Tarot Spreads

Friday the 13th Tarot Spread

October 12, 2017

This is a quick spread I came up with many years ago, complete with original reading from way back in 2008!


I created a quick 2-card Friday the 13th spread. I don't believe this day brings bad luck with it. In fact, my son was born on the 13th, so it's always been a very lucky day for me. So this isn't your run of the mill spooky spread. Leave it to me to create a Pollyanna Friday the 13th spread!

1. What negative superstition (in this case, a belief which attracts bad luck) should I let go of?
2. What good luck is headed my way?

1. What negative superstition should I let go of?
The Secret Witch
The hallway that this witch glides down reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. It has a very mysterious and whimsical feeling to it. The kind of enigmatic feeling where you're not sure what's going on, but you're completely intrigued. I need to release the feeling I have that the answers I need are outside my grasp. There's something I've been trying to figure out, a method of manifestation, and it's so far eluded me, which frustrated me. I know there is an easier way to manifest what I want, a way that is far easier than anyone else is teaching. The fact that I have this inner knowing makes me believe wholeheartedly that what I'm looking for does exist. I feel like the answer is going to be so simple that I have probably overlooked it many times. The Secret Witch tells me to surrender the belief that this secret is beyond my ability to figure out. It will come to me, and will not remain a secret forever. (Kinda funny that this card spoke to me about manifestation, with the play on words ... The Secret Witch, and "The Secret" book/movie which is about manifestation.)

2. What good luck is headed my way?
The Eternal Witch
This witch speaks to me of unlimited possibilities. No goal is too far to reach, nothing is outside my scope of potential. The book says that when this card appears, magic is cast upon your dilemma, and your wishes will come true. It even says that eternal, light-giving forces bring you deserved luck! A luck card falling in the good luck position... I'd say that's lucky indeed! I get a very liberating sense from this card. The Eternal Witch is flying into space, and is free to go wherever in the world she wishes. I'd love the freedom to fly wherever I wanted to go! It'd be nice if this luck headed my way will give me some expanded liberty.


I wish you a Happy Friday the 13th, and hope you enjoy using the spread yourself!

© This is my original spread creation. If you use it on your blog/twitter/webstite/insta/etc., please credit AND tag me. Thank you!

This spread was originally published on my previous blog (Tarot Dame) on 6/13/08.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: The Oracle of the Innocent Heart

October 07, 2017

The Oracle of the Innocent Heart is the sweetest deck, created by Scott Alexander King, illustrated by Sharon Mcleod and published by Animal Dreaming Publishing.

The Cards
The 45 cards measure 4 1/8" x 5 1/2" and have a glossy finish. They are flexible enough to be shuffled vertically for those, like me, who find it difficult to riffle shuffle large cards in the usual, horizontal manner. The backs are not reversible, but the deck isn't meant to be read with reversals. The image on the back can also be found on the card titled The Swallows, a girl with flowing hair, surrounded by swallows, wearing a gorgeous picturesque dress.

You may be surprised to hear what I have to say about the borders. If you have followed my reviews, you will know that I prefer all my decks to be borderless. I don't like borders, especially intrusive ones. These cards have a deep red border, and inside this is a thin black border, and inside that is a huge illustrated border. The illustrated borders are busy and take up a good portion of the card. But I don't mind them! More than that, I find them charming. I like them! They fit very well with the theme of the deck. And they are black and white, so they aren't overly distracting, if you can believe it. They sort of provide a background ambiance. I like the contrast of the outer red borders with the black and white illustrated borders.

The cards and book are housed in a very nice, sturdy box with a lift-off top. The top has half-circle cutouts on two sides for easier lifting.

The deck comes with a surprise twist. It illustrates (and the book elaborates on) slices of life from the point of view of a fictitious seven-year old girl named Saffron who has a five-year old brother named Oddley. This is such a darling idea, and it makes the deck ever so much more enchanting.

Some cards are busier than others. Some have very simple illustrations on the cards, with ample empty white space, while others fill up every bit of the card with a myriad of images in a single card. Some cards are filled with color (the most colorful card being the gorgeous Sunrise, Sunset card), but most just have splotches of color here and there. I love it all. I love the contrast.

I love that the Spiders card is #8, because it discusses, among other things, how spiders relate to good luck and the number 8, due to its eight legs and (usually) eight eyes. The placement in the deck was genius.

There are a LOT of animals in the deck, with birds taking the lead by far. There are far too many animals to list, but a few include the koala, spiders, sheep, rabbits, bugs, deer, cats, horses, a unicorn, bats... and on and on. There are ten cards with birds in the title, and many, many more birds featured throughout the rest of the deck. There are two fox cards and a Little Fox Girl card. One of the fox cards is called Mr. Todd, and is about a very particular fox. The one titled The Fox revolves around a scene featuring the fox in the book The Little Prince. The Little Fox Girl reminds me of a Kitsune, though she is not labeled as such in the book. The Little Fox Girl is a character in a dream of Saffron's.

I love the cards featuring items such as The Cuckoo Clock, The Old Rusty Key, The Quilt, The Tyre Swing, The Apple Tree, The Wishing Well, Love Letters and The Nest. So many of these things bring me right back to my own childhood.

I find it amusing that the Grandad card is portrayed by a rooster (who reminds Saffron of her grandfather) while the lovely Grandma card features an illustration of the children's grandmother from her younger days when she was a Flapper.

There are a lot of fun, magical cards like The Gypsy Wagon, featuring a gypsy tarot reader (my fave!), Halloween (with pumpkins, bats, a black cat and a little witch girl flying on a broom), Magick, Faerie Stone, and Faerie Cats.

The image on the gorgeous Mask of Sorrow card calls to my Scorpio soul, while the Regret card adds a sprinkle of melancholy that you can't deny is a part of childhood and life.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen was a card titled Saffron, as there is an Oddley card.

The deck includes such a vast array of both simple and magical childhood experiences, encompassing many different emotions in the process.

How it Reads
For my first reading with the deck, I drew The Little Brown Hen, which speaks of how abundance isn't just found in money. How "having enough" is a form of abundance. It's one we rarely acknowledge in our never-ending quest for "more". It is also about resourcefulness and self-sufficiency and sharing and using one thing to make another. To value what you already have will ensure you never run out. And lastly, it reminds us that the things of real value can't be bought. Like love and laughter.

Then the next day, I drew Spiders which talked about money, abundance, good luck and success. And as synchronicity would have it, spiders were appearing everywhere for me that week (in cards, songs, real life, on my Instagram feed)! So I was pretty overjoyed to read the passage that went with this card.

The next day I drew The Tooth Faerie which talked about true wealth being love, not money. This card is about saving but also spending on something your heart desires. And how abundance comes when you realize that true wealth lies in loving who and what you already have in your life. Money is attracted to one who already feels like the luckiest person in the world.

On the fourth day, I drew the Little Brown Hen again! I was being guided to embrace abundance here and now and that love, support and laughter are the greatest forms of wealth (all of which I am rich in).

On day five, I drew Sheep, with the message of going your own way. I was given the message: "Don't blindly follow the herd like sheep. If you follow, know why you do so. Trust in your own authenticity." I've always been a non-conformist. It isn't always easy marching to the beat of your own drum, but it has always been for my best. Also, there's nothing wrong with being part of a huge herd, as long as your heart and soul know you belong there and want to be there.

And the next day, I drew... The Little Brown Hen! For the third time that week!

My last draw that week was The Gentle Hart. I was feeling down and sad the morning I drew the card which would reflect my mood. This card is about sadness, feeling lost and not your whole self. But it is also about the sweetness found in sadness. The little things you notice when you're sad that you are usually too busy to notice. Sadness can bring you into a space of greater awareness. And when you have had your fill, positive imagination can pull you back to a less painful/hopeless place, back to where you feel more empowered. It's okay to feel sad. In fact, a good hearty cry is cathartic and healing. Life is just ups and downs, all of which you have survived. This card came up for me at the perfect time. It let me know it was okay to feel sad and that this too would pass.

Of my seven daily draws, five of them were about abundance and money, with a single card appearing three times! And as it turns out, less than a month later, I unexpectedly interviewed for a job for the first time in almost 20 years of being a stay at home mom! The cards were gently preparing me for re-entering the world of paychecks before I even saw it coming!

This deck reads less like a form of divination and more like a return to childhood values and perspective. It has you looking at life through a different lens than what we are used to as adults. It returns you to a simpler time and from there you can see your situation differently.

The Book
The 176-page book that comes with this deck is so brilliant. It is written from the viewpoint of a 7 year old girl! It is so very enchanting. I love it to pieces! It's a really nice bound book.

There is a Table of Contents at the beginning of the book which lists the cards in numerical (not alphabetical) order. The Introduction begins by telling the reader what sets this deck apart from all the other oracles. Then there is a section on Saffron Melancholy and her little brother Oddley Gray, the fictitious main characters around whom this deck centers.

Next is a section on how to read the cards, with 4 spreads:

  • 3-card "Saffron's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Spread (a Past-Present-Future spread)
  • 5-card "The Five Golden Tickets Spread"
  • 10-card "Saffron's Animal Friends Spread"
  • 3-card "The Elders Spread"

The spread titled Saffron's Animal Friends Spread is especially interesting, as you look for the first animal that catches your eye in each card, and that animal is the one who walks with you through each position in the spread. Most cards have animals in them, and if not, the borders do.

There are a few pages dedicated to each card. Each passage begins with a small black and white image of the card, followed by the title and one-sentence quote or key phrase. Then the narrative for the card is given from the Saffron's point of view. This, as I have mentioned, is absolutely adorable. It is the most unique take on a deck book I have ever seen. It is written in conversational tone, as a child would talk to you. It is so refreshing and really captures you and brings you into alignment with the spirit of the deck. Each passage ends with "Thoughts to Ponder" with a list of key things to remember about the card's message.

The book ends with a page each on the writer and artist.

Final Thoughts
This really is the sweetest, most darling deck. It evokes the innocence and wonder of a natural childhood. It is such a unique deck, really one of a kind. There's nothing else like it out there. If you ever feel overwhelmed by too much adulting, you can turn to this deck and return to the world of a child. It allows you to step back and look at things from a more open and naive perspective. Sometimes we overthink things. These cards help us remember what it is to just feel things as they are. It's a return to a simpler time. And it offers a fresh perspective from which to view our issues.

Deck: The Oracle of the Innocent Heart, by Scott Alexander King, illustrated by Sharon Mcleod, and published by Animal Dreaming Publishing.

My Decks

Teaser: My 2 new oracle decks!

October 02, 2017

October Oracle (left) and Haunted Oracle (right)

I have an exciting announcement!

Coming Friday the 13th of October 2017... the release of my two new oracle decks!

Both decks are suited for Autumn (my very favorite season).

The October Oracle is a fall-themed deck, while the Haunted Oracle is a darker, more sinister deck for those who aren't afraid of the dark (or who are, but enjoy it). My nicknames for these two new decks are Scorpio Lite and Scorpio Dark 2.0.

More detailed information coming soon! Follow me on Instagram to see more of the decks before their release: @thebohemianess . And find the decks more easily with the hashtags: #OctoberOracle and #HauntedOracle .


P.S. The Sepiafoto Lenormand, my first deck baby, will also be returning this month! Woot! #SepiafotoLenormand

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Sacred Power Reading Cards

October 01, 2017

Sacred Power Reading Cards is a high-vibe deck by Anna Stark, illustrated by Louis Dyer and published by Rockpool Publishing. These cards are gorgeous links to all types of sacred, spiritual, and soulful attributes. I could feel my vibe ascending just by looking through the cards for the first time.

The Cards
There are 36 cards, measuring 3.75" x 5.5". They have a glossy finish which looks really nice with the images and colors in the deck. I have a difficult time shuffling cards of this large size normally, but thankfully these cards are really flexible, so I can easily shuffle them vertically. That goes a long way in my appreciation of a large deck. The backs are not reversible (though close enough to make it difficult to tell reversals from upright cards), but the deck isn't meant to be read with reversals. The backs feature a flower of life pattern in the center of a swirly design.

The cards are blissfully borderless on three sides. The titles on the bottom of the cards are within a curved border (making a potential trimming difficult). I don't mind the bottom borders though, as they are a bit transparent, so you can still see the card behind them.

The deck is housed in a very nice sturdy box which opens magnetically. I love these types of boxes which offer quick ease of access while keeping the box firmly closed when stored. There is a cardboard insert where the cards sit. I have removed this insert, because the cards slide under it and get stuck, making them a hassle to remove.

As I mentioned in the opening of this review, the first time I looked through these cards, I felt my vibes lifting just looking at the images. This deck is definitely high vibe, and one I highly recommend if you are looking to ascend into a higher frequency.

My favorite card is Soul Journey, showing souls walking the path to the temple of the Akashic records. It's impossible for me to look at this card and not feel lighter.

The Illusion card has an Escher design vibe going on, reminding me also of the movie The Labyrinth. The Community card is so gorgeous and mesmerizing. It elicits a powerful feeling of tribe and celebration and honoring traditions. The colors of the sky in the Rest card delight my very soul! The Self Love card is genius, showing the outline of a small figure of a girl radiating outward within the body of a woman. The images are very evocative.

There are a lot of cards featuring both real and mythical animals (butterflies, rainbow dragon, owl, white tiger, wolf, phoenix, bear, eagle, dolphins, deer, horses, etc.).

I love the variety of images in this deck. There are humans, animals, angels, goddesses, devas, nature scenes, along with some symbolic imagery. The two goddesses in the deck are Isis in the Lightning card and Quan Yin in the Compassion card. There are cards with general character types (a wizard in the Manifestation card, a shaman/medicine man in the Medicine card and a knight in the Protection card). I enjoy that the cards are not monotonous in subject, yet the cards work seamlessly together.

