Uncovering the Meaning of Tarot with the Pagan Otherworlds Deck

Capturing the elegance and majesty of renaissance painting, the Pagan Otherworlds deck captivates and charms even the most discerning divinator.  The artistic shading and colors bring to mind the frescos of El Greco and the postures reflect the drama of a captivating Caravaggio.  These cards beg to leap from their deck and be framed upon the wall to be admired by passerby.  A contemplative symbolism nestled within each card alludes to Raider-Waite conventions, yet departs occasionally to create an immersive world where Pagan traditions collide with a Renaissance regal aesthetic.

I’d like to express the artistic and symbolic excellence by describing my three favorite cards within this deck: The High Priestess, Death, and The Devil.  

The blue hues in the High Priestess card mimic the all too familiar shroud of the Virgin Mary.  Yet the priestess reflects a deep female mysticism that is often lacking in modern interpretations of the Virgin.  Her blue cloak clings to her body, a reminder that her femininity is not something to be hidden, but is indeed the very source of her power.  Here the High Priestess is studious, with a book of mysteries upon her lap as she sits relaxed upon her stone throne.  Her feet dwell in the rivers of the subconscious and symbols of the moon twinkle betwixt her fingertips.  Her face is beautifully calm with the assured gaze of a Botticelli Venus.  An inspiring depiction of the innate majesty of female power, intelligence, and magic.

A much different macabre aestheticism presents itself within the Death card.  Death valiantly strides forward, his ever-present scythe at the ready.  Evidence of destruction already wrought lies in the form of human heads beneath his feet.  His posture fills the space as his blue cloak swirls along his skeletal frame, creating a cohesive composition.  Emanating from his spine are rows of arrows in the form of wings.  His menacing war-wings cast a stark departure from the beautiful feathered wings that appear elsewhere in the deck.  Hope comes in the form of a delicate flower following his trail, a reminder that new beginnings always follow destruction.

The Devil card is often a challenge for contemporary tarot artisans.  A delicate balance must be struck by maintaining the symbolism yet avoiding cliche.  Our Pagan Otherworlds Devil departs from his smoking hellscape to join our world of the living.  An uncanny masked face brings to mind the complex bestiary of Hieronymus Bosch.  His hair-suit and animal horns allude to costumes worn during Pagan ceremonies still performed today in Europe.  Human heads again appear within this card.  Though instead of decomposing at the creatures’ humanoid feet, they are attached to his matted suit.  It’s as if they have lost all independence and have become mere parasites to their lascivious host.  This unique interpretation references devil imagery found in other tarot decks, but does so delicately.  Instead of roaring flames and heavy chains, this Devil card conveys its warnings with a lighter, yet still poignant, symbolism.    

The Pagan Otherworlds deck adds to the ever growing aesthetic integrity of the Tarot community. Tarot is unique from other artistic mediums in that it does not simply passively contain archetypes and symbolism.  These concepts are activated and molded into our own lives through their use in readings.  While tarot can be appreciated by its aesthetics alone, it is the action of their use that uncovers its true value.  As we interact with the cards we attach our own narratives to their original interpretations and thus create a continuously evolving realm of meaning and inspiration. Tarot cards are a tool and their imagery is our guide.  Yet it is our own intuition that transforms the cards from physical objects into channels where we can glimpse within the depths of our subconscious and beyond into the realms of the greater unknown.

This review is not sponsored by Pagan Otherworlds or their parent collective of artisans, Uusi.

What are your own opinions of this deck?  Do you have a different interpretation of what tarot means to you?  Let me know in the comments below.

If you're interested, you can click below to learn more about the tarot readings I offer.

How to Become an Expert at Walking Meditation

The melody of spring softly soars above as I begin my walking meditation.  The steady drum beat of the woodpecker mingles with the chipper notes from the morning doves and wrens.  A glorious prelude to the birth of spring in the city.  Along the lakeshore cardinals dance through the trees, their red feathers beating like hearts as they flit in and out of view.  Squirrels erratically run from tree to tree trying to remember when they've hidden acorns and a solitary chipmunk peaks it’s head up from underground.  

I walk steadily along the pavement as I focus on my breathing.  I inhale the scent of petrichor and pine and exhale my internal tension and anxieties.  Approaching the edge of the lake I reach a deep state of relaxation and feel more at peace with myself and my place within the world.  As I walk along the edge of the lake I let the sound of the waves soothe my senses.  The lake glimmers in the morning light and radiates a golden glow.  I spend several moments gazing out at the horizon feeling gratitude for this beautiful moment.  After a whisper of thanks to the spirits I begin my journey home with a renewed positive outlook and an extra spring in my step.  

Tips for Walking Meditation

Location: Decide where you plan to walk before you begin.  You should be focusing on your breathing while walking, not which direction to turn.  Finding a relatively secluded spot is best so you will be less distracted by others.

Timing: Plan for at least 15 minutes for your walking meditation.  I personally find walking meditation easier to do for extend periods of time as opposed to seated meditation.

Walking: Spend the first few minutes finding a steady rhythm for your walk.  Be sure to stand up straight with your shoulders and neck relaxed.  You should walk slower than your normal pace and focus on staying present within the moment.  Notice the sensations of your body as you move.  Feel the confidence and strength in your bones and muscles as they propel you forward.

Breathing: Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth.  Try to line up your breathing with the the rhythm of your walk.  Focus on breathing in the clean air from the atmosphere and breathing out any tension.  Should your mind begin to wonder, simply return your attention back to your breath.

If you have any additional tips for walking meditation, please comment below.  Blessed be!