The Kuan Yin Oracle Deck: A Review

Kuan Yin Oracle Deck - 01 Box Cover

The Kuan Yin oracle deck by Alana Fairchild with art by Chinese painter Zeng Hao caught my attention as soon as it came out on the market. It’s published by Blue Angel, an affiliate partner with Llewellyn. I wanted the deck for Zeng Hao’s breathtaking artwork and also because it’s Kuan Yin.

Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers venerated Kuan Yin and so did my husband’s maternal grandmother. My mother has an altar in our home for Kuan Yin. When I was little and afraid of the dark, not wanting to go to sleep, crying out for mommy, my mother would come in to my room and tell me to recite this mantra that included Kuan Yin’s name, which would keep me protected. Kuan Yin is the energy I invoke any time I seek protection or personal fearlessness. I never really thought of her as the “Divine Feminine,” but okay I can work with that interpretation.

(As a practicing Buddhist who has studied at monasteries since the age of ten, I’ve literally never heard Kuan Yin associated with the “Divine Feminine” until white people got involved. Just saying.)

Kuan Yin Oracle Deck - 06 Pick a Card

To kick off this review, let’s start with a divination for you. Look at the three cards above and choose one, left, center, or right. Be receptive to what message most needs to be conveyed to you right now. Hold that thought. Continue reading “The Kuan Yin Oracle Deck: A Review”

Golden Tarot of Klimt: Deck Review

Klimt Tarot 01 Deck Box

One year in high school I had a spiral bound day planner I bought at a museum gift shop that featured Klimt’s artwork. I carried Klimt around with me everywhere that year and afterward, cut out the full-color prints that appeared in the day planner, framed and placed them around my room. An art poster print of “The Kiss” was hung up in my bedroom through my adolescence and young adulthood. Currently in the halls of my day job office hangs a really nice framed print of “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” [Also, tell me it isn’t just me– is there or isn’t there something very Nine of Pentacles about that painting.]

Klimt Tarot 19 Card Backs Closeup

Like many artists of his time (Pamela Colman Smith included), Klimt was influenced by Japanese block art. Klimt’s art is bold, sensual, deeply ornate yet symbolic, and iconic of the Art Nouveau and Symbolist Art movements, with mystical tendencies. His art was controversial for its time. Klimt would have been about 50 years old around the time Waite and Smith created their tarot deck.

Klimt Tarot 04 Box and LWB

The Klimt Tarot or Golden Tarot of Klimt by Lo Scarabeo and Llewellyn is one of the most well-done collector’s art deck I’ve seen. There on the box cover you see one of Klimt’s iconic paintings, “Judith I.” The cards are 2.5″ x 4.6″, which fits comfortably in my hands and the smooth texture on the cardstock renders the deck very easy to shuffle and fan for reading purposes. There isn’t much to the Little White Booklet (LWB), as the text in there is short and sweet, and in those few pages, is packed with 6 language translations.

Klimt Tarot 02 Box Side View

On the side of the box pictured above, the top image is from one of my favorite paintings by Klimt, “Medicine (Hygieia),” which so perfectly appears on The Magician card in the deck. While more and more decks are moving to China for printing and manufacturing, these decks are still made in Italy. The box and packaging is finished beautifully and is part of what renders this deck such a rewarding collector’s item. It was first published in 2005 and the brainchild of the Bulgarian-born Atanas Antchev Atanassov. Continue reading “Golden Tarot of Klimt: Deck Review”

“A Sea of Calm” Mandala Oracle Deck

Sea_of_Calm_Mandala_Oracle_01Deck

A Sea of Calm is a self-published 52-card mandala oracle deck by Fiona Stolze. I got a deck from the second printing and just love the artwork. In true contemporary oracle deck form, each card features a keyword or phrase, which can be applied to the divinatory exercise at hand. The deck has a calming, soft energy with exquisite mandala art by Stolze. These are paintings on silk printed onto borderless cards with captions like “Embracing the Divine Feminine,” “Thy Will Be Done,” or “Synthesis.”

