The Shades of Gold Tarot (or Oracle– we’ll talk about that–) is a 59-card gold and black deck that reads intuitively and with precision accuracy. When I say “intuitively,” I mean that you don’t really need to bring all that much prior knowledge to operate this deck. On its own, it’s got a way of inspiring the messages to download straight into your thoughts and feelings.
If you want to bring in a more psychology-based, case in point Jungian approach to the tarot, or you like to use the tarot in free association exercises, then you’re going to love Shades of Gold Tarot. It’s perfect for that.
If you want to incorporate tarot card interpretation, then there is some (minimal, I promise) orientation and set-up you might need to invest in. You have the 22 Major Arcana cards, and the key numbers are written in the bottom left corner. Key 8 in this deck is retitled The Warrior and Key 11 is retitled All Hearing Ears, which to me feels like a reference to Kuan Yin, as that’s one of her epithets.
To give a few examples of this deck’s structure, Key 3 of the Majors is Queen of Roses, Key 4 is The Root, Key 5 is The Prophet. What I love most about the Shades of Gold is how it moves away from a Christian- and Euro-Western centered structure to one that feels more global. There’s Sufism and also more Asian models of mysticism, from South Asia to East and Southeast Asian theologies.
There’s so much in terms of archetypes to work with as well. Having one grouping of cards be the seven meridian chakras is really resonant with me. To direct your attention to some examples, the solar plexus card from the chakras suit features Bastet; the heart chakra is Kuan Yin embodiment.
Then there are the higher message cards like Eye of Dragon, Kundalini, Tree of Life, and Synchronicities, each card is comprehensively thought out and conveyed in the companion guidebook. And the monochrome yellow-gold coloring against the black background is powerful.
There are 20 cards subdivided into 4 elemental suits, likened to the Minor Arcana in tarot, and the alchemical glyphs for the four elements are written alongside the numeral. Ace of Cups, for instance, will feature 1▽, the “▽” to indicate the element water.
Among the 20 elementals, there are 5 cards in each of the 4 suits (5 x 4 = 20 cards). Each elemental suit consists of the 1 (Ace), 12, 11, K for a King card, and Q for a Queen card.
My one little gripe when it comes to the card titles (in the above photo, see the bottom left corner) is how tiny and smudged it is in some of the cards.
If you’re familiar with western elemental associations, then it’s not too bad in terms of guessing what’s what. But I did find the hard-to-read designations a bit distracting, so if there is a reprint, then on my wishlist would be that the designations are printed more clearly. 🙂
For example, in the above, the book and library imagery makes it easy to connect the “11” to Air. But because the card title is penned in with a thick-tipped marker of some sort, it’s a little smudged and could maybe be Fire.
I can’t always tell if it’s the glyph for Water or for Earth, though if you look at the image itself, yes, usually that’ll give it away, i.e., imagery of water or imagery of something earthy.
I don’t love the high-gloss finish on these cards, but that’s a very personal and subjective preference. The Book of Azathoth Tarot, which are also black and yellow cards, was also produced in a high-gloss finish. I’m also reminded of the Golden Thread Tarot.
While this deck consists of 59 cards (rather than the more popularly recognized 78), the creator refers to it as a tarot deck, and I’m inclined to agree. For instance, I think of the Tarot de Mantegna, which we tend to refer to as a tarot deck, and it only has 50 cards subdivided into 5 groupings of 10.
The Shades of Gold Tarot totally took me by surprise with how much I’ve come to love it. It’s simple. It’s exquisite. It reads accurately in the sense that every time I pull cards for a reading, something definitive will get downloaded into my mind. I hear the messages that these cards have to give. So it feels effortless.
Here’s an example of how I work with this deck. I’m focusing on a high-level philosophical question about the direction of my career, whether to continue The Grind. I pull a single card:
I start by keeping myself from thinking about “which card is this.” Forget the tarot. Just focus on what you see. I see the side profile of what I’m going to presume is a bodhisattva (rather than a buddha), and the symbol is instructing to me that this is one of the chakra cards. Typically the numbering associated with the seven meridian chakras go from bottom, so the roman numeral II would indicate the second chakra, bottom up, or the sacral chakra. The facial expression here also conveys to me power, determination, and dominance even.
I’ll interpret this reading as telling me to keep my sacral chakra balanced. From my vantage point, the figure in the card is looking to the past, to the status quo, rather than to the future, and to change. Thus, I read the message as keeping to the status quo for now. It’s not time. I’m not ready yet. There’s more here in the status quo to accomplish and wrap up before changing states.
And here’s how “book knowledge” adds so much more depth to the divinatory insight I get from a reading. When I look up the card in the guidebook, I learn that this is a portrait of Isis. I connected her association with healing and my current occupation in healthcare law as an omen.
Here’s another example. The stock market, or at least certain big name stocks that James and I pay attention to, took a sharp, ouchie dip these last few weeks, so let’s pull a card to see what’s going on. By the way, broad strokes, astrological indicators have been predicting a stock market crash around this time of 2022 anyway, to really come light (according to astrology) around the spring equinox of 2022.
Anyway, I pull Key 20: Angel Wings, one of the Major Arcana cards in Shades of Gold. How do I personally read this? =P Crash to come, but if I play my cards right, we’ll come out fine on the other side.
By the way, this deck is the perfect size for me. It’s approximately your standard Lenormand deck dimensions, which means they are perfect to take with you on the go, and are discrete when you set it aside on your desktop.
A lot of thought, a great deal of depth of knowledge in Eastern metaphysics, and clearly something divinely channeled has gone into the Shades of Gold Tarot. Whether you prefer to call it an oracle deck, or you describe it as tarot, these cards are striking.