Meera Tarot immediately stands out from the crowd, and as soon as I saw it, I realized I had nothing quite like it in my current collection. The art has postmodern avant-garde somewhat Cubist take on medieval Hinduism, rendered with bold, vivid colors and emotive geometric forms.
The deck’s namesake “Meera” means prosperous, virtuous, and fearless, in disregard of social conventions; it can reference a devotee of Krishna, one who is a mystic and a creative.
A compelling thesis of this deck is the binate feminine and masculine within each one of us, and that dichotomy’s ever shifting balance. How do you become self-aware of that internal exchange and how does one integrate the two toward self-actualization? The narratives within these cards express the Twin Flame Journey not as one soul in two bodies, but two souls within one body–thus you’ll see the recurring symbolism of the yin and yang.
Envision yourself walking with lantern in hand, braving forward through a dense fog and following a forest trail. You stop at a pile of dried brushwood and see that buried underneath it is a small treasure box. It’s a treasure box that had been buried long ago, and somehow now unearthed just as you make your way along this pensive path. You open the box and contained within it is this set of tarot cards.
That is Reese Marren’s starting premise for the Pensive Path Tarot. The packaging itself facilitates this imaginative premise. It’s a tuck box, but unique, opening just as a wooden treasure box might. I’m also loving the smooth buttery finish on these cards (printed on black core 320 gsm embossed linen cardstock). The cards shuffle and fan beautifully.
The Pensive Path Tarot is a fine art deck somewhat reminiscent of the Tarot of Delphi or Victorian Romantic Tarot, showcasing late 19th and early 20th century classical paintings. Fine art decks are one of my favorites, and I think that holds true for a lot of us readers. In Pensive Path, Marren takes it to the next level by not re-hashing the same set of well-known paintings you often see on repeat among fine art tarot decks.
Jianghu 江湖 is the code of honor and fundamental values of Wuxia, a longstanding genre of Chinese martial arts literature. Jianghu translates literally to “Rivers and Lakes,” though those terms are used metaphorically here, covering multiple layers of meaning.
[Compare, for instance, how Feng Shui translates literally to “Wind and Water,” but it’s in reference to how the energies of people, places, and things harmonize with one another.]
In story writing, Jianghu is part of the setting that the author develops for a Wuxia novel. It is world-building. It’s the structure of social order, the class system, the magical system, the various martial arts factions or lineages, the government, the peasants, and everyone in between.
Jianghu expresses the cast of heroes and villains, the power structure of the world the Wuxia author has built. In this Lenormand deck, there are two versions for the Man and Woman cards (see above) — for the Man, the versions are Swordsman and Scholar; for the Woman, the versions are Swordswoman and Maiden.
Jianghu is also the landscape of sacred mountains and mystical forests. It’s the many regions of the kingdom the cast of characters travel to on their adventure to obtaining magical relics.
I love the extra Special Card, as it’s called, in this deck– Alcohol. Per the explanation in the little white booklet:
“As a cultural artifact, alcohol connects our lives, emotions and spirits. In Jianghu, heroes drink to meet friends, writers and poets drink away their bitter sorrow alone. People drink by the red wedding candles to celebrate happiness, and drink in front of tombs to bid farewell to the dead on Tomb Sweeping Day.”
Just a side FYI — red is the color predominantly used in Chinese weddings. So “red wedding” has a very different connotation to the culturally Chinese than what you might be thinking right now, post-Game of Thrones…
The Chinese Lunar Mansions Oracle by Zhong Ling and Wu Xue might be the first of its kind. And with its companion guidebook that details the classical attributions for the 28 lunar mansions, the deck is a great beginner step for learning about this system of Eastern astrology.
This will be both a review of Chengdu Arcana’s Lunar Mansions Oracle and an introductory overview of Chinese lunar mansions astrology.
The Oracle is a set of 28 cards in a standard finish, typical of mass market decks, though longer and wider than standard tarot card size. The card back design features the four directional animals that are the basis of lunar mansions astrology.
Eastern Ink Tarot was conceptualized by Zhong Ling, a Chinese tarot reader and founder of the Chengdu Arcana Culture Communication Company, the publisher of this deck. She’s also the founder of a tarot school in China, established in partnership with Lo Scarabeo.
Zhong Ling teamed up with award-winning artist Zi Kang, who studied under renowned Chinese masters and trained in traditional Chinese painting styles. For the paintings you see in Eastern Ink Tarot, he sourced his inspiration from ancient books, traditional Chinese culture, and philosophy, specifically the yin-yang school of Eastern philosophy.