Sea_of_Calm_Mandala_Oracle_08Cards

The cards are a good fit in my hands, at 2.75″ x 4.75″ and altogether make for a rather slim deck, so it transports easily alongside a tarot deck. The deck description on Stolze’s website notes that the deck is ideal for meditation and contemplation.

Mandalas are, in a nutshell, an art form intended to express the artist’s perspective of the universe, or a certain part of the universe. Religiously, they’re used to help establish sacred space. Thus, an oracle deck of mandala art would be ideal for practitioners who use tarot or oracle decks in meditation. I’d imagine they’d work pretty well, too, for work on the astral plane.

Continue reading ““A Sea of Calm” Mandala Oracle Deck”

The Witches Tarot: Deck Interview (and Review)

Witches Tarot 01

I totally swiped this deck interview idea from Kate at Daily Tarot Girl. Read her blog post about it here. I was gifted the Witches Tarot, a deck created by Ellen Dugan and illustrated by Mark Evans. It’s a Rider-Waite-Smith based deck with photographic digital art that is a near seamless blending of realism and fantasy.

The cards are 2.75″ x 4.60″, a typical size for tarot, though perhaps a smidge smaller, which means they shuffle great in my hands, fan out just beautifully across a tabletop, and are very easy to work with. It’s published by Llewellyn and has a pretty standard Llewellyn/Lo Scarabeo cardstock quality. For an RWS tarot practitioner who likes modern digital art, the Witches Tarot would make an incredible workhorse reading deck.

Witches Tarot 03

The cardbacks are so pretty. There’s a galactic vibe to it and at the center, the triple goddess symbol, with the waxing crescent, full moon, and waning crescent moon. The backs are not reversible, however, as one edge is reddish and the other bluish. I’ve opted not to read with reversals when using this deck.

Now, without further ado, let’s interview the Witches Tarot with Kate’s suggested questions.

BENEBELL: What is your main mission or message in this world?

Witches Tarot Interview Q1

WITCHES TAROT [WT]: Page of Swords

The page is represented by a tall, thin teenage boy on a green plain. He wears a talisman with a hawk around his neck. This card, per the Companion guidebook is about thinking quickly and active decisively. However, use wit, not brute force. Per the traditional attribution of the card, that of messages, the hawk symbolizes messages. What an appropriate card to respond to the question with! In the Witches Tarot deck is embedded Ellen Dugan’s message, a message about her belief systems, her traditions and how she has integrated those traditions with the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, and a quick and natural wit about the deck’s style that will attract its followers.

Continue reading “The Witches Tarot: Deck Interview (and Review)”

Review of the Psychic Tarot Oracle Deck

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I’m not liking the Psychic Tarot oracle deck at all. I mean, let’s just start with the above photo of the cards. Look at the quality. This is a brand new deck mind you. I bought it still encased in shrinkwrap. All that white stuff you see along the edges of the card backs is how these cards came, brand new.

It’s a fortuitous thing that I got my hands on the Psychic Tarot for the Heart before this one, otherwise I’m not sure I would have had the mind to give the Heart one a try. Earlier I reviewed Psychic Tarot for the Heart here.

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Here is a close-up of the cards. I’m digging the reference to sacred geometry on the card backs and throughout the packaging (such as the interior of the box that the cards come in), but if returning these cards and getting a refund wasn’t such a hassle, I have to tell you, that is exactly what I would have done.

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And…here’s the front of the cards. It wasn’t that the plastic wrap peeled the coloring of the cards off. That was my first hypothesis, but the plastic wrap was clear. It came like this! Many of the cards from the center of the deck, which wouldn’t have come in touch with plastic wrap or anything sticky, had that white scrape-y stuff.

