"The Lover's Path Tarot is a tool to examine and improve relationships--whether they be [sic] with yourself, with your beloved, or with the world. Examining our preconceptions about love, the ways we yearn to connect with another, what we desire in a partner, is an act of self-illumination. More importantly, it's one way to take personal responsibility for our lives." - From the Little White Book
According to artist and author Kris Waldherr, relationships mirror our relationship with ourselves, as well as the world at large. In fact, love relationships, she says, can embody our perspective of how the Universe supports and nurtures us.
It is in this spirit that Ms. Waldherr offers The Lover's Path Tarot, a 78-card deck portraying the complex romantic relationships of couples from myth and history. From Cleopatra and Caesar in the Fertility card (Empress) to Romeo and Juliet in Tradition (Hierophant), central themes of devotion, decision, sacrifice and enduring love find expression in the Major Arcana.
The names of each couple are shown within the illustrations of the Majors, and most of the cards have been renamed:
The Minor Arcana of The Lover's Path Tarot depicts the progression of a classic love story for each of the four suits:
Cups: Tristan and Isolde - "...lives ruled by extreme emotions such as love, desire, sorrow, yearning and anger."
Staves: Siegfried and Brunnhilde - "...shows how the force of love can spur us to great deeds, making us strong where we were once weak."
Arrows: Cupid and Psyche - "...depicts how love grants wisdom."
Coins: Danae and Zeus - "...depicts the power of the suit of coins to transform lives."
The art, architecture, books and maps of the Italian Renaissance inspired the lovely paintings done by Ms. Waldherr. Using models of friends and associates, the main card art are watercolor underpaintings sealed with acrylic gel medium, with oil paints glazes layered over the top. The decorative borders were painted in gouache on handmade paper.
The 35-page LWB provides upright and reversed meanings for all cards, with brief notations on the correlating myth/history of the couples found on the Majors. Two relationship-oriented spreads are also included.
The two elements I found the most striking in The Lover's Path Tarot is the gorgeous portrayal of the Arrows suit (especially the heart-tipped arrows) and the small elemental painting on the bottom of the Minor cards (e.g. lush leaves for Coins/Earth, starry skies for Arrows/Air and so on.) Another nice touch is a folded pull-out showing five spreads--the "Lover's Path Spreadsheet".
At 4 ¾ x 3 ½ inches, the cards from this deck a more square than most, but although they're wider, smaller hands should have no trouble shuffling the deck (I have small hands and I can shuffle them fine; any bigger, though, and I'd probably have some difficulty). The backs appear fully reversible, but upon closer inspection, the marbling on the background isn't uniform.
I was disappointed to discover that The Lover's Path Tarot did NOT come with a full-size book. Judging by the size and heft of the box, I assumed that this deck came with a companion book. Alas, only a LWB is included in this over-packaged Tarot.
Unfortunately, there is no discussion about the scenes portrayed in the Minor Arcana, which supposedly arise from the components of four specific myths. In addition, Ms. Waldherr doesn't explain why she chose the myths to represent certain Majors (e.g., why Penelope and Odysseus were selected for the Justice card).
Although brief, the upright and reversed meanings in the LWB are surprisingly insightful, for the most part. Although I think The Lover's Path Tarot would be good for relationship readings and perhaps personal meditation, it's not a deck that I would use for reading--especially since I don't resonate with all the romantic drama central to this deck.
However, if you are drawn to dramatic stories of love and loss, and tend to have relationship issues crop up repeatedly in your life, The Lover's Path Tarot may be a great deck for gaining insight. In addition, those who admire Renaissance art will likely want The Lover's Path Tarot as an art deck.
(To see 12 images from this deck, 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)