Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Happy Tarot

June 25, 2017

Happy Tarot is an adorable tarot deck abundant with children and sweets, with illustrations by Serena Ficca, published by Lo Scarabeo.

The Cards
The cards measure approximately 2 5/8" x 4 3/4". They are the standard (awesome) Lo Scarabeo card stock, shuffling beautifully. The backs are reversible. The design on the back is a moon with black circle eyelashed eyes surrounded by stars and purple clouds filled with treats (candy and fruit) and a couple of owls.

The borders are are a light beige with no wording on them at all, only numbers and symbols. The Major Arcana have Roman Numerals along the top and bottom borders, which is redundant. I don't know why they felt the need to print the numbers on the cards twice. The Minors have regular (non-Roman) numbers on the bottoms and the suit symbol at the top (Candy Canes for Wands, what looks like an ice cream bowl for Cups, Swords and Pentacles). The Court Cards each have the suit symbol on the top border and the Court symbol on the bottom (What looks like an arrow or magic wand for Pages, a toy stick horse for Knights, a small crown for Queens and a larger crown for Kings.)

Before I got the deck, from the scans I had seen online, I thought it might be way too saccharine. Like I could feel my teeth ache from looking at some of the images loaded with candy, imagining the entire deck to be overly sweet. But when I had the deck in hand, I was surprised to find that it didn't feel that way at all. Sure, it is obviously a sweet deck, there's a lot of candy in the images. But there is enough otherwise going on in most of the cards so that it doesn't feel overly dripping with sugar.

Most of the cards feature kids smiling, often with wide open mouths, sometimes maniacally so (like in The Sun). Even the nudity in the deck is adorable, as the private parts are covered up by tiny hearts!

The Hermit, one of my favorite tarot cards, is my favorite card in this deck. The colors in it are so gorgeous! I love the darker, richer colors in the Eight of Cups and Two of Swords. I find the Eight of Cups really pretty. The clouds in the Aces remind me of the show Adventure Time, and all I can see when I look at the Nine of Wands is the face of Charlie Brown! The scene in the Seven of Cups is so cute, with a little girl and a cat on a beach looking at a window display of cups filled with treasures. And the old woman's face in the Five of Pentacles is so sweet!

The little figure sneaking away in the Seven of Swords is adorably wrapped up in a kerchief, the only part of the face showing is closed eyes. The Lovers card is hilarious, with the man jutting his stuff forward with a cheeky grin, hands on hips, "Look at me!" while the woman holds her hands up to her face in delight.

In the Five of Cups, I can actually hear the kid crying and whining. And in the Five of Wands, there is one kid that cracks me up. There is a group of kids fighting with clubs and this one kid has his mouth wide open, screaming, with his club in both hands over his shoulder, and you can tell he is just about to swing that thing around like a baseball bat to whack the other kid upside the head. But there is a kid he doesn't see behind him who looks like he will get hit with it first. It's just a really funny scene.

I love that the Nine of Swords is almost bare of sweets. There are nine plain wooden swords on the wall behind a little girl up in bed, with her hands over her eyes. Her blanket has roses on it. Her headboard has a purple swirl on it like a lollipop without a stick. And in her side drawer is a subtle package with a picture of a wrapped candy on it. So there is no crazy sweets-action going on here to detract from the drama of the card.

There are a couple of cards that feel off to me. The girl in the Nine of Pentacles has a face/head that feels like it is proportioned differently than the other characters in the deck, so it stands out to me. The nose of the girl in the Six of Wands looks unnatural to me, maybe because most of the characters don't have noses, and this one is really oddly pronounced/shaped. And the woman in the Ten of Pentacles, who appears to be a grandmotherly type, has a sort of warped facial expression in both the eyes and mouth, like she's had a stroke.

The Knights are each riding some sort of toy animal. The Knight of Wands is on a toy horse with wheels. The Knight of Cups is on one of those playground coiled-spring animals shaped like a seahorse. The Knight of Swords is on what looks like a patchwork plush horse. And the Knight of Pentacles is on a rocking horse. Too cute!

How it Reads
One of the first readings I did with the deck was a daily draw, and I drew the Seven of Wands. At the time, that card was my reminder to stay high vibe. To stand above my negative thoughts and keep them at bay. It was very fitting that the Happy Tarot bring up this card for me.

Another day I did a reading on a friend's erratic behavior, and I got cards that showed what was going on behind his feelings, and what I could do to be less affected by it. It was an extremely accurate and very to-the-point reading. The reading ended with the High Priestess, telling me to meditate and keep control over my own emotional reactions. It was a reading that this deck handled very well without sugar coating or being silly about it.

On another day, I was stressed out about having to do a ton of stuff to prepare for something I didn't want to do in the first place. I drew a card to ask for the best way to deal with it all. I drew the Nine of Cups, which told me to be happy no matter what. All is okay. Act as if it were just all going to be okay. So I did that, stopped stressing out and just went on with my preparations. As it turned out, the plans were canceled so I hadn't needed to stress out (or even prepare at all!).

One day I did a Mind-Body-Spirit reading on Instagram using this deck. I drew:  MIND: Wheel of Fortune (My mind is all over the place, like it always is.). BODY: Four of Swords (My body is getting just the right amount of rest. Like Goldilocks.). SPIRIT: Ten of Cups (Looks like my spirits are vibing pretty high and happy right now.). Just need to do some work on that monkey mind.

The last reading I did with this deck the week I worked with it was late at night. I asked what I should do with the hour I had left before bed. I drew a card then looked up and realized I didn't even have an hour left, it was already time for me to go to bed. So I looked down at the card. It was the Six of Wands which told me to be happy with what I had already accomplished that day. No need to do anything more. How apt! So then I asked if it would be better to go to bed then and there or stay up late (as I thought I had more time). I got the Five of Wands, which told me not to steal time from myself, but go to bed at a decent hour. (Well, decent for me, as I am usually up until at least 3 a.m.). Finally, I asked what I could do to make the next day a great day. I laughed when I turned over the Eight of Cups, which shows a little boy headed toward a sleeping moon. Go To Bed Already!!! the cards were shouting at me! Leave all the stresses behind, leave all behind, go to sleep and expect a great tomorrow.

This deck has read wonderfully for me for a great variety of different inquiries. It doesn't beat around the bush. I find that it always answers my questions quite directly and frankly. Ironically, I never received a reading that was sugar coated.

The LWB is 63 pages, with only the first 22 pages in English. The other pages are translations in Italian, Spanish, French and German.

The first two pages talk about the ways tarot cards can be used and inviting you to use this deck for fun and positivity. The next page is titled "Using the Cards" and tells you how to read the meanings, with a quick sample three card reading.

The rest of the booklet is devoted to the card meanings. The meanings do not address the card images. Each card is given a couple sentences of basic/standard meanings. What is interesting and different about this deck is that following each meaning, a sentence is given in italics, telling you how you can find happiness. Each of these sentences start with the words "You can find happiness...". I will give a few examples below:

Justice: You can find happiness through ethical behavior.
Moon: You can find happiness by paying attention to your dreams.
Two of Wands: You can find happiness in a thoughtful pause.
King of Cups: You can find happiness through detached compassion.
Nine of Swords: You can find happiness by facing your fears.
Ace of Pentacles: You can find happiness by welcoming prosperity.

I think this is such a great addition to this deck. I really like this unique added touch to the LWB.

