I reviewed Tarot de St. Croix by Lisa de St. Croix before here. This is a showcase of the latest borderless edition, which is absolutely a stunner. The Tarot de St. Croix is what I’d call an evergreen deck– it never goes out of style. These warm, buoyant oil paintings vitalize the intuition.
Above to the left is the First Edition “orange box” version. A lot of friends in the tarot community affectionately call Lisa’s deck “the orange deck.” Its…well… orange-ness… was something you either loved about it or it didn’t appeal to you. If it was too orange for you, well you’re in luck with this new borderless edition.
I also appreciate the packaging redesign. The old edition was a two-piece top and bottom lid box that was really glossy. In the summers, that plasticky coating would stick to itself. The new edition is matte and has a magnetic flip top.
The captions are now in an understated bar at the bottom of the cards. The orange borders around the card backs are gone, and the illustration work has been slightly enlarged, so you can fully appreciate the artist’s detailed work. I also much prefer the matte feel of this updated edition.
The redesigned borderless edition lets the artwork pop so, so much more! While I didn’t mind the orange borders framing the previous edition, now that I see it side by side with the new edition, those borders definitely boxed in and confined the art. Now, without borders, the artwork feels so expansive.
The Fool card in this deck is inspired by the Pueblo Indian sacred clown Koshare wearing the mask of Coyote, the trickster. The Magician is the Sufi mystic Rumi; The High Priestess is Isis; you’ll also find contemporaries, such as the Dalai Lama on The Hierophant card. A curandera is pictured on The Hermit card, and Themis is Justice.
The deck comes with a full-color guidebook inside the box, and it’s packed. It’s written in first person, beginning with stories about the artist’s childhood in Johannesburg before going to art school in New York, then settling in Santa Fe. I followed some of the card spread instructions in the guidebook, then looked up each card meaning one by one in that guidebook– it works. Really well! So the deck is totally operable for a tarot beginner.
There are these pithy divinatory aphorisms in the guidebook. For The Hanged Man: Gain a new perspective. The Death card: From death something new begins. Temperance: Creation through union. The Devil: Face the shadow, free the soul.
Shiva, god of destruction, sits in the Tower illuminated by a flash of lightning. The Star card features Nut, the Egyptian sky goddess. I love the iconic reference back to the High Priestess card in The Moon while The Sun card hearkens back to Isis. The World card in this deck was inspired by a 14th century engraving of Anima Mundi.
There’s an incidental narrative told through this deck, an autobiography. Likenesses of the artist appear as a recurring theme throughout the cards. Here in The Tower, she is being swept away by a raven. She appeared as the alchemist pouring water and wine onto hot coals in the Temperance card, with her son as the angelic figure behind her, you saw an aspect of her in Strength, in the Nine of Pentacles, and so on.
While the guidebook gives a two-page spread for each Major, each set of four numbered cards in the Minors is summarized in a single two-page spread. If you’re a beginner, the top of each page spread offers some insights into themes raised by that numbered pip card. Think on the relevance of that first. Then proceed to the card meaning. The Three of Cups shows friends gathering to play a tarot game: cherish your relationships, for they will provide you with the support you need. The Three of Pentacles is the triumvirate of successful undertakings: the full moon symbolizes intuition-guided inspiration; the artist painting is skill; the icon of Isis is divine guidance.
There’s so much personal memoir in these cards. The man pictured in the Four of Cups is the artist’s late brother. What I also love about the artwork in this deck is how active it is. There’s a lot of action. People aren’t just standing around like stiff portrait. The interpretations for some of the tarot keys are delightful, like that Six of Cups and Seven of Cups.
The seamless blending of depicting mundane human circumstances with mythologies and gods is why Tarot de St. Croix is such a standout deck. I love that the Four of Wands features Epona, the Celtic horse goddess. The Six of Wands features Brigid.
This is one of my favorite Five of Pentacles cards. Pictured here is the Great Mother Guadalupe. The message: balance your struggles with hope. You see a line of hopeful, braving the freezing cold weather just for an opportunity to work, seeking employment.
There are also depictions of actual landmarks, like the Havasupai waterfalls in the Grand Canyon on the Eight of Cups. The way wish fulfillment is illustrated in the Nine of Cups is kind of ingenious– angels taking turns filling the woman’s cup. By the way I love that Ten of Wands, which was inspired by the Flammarion Engraving in Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère météorologie populaire (1888).
This deck came to Lisa de St. Croix during a shamanic journey where she traversed into a temple in the Upper World and met the High Priestess that you see in Key 2 of this deck– the goddess Isis. Hence you’ll see repeating but different emanations of Isis alongside the artist herself throughout the cards.
The Page of Swords features the artist’s son as a college student while the Knight of Swords features the father of her sons. These deeply personal representations of the tarot courts are integrated with more archetypal figures, like the sadhu or holy man embodying the powers of Shiva in the Knight of Wands or the Green Man in the Knight of Pentacles.
One of the artist’s close friends is the Queen of Cups, which is juxtaposed with the Queen of Sheba in the Queen of Pentacles. Athena as the Queen of Swords just resonates with me. The artist’s father is the King of Cups while King Solomon is the King of Pentacles, paired with the Queen of Pentacles. In the King of Swords, we see Arthur and the Lady of the Lake presenting him with Excalibur. And the King of Wands is Hermes Trismegistus.
Lisa de St. Croix is also the creator of the Invoking the Goddess Oracle and Action cards, which I’ve reviewed before here. I love that the deck art for Tarot de St. Croix was hand-painted in oils, which has become a rarity these days as we’ve entered the digital age.
The Tarot de. St. Croix is one of those rich, beautiful decks worth acquiring for your collection. The emotions that each work of art portrays, the layers of tarot symbolism, both the resonant connection to the divine and the connection to the mundane that merge seamlessly throughout the deck art narrative are just a few of the reasons the Tarot de St. Croix has remained so sought after and beloved over the last decade plus.
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,” I received this deck from its creator for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.