The Muses of Tarot is a book and deck set by Ethony Dawn, with illustrations by Lena and Sasha Semenkova. The book is about 13 muses of the tarot that came to Ethony in her visions and channeled messages to her that correspond with the 78 cards of the tarot deck. In addition to the book, you get a set of 13 Muse oracle cards, 13 altar cards for those Muses, 13 invocation cards, and 7 chakra energy amplifier cards.
The 13 names of the Muses are original conceptions by Ethony that describe universal or archetypal spirits, and by “spirits” here I mean an embodiment that our superconsciousness can take on. They also represent 13 types of tarot readings. For example, Adoria is the Muse of love & relationship readings. Brujula is the Muse to invoke for tarot readings about big changes coming up in your life. Divina is the Muse of predictive tarot readings. Holistix is the Muse of health, healing, and wellness readings. Veilia is the Muse of mediumship. And so on.
In terms of production quality, you always get luxury from Ethony. Everything from cardstock, full-colored guidebook pages, and every fine detail of the packaging design is top rate. The finish on the box, book, and cards is this velvety rose petal texture that’s ultra matte. The box features a magnetic strip closure and every aspect of the graphic design is clean, fresh, feminine, fun, and has that cosmopolitan vibe to it.
When it comes to production values, this is perfection. This is what deck creators ought to strive for. Love it all. Now let’s talk about the content.
The premise for this deck and book set, and the manifestations of the 13 Muses must have been a comet of divine inspiration that nose-dived straight into Ethony’s inner genius. I love what she says about the Muses:
“When I work with my creative muses, I believe I am making an agreement with a daemon to bring something from the ether into the material world. . . . The muse and I have a creative love affair. I bring my background, experience, personality and flair to the project, but I am also working with an element of pure magic.”
The book and deck set can be approached as a toolkit that will help you focus on personal spirituality. It’s a form of ritual play that motivates your creativity and imagination. Inspired by the concept of vision boards, the 13 altar cards can be propped up on a desktop to help you channel the attributes of the particular Muse you’re working with.
To tether you to the Muse you’re working with, use the invocations provided in the toolkit, and once you’ve concluded your work with that muse, release the energy with the Releasing as provided. For those who don’t have a sense for working with spirit energies and geniuses quite yet, this toolkit would be a lovely place to start, especially if the art, the style, and point of view appeals to you.
As for the style, I’d describe the illustrations as modish pop art. The colors are vibrant and heavily saturated using a block coloring technique. Emotionally, I find the arrangements in the altar cards to feel a bit frenetic. The approach seems to be free-form symbolist collage rather than utilizing sacred geometry, aligning with directions or elementalsm, or any observable esoteric order.
The concept and premise behind The Muses of Tarot is really interesting and I enjoyed reading the book to see how Ethony connects the tarot to these 13 Muses, how the 78 cards in a tarot deck can help grow certain psychic or spiritual connections you possess, through work with the sovereign Muse.
Seven chakra cards are provided as forms of energy amplifiers, which you can place next to the altar cards or use in focused meditation.
The book explains which inner chakras are activated when a particular tarot Muse is invoked. So to illustrate, Ethony attributes Sparx to the sacral and solar plexus chakras, Luxe to the root and sacral chakras, and Cryzella to the third eye an dcrown chakras. The chakra card, Muse card, Her altar, and the gemstone, aromatherapy, and symbolic correspondences for that Muse as instructed in the book work in integratively to help you manifest the desired changes in your life.
What I’m most excited about, however, is the book. I love the concept: deconstructing the inspirational essence of the art of tarot reading into 13 states of creative-intuitive consciousnesses.
Ethony then gives a face and a name, and a ritualized process for working with each of these 13 states of creative-intuitive consciousnesses, which we then call Muses. Your energetic physiology by way of the chakras can awaken and intensify these states of consciousnesses, these Muses.