Final Thoughts
This is a decidedly happy deck (the name is no joke), so I would definitely not pick this deck up to read about something super somber or serious or important. This is a lighthearted deck. One that I would use if I needed a pick-me-up. If I were feeling a little blah and wanted something to lift my spirits. Or if I were already in a really good mood and wanted a reading to reflect my frame of mind. This would obviously be a great deck to use with kids. It is also a great one to use for daily draws, or just for a theme for the day. It always gave me accurate and direct readings. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't get any fluffy readings with the deck.

In the middle of writing this review, I felt like I had used some form of the word "adorable" maybe a few too many times. Indeed, I had used it 7 times, so I had to go back and come up with some other adjectives. So if I were to sum up this deck in one word, clearly it would be ADORABLE!

Deck: Happy Tarot, by Serena Ficca, published by Lo Scarabeo, distributed in the US by Llewellyn.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Ancient Animal Wisdom

June 12, 2017

Ancient Animal Wisdom is an oracle deck that connects you with the energies and messages of African animal spirit guides. The artwork is by Jada Fire, and the guidebook is written by Stacy James and Jada Fire, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

The Cards
There are 38 cards in this deck, measuring 3.5" x just over 4 3/4". They have a light glossy sheen. The cards are sturdy yet flexible enough to shuffle vertically or horizontally. This is nice, because I like to shuffle taller cards horizontally. The borders are different colors, and appear to be assigned randomly, as opposed to grouping similar animals in the same color borders. The back design is not reversible, although at the end of the booklet, there is a small section on using reversals with this deck.

Each card has a number at the bottom and the animal's common name (sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom of the card). I would have thought that the title placement varying would be distracting, but I didn't even notice it until I sat down to write this review. But I did only pull one-card readings with this deck, so I can't say if I would find it distracting in a spread (though I really think it wouldn't bother me).

The deck and book come housed in a nice sturdy box with a lift off lid. My one complaint about the box is that it doesn't have the half-circle cut outs on the sides for easy lifting.

The deck consists of 35 animals, 2 trees, and 1 hybrid. The animals are varied, including land, water and air animals. There are insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.

There are the African animals you are familiar with (elephant, giraffe, lion, zebra, rhino) and some more obscure ones (kudu, civet, lilac-breasted roller), and then there are some that make me smile because they make me feel like I'm in the middle of The Lion King (warthog, wildebeest, hyena). No meerkat though. There are many animals in this deck that I never even knew lived in Africa, so going through the deck was a learning experience.

One of my favorite cards is the Honey Badger. What a great inclusion! I absolutely love that it is shown in a fit of rage, in line with its reputation. It's an amazing card. The first word that came to mind when I saw it was "fierce", and when I looked up the card in the book, the keyword is "fierce"! So she really nailed that depiction in the image!

My three other favorite cards, art-wise, are Dik Dik (so sweet and striking), Giraffe (so pretty) and Chameleon (so whimsical and unique).

The hybrid card is titled Dugong Tiger. Oh... I so wish this had just been a Dugong card. My favorite animal is a manatee, and although a dugong isn't a manatee, it is the closest I have come in a deck. But alas, the Dugong Tiger image doesn't even show half a dugong! It is half tiger, half human. Why? I don't know. There is no mention in the book of why its title says Dugong, but the image is human. Even if it had depicted a dugong, I still don't understand the choice behind the dichotomy of these two particular animals. The card is about the balancing of extremes. While I can see some opposites in the two animals, I would've liked to have read a little about the animals and why they were chosen. And why it's a human on the card, with no dugong in sight. It is a confusing card on many levels. So I just look at it as balance or extreme opposites, and let the rest of it be a mystery.

The two trees in the deck are the Baobab Tree and Sausage Fruit Tree. I love Baobab trees, so I was delighted to see this included. And I had never even heard of a Sausage Fruit tree before! They are both gorgeous cards.

All of the cards are gorgeous! The artwork is whimsical and colorful, yet it does not feel childish. It is a mature whimsy.

There is one card that stands out from the others. The Kite (shown below) is mostly black and white, with color only in its eyes, beak, and star design above the bird (and border). I find this very striking.

There is something really special about this deck. There is an energy about it that is hard to describe. It feels different from other animal decks. It is the combination of the artwork that I love, the way the deck speaks and the messages it gives. It has that special something that not every deck has.

How it Reads
The first card I drew from this deck let me know we would be good friends. I drew the Black Mamba Snake. It felt very Scorpio-esque. The subtitle is Death of Old Ways. It reminds me of the Death card in tarot. From what I know, the Black Mamba snake is known to be the fastest and one of the most venomous and deadliest snakes. So the day I drew it, I knew that if there was change to be had, it would be better to get to it proactively and on my own terms rather than waiting for it to strike and bite me hard and fast! Not to wait until it became painful.

Then I spent a week with the deck, drawing a card each morning.

My week started with Warthog (Pumba!) who told me that it's what's inside that matters.

Next was the Nile Crocodile, reminding me to pay attention to my awareness.

The Gorilla reminded me to love.

The Baobab Tree thanked me for my offering (I literally donated the day before!).

The Gazelle advised me to release what was impeding my natural flow. The sacred spiral mentioned in the book also had relevance in my day.

The Baboon reminded me to connect with my primal spirit on a day that I was actually feeling very primal/tribal!

The Owl appeared to talk to me about my inner shaman.

The cards that appeared for me in my daily draws walked with me to show me how this deck is best used. None of the cards were divinatory in message. They were conversational and thought provoking. They would give me a spiritual area to focus on that day. They let me know where my energy would best be focused.

These animals weren't here to tell me what to do, or what was going to happen to me. They were guides. They told me how I could be my best self that day. How I could use my energy for my highest good. Where I could be of service to others. Where I would benefit from stepping into my own power. What a beautiful idea! It is really a very empowering deck.

The Book
The book is 48 pages and is the same size as the cards, so they fit nicely in the box together. The cover is glossy on thick card stock and it has binding, so it is a sturdy little thing.

The book begins with a title page, copyright page and Acknowledgments page. There are a few pages on general reading information.

I am confused about the inclusion of numerology in the booklet. The booklet's subtitle is "Messages, Meanings & Numerology". There are numerology meanings given for numbers 1-9, one one single page. I'm not sure why this is included, as it seems to have no bearing on the card meanings. The passage suggests that you do research into your own personal numerology, and to pay attention to the numbers you attract, as they might hold meaning for you. Again, I don't know what this has to do with the cards. There is one other reference I saw to numerology in the book, in one of the spreads, but it had nothing to do with the cards themselves. There is no reference to anything like maybe adding up the numbers on the cards until you receive a single digit number, then looking up the meaning of that number. So I didn't do this, and don't plan to. For me, this was a puzzling, irrelevant and superfluous page in the book.

There is a page explaining the local Zambian language of Nyanja, and how in each card description, the animal names are also given in the local language. Most of the animals are found in Zambia, but for those found in another region of Africa, the closest local language was used for the translation.

Pages 8-10 feature the Table of Contents (which I would have put at the front of the booklet for easier finding), with a list of the cards first and then the spreads. The cards are listed in order of card number. It would have been easier to find the cards if they were listed in alphabetical order. When you look at a card, you remember it's a Giraffe. You have to take extra time to find that it's number 5.

Next is the section with the card meanings. There is a paragraph dedicated to each animal. Each meaning begins with the animal's name, both in English and translated in its local language. Then a keyword is given. Beneath that is the meaning. No reversed meanings are given.

Some of the meanings incorporate a little of the animal's physical traits or characteristic behaviors. I find myself connecting better with the cards that do this, because I can understand why their meanings were chosen. I wish every card included this connection.

There is a page on shuffling and laying out cards and reading reversals. For reading with reversals, they suggest it means a resistance or imbalance with the card's energy, or "heading in the reversed direction".

