To say that this is an unusual Tarot deck is somewhat of an understatement! Initially when I bought it (having only seen the cover art on the box which looked favourable) I was quite shocked to see some of the images on the cards (more on this in a moment) and very rather disappointed in that I had bought a "duff" pack. For a "Pagan Tarot" this was certainly not what I had envisaged or expected.
This pack would appear at first glance to be two totally different decks mixed up together! To clarify what I mean, take the Magician card for example (as pictured on the box) showing a woman in a cloak kneeling down amidst what looks like gnarled roots of trees bathed in moonlight, with traditional items such as book and pentacle on the ground beside her. This is an image that I found quite "in keeping" with my expectations, not just because it was on the box but because it fitted with the mental images that my mind had drummed up of what a "pagan tarot" would be like. A young woman in the woods working with the powers of nature. So far so good. However, I would say that one third of the deck contains images such as this where you can clearly see that it is a pagan (with the emphasis on Wiccan) theme that is being represented. But then you turn to another card - the Chariot for example...and hang on a minute!! It shows a modern (if not completely up to date) image of a CAR. Yes, a car. Not a majestic horse drawn chariot, or even one pulled by various mythical beasts or infact anything to suggest the traditional feelings of speed and travel or a decision over which direction to take. I have to admit the first time I saw this card, I just stared at it blankly...how did this get into the deck? About another third of the cards in the pack have modern day seemingly "out of place" images on them such as shops and computers. (Have a look at the wheel of fortune card for the ultimate in "What the?!!!" factor the first time you look at it! )In fact, as previously mentioned, this makes the pagan tarot feel like two decks mixed into one. The final third of the deck seems to combine elements of both of the above e.g a modern scene but with robed figures in the scene aswell as plain clothed people etc.
The reason that some of these images were "shocking" was not so much the actual content of the images themselves (such as sexuality or death) but the fact that every time I came across a "modern" image after soothing my mind with the more expected ones was that it was like a jolt to the senses, suddenly bringing you back into the modern world with a bump. I thought about this for quite a while (whilst alternatively disliking the pack then finding another image that drew me in) until suddenly some of the cards stopped feeling quite so "off" and I started looking at the modern young girl in them and imagining doing some of the rather boring every day things she appeared to be doing, and I realised that this is exactly the whole point of this deck. Sometimes many of our ideals become so rooted in how our wonderful and vibrant imaginations want them to be, that we cease to see the Chariot, the Tower or the Lovers in the many guises that they can actually appear in our own lives. Not only are they abstract ideas and archetypes to help us understand the inner workings of our mind, but if we do not directly relate them to our everyday reality "out there" we may feel somewhat isolated from what a deck of cards is showing us and how and what it really means in "real life".
While this deck can be seen as alternatively either visually soothing (soft muted colours) or disturbingly odd, this is actually a deck that helps one to question many of our pre-conceived notions about what something "should" be depicted as, and perhaps we tend to get a little too used to always having traditional interpretations for cards, sometimes to the point that some of these traditional cards may even become a little tired. If you are feeling in need of something that departs quite radically from the Tarot norm, then this deck is sure to give you the cold shower - whether you then feel chilled and disturbed and hate the deck, or whether its differentness is something that you will find refreshing and awakening is not for me to say. As a final note, don't get me wrong, for as someone who is a collector of tarot decks and as a pagan myself, I still love all the vivid and mythically themed bright cards of other decks very much, and whilst I would not count this deck as being among my favourites, it has certainly grown on me, if I want to get another perspective on something or just challenge myself with these very different cards.
I have given this deck 3 stars, but it probably deserves 3 and a half. Or perhaps 4 on a good day and 2 on a bad day. That is the way this deck affects me. It is different things on different days. Just like the cards within the deck are different, reflecting life as it really is, not always our conceptions of what it should be like.