New Chapter Tarot by Kathryn Briggs (a Liminal-11 Publication)

Kathryn Briggs is a graphic novelist, illustrator, and arts educator. Following the end of her marriage, she left the UK, where she had gone to art school and launched her career in the arts, and returned home, back to Philadelphia. The New Chapter Tarot is her story of starting a new chapter, told through paint.

With a matte finish and the absolute perfect hand-held size (about one-fifths shorter than standard tarot), this deck is a delight to read with. It reads like a Book of Changes, because these cards were born from its creator’s journey of personal evolution. New Chapter Tarot is described as featuring beautifully diverse representation, mythology, sacred geometry, blended with iconic traditional tarot symbolism. Briggs herself is a practicing witch.

The card back with the heron and owl touching wings is a stunner of a drawing. I interpret the heron as symbolizing exoteric knowledge and the owl as esoteric knowledge. I also love that the High Priestess card is featured on the box, which is a representation of the Mystery of the Triple Goddess or, as the guidebook notes, “Mami Wata bringing devotees into the spirit world to gain Knowledge.” Oh, and as you can see from the photo, like the standard Thoth card backs, they’re non-reversible.

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Kimberly Tsan’s Spread Machine Cards and Oracle

Kimberly Tsan is a unique and eccentric gem in our tarot community. She brings playfulness, kindness, and quirk to the world of cartomancy. I’ve reviewed her Way of the Panda Tarot before here. She also created The Sparkly Lenormand, which I’ll be talking about in the near future. Her latest contribution is the Spread Machine Cards & Oracle, plus two optional expansion packs, Change and Quest. I’ll be covering all three card sets.

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Madhouse Tarot by Eugene Vinitski and Elsa Khapatnukovski

Madhouse Tarot by the tarot powerhouse duo Eugene Vinitski and Elsa Khapatnukovski is a gripping storybook that captures the human experience of unreason. This is a deck that delves into that part within every one of us, the unreason that is the reason we feel alienated, exposing the piece of our soul that’s been fragmented from turmoil.

These illustrations explore the supernatural. From portraits of horror and torment to unsettling visions, with the aesthetic of a Victorian asylum meets the Roaring Twenties (you’re going to see quite a few references, including well-known figures from that time period), the premise of this deck is in a class all its own.

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Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights Walk-Through

The Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights was published back in 2005 by Lo Scarabeo, with the artwork collection edited by Pietro Alligo. It’s art deck featuring the works of the late 19th and early 20th century French painter Léon Georges Jean-Baptiste Carré, living around the time Waite and Crowley.

Carré moved to Abd-el-Tif, Algeria and concentrated his body of work on Orientalist subjects. (Orientalism is the European and Western study and commentary on Middle Eastern culture.)

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The Lua Tarot by Maree Bento of DivineMuses

The Lua Tarot created by Maree Bento is a black and white collage deck of 19th century engravings. Lovers of the Victorian Era, you are going to adore these cards. “Lua” means “moon” in Portuguese, which is the perfect name for this deck, given its style and how the grayscale speculative aesthetics induces inner reflection.

Bento is the creator of the Divine Muses Oracle, which I’ve reviewed here. There’s this mystical-alchemical dream quality to her art style, and while Divine Muses was more mystical, Lua Tarot is more alchemical.

From a compositional standpoint, Bento layers the imagery with seamless perfection. There are clear stories going on in the foreground, midground, and background. You get a strong sense of earth and sky in every card image. Bento balances detailing and space in such a way that your eyes are always relaxed.

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Button Soup Tarot: A Cult of Tarot Collaboration Deck

I’m intrigued by the strong opinions that tarot readers can hold for collaborative decks. Collaborative are decks where the artwork is done by a cast of different artists and illustrators, often of varying experience in art, from the amateur or self-taught to the professional. The Button Soup Tarot was organized by the Cult of Tarot forum members and the result turned out really well.

I speculate that the collaborative deck appeals mainly to a rather special, rare, eclectic, and liberal-minded personality. Each and every card is going to feature a different style, created with a different medium, ranging from traditional to digital art. I’m loving this particular collaboration. It feels celebratory and there’s such a joy to it.

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Pistis Sophia (Majors Only) Goddess Tarot by Kim Huggens and Nic Phillips

Pistis Sophia: The Goddess Tarot is a 22-card Majors only deck by Kim Huggens and Nic Phillips, published by Schiffer. Pistis Sophia is the sequel to Sol Invictus: the God Tarot published by this duo over a decade ago.

The namesake for the deck comes from the Gnostic text Pistis Sophia, a compilation of narratives on the aeons and cosmology told through the stories of a feminine figure, Pistis Sophia.

The intention set for this deck was to take on a more hard polytheist approach to the goddesses, where the named goddesses are not mere faces to universal divine feminine concepts, but rather, are the goddesses themselves, in their own individual identifiable right.

What also sets Pistis Sophia apart from other goddess decks on the market is the creators’ scholarly approach. This becomes most apparent in the companion guidebook, which is a treasure trove of knowledge and impressively well-researched insights. The book itself, before we even get to the incredible artwork on the deck, is well worth your investment.

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Morning Calm Oracle by Seo Keller

A treasure of a divination system in a box that you’ll cherish, Morning Calm Oracle by trained shaman Seo Kelleher invites you to engage with a world of spirits, divinities, and nature magic from the Land of the Morning Calm, a name of endearment given to Korea.

The box design, sigils, and the tactile experience of handling the cards are an exemplary representation of East Asian magic. Those who are sensitive to energy will even feel the difference in the vibrations of this deck in hand compared to other decks you might have in your collection.

I am enchanted by the effortless beauty and the beneficence of this deck. The artwork is done by Alodia Yap, whose artwork is moving and melodic. Yap’s art style here is impressionistic. It works in perfect harmony with what Kelleher set out to achieve.

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The Cosmic Slumber Tarot by Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden is an award-winning American graphic novelist and comic book artist who has teamed up with the incredible small publishing house Liminal 11. Together they’ve created the Cosmic Slumber Tarot, an epic hyperspheric dimension of tarot space brought to life through manga.

Major Arcana, Keys 0 – 5

This deck reads like a graphic novel, which makes sense given the artist’s background. Walden’s color choices and pairings are gutsy. If I may be permitted to use a fashion metaphor (it’s just this random area of life I’ve got an interest in), this would be Betsey Johnson meets Alexander McQueen inspired by fairytales told through hallucinogen-induced dreams.

By the way, love that Empress card, reminiscent of the Nursing Madonna, paying homage to the history of painting the Virgin Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus.

You get a full-color hardcover guidebook that tucks snugly inside the box with your cards, which I always appreciate. These card meanings are comprehensive enough for the deck set to be user-friendly to total tarot beginners.

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Tarot of the Divine by Yoshi Yoshitani

Tarot of the Divine by Yoshi Yoshitani has become one of the magnificent tarot gems of 2020. And for me in particular, it’s a special kind of joy to encounter a fellow Asian American who is also into the tarot.

The deck is published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House. The Big Five publishing houses are taking a greater interest in tarot, witchcraft, New Age spirituality, and the occult, whereas back in the day, it would be just the specialty publishers like Llewellyn, Weiser, Hay House, Schiffer, or U.S. Games publishing tarot and oracle decks. That this deck was picked up by one of the bigger publishing houses was another factor for my intrigue in this deck.

I love the color palette– bold, bright, with just a touch of whimsical magic to awaken your inner child. The combination of Yoshitani’s illustration style, the enormous amount of research that went into this undertaking, the fairytales, and the tarot is a stroke of divine genius.

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