”1

For this 2024 edition, Pollack created five new cards: one for each of the minor arcana suits and one to represent the major arcana. Although the deck was published after Pollack’s death in 2023, she was able to complete the revisions and supervise the creation of the deck before her death. It is also important to point out that Pollack created the artwork herself for all of the cards.

Rachel Pollack (1945-2023) was a giant mentor in the field of tarot. In addition to writing the bestselling book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, she wrote the guidebooks for several tarot decks, as well as many fiction and nonfiction books. She taught at The Omega Institute for over thirty years and was a frequent panelist at tarot workshops around the world. I was blessed to meet her at a tarot workshop in Los Angeles in 2007.  She was brilliant, generous, and very friendly. A group of us went to lunch during the workshop where I visited with her and Mary K. Greer! 

In addition to her interest in tarot, Pollack also created the first transgender superhero in several issues of the comic book Doom Patrol. She was also known as a trailblazer within the transgender community. 

“Welcome to the definitive edition of the Shining Tribe Tarot. It’s the equivalent of a director’s cut of a film. It’s the creator’s cut, Rachel Pollock’s cut. Published for the first time with all 83 color corrected cards, it also includes a full colored guidebook in which Rachel discusses the evolution of the deck, offering insights into each card and how to read them. More than merely an accompanying book, this guidebook stands as another of Rachel’s landmark Tarot guides.”2 – Judika Illes, Editor

With this Introduction, the editor opens a door into the special world of Pollack. In the next few pages, Pollack gives us a history of this deck, including the inspiration for the tribal images and artwork that she created. She talks a great deal about symbols and colors and the different cultures on which her images are based. She makes it a point to say that she wants to honor and respect the “history and living power”3 of the symbols.

The structure for this set of cards is fairly traditional, although she has adopted her own names for the suits of the minor arcana: Trees (Fire/Wands), Rivers (Water/Cups), Birds (Air/Swords), and Stones (Earth/Pentacles). She has also renamed the court cards as “Vision” cards: Place (Page), Knowers (Knight), Gifts (Queen), Speakers (King).

Pollack also shares this:

“One difference is that the Vision cards in general do not signify actual people the way the Court cards sometimes do in traditional tarot. Nor do they represent character types in quite the same way. Instead, they take us into an experience of ourselves. They give us a chance to discover and use the power of the elements.”4

The cards are a nice size, a little larger than playing cards. The card stock is a nice weight, and the matte finish is great for the ancient symbols and bright colors of the deck. Each card has a white border, and the name of the card is shown at the bottom in black type. The set comes in a beautiful box with a cut-out portion and ribbon for the cards, as well as ample room for the hefty guidebook.

These cards are easy to shuffle, and I enjoyed using them for my week of daily readings.  For the first day, I drew one card: Three of Trees, which is the Three of Wands in a traditional deck. This card is always a celebration for me and I was interested to see what Pollack shares:

“This card is a celebration, filled with the laughter of the Grandfather. He welcomes and protects us with his open arms.”5

She also includes the story of the artwork, which features “a spirit image formed from a tree by the Ojibwe people of Canada.”6 The image is based on a photograph of this type of tree, which has been carved to represent a person. 

The next day, I did a three-card spread and drew these cards: Knower of Birds, Six of Trees, and The Sun. With Pollack’s guidebook and my own intuition, I created this affirmation, based on the three cards:

“I collect signs and symbols and share my knowledge with confidence and wisdom, as I emerge into the light of divine consciousness.”

Her imagery is so beautiful, and the artwork invites deep contemplation and a connection to the heart. My favorite card in the deck is one of the five “extra” cards:  Portrait of Albert-Bright Through Nobility, which relates to the major arcana and Spirit. Pollack explains that this card is based on the name of her animal guardian, a red fox. “The name Albert means ‘bright through nobility.’ Getting this card means a sense of protection and the ability to ask for and receive help.”7

The guidebook is very easy to navigate, from the Table of Contents to the Glossary.  She includes a large section on Readings and includes lots of ideas for spreads for various situations.  She also includes an Appendix which explains the name changes for all cards, how to work with reversals and how to start your own Shining Tribe. She even has notes for groups, including ways to start conversations and create activities for developing your tarot skills. The last section is a Glossary that includes references to some of the cultures, religions, and symbology used in the deck. 

I really enjoy working with The Shining Tribe Tarot. I can feel the decades of tarot history, as well as the flavors of the various indigenous cultures in the cards. I can’t wait to introduce it at my next Coffee & Cards Zoom with my friends.

Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot, by Travis McHenry

Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot, by Travis McHenry and illustrated by Cristin Gottberg
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785849, 128 pages, 80 cards, October 2023

Travis McHenry has created an awesome tarot deck for those who love dark history. Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot opens the portal for modern readers to reach into the depths of the past and gain wisdom from the life journey of those who have dared to push the bounds of reality, ultimately becoming enlightened or losing themselves in the process. As someone who thoroughly enjoys delving into the biography of my magical role models to glean insight into the circumstances that shaped their body of work, this deck is a treasure trove of interesting characters to learn from!

McHenry is a detail-oriented creator who brings new life to arcane occult knowledge, and for this I immensely appreciate his work. His previous decks Angel Tarot, Vlad Dracula Tarot, and Occult Tarot have a palpable energy to them, and this deck is no different. Once again, Henry has ventured afar and gathered what he’s learned for others in a dually gruesome and glorious deck.

Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot casts a wide net in regard to the people included. While some might be considered unsavory, McHenry reassures readers “even the most terrible person in the deck had one or two redeeming qualities.”1 In his desire to bring these stories to life again, he sticks to the facts, though it becomes clear some of these characters’ realities are stranger than fiction. 

This being said, the first entry in the guidebook, The Fool, features James Douglas, who “was discovered roasting the cook’s body parts over an open fire and eating pieces of the meat.”2 Instant stomach turn, right? But if you’re like me and also feel utterly fascinated by the story, then it’s worth continuing on in your work with this deck!

McHenry is true to his word about finding the redeeming qualities, writing in the description of the card “As the first card in this deck James Douglas represents brash behavior, jumping without thinking and the folly of committing acts of violence. However, it also shows a person who knows themselves, knows what they want in life and just goes for it. . . James Douglas knew from the start he wanted to be a cannibal killer. He didn’t wait until he was old enough to pursue his dream and he didn’t wait for somebody to give him permission![/efn_note]page 12[/efn_note]

“Hopefully when you read the short biographies of these historical figures you’ll discover that it doesn’t take noble birth or divine favor to transform yourself into a magic, martyr, or madman!”3

For every entry in the guidebook, there is a short biography of the person or people featured, highlighting their ultimate acts of magic or madness, and then a few lines tying in the traditional meaning of the tarot card with the story of the characters’ lives. And overall, McHenry does a REALLY great job matching the person of the card with the card’s meaning, conveying the message of the card in a way that brings a trio of scary shivers, enlightened new perspective, and dash of humor. Nothing elicits a laugh like the true utter depravity and darkness of humanity, nor prompts self-reflection as a magical practitioner like reading about the escapades of both con artists and true mystics, who often end up vilified regardless.

Illustrator Cristin Gottberg has done an exquisite job in the design of these cards. The cards themselves are a deep blue with a red sigil on the back and golden tinted edges. Her original paintings in this deck are primarily darker colors – reds, oranges, browns, and blacks – and there’s a slightly blurred quality to each image, leaving room for the imagination to creep in and fill in the gaps. Gottberg has infused the images with a sensual and fluid feeling, perfectly capturing the essence of the person on the card.

And it’s worth noting there are plenty of women featured in the deck too, despite the title of the deck which seems to focus primarily on men. The reason Henry chose the title is because it was the name of the book consulted by the Ghostbusters in Ghostbusters II as they hunted fictional Vigo Carpathian. Disappointed the book did not exist, Henry “vowed to someday bring it into reality.”4Some of the women Henry includes are Catalina de los Rios, Agnes Bernauer, Catharina de Chasseur and Eva Courier and Juliette Bisson.

Speaking of the last two, another neat feature of the deck is the inclusion of three Lovers cards: a female/female card, a male/male card, and a female/male card. This allows for customization of one’s deck based on personal preference; it also gives us more interesting stories to read!

