The Venetian Tarot by Eugene Vinitski is a self-published tarot deck that is magnificent for a variety of reasons. Art may be subjective, but I would be hard-pressed to find one person who does not acknowledge the exemplary skill level demonstrated here by Vinitski. Furthermore, there’s both an intuitive and psychological understanding of the human condition that truly gives the deck a transformative, transcendent quality. Vinitski has produced a tarot deck that’s at once beautiful and collection-worthy, yet also a great professional reading deck.
Let’s begin with the packaging and card back design. I love the sturdy box style that Vinitski has chosen, its matte finish, and the complementary companion guidebook. The blues and rose golds complement the tone for the card by card Carnevale di Venezia inspired narratives. Also, yes, the cards are gilded and stunning with reversible card back designs.
Vinitski is an artist and illustrator from Moscow who now lives and works in Switzerland. You’ve got to check out his portfolio of art, which you can find here. Before we talk about the deck, let’s talk about the artist. How people take photographs, I think, reveals a lot about them. There’s a sharpness to Vinitski’s photography that suggests a fine-tuned understanding of human psychology, which you see underscored in his paintings as well. Vinitski’s paintings (from his portfolio; we’ll talk about the artist’s point of view for the Venetian Tarot a little later) bear a strong interest in the human figure, depicting human emotion and interactions with a Post-Impressionist aesthetic.
That keen understanding of people and human predilections sets a fascinating stage for the creation of the Venetian Tarot, where the focal point is on Venetian masks, or the masks we wear as devices to conceal our identity, our social status, and to maintain our anonymity when we act in defiance to our normal characters.
The Spiritsong Tarot by Paulina Cassidy is, at its essence, a spirit animal divination deck. The energies of each card in the standard 78 tarot deck is expressed by a selected animal spirit. I love the play on that term, too–spiritus animalis, the concept of weightless entities within us that operate our mind, that explain the currents of thought; the Keynesian economic theory of emotional and instinctual proclivities driving our decision-making behavior; and of course, that of animal spirit guides and the shamanic medicines each have to offer us if we invoke their powers.
In crafting the deck, each card is intended to be a portal to a higher world, one connected to a particular animal spirit or animal mentor that is then called upon through the divination to offer you divine guidance. In other words, each tarot card represents a particular Shamanic medicine.
Spiritsong Tarot is a great novice deck, as it has keywords at the bottom and I found the renaming of the suits easy and intuitive to follow. By the way, bonus points for the panda bear on the Ace of Crystals. How can I say anything negative about this deck after that? Now my only critique is there wasn’t a red panda (one of my favorite animals, evar).
Are you subscribed to The Cartomancer? If you’re a tarot or oracle card reader, then you’ve got to check out this independent magazine. The quality of the print copy is just luxurious–definite collectible items.
Volume 3, Issue 3 is now out. You can order just the single copy or get a subscription for the year. Support your fellow tarot community, independent artists, deck creators (lots of stunning deck art in these pages), and further your own tarot education with The Cartomancer.
In the latest issue posted above, I wrote a deck review for The Asian American Tarot. You may be surprised and amused by my opinion. In a moment of irony, I can’t predict whether you’ll have expected as much from my review of the deck or whether it’ll be unexpected.
This gift-giving season, get the Wizard’s Pets Tarot to teach a tot tarot or heck, gift it to a grown-up tarot reader. The deck came about when Pamela Steels’ granddaughter asked her to create a tarot deck for her. The Wizard’s Pets Tarot became just that deck, a Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck that’s bite-sized for smaller hands, bright and colorful to captivate attention, and all around an incredible teaching tool.
In fact, forget the kids. I’m keeping this deck for myself. It handles beautifully, shuffles beautifully, and I’ll talk about how much I appreciate the cardstock later. The vibrancy of the deck’s color palette lends well to keeping me awake and focused. There’s a lot of energy in this deck, much of it characterized as youthful, yet there’s something here for the grown-up tarot reader, too. If you’re currently working with your inner child or trying to tap in to that inner child, the Wizard’s Pets Tarot would be perfect for that.
Kokeshi dolls are wood-crafted Japanese dolls that look not unlike the High Priestess kokeshi featured above on the box cover of the Kokeshi Tarot by Arlain. The Kokeshi Tarot stylizes traditional Rider-Waite-Smith tarot iconography into kokeshi dolls and the results are too cute to handle.
We’ve got reversible, symmetrical card backs, which are going to be relevant when we consider reversals and even–gasp!–reading with sideways cards. More on that later. Let’s talk about the Kokeshi Tarot.
The Art Oracles: Creative and Life Inspiration features 50 artists with corresponding oracular messages inspired by each artist’s point of view. The deck was created by Katya Tylevich and Mikkel Sommer Christensen and published by Laurence King Publishing. This is easily one of my favorite oracle decks and one I am always recommending to friends who aren’t that into tarot or the metaphysical but still one to give cartomancy a whirl. The Art Oracles is a user-friendly deck that anyone, no matter what proficiency level with card reading, can work with.