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I believe both the Psychic Tarot and the Psychic Tarot for the Heart oracle decks have the same number of cards, but look at the thickness of the Psychic Tarot deck compared to the Heart one. Yes, I am dazzled by the gold gilded edges of the Psychic Tarot, but that wasn’t enough to appease me. I much, much, much prefer the Heart one over this deck. I’m so bummed. And the backs of the Psychic Tarot are so nice, too!

Continue reading “Review of the Psychic Tarot Oracle Deck”

Review of the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set

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If you’re a Rider-Waite-Smith reader and you can still get your hands on the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set produced by U.S. Games, then do so. I  believe it came out in 2009. It’s an incredible set with two books, postcards and prints of Smith’s artwork, and an RWS replica called the Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition deck. It is just a beautiful, beautiful deck. Get it.

deck with topcard

I’m not going to show all the cards because, um, I am pretty sure I don’t have to. You all know what the cards look like, I’m presuming. So let’s just talk about this amazing set.

Continue reading “Review of the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set”

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot: Review

The Deck of the Bastard 01 Card

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot is a self-published tarot deck by Seven Stars and you’re going to love it. You can purchase it through Etsy or at the proprietor’s website, Tarot by Seven. It’s a “bastardization” (her words, not mine) of several traditional decks– you’ve got Etteilla, Grande Jeu, Soprafino, Rider-Waite-Smith, and I swear I see Sola Busca influences in there, too. The design of the deck conveys a vintage feel, and I love that. Artwork wise, it’s a blending of many traditions, but you would read it the way you read RWS. This deck is fantastic to whip out during public readings, and is quite easy to read with for any RWS reader.

I’ve already decided that this deck has become one of my go-to “workhorse” tarot decks (terminology I’ve stolen from Jenna Matlin over at Queen of Wands Tarot). Really. It’s up there with the Golden Universal for professional reading decks. I don’t think this is an ideal deck for beginners on the RWS system, however, as it may get confusing at that stage of learning (even though the version with the keywords would make an excellent gift to a beginner), but intermediate and onward, you’re going to love reading with the Deck of the Bastard. I think it’s a great deck for pro readings.

Continue reading “The Deck of the Bastard Tarot: Review”

Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot Deck Review

Dame Darcy - Mermaid Tarot Deck 2

I should tell you something. I’m not that into mermaids, or sailors, or ships, nautical imagery, or 18th century colonial dress (you’ll see– like in the Two of Wands, Nine of Cups, Page of Cups, Page of Swords, Ten of Cups, etc., pictured below).

And yet I’m VERY INTO Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot deck. My fingers and my head are bursting with excitement as I type this. I don’t know how she did this, how she can get someone like me to be so enamored with this tarot deck.

I first saw the deck’s vibrant images in a vlog deck review by The Four Queens, and while watching, didn’t realize it was called the Mermaid Tarot. I just saw the images and said with quite a bit of conviction and brattiness, “I want that. Now.”

Then I watched Elora Tarot’s vlog on it and, learning more about the deck, realized it’s all about mermaids and sailors and stuff. I kind of thought to myself, “but I’m not that into mermaids and sailors and stuff.”

Whatever, it didn’t matter. There was something drawing me to this deck. I don’t know what kind of spell Dame Darcy put on this deck but hey, it worked on me. It was a bit pricier than most commercial decks out there and with self-published tarot decks you don’t always know what you’re getting into, but you don’t understand– I needed to get this deck.

Dame Darcy - Mermaid Tarot Deck 1

So I got it, and now I don’t know whether to be a good Samaritan and use it as a professional reading deck to share the beauty of Dame Darcy’s artwork with everyone who gets readings from me or be selfish and horde this deck all to myself and not let anyone else touch it, ever.

Usually with tarot decks I hear word of it buzzing about for months and then at some point, I buy. With Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot, it went from “I’ve never heard of it” to clicking “Add to Cart” in, like, I think less than an hour.