Overall, Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot is absolutely a worthwhile collector’s deck for those with an interest in dark history. There’s so much murder, mayhem, and mysticism to revel in while working with this deck. This deck will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the unique flavor of the deck absolutely has its time and place and is a macabre delight for the resonant audience. Sometimes we all need to teeter on the edge of wrong and right in our magical practice, and finding out more about the path of others can certainly help to clarify your own boundaries.

 If you’re seeking more of McHenry’s work, you can also check out Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen: A Compendium. He wrote this book using primary sources, often the words of the person themselves or sources from the time period they were alive. The biographies in this deck are condensed versions of longer entries featured in the book.

The Beloved Dead, by Carrie Paris and Tina Hardt

The Beloved Dead: An Oracle for Divining Ancient Wisdom, by Carrie Paris and Tina Hardt
Weiser Books, 9781578638109, 82 cards, 144 pages, September 2023

After following Carrie Paris for several years and buying a few of her decks, I was excited about getting my hands on The Beloved Dead: An Oracle for Diving Ancient Wisdom.

The beautiful cards are edged in gold and feature old photographs with artful collage treatments. Each card tells a story and connects the reader to guidance from friends or loved ones in spirit. The cards include a Spirit Throne card, which allows you to invite a friend or loved one in spirit to join you for the reading, ten Acts of Love cards, which contain messages and instructions, and 71 Beloved Dead cards, representing “our esteemed family of radiant souls.”1

Carrie Paris has a master’s degree in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination from the University of Kent, UK. She has created four Lenormand decks, as well as three versions of the Magpie Oracle, which includes charms used for divination. Paris has also created the Relative Tarot. She and her husband divide their time between California and Italy.

Tina Hardt considers herself a cartomancer, charm caster, and Spiritualist.  She is also a creator of several tarot and oracle decks. She was introduced to the world of reading cards in her grandmother’s parlor by her grandmother, an aunt, and two cousins. Hardt lives in Ontario, Canada.

The first day I opened this deck, I posed a question about how best to capitalize on the energy of Mars moving into Scorpio.  I utilized the “General Three-Card Spread,” which spoke to the 1) Main Idea, 2) Heart of the matter, and 3) Outcome or Advice.2

The cards I drew included Personality, Perfection, and Backstory. For Personality, the guidebook shared that “your soul has the blueprint for your best self, the brightest and most authentic expression of this gift of life.”3 From this wisdom, I felt the nudge to go for it! To do ME! I also felt that this is no time to shrink back or refuse to shine!

When I read the guidance from Perfection, I learned that it is time to stop being so hard on myself and stop TRYING to be perfect.  This message confirmed what I learned from the first card. For the third card, Backstory, the card shared this message: 

“The Beloved Dead of Backstory is helping you rewrite inherited scripts. Red pencil out any stale and limiting storylines so that you can make better free-will choices. This card acknowledges that you’re on a journey of self-realization, healing and happiness.”4

The wisdom of these three cards combined to give me this overall guidance: When I “go for it” in my own imperfect way, I write my own story and enjoy healing and happiness. 

Next, I asked a client of mine to allow me to do an Evidential Spread reading for her, which opens the opportunity for spirit communication.  This spread is also a three-card reading and features the following keywords for each card:

1) Who (this can also describe an event or incident)
2) Validation
3) Message

My client, who I’ll call KT, asked this question:  “Who will step forward to support me in my coaching practice?” I placed the special Spirit Throne card in front of me and shuffled the cards.

The following cards were dealt: Hospitality, Home and Prophecy. When KT saw the first card, Hospitality, which featured a man with a nice smile serving drinks, she immediately said, “That’s my Aunt Lydia!  She was a nurse and a doctor’s wife, and they had lots of parties and always entertained lots of people.”

She went on to share that her aunt struggled with an immune-deficiency condition late in life.  The wisdom from this card suggested taking better care of oneself and warned of the dangers of over-giving.  KT understood perfectly that she often gives 110% to clients and fails to get enough rest or take time to eat nutritious foods.

