The Mary-El Tarot
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-4061-1
NOTE: this deck and review contains nudity.
“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” ~ Frederich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
That famous and often used quote nearly sums up the Mary-El Tarot. For those of you who know me you are well aware of my love for bright colors. I collect brightly colored decks and the artwork I create is dominated by bright colors. However, every once in a while something dark and somewhat macabre catches my eye. It is such well-crafted decks as the Mary-El Tarot that provides us with necessary balance in the tarot world.
The Mary-El Tarot is based upon the Marseille, Rider Waite, and Thoth decks that also serve as its inspiration. Following Crowley, Justice is major arcana 8 while Strength is major arcana 11. The major arcana are all traditionally named. The cards are laden with deep symbolism that is discussed in detail by Marie White in her guidebook. I recommend you take the time to read the guidebook before you attempt to use this deck. I suggest you take the time to highlight the significance of the main symbols depicted on the cards. The interpretation of each card consists of a number of key words and phrases for both upright and reversed cards. The keywords are followed by the upright and reversed traditional Rider Waite interpretations. Marie White also includes her own interpretations of her images. You do not see this very often when an artist takes the time to include both their own interpretations and the traditional Rider Waite interpretations. This gives the Mary-El Tarot a unique perspective. When you begin to shuffle for a reading I recommend that you decide ahead of time if you will be using the traditional Rider Waite interpretations or Marie White’s interpretations. I have done readings for myself asking the same question twice and using first Marie White’s interpretations, then the traditional Rider Waite interpretations. Both do work well with this deck, but again, I recommend you decide beforehand which set of interpretations you will use for each reading.
The minor arcana in both the book and brand new deck are arranged according to their numbers. All Aces are together, followed by the four Two’s, the Threes, and so on. As with the major arcana, both Marie White’s interpretations and the traditional Rider Waite interpretations are provided for each card, upright and reversed. As with the major arcana, the cards are laden with intricate symbolism that Marie White discusses for each card. The suits are Wands, Swords, Cups, and Disks. Court cards are designated the usual Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings. The guidebook concludes with the following spreads: a daily Within and Without, a 3-card advice, relationship spread, a yes/no spread, past life, and a 10-card pyramidal tetractys spread. The guidebook concludes with what I consider to be an important discussion of how to interpret the cards via the suggested interpretations, use of color and overall mood of each card.
If you enjoy decks that are somewhat darker in tone with a dreamlike element to them and intricate symbolic art, then you will enjoy the Mary-El Tarot. Marie White takes great pains to thoroughly discuss the symbols she placed into each card that are integral to that card’s meaning. I reiterate that it is recommend you take the time to read the guidebook thoroughly before jumping into using the deck. You will be glad you took the time to do so. Since Marie White also includes the more traditional Rider Waite interpretation that makes this deck useful for both beginner and advanced readers alike.