The following spreads are included:

  • Intention Card (1 card)
  • Spirit Healing (card number varies)
  • Past, Present and Future (3 cards)
  • Tiger Dugong Balance (2 cards)
  • Four Directions (4 cards)
  • Gateway Spirit Guides Spread (2 cards)
  • Akashic Elemental Spread (5 cards)
  • Chakra Spread (8 cards)

The book begins its end with a passage blessing Ted Andrews and the Medicine Cards creators, Jamie Sams and David Carson, for inspiring this deck. There are a couple of pages about the author and artist. The booklet ends with four lined pages for notes.

Final Thoughts
This is a very unique and beautiful deck providing spiritual wisdom. It's definitely the prettiest animal deck I've seen. While there are a few things I would have changed about the book, the passages offer empowering and beautiful ideas to incorporate in your daily life. It's a wonderful deck to use as a spiritual guide. All the cards I drew were inspiring and motivational. I can see all of these animal spirits becoming old friends as you get to know each and every one of them. It's a deck that I can see people easily connecting to. I love using this deck - it feels very special.

Deck: Ancient Animal Wisdom, written by Stacy James and Jada Fire, illustrated by Jada Fire. Published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Everyday Witch Tarot

June 02, 2017

Everyday Witch Tarot is a modern witchy tarot from Llewellyn by the popular author Deborah Blake and artwork by Elisabeth Alba.

The Cards
The cards measure 2 3/4" x 4 5/8". The backs are not reversible. I don't use reversals, so this doesn't hinder me at all. In fact, I prefer when backs aren't reversible, so I can easily see if any of them are accidentally reversed. And the back design is so cute! A blue background with yellow stars, a broomstick, black cat and witch hat. Simply adorable! The cards are very thin and super easy and smooth to shuffle. They are the same cardstock as the Vivid Journey Tarot, and they have that same sweet, fruity smell to them. Sometimes I'll just pause shuffling to smell them. True story.

The cards and book are housed in a nice sturdy box which opens like a book and closes magnetically. Inside the box is a cardboard recessed insert for the cards, with a ribbon attached to pull the cards out easily.

The cards are gloriously borderless. I find myself saying this more and more with reviews these days, and the excitement never gets old. I am honestly overjoyed each time. I am so grateful that these cards have no borders. I really hope this is a trend that continues. Maybe the publishers are watching us trim all of our decks and hopefully listening to our cries for borderless decks!

Before the deck was published, I saw a few pictures online and thought it was cute. Then I saw a few more, and thought maybe it was in danger of being a bit cheesy. But when I got the deck in hand, I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it was not cheesy at all. Okay, there are a couple cheesy cards. I'm thinking right now of the heart shaped bubbles in the Knight of Cups... but when that card came up for me in a reading, I didn't see it as cheesy at all. I liked it! I will elaborate more on that later when I discuss how the deck reads for me.

I love the striped tights and shirts and witchy hats. I like that it feels a little bit modern and a little bit old fashioned at the same time. I love all the colors used in the deck, both vibrant and rich. The fiery stripes and colors (red, orange and yellow) of the dress worn by the girl in Ace of Wands delights me every time I see it.

My favorite card is the Four of Swords. The colors are so deep and rich and the image is so beautiful. It's an image I would love to have blown up, framed and hung on my wall. And I love that it is the same bedroom shown in the Three of Swords. I adore that continuity.

I am also madly in love with the Eight of Pentacles. It is my favorite Eight of Pentacles from any deck, ever. The drudgery of the usual hard-working, nose to the grindstone image is replaced here with a lovely witch doing what she loves, what she is good at. She's not just out to make product. She's not just out to make a buck. She is making potions. It's wonderfully magical and witchy.

I really like the whole scene in the Four of Cups. Instead of being outdoors as this card usually is, there is a downtrodden man sitting at a table, head in hand, while a worried youngster tries bringing him another goblet. I like the artwork of all the things on the wall behind him, cat included.

The sad witch at the birthday party in the Five of Cups always reminds me of the song lyrics "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to". I like that the Seven of Cups actually shows someone's choices while at a shop counter. There were a lot of creative choices made in this deck.

The witch in the Ten of Swords is down but not all the way out. She reaches out for her broom for help while her assailant runs away. I like that you can see that while she is in a bad position, it's not over for her. The scene leaves you with a glimmer of hope. I find the image in the Six of Swords really beautiful. A young woman flies away on a broomstick with two cloaked figures. She's really pretty and I just love the starry, windswept atmosphere of the card. She has a bit of a Seven of Swords "sneaking away" vibe to her.

The Death card is unique. There is a masked, hooded figure with a sword. In front of him there is a cat toying with its kill, and a taut rope, about to break, just holding on by a thin string. You know he is about to make the final cut. There is a feeling of anxiety to it, knowing what is coming. It's not a static Death card. It doesn't feel like a noun card, as it usually does. Death. Here, it feels very much alive and in motion. The tension is palpable. There are two doors behind him, one closed, and one slightly ajar, emitting a yellow glow from within. The book says, "When one door closes, another opens." It's a very interesting Death card.

The High Priestess is a fortune teller with a crystal ball, tarot cards and runes. The familiar black and white pillars show up here in the form of melting candles. I love this card. The Hierophant isn't a scary religious guy. It's a female yoga teacher with two students. Lovely! And Temperance shows a witch doing yoga as well (tree pose). The Devil is in human form, albeit with a red spiky tail, offering money and ice cream to two kids on a bench. He has a handsome, very devilish look about his facial hair. My first thought when I saw this card though, was that it felt sexist, offering the money to the boy and ice cream to the girl. I'm sure it wasn't meant this way, it was just my knee-jerk reaction upon first seeing it.

The Moon is fabulous, with a black cat looking at its reflection in the water and seeing a panther. It's a wonderful symbol for the illusions this card represents. There's also the shadow of a witch flying on her broom across the full moon. I like how the woman in the Nine of Pentacles is just kicking back on her garden chaise with a book, glass of wine and treats. It gives the feeling of comfort while also being casual. And the King of Pentacles has himself a glass of wine and entire chocolate cake on a platter (minus a piece cut out). He knows how to have a good time, this one.

The Hanged Man is hung upside down, chained at the ankles to his broomstick. His wrists are also bound by chains. Both restraints have a lock, and the key is in his hand. He can set himself loose at any time, but chooses to take this time out because it is needed. I like that the Lovers card feels very much like an equal partnership. It doesn't feel like I'm just looking at a couple in love. It feels like they are on the same page, on the same path, with shared beliefs. It looks like they are lovers and friends. And while this should be a given in any relationship, I don't always feel that when looking at Lovers cards in other decks. This card feels less like 'man and woman' and more like 'human and human'. This equality is even echoed in the cats' tails symmetrically intertwined into a heart shape.

The Aces don't really feel like Aces to me. They are lovely cards, to be sure, but they don't give me the symbolic, instant recognition I like to have with my Aces. The Ace of Cups feels more like a Queen of Cups. And the Aces of Pentacles and Swords both feel like Pages. The Ace of Pentacles has a much stronger Page vibe than the actual Page. And if you put the Ace and Page of Swords side by side (see image below), they both look like Pages to me, and neither has an Ace vibe. They are both Pages to me. So that is something I would have to get used to in this deck. I prefer my Aces to stand apart as singular objects.

As a side note, I always think of the Robinwood Tarot when I see the Ace of Pentacles.

How it Reads
My first reading was very literal. I drew the King of Pentacles, who as I mentioned earlier in this review, holds a chocolate cake in one hand and a glass in wine in another. I drew this card on an evening when I was cooking for a male friend!

