Beautiful Creatures Tarot: Deck Review

The Beautiful Creatures Tarot                                                                                    Beautiful Creatures Tarot
Book: J. r. Rivera
Artwork: Jasmine Becket-Griffith
Schiffer Books, 2015
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot comes housed in the sturdy laminated magnetic hinged box for which Schiffer is now known. The box measures 6 X 9” and can be stored on its end like a book thus requiring less room in your bookcase. The magnetic lid remains closed so the deck can be stored as if it were a book. The deck is stored within two recessed wells and the 6 X 9” guidebook rests on top of the cards.
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot is a collaborative effort between J. r. Rivera (guide book author) and Jasmine Becket-Griffith, who is well known as the artist behind a number of oracle decks. Her style focuses on the eyes of her characters, which are always lovely and oversized that immediately draw your attention to the faces of the characters she paints.
The Sun & 10 of Waters from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot, Schiffer Books 2015.
The Sun & 10 of Waters from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot, Schiffer Books 2015.
The card images are lovely representations of 1 – 3 females on each card all of whom sport the trademark large eyes of Griffith’s style. Griffith paints with acrylics and her images contain a luminescence that creates an aura of mystery around the figures she creates.
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot differs from traditional Tarot decks in two main areas: some of the major arcana cards are renamed, and the court cards do not reflect the typical medieval court organization, but are based upon astrological correspondences.
The differing card names within the major arcana are as follows:
The Fool = The Explorer
Strength = The Fortitude
Justice = The Equilibrium
Hanged Man = The Swinging One
Death = The Transformation
Temperance = The Mediator
The Devil = The Addiction
The Tower = The Unexpected
The court cards of The Beautiful Creatures Tarot can be confusing to someone who is new to Tarot. The Pages are
named for each of the Elements and are called Nymphs. Their information concludes the chapter on court cards while the other court cards are named for their astrological correspondences. They begin with the Ram as Aries, moving to Taurus as the Bull, the Twins as Gemini, and so on.
The 4 Nymphs (Pages) from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)
The 4 Nymphs (Pages) from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)
One example is that the Ram of Fires corresponds to the traditional Queen of Wands.
The Ram of Fires from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)
The Ram of Fires from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)
Suits are Fires (Wands), Waters (Cups), Airs (Swords), and Earths (Pentacles).
The guidebook has 152 pages with black and white images of the cards. The spreads include a one card/one answer spread; a 3-card spread; The Beautiful & Ugly; The 3-Card Mirror Within; The 3-card Beauty, Truth & Light; the 5-card Triage en Croix; the 5-card Mind Over Heart; 5-card 30-Day Outlook; 5-card Voice of the Beautiful Creatures; the 7-card Vice Versa; & the 7-card Family Tree and Hereditary spread. As far as spreads go this book presents an excellent selection from which to choose.
The card interpretations begin with keywords and a description of the card’s imagery. Both upright and reversed meanings are provided. There are two additional cards: You Are One and The Supernatural, thus making The Beautiful Creatures Tarot an 80-card Tarot deck. The guidebook concludes with eight lined journal pages for notes.
The cards measure 3 ½” x 5” and are constructed from a sturdy card stock with just enough flexibility to allow for relatively easy shuffling. The borders are purple along the base with the card title in white along the base of the image. The rest of the border is black.
Extra Cards: You Are One & The Supernatural from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)
Extra Cards: You Are One & The Supernatural from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2015)
Images consist exclusively of females, except for The Lovers and 2 of Waters. Jasmine Becket-Griffiths is known for depicting females with large, prominent eyes and faces with the body being smaller and not emphasized as much as the head. The artwork has a fairy tale ethereal air to it. The cards are really lovely and card backs are completely reversible for those of you who take reversed card meanings into account for your readings.
Card back from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)
Card back from The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer Books 2015)
Overall, The Beautiful Creatures Tarot makes for a lovely addition to your Tarot collection. My banker husband who is not into Tarot at all kept telling me what a “cute” deck this is. The Beautiful Creatures Tarot does have a nice energy to it that makes the deck very enjoyable and is definitely is a must-have for all fans of Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s artwork.

How to Choose a Tarot Deck.

If you do not currently own a Tarot deck, here’s my advice on how to purchase one. The main criteria is that the imagery of the deck appeals to you. You will be viewing that deck fairly often so you’re going to want to get a deck you find to be pleasing to your eye. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these days there are hundreds of decks to choose from, so where do you start?

If you’re relatively new to Tarot I would recommend that you begin with a deck for which all the pips are fully illustrated with scenes. The pips are the minor arcana – the four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords & Pentacles) and their cards, Ace – King. Some decks only represent the pips numerically. For instance, the 2 of Cups will be just that, a picture of 2 cups. The 6 of Pentacles will be simply a picture of six pentacles, and so on. When the pips are fully illustrated the cards are depicted scenically.

The 3 of Cups from "The Illuminated Starlight Tarot," by Carol Herzer.
The 3 of Cups from “The Illuminated Starlight Tarot,” by Carol Herzer.

A good example of this is the 3 of Cups, here from The Rider Waite Smith (known as the RWS) deck. This one has been painted by artist Carol Herzer.  Here we have three woman holding their cups aloft as they celebrate something. The 3 of Cups represents having a reason to celebrate. It can also indicate having a good time with friends.  You see that idea depicted here through the symbols used for the card. This is what I mean by a fully illustrated pip card. For someone who is new to Tarot it is crucial your first few decks have fully illustrated pips. This will make the flow and narrative of your readings much easier to follow and comprehend.

There are many decks that contain fully illustrated pips. As a Tarot instructor, over the years I have recommended several decks to my students that are in various styles, but they have one thing in common. All the pips are illustrated.

Firstly, I would recommend any version of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot. You can google the title and then click on “images” to view various styles of this deck.

My second suggestion is The Robin Wood Tarot.

The 3 of Wands, 4 of Swords & Knight of Cups from The Robin Wood Tarot.
The 3 of Wands, 4 of Swords & Knight of Cups from The Robin Wood Tarot.

Done in the RWS style, Robin Wood’s depiction of the pips, as well as the major arcana, is very straightforward and simple to understand. Many times while using this deck with clients they can glance down at the table and know immediately how the reading will turn out based upon the images on the cards, yet they know nothing of Tarot. I highly recommend The Robin Wood Tarot for beginners. Plus, it’s a lovely deck that has a pagan feel to it.

The 8 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles & 3 of Swords from The Hanson-Roberts Tarot.
The 8 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles & 3 of Swords from The Hanson-Roberts Tarot.

Another nice deck to start with, especially for those of you with smaller hands, is the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. These cards are playing-card size so they are easier to shuffle and larger readings will take up less room on your table. The artwork is done in colored pencil and is lovely and done in the RWS tradition.

If you like computer graphic art, I also recommend any Tarot deck by the artist

The 3 of Wands, 2 of Swords & 6 of Coins from The Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti.
The 3 of Wands, 2 of Swords & 6 of Coins from The Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti.

Ciro Marchetti. I own all his decks & must say he is among my all-time favorite Tarot artists. I especially like his Legacy of the Divine deck, as well as his Tarot of Dreams, which is my personal favorite.

Lisa Hunt is another Tarot artist I highly admire & find inspiring for my own artistic endeavors. She has a number of decks in print and you can search

The 2 of Cups, 4 of Pentacles & Page of Wands from The Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt.
The 2 of Cups, 4 of Pentacles & Page of Wands from The Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt.

her at Amazon to find a list there. My all-time favorite of hers is The Celtic Dragon Tarot, which I believe has just entered its 14th printing, if I’m not mistaken. This was the first non-RWS deck I purchased back in 1999 and I must say after using only the RWS for nearly 20 years, The Celtic Dragon Tarot introduced me to a whole new world of decks not strictly done in the RWS tradition. Lisa Hunt depicts each card with a dragon and lovely Celtic scenery all done in watercolor.

A good website to visit in order to see at least six images from every card deck is Aeclectic Tarot at They also include deck reviews and here you can make an informed decision as to which deck to purchase.  Purchase links are also included.

My main tips for choosing a Tarot deck are:

  • The pips should be fully illustrated scenes if you’re a beginner.
  • The artwork should be pleasing to your eye.
  • There are many themes of decks available now so choose a theme that interests you.

It can be daunting to sift your way through the hundreds of Tarot decks available these days. Take your time and I’m sure you will end up with the deck that is perfect for you.

Wishing You Many Blessings,

Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Readings & Candle Work

Visionary Art

The Egyptian Lenormand now available for pre-order at Schiffer Books and Amazon.

The Turtle Lenormand now available for pre-order.

My forthcoming Aloha Spirit of Maui Oracle deck.

Free Tarot Reading for the Week of October 10th.

Tarot for the week of October 6, 2014 ~

Green Man from The Chrysalis Tarot. Copyright Holly Sierra & US Games Inc 2014.
Green Man from The Chrysalis Tarot. Copyright Holly Sierra & US Games Inc 2014.
Deck: The Chrysalis Tarot
Holly Sierra, Artist
Toney Brooks, Author
US Games, Inc. 2014

The week opens with Green Man, which is most commonly titled “The Emperor” in other Tarot decks. This card embodies the universal spiritual forces of Will, Control, and Organization. It represents skills at being organized, at knowing how to put a project together and get it off the ground, and it is usually a card of accomplishment since the Green Man gets things done. On the downside, the Green Man can be a bit controlling, sometimes even a control freak and the lesson of this card is to always remember it’s great to have a set goal in mind and a good idea of how to attain it, but you also have to be careful not to drive over anyone who may be in your way or may be too slow to join in. Patience may be required from time to time.


The 6 of Mirrors represents nostalgia. It often indicates

6 of Mirrors, The Chrysalis Tarot, copyright Holly Sierra & US Games Inc 2014.
6 of Mirrors, The Chrysalis Tarot, copyright Holly Sierra & US Games Inc 2014.

either yearning for the past or perhaps wishing to see an old friend. The 6 of Mirrors can sometimes indicate a reunion with an old friend or a family member you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s typically a happy and peaceful card.

The 6 of Mirrors (also known as the 6 of Cups in other Tarot decks) usually is a depiction of a garden. This is a card of slow and steady growth. So all that get up and go in the Green Man card will continue to evolve throughout the week. Things will grow at a pace that is appropriate for them and for you. An old friend may be of help.


The Celtic Owl, like the

Celtic Owl, The Chrysalis Tarot, copyright Holly Sierra & US Games Inc, 2014.
Celtic Owl, The Chrysalis Tarot, copyright Holly Sierra & US Games Inc, 2014.

