The Light Seer’s Tarot by Chris-Anne Donnelly: Healing for the Ages

Although this Kickstarter indie-published version of Light Seer’s is now out of print, you can get the mass market version from Hay House, which will be released on December 3, 2019, so stay tuned. In the pre-order stage, it is already one of Amazon’s #1 New Releases, so this is definitely a deck to pay attention to.

I’ve been working with this deck for the last month and would like to share my impressions and offer a walk-through of the cards.

Right out of the gateway, we have just the most exquisite work of art. I found the tarot art here emotionally and intuitively moving.

Our Fool or lightseer is holding an amethyst in one hand, with a subtle elemental nod to Air, while holding a walking stick in the other, which can also be interpreted as a staff of office, denoting a certain spiritual status, or potential here.

The sacred geometry below with golden light emanating upward lets us know that this is about a spiritual journey. The Fool has her eyes closed and is about to do the trust fall over the edge of a cliff into the fountainhead of Spirit below.

Click on photographs for an enlarged view.

Here’s the First Septenary of the Major Arcana. I love the continuation of the sacred pool imagery from The Fool here in The Magician, though instead of the trust fall, now our lightseer can harness energy or Astral Light from the sacred pool.

There are clear modern elements to the deck, setting it in our century. I love the depiction of Astral Light, or the energy that the lightseer harnesses to heal our world. If you look at the trail of white dots across the High Priestess, Empress, and Emperor, they almost seem to connect. I love the renaming of the Hierophant card to the Keeper of the Sacred.

I love how fresh and modern this deck is, and yet there are the nods to traditional iconography, like the lemniscate on the hood of the Magician’s shirt, the ankh tattoo on the Emperor, the heirophant’s cross on the Keeper of the Sacred’s shirt, or the bow and arrow on the woman’s shoulder in the Lovers card.

The Messianic lamb and lion symbolism in the Strength card, representing peace, is sentimental. And that Justice card! I love it!

The first time I saw this deck in person was at the Masters of the Tarot conference at the Omega Institute in New York. I was sitting on the panel next to Mary K. Greer, who was using Light Seer’s Tarot as her working deck. We were talking about the tarot and Mary took out this deck and showed me that Death – Rebirth card. My jaw simply dropped to the floor. The creativity, the passion, the imagery, the symbolism, the artful mastery of tarot knowledge, I mean all of it and how it alchemized together was just stunning to me.

So I was a bit intrigued by the artist choice of featuring the unicursal hexagram, a symbol often associated with Crowley’s Thelema, on The Devil card. Although the Thelemic symbol is a little different, at least for me, admittedly that was the first thing to come to mind.

The Star, Moon, and Sun cards here are just beautiful, and innovative. I don’t think I’ve seen a Moon card interpreted in quite the way Donnelly has interpreted it here (and I’ve sure seen a lot of Moon cards…). Donnelly’s Judgment card here is oddly Crowleyian, with strong tiebacks to Thoth, no?

Encoding the deck with sacred geometry was just brilliant of Donnelly. It’s attuning the deck’s resonance to the Divine, and unveils the arithmetic of nature. In that World card, each of the four geometric designs along the four corners invoke the tetragram.

Here we are at the suit of Wands. All four of the Aces here will visually express the very traditional concept for the Aces of sowing seeds. You’ll see a very innovative and thematically consistent link across these four cards.

I love how the people depicted on the cards are people we can all identify in the present. It’s contemporary and expressive of the world we live in today. Even the Ten of Wands here is a scene I can see in a part of the world right now. Oh, and the perspective and point of view on that Eight of Wands!

A rare feat that Donnelly has mastered is creating a deck that meets you at your level. If you want pretty pictures to storytell with, I’m not sure you can find a better deck today for that purpose. There is a grounding and relatable energy in this deck that can connect with Millennials and Gen Z as well.

