"The animals that are showcased in the Animals Divine Tarot serve to bridge the divide between conscious resistance and unconscious knowledge. Their appearance is one that can help you to re-center and redefine who you are. If you tune into animals, you can learn to tune into yourself and identify the wealth of potential that lies within your grasp." - From the companion book
According to author and artist Lisa Hunt, re-establishing a connection with animals can help us better understand the deep layers of the human psyche. By observing all manner of wildlife--such as the predatory instincts of a shark or the diligence of a beaver--we can marvel and appreciate each unique expression. With further contemplation, we can examine how wildlife behavior may apply to our life, including developing insight for navigating situations and cultivating growth.
With the Animals Divine Tarot, Ms. Hunt has created 78 exquisite, luminous paintings of animals, reptiles, insects, fowl, and fish--marrying them with mythological figures from around the world. Many cultures honor the sacredness of animals, which often accompany gods and goddesses, with some of these divine beings actually shapeshifting into various animals.
For the Major Arcana, each card highlights a different myth connected to a particular animal, god, or goddess. The Trickster Coyote, a beloved figure in Native American lore, makes an appearance as The Fool. The elephant-headed god Ganesha, a mover of obstacles according to Hindu mythology, is The High Priest (Hierophant) in this deck, while the Welsh goddess Rhiannon represents the archetypal Shadow (Devil). The fierce but glorious Thunderbirds make their appearance on The Tower, and Horus epitomizes the blazing energy of The Sun.
Various deities from all over the world depict the varied approaches of the court cards, while critters majestic and tiny comprise the Minor Arcana. For example, caterpillars transform on the 6 of Wands card, the tiger embodies the 3 of Pentacles, the flapping, flailing heron reflects the 10 of Swords, while distracted dolphins swim on the 7 of Cups.
Although the 198-page companion book to the Animals Divine Tarot doesn't mention traditional Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, symbolism, or numerology (except for a brief mention of the elements), the card interpretations are mostly consistent with these meanings. Ms. Hunt offers a rich repository for lore and symbol, but reminds readers that delving into the art on each card--and the realm of each animal--will yield unique, unexpected revelations for those who take the time for contemplation.
Ms. Hunt does not discuss reversals in the companion book, and in a refreshing departure from the norm, there is no mention of rituals for "cleansing" or storing your deck. Three spreads are included in the back of the book, while two of the layouts are illustrated on separate cards.
The satiny cards measure approximately 4 ½ 2 ¾ inches, resulting in easy shuffling. The card backing depicts a bronze mandala in the center of a cream-colored background, rendering the deck fully reversible. In addition to the deck and companion book, the Animals Divine Tarot set includes a black organdy bag and a cardboard box for storage.
Unless you're quite attuned to animal energies and world mythologies, you'll likely be unable to use this deck "out of the box". Therefore, as a Tarot deck, I don't feel it's good for beginners. (However, if you're new to Tarot but have used animal oracle decks with success, you should be just fine.) Ms. Hunt's adept interpretations of her visions for the cards will ably equip readers to use Animals Divine Tarot for oracular and meditative purposes. Her intimate knowledge of wildlife will no doubt add breadth and depth to any reader's repository of associations.
I've found this deck to be surprisingly pointed in its guidance, with each reading providing accurate, relevant insight. The artwork is gorgeous, making the Animals Divine Tarot a must for deck collectors, as well as those with an affinity for animal totems, shamanism, and animal-themed mythos.
(To see 10 images from the Animals Divine Tarot, visit the Reviews--Decks section at [...])
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)