Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and in bookstores every month. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks as well as published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgment intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck.
The critical review of a deck for AskAstrology involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion book or booklet, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Chrysalis Tarot by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra from US Games Systems.
From the publisher:
From artist Holly Sierra: My paintings display a fascination with mysticism, nature and multicultural design. Whether cast upon the forest floor or woven into an ancient tapestry, all threads of life are vibrant and beautiful in my eyes. After living and traveling for many years in Asia, I returned home to become a children’s book illustrator. My work has been featured in numerous publications from picture books to paper dolls. My dream to create paintings for my own tarot deck began with a deck I was given as a child. Chrysalis Tarot is the realization of that dream!
From the author:
Chrysalis Tarot is “Transformational Technology for Everyone;” a completely new approach to tarot. Many of our major arcana archetypes are new; the court cards are all new, and the beautiful minor arcana “pip” cards are unlike any you’ve touched before. Chrysalis is designed to delve into the Collective Unconscious, a Jungian concept that acts as a universal memory bank for humankind. With such rich spiritual diversity at hand, you’ll experience a tapestry of medieval and Celtic influences with Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Hindu and Vodun Otherworld characters woven throughout our unique mythology. Chrysalis will help you know yourself more fully and become mindful of the invisible hand of synchronicity as it gently guides the cards, your everyday life and your personal destiny.
Card Stock and Shuffling
Printed on medium card stock, these cards have a matte finish with curved edges. They are easy to shuffle, and ready to use when you first get them out of the box. If the deck is used heavily it may need to be replaced after a few years.
Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The artwork is imaginative and breaks with the Rider Waite tradition, giving all new renditions for each card. The artist also does a good job communicating the meanings through the artwork. This deck is visually stunning, and very good for beginner or professional readers.
Nine of Scrolls
From the booklet:
Meaning: In your reading, the Nine of Scrolls means you’re struggling with overblown fears. Upon introspection, you may find you’re projecting long repressed issues onto friends and family. The turmoil will dissipate as you assume greater responsibility for your own well-being.
Three of Mirrors
From the booklet:
Meaning: The implicit message of the Three of Mirrors in your reading is “Do No Harm.” This is a card that exudes happiness and optimism. It bodes new romance, creative new ventures, or simply a joyful occasion to see yourself reflected in the mirrors of love, compassion, and good fortune.
From the booklet:
Meaning: The Moon calls you to creative reflection. Her mysteries will be revealed in due course when you least expect them. If you feel stranded and bewildered, energize your goals and aspirations with positive thoughts. The Moon is about the joyful celebration of your successes.
Explanation of the Cards
This deck does have a companion booklet that is, surprisingly, very good; and the explanations are well researched and wonderfully written. Under each card is a keyword that nicely sums up the meaning of that card. Like most booklets, the Majors are discussed first, then the Minors. But there is one change, the Court cards are grouped at the end instead of with their respective suits. They are grouped as members of a Troupe, “a delightful ensemble of medieval merrymakers.”
As a professional reader, I can say that this deck is excellent for both personal and professional use; it certainly works for reading in public spaces. The artwork is very good and will appeal to fans of mythology, fantasy, and magic. Instead of swords, you have scrolls. Instead of cups, you have mirrors, and instead of pentacles, you have spirals. The wands do not change. The court cards have specific roles, the Queen of Pentacles/Spirals is the Artiste and the King of Cups/Mirrors is the Sojourner.
I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, and general professional use. This deck is creatively drawn; and handles the mature themes of life with thoughtful visuals, like the weeping angel on a gravestone for the Nine of Scrolls (traditionally the Nine of Swords).
The deck is quite good, visually-speaking. The art conveys the meanings in an intelligent and colorful way. The companion booklet that comes with the cards provides very poignant explanations. The flexible card stock makes shuffling easy right out of the box. Truthfully, I give this deck five out of five stars.