How it Reads
Before I even read with this deck, I received a message from it. I had just received the deck in the mail and was in the backyard taking a photo of the deck to share on Instagram. As I sat down on the grass, I was stung by a wasp hiding in the grass. What did it mean to be stung while photographing sacred power cards? Anna Stark, the author of the deck, explained to me that "wasp medicine brings news of beginnings and to share in insight into the soul, fertility and creation." This made sense to me because at the time, I was preparing to move, which was definitely a new beginning. (I didn't end up moving at the time, but soon thereafter, I did unexpectedly get a new job for the first time in almost two decades, so that was definitely a huge new beginning.)

My first reading with the deck was synchronous. When I woke that morning, I thought about the deck and imagined drawing the Animal Kingdom card. Hours later, when I took the deck out, I drew the Devas card, but my finger lingered on another. It was the Animal Kingdom card! These two cards work really well together, telling us to tune into the spirits of nature, animals and crystals. It was a day to get away from the stress of human life for awhile. And it was the perfect day for it. Instead of being in the 100's and sunny, it was overcast and in the 70's! It was gorgeous out. I went for a walk with two of my kiddos and we saw many animals (a horse, a spider, a beetle, and many birds). Inspired by the Quartz Crystal deva on the card, I took my favorite clear quartz pieces with me to charge on my favorite willow tree. The cards were a wonderful inspiration and they played out so well on our nature walk.

My next daily draw seemed at first glance so very counter-intuitive to what I felt I should be doing that day. I had so much to do in the next few weeks, it was overwhelming. So when the Rest card came up to tell me to do the opposite of what I had planned (telling me to rest and play, when I felt I needed to push on), instead of dismissing it, I gave it all the weight in the world. (This is one of those instances where the cards can really change how you live your practical life, for the better. Especially when a card comes up that feels like it can't possibly be the right advice... that is the time to stop and pay close attention. It is probably just what you need, but aren't able to see it for yourself.) Because of course I needed to rest. Of course I was too stressed out. Of course everything could wait a day. So that night, instead of all the packing I had planned, I decided to take a bath (inspired by all the water in the card) and sit down to watch the episode of Game of Thrones I missed the night before. My world wouldn't implode (it didn't), and I would most likely be refreshed and better able to tackle my projects the next day with less stress (I was).

The next day I drew the Retreat card. Another card telling me to slow my roll. The advice was to spend time alone in nature. To get back into the flow of natural cycles and disconnect from tech a bit. I vowed to try to spend less wasteful time that day on tech and get outdoors for a bit. It was very interesting how much the cards were guiding me to take it easy when I had so much to get done in a short period of time.

I drew the Lightning card the next day (which I liken to the Tower card in the tarot, but for good). But nothing really happened that day. This was the only day that the card didn't really fit for me. It happens.

The day after that, I drew the Transformation card featuring a phoenix. I also drew a tarot card from another deck from the Wands suit, featuring match sticks, as well as an oracle card from another deck called the Fire Faery. It was a very fiery day in my cards. They were telling me it was time to make like a phoenix and set fire to what had been holding me back, rising triumphant and renewed out of the ashes. I had been getting these resting cards, but now clearly the energy had shifted and I was getting a green light to go! It was a great feeling to live more intuitively, following the signs, counter to what my ego was telling me I "should" be doing. There was an ironic sense of power in giving up the need for total control and finding a natural flow. These cards were instrumental to that process.

The next day I drew the beautiful Tree of Life card. The message was to be present. Live for the day, for the hour, for the very moment. After drawing this card, I read a passage in a Florence Scovel Shinn book that complimented the message beautifully: "When you realize that time and space are but a dream, you live suspended in the moment, and time can never touch you." I loved the synchronicity of these messages. A second message I got from the card was to consider the *whole* when making decisions. To be aware of how a decision will affect various parts of my life, rather than laser focusing on the results in a single area. The amount of water a tree's roots receive affects the trunk, branches and leaves too. I was struck by the feeling that this was very important advice for me at the time.

I was so happy to draw the Community card one day, because I love the vibe of this card so much. A tribal dance around a fire at night, the smoke making magical symbols in the air. I'm not a social gal, so community isn't a real thing in my life. I do enjoy my Instagram community though. This card is like the popular saying "your vibe attracts your tribe". My tribe is my kids. The passage for the card touches on the feeling of being born into the wrong family, which is something I absolutely can relate to. I love the passages about being different, shining your true unique self. It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss quote, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.". This Community card was also a very timely draw for the current events in the U.S. We have been seeing masses of people coming together in love to fight all the horrid racial events. First with the Muslim travel ban, then with the Nazis. The number of people publicly standing up for what's right far outnumber the people spewing garbage. The majority of us, as a whole, are good people, and unfortunately sometimes it takes attempted division to bring people closer together. This Community card reminded me of the love that resulted from the hate.

One day I drew Exploration and Soul Journey. Soul Journey, as I mentioned, is my favorite card in the deck, so I was excited to have it appear for me. These cards urged me to really explore more of this area of my life. To be brave and soldier on through my current life lesson.

Another day, I drew the Affirmations card, which is primarily about the power of I AM affirmations, although it also discusses turning negativity into more positive thinking in other ways. I AM affirmations don't work for me. I can never quite fall for them. But I can and do affirm things I want to become or manifest in other ways. This gorgeous card is a wonderful reminder of the magnificent power of the mind.

My most recent draw was when I was feeling out of sorts, surrounded by chaos, and needed a calming message. I picked this deck and drew Illusion, which speaks of distractions. Yes! I wasn't able to see clearly because of all the distractions in my life at the time. It helped me to see them for what they were, thanks to this card.

I have found that these cards focus on positivity and ways to enrich your practical life. I wisely chose to follow the advice they imparted, especially when it didn't seem to make sense to do so. In doing so, I was able to live more in a natural flow, rather than struggling upstream.

The Book
The 82-page book has a thick, sturdy, glossy cover. It is bound with the title and author's name on the binding.

The book begins with a Table of Contents, listing the cards in alphabetical order. There are two pages of acknowledgments and a 5-page Introduction. The Introduction contains a section on How to Use the Cards (connecting with your deck, healing and meditation, and three spreads). The spreads include a one-card reading, a 3-card Power Reading, and a 6-card Power Pyramid Healing Spread.

The cards are featured in the book in alphabetical order, each card getting two pages. On the left page is the card number, title, a 2-sentence meaning, and a full color image of the card (smaller than the actual cards, but still a good size). The passage on the card begins below the image card and continues onto the next page. Each passage ends with an affirmation specific to the card.

The passages for the cards give you much to think about, and often helpfully give you several different interpretations, along with ways to take the card's message into your practical life. This is great because I like my cards to affect change, to inspire me to live better, make better and more intuitive choices, and these cards do just that.

Final Thoughts
This is such a high vibe deck! If you're feeling anxious or grumpy or just generally blah, just taking this deck out and looking through the cards will take you to a higher place, without even doing a reading! And when you do read with it, the deck encourages you to live more intuitively, to flow with the seasons and natural rhythms of life. It's like having a really wise and beautiful friend telling you exactly what you need to hear at any given moment. And not just to placate you, but to actually help lift you up. I have reached for this deck during a stressful time because it was the only one I felt could give me exactly what I needed to get into a better head space. I was not wrong. I highly recommend this deck to anyone. It is a fantastic source of light!