The second card, Home, was a great validation of the message from KT’s aunt, as she loved to visit her aunt’s home when she was a child. Her aunt’s home had a cozy, welcoming vibe and KT realized that she needed to clear some clutter and make some changes to her own home. 

Finally, with the third card, Prophecy, KT’s aunt shared with me that she also “dabbled in cards.”  When I related this to KT, she was not surprised.  She said that she noticed crystals and an Ouija board in her aunt’s house.  Her aunt also shared that she was available to talk with KT anytime in the future.

These three cards joined together to provide this guidance: Take good care of your personal energy, clear clutter, and enjoy your cozy home, so you can shine and better support your clients!

KT loved the wisdom I shared and the reminder to call on her ancestors for support.

I love that these cards can be used for simple readings and basic spirit communication, as well as more layered readings for insight into your personal journey.  The Beloved Dead Spread features 12 cards that can “reveal key information about your upbringing and allow you to discover the parallels that exist between your past and present that may still be influencing your future, whether for good or for bad.”5

Another 12-card spread, The Pillar of Personal Power Spread, can “provide you with a model and blueprint for self-actualization or soul level realignment.”6

The cards are printed in sepia tones with sky blue or aqua backgrounds.  Many of the people in the images sport wings. It’s a really fun deck, yet it also has very serious undertones. The imagery works on many different levels and each reading is informed by the reader’s personal interaction with the graphics. The card stock is a nice weight, and the cards are easy to shuffle. The kit comes in a beautiful box with a magnetic clasp and an indention that easily holds the cards. The box includes a ribbon for pulling out the cards and has ample space for the guidebook.

The Beloved Dead works as a portal into the unconscious.  Each of the elements on the cards speak to individuals in very personal ways.  I loved focusing on the images and making my own notes and then turning to the guidebook for further wisdom.  This deck is not one for doing a quick reading, as it asks you to really sit with the cards and allow the messages to come through in a timely manner. This deck would be best for someone with experience reading cards, and if the person also has experience in mediumship, this would be helpful. 

I’m looking forward to using this deck to speak to my ancestors and also offer readings to clients when wisdom from friends and loved ones on the other side might bring a new perspective to life’s many challenges.

Lunar Tarot, by Jayne Wallace

Lunar Tarot: Manifest your dreams with the energy of the moon and wisdom of the tarot, by Jayne Wallace
CICO books, 1800652658, 64 pages, 78 cards, October 2023

The gentle energy of the moon always soothes and calms me, especially when I’m feeling unsettled or anxious, as it reminds me of the cyclical nature of life. Often while stargazing, I find myself wishing I could bottle up the sense of peace and tranquility of the moon’s lights. While I’ve yet to capture the moon’s rays in a jar, Lunar Tarot by Jayne Wallace has done quite a wonderful job channeling the energy of the moon for me to draw upon for guidance and advice when in need.

Wallace is a naturally-gifted clairvoyant who specializes in intuitive counseling, angel cards, psychometry, and tarot cards. She’s previously published tarot decks, including The Angel Tarot, The Moon & Stars Tarot, The Mythic Goddess Tarot, and The Magical Nordic Tarot.

This deck is similar in design to her others with the name of the card at the top and a keyword or two at the bottom. But the images are unique and fitting for the theme of lunar energy. Wallace writes in the guidebook, “I teach you how to tap into your lunar intuition and capture the power of the Moon when you read the cards.”1

In the colorful guidebook, Wallace offers three spreads: Moon Cycle, Crescent Moon, and The Lunar Clock. Each spread draws upon the divine wisdom of the moon, and Wallace shares the best time in the moon cycle to do the reading. My favorite part of her offered spreads is that she provides a short incarnation for each one to begin the reading.

Wallace provides keywords, meaning, insight into the imagery, a lunar message, and moon mantra for every major arcana card. She provides lots of information about the moon phase featured in the card, often going into the astrological correspondence of the card too. The cards all have the traditional tarot meaning, but Wallace frames her interpretation of the card’s meaning with a gentle, self-reflective energy, prompting readers to question deeper or take necessary action.

