Mystical, Magical Tarot Reviews!
December 28, 2019 Jamey Alea 0 Comments
I originally got into reviewing comics and games because, well, I love comics and games, and this year I was able to start reviewing something else that I’m really passionate about: tarot decks! Tarot is really important to me and I absolutely love reviewing tarot decks. It’s a chance to be really thoughtful with a new deck, think really deeply about the symbolism and really sit with the cards for a while and get a sense for how they feel. It’s a very intentional practice for me and I think it has made for pretty excellent reviews that I’m very proud of. Here are several reviews I did this year of tarot decks (and a bonus book about herbalism that got me feeling similarly thoughtful)!
I would love to continue doing tarot deck reviews in 2020! If you are an artist with a self-published tarot deck or you’re planning on kickstarting one, and you’d like a thoughtful review of it, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com!
It has been a great couple of years to be a tarot reader. The rise in popularity of self published decks has been amazing and some truly talented artists have undertaken the extraordinary task of illustrating all 78 cards. My latest tarot obsession is comic artist Isabella Rotman’s This Might Hurt Tarot Deck, a modernized deck in the Rider-Smith-Waite tradition. It had a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, funding in less than 9 hours, and is currently open for preorders leading up to its October 18th official release date.
One of the things about tarot is that realistically, it has a lot to do with how it makes you feel. And This Might Hurt felt great from the moment I took it out of the package and saw the deck for the first time. Before I even opened the box and saw the cards, it felt good to hold. The deck box was obviously designed with keen attention to detail—the gold leafing is both extremely beautiful and extremely high quality, and it makes a stunning first impression.
The latest addition to the Liminal 11 catalogue is a new edition of Folk Magic and Healing: An Unusual History of Everyday Plants. Previously self-published by British author and illustrator Fez Inkwright, it’s a book about the folklore of plants and their history within our mythology and culture from ancient times all the way to today. I love the idea of bringing self published books to a wider audience, and the Liminal 11 edition is a gorgeous hardcover with gold leaf on the cover that’s well made and feels great to hold.
The book itself is set up like a reference guide. It begins with a brief, thoughtful introduction about the ways plants have been important to people throughout history, in cooking and medicine, religion and art. There are a few short essays with a little background on how to use plants medicinally, with instructions on how to actually make things like oils and tinctures. Then, it jumps straight into talking about individual plants, which are listed alphabetically and have corresponding entries with information about what they’re good for medicinally, how they’ve been used throughout history and what they’re associated with, magically and mythologically.
In the world of indie tarot decks, Lisa Sterle’s Modern Witch Tarot has been highly anticipated for quite a long time. The first tarot illustration she posted on Twitter was all the way back in March 2017—the Ten of Swords, depicted as a girl casually checking her phone while the swords jutted out of her body and labeled “Everything Is Fine.” The next one, the Fool, wasn’t posted until more than six months later, but more illustrations of the major arcana followed. In April 2018, she officially announced that she would be producing an entire deck and that it would be published by Liminal 11. Preorders opened in May of 2019 and finally, in November, the deck officially launched. It has been a long stretch, but Sterle’s fans have waited as patiently as they could, and the hype for this deck has been real. I was definitely excited to finally get my hands on it.
The Luna Sol Tarot, designed by author and illustrator Mike Medaglia, is based around balance. Duality is a major theme of the tarot in general, so it feels very appropriate—a great theme to meditate on even for someone very experienced in tarot, but also a great place to start for a beginner.
Even at a glance, the symbolism is clearly based on the traditional Rider Waite deck. The similarities are enough that, as someone comfortable with the Rider Waite, I was able to pick up the Luna Sol deck and read pretty seamlessly from it right away. But while the symbolism is very similar, Luna Sol’s fresh art gives it a very different feel. It’s unapologetically colorful and those colors are evocative, relying on a mostly warm and pastel color palette that’s very soothing. The art is both pleasantly cartoony and wonderfully arcane—I’m not sure how it manages to be both at once, but it absolutely does.