Deck: Sacred Power Reading Cards, by Anna Stark and Louis Dyer, published by Rockpool Publishing.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Mystical Wisdom

August 14, 2017

Mystical Wisdom is an uplifting card deck by Gaye Guthrie, intricately illustrated by Josephine Wall and published by US Games Systems, Inc. The cards offer guidance from angels, fairies, mythical creatures and animal spirits.

The Cards
The 46 cards measure 3.75" x 5.5". With cards of this size, I am unable to riffle shuffle them comfortably in the usual manner. But luckily, the cards are flexible enough to riffle shuffle vertically. This is so important to me, because I live for riffle shuffling.

The cards are borderless on three sides (yay!) with bottom borders of various colors throughout the deck. The bottom border features the card name and key phrase. The backs are a soft antiquated pink/purple with a reversible design. There is a copyright marking on the lower right edge of the backs, so they are not entirely reversible. The cards are not glossy, but there is a slight sheen to them in the light.

The cards and booklet are housed in a strong and sturdy cardboard box with cutouts for ease in lifting the top off.

The illustrations are very intricate, colorful and busy. When first going through the deck, I thought it was going to be way too chaotic for me to read with. And I still can't see myself using this deck for big multi-card spreads for this reason. But for single card pulls or very small layouts, the amount of detail in each card is wonderful. Some of the cards are less busy than others, but most of them have a lot going on. So for a single question, there are so many places for your intuitive eye to fall on. There are many layers to the answers you will receive.

The majority of the cards are concepts such as Resilience, Illusion, Intuition, Money, Letting Go, etc. There are also seven animal (both real and mythical) cards (Dragonfly, Owl, Dolphin, Dove, Peacock, Unicorn, Dragon) in addition to an Animal Bond card. There are two Archangel cards: Raphael and Gabriel. I do wonder why only two of the Archangels were included, and why these two were specifically selected. There is also an Angel of Miracles card.

Two cards I really like in the deck are titled Seven Heavenly Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins. I'm a sucker for very specific opposites in decks, and these are such an interesting and unique inclusion.

There is a "Children" card that I find limiting. The book has a 4-sentence description of this card, along with the key phrase "Know that your children are protected" and mantra "My children are happy and safe". The card lets you know that God and the angels are protecting your children. What about people with no children? There is no alternate, metaphorical meaning given for this card. When decks include a card like this, exclusive to a certain group of the population, I scratch my head a bit.

All the main characters in the deck are women. The only men are found in the distant backgrounds of some of the cards, as side characters.

The illustrations are packed with dream-like fantasy elements. You will find unicorns, mermaids, a winged centaur, a young man with antlers, a deer/bird hybrid, a dragon with dragonfly wings, fish with butterfly wings, fairies, and a leprechaun (?), just for starters. You'll also see Victorian age London, romantic Renaissance scenes, fantasy nature elements, an Oscar (Academy Award) statue, castles and spiral staircases (love a spiral staircase!). There is just so much to see and explore in these cards. I love that you can definitely find the unexpected within this deck. From a distance, the cards look a bit similar to one another, but you will be delighted upon closer inspection on the surprising details you will find.

The beautiful illustrations and colors transport you into another world. A surreal place where your intuition can work wonders if you let it roam free.

How it Reads
My first reading with this deck amazed me. That morning, I had asked another oracle deck how I could change my relationship with money. I received cards that told me to stop believing I had to conform to society's rules about money. I needed to shift my mindset and allow myself to know that nonconformity and originality can be attractive to the energy of money. That night, I took the Mystical Wisdom deck out for the first time and simply asked what I needed to know. I drew the cards Money and Originality. They gave me the exact same message I received earlier that day from another deck! Down to the same exact words that had come to me! I was blown away.

For my second draw, I pulled a single card and drew the gorgeous Illusion card. In the card, I saw the message that "something is not as it seems" and that unveiling this truth would be of great benefit. I saw that the illusion might be difficult to penetrate, as it had been something I viewed as a part of myself. The mirror image in the card is actually not a mirror image! The lady's face looks forward, while the mirror image is turned more to the side. In this, I saw that when we identify with an illusion, we often can't see it.

One day I drew the Good Fortune card and I received a wonderful package in the mail, and also very exciting news via email. The card hit the nail on the head that day!

The next day I drew the Choices card, and I absolutely was faced with a very difficult decision to make that day. This card helped me make the right decision, because it reminded me to make the right choice for ME. I was very grateful for drawing this perfect card for the day. I did as the card suggested.

The day after that, I drew the Children card, which says my children are protected. And wouldn't you know it, the decision I made with the help of the previous card's message (it involved my kids) resulted in a situation that blew away into nothing, and everything worked out for the best. Another spot on card!

Then, the next day I drew the Choices card again. And again, I had a decision to make that I was going back and forth on. I was trying to be lenient and kind, resulting in letting someone treat me like a doormat. So when this card appeared, I remembered to make a decision that was right for me, so I did. And less than two weeks later, the situation ended up turning out in my favor as a result of standing up for myself.

The day after that, I was still fretting about my decision. I was still worked up about it, worrying whether my action would result in justice. I drew the card Letting Go. I had to laugh at this point at how accurate this deck was for my life. The card told me to let the situation go, and expect the best to happen. So I did. And it did.

I had Archangel Raphael come up one day to encourage me to heal my negative thoughts, something I can always, always use a reminder of. The Gratitude card showed up the next day, which I felt went hand in hand with Raphael's message the day before.

So as you can see, the card pulls I did with this deck were eerily on point. They were super helpful and a true blessing for me that week. I made actual choices based on the guidance from the cards and I was rewarded with positive outcomes in every instance.

The Book
The 64 page booklet is a stapled book (no binding) with a thick, glossy cardstock cover. There is a Table of Contents listing the cards in alphabetical order. There is a two-page section on how to use the deck. Then it jumps right into the card meanings. I love when booklets don't beat around the bush, and get straight to the meanings.

Every card has its own page. At the top of the page is a small, cropped section of the card image, in black and white. The full card is not shown. Beneath this is the card title and key phrase (also listed on the card itself). Next is a paragraph on the card's meaning. The meanings are very uplifting, inspiring, motivating, and empowering. At the bottom of the page is a mantra specific to each card. For example, the mantra for the Good Fortune card is "I trust in the magic of life to fulfill my desires.".

At the end of the book are a few spreads:

  • Single card reading
  • 3-Card Spread (for the beginning, middle and end of the week)
  • 4-Card Spread (Past, Present, Future, Outcome)
  • 12-Card Celtic Cross Spread (yes, 12 card, not 10 card)

The booklet ends with a page each dedicated to the author and illustrator, and two blank pages for notes.

Final Thoughts
This deck is beautiful, but it is so much more than that. There are surprises at every turn in the imagery. I am delighted with the sheer magnitude of variety in the illustrations. The cards have an energy that I was able to click with effortlessly. If there is something specific I am dealing with, the cards will address that exact situation with guidance that, when followed, always leads to my highest good. If it is a day with not much going on, it will give me a general piece of advice that lifts me up and makes me a better version of myself.