Green Man, is another card of the major arcana. In other Tarot decks this is known as the Hanged Man. The Celtic Owl embodies the universal spiritual forces of Self-Sacrifice, Illumination, and often can indicate feeling like you’re stuck in limbo or in a rut.

At the start of the week you have all this great get-up-and-go energy around you that really gets things moving, but by the end of the week I think you’ll be ready for the weekend and wanting to rest and have time to reflect. The Celtic Owl can represent going within, meditating, finding the time to rest and relax. The upcoming weekend will come as a welcome break for many of us, but this will overall be a week of accomplishments.

So go out & make it a great week!

Wishing you & yours many blessings,

Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T. readings, spells, free information

Visionary Art: Soul Portraits and Manifestation Mandalas created just for you

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Deck Review: The Healing Tarot.

The Healing Tarot: 78 Ways to Wellness    Healing Tarot
Juno Lucina & Monica Knighton
Schiffer Books, 2013.
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-4392-6
$39.99 USD

A collaboration between Juno Lucina (Author) & Monica Knighton (artist), The Healing Tarot: 78 Ways to Wellness, is – as far as I know, a unique concept.  The deck can be used two different ways:  as a straightforward typical Tarot deck following the traditional Rider-Waite interpretations, or as a method to read on your health specifically.  The guidebook runs 192 pages & contains both traditional Rider-Waite interpretations as well as health interpretations of every card in the deck that are based upon medical astrology.

There is an interesting health orientation to every card.  Body parts and clues to various maladies are included in the card imagery.  All card images are presented as black and white sketches with a pen and ink look to them.  If you love brightly colored decks, as I do, you are going to be sorely tempted to color in the images – however, due to the sturdy, yet light laminate coating, I don’t recommend you attempt it.  I don’t believe anything but gel pens would adhere to the cards and over time with repeated shuffling that color may erode.   The black and white sketch style to the deck lends a certain charm and it also allows for much easier visibility of the finer details of each work of art contained within The Healing Tarot.  In fact, the minute details included in the images is quite outstanding & the lack of color makes the finer details more pronounced, in my artistic opinion.

Schiffer deck packaging has been changed and the focus has moved away from the longer box to a shorter box that measures 9 X 6 X 1 1/2″.  The box is still made from thick & sturdy cardboard with a heavy laminate.  The lids remain with the nice flip magnetic closure.  The great thing about the new size of box is that it fits very nicely on a bookshelf since it’s the same size as a typical 9 X 6 X 1″ paperback book.  The magnetic closure allows the box to be stored on its end and you do not have to be concerned about the box falling open while on the shelf.

The size of the Guidebook is also very nice at 5 1/2 X 5 1/2 X 1/2″.  It’s easy to hold and personally, I prefer the smaller size.  Within the box for The Healing Tarot there  are separate wells for the cards and book that are housed side by side.  The Guidebook includes a 3 – 5 page discussion of each major arcana card and a 1-page discussion of each minor arcana card.  Card interpretations include the traditional Rider-Waite for non-health related questions as well as the interpretation based on medical astrology & the Qabalistic Tree of Life that pertains to specific health issues and parts of the body.  Cards are also discussed in terms of being positively or poorly aspected, depending on surrounding cards in the spread.   Astrological associations of the cards and how they combine with one another in a reading are important, as well as elemental friendships, dignitaries, & the planets’ traditional relationships with one another.  Three spreads are included for The Healing Tarot:  Acute Illness, Healthy Zodiac, & Diet/Fitness.  All cards are depicted in the Guidebook in 3 X 2″ for the major arcana and 1 X 1 1/2″ for the minor arcana.  The cards themselves measure 5 X 3″ with a lovely shiny laminate and are easy to shuffle due to being relatively flexible, but without being flimsy.

Sample Reading:  Seeing the Cards in Action.

I suffer from repeated sinus infections, and have ever since I moved to the Gulf Coast of Texas 17 years ago.  It’s clearly allergy-related since plants bloom here almost year-round and with the high humidity levels of the Gulf Coast area, there is also mold to which I am highly allergic.  The question I posed to The Healing Tarot is:  what can I do to avoid repeated sinus infections (which have now progressed to also include throat & ear infections, neither of which I ever suffered from in the past).

I used the Acute Illness Spread since this is basically a chronic condition, plus, when it’s at its worst, I do become acutely ill.  Last October I caught strep throat, which went into a sinus infection that progressed into an ear & throat infection.  My GP had to take me through FIVE rounds of antibiotics before all the cooties were finally killed off.  Needless to say, my stomach wasn’t such a happy camper either, not even with probiotics.  The Acute Illness spread consists of 4 cards.

  • Card 1:  Nature of the Illness:  King of Pentacles.
  • Card 2:  Cause of Illness:  4 of Swords.
  • Card 3:  Way Through Illness: 3 of Cups.
  • Card 4:  Outcome of Illness:  2 of Swords.
Healing Tarot: King of Pentacles.
Healing Tarot: King of Pentacles. (C) Lucina & Knighton, 2013

A quick glance at the imagery tells me that I may be pretty much screwed when it comes to my sinuses.  Card 1, the King of Pentacles, depicts a crowned skeleton laying out on the beach.  Well, that to me would be the Gulf Coast!  He has his hand on a clock, which represents the long-term aspect of this condition that has gone back 17 years.  So the nature of this illness is definitely related to the beach, or in my case, specifically the Gulf Coast.  So right off the bat I see there’s no real way around the issue since my family isn’t moving in the foreseeable future.

Card 2, the 4 of Swords as the cause of the illness, again, based only on imagery & not even looking at the interpretations in the book, here we have a healer

Healing Tarot: 4 of Swords.  (C) Lucina & Knighton, 2013
Healing Tarot: 4 of Swords. (C) Lucina & Knighton, 2013

who is working on a client.  I find this very intriguing because when my husband and I first moved to the Gulf Coast area shortly after that I learned about reiki and began undergoing the 4-step attunement process.  I am now a reiki master-teacher.  Coincidentally or not, my sinus issues began after I completed my reiki training.  Therefore, in my case, this card is a timing indicator.  The first card identified the location, the second card narrows in on the time the health issue began to be a major problem for me.

Card # 3, the Way Through the Illness, is the 3 of Cups.  So, does this mean I’m supposed to throw parties for myself & celebrate continuously?  Sounds like fun,

Healing Tarot: 3 of Cups.
Healing Tarot: 3 of Cups. (C) Lucina & Knighton, 2013.

right?  When I examine the finer details of the 3 of Cups I realize that the food depicted is the key.  The three dancing figures are holding (from left to right) an ice-cream sundae (wow, do I LOVE ice-cream!!), a glass of wine (I’m allergic to sulfates & nitrates so I stay away from wine because I get drunk on just 1 glass!), & a carbonated drink.  I love Coke Zero, but do limit myself to 2 cans a day.  Now, looking at the nude man laying on the ground he has his back to soda, chips, candy, cake, cheese (dairy – I am lactose intolerant), beer (again, I don’t drink), while in front of his feet there is a pot visible that says “chick ..” on it (the rest of the wording isn’t visible due to the way his feet are positioned.  The pot contains what looks like vegetables and a chicken leg, so I can only assume the text on the pot should read in full, “chicken soup.”  This man has his back to all this yummy stuff while the chicken soup is in front of him.  That tells me I should turn my back on a big chunk of my diet and eat more healthy foods.  That’s a major bummer, but it makes perfect sense because these foods contain sugar, which can create more phlegm in your system.  Dairy definitely creates phlegm so these are things I should avoid.  I have been doing much better lately eating less foods containing processed sugar, but ice-cream?  Could I ever give that up?  Only time will tell.

Card # 4, the Way Through the Illness, is the 2 of Swords.

Healing Tarot: 2 of Swords
Healing Tarot: 2 of Swords. (C) Lucina & Knighton, 2013.

This is the typical woman with the 2 swords crossed over her body. In the background is a castle that is mostly in ruins.  What caught my eye is the large chunks of roof missing from the castle tower behind her  In dreams, a house represents your body.  A castle can therefore also represent your body, which is how I take this.  The large chunks missing from the roof would indicate an existing problem in the head region, well, your sinuses are in your head, so that makes perfect sense to me.

Summing up my interpretation, I’d say that moving to the Texas Gulf Coast was a HUGE mistake that will no doubt have lasting repercussions on my health.  However, if I avoid sweets & dairy foods, that will help, but lasting damage has already been done so I can probably expect the sinus infections to recur over the years.  Well, that stinks, doesn’t it!

Now, based on the book, this is how the health interpretation pans out:

The King of Pentacles represents the skeletal system, including the teeth.  It also advises to approach health in the same manner I do my business.  I am very methodological & goal oriented.  I am not that way about my health, but should be, so that’s good advice.  Regarding the nature of the illness, which Card Position 1 represents, the skeletal system to me would represent something deeply rooted, perhaps even impossible to remove.  Allergies certainly do qualify.

The 4 of Swords in Card Position 2 represents the cause of the illness.  This card in The Healing Tarot is connected to partnerships & when poorly aspected it can represent always doing for others, draining one’s own energy, and therefore having a difficult time recovering from an illness.  Well, that’s me in a nutshell.  When I am sick I seldom rest due to my business & needing to take care of my family.

The 3 of Cups in the position representing the Way Through the Illness indicates that I’m surrounded by many pleasurable choices and I may have difficulty choosing.  Given the depiction of food on this card, I am sure this is connected with having a teenage child.  There are a lot of snack foods in our house & they are easily accessible to me during the day while my daughter is at school.  In the 2 years she has been a teenager I’ve put on 6 pounds.  I have cut back recently on how much I have in the house at any given time so hopefully that will help me since I don’t have a great deal of willpower when it comes to bypassing snacks.

The 2 of Swords represents the Outcome of the Illness.  The 2 of Swords in The Healing Tarot indicates that I will feel better temporarily, but the underlying health issues will not be fully resolved.  I already know the underlying cause is allergies.  I cannot treat them with injection therapy because it only makes me sicker, so looks like I’m stuck and this conclusion matches my original one.  In other words, I’m just screwed <sigh!>.

As you can see, The Healing Tarot offers fresh insights into health issues.  The deck worked very well to address my health concern and I was even able to surmise a great deal just by examining the imagery before I even consulted the interpretations from the Guidebook.  Personally, I enjoy using this deck and have found it quite useful.  However, I do NOT recommend that anyone purchasing this book use it in lieu of consulting with a health professional.  Always seek out professional medical attention first and do not attempt to diagnose health issues on your own.  Throughout the Guidebook the need to consult with a doctor is stressed repeatedly within the individual interpretations of the cards.  It’s good advice.  Combined with care from your doctor, The Healing Tarot offers valuable insights into the physical, emotional & spiritual causes of illness, plus it gives you excellent ideas as to how best to approach the illness in order to facilitate healing and recovery.  I highly recommend The Healing Tarot, but please remember to consult with your doctor as well.


Nefer Khepri, PhD.


Egyptian Lenormand  (only 18 copies of my self-published deck remain!)

Deck Review: The Dream Raven Tarot

dream ravens review images_Page_3dream ravens review images_Page_6The Dream Raven Tarot
Beth Seilonen
Schiffer Books
ISBN #: 987-0-7643-4316-2
Schiffer Books
$39.95 USD


Who would ever think that lime-green (or chartreuse) would work as a border color for a tarot deck?  In the case of the Dream Raven Tarot by Beth Seilonen, this color works beautifully and showcases the bright colors of the Dream Raven Tarot quite well.

Admirers of Schiffer Book’s decks will no doubt notice dream ravens review images_Page_5that with the publication of the Dream Raven Tarot and other recent decks of their spring/summer line that the sturdy cardboard hinged box with magnetic closure has become a bit smaller with also a change in the size of the accompanying guide book.  The guide book is basically square and measures 5 ¾” x 5”.  The deck itself measures 3 ½ X 6”, so it is long and may be a bit more difficult for people with small hands to shuffle.   The book and deck each rest within their own recessed well within the box side by side.  The box measures 6 x 9 x ½” so it’s the size of a paperback and due to the magnetic hinged lid you can store the box on its end as if it were a book and you never have to worry about the lid popping open spilling the book and cards.  The new box size now requires as much shelf space as a typical book and this will make storing decks much easier in my house, which has over the past few years become overrun with decks.

dream ravens review images_Page_2The Dream Raven Tarot has bright, vibrant colors with a raven depicted on each card.  The artistic medium is colored pencil.  Suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles.  Court cards are also traditional: Page, Knight, Queen, and King.  The major arcana cards all have traditional titles with the exception of the Hanged Man, which his entitled simply “Hanged” in The Dream Raven Tarot.

The guide book is nicely laid out with nearly full size black and white depictions of the major arcana cards on one page with their interpretations on the facing page.  The minor arcana cards are depicted in miniature as the entire suit on a two-page layout at the start of each of the chapters on the particular suits.  An enlarged etail of each card is illustrated within a semi-circle to the left (even numbered pages) and to the right (odd numbered pages) of each card’s interpretation.  All cards have traditional Rider-dream ravens review images_Page_1Waite-Smith interpretations along with reversed interpretations.  Card backs are fully reversible.  Spreads include the Raven’s Claw (4 cards) and The Raven (6 cards).

The Dream Raven Tarot is a delightful deck that works well with every type of spread I have used – both traditional and non-traditional.  It’s a versatile deck with lovely energy.  Due to an unpleasant experience in childhood I am not a huge fan of birds.  However, I really enjoy using The Dream Raven Tarot and this will be a deck I return to in the future again and again, despite my massive collection.

Deck Review: The Star Road Map

The Star Road Map:  Divination Beyond Time & Space
Patricia Padilla & Marlena Freelove
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-4222-6
$45.00 USD

Star road map boxI was very excited when I heard a deck based on Classic Maya, Aztec, Olmec, Toltec & Zapotec iconography and epigraphy (art and hieroglyphics) was being published.  I have long desired to create such a tarot deck myself since my doctorate is in Latin American Studies with my specialty being the iconography and epigraphy of the Classic Maya.  I enjoy the way the art was rendered in this deck: vibrant and bright colors against a black background.  Many of the images I recognized from my work as a graduate student and my early days in academia.  It’s lovely to see this artwork in a form that is now accessible to many more people than previously.

 The Star Road Map has a major arcana consisting of 22 cards, numbered 0 to 21.  Cards 0 – 8 match their Tarot counterparts while cards 9 – 21 are all one off.  For example, the Hanged Man, usually card # 12 is now # 11, Death is the 12th card, and so on with the Universe as card # 20 and Self Love as card # 21.  Despite the inclusion of a 22-card major arcana, The Star Road Map is not a tarot deck.  It’s a similar divinatory system, yet also very different.

 The Star Road Map does not contain suits in the traditional sense.  The first suit is the Cycle of Days.  It consists of 20 cards modeled after the 20 day names of the Classic Maya tzolk’in calendar.

 The next suit is called Surfing the Overworlds.  The ancient Mesoamericans (Maya, Olmec, Aztec, etc …) believed there were 13 levels of the physical world.  Therefore, this suit contains a total of 13 cards, one devoted to each level of the Overworld, or the physical world in which we all live.

 The third suit is Navigating the Underworlds.  Ancient Mesoamericans believed the underworld consisted of nine levels.  As a result, this suit consists of nine cards, each one corresponding to a particular level of the underworld, or Xibalba, as it was known to the Classic Maya.

 The fourth suit is dedicated to the four cardinal directions that were of great spiritual importance to ancient Mesoamericans.  Thus, this suit is called The Four Directions and consists of only four cards, each dedicated to a cardinal direction.  Two additional directions, Above and Below (or Zenith and Nadir) were also of great importance to ancient Mesoamericans, but they are not included in The Star Road Map.

