Deck Review: Prisma Visions Tarot

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Today’s deck review is for the Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads

This deck was another one that just grabbed my attention immediately.  It’s beautiful.  If you lay all the minor arcana out in order, each suit flows together into one long beautiful narrative.   This is actually the first deck that I’ve owned where the Minor Arcana captivate me more than the majors!

In the wands suit you watch a meandering stream flow through the cards taking the reader on a journey.  It begins with an explosion of stars in a supernova around a standing wand.  It then moves through a dark night lit only by the stars.  This scene bleeds into a fiery sunrise that in turn leads into a forest and culminates in a fearsome explosion of energy that envelops the figures in the court cards.


At first the energy of the wands seems to completely overwhelm the page, lifting them off their feet and high into the air as they reach through the energy.  The knight can be seen directing the energy with their hands, but still caught up by it.  The Queen figure draws the energy around her body and coaxes a flower to bloom.  A vibrant shock of hair moves around her with the energy mixed in.  Finally the king floats mid air, controlling the wands energy, relaxed and in control despite the whirling maelstrom of fire all around him.  The wand energy has coalesced into a crown over his head.  I love the story that those court cards tell, a progression over time from being the overwhelmed page to the mastery of the king.  I find it echoed in the other courts as well.  I especially liked the Cups court where they all interact with the same water as it flows from the King down to the Page.

IMG_0699The major arcana are set apart from the minors with a decorative borders around them.

As you can see from the cards shown, the art style of the deck is very Impressionistic, it brings to mind Starry Night in a lot of places.  Each suit represents a season as well.  The Swords suit is winter, Wands are Spring, Pentacles are summer, and Cups are Fall.

The art work is beautiful, but so are the cards.  They’re a little bit thicker than most tarot cards, if you’ve ever used the Wild Unknown deck, they’re similar in weight.  They have silver on their edges which is such a treat, it’s super reflective and shiny.  I find them a little bit challenging to shuffle just because of their thickness and stiffness.  A wash is easier than the shuffling in my hands.  Although I’m sure the more I work with the cards the more flexible they’ll become.

Readings with this deck are just as wonderful as the cards themselves.  There is so much to see in these cards, so many symbols and so much depth.  I can absolutely recommend this deck, I’m looking forward to a lot of lovely readings with these cards.


Challenging the Rider-Waite(-Smith) Tarot

Arguably, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck is one of the most famous and influential decks that still exist today.  I respect the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck because of it’s huge influence, but I have some issues with the deck as well.  My first thing is that I’m not a huge fan of the art style, classic and traditional though it is.  I need a deck that draws me into the visual style.  But that’s not the biggest challenge around this deck.


What bothers me the most, and I do admit that I didn’t even learn about this until recently, is that for much of the deck’s history it was called the Rider-Waite deck.  The deck was designed by Arthur Edward Waite (also known as A.E. Waite) and then published by the Rider company.  So where is the problem?  The problem lies in the fact that all of the art for the cards was done by Pamela Colman Smith.

“Waite is often cited as the designer of the Waite-Smith Tarot, but it would be more accurate to consider him as half of a design team, with responsibility for the major concept, the structure of individual cards, and the overall symbolic system. Because Waite was not an artist himself, he commissioned the talented and intuitive Smith to create the actual deck … The Minor Arcana are indeed one of the notable achievements of this deck, as most earlier tarot decks (especially those of the Marseilles type) have extremely simple pip cards. One reason for the enduring success of the Waite-Smith deck may be the richness of symbolic signification that Smith brought to the Minor Arcana.” 01

Her name was left off the published work and she was largely uncredited for her revolutionary illustrations.  She was paid a flat fee for the design and illustration of the cards and didn’t receive any further compensation from the deck.  This further illustrates how she was not viewed as a true collaborator in the project, merely relegated to a role as hired help. 02

Swords13Had it not been for her work and creativity we might not have the wealth of beautiful and varied decks that we’re lucky enough to have today.  And it might be at least partly thanks to her interpretations that the women in the tarot decks are powerful in their own right. 03

You might be inclined to say, okay, so yes, that wasn’t cool of A.E. White, but is it really such a big deal now?  Many tarot readers today now refer to this deck as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which is the name I use as well.  I want to celebrate this progress.  Adding her name back onto the deck that she was so instrumental in creating is fantastic and long overdue.  Why this is still important is that it was just another slight in a long tradition of ignoring, overlooking, or just outright dismissing the work of women.  It is important to recognize the role of women in history and especially in influential works such as this one.  Calling the the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot is a great first step.

Do yourself a favor and go and learn more about Pamela Colman Smith.  While you’re at it, maybe take a gander at some other contributions of women in Tarot.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia
Footnote 01 – Wikipedia
Footnote 02 – Tarot Heritage – The Rider-Waite-Smith Deck
Footnote 03 – The Tarot Lady – Powerful Women in Tarot

Deck Review: Universal Goddess

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I’m excited to be talking about one of my favorite decks in this post.  The Universal Goddess Tarot is one of my oldest decks; I think I’ve used it more than any other deck I own.  It’s not my oldest deck, because I have a Robin Wood deck that I owned before the Universal Goddess deck found its way into my life, but this beautiful deck of Goddesses is what really kept me moving forward in tarot.

IMG_0566Obviously, this is a goddess based deck.  There are a few nods to some of the classic Rider-Waite-Smith card designs: the Strength card still features a woman with a lion, the Chariot still has a chariot on it, but other than a few recognizable features the deck strikes out on its own, using goddesses from many different cultures as the central figures on the cards.

Their choice to feature Athena on the Emperor card really won me over right away.  I loveIMG_0570 any deck that can take traditionally male designated cards and spin that on its head.  Athena is my matron goddess, I’ve felt an affinity with her since I first read about her in my Edith Hamilton’s mythology book in middle school.  And what a perfect figure for the Emperor.  A warrior goddess who sprung fully formed from her father’s head, already clad in armor.  She is depicted here as a powerful commander of men.  It’s a nice reminder that women posses all the power and wisdom of men and are just as capable of leading.  This theme runs through the entire deck and is one of the things that I love the most about these tarot cards.

As a queer woman, one factor that influences my ability to connect with a tarot deck is how it handles male and female archetypes.  I look through the deck to find the Lovers card and
see what is depicted on it.  I don’t necessarily need all my decks to feature queer couples, but I find it easier to connect when they have more inclusive representation.  This deck comes through for me in that regard.  The Lovers card features Aphrodite, dancing in the ocean.  She isn’t shown with a partner, which I like here because it gives the card a reading that reminds us that it’s so important to love ourselves.  To quote RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else.”

Another rave that I have for this deck is how many goddesses of color are represented.  At IMG_0568least 30 of the goddesses on the cards are women of color.  I chose Pele to show here, since she’s another goddess that I am very drawn to.  Her depiction here on the Five of Wands is great.  As a Hawaiian volcano goddess, she is a powerful creative and destructive force, which is a great representation of the energy of the wands suit and the energy of fire.  The volcano can destroy everything around it, but volcanic ash is rich in minerals and can be an excellent fertilizer.  It’s a lovely symbol of the cyclical nature of life.

I also appreciate that the artists took time and care to create realistic women of color in these cards.  Pele’s face isn’t just a carbon copy of Athena with her skin tone changed.  They are real nuanced depictions of goddesses.  They also include a range of age in the goddesses depicted.  Hestia and Hecate have a more mature look, lines on their faces and wisdom about them, younger goddesses like Aurora fit the maiden archetype better and are shown as such.

Every reader can have a different experience working with a deck, for me this deck is very IMG_0561closely linked with my own spirituality work.  I use it mainly to read for myself and I’ve used it extensively in tarot self-development.  It has a very magical and spiritual energy when I work with it.    When I was just beginning to learn to use my intuition as a reader, I had some trouble reading with these cards and I found myself having to rely very heavily on my notes and the LWB that came with the deck.  There are some cards that don’t seem to fit with what I’d been taught that the cards ‘Had to Mean’.  I found myself stumbling over meanings and only getting half the meanings of cards.  This deck was trying to slowly and painstaking pull me forward into trusting in my own abilities and intuitions.  I owe a lot of thanks to the goddess work, and to the goddesses who guided me to where I am now.  I don’t know that I would have been able to hear their messages if not for these cards.

I love this deck so much.  It wasn’t until I’d been working with this deck for quite some IMG_0562time that I discovered a Tarot Deck Interview Spread on LittleRedTarot that has become my go-to spread any time I get a new deck.  I can’t recommend that spread enough to
anyone starting out as a reader or for a new deck.  Interviewing the Universal Goddess deck revealed to me what I already knew about it.  In this case, the interview just helped reaffirm that I could trust my intuitions around the deck and how we could work together.

It told me that it was a deeply personal deck for me, that it would help me connect with my higher self and to work with goddess energies.  It’s a fantastic deck to use as a meditation tool.  I use a Tarot meditation where you journey into the card and can interact with the figures in the card, and my handful of meditations have been affirming and humbling.

On a purely more physical note, I can recommend this deck as well. I’ve worked a lot with these cards and they’re still in great shape;  the cardboard flap top box shows some reasonable wear around its edges and corners, but the cards aren’t torn and they’ve help up well to lots of shuffling and handling.  I own a not inconsiderable number of tarot decks and this is still one that I come back to again and again.

Tarot Deck Review: The Happy Tarot

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This deck, for me, was a very impulsive purchase.  I saw pictures from it on the Aeclectic Tarot website and I went straight to Amazon and bought it immediately.  Now, for people who know me, making an impulsive purchase isn’t anything out of the ordinary.  I don’t resist little indulgent impulses very often unless I really need to.

The Happy Tarot is published by Lo Scarebo and illustrated by Serena Ficca.  Her art style is adorable, cupcakes and hearts and flowers. IMG_0452  So you might think that this deck would be entirely to fluffy and sunny and just plain sugar coated to actually work with.  But you’d be wrong.

Granted, in a deck where The Fool is literally stepping off a cupcake, this isn’t going to be the deck for everyone.  It’s over the top sunny candy filled colorful cards could put off some readers who like a more serious aesthetic in their cards.  But if you enjoy sugar stars and a whole of of adorable animals and people, this could be your deck.

Whenever I get a new deck I like to use a Deck Interview Spread to get to know my new deck and see how I might work with it.  In my interview with the Happy Tarot I learned that it would help me to unblock blocked emotions and see my way through issues that I didn’t think I was ready to deal with. Because how could you not be willing to listen to adorable sugar laden cards of cotton candy and cupcakes?

The deck is based around the Rider-Waite-Smith deck imagery which makes this a great deck for someone just starting out reading tarot.  It features, as others have said, ‘dudes doing stuff’ which makes it more accessible for interpretation.  Some of the features of the deck that I really enjoy is the attention to detail in the cards, sure the three of cups shows three people celebrating, but there are also happy bunnies running around, music notes in the air and a rainbow in the clouds.  There’s a lot to look at and lots to help you divine the meaning of the cards.

Here are some of my favorites:

StrengIMG_0457th shows a cute little girl singing to a lion after she’s removed the thorn from his paw.  She has the traditional infinity symbol over her head and the mountains in the background so she’s easily recognizable.  What I love about this rendition is how relieved and grateful the lion looks.  His pain is gone.

I also love the use of light in these cards, in Strength you can see the rays of light coming from the upper left.  When you’re working with these cards in spreads you can often see a progression of light through other cards which gives an extra way of interpreting the cards.  If the light from the Emperor’s card shines down into the Four of Swords how does that change the way you read the card?  It’s a wonderful way of getting a clearer picture of their meaning.

The next card that I want to show is The Hermit.  The Hermit is a favorite of mine.  As an IMG_0453introvert sometimes there is nothing more important to me than my alone time.  The Hermit understands me.

This card is visually beautiful, much more subdued than the Strength card here we see a night sky filled with flowing stars and a lantern casting a soft glow over the Hermit as he moves through the candy landscape.  Ficca’s beautiful use of color and shading make this card really draw you in.  Your eyes flows immediately to the glowing lantern and makes me want to lean closer to hear the Hermit’s wisdom.

In a green robe instead of the RWS grey the Hermit feels more approachable and kindly in this deck.  This fits very well with the gentle vibe this deck has.  It doesn’t shy away from giving you the messages you need to hear, but it’s also not going to slap you in the face with them.

The last card I want to share is The Empress.  She is the ideal of the soft nurturing figure of a beautiful mother in nature.  She could even be pregnant in the picture where she rests onIMG_0455 her simple throne surrounded by animals.  As a symbol of fertility and natural abundance she has a very appropriate family of bunnies at her feet.  A cat sits near and a bird has landed on her scepter.  The familiar crown of stars rests on her head.  Instead of the dark forest behind her that you see in the RWS deck, this is a verdant grassy meadow, a waterfall cascades behind her and a golden field of wheat grows to the right.  If you look closely you can see a pomegranate at the base of her throne.  This card also has those distinctive rays of light shining down on her.

Reading tarot spreads with this deck is a joy for me.  I’m really glad to have it in my collection of working decks.  It might not look like a deck for serious work at first glance, but after working with a great deal, I’ve gotten some excellent insights and advice from these cute cards.

I would recommend this deck for: anyone who likes cute or kawaii things, someone who is new to tarot, someone who is a little intimated by tarot, or younger readers (there is some cartoon nudity, but nothing I would call objectionable).  Don’t let the cuteness decieve you.  This deck is charming and effective.