Here’s one way I’ve been using my Muses of the Tarot cards.
I’m demonstrating with the Button Soup Tarot. Say I did a card-of-the-day or some sort of single card draw. Here, I pulled the Eight of Swords. In the book’s Card Index, locate that tarot card you pulled and turn to the corresponding page. All of the cards in the tarot deck correspond and are under the sovereignty of one of the thirteen Muses.
According to Ethony’s system, the Eight of Swords is under the spiritual dominion of Mirrovly, the Muse of self-reflection. I then study the entry in the book on the Eight of Swords that describes the Muse aspect of the card.
Expanding upon the tarot card reading I just did for myself, I can then work with Mirrovly with the altar card, do focused meditation with the chakra cards, or do a follow-up reading with Mirrorvly’s card spread.
As a unique perspective on how to deconstruct the tarot deck into the dominions of thirteen Muses and then rebuild a personal practice with the cards that feature the intentional invocation of these Muses to empower your readings, The Muses of Tarot is pretty impressive.
This is not the same-old, same-old when it comes to tarot books and I love that. Yes, you can still use the book for tarot card meanings, as Ethony has folded that into the pages of the guidebook. But the framing is totally fresh and original.
With the easy card index in the table of contents, you can absolutely use the guidebook to study the cards, now augmented by your understanding of Muse influences over the tarot.
For a deck that was created with the specific intention of being diverse and inclusive, I confess that at first I was a teensy bit bummed that none of the Muses present as Asian, though Holistix, Sparx, or Veilia could maybe be South Asian, so that’s cool, especially since the deck uses the chakra system.
I don’t think a deck must feature a diverse cast and I certainly don’t think a deck must feature East Asians, but it’s evident from the images that the intent here was to be diverse and to represent a global, cosmopolitan perspective. When the intention is to represent a global perspective and to be diverse, then it seems odd to leave out East Asians, who alone make up more than 1/5 of the world population. But honestly, it’s more likely just my own oversensitivity these days, as I’ve been feeling like East Asians get erased from tarot diversity and inclusion discussions.
But I had the chance to check in with the deck creator first before posting this review and what I had not known was that Epiphany is supposed to be Asian. Ahh! So we do have Asian representation. Nice. =)
Ethony acknowledged that the illustrators might not have done enough to convey that point about Epiphany, but then their team was also very conscious about making sure they didn’t rely on stereotypical imagery. So I get it. It’s a sensitive tight rope to balance on.
I love the black edging! It gives the deck such a memorable distinction so that it stands out from every other deck you might have in your collection. Just a note: due to the pigmentation used for edging the deck, there can be some fallout, but it’s just a loose powder. Gently blow on it or use a soft dry cloth to brush it away. It removes cleanly and doesn’t leave any residue behind.
There is a dollhouse vogue to the illustrations on these cards that express a sense of fun, finished with sass and whimsy. If you’re working with one of the Muses at this juncture point of your life, you can select out the Muse card, altar, invocation, and chakra cards corresponding to that Muse, and tuck it into your handbag to take with you everywhere you go. I love that convenient travel aspect to the altar cards in this deck.
The premise of the book is brilliant– a toolkit for developing a deeper spiritual relationship with the tarot by understanding the 78 cards through a cast of 13 Muses that represent 13 different types of tarot readings. You can hone your attunement to these 13 Muses and therefore improve your capabilities in these 13 types of tarot readings through invocations that Ethony provides you with, altars, and inner chakra work.
The Muses of Tarot aesthetic is consummately on brand for Ethony Dawn and if you resonate strongly with her work, the ethos of her Tarot Readers Academy and the Awakened Soul Coven that she runs, then The Muses of Tarot will deliver for you. It’s got modernistic sparkle and would make for a beautiful, well-loved gift for any young-at-heart ultra-femme Glinda the Good Witch this holiday season.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” the deck creator is a friend of mine and I was sent this deck as a gift. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion.