Posts in tarot
Exploring the Ethereal World of The Fountain Tarot
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The key inspiration behind The Fountain Tarot seems to be light itself.  Ribbons of light cascade throughout these images.  Sometimes the light is veil-like, obscuring the figures in a luminescent glow.  In other cards, the light becomes structure and forms the sacred geometry of glass-like cubes and pointed triangles.  Even the silvery gilding of the card edges cast a moon-like glow with each flick of the wrist.

If I could pick one word to describe this deck it would be ethereal.  Ethereal is defined as extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world.  And indeed you get the impression that inspiration for these images came not from our mundane world, but from some more mysterious force.  The figures in these cards are clouded as if they lie just beyond the veil and the images are punctuated by mysterious forms and surrealist structures that draw out your own imaginative thinking.   

The subconscious seems ever present in these cards.  This is not a deck you can interpret from symbolism alone.  These cards beg you to forget the book and tap into your own intuitive force to garner a developed understanding of these images.

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The artistic style of The Fountain Tarot will not be for everyone.  It’s unique and light-driven aesthetic sometimes feels ungrounded and some may find difficulties connecting with this deck.  Regardless of your feelings about the workability, the sheer artistic talent in these images cannot be denied.  It’s inspiring to find so many contemporary artists that have chosen tarot as their medium and I look forward to seeing what the creators behind The Fountain Tarot will come up with next.


You can find out more about The Fountain Tarot on their site.

What are your opinions on this deck?  Share in the comments below.

tarotSarah JohnsonComment
Uncovering the Secrets of the Fool Card
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For many people the fool card represents things like new beginnings, a childish sense of enthusiasm, naivety, and even risk-taking.  This is of course all true but by looking at both the evolution of this card and the significance of the symbolism we can really get a better understanding of what The Fool card really represents.  

The early tarot decks, The Fool is titled Le Mat in French, or Il Matto in Italian.  These archaic words can mean either "the madman" or "the beggar.” The problem is that these two words definitely bring to mind two different things. Also, these are surely not the first words that come to mind we look at what might be the most popular image of the Fool from the Rider-Waite deck originally published in 1910.  


The Rider Waite fool with his fancy clothing definitely does not make you think beggar.  However, you could possibly describe this image of the Fool as a Madman as he looks like he is without a care in the world.  And here his “madman’ like qualities might not necessarily be a bad thing. There is a sense of great courage in the leap of faith he is about to take off the cliff, and perhaps he knows that this leap is a necessary part of his journey.  After all, there is definitely a thin line between madman and genius.  And indeed, perhaps The Fool here too represents the concept of “divine madness.”  This idea of “divine madness” is not unique to the character of The Fool and it can be found throughout narratives in Christianity, Buddhism, and countless other spiritual traditions.


On the other hand you have the idea that The Fool represents Il Matto or Le Mat in terms of a beggar.  And yes, the earliest interpretations of The Fool do show him as a beggar or a lowly Jester.  Here in these early interpretations, the childish optimism of the Rider-Waite Fool is lost.  And instead we get something much more real and perhaps fearful.  The early interpretations of the Fool show the trepidation we experience whenever we start out on a new journey or adventure.  

In some intrepretations, like the Visconti Sforza, The Fool is shown wearing ragged clothes and stockings without shoes, clear evidence that he has fallen upon hard times.  This hits upon our own fears of financial ruin when we decide to venture out on our own.


The Tarot de Marseille Fool shows a man in classic Jester form.  In this image a dog has humorously pulled down his pant leg making the Fool even more of a laughing stock among his peers.  This of course mirrors our own fears of ridicule when we decide to forge our own paths.

So then, how are you as a reader meant to interpret this card?  In the Rider Waite Fool, the risk taking is encouraged and is seen as a beautiful first step on our path to enlightenment.  However, the earlier decks show it more as a cautionary warning that by going along this path you will inevitably run the risk of ending up worse then where you started.  

This is why deck selection is a vital component when doing a reading.  If a Rider-Waite Fool shows up in a reading you might advise to go ahead and begin your new project and embrace the enthusiasm and excitement you’re feeling at the moment.  However, if you’re reading with the Visconti Sforza, you might instead recommend that more planning is necessary before starting this new journey so that you will have all the resources you need to be successful.  