The above photo shows what I got with my purchase order. Two extra cards came–an extra Ace of Cups and an extra Wheel of Fortune, which is why they’re set off to the side like that. More on that later. No box, but that’s totally okay with me. I love the black velveteen drawstring bag. It’s even got a sailor’s anchor on it, going with the theme. *Love*

As she noted in her review of the deck, Kelly-Ann of The Four Queens got a stunning handwritten, hand-drawn page with a vegetarian recipe while Elora Tarot got one on seed sprouting, so that kind of got me excited about the prospect of a freebie, but alas, I guess the freebies only go to the VIP. I, however, non-VIP that I am, got no handwritten, hand-drawn page. Aww. Shucks.

Continue reading “Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot Deck Review”

Mystical Cats Tarot – Deck Review

Mystical Cats Tarot 01 Box Cover

The Mystical Cats Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone and illustrated by Mickie Mueller is my favorite feline tarot deck to date. Aeclectic, as usual, provides close-up image files of the cards. The art is soft, has a children’s book feel to it, and most importantly, is spot on in capturing the expressiveness of cats. All cat lovers are going to love this deck.

Mystical Cats Tarot 02 Box Interior

Now one thing I did note right away is the crappiness of the box packaging. Sorry. This isn’t a box I want to keep, but also this isn’t exactly the kind of tarot deck I’d make my regular reading deck, which means such a deck is one where I’d normally keep the box, but this box is just awfully thought through. I’m assuming the cards are supposed to fit in that smaller space, but it doesn’t, and a few always slip down where the book is supposed to be. The only way this box works is if you have a tarot bag to commit to this deck. Then it’ll fit in that space without cards accidentally falling through the crevices.

Mystical Cats Tarot 03 Book and Cards

The deck doesn’t come with a little white booklet, but rather, a very nice 5.20″ x 8.00″ perfect bound book that I enjoyed reading cover to cover. There’s a ton of information in there, though nothing new for the seasoned tarot reader. Still, it’s definitely nice to have. Oh, and shouldn’t that title be Tails of the Mystical Cats instead of Tales? Kidding.

The cover of the book features the Earth King card, featuring a kitty who looks just like my little Prince (there are always photos of him on my Twitter). The book consists of tarot basics, card meanings, suggested spreads, and–my favorite– an appendix of rough sketches from the artist during the brainstorming phase for the deck.

Mystical Cats Tarot 04 Card Samples

The cards are 2.75″ x 4.60″ in dimension, borderless, with rounded corners, matte, but on somewhat flimsy cardstock. They’re very easy to shuffle, fit snugly in my hands, and are overall a very efficient deck to work with physically speaking.

Mystical Cats Tarot 05 Card Samples

It’s not exactly a clone of any of the traditional tarot systems, but it’s also very easy to read for anyone with tarot reading background. The Minors are divided into four “cat clans” (love!): the Fire Cats, Sea Cats, Sky Cats, and Earth Cats. The Fool is just The Cat. The Magician is Cat Magic. The Hanged Man is The Floating Cat. The Devil is Demon Cat. Judgment is Good Kitty. And there are other minor differences here and there, nothing difficult to follow.

The courts? Kitten, Tom, Queen, and King! Awww! I love it!

Mystical Cats Tarot 05 Book Interior

I love how they structured the book. “The Cat’s Advice.” In a deck review by Barbara Moore published in The Llewellyn Journal, it’s mentioned that Mueller, the artist, used “special herbal infusions in all her watercolors . . . based on [the herbs’] magical properties.” And all of the artwork for the card images incorporated catnip!

Mystical Cats Tarot 06 Reading

Above is a personal reading I did using the Mystical Cats Tarot. It’s the Celtic Cross, though yeah, the column of four cards is all crowded and clumped due to lack of table space. While I am not likely to pull out this deck for professional readings, I might be inclined to use it when I do fundraising events for animal shelters, animal non-profits, etc. How fun would that be!

Overall, I adore this deck, but I also know I’m biased– I love cats. Now, of all the kitty-themed tarot decks out there to date, this one is by far the best. If you can only buy one kitty tarot deck, then Mystical Cats Tarot is the one to get.