And yet if you use your psychic sight to look behind the imagery, Light Seer’s Tarot goes deep. I think that is why you also see so many Old Guard tarot readers and tarot scholars loving this deck and working with it right now. The subtle nod to the salamander in the Page of Wands and just how classic iconography for the Queen of Wands is converted into 21st century sensibilities demonstrates a virtuoso level of understanding for the tarot that I haven’t heard other deck reviewers point out about Donnelly’s Light Seer’s. So I want to highlight that and let you look at these cards to discern that for yourself.

I may be showing my age here, but I had no idea what a VSCO girl was until a week ago when that reference came up in conversation and I was like, “a WHAT?” In case you’re in the same boat as I was, here’s a link to an article from The Cut and here’s another on The Vox on this VSCO girl phenomenon. Now that you know what that newly sprung lifestyle trend is all about, can’t you see this deck totally appealing to that demographic?

That Six of Cups is just adorable. I love seeing the boy and the puppy in the sky, and then the path of eight bowls (here in the suit of Cups, the chalices are represented by singing bowls) leading to the man and the dog.

Also, the more I study that Five of Cups, the more profound I find it to be. You see the individual’s personal light or life force being drawn downward, spiraling into the vortex below, and the bowl knocked over by her left foot is spilling Astral Light downward as well. There’s a winding path behind her leading to the horizon, to the stars, and yet here she is, stuck, unable to continue on, her life force being pulled downward. There is that remaining bowl just behind her right hand full of Astral Light that she could use to replenish her vitality with, but she seems to be ignoring it, and ignoring her path beyond.

If you could weave mercy, grace, and openness together and contain it in a deck of cards, you would get Chris-Anne Donnelly’s Light Seer’s Tarot. This is a deck of love and heart.

There’s no denying that if you lurk in online tarot discussion forums, so much controversy has been drummed up from this deck, which at first blush, if you’re just looking at the gentle, compassionate imagery, you don’t even quite understand. People cast stones because they’ve projected their own inner shadows outward and pegged those shadows onto others, because it’s easier to see it painted upon another’s face than to see it as a reflection of yourself. The irony here is all that happened over this deck precisely because of how magical, powerfully healing, and effective this deck has been at its own stated purpose.

Whether people realize it or not, this deck, by its very existence, has allowed people to exorcise those inner shadows, project them outward, and in doing so, feel just a little bit purged of that shadow. The unfortunate consequence, however, has been the airborne negativity as everyone purges and heals themselves.

In the suit of Swords, we have ravens, which invoke the Air elemental for this suit. Here, you are looking at different ways to process pain.

I guess it would also be remiss of me to not mention the controversy that was sparked over the Ten of Swords card. I’ve been very public about standing behind Donnelly. Now that some time has passed and we’ve all had a chance to reflect, I think what happened to her, surrounding the original Ten of Swords, had to happen, exactly because of the enchantments Donnelly cast. I just think she perhaps did not anticipate how those energies would be directed in its pathways to achieve her Great Purpose.

See, Donnelly’s intention for this deck was Healing. It’s infused with so much Astral Light, that channel of power that Light Seers and lightworkers draw from, encoded to mend old, deep-seated wounds of every spiritual, emotional, and psychic nature, and she put so much of herself into crafting a deck that would serve that purpose of Healing. She called upon and invoked the full force and potency of Astral Light to be channeled into these cards.

And I do believe that her deck achieved its Purpose. Light was shed on dark situations. All the magic she had intended for the deck came to Being. It’s just that… the consequence was the energetic blowback, the hit she had to take so that the Astral Light she was casting could project outward, onward, and forward.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and the force of Light, of compassion, healing, and delivering to this world a tool for drawing out that Light in us created an equal and opposite kickback on her, the creator, and that energetic blowback was maybe magically unavoidable if she truly wanted her Purpose to be achieved. So if anything, seeing the blowback is evidentiary that she achieved her Purpose.

The above is the deck creator’s revised Ten of Swords after the feedback she received for her original Ten of Swords illustration. Yes, I know that what you see above is not congruent with how the Ten of Swords is more commonly depicted or even conveyed. Connelly is an artist first and foremost, however, so she has that subconscious artist’s drive to be creative with the way she depicts universal themes.