Another way to get a better handle on how to interpret this image is by relying on your own intuitive abilities.  If you as a reader feel a sense of joy when you pull this card, then likewise a more optimistic interpretation makes sense and vice versa.  You can also use your intuition by paying close attention to which specific symbol in the card first catches your eye or seems to draw you in.  This symbol, perhaps, holds a better clue of what aspects of the card you should emphasize in your interpretation.  

So next let’s review some of the symbols in the Rider-Waite Fool and how they can enhance your interpretation.  Let’s start at the top with the number zero.  Because we are starting with zero as opposed to one, it seems to set this card completely apart from the other Major arcana cards. And zero, while yes is a powerful number, it is also the shape of a circle.  And the circle here reminds us that cycles represent a foundational component of tarot as a whole.  There is a sense that we, like the Fool are in a constant cycle of completion and beginning.  The major arcana ends with The World card, the globe representing another cycle.  It reminds us that the Fool then is not just about beginnings he also represents the completion of a previous achievement.  The circle is perhaps also foreshadowing another powerful symbol we see on the following card, The Magician.  The Magician wears an Ouroboros belt, yet again another representation that this cycle is infinite.

Moving to the bottom of the card you can see the dog warning the fool about the cliff ahead.  While earlier decks show the dog as an active member in the beggar's or jester’s humiliation, you definitely don’t get that feeling when you look at the Rider Waite dog.  Images of dogs in general make us think of loyalty.  You can go as far back as The Odyssey, where Odysseus had a loyal dog named Argos who was the only one who recognized him when he returned home from his travels.  Perhaps in this instance, it shows the dog’s ability to understand the essence of who we are even after we’ve evolved and changed.  You get the sense that this dog, too, will still be loyal to Fool after he undergoes his transformative journey.  

Dogs are also seen as symbols of companionship.  The specific dog represented here is a Maltese, a breed favored by the wealthy during the Renaissance.  You can see this type of lap dog featured prominently throughout many portraits during this time.  Perhaps this suggests that the Fool also needs a companion on his journey.  So if you feel intuitively pulled to the image of the dog in this card, you likewise might suggest during the reading that it would be a good idea to have a partner or friend help you out as your begin this new journey.


The knapsack in the top left of the corner reminds us of the things we ourselves carry in our daily lives.  On the one hand it can allude to materialism.  While the fool appears to be nicely dressed, he oddly carries very little in this bag.  Perhaps a suggestion that on a spiritual journey one needs little in terms of material items.  The specific image on the bag is not clear, though some say it is the head of an eagle. Again the idea that by removing our own physical attachments to the world, we can take flight on our own more profound journey.

The rose the fool holds is white, the color of purity, and assures us this the journey while difficult, will also be beautiful.  In addition, the white color encourages us to clear our own minds as well in order to forge a greater intuitive connection to this card.  

There are many other symbols in this image but I hope this gives an idea of how an understanding of symbolism can bring further context and complexity to a reading.  To fully understand the meaning of the Fool as a reader, you too need to go on your own journey of development.  Tarot study is so fascinating to me because it combines the study of history and symbolism with the more mysterious aspect of cultivating your own intuitive abilities.  

When it comes to interpreting this card for day to day situations, there are several insights you can make.  Since the Fool card is all about new beginnings, it can herald that we too are about to start something new in our lives.  This would be something we are excited about, but perhaps we are also a bit naive about what to expect.  There are so many times when we take on the role of The Fool in our lives.  For example, when I left for college many years ago I was starting out on a new adventure. Physically I travelled across the county to go to college and had to make all new friends.  Like the Fool, I was excited beyond belief but also naive about how much work it would entail.  There are so many examples of moments when we experience these qualities in our own lives, like perhaps you’re starting a new career, or maybe you just had a baby.  

In a more broader sense the fool can represent the beginning of our own spiritual journey.  Some refer to the whole of tarot in general as “The Fool's’ Journey” as if the fool is like the protagonist in a great story and the other cards of the major arcana represent people he will meet and learn from as he goes along his journey.  Perhaps we too are the fool here - we are the protagonists in the story of our own spiritual development.