My next draw was the Empress, which I drew in conjunction with a card from another witchy deck. The cards went perfectly together, and referred to my unconditional love as a mother.

One day my son and I switched chores. I did his outdoor weeding while he cleaned up inside the house. He has a terrible medical issue where his own sweat makes him itch furiously. That day I did a three-card Past-Present-Future reading. The Ten of Swords came up as the past, referring to his painful and debilitating itching while weeding in the sun. The Three of Pentacles came up as the present, a perfect representation of working as a team. My daughter weeded with me, so it was literally the three of us working as a team, just like on the card. And the Magician was the future. A magical solution. I got to spend time outside (which I don't do enough) and my son didn't have to itch unnecessarily. A perfect reading on the entire situation.

I did a four card reading on developing healthier eating habits. The Ace of Cups told me what I already knew, that I love eating what tastes good, even if it's bad for me. When asking if a certain restrictive diet was the way to go, I got the Eight of Swords, which just showed me the restriction, and asked me if that felt good. (No, it didn't.) The girl's broom and hat are outside the swords. She's not fully her inside the swords. The restriction doesn't allow her to be her real self. When I asked if I should stay on my current path, I received the Chariot, which shows a gal at a crossroads. It was up to me to decide which path to take. But I needed to make a decision and commit. And the last card, for advice, was the Knight of Cups telling me that it doesn't matter so much what I put in my body, as how I feel when I do it (an Abraham-Hicks teaching). The Knight, with his gentle heart bubbles, was the exact imagery I needed to see, telling me to follow my heart. To make sure I feel good when I eat, no matter what I'm eating. That eating something that tastes gross, just because it is "good for me" isn't always the right path. And feeling guilty about what I eat isn't good for me. Trust in the vibes basically.

On another day, I did a three card reading, using this deck and two others, and it read seamlessly with the others, creating one single, coherent message.

One day I did something that I was a little apprehensive about. I stepped out of my comfort zone to help someone else. I was shuffling and cut the deck and saw the Strength card. I kept shuffling, and drew Temperance, which told me that I put just the right amount of effort and fairness into what I did. Then I drew Strength again! This told me that even though I was nervous, I did the right thing, and I had what it took to do what I needed to do. The Two of Wands came up after that, and without going into the whole situation, I can say that the imagery on the card was really relevant to the situation and a comforting finale to the reading.

One day I drew the Two of Swords, and got the message that sometimes you can see better with your eyes closed, using your intuition rather than relying on what your five senses are showing you. After all, the witch hit the bullseye with a blindfold on! But the book says the opposite. That the witch is being silly and needs to take the blindfold off to make the decision. For me, the book's interpretation didn't really match with the card's illustration. It made better sense for me and my inquiry when I went off the card's imagery and my intuitive response to it.

These cards feel so gentle and comforting. They feel like talking to a friend. A good friend who listens with genuine caring and responds in kind. That rare, true friend who you aren't afraid of telling your whole truth to, because there is absolutely no judgment. Someone you can trust to be completely yourself with, open and honest and raw, knowing they won't criticize you. I realize this might sound like an odd anthropomorphic observation, but it's truly how the cards made me feel.

This deck reads above and beyond what I had ever expected from it. I was really surprised by the level of understanding and comfort I received in readings.

The Book
The accompanying book is written by Deborah Blake, author of Everyday Witchcraft, The Goddess is in the Details, Witchcraft on a Shoestring, and many other popular witchy titles. It is 254 pages, with high-quality glossy paper.

The book begins with a 3-page Introduction with a brief background on how the author and illustrator came to create the set.

Chapter One includes a brief intro into tarot and a section about the deck and how to use it. Next is a section on How to Do a Reading which gives the beginner a few basics.

Chapter Two contains basic Q&A's (covering things such as signifiers, clarifying cards, reversals, etc.). This chapter also includes three spells for use with the tarot cards: A consecration spell for new cards, a cleansing spell for used cards, and a spell for a good reading. The spells require basic ingredients you probably already have around the house like crystals, salt, sage, candles, etc.

Chapter Three includes the Major and Minor Arcana card meanings. Each card has a full color image in the book, the same size as the actual card.

Below each card image is its title and a catch phrase. For example, the Magician says "The magic is inside you." Some of these phrases are funny. Like the Seven of Swords (page shown below) says "La, la, la... Nothing to see here." How funny is that?  And the Two of Swords says, "A. No, B. No, A. Dammit." I'm a sucker for cursing (however light) in a tarot book.

On the top of the next page, the card's title is repeated, with a brief message underneath it. To use the same card examples as above, the Magician's message is "You have all the tools you need to accomplish your goals." The Seven of Swords says, "I'm carrying this stuff with me - but am I running away or running to?" and the Two of Swords says, "You think you don't know the answer, but you do."

The first part of the meaning includes a bit of background on the card, and sometimes discusses the details in the imagery. The second part is "Things to Consider" and applies the card to daily life, with questions to ask yourself so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of each card.

Following each card meaning, almost all of the Major Arcana cards have their own lined page for notes (the Fool and Lovers cards do not, which I assume was an oversight). The Minors do not include this. Although there are random lined Notes pages that pop up periodically in the Minors section, with apparently no rhyme or reason to their placement (a page appearing after the Ten of Swords, Six of Cups, Eight of Cups, Knight of Cups, Six of Pentacles, and Knight of Pentacles). I assume this was an editorial error, as the random placement doesn't make sense.

The book is written in an easy, conversational tone. It is very welcoming, approachable, down to earth and easy to read. Like the feeling I got from the imagery, the book feels like talking with a friend. I enjoyed all the passages I read. The book and deck, though written and illustrated by two different people, feels like a very cohesive set, carrying such similar energy.

Chapter Four includes three spreads (a one-card reading, three-card spread variations (past-present-future, situation/challenge/outcome, etc.) and a Celtic Cross). The book ends with a brief conclusion.

Final Thoughts
This deck is much deeper than first appearances might suggest. It has a comfortable, open and welcoming energy. You don't need to identify as a witch to connect with this deck. I am spiritual and magical and witchy, but I am not a witch. Whether you are or not should have no bearing on your relationship with these cards (unless you are one of those nutters who think all witches are evil, in which case you wouldn't be reading this review anyway, because tarot readers are usually grouped in that same sweet category). My point is that this deck is accessible to anyone, witch or not. There isn't even any nudity in the cards. It is sweet and kind and friendly and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Deck: Everyday Witch Tarot, by Deborah Blake, illustrated by Elisabeth Alba, published by Llewellyn Publishing.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Secrets of the Mystic Grove

May 22, 2017

Secrets of the Mystic Grove is a stunning new deck from US Games, illustrated by Mary Alayne Thomas, with the accompanying booklet written by Arwen Lynch. It is available to pre-order (directly from US Games or Amazon) with a current release date of June 16, 2017.

The Cards
The 44 cards measure 3 1/2" x 4 3/4". The cards and book are housed in a very nice sturdy box with a lift-off top. The box has a nice smooth feel to it, and there are half-circle cut outs on two sides of the top for easy lift off.

The backs are not reversible. The design itself isn't very noticeable when reversed, but the colors fade diagonally down the card from blue and purple to green, so it is very obvious when one is reversed. The backs are oddly not all colored the same. There are slight variations to the colors, so when you fan them out upright, there are differences. In the upper left corner, some cards are blue and others are purple. And on the bottom right, there are varying degrees of light and dark green colors. I have been told that this was an issue with the printing process. The publisher will be discussing it with the printer, but they are unsure if it is avoidable.  The slight color variations on the backs isn't a negative in my opinion though. I think it actually looks quite nice.