Both Zhong Ling and Zi Kang are seasoned tarot scholars, and that’s something I really appreciate from deck creators. They’re passionate and learned about the tarot, and then decided to create a deck. In Eastern Ink, you can see that knowledge come through in which RWS symbols they preserve and where in the art they take creative liberties.
Carolyn Cushing and Jenna Matlin, in collaboration with Weiser Books, are hosting a series of content to celebrate the late Rachel Pollack’s re-release of A Walk Through the Forest of Souls. This is a day-long event for the tarot community, and you’ll find many contributors to this celebration.
The Transformational Oracle of the Morrighan by Bela Síol and illustrated by Igor Alexandre is a mostly black-and-white illustrated deck with accents of color. The Oracle set is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking connection to the Morrighan.
Bela Síol is a Brazilian pagan priestess and creator of The Oracle of Nehalennia, The Oracle of Freya, The Oracle of Arianrhod, The Oracle of Venus, and many more. The illustrator Igor Alexandre is a priest and herbalist who explores themes of the occult, nature, and paganism in his art.
As a priestess Síol first connected with The Morrighan in 2009. Morrighan, or Morrigu, refers to the one but also the multifaceted Goddess of Ireland, namely the triad of goddesses Badb, Macha, and Morrigu, and sometimes appearing as the triad of Banba, Fodla, and Eriu. Still others, it’s a triad inclusive of the war goddesses Fea or Nemain.
This all weaves a complex mythology for The Morrigan. Síol’s The Transformational Oracle of the Morrighan is based on the triad of Badb, Macha, and Morrigu or Anand (sometimes Nemain). Each card explores one of the many key lessons connected to The Morrighan.
The boutique indie publisher Abusua Pa, who printed the Tazama African Tarot, has released an absolutely exquisite and divine oracle deck, the Love Oracle of Eden. This is the second deck by the Black-owned publishing house, whose mission is to increase Black representation in tarot and art.
With the Love Oracle of Eden, writes the creators Bjorn Franklin and Chiria Da Luz Fortes, “We had the idea to create a deck about love and relationships, as we did not come across many decks that covered this important subject while including people of colour.”
They stumbled upon the art of A.J. and Chantelle Hamilton, the artists of the Love Oracle of Eden. 56 incredible models posed for these photographic compositions, each meticulously curated by the artists for this deck.
Let’s start with the production value. Holy smokes I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The caliber of thought and, like, at this point that deck box is some sort of origami, the level of care that goes into the craftsmanship is impressive. Every design element is not only beautiful, but serves symbolic purpose.
First, Eugene Vinitski and Elsa Khapatnukovski took us to Venice of Italia with the Golden Venetian Lenormand and now to Spain with the Spanish Lenormand. This is a Petit Lenormand Oracle based on Johann Kaspar Hechtel’s Game of Hope, circa the late 18th century. The deck consists of 36 cards-symbols expressed through brilliant Pyrenean colors and cast with the mystery and magic of Iberian witches–las brujas (Iberia being the Land of Rivers).
What’s most standout about this deck is the art. Note how Vinitski adds a lot of texture to his work, a la the Post-Impressionist painters of continental Europe. You get the sense that the artist is a Romantic at heart. As I go through these illustrations, they call to mind early Modernists such as Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) and stylistic traces of Jean Metzinger (1883 – 1956).
Mellissae Lucia’s Oracle of Initiation was first released a decade ago in 2012, but it’s new to me, and I am utterly in awe of the breadth and scope of this divination system. This is a review of the deck, but also its 400-page companion book by the same name.
The Oracle of Initiation is the narrative story of one woman’s descent into the underworld and return. It is a mesmerizing photographic memoir of loss, initial resistance with numbness, realizing you need to surrender, and reawakening your inner magic.
At the age of 33, Lucia lost her husband to cancer. She entered limbo. But then she chose to live, to thrive, and supported by spirit guides along the way, went on a 7-year vision quest. These images chronicle her Artemis Return, a concept coined by Lucia.
Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wild instinctive wisdom of the feminine within nature. She is a guardian of the untamed within all of us, the primal aspects of our original essence.
Like a Saturn Return, an Artemis Return is a cyclical return after a pivotal event in your life, in which you cross a threshold of catharsis, maturation, and awakening, and re-align with that wild instinctive wisdom within.