The final suit is entitled Divine Intercession.  It consists of nine cards representing powerful forces in the universe that can be invoked in times of trouble.   Card borders are black with the card name printed in white at the center top and center bottom (major arcana), and center top (suits).

 For those of you with small hands, the cards star road map spreadare stiff and can be somewhat difficult to shuffle the first few dozen times, but they do loosen up with loose.  The laminate is slick, but the cards – even in the humidity of Houston – do not stick to one another.  The book includes black and white images of each card with the majority of cards having two pages devoted to their interpretation.

 Card spreads consist of a one-card draw to contemplate for the day, a 3-card spread representing what the reader needs to be aware of, and a 6-card spread that represents a current issue and its lessons.

 The Deck In Action:  Sample Reading.

 My regular readers will recall I have used other decks to ask if I would ever get another cat.  I covered that as a question topic for my reviews of the Yuletide Lenormand and the Gilded Reverie Lenormand.  I’m very happy to report that June 1st, Bluestar joined our family.  At first, thinking she was a Russian Blue with a bit of tabby in her, my daughter named her after a character in the Warriors series of books. However, it turns out that Bluestar is a Charteaux, which is even more exotic and I’m pleased as punch I paid only $90 when such cats go for $800 – $1,000.  Of course, she needed her shots updated and everything bought new for her, so she in reality cost me a few hundred dollars, but is worth more than her weight in gold.  She’s brought us much joy.

 Bluestar has been understandably very timid, so when thinking of a question to ask this deck – about a week ago (I do the sample readings first, then I write the review) – I asked, “how well will Bluestar fit in with our family?”

 I used the 3-card spread from the guide book and received Moon, Akbal (a card of the Day suit), and Sun.

Star Road Map reading In any reading, when it starts off with Moon and ends with Sun (or vice versa) that’s telling you that what lies between is along the spectrum of two extremes.  Night and Day, or Day and Night.  What these two cards immediately told me was that Bluestar went from one environment (the shelter) to another that was very different (our house).  She did have a hard time adjusting to all the space she has here.  At first she only stayed in my office for about 2 weeks before she began to venture out into the hallway and from there to other parts of the house.

 Moon denotes things of an emotional nature and I had been very emotional about finally getting another cat.  I had been with a cat in my life since the age of 12, so when my cat Dickens died on 2/22/12 I was grieving for a few months, and then I needed time before I could entertain ideas of getting another cat.  By spring of 2013 I was more than ready, but my husband was very hesitant so the idea of getting another cat became an emotionally charged issue for my family, which the Moon card indicates.

 Akbal is a day sign of the Classic Maya Tzolk’in calendar.  Akbal means “darkness” and it can also mean “night” in Chol, a Maya language still spoken today in which the Classic Lowland Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions were written.  Akbal is the third card of the suit of the Cycle of Days.  It is entitled “Security” and means flexibility and letting go.  The idea of relinquishing control is also stressed.

 The Sun represents success, good health, happiness, and achievement.  The way I read Tarot, whenever the Sun appears as the outcome card to a reading the answer is always “yes.”  The Sun’s placement here told me that Bluestar would eventually adjust wonderfully to us and I was not to worry.  The Akbal card was telling me to stop worrying also, that Bluestar needed to feel secure in her new surroundings, and once she did a whole new cat personality would emerge.

 I did this reading 2 weeks ago in preparation for this review and I’m happy to report that Bluestar has completed her period of adjustment, that took her 3 weeks.  She is best friends with our crazy Australian Red Heeler.  Sheila didn’t know what to make of a friendly cat at first since Dickens had merely tolerated the poor dog for the 8 years of Sheila’s life.  Bluestar and Sheila play the first two hours of everyday.  They run through the entire house rampaging.  Then they both crash for an hour long nap, then the rampaging resumes for another hour.  The rest of the day they each do their own thing.  Sheila has been very loving and understanding toward Bluestar while Bluestar has had to whip Sheila into shape a few times, but has never once extended her claws to the dog or any of us.  She is proving to be a very affectionate and extremely playful cat and we’re all very happy to have her as a member of our family.  The cards were right. I left her to her own devices and Bluestar has adjusted wonderfully well. Now the struggle becomes: who runs this house? Me or the cat?  Right now she seems to think she does, but I have news for her.

 Back to The Star Road Map, there are some interesting glitches in the deck and guidebook.  My personal favorite Mayan ruler, Bird Jaguar (Yaxun Balam in Chol) of the city of Yaxchilan, is depicted on the Emperor card. I was thrilled to see this. However, in the written discussion of that card the ruler of Palenque, Pakal (Pacal) is discussed instead.  Pakal reigned longer than Bird Jaguar and had a larger city-state than that of Yax

chilan.  Technically speaking, he would have been a better choice for the Emperor card, so why Bird Jaguar was depicted, but then not mentioned anywhere in the discussion of that card is a mystery that I found to be intriguing.  This in NO way detracts from the efficacy of the deck.

star road map nawal1

If you are a deck collector, as I am, you my want a copy of the first edition of The Star Road Map.  Should a subsequent edition be printed there are three cards that need to be corrected.  The image on each of these three cards was cropped so that the upper quarter or right-hand third of the image is enlarged to cover the entire card surface while the rest of the image has been cropped off.  You can see the entire image depicted in the guidebook.  I noticed this when I first went through the deck and realized the image of the Nawal on the Nawal card had been beheaded.  That caused me to compare the rest of the cards to their images in the guidebook and I found two more discrepancies.

star road map hand of god2The Hand of God and White Flower cards alsostar road map hand of god2 have been cropped and then enlarged to cover the card surface.  All three of these cards are part of the Divine Intercession suit. These three cards are a misprint, however, this in NO way detracts from The Star Road Map.  In fact, in my opinion, it makes the deck more interesting.  These partial images do not detract from the deck’s use as a divinatory tool and the entire image can easily be examined in the guidebook for those who wish to see it.  Misprints are often valued by collectors in most cases and can even increase the popularity of a deck.