The card stock is a bit stiff, but shuffles easily and smoothly. It feels like the card size is the exact perfect fit for the images. Any other dimensions would have been just less perfect. It's not something I have ever remarked about a deck before.

Three sides of the cards are borderless (thank you so very, very much for that, US Games!). At the bottom of the cards is a border with the card number, title and keywords. The border colors vary with each card, matching with the scene in the image.

The colors in this deck are sumptuous. The lines of the artwork are exquisite. Even though many of the cards are deliberately crowded, it never feels cluttered. It has a mysterious fairy tale feel to it.

There are animals in every card. Some cards only have animals in them. There are no men in the deck. When there is a woman in the card, she is the only human in the card. The only exception to the previous two statements is the card titled Adventure, which is the only card featuring two humans, and the only one with a male. In this card, a young boy and girl are riding on the back of a tiger (see image below). Another way this card stands out from the rest of the deck is that it is much simpler, much less busy with detail. It almost seems like a card from a different deck. But it's gorgeous and I love it.

It's hard to pick out favorites in this deck (though I'm partial to those eye-masked beauties), because they are all honestly beautiful. What is more remarkable to me is that when looking for my least favorite card or two, I couldn't come up with a single one. There isn't a card in this deck that I don't like the look of. That's pretty incredible.

While there are a lot of cards with a similar feel in the deck, there are two which stand out to me as looking very similar (see image directly above). Direction and Letting Go both have a masked girl with similar hairstyle, facing the same direction, hand out holding something. I imagine this is the same girl on a different day.

There are several groups of similar cards. For example, there are several cards in the deck that fit into the following categories:

  • Women with a lot of gorgeous stuff piled high in their hair*.
  • Women laying down, relaxing, reflecting.
  • Women walking through a wooded area with a lot of animals.
  • Two birds.

*These cards always playfully remind me of the "stuff on my cat" challenge.

You can scroll through this review, as I have grouped those cards together so you can see the similarities.

While there is animal life in every single card, some cards focus on a main animal, with no human. Most of these animal cards also feature birds in the background. These animal cards include a bird (Northern Flicker), black bear, fox, rabbit, badger (love this card!), a Snowy Owl, two Great Horned Owls and a stag. In addition, there are the four cards that feature a pair of birds (Yellow-headed blackbirds, chickadees, and two unidentified pairs of birds). Birds are very prominent in this deck. I love the quails in the Black Bear card.

There's a huge variety of animals in the background of the cards. There are cats, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, lions, swans, deer, a flamingo, peacocks and an ostrich. There are bees, moths and a lot of butterflies. And more animals that I'm sure I have left out. The imagery is also very heavy in gorgeous flowers. The way the artist draws poppies alone is reason to have this deck.

There are some repetitive cards (cards with very similar meaning). For example, there are two cards titled Letting Go and Release. And basically, they just have their keywords and titles switched:

Letting Go: Release, Farewell, Impermanence
Release: Letting go, Freedom, Healing

In the book, the former focuses more on loss and saying good-bye, while the latter deals more with healing from pain.

It's interesting to me that the Letting Go card stands out to me as being so similar to two other cards. (The similar looking Direction card, and the similar meaning Release card). This card seems not to want to stand on its own, which is ironic as its meaning is about letting go. Very interesting.

How it Reads
This feels more like an affirmation deck than an oracle, with thoughts and ideas to inspire. Although it doesn't have a fortune-telling vibe, it did do a bit of accurate predicting.

The first reading I did with this deck was one where I pulled one card from three different decks. This card (Direction) had so many similarities with the other two cards, the synchronicities were overwhelming! So right off the bat, the deck worked well with others.

The next card I pulled was Togetherness, which inspired a family game night!

On another day, I drew the Adventure card, along with the Chariot from a tarot deck, receiving the same message from both cards! This deck seems to love being part of synchronicity.

The next day, I drew Rewards and when I was out shopping that night, I received two unexpected refunds at two different stores! I also received an early Mother's Day gift from my daughter that day.

Two times that week, I drew the Release card. I didn't see how it pertained to either day, but since it repeated, it made me stop and think about what I needed to release, because there had to be something! (Isn't there always something we can release?)

On my daughter's birthday (and Mother's Day), I drew the card Seeing Differently. And it was like a friend was reaching out and touching my hand, saying it was okay. We had celebrated Mother's Day a couple days early this year, because it fell on my daughter's 15th birthday, and I didn't want her to have to share the spotlight. So that was one way the day was different.

Another (bigger) way I was being asked to "See Differently" that day was that this year, my daughter (who is up to the crown of her head deep into minimalism) didn't want to do any of our birthday traditions. No decorations, no balloons, no streamers, no cake, no blowing out a candle and making a wish, no presents. Just time together playing games. As a mother, this was the first of my children's birthdays that I haven't celebrated with traditions. It was sad for me in a way, but I had to honor her wishes. Drawing this card on that day was a comfort to me. It assured me that doing things differently on that day wasn't bad. Just other. And I was glad that my daughter wanted to spend time with us as a family, which is the most cherished tradition of them all.

There is a gentle, peaceful, comforting approach from the cards. They read with a soft touch.

The Book
The accompanying 96-page book is bound (with a spine). It has a thick card stock cover that is very smooth to the touch. The book begins with a one-page introduction and then jumps right into the card meanings. I absolutely love that there isn't a bunch of useless fluff to wade through before you get to the meat of the booklet.

Each card is given a 2-page spread. There are no images of the cards in the book. On the left hand page is the card number, title and keywords (all of which are found on the card itself). Then the page is filled with meaning. This isn't a LWB you toss away. This book is rich. It goes into detail and meaning of the symbolism and metaphors of the imagery in the cards (something sorely lacking in most small companion books). The first paragraph discusses the symbolism in the imagery, and the second paragraph talks about what it means for you in your life. The book is really fantastic. Well written, deep, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

The right side of each page begins with three journal prompts (questions to ask yourself), followed by blank lines down the rest of the page for you to write notes in.

Here are a few journal prompt examples:

Letting Go

  • Who do I miss the most?
  • How can I honor and celebrate that memory?
  • What can I do to embrace the joy of what and who I have right now?


  • Who am I in conflict with?
  • How am I like the person I'm in conflict with?
  • What would I want from me if I were the other person?

This is a wonderful companion book. She packs a lot of value into a small space.

The book ends with a page on "How to Use These Cards" and a 3-card "Mystic Meadow Spread".

Final Thoughts
This is a gorgeous, elegant deck. It is different from anything out there. The colors and artwork are beautiful. There is a wide variety of wildlife, plant life, and stylish ladies. It is extremely unique, ever gentle and comforting. And the companion book is a treasure. I highly recommend this deck/book set for adding elegance and depth to your daily experience.

Deck: Secrets of the Mystic Grove, by Mary Alayne Thomas and Arwen Lynch, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Vibrational Energy Oracle Cards

May 16, 2017

Vibrational Energy Oracle Cards is an incredible deck created by psychic medium Debbie A. Anderson, and illustrated by Heather Brewster. The cards are designed to guide you on your daily vibrational path.

The Cards
There are 52 cards, measuring 3" x 5". The cardstock is a bit stiff, yet flexible and easily shuffled. The back design is reversible, though the cards aren't meant to be used with reversals. The cards and booklet are housed in a nice sturdy box with a lift-off lid.

