"Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark", written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, holds a remarkable place of regard in my life. These books were the foundation upon which I built, from my childhood, a love of horror, of writing and of art. Though the imagery accompanying these stories were, well... to be blunt... horrifying, it was also liberating to my creativity and imagination. They inspired me to write and illustrate my own collection of horror stories at the young age of 11 years. My elementary school teacher was so impressed by my attempts that I was invited to participate in writing workshops, and was encouraged to develop my voice and style through all the years that followed. As a result, I became a published poet who, to this day, draws on the memories of my relationship with these stories to write my incredibly self-indulgent contemporary free verse.
So, when I discovered the Ritual Abuse Tarot, illustrated by Ryan Sheffield as an homage to Stephen Gammell, I knew I had to have it. I knew I had to re-invite my childhood inspirations back into my life and embrace their message. As Ryan states in the small accompanying guide book, the deck was originally constructed as a satirical look at the inconsistencies of tarot, but became it's own creature, with its own voice. He embraced this strange dichotomy between his own disbelief and lack of knowledge regarding the tarot, and how the cards can still provide a meaningful message, by stating the following:
"Chaos and contradiction are the heart of this deck, so take it seriously and have a laugh. Follow this guidebook to the letter and make it up as you go along. Just do me a favor an enjoy yourself. Or don't."
And it's not tied down by the artists insistence on pushing a prescribed meaning with each image. In fact, you are encouraged to stretch these cards beyond the imagery and traditional meanings and simply have an experience... whatever that means.
This deck also proves that an artist or deck creator doesn't need a life-long relationship with tarot him or herself, doesn't even need to believe in it at all, in fact, to create an effective tool for established readers. Though much of the artwork does embrace traditional imagery, there are cards that seem to step away and carry their own story, their own way, and that's been an amazing discovery these last few days.
I've had a truly visceral reaction to this deck. At the risk of sounding absurdly emotional, even my inner child squeed with delight upon its arrival, and I have since been immensely satisfied by my growing relationship with it.
The imagery may be too dark, too disturbing, for use with clients. I imagine you'd have to understand your client well, or allow them to chose the deck themselves, before venturing forth with the surprisingly deep messages this deck reveals, in a dark but cheeky way. Perhaps, even, you might consider this deck too dark for you. However, I urge you to embrace the imagery for what it is... an artist appreciating the art of another, and sharing that appreciation with you. It is this appreciation that happily reveals a truly joyful relationship readers can have with these cards.
Brightest Blessings! And, should you brave the darkness and shadows of your own stories, I hope your journey is as joyful as mine!
I will admit I have a fascination with all collage decks, all digitally modified decks, and all decks that touch my inner painter by utilizing pre-existing art and incorporating new art, and The Distant Past Tarot, created by Jeri Totten, seems to check each of those boxes with aplomb! It is a beautifully rendered combination of images from a combination of existing and new art, using techniques that result in a flawless, soft deck that echos through time.
This deck is poker size (though more sizes may be available soon), and after serious frustration with large decks, I appreciate the break. The card stock is fairly standard, but shuffles beautifully, and the deck arrives shrink-wrapped, without a box. The pouch displayed is purchased separately, and well worth the investment. It's slightly padded interior hugs the deck perfectly and the zippered closure allows for ease of use. There is no accompanying book, but there are extra cards with very brief keywords listed, and standard spreads explained.
"Images from the Past to guide you into the Future."
- Jeri Totten
It's lack of nudity makes this deck especially appropriate for public events, and the soft artwork is great to put nervous clients at ease. The borderless imagery will also tickle the fancy of many readers who find borders limiting to their intuition. And, with it's small size, it makes the most of the card's surface as possible, creating artwork almost as large as those on bordered standard tarot decks, but without the added bulk.
I can honestly say I find everything about this deck perfect. Though the backs are not exactly reversible, it's close enough for those who care, and this little gem tucks beautifully in any purse or bag. And, most importantly, the customer service was amazing. Jeri was very pleasant to converse with, and seemed humbled by the praise I had for this amazing creation.
You will not be disappointed with the addition of this deck to your collection.
I ran across the Spirit Cats deck, illustrated and authored by Nicole Piar, while stumbling my way through Kickstarter campaigns, ferociously looking for inspiring decks to back. And, though the campaign was over for this deck, she was selling pre-orders on her website, at a ridiculously affordable price, for what amounts to 48 square prints of her ridiculously adorable art.
I gave up sugar ten months ago (we'll talk about that journey another time). Decks are now my sugar (but better for my soul) and this deck was like powdered sugar on sugared donuts on a sugar cake. I couldn't pass. Which makes eight (ahem) cat-themed decks in my collection now.
The deck did not arrive with a book, but was housed in a beautiful, sturdy hard cardboard box. A book would have been redundant because each card has corresponding text on the back, featuring the cat's name and its message. Featured above is Snugpuff, Stargazer and Chanti (left to right), with their own inspiring tidings to share. The card stock is matte and thick and easy to either riffle or overhand shuffle
I do, however, adore the cat names: Shrine, with its "cozy home" message; Sage who sits at a threshold; Silvio Silvermaw, sharing with us the road less traveled. Each cat reaches out to you with the loving, wild and unpredictable nature of our own house cats but without a litter box to clean.
You can almost hear them purr.
And as I slowly walked through this garden of cats, introduced myself to their personalities, and was greeted warmly by each, I realized how perfectly suited this deck is to a daily draw, meditative or journaling practice. And how healing some of my interactions with these cards have been.
