If you haven’t watched the episode of ArwenTalks where Arwen Lynch interviews author and deck creator Jaymi Elford about the Triple Goddess Tarot, then do so right now. It’s a fantastic interview and Jaymi gives you incredible insights into her deck creation process. I count Jaymi as one of the tarot community folks I’m closest to, so I’ll disclose the potential bias upfront. I adore her, so it’s going to be a bit hard for me to not by extension naturally adore everything she does. However, I’ll try my best to remain neutral and objective. I’ll even throw in some criticism. Promise.
The deck is produced by Lo Scarabeo with art by Franco Rivolli, an Italian illustrator who produces some of the world’s best pagan-inspired art. So the Elford-Rivolli team is going to be a powerhouse. The color palette was well thought out, as you can see above, and I love how Triple Goddess uses the structure of tarot to tell the story of the Triple Goddess, an archetypal motif found across many cultures, East and West, and not just in specific strands of pagan faiths.
The card backs are reversible and I love the blue hues, with the center dual triquetras encircled by the four phases of the moon. The blue can call to mind the sky or it can call to mind the water. Either way, it expresses the pagan and nature-based themes of the deck beautifully.
Knowing that Jaymi is one of the most knowledgeable tarotists living right now, I had to take a read of the little white book (LWB), which I normally skip right over. I love how concise she’s worded the LWB and yet provided effective divinatory insights into the card meanings, so you could conceivably use the LWB to guide your readings if you’re a beginner.
No but seriously. Objectively. Total neutrality here: if you read the LWB, in a head to head comparison with similar LWBs, this is definitely one of the better ones. Jaymi’s economy and precision with words is phenomenal.
That being said, I don’t know if this is a good beginner’s deck because it doesn’t have card titles. I tend to recommend a RWS-based deck with card titles for beginners.
However, anyone with intermediate proficiency and beyond will work fluently with this deck. A lot of creativity and thought went into the deck and you don’t get regurgitated Tarot de Marseille, Rider-Waite-Smith, or Thoth clones here. Take, for instance, The Magician, or The High Priestess, The Hierophant, or Strength.
Another reason why I wish the deck came with card titles is because I love the card title revisions Jaymi has done to the deck. For example, Key 1: The Magician is, per the LWB, The Maiden, but you wouldn’t know that unless you checked out the LWB.
Those who have never felt like they could connect with the RWS Hierophant, which by the way, is renamed to The Teacher, will love the Triple Goddess Hierophant/The Teacher. Here you see one who commands authority granted to her by both Heaven and Earth. Her style of dress conveys her approachability, unlike the style of dress in the Tarot de Marseille or Rider-Waite-Smith Hierophant. Yet here, the hierophant maintains her authority. The point of view of the art is cast upward, so we are looking up at her, signifying her position of authority over the commoner. Again, I wish the cards had the titles on them, especially given the creativity and thought Jaymi invested in revising some of the titles.
The Strength card, renamed The Mother in this deck, tells a story of compassion that surpasses what you get from typical Strength cards of the maiden taming the beast through gentility. Here, the beast is wounded and despite the conceivable threat to safety the beast poses to the maiden, she risks her own life and limb to save the beast. If that isn’t an evolved definition of compassion beyond what we’ve learned for ages, I don’t know what is.
I confess that I don’t love the Devil card or the Tower, but I absolutely appreciate the perspective here and how the archetypal figures are being interpreted. By the way, Key 15: The Devil card is renamed The Crone. I get the crone imagery– these cards, Key 15 and Key 16, broadly speaking, are wisdom building cards. However, when I think about the theme for the deck and then having to express the Devil, I totally empathize with the difficulties there. So ultimately, I love the idea of the crone shedding material objects one by one, on her path away from the comforts of the home and into the woods.
Finally, the beautiful World card, called Reunion in this deck.
I love the borderless cards here. This deck and the art on this deck needed it to be borderless, so I’m happy that the publisher conceded. Again, I love the consistency of the color palette that brings every card in the deck together into a cohesive unit.