For the minor arcana, Wallace goes into detail about the suits and moon phases, describing the relationship between each one. Wands have New Moon energy; Swords have First Quarter Moon energy; Cups have Full Moon Energy, and Pentacles have Third Quarter Moon Energy. Though I am a seasoned tarot reader, seeing the cards through this lens provided new understanding and an opportunity to expand my perception of the cards. Wallace also provides a reference table for the theme of card numbers, regardless of suit, and a helpful paragraph on the significance of court cards.

While the minor arcana cards only have keywords, meaning, and a paragraph-long description of the card’s meaning, with the extra layers of the moon phase and numerology to reflect on too, there’s more than enough to draw upon for insight.

The major arcana cards all have a color palette of blue, greys, and whites, making them feel mysterious like the Moon. Meanwhile, the minor arcana cards are color-coded by suit and simply have the number of symbols representing the suit (i.e. five cups for the Five of Cups). The court cards feature characters with a mixture of skin tones and facial features, making this deck feel very inclusive to all people.

My favorite major arcana card is the Empress. The Empress has a crown of stars above her head, while her stomach is the ripe full moon, which she cradles protectively. The keyword on the card is “Rebirth” and the guidebook reads:

“Look and you will see the evidence and benefits of your recent efforts. New life, beauty, and abundance should abound. You will also want to nurture yourself to try to reclaim your equilibrium.”2

Meanwhile, my favorite minor arcana imagery is Pentacles. The pentacles look like big gold saucers with a star in the middle and jewels around the edges. A big, bright full moon shines in the background of these eye-catching yellow cards.

One thing I really like about this deck is the balance of masculine and feminine energy. The Moon is typically associated with feminine energy, but Wallace does a wonderful job of bringing a soft energy to the traditional masculine cards, such as the Emperor, Hanged Man, and Hermit, which makes them more approachable. For those who have found these energies a bit foreboding, this deck offers a chance to discover a more relatable bond with these cards.

Overall, this beautiful and mesmerizing deck yields readings that feel open-hearted and intuitive. I highly recommend Lunar Tarot for my fellow selenophiles that want to further connect with the spiritual wisdom of the moon. This deck is a good way for those who enjoy tarot to get better acquainted with the moon cycles and tune into guidance that each phase holds. Wallace helps readers to find balance in the ever-changing flow of life, creating opportunities to discover the magic through it all.

The Rosebud Tarot, by Diana Rose Harper

The Rosebud Tarot: An Archetypal Dreamscape, by Diana Rose Harper and illustrated by Amanda Lee Stilwell
Red Wheel Weiser, 978578638093, 78 cards, 96 pages, June 2023

In The Rosebud Tarot, Diana Rose Harper and Amanda Lee Stilwell have created a beautiful deck of cards that captures a new way to look at Rider-Waite-Smith symbology.. In their own words it is “an archetypal dreamscape.”1

Victorian, Jane Austen, pastoral, and other similar words come to mind when one first flips through the cards. But then, there is a jarring reference to an African queen or the man on the moon. The symbology takes many, many turns – each one more interesting than the last. Pop culture, movie references, and geographic points also play roles in the deck.

Diana Rose Harper is a tarot reader, astrologer, energy worker, writer, and mentor. She considers herself a diviner who is “deeply immersed in the symbolic languages of myth and poetry.”2 She lives in Southern California. Harper’s website is: https://ddamascenaa.com/

Amanda Lee Stilwell is an artist and witch who practices various types of magic. Her art is a combination of digital collage elements and includes graphics from pop culture, vintage imagery, and ritual altar spaces. She currently lives in Chicago. Learn more about Stilwell at: https://amanda-lee-stilwell.tumblr.com/

Harper begins the guidebook with a brief tarot history and structure of a typical deck before how the suits in this deck differ from the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck. She discusses a bit about the elements of the suits and then dive into the Major Arcana. She also shares beautiful poetry inside the stories woven for each of the Major Arcana Cards.

The deck is a nice size and easy to shuffle with small hands. The card stock is a nice weight and will hold up well to repeated use. I love the matte finish, which complements the vintage look. The color palette is subdued overall, with tiny pops of bright colors on selected cards. The cards have borders, with a large bottom border that holds the name of each card.