Did you know science has discovered the purr of a cat has tangible health benefits for their owners? This deck is like 48 cats purring at once. Imagine how good you'll feel!
And... it's cat-approved! They each picked a card and tried to carry it off to their respective perches!
"When we commit to any number of self-love and self-care practices they become threads, woven together, to create a net of support for our strength and well-being."
The Moon Deck Guidebook
I ran across this gem of a deck while continuously clicking whatever recommended video YouTube sent my way (as one does after falling down that rabbit hole) and what a pleasure the discovery has been! The Moon Deck, created by author Aarona Ganesan, artist Andrea Keh and strategist Ashley Bruni, embodies an empowering message wrapped in holistic ritual and healing meditation. If you are looking for a deck that offers insights to help transform a wounded soul, to learn the healing art of ritual or to embrace positive daily affirmations, then this is the deck for you.
Let's get the basics out of the way, shall we? The deck arrives in a sturdy wooden box with a wood-burned triple moon design across its lid. The box is valuable for storage but not so great for convenient carry. I recommend a nice pouch (which the box can accommodate). The guidebook is the same size as the cards, so will also travel easily in a pouch, and stores nicely in the box. The 44 oracle cards are slightly larger than standard tarot size, but still quite comfortable in small hands while large enough for requisite eye candy during readings for oneself or others. The card stock is on the thicker side, while allowing the inner riffle-shuffler a pleasant handling experience. The card backs are not exactly reversible, but I admit I've never seen the point of that emphasis anyway, and the artwork is lovely regardless. The guidebook is, for its size, quite meaty, with beautiful interpretations and meditative or ritual practices to incorporate during daily draws.
truly insightful when we allow ourselves the freedom and gift of committing to the message and involving ourselves in our own spiritual progression. I urge you not to seek out images of the cards as I'd hate to deprive you of the experience and joy so immediately accessible when opening and viewing this deck for the first time. There is a love that radiates from these messages and, dare I say, recognizes your spirit immediately as something kindred.
I sometimes tend to find key words and phrases a distraction, but the imagery is inviting enough and the messages kind enough that together they form a very cohesive whole. But, it's not all light and goodness. There is a depth to the messages in this deck that encourages the reader to tackle the shadow, to dive into the darkness then open up and let the light in.
And while I haven't had the opportunity to try it for myself, the Moon Circle details provided in the guidebook are beautiful and such a wonderful addition to the already fulfilling experience this deck provides. I definitely suggest you give the guidebook its due diligence. And, most importantly, "open new channels for meaningful creation" (The Moon Deck Guidebook).
"May we reclaim our power, beauty and magic
one moon phase at a time. Let's howl together."
- Marissa Massie & Rachael Caringella
I admit it... I'm always intrigued by round decks. I've had a brief affair with the Motherpeace Tarot and The Gorgon's Tarot fascinates me still. But there, it seems, my interaction with round decks have become a non-issue, as artists and creators focused their energies and immense talents on standard tarot sizes and shapes or, as I've discovered, decks so large they dwarf my child-sized digits with all the flare and pizazz I've come to expect from amazing artists.
So imagine the depth of my complete joy when I stumbled across the visionary Spirit de la Lune, by Marissa Massie and Rachael Caringella, during (yet another) midnight Google deck spree.
Let's discuss the basics: the packaging is superb. A sturdy round metal tin houses the magical 56-card deck. The lid is secure but easy to open, and the tin is large enough to accommodate a bag if you are as obsessed with organza as I am and must marry it to every deck you own. I am even able to sneak in a small amethyst that rather called to this deck upon arrival. The card stock seems standard. Thin and easy to shuffle, but sufficiently durable, and their size is comfortable for small hands. There is a satin finish to the card stock that lends to the ease of shuffling but does also allow the cards to slip and slide if you bump your reading table. And the card titles are painfully light, small and difficult to read, but I believe once you've familiarized yourself with the deck well enough, that will be mostly inconsequential.
"It is a remembrance. The Moon's currents run through our DNA connecting us back to the wisdom our foremother's knew when the Moon was the guiding force in the night sky."
Spirit de la Lune Guide Book For Lunar Guidance
The guide book is very comprehensive, including spreads for each moon cycle, gemstone associations and reversed meanings. I also like to take note of which direction the cards may be rotated in a spread, if a card is turned more towards one neighboring card than another (not exactly upright nor reversed), and see how that manifests in the meanings. The round shape is not only reminiscent of the moon for which these cards are created, but also lends itself to a multitude of meanings in a reading.
I admit that I do not connect with the mandala artwork. Though beautiful, it doesn't seem to lend itself to intuitive interpretations for me. And, so far, without the card names and keywords, I might be a little less able to grasp their meanings in a spread. So, right now, with my need to reference the guide book frequently, I feel this deck is best used for personal guidance and growth. The moon cycle spreads are each quite unique and allows the reader to enjoy a small ritual with which to connect oneself to lunar energies and has proven to be a unique and fulfilling experience. And you certainly aren't limited to monthly lunar cycle readings. These cards can definitely be enjoyed daily as a ritual or meditative tool.
In all, this is a really lovingly provocative deck. The creators gave a great deal of thought to the intentions and meanings they wished to convey and, if I may be so vaguely esoteric, understand the magic of the Moon. Though it may require, for me, more work and patience than many oracle decks, it is its own system worthy of research and dedication.