A point that the Triple Goddess Tarot stirred me to contemplate is the difference between a tarot deck created by someone with decades of seasoned tarot experience under her belt and her finger on the pulse of the tarot community versus someone who is not in touch with the tarot community at all and who read a little white book or two and then decided to create a deck. Not only do you see the difference in the approach to the symbolism of details, but you feel it, too. The Triple Goddess Tarot feels like experience. It feels like the product of mastery, arduous hours of study, and wisdom.
If you watch the ArwenTalks interview with Jaymi that I linked earlier, then you’ll know that the imagery on the Two of Cups represents Jaymi and her partner. When the two first met, he had blue hair and she had a streak of blue in her locks. I love that!
The suit of Swords is so beautiful in this deck. I love the cooler tones, with the pop of warm illumination in the Ace and the Eight. I’ll say that the Nine of Swords and Ten of Swords are a bit too similar for me. I’m glad the numbering is provided right there on the bottom of the card.
One artistic point about this deck that I love is the change in perspective on many of the cards, or simply zooming in or zooming out. The Three of Swords, for example, zooms out in comparison to classical renderings of the card. Earlier among the Majors (scroll back up), the High Priestess, the Hierophant, the Chariot, and the Hermit are just a few examples of how the artist Franco Rivolli has changed perspectives to enhance the implications of the card.
I love the change from the falcon on the woman’s hand to the peacock in the Nine of Pentacles. The arrangement of the nine pentacles into the magic square configuration feels fresh to me. Not sure I’ve seen it done before and yet now that I see it, makes perfect sense and I can’t believe it wasn’t done before.
I’m also intrigued by what Jaymi said to Arwen in that interview about the figure in the Five of Pentacles. Initially that imagery was intended for Key 13: The Devil card, then later became the Five of Pentacles, and I love how both cards touch on the theme of our personal relationship with materialism. The Ten of Pentacles here expresses the motif in an interesting way. Typically you see this sense of a family dynasty, many members and multiple generations congregated together within castle walls and dogs, symbolizing loyalty and faithfulness. (The depiction of dogs in Western classical art has a long tradition of symbolizing loyalty and faithfulness.)
Here in the Triple Goddess Ten of Pentacles, the figure is literally in solitude, but she is surrounded by gifts, presumably telling the story of distant loved ones sending her symbols of their loyalty and faithfulness. It is a beautiful and more realistic depiction of the Ten of Pentacles motif, as it often plays out in modernity.
Let’s talk about the courts. Above in the first row you see the courts in the suit of Cups, then below it the courts in the suit of Pentacles. The court members are the Student, Knight, Queen, and Elder, corresponding with Page, Knight, Queen, and King respectively. I love the revision of Page to Student and King to Elder.
The Page of Wands here is depicted as a painter. I confess that my immediate reaction was to identify that card as the Page of Cups, but the illuminated wand on her easel does give the card away as a Wands court. I love the entry in the LWB, though: “Student (Page) of Wands. Your Will is inventive. Be creative and get messy. Bursting with potential; enthusiasm for new starts; confirmation of goals; creative drive.”
And omg is that Glinda the Good Witch as the Queen of Wands?
Oh by the way, there are two Fool cards! This totes played mind games with me at first. I was going through the deck, studying each card one by one as I do when I gear up for a review. The deck comes with Fool #1 at the top of the pile and the reasonable thing to do would be to put Fool #2 as the second card after the first, but nooooo… Fool #2 is in the way back, which confused me as I literally went in circles around the deck wondering why I thought I was seeing double. Darn it, Jaymi.
When you study the human figures in the Rider-Waite-Smith, the structure that seems to form the basis for the Triple Goddess Tarot, the Triple Goddess tarot is female-dominant, whereas in the RWS, I counted about 53% of the human figures depicted were male (if you’re curious, I counted 29% female and 18% nondescript).