Whichever way you choose to interpret The Fool in a reading, one thing is certain, that this new journey we’re on - while difficult - will definitely be worth it in the end.

How do you like to interpret the Fool Card?  Is there a particular symbol in that has always stood out to you in this image?  Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

In Defense of Tarot
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My cappuccino came in an emerald green mug, with a delicate sugar cookie balanced upon its saucer.  I took a sip then several deep breaths.  In and out, quietly meditating in the cafe while I waited for my client to arrive.  I had chosen a quiet nook in the corner by the window.  We would be far enough away from the other patrons so that our conversation would not be overheard by others.  When my client arrived we hugged and chatted a while over our coffees.  He was one of my regular clients and I had been seeing him every other Tuesday morning for several months now.  I now knew about his life, his family, his struggles, and his hopes.  He trusted me and in return I pledged to keep his secrets and help guide him towards his goals in life.  The life of a tarot reader is anything but boring.  Yet, in the wider world, I occasionally lie about what I do.  Why do I do this?  Am I ashamed?  I don’t think so.  Instead I think that perhaps explaining why tarot is important every time someone asked “what do you do for a living?” would just take too long.  Not exactly the best frame of mind I admit, so here it is - my defense of tarot and why it matters in our modern world.


We Don’t Talk to Each Other Anymore

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The first thing you reach for upon opening your eyes in not the warm embrace of a loved one, but instead the glowing screen of your phone.  Daily we poke, swipe, and drag our fingers across these screens.  A death by a thousand emails.  We are strangled by alerts, notifications, and badges.  The truth is that we’re filming life, not living it.  And yes, we need to admit that in many ways our phones and the internet has improved our lives, but I ask you to not give up on the simple human connection of a conversation.  Our technology often saves us from awkward real-life moments; a softly glowing comfort blanket we carry everywhere we go.  Yet, how does avoiding the difficult conversations help us grow and develop as people.  Instead of retreating into our individual worlds we need to talk to each other.  And not just small talk, we need to discuss our dreams, our desires, and our fears.  

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about these things with a trusted stranger, someone that can give you an unbiased view.  That’s where I, and other readers come in.  A tarot reader functions in part like a psychiatrist.  We listen to our clients and help them through the difficult parts of their lives.  Saying your fears and hopes out loud is a deeply cathartic experience.  Having a deep conversation for a full hour with someone is not something we often get the chance to do in our day to day lives.  It’s something we need to do more.  It reminds us that we’re human in what often can feel like a cold and sterile world.


Don’t Just Live Your Life - Strategize it

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Now that you’ve expressed your true desires, it’s time to figure out a way to achieve them.  And that’s really where the fun begins.

Why do we admire Alexander the Great?  I think it’s mostly because he was a master at battle strategy.  If you review the specifics of his battle tactics, you discover how he carefully thought out every move.  He played a chess game in his head, maticulously calculating each and every outcome.  He knew his enemy, he knew the land he fought upon, and he studied the history of past battles so he knew what would and would not work for each scenario.  

This ability to strategize key aspects of your life is common among leaders throughout history.  Yet, when it comes to our own lives we often tend to ‘wing it.’  Tarot at its core is a tool to use for planning out your own strategy for success.  While tarot can often show us what events might occur in the future, it can also create a roadmap to lead us to our goals.  It can motivate us to improve our lives and inspire us to think bigger.  Tarot allows you to see your own life from a different perspective.  We can look from above onto a table of cards that represent us and where we're going.  Combining this different perspective with the knowledge inherent in the cards helps us direct our path towards success.


We Need to Connect with Something Greater than Ourselves


I often give readings for ‘tarot skeptics’ - people who don’t believe that tarot connects to anything beyond their face value.  I always tell them that even if you don’t believe you still can gain benefit from the aspects I mentioned above.  I myself was a skeptic when I started reading the cards.  “How could some pieces of card stock with images tell me about my inner thoughts or my future?”  I thought. Though as I continued to work with the cards, I slowly started to believe that they connected to something greater.  Whether that’s our own subconscious, our collective unconscious, or divinity I’m not sure.  All I do know is that tarot helps me tap into something that is greater than myself and the experience is extremely humbling.   