Totally random– Vincent Van Gogh was my stalker card. Different shuffling methods, toying around the with the deck, whether intending to do a oracle reading or arbitrarily pulling a card to look at it, this card kept coming up for me.
The Bad Bitches Tarot by Ethony has my kid sister’s name all over it. Okay, it doesn’t literally, and she’s not exactly a “kid” anymore, but if I were to profile who would fall in love with the Bad Bitches Tarot, it would be the yuppie upper east side Manhattan dwelling Millennial fashionista third-wave feminist who thinks it would be really chic to have a tarot deck out on her coffee table.
I showed the deck to my sister by video chat and she just gasped. “Omigod it’s gorgeous. But I don’t know how to read the tarot.” To demonstrate how she could totally use this deck for herself, I pulled a card for her–the Six of Wands–then read the card’s meaning out of the accompanying Guidebook. The meaning, straight out of the book, fit perfectly with her situation.
We then pulled another card, the Seven of Swords. Again, I read that card’s meaning to her straight from the book. The sis major LOL-ed at how blunt the message was. Ethony’s Bad Bitches Tarot Guidebook has attitude, style, and a modern, punchy tone. Sis totally approves.
“So I can just read that tarot deck for myself? Pull a card like you just did and then read about it from the little Guidebook?” (It’s embarrassing to me as a tarot author how minimal my sisters know about the tarot…)
“Yes.” I said. (Or you could read the card meaning from that giant book your sister wrote but whatevs.)
“I love it,” she beams. And really, you can’t help but to love this deck. It’s a goddess deck for the digital Millennial age. It photographs beautifully for Instagram shots, with rose gold gilded edges and a semi-matte finish that’s got just the perfect relaxing ASMR shuffling sound when you riffle the cards.
I didn’t receive my copy of Ostara Tarot until well after the spring (or vernal) equinox this 2017, but I am looking forward to taking the deck out again in March of 2018 to tap in to the equinox energies through this deck. However, really, this deck is perfect for year-round use. A case can be made that the expressions from this deck can apply to any spoke in the wheel of the year.
For me, the spring equinox is a pivotal moment in the year because my fruit trees are in blossom. Many of our flower plants are also beginning to show signs of reemerging life. It is the time of the year when my yard is a wash of pinks, purples, whites, and yellow. It’s breathtaking to see.
There is a Seven of Pentacles vibe around my place during the spring equinox. The garden work you put in the past year begins to show and you can count the blossoms to get a sense of the fruit harvest to come this summer and autumn. However, it also is a time to check yourself and remember never to count your chickens before they hatch because I’ve definitely been duped before! I think I’m about to get quite the harvest for the summer and then an icy rain kills all the blossoms overnight, or you just never know what might happen between this moment and the next sabbat.
The Badgers Forest Tarot by Nakisha Elsje VanderHoeven, who is also the creatrix of The Rabbit Tarot, The TaRat (Tarot of the Rat), The BlueDogRose Tarot featuring domestic animals, and The Riderless Tarot, a horse-themed deck. I think she is an animal lover, but I’m not sure. You’ve got to check out all her tarot decks, which are self-published and listed through Etsy.
This is my favorite animal spirit deck, for sure. When I read with this deck, it’s less tarot and more oracle deck, and more specifically, I’m checking out the animal spirit depicted on the cards drawn. Typical tarot card meanings come secondary. And if you’re looking for an animal spirit oracle deck, even though this is tarot–and it does fit what I consider to be the parameters for a tarot deck–this is really a great one. Continue reading “The Badgers Forest Tarot: Animal Lovers Rejoice”→
The Sirian Starseed Tarot by author Patricia Cori and illustrator/designer Alysa Bartha is premised on the esoteric (some would say New Age) belief that walking among us humans are a handful of aliens, or aliens-that-look-just-like-humans, or ancient aliens (?), and I think it’s different from what Scientologists believe but I can’t be sure because to an ignoramus like me, they sound the same. Both indigenous Native American and esoteric Buddhist belief systems include an idea similar to starseed people, so maybe there’s a grain of truth in it all somewhere.
The Sirian Starseed Tarot was channeled to Patricia Cori and there is a fascinating workshop she did, hosted by North Atlantic Books, the deck’s publisher, that you can watch here on YouTube. I highly recommend that you check out the webinar, especially if you will be working with the Sirian Starseed Tarot.
The Major Arcana in this deck is breathtaking to view and eerily accurate to work with. Check out Keys 0 through XIII above (Death becomes Transition…I know some old school tarot readers aren’t too fond of the “Death becomes Transition” interpretation of Key XIII…). However, what you need to do when working with this particular deck, especially if you’re a seasoned tarot reader, is to check your tarot knowledge at the door and work with this deck within its own universe of a system. You’re going to have a much more enriching experience with the Sirian Starseed if you do just that. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of hang-ups, biases, and cognitive dissonance.