A few weeks ago I was sitting around with my sister in law doing what we often do. Having a play with my tarot cards. I don't do readings for people or anything like that, I just love collecting them because of the artwork and sometimes we read for a bit of fun and guidance. I am not really into the traditional decks, and while I prefer Rider Waite type decks for continuity, I don't like the traditional images. Luckily there are a lot of Rider Waite inspired 'niche' decks with amazing artwork, and that is what I like collecting. Anyway, on this particular Saturday night, I decided I needed to buy a new deck. I had been disappointed by the last deck I had bought so it had been quite a while since I had even thought about purchasing one. Long story short, I had been burned and it was going to take something truely amazing to get me to buy again. It wasn't long before I found what I had always longed for.
There were two versions available of this, one of those being with a limited edition coffin shaped box that I unfortunately couldn't get my hands on. The standard version though is still quite visually pleasing and also surprisingly great quality. Packed in a high quality stock box with a lift off lid, the cards are easy to get out and put back in. No extra storage box is needed (which is quite often the case with many tarot decks) as the packaging takes care of this for you. You are immediately hit with the beautiful strong colours and beautiful artwork of the cards. They are a decent size and a very high quality thick glossy stock which makes handling them a joy. As they are so glossy, they can be a little slippery when shuffling compared to some other decks but you soon get used to it. I know when I am shuffling a deck, if a card 'jumps out' I feel like it wants to be read so you want to make sure a card is jumping out for the right reasons!
Inside you are met with a small pocket size booklet with the card translations. The first 50 pages of the book are in English followed by Italian, French, Spanish and Porteguese translations as well.
The dead are reborn and lie again in the belly of the conscience
Austin Osman Spare
The book goes on to tell us that this deck celebrates and honours life. It honours all those that have gone before us and their memory remains a part of us in our collective consciousness that we can tap into during our Tarot readings. For this reason, each card while given a traditional meaning based on the Rider Waite methodology, also gives what is called 'Advice of the dead'. This is described as simple direct advice from our ancestors. With this system, it means that the deck can be used in two ways.
The artwork itself is a colourful representation of Mexican and Pre Colombian traditions and cults:
Dias de los Muertos - Day of the dead
In the Major Arcana, the Death card has been replaced by Santa Muerte. While the meaning is essentially the same, the imagery is descriptive and beautiful and paints a different picture than the traditional artwork displayed on Death cards. It feels like the whole deck was built around this image where La Santa Muerte reminds us that Death represents transformation and rebirth and how we should not be so concerned about Death, but more worried about not living enough.
I have made no secret how in love with this deck I am. I am very much still learning a lot of the meanings when it comes to tarot and refer to the accompanying reading material all the time. With this deck however, there is a lot I am able to decipher from the pictures themselves, They tell me everything I need to know before even reading the book. It also helps that the images are that of skeletons, skulls and butterflies. It is just an absolutely stunning deck. About a week after I bought this deck, even though I am not an oracle card person, I decided that I needed to have the oracle version.
The cards come in a good quality box where the lid again lifts off so no extra storage is needed. It can be stored well and safely in the box which is always a big tick from me. The cards themselves are good square size. They feel like they are slightly thinner than the tarot version and it feels like only 1 side is glossed which I find makes them easier to shuffle and a lot less slippery.
What I love about this deck is the way you are encouraged to read it. On one side of the card, you have an image and a number which obviously relates to its meaning. On the other side, is part of the image of a ouija board. The aim is to lie the cards face down in a particular order, and what you are left with is an image of a ouija board. The accompanying book which sits at the bottom of the box instructs the user to sit in front of the ouija style layout and close their eyes to focus on a family or friend who has passed that can offer guidance. Ask them a question in your head and put out your finger over your spread. Move your finger around in a figure 8 while asking your questions (eyes still closed) until you find you are drawn to a card. Turn the card over and read it's corresponding meaning which is in the accompanying book. How fun is that!
What I did find disappointing is with oracle cards, I prefer to have the meanings written on the card itself as it is a little annoying having to refer to the book all the time. I can see however why this is. The images again are visually stunning. What is most appealing is that the bottom row is a continuous picture. The book itself is again in a few different languages and offers the meaning of the card along with the 'advice from the dead'. The cards can be used as well by just shuffling a drawing a card every morning, but I find the ouija board way so much more fun. The deck was created to compliment the above Tarot deck and I feel it really does. While it isn't something I probably use much, I do enjoy laying out the spread.
I am the sage, the Old Woman, the Girl.
I am the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and the Wind.
I am the Earth, the Water, the field's green grass.
I am the melody of the Ancestors, I am the Children's heartbeat.
I am the Great Spirit that never left.
I am the Mother and I am the Daughter, Sister, Teacher and disciple.
Flor De Belen
Overall, the tarot deck is my favourite of the 2. In fact the tarot is my favourite tarot deck currently in my possession. They were quite affordable around $40 AUD for the Tarot deck and $30 AUD for the Oracle deck. I would have been willing to even pay more for tarot version. I bought both decks through Booktopia, but they are available at many outlets including Book Depository.
I often even just sit holding and shuffling the cards as I feel such a lovely connection with them. The artwork while being so visually stunning and pleasing (I mean who doesn't like skulls?) I can understand and relate to it. Others I have drawn a card for can get what they need just by looking at the card without having to read the book. It really speaks and resonates with you. Of course the artwork can be confronting for some and it is a niche. It may not be popular with some who use cards to do professional readings but I still recommend you grab a copy for your own personal collection. You won't be disappointed!
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