Have you ever seen a work of art at a gallery that you didn’t quite love at first glance, didn’t quite understand, and in fact, don’t even find all that impressive? And then you read the artist’s intentions, the back story, and all of a sudden, that same work of art takes on new depths of poignancy for you?

That was this Ten of Swords for me. I could see myself in that woman, because when I have truly gone through a Ten of Swords moment, ironically the way the deck creator did for her original Ten of Swords artwork, you’re going to find me with all my scars and wounds concealed, my back turned toward you, and I am going to look numb. Anyone who has truly been through the darkest morass life can throw you can probably sympathize with how that woman in the Ten of Swords feels: dazed, detached, and having lost all sensation. Profound pain is an out of body experience, and that is exactly what I see in this Ten of Swords.

Because the artist was going through a textbook Ten of Swords moment in her personal life, she channeled all of that hurt and how she processed that Ten of Swords hurt into this card and what you see is the product of a truly profound, hermetic Ten of Swords moment. To me, this card is heartbreaking to look at. Honestly, it’s so hard, I can’t even keep my gaze for too long, because this image is so much harder than that classic Caesar-on-the-ground-stabbed-by-ten-swords RWS imagery.

At another tarot get-together earlier this year, a handful of us tarot people were doing group readings with multiple decks all at once and one of the decks on the table was Light Seer’s. The Page of Swords from this deck came up in a prominent position in the spread and Barbara Moore went on and on about what a beautiful, also insightful and instructive illustration Connelly had produced for the tarot Page of Swords.

Since it was a group reading, everyone gave a little two cents on how they’d interpret that particular card and I just remember thinking, wow, Light Seer’s really is this layered, nuanced deck that holds untold potential for card readers. These depicted scenes are deceptively simple because of how freakin’ good they are. They aren’t “busy” with the detailing per your perception because they speak so clearly with one single voice. One theme, one story emerges so clearly from every single card. But if you take the time to explore the foreground, the middle ground, and the background, so many esoteric symbols reveal themselves, giving any occultist or master tarot reader much to work with.

We close out with the photographic walk-through of the suit of Pentacles. I love the message of the Knight of Pentacles here: wherever he goes, he fertilizes the earth with a trail of personal magic. I love the combination of magical pentacles and mandalas here.

Oh, and let’s talk about the card backs. I love the quadratic lines symbolic again of Astral Light being sourced from that singular monad at the center, branching outward into the four elements and four directions, but also connecting Above with Below. The green edging is evocative of the heart chakra and the intention of healing that Donnelly set in to the crafting of these cards. Paired with the black, symbolic of the veil and the Mysteries that these cards will help to unravel, I find the aesthetics of Light Seer’s to be perfection.

I was not sent this deck for review or with business/marketing purposes. Chris-Anne is a friend and someone I love dearly, so it was gifted to me in that context. And there’s your bias disclosure.

If you weren’t able to get one of the indie-published versions of Light Seer’s, the mass market version, and one that’s budget-friendly, will be released by Hay House on December 3, 2019. In fact, pre-orders are open now, so get to your favorite bookstore or online bookseller to reserve your copy.

Did you acquire a copy of this deck for yourself? Have you been working with the Light Seer’s Tarot? What have been your impressions?

Me, I love how powerfully healing this deck is. For those who are emotionally processing personal trauma, this deck is cathartic and soothing. I have found it to read beautifully on tragedies, ancestral wounds, relationship break-ups, and both clarifying and wise in the insights this deck gives.

If you don’t own this deck already, then the Hay House version that’s coming out is worth taking a look at.

26 thoughts on “The Light Seer’s Tarot by Chris-Anne Donnelly: Healing for the Ages

  1. Erica Swanger

    When I click on the deck on hay house website it just takes me to amazon where it’s on pre order for full price. Any idea what I’m doing wrong, hayhouse site does show the correct price but doesn’t give me any kind of purchase options


    1. Erica Swanger

      I have received a response from hay house stating this listing on their site is a mistake and they will not be honoring it because they do not have the decks in stock. Now I see why people avoid hay house.