Through tarot I can help people uncover their own innate intuition to help them see this greater power for themselves.  I can help them heal from past difficulties and lay a foundation for the future.  Most importantly I can help people realize not only what their true purpose is in this life, but also how to achieve it. 

This is why I dedicated my life to tarot.  Tarot has changed my life in countless ways and has helped me find my path, one step at a time. This is why tarot is worth defending; this is why being a tarot reader is something I am proud of.


How has tarot changed your life?  What benefits have you gained from working with tarot?  Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Dark Days Tarot - A Quest for Modernity & Simplicity

The Dark Days Tarot is one more chapter in the attempt to define what it means to be a modern witch.  It’s an idea us who live in the internet age have been thinking a lot about.  This deck created Wren McMurdo is distinctly feminine and minimalist.  The creator went with a bold choice making the cards square and only using black and white.  The absence of bright color forces you to notice the subtleties of the designs.  The drawings are quirky, whimsical, and almost surrealist with abundant nature symbolism interwoven and mixed in with scenes of domesticity.

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The cards that stuck with me the most were the ones that featured a coven working together.  Sometimes I dreamed myself into the scene depicted in the Six of Pentacles.  As a solitary practitioner, I occasionally go through bouts of loneliness-especially around the sabbats.  As much as I enjoy being solitary, I often desire for a community of like minded witches to gather with.  To plan a Yuletide meal and invite friends over for rituals.  Is there a coven out there for me? I sometimes ask myself.  This deck created visions of that world and community I desire.

The minimalistic aspect of this deck will not be for everyone.  I, however, found the black and white cards beautiful in their simplicity.  The fact that they are square also helps differentiate The Dark Days Tarot from the multitudes of other decks out there.  The minimalist nature of this deck is part of a wider trend I see among not just deck creators, but our current society at the moment.  A growing desire to turn away from all that noise and visual excess and instead focus on something more simple.  Something more meaningful.

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What are your thoughts on these more minimalist decks?  Do you like this trend? Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

The Healing Power of Tarot

A lightning strike then a loud crash.  The tower comes tumbling down and we are thrown from on high to crash-land below, beaten and broken.  The only way to face a ‘tower card’ moment is to stand up, brush the dirt off your knees, and begin to build again.  In a time like that, when all seems lost, you look to the distance and see a small shining light.  Subtle at first, but growing lighter by the day as you pass through a long tunnel. And then as you reach the end of tunnel, there she is - hope.  


There are certain moments in your tarot study when you become taken aback by the sheer wonder of it all.  How the cards not only bring us truth, but do so poetically.  In tarot, the Star card comes right after the destructive force of the Tower card.  At a time we need it most.  The Star card shows a beautiful maiden at the edge of a lake.  She is pouring two cups of water - one into the great healing lake, and another onto the sand.  Glittering stars illuminate our lady as she dips one foot carefully into the waters of our subconscious and places the other firmly on land. She is of course the Water Bearer, a personification of Aquarius.  

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I used to be baffled when I first learned that Aquarius is in fact an Air sign.  I thought as a ‘water bearer’ it made much more cosmological sense for Aquarius to be grouped in with the other water signs.  But when I meditated on the Star card it began to make sense to me.  The star card is about hope, renewal, and inspiration.  These are ideas and constructs that we form in our mind, and our mind is ruled by the element Air.  Yet, water is ever present in the Star card.  Water as a symbol is usually connected to healing and the subconscious.  It is the combination of both the healing power of water and our mind’s capacity for hope that brings us to a state of true healing.  This is what the Star card represents to me.

When this card appears in a reading it foretells a time of calming energy and mental stability.  These things are necessary after facing any kind of drastic upheaval or change.  The Star card gives us permission to forgive both others and ourselves so that we can move on to the next stage of our life.

I like to mediate with this card whenever I’m facing a difficult time within my life.  I visualize myself next to the lake featured in the card.  I imagine my toes caressing the smooth sand at the water’s edge.  Dipping my hands into the healing water, a bright light forms in the ripples and travels up through my body bringing me into a state of calm.  I then go in search of the beautiful maiden.  Finding her off in the distance beneath a tree, I ask her how I might best move on from my difficulties and bring balance again into my life.  