Harper and Stillwell have chosen to use unusual symbols for the standard swords, cups, wands, and pentacles of the Minor Arcana:

Air: Swords = Shears
Water: Cups = Watering Can
Fire: Wands = Staff
Earth: Pentacles = Pots

The court cards also utilize unusual monikers:

Page = Curiosity
Knight = Velocity
Queen = Generosity
King = Sovereignty

This note helps the reader with the court cards:

“We highly encourage you to uncouple mainstream gender from your tarot practice as much as you can, is it will greatly enhance and improve your interpretations!”3

I love the way that the full color guidebook is arranged. Each Major is displayed on a double page spread in the front of the book. Near the back, the pip cards are grouped together by number on a double page spread. All of the 2’s (water, fire, air and earth) are shown on two pages and so on. The court cards are similarly grouped at the very back of the book. This style makes navigation easy and effortless.

I dove into the allure of The Rosebud Tarot and did my favorite Mind-Body-Spirit spread with the deck.  My question was simply: What do I need to know for today?

I drew 2 of Fire, Generosity of Earth (Queen), and 10 of Earth.  From these cards, I divined that I was armed with guidance to light my way, fortified with love and strength in family and a “gleeful legacy.”  In fact, the 10 of Earth was my favorite card in that spread and the creators had this to say: 

“Incarnational delights create a gleeful legacy, the joy of being shared across both time and space.”4 

The cards are playful and yet pack a punch!  I enjoyed the guidebook messages so very much, yet I also got lost in the imagery and allowed myself to welcome my own intuitive hits. Harper includes a spread called The Rosebud Blooms, which features eight cards in a design that looks like a rose. It can work as eight cards, or you can use it simply as a three-card spread.  I chose the three-card option for one friend who asked about the upcoming Aries Full Moon.

The three card spread features:

1. Sweetness at the center:  the very heart of the matter
2. Stem: the structure holding things up
3. Root: an important underlying factor 

For my friend, I drew the Tower, Hang-up (their version of Hanged Man), and 8 of Fire.  From these cards, I learned that although the current chaos my friend is going through is rocking her world, she can stay present and go within to get a new perspective. Finally, she focuses on consistent movement that feels right in her heart. This is the affirmation I created for her:

“My life magically rearranges itself when I am present and open my heart to a new view, honor my desires and go forward.”

She wrote to thank me for the reading and shared that she is currently considering moving ahead with taking new coursework and adding to her work as a yoga teacher. 

This deck would be good for an intermediate reader or seasoned tarot reader.  I feel that it might be too challenging for a new reader who does not have a good grasp on the names of the pip cards or court cards. Anyone who has worked with Rider-Waite-Smith symbols would enjoy this deck and the fun graphics and rich poetry and prose of the guidebook. 

I really enjoyed working with The Rosebud Tarot. I liked learning new symbols for the pip cards and court cards and feel that this new information adds to my knowledge base and divining skills. I can see myself using this deck for client readings. 

The Mythic Goddess Tarot, by Hannah Davies

The Mythic Goddess Tarot, by Jayne Wallace and illustrated by Hannah Davies
CICO Books, 1800651554, 78 cards, 64 pages, October 2022

Connecting with various goddesses is a key part of my spiritual practice; I’ve found the goddess in her many forms provides tough love and restorative nourishment to my soul. When I picked up The Mythic Goddess Tarot by Jayne Wallace, I was immediately drawn to its gentle, intuitive energy that radiates the power of the sacred feminine. I thought to myself, “This deck truly conveys the Goddess’s wisdom.” And since then, the advice I’ve received has helped me immensely in navigating life’s ups and downs.

Though the feminine pastel colors of the deck might convey this deck has a gentle tone, there is plenty of strength and power to be found in the messages of the cards. Each one of the 22 major arcana cards portrays a goddess that personifies its energy, all beautifully drawn and brought to life with vivid colors, while the minor arcana cards are differentiated by color and  suit symbol (coin, sword, cup, wand). On every card is the name plus a one word meaning at the bottom. The guidebook provides more in-depth explanations of each card, but I’ve found the word at the bottom helps to quickly ascertain the card’s message.