      1. Yikes, so sorry. I just checked the website (log time: 11/29/2019, 1:28 pm PT) and the discount still shows, so not sure what to tell you. =/ But of course, defer to Hay House representatives. I’m only relying on what their official website and shop page says. =/


  2. Victoria

    I love your observations for the new version of the 10 of Swords card. I hadn’t quite appreciated the potency of the image until now. Your thoughts about feeling detached and numb during a 10 of swords period definitely resonates with my own experience. Thank you for your insights and beautiful review. I look forward to working with this amazing deck.


  3. mireic

    I love this deck too but I don’t agree about the new 10 of swords. It looks too peaceful and relaxing and happy. I see how you could form your interpretation, but that’s just not how it speaks to me.


  4. Naomi Rabinowitz

    I have ordered the deck and I do appreciate her vision and artistry. As an older woman I only regret that even though there are a few grey haired men (3 of the Kings!), there are no older women. I wish there was one woman that looked old as I do. I know I am not the target demographic, but it makes me sad not to see myself reflected.


  5. tamipie

    I love it. I knew I’d love it. The deck works for all ages and races, it’s positive without being too sweet. It’s energetic and makes me feel good when I use it. I don’t want to change the 10/Swords because I connected to the first one and I love that one. I do see your point about the new one. My favorites in the deck are the courts! How many decks do you say that about?? They are soooo…conversational (?) and joyful.


  6. Sigh. It appears as though the $12.50 price on the Hay House website is the result of sloppy programming for their Holiday Sale. When you click on the deck, it routes you to the Amazon page where the deck is $22.50. I contacted Hay House and the rep confirmed there is no way to order the deck through them at this time. 😞


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  8. I had decided to pass on the indie version of this deck because of its price point at the time (and being aware that I have A LOT of decks that don’t get much use, so if I get a deck these days, it HAS to be one I’ll use often). I was still feeling the same when I first heard the deck was going to be published by Hay House.
    That was until I read this review. I loved your thoughtful observations, and the things you picked up on I haven’t seen or heard (I’ve seen a number of deck walkthrough videos) anywhere else. Your words helped to change my mind, and add the Light Seer’s Tarot to my (ever-expanding) collection. Thank you for sharing.


  9. Nojuliette

    I’ve been fighting the urge to jump on the bandwagon yet couldn’t put my finger on what was it that kept me at bay with the images I’ve seen from this deck. Now as I read the mention of a vsco girl I can’t help but agree. It’s so instagram like it’s ridiculous. “Ingrid goes west” comes to mind. Seeing all the images I do enjoy the modern spin of some, but am very annoyed by all the kings looking 30 with gray hair. Seriously?
    Great review! I am very surprised you like the deck. If the artist is your friend, it makes sense, and then you must surely know if her last name is Connelly or Donnelly 😉


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  11. SatyaPriya

    I love this deck. It’s become my new working deck. I ordered just after the 10 of Swords drama, hoping to get the original deck, but it came with the revised card. Oh well, still a mighty card.


  12. Ravi

    It really grates on me how you continually justify your erasure of an individual’s right to express frustration at race or gender specific discrimination by saying “everyone goes through pain it’s a universal human condition,” as if that makes it okay to silence and disregard people’s struggles. When someone says they’ve been hurt or angered by the representation of them by an individual, it’s not your place Benebell to argue against that. You don’t get to speak for an entire demographic. Everytime I see someone defend the artist in this controversy, it’s always been because the white knight has a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue at hand.


  13. Anna

    What an insightful thorough review! I really appreciate hearing about your take on the nuances and layers that are in these cards. I’m fairly new to tarot and considering this deck as an all-around working deck. After reading your ideas as well as what you’ve heard others say about it, I think it’ll fit the bill for me.

    I found your viewpoint on the 10 of swords controversy to be thoughtful and compassionate. Also, after reading your take on the new 10 of swords, I was able to see the underlying pain in that card. Wow, these cards are powerful! Thanks for such a fresh perspective.


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