In my experience, when I do this visualization and meet the water bearer, she usually gives me good advice.  Of course, I believe that it is really just my own subconscious that is coming forth and proving the answers I need to grow. Just as the maiden dips her toe into the water of our subconscious realm, we do the same when we participate in tarot readings or meditations.  The healing guidance we need is always there, within ourselves, and tarot is a tool that helps us discover it.


Do you use tarot to help you get through difficult times?  Share your experiences with the healing power of tarot in the comments below.  While I associate the Star card with healing, is there a different card that you like to use for healing spells, meditations, or tarot sessions?

tarotSarah Johnson Comment
Uncovering the Mysteries of the English Magic Tarot

Do you like deciphering hidden symbols and decoding ancient alphabets?  If so, put your Indiana Jones hat on because it’s time to get to work.  The English Magic Tarot is not for the faint of heart and you're going to need to use the full extent of your brainpower to uncover its secrets.  That’s because each card (including the minor arcana!) has a hidden message for you to translate.  This is the reason why I purchased this deck.  While the artwork is nice and the theme is certainly interesting, it was the hidden symbols peaking from the images that made me stop in my tracks and purchase this deck immediately.

The title of the deck brings us our first clue. The English Magic Tarot weaves a tale of “high” and “low” magic throughout English history.  Kings and Queens make an appearance of course, but so do astrologers, druids, and characters from English folklore.  England has a deep and expansive magical history and this deck attempts to take us through that journey card by card.  

With a deck like this the guidebook becomes an essential component of your understanding.  It helps us comprehend who is depicted in each card and their historical significance.  The history featured within this deck starts with the end of the Renaissance and goes to the beginning of the Early Modern Period. I always had a bit of trouble remembering the succession of the countless Kings and Queens throughout English history.  By studying this deck and guidebook I now feel that I have a deeper understanding of English royal history.  In addition, I learned a good deal about the magical traditions of the “common folk” and how those beliefs and rituals have lasted through time.  


The artwork of this deck is in a storyboard-style with sharp lines and bold colors.  It is dramatic and the characters appear in dynamic action poses.  This style works well when the cards are all laid out in a large spread where you can easily see how they can form a storyline.  However, when looked at individually they loose a bit of their luster.  While I’m personally not as much a fan of the comic-book style, I know that many others will absolutely love this bold and unique artistic interpretation.

One of the first things you’ll notice while attempting to translate the hidden riddles is that there are 4 distinctive ‘alphabets.’  The Enochian alphabet, created by court astrologer John Dee, was easy enough to decipher by looking up various translations of it online.  The backwards writing was also fairly easy to translate by holding the cards up to a mirror.  The Futhark runes I found a bit tricker, as they didn’t match up exactly with examples of alphabets I found online.  The hardest to translate was the Ogham writing.  This writing consists of a series of notches in a straight line, which made it tricky to determine where one word ends and the next begins. In addition, it did not fully match up with examples of this alphabet I found on the internet.   

Once you’ve fully translated the major and minor arcana, you’ll then need to figure out how it all fits together to create a coherent passage.  Shall I give you the final translation?  No. That would be too easy I think.  It’s up to you, brave explorer, to venture off and solve these riddles alone.  For it is the act of translating these cards that forces you to spend considerable time with each image and thus develop a personal connection with this unique deck.

tarotSarah JohnsonComment
Sex, Lust, and Humor - A Journey through the Eros Deck

A freudian carnival with lusty intrigue as the main theme, the Eros deck is coquettish and dripping with innuendo.  This deck will certainly make you blush.  Sex is not just included, it is the main star of this deck; each card finds a way, often humorously, to incorporate it.  The characters in the cards are topsy turvy, each image filled with both shock value and little inside jokes that only an experienced cartomancer would detect.  

The Fool begins our journey through this bacchanalian adventure, his cartoonishly large ass setting the tone for what's to come.  Flipping through the major arcana you’ll find yourself laughing at a drunk Temperance, a Justice holding scales-turned-brassiere, and a Hierophant that, looking upon The Lovers doing The Devil’s dance, has him praying with knees upward.  

Try counting the genitalia in this deck, I dare you. There must be hundreds.  Some are subtly referenced, like the rooster or ‘cock’ on the Emperor's’ shield, some are hidden in plain sight like the Magician’s “wand”, while some stare proudly at you as if they were saying, “look at me, look at me.” 