I personally will continue to use this deck for single card draws myself. There is enough to go with in a single card that I feel pulling more might make my readings feel rushed, murky and less complete. Using this deck, I prefer to engage fully with one card at a time, unless another question spawns from that reading.

I thought this deck might be just a bunch of pretty pictures with no substance. I couldn't have been more mistaken. I was shocked to find how amazingly the deck read for me, how it addressed my specific situations with incredible precision and true wisdom. I am so grateful for the paths it led me on during the time I worked with it exclusively, and that I was wise enough to trust its guidance.

Deck: Mystical Wisdom Card Deck, by Gaye Guthrie, illustrated by Josephine Wall, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: The Darkness of Light Tarot

July 13, 2017

The Darkness of Light Tarot is visually stunning self-published tarot deck by Tony DiMauro. The premise of the deck is that there is always balance between light and dark. There is always a bit of light in the darkness, and darkness in the light.

The Cards
The cards measure approximately 2 3/4" x 4 3/4". The backs are reversible and feature a horizontal image of two wolf heads. The cards have a light sheen to them. The borders are black, a brilliant choice, as white would have given such a different feel to this deck. The titles are set along the top border. One of the unique aspects of this deck is in the titles. The Majors are titled in Italian (for historical and personal reasons), and the Minors in English.

The card stock is okay, but not the greatest. It shuffles very nicely and comfortably, but after my very first (riffle) shuffle, there was already some chipping. After a couple weeks with it, it is already showing wear and tear, with many of the edges starting to come apart. I think cards with black borders tend to show wear more quickly. So the cards won't stay pristine for long. I'm not thrilled about this, but I happen to like the look of a well worn deck, and I think the style of the artwork in this deck lends itself to looking especially magical when worn.

One of my cards (the Ace of Cups) came with a printing error on the back, a white splotch at the bottom of the card. So if I were to fan out the cards, I would know that card was the Ace of Cups from the back. I don't generally fan out the cards in a reading, so it's not really an issue.

The cards come housed in a black matte tuck box. There is a warning on the website (darknesstarot.com) about opening the box. It is tough to open without danger of ripping the top, so you do need to open it carefully. The top of mine is warped now. The deck also comes with a nice cotton drawstring bag printed with the wolf design from the backs of the cards.

The order the cards come in is deliberately different from the way you may be used to. You will first see the Major Arcana, but then the suits move in reverse order through the seasons (Blades, Coins, Cups, then Wands) as though time were moving backwards. And in each suit, the cards are arranged alphabetically (excluding the numbered cards). So instead of Ace through King, you will have 2-10, then Ace, King, Knight, Page, Queen. One of the reasons for this ordering is because the artist wanted each suit to end with the Queen as the final authority, so instead of just switching the places of the Queen and King, he reordered it entirely. This way, among the numbered cards, Aces are "high", making it feel more aligned with the Courts than on the opposite end of the suit. This reordering also turns the initial power structure on its head, beginning with the King and ending with the Queen.

Ultimately, the reason for this reordering has to do with balance and opposites in nature, as with light and dark (the very theme of the deck itself). There will be more detailed information on this when the guidebook is released. The artist has very deliberate reasons for doing everything he does. It is astounding how much thought he has put into the execution of this deck, from start to finish. Even with something so temporary like the ordering of the cards, which will disappear as quickly as a sand castle, with the very first shuffle.

The cards are dark, and mostly blacks, whites and greys, with small splashes of color here and there. The most vibrant cards are in the Wands suit. The art style is different from any other deck I have seen. It was painted both traditionally and digitally. I am magnetically drawn to the knife painting style of the backgrounds. It's what first piqued my interest in the deck, while the rest of the artwork maintains my captivation.

The suits are named Blades, Coins, Cups, and Wands. They follow seasons different from what I am used to. In this deck, the correspondences are as follows:

Blades: Winter
Coins: Autumn
Cups: Summer
Wands: Spring

I am used to Wands (fire) representing the heat of Summer, and the Cups (water) representing Spring. There is a wonderful plus side of Wands being Spring in this deck... the coloring! The vibrant pinks and beautiful flowers of the Wands suit make this one of my favorite Wands suit of any deck. It is such a lovely vacation from the yellow and oranges you usually see in the suit. I don't use seasonal timing in my readings, so it doesn't make any difference to me where the seasons are applied. An interesting thing I learned was that the artist painted each suit in its corresponding season.

There are so many cards I want to discuss. The breathtakingly gorgeous Universe card is one of my favorites from any deck. The sash translates into: "All light will turn to darkness, and in all darkness, there is found light." The Chariot card is so fantastic. In most decks the Chariot feels ironically lifeless, dull, static and boring, despite its intended meaning. This Chariot has life in it, power, beauty, movement and soul. It has a story behind it. I love it.

The Magician is hot. I'll just leave that there, with my full gratitude. The beautiful Empress is designed after one of my favorite artists, John William Waterhouse. The Emperor and Hierophant are usually my least favorite cards in a deck (the ones I certainly relate to the least) and they came up for me together one day. They are both fascinating to look at. The Emperor is such an interesting character. He has to be one of my all-time favorite Emperors, if not my very favorite. I love his stance and the expression on his face. The Hierophant appears to have only one leg, and I don't know if that was intentional. Whether it is or not, I only see the shape of one leg beneath his robe, and I rather like that quirk. It leaves me wondering what his whole story is.

There are a couple cards where the person's face is washed out (Temperance and Page of Blades). I love this so much, but I can't say why. It lends a creepy atmosphere (Temperance much more so) which I am really drawn to.

The Five of Wands is absolutely beautiful to look at, but it doesn't give me the feeling of competition and fighting you usually see in this card, so it's one I struggle with. I am fascinated with the Six of Cups. It has a strangely eerie feeling to me, despite being a generally positive card. It gives me the feeling of a bittersweet happy ending to a psychological horror/thriller movie, where the kid is alive at the end, but has just gone through some seriously traumatizing shit.

The Eight of Cups is gorgeous, and the Nine of Cups is one of my favorite Nine of Cups ever. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but I just love this dude so much. He has a really chill vibe. He looks like if Dumbledore was a muggle.

The Four of Blades is brilliant, taking place at a gravestone. It is a card of rest. In this case, eternal rest. As rested as you get. The Six of Blades has a stunning gothic vibe. The Ace of Wands is beautiful, and the Ace of Coins is simple, yet I find it positively captivating.

I know the Three of Coins (showing three masked, caped men walking towards you) absolutely has a backstory that I am dying to hear. The Six of Coins has a similar feel. As if you've walked in in the middle of a movie, not knowing what you've missed. There are a lot of cards that beg further questioning, so many details left open for interpretation and I love that. I will discuss another example of this further on in the review.

There are some cards that I can't completely make out in the darkness of the image, and some where the dimensions seem off to me. For example, it is really hard for me to make out what the patch of snow is resting on in the Five of Coins. It looks like it is floating in mid-air. It comes across much more clear in the online images. Also, the left leg of the man in the Ten of Swords appears to be missing a calf. It looks like his thigh just turns into a very large foot at the knee. It must be an optical illusion I can't make sense of for myself.