The images in this deck are stunning. It was difficult to pick which ones to feature in this review, because I wanted to share them all. Some of my favorites are the "darker" seeming ones, like Perfect Storm and Wild and Free Wind Sprite (both shown above). I absolutely love that there is a card dramatically titled End of Days. I laughed when I saw the card titled Go to the Light. Of course it means to move toward a higher, lighter vibration, but I couldn't help but have a laugh, thinking there was a card telling me to cross over.

There is such an amazing diversity of ideas in this deck. There is a card called Fairy Ring, one titled The Triangle, another named Inspired Juggler and one called Moonbeam Filled Waterfalls. There is no theme running through the deck. It is all over the place, in the most wonderful way. It feels very magical and mystical, almost like a vibrational Wonderland. You never know what you're going to come upon next. There are cards that feel dreamy, some that feel gothic, ones that feel spiritual, some that feel logical and scientific and some that feel like a fairy tale. One of the beautiful things about this deck is that it feels like a paradox. There is not one one cohesive feel to the cards - you can receive many different perspectives from them - yet they blend together seamlessly. For example, when a scientific looking card appears next to a spiritual one, you don't think of them as such. They will read together as one flawless unit. It's quite marvelous.

There are some cards that feel very similar to each other in meaning. For example, three cards that feel this way to me are: Blessings, Abundant Blessings and Cosmic Prosperity. The first two in particular seem a bit redundant, unless you are looking for specifics in the degrees of your blessings. There are also two other cards, similar in imagery, yet not in meaning. Breathe Deeply and Heal Thy Self both show spiritual statues (not sure if they are both Buddha) with a lotus flower at the bottom. I don't mind this particular repetition because the card meanings are different, and the images are gorgeous and different enough from each other to feel independent.


One of the cards that really stands out is The "F" Word! How great is that? Of course, most of us will automatically relate that card to a really fun curse word, but the book says that the "F" word is whatever you want it to be at the time you draw it. Whatever word that begins with F that describes your situation. "Fixated, Frustrated, Fasting, Fool, Forgetful, Fat, Foreplay, Frightened, Fanatical, Forgotten, Fugitive, Forgetful..." (I am not sure if the second "Forgetful" was a typo, or humorous irony.) The book goes on to advise you to "Take your "F" word and shout it out, so the universal vibration is released into the cosmos and move forward with a new word that will create the magnificent flow you desire."  I love that. I know that for me, that card will still always make me think of the F word we are all familiar with. And I love that it has a place in this deck.

As with any deck, there are a few cards that I am not madly in love with. My two least favorite cards are Musical Joy and Rain Dance (both shown in the last image of this review). The artwork in Musical Joy feels a little out of place in this deck. It doesn't seem to flow with the same energy as the other cards. And Rain Dance features a silhouette of a girl frolicking in a puddle. I so wish I loved this card, because rain is one of my favorite things in life. But the girl's arm is quite unnatural in shape, and it distracts me every time I see it. Also, the angle of her front leg seems off. She seems more like a marionette or rag doll than a human.

Most of the deck images, however, I find gorgeous to the extreme, and flow together beautifully. They feel very high vibe and powerful. I love that the deck incorporates a mixture of light and dark cards, all of which feel empowering. The imagery is a combination of people, places, things, concepts, and designs, and they all elicit strong knowing when doing a reading. The cards are not static, but filled with depth, feeling and meaning.

It feels to me very strongly as if there is an energy in this deck that tunes into you. The creator is a psychic medium, so I can't help but believe that there is a bit of her energy in the deck. These cards feel responsive, and in my experience, they spark intuitive knowing. Because of this, I think it would be a fantastic deck to use if you are trying to hone in on any of your clair senses.

How it Reads
The cards almost feel like they live and breathe. They read like a dream. Even the flow of the colors and textures come into play in the readings. The meanings come across so simply yet powerfully.

My first reading with this deck was a four-card draw. It spoke in order across the cards, like one coherent thought. The message itself, along with the ease of the flow, gave me goosebumps.

One day I drew a card each from three different decks, and the card I drew from this deck completed the reading so poignantly. So it definitely plays well with others.

One day I asked what needed healing, and how to heal it. The Reprogram card leaped out, so I kept it in mind for background info, as it appeared in my previous reading, so that theme was strong for me at the time. I drew Cellular Collapse for "what needs healing", and I was blown away at how literal the cards' answer was. This card is about needing physical healing. "Now is the time for every cell to heal and be well again - on all levels." Then I drew Breathe Deeply for "how to heal it". Again, the cards read me like a book. I have a terrible habit of holding my breath when I am tense, and often even when I think I'm relaxing. My poor cells are not getting enough oxygen. When I drew these cards, I knew I would definitely try to keep this very important advice in mind. The passages for all three cards in this reading (including the jumper) talk about letting go of what no longer serves you, which was the exact message I got that same day from another oracle deck.

Another day I asked how I could change my relationship with money. I drew the cards Shift It and Mythical Changeling. The message I received was that I need to vibe with motion, ebb and flow, and stop believing I have to conform to society's rules about money. I need to shift my mindset and allow myself to know that nonconformity and originality can be attractive to the energy of money. That same night, I drew from another deck, just asking what I needed to know, and I drew cards titled Money and Originality. The exact same message!

I did another reading (which was too long to go into here) where every card related perfectly to each spread position, as though it actually heard my questions and responded relevantly. I have had cards come up in one reading, then again in another reading about the same subject, as though continuing our previous conversation. This really got me thinking that the creator didn't call this the Vibrational Energy Oracle for nothing. It feels really, really in tune with my vibration at any given time.

The Book
The 80-page booklet is the same size as the cards, and has a spine and thick glossy cardstock covers. It's not one of those stapled LWBs.

The book has a Table of Contents, with the cards listed in alphabetical order for easy reference. There is an 11-card spread that is original to this deck. This spread includes Mind, Body, Soul, Past, Present, Future, and 5 Vibrational Dimensions of the Soul.

Each card gets one page, with a small black and white image of the card, followed by a paragraph of meaning. Some cards are self-explanatory (Breathe Deeply), while others you really need to reference the book (Moonbeam Filled Waterfalls). Each brief passage leaves you feeling empowered, and gives you ideas to ponder or steps to take to incorporate the card's meaning in your life, in order to raise your vibration.

At the end of the book is an About the Author Page, a section on why the deck is comprised of 52 cards, and an About the Artist page.

Final Thoughts
This deck is gorgeous and reads like an absolute dream. The energy that exudes from the cards is palpable. It has easily become one of my favorite oracle decks. I'm talking Top 10 Oracle Decks status (and I own hundreds of decks!).  I cannot think of a single reason why you should not run out and get yourself a copy.

Deck: Vibrational Energy Oracle Cards, by Debbie A. Anderson, illustrated by Heather Brewster.

Deck Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Vivid Journey Tarot

May 07, 2017

The Vivid Journey Tarot is a bright and cheerful deck by Jessica Alaire. The artwork is so wonderfully unique and whimsical, there is so much to love about it!

The Cards
The cards measure 2 3/4" x 4 5/8". The backs are reversible. The cardstock is new for Llewellyn. It's very thin, and shuffles so easily. I really like it. The cards even smell good! They have a sweet, almost fruity-woodsy scent to them, instead of that strong chemical scent you sometimes get with a new deck.

The cards are borderless! Yes! Thank you, Llewellyn! Seriously, I cannot emphasize how thrilled I am that this deck is borderless. It's one of those decks that, if it had borders, and someone cut the borders off, you would say, "Wow! It looks soooo much better without borders!" So I am very, very grateful (almost ecstatically so) to Llewellyn for this brilliant decision.