Moving into the minor arcana you’ll find a classic Pip style common to marseilles decks in that there are not unique individual scenes.  Normally, I would find this a bit disappointing, but this is not a normal deck.  Each Minor card contains erotic symbols of their own--some delicately hidden and others standing prominent.  Looking through the suits you’ll find yourself counting, "...8 penises, 9 penises, 10 penises...", wondering just how many they can fit!

The court cards conclude this deck looking like boisterous buffoons enraptured by their desire.  They seem to be performing their own kind of courtly embrace as they look to the side waiting for someone to join them in their revelry.  Perhaps they’re looking at us, the readers.  Maybe they're asking us to open a bottle of René Pogel and begin to indulge in some horizontal refreshments of our own.  

With a deck like this you have to ask when, if ever, you would actually use it in a reading.  With love and sex as its primary theme this deck would certainly work well for readings focused on relationships.  The comical nature of many of the images also suggest that this deck would be fun to bring to a party and do readings for your friends.  Though I have to admit, at it’s core, this is a collector's deck. This kind of uniqueness appeals to the collector impulse of cartomancers.  And let’s admit it, most of us tarot readers have hoarding tendencies when it comes to our deck collections.  

The uniqueness of this deck even goes beyond the cards themselves: the box the cards come in is ‘titillating’ in both senses. Additionally, the companion book, more than just a guide, is an adult coloring book filled with naughty limericks to enhance your readings.  

It is clear that each component of this deck was carefully thought out.  Looking beyond the humorous and sexual surface level, you see a deck with beautiful artwork, clear attention to detail, and outstanding creativity.  So while this certainly isn’t the first deck I grab for readings, it still holds a prominent place on my shelf and in my heart.

If you'd like to find out more about this deck you can do so here.

If you're interested in a reading with this deck, or any of my other decks, you can sign up here


If you'd like to see a full walkthrough of this deck, you can view the video below: 

What are your thoughts on this deck?  Share in the comments below.

tarotSarah JohnsonComment
The Invisible Light Tarot

A dark and hazy landscape sets the tone for this photo-based deck.  Empty buildings, foreboding beaches, and desert boulders punctuate the images.  Each card, including the minor arcana, contains an image of a young figure contrasting with the desert-like background.  

With the Invisible Light tarot deck Brandy Allen showcases the people and nature of California.  The California she portrays, however, is more apocalyptic than the bubbly brightness most of us associate with this state.  Half the cards consist of black and white photography and the other half uses a limited palette of crimson, chartreuse, and lilac.  The subdued tones enhance the dystopic dreamscape portrayed in these images.

The dusky figures in this deck are thin and fragile, yet their beauty is evident.  They occasionally appear nude, yet their sensuality is not the main focus.  They seem lost, searching perhaps, as eternal wanderers in this strange world.  In this deck the figures look like us, are fragile like us, and in that way we can relate and connect to them on our level.

Occasionally this deck uses Rider-Waite symbolism but the references are often subtle and not the main focus of the image.  I would consider this deck to be an intuitive deck.  A deck that would be good to meditate with, possibly to place one or two images on an altar and envision yourself walking among these California searchers.

This is a youthful deck and is something that would certainly appeal to millennials.  As a millennial myself, I was definitely drawn towards the characters depicted in the cards.  However, the imagery falls a bit flat when considering several cards of the Major Arcana.  I expect my Emperor, Hierophant, and Chariot to be powerful and strong.  The figures, while languidly beautiful, sometimes don’t portray the otherworldly power these characters represent.  Although, I do certainly appreciate how each suit card is pictorial and that alone definitely makes this deck worth a look.

I commend Brandy Allen for her unique style with this deck.  She really brings something to the table that I have not seen before and I look forward to using this deck more.  One of the true joys of being a reader in the internet age is that it has allowed artists from all over the world to connect and create their own interpretations of the Tarot cards.  I look forward to seeing what Brandy and other deck creators do next.

If you'd like to learn more about Brandy Allen and the Invisible Tarot Deck you can do so here.

Click the button below to learn more about tarot and the readings I offer in-person and online. 

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.

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