I do believe I saw somewhere that the artist actually sculpted the faces for the Star, Moon and Sun cards. There are so many levels of fascination to this deck. There are several cards with a dog in it, and it appears to be the same dog throughout the deck, which I thought was a really cool touch. Also, the deck is filled with Easter eggs (hidden references). Among them, the artist promised a piece from art history in every suit, the Three of Coins being one of them.

The Pages and Knights are evenly gendered, each having two males and two females. At least, I assume there are two male Knights, as their heads are covered with armor helmets. And the Page of Blades has a blurred out face, but I will assume it is a male, to make sense of the gender equality.

The Page of Wands reminds me of an actor, but I can't place him. The Knight of Cups is simply wonderful, as is the King of Coins, both so unique and mesmerizing.

The Kings, I read on Tony's Instagram page, may be seen (up to your interpretation, of course) as the same man at different points in his life. I thought this was a lovely idea, and would have loved to have seen the same age/maturity progression with the Queens.

How it Reads
My first reading with this deck was a Mind-Body-Spirit reading that was on point. In the Mind position, I drew the Eight of Wands, which was indicative of the crazy pace of my monkey mind. And it is this card I drew that I want to discuss further. The Eight of Wands is a perfect example of a card that begs many questions, and is open to many interpretations. The man stands with a bow aimed, but the bow has no string and he has no arrow, though his arm is cocked, ready to let go. Is he practicing using visualization? Are those branches (wands) above his head going to be made into arrows? What about the string? Are the string and arrow invisible because Wands is the spiritual suit, and it is not about physical action, but unseen action? Has he already let the arrow fly, and it was so fast and powerful that it took the bow's string with it? Does he not have the necessary materials ready because everything has just happened too fast (great speed being a traditional meaning for this card)? There is so much that can be interpreted from this image alone.

I found that for my daily draws, most of my readings produced brilliant philosophical thoughts, rather than divination for the day. And as soon as I turned the cards over, I heard the messages in my head. One day I drew the Nine of Cups and Seven of Cups and I heard "If you could have anything you wanted, what would you choose? Now how about this? You can have anything you want. Just choose!"

The next day I drew the Hierophant and the Emperor, and like I mentioned earlier, I normally can't relate to either of these two guys. They are like white noise when they come up in readings for me. But I like their depictions in this deck, they feel more approachable than usual. The Hierophant appeared to be channeling divine wisdom, and his arm stretched out of the card towards the Emperor, who was backing away slightly like "You want me to do WHAT now?" The cards spoke to me of a power struggle, illustrating my need to either decide between two approaches to something, or to blend two approaches for a compromise, perhaps being open to bending my own rules a bit to allow for a new way of doing or seeing things.

One morning I drew two cards (Six of Cups and the Moon) right after waking up from a dream. The Moon card can represent dreams, and the illustration on the Six of Cups was so reminiscent of the dream I had just woken up from!

The next day I drew two cards, along with two oracle cards and they all read together beautifully. I always like to pair tarot decks with oracles to see if they play nicely with others, and this one did not disappoint. The tarot cards I drew were Strength and the Tower, and along with the oracle cards, the message I received was one that ended up being eerily relevant in the coming days. It was about the strength it takes to start all over from scratch, when you have come so far. Knowing you will be better off, happier in the long run if you start all over from square one, even though you might be so close to the (much crappier) finish line right now. The message was to follow the calling of the heart instead of following progress just for progress' sake. And it was one I really needed to hear in the coming days.

The day after that, I drew The Five of Blades and the Magician and had another wise message come through me that I wouldn't know I'd need until that night. And boy, did I ever need to hear it (along with the one from the previous day)! This pair told me, "When you feel like you are at an unfair disadvantage, remember your power. Reclaim your inner fire. You can turn anything around with the power of your mind." That evening, I had a major Tower moment (predicted the day before) and this two-card reading saved my spirit from being crushed. It kept me strong and inspired me to keep my head up and stay in my power. I am so extremely thankful for that. This was one of those important moments when the tarot really, truly made an impact in my life. And that sweetheart of a Magician came up for me again the next day, as a beautiful reminder.

I had another reading that incredibly echoed an epic reading I did with another deck the week before, confirming the importance of the message and the progress I was making.

I did a few more readings with the deck, and for daily draws, I would always get a piece of sage wisdom that I would hear in my head as soon as I turned the cards over. And in a reading with deliberate questions and spread positions, I would receive relevant information and smart advice.

In the eleven readings I have done with this deck before sitting down to write this review, I never once drew a Court card. So, amazingly, I can't comment on how the Courts read for me at this time. I can only say that they are gorgeous.

There is no accompanying LWB at this time. The artist is working on a book with a tentative release goal of Fall 2017. It will most likely be a free PDF download from his website, with a fancy printed copy for sale for collectors. I cannot wait to read the book. Having had several conversations with Tony, I know him to be a very detail-oriented artist, putting a tremendous about of energy into each card. I know the book will be extremely well thought out with meticulous detail. It promises to be a fascinating look at all the hidden details in the cards.

Final Thoughts
The Darkness of Light Tarot is an incredibly unique, artistic deck. It is outrageously beautiful and so pleasing to the eye. It is on the darker side, literally, color-wise, so I wouldn't think to grab it for a reading if someone needed cheering up. But I'm a fan of dark things, so I wouldn't hesitate to use it for regular readings. It feels mellow yet powerful at the same time, which I feel plays well into the deck's theme of opposites.

The artwork does stray from RWS a bit here and there, but I think it would be a fine deck for a beginner. There is a bit of nudity, and it has a mature feel to it, so it's not one I would use for kids.

This is a deck with artwork that calls to my soul. It feels good to look at the images, no matter what cards I draw. That is a rare thing for me. I love this deck with a passion... it is without a doubt one of the greats.

Deck: The Darkness of Light Tarot self-published by Tony DiMauro

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Heart of the Labyrinth

July 08, 2017

The Heart of the Labyrinth is a soulful tale by Nicole Schwab, published by female-forward Womancraft Publishing.

Maya's world is about to change irrevocably. Her health is severely failing her, while her career, family and very identity disintegrate simultaneously. She discovers something about her past which leads her to follow the callings of her soul, returning to the home of her ancestors. There she meets two people instrumental to her physical and soul healing. The characters' stories are eventually all woven together beautifully. The story oscillates between various lifetimes while Maya rediscovers her purpose and reconnects with the divine feminine within. The story is fiction, but rings true.

The themes in the book include earth-based physical and soul healing, the divine feminine, priestesses and oracles, old and new religion, deliberate creation, following your soul's calling, dreams and visions, reincarnation and past lives. 

Everywhere you turn these days, there is a new spiritual book popping up. So many of them are simplified and dumbed down to appeal to the masses. They are vapid and empty of quality, depth and real meaning. The Heart of the Labyrinth is not one of those books. It is a refreshingly smart, deep and rich read.

This book takes you on a journey where you can witness the beauty of a soulful connection between humans and the earth, as well as the detrimental effects when there is disconnection between the two. Many times during my reading of this book, I would pause for awhile to absorb the sentence I had just read, then I would re-read it again. It was a luscious reading experience.