The suits are somewhat color coded. Yellow runs strongly through the entire deck. The Minors are a mix of yellow, and the suit color. (Wands are red/yellow. Cups are blue/yellow. Swords are purple/yellow. Pentacles are green/purple/yellow). Sometimes the Pentacles cards have more purple in them than green. I would have liked to have seen them more green, so that they would stand out in a reading as obviously as the other suits do.

The artwork is so vibrant and cheerful. But it's not an overly saccharine cheerful. It feels like cartoons for grown-ups. There is a little bit of female nudity in the deck, so whether this is one for the kids will be up to the individual. It's difficult to put into words what feelings the cards evoke. I feel happy just looking at the artwork. It feels comfortable and safe, approachable, simple and calm, yet at the same time, fun and energetic. It just feels good to do a reading with these cards.

There are so many cards that I love in this deck, I could just go through each one oohing and aahing. I absolutely love the wonky angles of the Tower and Moon. In fact, the wonky Tower was one of the first cards I saw from this deck, and that card alone made me want to have this deck. I have a thing for that style of art.

I love the thick-legged women in this deck. It's an aesthetically pleasing change of pace. The Pages are usually some of the most boring cards for me in a deck. But in this deck, they are adorable. I love their puffy outfits. It really makes them endearing to me, rather than feeling boring and static like they usually do. The Hierophant feels more like a nice, friendly, approachable Santa type than the usual scary religious dictator.

The Three of Swords is the card that I am most torn about in this deck. The artist has gone with purple and yellow as the color theme for the Swords suit, and the heart in the Three of Swords is yellow. Yellow! Oddly, I am both fascinated and put off by this. I like the way it looks when I see it, from an artistic point of view, but darnit if I don't just want that heart to be red at my core. It looks wrong, somehow, not being red.

There are some cards where the figures are undefined silhouettes (see the Fool in the top image above, the Five of Wands and Two of Cups below). It adds an interesting element to the deck, since it's only a few of the cards that have this. I especially love the effect of the stark black silhouette against the colorful background in the Fool card!

The Strength card is just gorgeous. I love the hidden, hooded figures in the Magician and Hermit cards. The Death card is fabulous! The Hanged Man feels very zen. Even a card as simple as the Two of Wands really captures my eye in this deck. The lines of the artwork really draw me in. I love the gravity-defying hair of some of the women in the deck, like the one in the Ten of Wands.

How it Reads
My first draw with this deck was a daily draw, and it was the Queen of Cups. I drew it in conjunction with an oracle card titled "Changes", and together the cards reminded me of the Wayne Dyer quote "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." The duo reminded me that I am actively working on changing how I think and feeeeel about things, my emotional reactions to external situations, so that I can deliberately steer myself where I want to go, instead of always being in reaction mode. It was my first card drawn from the deck, and I fell in love, because of the added detail of the mermaid silhouette under the water. (You can see the card in the photo at the bottom of this review.) The same queen showed up a week later in a reading as what I need to outwardly show.

Next, I used the deck to do a Law of Attraction reading (here), and the cards were just so spot on. The reading made perfect sense, and the cards even illustrated the situation perfectly. In the position of how to raise my vibration, the Seven of Wands appeared, and he is literally standing in a higher position than the others. Even the Devil falling into a position I didn't expect to see him in was amazing because I saw him like I had never seen him before. As soon as I turned over the card, I heard a phrase in my head about him that I had never considered. I didn't need to sit there and wonder what the heck he meant in that position. It was clear the instant I turned the card over, and it was a take on the card I had never had before, which was brilliant.

(A week after that LOA reading, the Seven of Wands came up again in my daily draw, and it reminded me of what I needed to take away from that reading.)

One day I did a reading about whether or not I should make a particular purchase, because that morning I had drawn from two different decks a warning about making a bad purchase. I drew a card for the outcome if I did buy it (Ace of Pentacles), and another card for if I didn't (Ten of Pentacles). They were both good cards. Yeah, I would have more money if I didn't buy it. You always have more money if you don't buy something. But I didn't want that to be the only deciding factor. So I put the cards back into the deck and shuffled, drawing another card for what I should consider. I drew the Ten of Pentacles again! The deck literally threw one of the cards back at me and said I should seriously consider not buying it. So I considered it, but I really wanted it, so I ended up in a discussion with the seller, who was so friendly and kind (good customer service goes a long, long way with me), and I ended up making the purchase. In the course of the conversation, she offered me free add-ons to my purchase in exchange for a review. The Ace of Pentacles became the Ten of Pentacles! I ended up with the thing I wanted, plus money saved from the extras that I would have ended up buying later. Had I not been cautious about the purchase, I would have only had the Ace, not the Ten. Beautiful!

One day I had nothing to do a reading about, so I asked a silly question and got a silly answer. Are we going to win any money in the lottery tonight? King of Pentacles. "You're going to win ALL the money, you rich bastard!" Ha ha ha ha ha! Not one single number was a match. My cards are notorious for telling me I'm going to win millions in the lottery. It's kind of like our little inside joke. This deck apparently likes to play too.

I did another couple of spreads, which will take too long to explain here, but the cards were always on point, completely relevant to each position and easy to understand. So it has been my experience that these cards read very clearly and precisely.

The Book
The 192-page book has glossy paper and full color images. It begins with an About the Author page, followed by a very brief Contents page (listing only the five sections in the book: Introduction, Tarot Basics, Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, and Conclusion).

The 3-page Introduction contains the author's views on tarot and reasons behind creating this deck.

Tarot Basics is a 15-page section covering color meanings, numerology, the suits, courts, and the famous Past-Present-Future spread. The author also discusses the Fool's journey through Major Arcana.

The card meanings take up the bulk of the book. Each card is given a 2-page spread. On every left page is a full-color, nearly full-size image of the card. Underneath the card image is the title, and the start of the text, which continues on the right side. Reversed meanings are given for each card. The book meanings are detailed enough for a beginner to start out with.

In the midst of most of the card meaning descriptions (either the upright, reversed or both), the author poses several questions to ask yourself, so you can really embody the message of the card. For example, in the Three of Swords, she talks about the rain symbolizing the need for releasing tears, and asks, "Do you fight painful emotions? Could you benefit from feeling your emotions instead of burying them?"

The book ends with a one-page Conclusion, followed by a Llewellyn ad.

Final Thoughts
This deck is a fabulous all-purpose deck. It could easily be used as a beginner's deck, as it follows RWS closely. And for seasoned readers, the deck provides a fun and vibrant twist to the norm, while maintaining the integrity of the RWS system. I absolutely love the whimsy of the artwork. It is definitely one of my new favorite RWS clones.

Deck: Vivid Journey Tarot, by Jessica Alaire, published by Llewellyn.

Deck Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Chakra Reading Cards

April 30, 2017

Chakra Reading Cards is a gorgeous, vibrant chakra-based deck by Rachelle Charman and Rockpool Publishing.

The Cards
The 36 cards measure 3 3/4" x 5 1/2". They are large, but flexible enough to shuffle vertically. They have a nice glossy finish. The back design is not reversible, but the cards are not meant to be used with reversals. The backs are beautiful, featuring rainbow colors fading into each other down the length of the card, corresponding with the seven chakra symbols. The Earth Star and Soul Star chakra symbols are to the left and right of the middle Heart chakra symbol.