I also appreciated the diversity in the deck and by the way, don’t you just love the Ace of Wands in this deck? See below and that amazing dragon wand!
The Triple Goddess Tarot reads fluently for any well-versed tarot reader. If you’re heavily reliant on symbolism and archetypes, you’ll love this deck. If you’re an intuitive or improvisational reader, you’ll love this deck. The cards look beautiful on a table spread, which for better or worse, is always a point of consideration when you’re looking for a professional reading deck.
You’ll learn the Triple Goddess tarot spread from the LWB, which I tried out. Above I just wanted to show you which Fool card I chose for my deck. Her outfit was just more in line with something I’d actually wear. Plus, she has shoes on and the other Fool is walking around the forest barefoot. Anyway, I then proceeded to shuffle but here I’m not reading with reversals, though after writing up this deck review, I’m going to give the entire deck a thorough shuffle that will include reversals. I feel this deck is very well suited for reversal reading.
Oh nice! Also, using the LWB card meanings for this reading demonstrates how effective Jaymi’s writing is. I found it to be wholly applicable and easy to work with. For the Maiden, per the LWB, I’m looking to expand on both wisdom and material abundance. For the Mother, my Willpower with that capital W is what lends me my stability. As for Crone, what I can let go of, it’s all the self-imposed obligations and duties that are stressing me out and fatiguing my body. Yes, I got all of that from the LWB. Isn’t that amazing?
Although I definitely do not see this deck as being limited to a specific age range, there is an undeniable appeal here targeted for those who may be new initiates. There’s a youthful vibrancy about the Triple Goddess deck that renders it a rather perfect tarot deck to gift one who is just beginning to demonstrate an interest in learning tarot. So to me it’s kind of a shame that the Majors didn’t include card titles. Card titles really help beginner tarot learners.
And now I am just going to put this thought out there into the Universe and hope law of attraction, Jaymi hears me and listens, blah blah. The creator of this deck needs to set up a YouTube channel where she talks about the inspiration, imagery, symbolism, and backstory for each and every card. This is one of those amazing decks that you just know whole bunches of tarotists are going to be way into. A YouTube channel about working with the Triple Goddess Tarot would just fan that flame to new heights.
Also, in case you didn’t know, Jaymi is the new co-host of Tarot Visions, one of my favorite tarot podcasts.
What I love most about this deck is the story of the goddess…as ourselves. It narrates how we, in the journey from maiden to mother to crone, embody the goddess. This deck is about honoring the divine feminine within, and not an external religious-centric honoring of the divine feminine, though that, too, is certainly expressed in the deck. See, e.g., the High Priestess, Hierophant, Judgement, Reunion (The World), or Elder of Wands, just to name a few.
Jaymi Elford’s and Franco Rivolli’s collaborative effort on this incredible Lo Scarabeo deck is one of Lo Scarabeo’s finest. I love the borderless aesthetic, which was produced beautifully, without compromising any of the imagery along the edges of the cards. Having tinkered with design myself, I can appreciate just how much skill, foresight, and work it takes to succeed at that. Also, any time Jaymi Elford is the one writing the LWB, you know it’s going to be a good one worth your time reading through once over and taking notes. The Triple Goddess Tarot is one of Lo Scarabeo’s finest achievements this 2017.
Mark my words: the Triple Goddess Tarot will be for our decade what the Morgan Greer Tarot was for the 80s and the Robin Wood Tarot for the 90s. For this era, it’s the Triple Goddess.
4 thoughts on “Triple Goddess Tarot by Jaymi Elford and Franco Rivolli”
Benebel!! You have done it again! I was just about to overlook this deck when you pulled me back from a huge mistake. I just ordered it from the Book Depository (they have FREE SHIPPING).. Seriously, you continue to be such a resource for all things Tarot for me – and I will try to keep up with you, because I DO NOT want to miss anything:-) Can’t wait to come back tomorrow and listen to the podcast – and then wishing for that Youtube channel.
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