For the first few days I would read a passage from the book, then draw a couple cards from my Haindl Tarot deck. The cards would directly mimic the passage I had just read, like magic. This synchronicity served to emphasize the importance of the messages in this book.

The Heart of the Labyrinth encourages you to listen to the call of your inner wisdom. To return to a consciousness that incorporates the power of the divine feminine. To return to the earth for healing and spiritual connection. It is not a self-help book, but a journey within, where you are sure to recognize parts of yourself throughout Maya's journey. It is a wonderfully refreshing spiritual book that shines apart from the rest. It reminds us that we all have the power within us to be what we want to be, to live up to our spiritual potential, to stand strong against earthly destruction and to recognize the connection between the earth's health and our own. This book helps to waken us up from the dream we are caught in. Living a life of mediocrity and conformity is not necessary or inevitable. The Heart of the Labyrinth will help you remember who you really are and the beautiful life you are truly capable and deserving of living.

Book: The Heart of the Labyrinth, by Nicole Schwab, published by Womancraft Publishing.

Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Ghetto Tarot

July 08, 2017

Ghetto Tarot is a remarkable photographic deck by award-winning Belgian photographer Alice Smeets and a group of Haitian artists called Atis Rezistans who make art out of trash. The artists served as actors in the photographs and created the sculptures and collages (from found objects and materials) used as props in the images.

From the LWB: "In Haiti, 'ghetto' means a life in the slums. It means living without financial security. Yet 'ghetto' also means community, family, solidarity, strength and rich creativity. The Haitians are claiming the word 'ghetto' for their own. The word reached the island from overseas where it was associated with racism, poverty and exclusion. They liberate themselves of this unfavorable interpretation and are turning it into something beautiful. Their act of appropriating a cheerless world by altering its meaning is an act of inspiration."

The Cards
The cards are large, measuring slightly over 3 1/2" x 5 1/4". The backs are reversible. The mystical emblem on the backs stands for creative power, created by Yannick Dubois, who also drafted the whimsical font for the cards. The cards are matte with a light sheen. The card stock is nice and sturdy. The cards are a little stiff, and this coupled with the large size of the cards makes them a bit hard to shuffle, but they are of very good quality.

The cards and LWB come in a beautifully designed, sturdy box with a lift-off top.

The cards have a white border and inside this, a thin rough black border. I think it complements the photography beautifully. The Majors, Courts and Aces have a title at the bottom of the card (the Majors also have a Roman numeral) within a white border. The Minors are unnumbered and untitled. They do not have the added bottom border. (So this deck would not be a good candidate for trimming because the image area is larger on the Minors.) I love that the Minors have no titles or numbers! I feel like it really makes the images pop and stand out. The imagery closely follows RWS tradition, so if you are already familiar with tarot, you will recognize the cards at first glance. If you are a beginner, you can either memorize them or count the props in the cards.

The suits in this deck are a little different. Cups and Pentacles remain, but Brooms replace Wands and Machetes replace Swords.

I did notice that the Strength card is misspelled. It is spelled "Strenght" on the card, but spelled correctly in the booklet.

This deck may have my favorite Ace of Wands (Brooms) of all time. It is so extremely striking! There is a "wand" on fire in what looks like a metal trash can. The flames coming up from the can are magnificent! The Ace of Machetes is also very powerful and one of my favorites.

The Nine of Machetes is another favorite. It's one that when I look at it, it's hard to look away. I just want to keep staring at it. I am entranced by the juxtaposition of the cheerful pink color of the wall next to the bent over figure of the woman who we know to be having nightmares (whether real or dreamt).

The Star is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. Here is a real woman, with a real body, simple and stunning. This deck makes me feel things. These are real people. They aren't photoshopped to perfection. They shine in their natural perfection.

The Nine of Cups is very striking. The Ten of Cups is darling, with a family of four in front of a rainbow painted on a wall. The adults have their backs to us with arms around each other and the two children are holding hands. I absolutely adore the creepy doll used as the angel prop in the Judgment card. And I love seeing some of the props reused, like the plastic horse head used in the Sun card and the Six of Brooms.

The Four of Machetes is perfect, even down to the box he is laying on, which says "Fragile", a wonderful adjective for the frame of mind you are in when you have found yourself in need of that Four of Swords rest!

There are a few cards that are intentionally blurry. The Tower is my least favorite card in the deck because it makes me dizzy. I can't look at it for more than a second. I have an issue where I can't watch shaky cam movies, home movies or 3-D video games without feeling dizzy and getting sick. This card triggers that feeling in me, so unfortunately I can't physically look at it. A few of the other cards have smaller blurred areas which don't bother me.

The leg pose of the guy in the Seven of Machetes feels forced to me. It doesn't seem like a natural pose at all, even if one were slinking away.

The Seven of Brooms stands out to me because it looks more modern than the rest. There is something about the man that seems like he is slightly out of place in the deck. I don't know if it's his haircut, clothing, or what. It's not a negative thing, he just has a different, more modern, urban vibe to him than the rest of the characters.

The Five of Cups is magnificent, illustrating the sorrow amidst the squalor. It's a beautiful shot. "Beautiful" is a word that I find myself repeating over and over about this deck, and it amazes me because the photos are taken in a place of extreme poverty. But there is so much beauty in all of the images. It is extremely moving. I have never been so emotionally moved by a deck before.

The man in the Death card is dressed up as Baron Saturday. From the LWB: "Baron Saturday is the owner of the cemetery, lord of sex and death, master of magic and masons, protector from zombies and leader of the Guede (family of Haitian Voodoo spirits that embody the powers of death and fertility)." I love the Death card in general, I loved this card at first glance, and I love it even more now that I know the character it represents.

There are several cards with no people in them, each as interesting as the next. The Wheel of Fortune is a really cool chalk drawing of the RWS Wheel of Fortune imagery. The Devil is a sculpture of Baron Kriminel, a feared spirit in Voodoo (a murderer who has been condemned to death and is invoked to pronounce swift judgment). Very cool. The Moon features a mixed-material collage with the familiar RWS symbols. The Ace of Brooms I have already described (sooooo gorgeous!). The Eight of Brooms shows eight brooms, alternating heads and tails. The heads of the four broom bristles we can see are on fire. The Ace of Cups shows water splashing into a cup from up above. The Three of Machetes has three machetes crossed within a heart that has been drawn with chalk on the ground. The Ace of Pentacles has an industrial vibe to it, with a single pentacle inside some circular metal parts of some sort. And the only human presence in the Ace of Machetes is an outstretched arm holding the machete.

The Knights are all portrayed by the same actor, and the photos were done really creatively, each of the Knights riding a different method of transportation. The Knight of Brooms stands proudly and triumphantly on the hood of a Mack truck. The Knight of Cups sits calmly on a bicycle. The Knight of Machetes stands valiantly on the back of what looks like a truck turned into a bus. And the Knight of Pentacles rides a motorcycle.

The Pages are also all played by the same actor (a different actor than the Knights). I adore his cheeky attitude in some of the poses.

