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.
PJ Spur is an author, intuitive, spiritual mentor, astrologer, and hypnotist. She does tarot & oracle card readings, natal chart readings, grief coaching, and relationship healing. She also has hosted a weekly “Coffee & Cards” event with her Soul Compass Community for the past four years. Her book Navigating Grief with Grace is available on Amazon. Learn more at www.dearpj.com