Speaking of the guidebook, it’s a bright-colored booklet that features information on getting to know the cards, starting and finishing a reading, as well as various spreads one can use with this deck. In addition to the well-known one-card reading, past-present-future reading, and Celtic Cross spread, Wallace  offers The Power Pyramid, The Crossroad, and The Divine Truth spread, which is neat because it covers the whole year.

Then Wallace shares meanings for both the major and minor arcana cards, though the major arcana cards are a bit longer because in addition to the keywords and meaning, which is what is provided for the minor arcana, there is also a section describing the goddess depicted on the card. She describes what the goddess is ruler of or oversees, as well as her mythology and where she originates from. The major arcana cards also feature a sentence-long mantra to say, affirming the message of the card.

What I liked most about this deck was the choice of goddesses for each card. I have a ton of goddess oracle decks, yet it seems like it’s always the same goddesses appearing. While there were some well-known goddesses (Athena and her mighty lion are portrayed on the Strength card, while Aphrodite and her paramore are on the Lovers cards), this deck featured quite a few goddesses I’d never heard of before, making me excited to learn more about their mythology and their unique attributes.

There is Asase Yaa, a West African goddess, representing the Empress, Luthianian goddess Ragana representing death, and Indian goddess Dhumavati representing the Hanged Man. I appreciate that it feels like Wallace put genuine thought and creative consideration into picking each goddess for this deck and went beyond the traditional goddesses, inviting new perspectives into querenets’ reading through these cards. She writes in the introduction:

“One of the things I love about goddesses is that they are everywhere. From every corner of the globe, you will find mythologies, stories, and fables with gods and goddesses at their heart. Whether in ancient Greece, Africa, Asia, or Europe, or with any type of religion, it’s easy to see throughout history the impact these superhuman beings have had on the shaping of the world as we know today.”1

Another reason I’ve been using this deck often is because I love to display on my personal altar the serenely gorgeous artwork of this deck, which was illustrated by Hannah Davies. I’ve started a practice of shuffling just the major arcana and asked which goddess I should work with for the week. After I pick my card, I place the card on my dresser surrounded by crystals, flowers, and other little trinkets related to the goddess I’ve chosen. This helps me to connect with goddesses and feel her presence in my life daily, especially when I see the goddess of the week’s qualities coming through in my interactions with others, guiding me to embrace the energy in play.

If I am having trouble connecting with the goddess’s energy, I’ll spend time gazing at the artwork on the card and meditating on the symbolism. This method is yet another way that I’ve found useful in opening myself up psychically to the wisdom of the goddess, and the beauty of the deck makes it a very aesthetically pleasing experience, even for the goddesses that tend to be more feared, such as Hekate (The Magician) or Ananke (The Devil). Wallace’s description coupled with Davies’ artwork make these goddesses feel more accessible, giving me courage to embrace their sacred teachings.

I will admit, I’m quite a fan of Wallace’s other decks, such as The Angel Tarot, The Magical Nordic Tarot, and The Moon and Stars Tarot, so I’m not surprised that I connect so well with this one too. Wallace has a unique way of translating sacred energies into her decks that resonates with me, and I have noticed the way the various themes of her decks call to me at different times based on the type of reading I need at the moment.

Aptly, in addition to creating decks, Wallace has also used her spiritual gifts to bring together a tribe of wise women by founding Psychic Sisters, a team of clairvoyant women that offer intuitive readings in London and remotely, along with a wellness line that sells reiki-energized crystals, mists, oils, candles, cosmetics, and more. It’s definitely worth checking out their website, as well as Wallace’s other decks, if you’re interested in connecting with psychic readers for more insight.

All in all, Mythic Goddess Tarot has become my favorite divination deck for working with the energy of the goddess. I’m still making my way through getting to know all the goddesses of this deck, but even in the short time I’ve been working with it, I’ve felt the potency of the goddess being woven into my life. Wallace has truly created a holistic deck, magically combining the many faces of goddesses from around the world to assist readers in connecting to the goddess within themselves when making meaningful life choices. I highly recommend this deck to those who enjoy working with goddess energy and are looking to more fully incorporate Her wisdom in their readings.

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.