     Overall, once you get used to the different suits with differing numbers of cards, The Star Road Map is a fun deck to consult.  It so far has given me accurate and insightful readings, and as I said in the beginning of this review, I am very happy to see the use of Classic Mesoamerican iconography throughout the deck and hope that this deck exposes people to the cultures depicted within.  With lovely drawings and bold, vibrant colors against a black background, The Star Road Map is aesthetically pleasing and a pleasure to use.

~ Nefer Khepri, PhD

Deck Review: The Radiant Wisdom Tarot

The Radiant Wisdom Tarot
Laughing Womyn Ashonosheni
Sophronia Press, 2012
ISBN #: 978-0-9854206-0-4
$65.00 USD

 If you appreciate smaller tarot decks due to having small hands, bright colors, easily comprehended symbolism, and nice extras like an extra suit and an included velvet bag, then The Radiant Wisdom Tarot is for you.

 At 3” X 4”, The Radian Wisdom Tarot fits comfortably in my hands despite being thicker than most decks due to a fifth suit.  The cards are printed on a supple card stock that was immediately easy to shuffle right out of the box.  The laminate is light weight yet thoroughly protective of the cards.

 The extra suit of Bridges represents the process of manifestation and the cards of this suit represent the energies that create a bridge from initial inspiration or idea to the final physical results (manifestation).  The deck is housed in a 9 X 5” blue velvet drawstring pouch that has plenty of room if you’d like to add your favorite crystals, stones, and/or a packet of herbs.  The velvet bag is a very nice added touch to The Radiant Wisdom Tarot.

 The Radiant Wisdom Tarot consists of 92 cards:  22 major arcana and 70 minor arcana of five suits with 14 cards each.  Suits are:  Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and the extra suit is Bridges.  Court cards are:  Mystic (Page), Achiever (Knight), Nurturer (Queen), and Keeper (King).  All minor arcana cards are titled.  For example, the 2 of Air is entitled, “Indecision,” the 1 of Fire is entitled “Enthusiasm,” the 6 of Water is entitled, “History,” and so on.

 The cards of the major arcana, with the exception of Strength, have all been renamed and are as follows:

 Fool = Simplicity, Magician = Manifestation, High Priestess = Spiritual Guide, Empress = Generosity, Emperor = Strategy, Hierophant = Conformity, Lovers = Love, Chariot = Success, Justice = Balance, Hermit = Solitude, Wheel of Fortune = Opportunity, Hanged Man = Perspective, Death = Transformation, Temperance = Flexibility, Devil = Breakthrough, Tower = Awakening, Star = Gratitude, Moon = Intuition, Sun = Expansion, Judgment = Consciousness, and the World = Wholeness.

Various cards from The Radiant Wisdom Tarot.
Various cards from The Radiant Wisdom Tarot.

As you can see, a main keyword for the meaning of each major arcana card was used as the new title of that card for The Radiant Wisdom Tarot.

 The paperback guidebook measures 5 ½ x 8 ½”  and has 213 pages.  It begins with an “about the Author” section and a brief introduction.  A summary of the chakras and brief advice on working with crystals and stones is also included along with a brief discussion of grounding.  The cards are discussed in terms of a general meaning and then what they specifically mean when they appear in a reading.  Furthermore, each card is discussed in terms of its “Ease” and “Effort,” which is an interesting concept to include for any deck and is one of the things that makes this deck unique when compared to others.  Advice on how to go with the flow of the energy of each card regarding how that card’s energy is experienced through the situation in question is what is discussed for the “Ease” of the card.  The “Effort” of the card represents flowing with the energy outside of the experience embodies by the card.   The foundation of each card’s energy Is included as a Key Phrase.  Every card interpretation also includes a simple phrase explaining how that card’s energy lends itself to a creative pursuit or project.  Correspondences to other cards, astrology, chakras, colors, and runes are also included.  The guidebook concludes with six spreads unique to this deck.  I have tried them all out and they all work well for me and have offered up some useful insights.

 Usually, when a deck creator decides to include a fifth suit it will correspond to the Element of Spirit, or Ether, recognized as a fifth Element in addition to Air, Fire, Water and Earth. However, The Radiant Spirit Tarot is unique in that the deck creator chose to focus on the process of creation and manifestation of ideas into physical end results, thus her suit of Bridges embodies the energies of the process of creation and manifestation.   In The Radiant Wisdom Tarot the suit of Bridges represents the process of creativity from initial idea or desire to the final physical product.  Thus, The Radiant Wisdom Tarot is a useful deck for artists and writers who wish to consult the tarot about their projects.  I have done so with this deck; and again, I was given some very clear and helpful insights to my creative process.

 As a result, my sample reading is going to focus on a creative project of mine that has stalled, The Magickal Musings Tarot.  My question is:

“What is the reason for the long stall?  Do I need to drop the project for now to start on something else?”