The cards and book are housed in a very nice, sturdy box that closes magnetically. The cards sit in a recessed cardboard insert, and the book lays on top. I have several Rockpool decks and have had a different experience with each of the inserts. This one is cardboard, like the one in the Flower Reading Cards, but thankfully the cards in this deck don't get caught underneath like they do with the Flower ones. However, I do have to flip the box over to release the cards, as there is no indentation for your finger to pull them out. My favorite Rockpool inserts are the plastic ones with the indentation for your finger, as those are the easiest way to slide the cards out (the Chinese Fortune Reading Cards and Angel Reading Cards have those).

The deck is divided into nine chakras, with four cards in each chakra "suit". I absolutely love that in addition to the traditional seven chakras (Base (Root), Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye and Crown), the deck also includes the Earth Star Chakra and the Soul Star Chakra. This really made the deck that much more interesting to me.

The border colors differ for each chakra:

  • Earth Star: Black
  • Base: Red
  • Sacral: Orange
  • Solar Plexus: Yellow
  • Heart: Green
  • Throat: Blue
  • Third Eye: Dark Indigo
  • Crown: Silver/Grey
  • Soul Star: Gold

It is difficult to tell the difference between the Yellow (Solar Plexus) and Gold (Soul Star) borders. And the Red (Base) and Orange (Sacral) colors are also very similar. I wish these colors had been more dramatically different, so that it was obvious at first glance which cards belonged to which chakras. Also, the Indigo (Third Eye) is more of a dark blue, and it would have been nice if it was more purple. All that being said, I do like that the borders are different colors, according to their chakras. I thought this was a really great design decision.

The image designs vary in medium. There are paintings, computer generated imagery and manipulated photography. But rather than feeling distracting or chaotic, the cards blend together beautifully in a reading.

The colors used in the images are so vibrant. The imagery feels alive with energy, which you can feel whenever you turn over a card. The cards are so beautiful, you just want to get lost in them for a good long while. Most of the cards are simple, yet evocative and powerful.

How it Reads
One of the ways I used this deck was as part of a chakra reading. Shocking, I know! I drew a card (from another deck) for each of the nine chakras, to tell me the current status of each of my chakras. Then I drew a card from this deck, for each of the chakras, for what energy was needed to balance the chakras. It was interesting, the idea of using one chakra's energy to heal another. Out of nine chakras, only one card fell in its natural chakra position. (I drew a card from the Crown suit to apply to the Crown position in the spread.) It made for a very thought provoking reading. It gave me a lot to chew on and a lot of practical advice to apply.

During the 10-day period I worked with this deck daily, I drew cards from each chakra except the Sacral chakra and Earth Star chakra. But I did draw a Sacral card in my chakra reading. So the only chakra suit I did not get to work with was the Earth Star chakra, which was a bummer because I was excited about exploring that one. I will continue working with the cards, and will eventually draw one of those, it just wasn't in time for this review.

I drew three different Third Eye cards, three days in a row, which was interesting. And one of those cards also appeared in my chakra reading.

The first card I drew from the deck was Soul Healing (Soul Star Chakra). There couldn't have been a better card, from any deck, to come up for me that day. I had a painful falling out with a dear loved one and my soul was in deep, desperate need of healing. The passage from the book seemed to be talking directly to me. The next day I drew Divine Wisdom (another Soul Star Chakra card). Again, it was exactly what I needed to hear that day, when I was debating a decision, reminding me to trust in my inner wisdom.

It's interesting to me that I had two instances of a chakra repeating itself from one day to the next. It was fascinating to see when the energy was sticking around. This would be a fantastic deck to have on hand to keep track of the ebb and flow of the energy getting caught up in your different chakras.

One day I asked what chakra imbalance was causing my tooth pain issue, and I drew Forgiveness (Heart Chakra). In the book, I read this: "When we hold onto grudges and wounds from the past we can create imbalance and disharmony in out life. Over time this can turn into resentment, anger, frustration, sickness and depression, like rotting fruit creating a disease inside us." That just hit the nail on the head for me. I found it interesting that my tooth issues could be a heart chakra issue, and not a throat chakra issue (where the mouth is located).

Another day, I drew the Abundance card (Root Chakra) and I made an unexpected sale that day.

On a day that I drew Communication (Throat Chakra), I spent a really nice evening out with my youngest daughter, enabling us to talk one-on-one.

The last day I drew from this deck, I pulled the Spiritual Awakening card (Crown Chakra) and I was like YES! Because I had literally had a spiritual epiphany that morning, and everything the book said related directly to my issue. It was perfect.

So I can attest that the cards read really well. There wasn't an instance where I was scratching my head, wondering what it meant for me. The messages were always clear and on point.

The Book
The 112-page book begins with a Table of Contents, for easy card reference. The beginning includes a page for each of the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • How to Work With Your Oracle
  • Caring For Your Deck
  • How to Facilitate a Reading
  • Connecting to Your Own Intuition
  • Reading for Someone Else

Then there are three pages with five Card Layouts including:

  • Daily Guidance Layout (1 card)
  • Past, Present and Future Chakra Layout (3 cards)
  • Chakra Balancing Layout (1 card)
  • Expanded Chakra Balancing Layout (7 cards)
  • Cosmic Chakra Balancing Layout (9 cards)

Next there is a diagram with the outline of a person sitting down, with all the chakras lined up along the body, indicating which goes where.

There is one page titled Introduction to Chakras.

Each of the chakras is divided into its own section, beginning with a 2-page background on the chakra. This background gives the name of the chakra, the associated color(s) and location on the body/area. It goes into detail on what attributes the chakra has, how it relates to your body/life, and what it feels like when the chakra is balanced. There are several bulleted keywords and phrases that each chakra relates to.

The second page of each chakra introduction provides exercises (rituals with meditation and crystals) for you to cleanse and balance the chakra. This is followed by an affirmation. So when you feel one of your chakras are unbalanced, you can refer to this section and perform the ritual and get back on track.

The book is beautiful. On each 2-page chakra introduction, the tops of the pages are painted with uneven watercolor that has an absolutely stunning effect. This is such a simple thing, but it had such a big impact on the aesthetic of the book. And then when you turn to the individual card meaning pages, along the edge of all of the right pages are these curved pointy designs, reminiscent of mandala edging. This colored edging makes flipping through the book and finding a particular chakra easy. Again, another small detail, yet really pleasing to the eye. In addition, on the top of the right side of each meaning page is each chakra symbol. And the watercolor, edging and symbols for each chakra are in each of the chakra's  individual colors. There was a lot of care, beauty and attention to detail put into the book.

Each card gets a 2-page spread. On the left side is simply a full-color image of the card, almost life-size. On the right side is the chakra symbol, card number, title and chakra. The meaning of the card takes up the rest of the page. At the bottom is an affirmation.

The meanings are wonderful. They give you not only philosophical points to consider, but also practical suggestions on how to strengthen the particular area of the chakra you drew. Every time I drew a card, the meaning given applied to my situation perfectly.

The book ends with an About the Author page, followed by a 2-page photo of the author at an altar. The last three pages are ads for other offerings by the author and publisher.

Final Thoughts
The images in this deck are so powerful and evocative. The colors are vibrant and energetic. It's a visual treat for your eyes. It is the prettiest chakra deck I have seen, and a must-have for chakra work. The cards speak powerfully, read like a dream, and the messages are always on point. It's a deck I most definitely highly recommend.

I still have a hard time distinguishing the differences between the Soul Star Chakra and the Crown Chakra, and also between the Earth Star Chakra and the Base (Root) Chakra. The two pairs seem very similar to me, addressing many similar issues. I will have to do more research to make the distinctions clearer to myself, as this deck has really made me want to always incorporate the nine chakras into my work, instead of the usual seven.

Deck: Chakra Reading Cards by Rachelle Charman, published by Rockpool Publishing.