The Queens are played by three different actresses, with the Queens of Cups and Pentacles being played by the same woman. Likewise, the Kings are played by three different actors, with the Kings of Cups and Pentacles being played by the same man.

You will find many of the same actors and actresses appear throughout the deck.

I am absolutely astounded at the resourcefulness and creativity of the Atis Rezistans, creating props for 78 tarot images using found, discarded materials. It blows me away. This deck! I'm just flabbergasted!

How it Reads
My very first reading out of the gate with this deck had such amazing synchronicity. I drew the Eight of Wands and Six of Swords. I saw a quick getaway, a hasty retreat. I had been attempting to monitor my thoughts to see how much negativity and worry unconsciously seeps through (a lot, as it turns out). When I turned over these cards, I was reminded that when I check in, I am able to consciously and quickly retreat from worry and instead deliberately focus on what is going well, what my blessings are. Shortly after I did this reading, I turned to the LWB for the first time and read on the back cover: "...the Ghetto Tarot will guide you in changing your perception, turning negativity in your life into positivity while discovering the power of your own thoughts." !!!!! What incredible synchronicity! So right away, I had a connection with the energy of this deck.

That night, my daughter was going to bed and said good night. I told her to pick a card from my new deck before going to sleep. She drew the Four of Swords! The go-to-sleep card! Then she had a question and drew the Eight of Wands (one of the cards from my daily draw, above). Then she had another question and drew the Six of Swords (the other card from my daily draw!!!). The synchronicity with that first reading I did carried even further than I had anticipated! It was so magical!

Later on in the week, I also drew the Four of Swords at bedtime! This deck definitely recognizes and appreciates rest exactly when it is warranted!

My second day with the deck, I drew the Death card and asked what needed to die, pulling an oracle card for the answer. The result was something that actually, physically played out in my life that day, so it was spot on.

I did a reading using a shadow spread from the LWB which was astoundingly enlightening. It was long and personal, so I won't go into it, but it was incredibly insightful and brutally honest.

The next day I drew the Fool and the Magician. Yes, the deck was well shuffled. When I get a new deck, I shuffle until no cards are in order. So just a few days into reading with this deck, the Fool and Magician found their rightful places next to each other and appeared for me. That was the first day of Summer (Fool), and on the first three nights of each season, I do a magick (Magician) ritual. So those cards nailed my actions for that day as well.

The day after that I drew the Nine of Swords and Seven of Pentacles. I heard the questions, "What I can harvest from my darkness? What light can come of my shadow work?" Those were questions I was working on uncovering from my previous shadow reading with this deck. Also, I saw myself in the first card, worrying, and then the guy in the second card asked, "How's that working for ya?". Point taken.

The next day I drew the King of Machetes and Tower reversed. (I don't read reversals, but when this card came up, I knew to read it as the reversed meaning.) I was woken up early by the sound of a neighbor working on his deck with power tools (The Tower reversed can be building or rebuilding something, as opposed to something falling apart.).

One day I drew the Ten of Machetes and Ten of Cups and immediately heard in my head, "Turn that frown upside down!". The side by side imagery of those two cards was incredible. The Ten of Swords is obviously a frown worthy event, to say the least. And the Ten of Cups has a rainbow in the natural rainbow-shape of a frown, but the man and woman are holding up their arms, together making the shape of a smile. Such an uplifting daily draw.

Alice Smeets offers a free ebook download on her website (ghettotarot.com) about embracing your shadow side, among other things. One of the questions in the book was "What would I do with my time if I were a millionaire?". I answered with one word: Travel. Then a few sentences later was the prompt to shuffle your cards and ask, "What activity would make my life more blissful?" I drew the Two of Wands. And you know the first thing I saw in that card. The only thing I saw. The globe. The freaking globe! This deck is so magical, I am telling you. I decided that I wouldn't wait until I was a millionaire to start traveling. I would travel right here, in my area. I would look at my neighborhood as if I were a tourist. So I took my daughter to the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial because we have lived here for six years now and have never been there. So through this deck and book, I have already had a new life experience.

This deck reads beautifully, and even magically at times. It is so honest and upfront. It is always, always relevant. Amazingly so!

The 68-page LWB is the same size as the cards and is printed on really nice smooth paper. There is a Table of Contents followed by four pages of information on the background of the deck and artists. The next three pages include general information about tarot. Next is a section on "Tarot as a Healing Tool" in which the photographer/writer shares personal tidbits and viewpoints on creating our own reality.

There is an incredible 6-card spread included. I never use the spreads provided in LWBs. I always breeze right past them because they are usually either spreads I have seen a million times (past-present-future) or they are boring. But the spread in this LWB (Reveal Your Shadows) was so different, so brilliant, that I HAD to do it!

The spread is designed to reveal your most dominant suppressed shadow and how it affects various parts of your life (one of each of the suits) by reading the shadow aspects of the cards, as well as the suppressed light that can be revealed (reading the light side of the final card) when you fully embrace the shadow.

The book warns that you only do this spread when you are ready to confront your dark side, doing it in the company of a healer or therapist if you feel you need support. As I mentioned earlier, the author has a free ebook "Love Your Shadow Side" on her website to help you deal with the feelings that may come up when confronting your shadows, and how to embrace those feelings and love your shadow side.

There are two cards to each page. Each passage begins with the title of the card and key word or phrase. There is a small black and white photo of each card. Then there are brief meanings given for both the Light and Shadow sides of the cards, just a few keywords or phrases.

You can use the Light and Shadow meanings for your upright/reversed cards, or if you don't read with reversals, you can incorporate either/or based on your intuitive feeling at the time of the reading. When doing the shadow spread in the book, you will be prompted to read either the Light or Shadow aspects of the cards, based on their position in the spread.

Beneath the Light and Shadow meanings, you will find a small paragraph further discussing the card. You'll notice that the Light meaning doesn't necessarily mean "good".


Five of Machetes - Accept the limits of victory and defeat.
Light: Realization of limitations and restrictions, mind games, hostility
Shadow: Loss, defeat, failure, poverty, humiliation, fear
• Acknowledging my opponent's strength is not a weakness. Listen to yourself and stop thoughts from limiting your actions. Big ambitions need to be planned as well as small achievements.

Each card passage ends with the Actor and Artist names, when applicable. I love that this information is included for each card. Sometimes a little background information is given on the artwork or character in the card.

Final Thoughts
This deck is uplifting, raw, emotive and powerful. So powerful! So moving. There is beauty in every image, in the people, the upcycled artwork and the photography. The theme of the deck is turning negativity into positivity, as the Haitian artists have done with their found art materials. I am in awe of this incredible creation, this important contribution to the tarot world. This has been a pretty lengthy review, and yet I could still go on and on, discussing each and every card. I want every reader to have this deck.

I always work with a deck for a week before writing a review because I insist on knowing how it actually reads for me. I then file the deck away and move onto the next deck. I did not file this deck away. I had a very hard time not continuing to use it for my daily draws. I had to drag myself away. It now sits always within arm's reach, at home among my favorite decks.

Deck: Ghetto Tarot by Alice Smeets and Atis Rezistans