 For this reading I used the “Personal Alignment” spread from the guidebook. This spread is very useful because the card positions tell you what things in your life you should keep the same and which you should change in order to manifest the changes or end result you desire.  This spread tells you what is necessary in order to remain committed to a project.  My cards are as follows:

The Radiant Wisdom Tarot, sample reading using the Personal Alignment spread.
The Radiant Wisdom Tarot, sample reading using the Personal Alignment spread.

 1:  Unknown.  The guidebook says to keep this card face down for the length of the reading.   Although it’s very hard for me not to look, I am following the rules, hence the card back in the picture here represents the first card of the “Personal Alignment” spread.

 2:  3 of Water:  Loyalty.  The card position is defined as what I need to maintain in my life in order to remain committed to my project.  Using traditional Rider-Waite interpretations, the 3 of Water (corresponding to the 3 of Cups) is happiness, joy, social gatherings with friends, and a reason to celebrate.  So right there this card is telling me that I need to be in a happy mood in order to create, which is very true.  The guidebook says that I need to ask myself is I truly do intend to remain committed to this project to the very end or should I perhaps try something new.  The phrase about creativity for this card says:  “Creativity is supported through devotion.”  The card is telling me I need to maintain a support network (I do have a group for The Magickal Musings Tarot on Facebook).

 3:  4 of Water:  Serenity.  The card position is described as what I need to change or adjust in order to maintain my commitment to my deck project.  The 4 of Water is all the importance of maintaining peace and harmony in our lives so that we remain in balance.  The phrase about creativity for this card is, “creativity is supported through inner peace.”  I can’t speak for others, but as far as I am concerned, I cannot create artistic works when I am under stress.  This card is telling me I need to focus on eliminating or somehow decreasing the amount of stress in my life.  Easier said than done for most people, but I am taking this under advisement.

 4:  Simplicity (The Fool).  The card position here represents the type of external support system I need in order to help me to complete my deck.  According to the guidebook, Simplicity focuses on the combination of innocence and trust with the wisdom we gain through our life experiences.  In other words, I need to trust the higher powers that I will be guided in the direction that is right for me at this time of my life.  Regarding external support specifically, this card is telling me to rely upon past experience and how it made me feel.  I did just finish creating a Lenormand deck, The Egyptian Lenormand, so I am well aware of all the work that went into creating each original work of art for each card of that deck; and, for a tarot deck I would need to multiply that by 2 since my Lenormand deck has 39 cards.  It was a LOT of work, but I feel I could do it again, and yes, probably times two, so a tarot deck is not completely out of my reach, especially since I have around 20 images already completed.  The creativity phrase for this card is, “Creativity is supported through play and adventure.”  Something tells me I need to lighten up regarding my approach.

 5: 5 of Water: Disguise.  The card position here represents that internal spark within upon which I can rely and repeatedly activate.  According to the guidebook, some truth is being hidden by me or someone else and that I need to focus on discovering this truth.  The phrase regarding creativity is:  “Creativity is supported through disguising reality.”  I’m not sure what that means right now and need to think about it.  I think this hidden truth is that I am fully capable of creating a 78-card tarot deck and that I just need to buckle down and do it.  We often do not know what we are capable of until we actually try to accomplish it, then we often surprise ourselves.

 6: Achiever of Earth:  Effectiveness.  This card position represents the most gentle manner in which I can motivate myself to get moving on my deck.  According to the guidebook, the Achiever of Earth (equivalent to the Knight of Pentacles) represents “our ability to have an impact on the world.”  He represents a new endeavor and that along the journey my skills will increase. I have already seen this occur during the creation of my Egyptian Lenormand deck.  Artistic abilities is like a muscle.  The more you use them the finer tuned they become.  This card states that creativity is supported through “successful action.”  In other words, I’m being told to just get off my butt and DO it.

 All in all, a very helpful reading and it has helped me to decide to go for it and focus on creating my tarot deck.  Overall, in order to remain focused on the completion of my deck, The Radiant Wisdom Tarot is telling me that I need to focus on my interest in and loyalty to the concept of my deck (3 of Water).  In order to achieve that I need to introduce more peace and harmony into my life and eliminate as much stress as I can (4 of Water).  The external support to maintain my interest in this deck is my previous deck creating experience and the support group environment of Facebook (Simplicity: The Fool).  I need to focus on the sense of accomplishment that completing my Egyptian Lenormand has given me and allow it to serve as motivation to complete The Magickal Musings Tarot.  The 5 of Water suggests I focus on finding the truth. I take this to mean my own truth as an artist.  Finally, the Achiever of Earth is telling me to focus on increasing my skills as the project continues.  Perhaps I need to try some new artistic approaches in order to expand my boundaries and skill set.

2 of Bridges, from The Radiant Wisdom Tarot.
2 of Bridges, from The Radiant Wisdom Tarot.

As for the hidden card in position # 1, that turned out to be the 2 of Bridges, entitled, “Ground” which represents the need to be willing to follow through to the end and to focus on the end goal.  Very appropriate, I thought.

 As you can see, although the imagery of The Radiant Wisdom Tarot appears very simple at first glance, this deck provides very deep and thought provoking readings. It’s given me a lot to think about and I’ve decided to continue working on my own tarot deck.  Who knows what truths I may discover along the way?

If you’d like to see more cards from the deck in action, please check out this YouTube video.