Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon 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 reviewed.
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 text of the deck, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Tarot of the Divine by Yoshi Yoshitani.
Tarot of the Divine Cards
From the back cover of the box:
The path to enlightenment is unique for each of us, but many of the lessons we learn are shared stories passed among cultures and generations.
Tarot of the Divine brings traditional tarot archetypes to life with a lustrous series of fables, including the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, the Crane Wife, Sleeping Beauty, King Arthur, and the stories from lesser-known legends and deities from all over the world. Just as the tarot provides ways to interpret the world around us, so too, do these illuminating folktales.
The deck is truly a diverse collection of characters and stories that wonderfully illustrate the meaning of each card.
The card stock for the publication of the deck is high quality and will hold up well with repeated use over time. The cards are larger than standard playing cards, but not so large that they are hard to shuffle. I bought a copy for my wife, who is also a professional reader, and she works with the deck regularly. The deck is a nice blend of modern art printing techniques and traditional Asian art style.
Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The deck has some cards that are visually accessible while others will require you to know the character, myth, or fable to know why the image on the card was chosen and how it works with the meaning of the card. The deck will require some effort to memorize each story and character; just looking at the cards will not yield immediate understanding. Without repeated use and study, the visuals will be mostly lost on practitioners and querents. While the deck is beautiful and very interesting, it is not a deck I would recommend for beginners.
Since the cards really do draw from stories from around the world, some may be very familiar while others will be completely foreign. Since I grew up in the United States, with Western history and storytelling tradition, I can easily recognize the Emperor as King Arthur (with the sword in the stone):
From the companion book:
The Emperor is the ideal father figure. A warrior and conqueror, King Arthur rules over his kingdom and his sometimes-unruly knights with a just and firm hand. He unifies the fractious, defends the weak, and lends his knowledge and understanding to all his subjects.
But I have no knowledge of Heitsi-Eibib (South Africa, Khoikoi Deity) in the card below:
Knight of Coins
From the companion book:
The Knight of Coins is a diligent warrior who is willing to put in the work to set the world right. Heitsi-Eibib can be as stubborn as an ox, getting into trouble for his efforts. He is strong, loyal, and determined in all things he sets his mind to.
I can visually access the Six of Cups as “sharing” and the “joys of childhood” even though I am not familiar with the fact that this image relates to The Snow Queen (Denmark, Danish Fairy Tale), who I am familiar with from the Chronicles of Narnia.
Six of Coins
From the companion book:
The Six of Cups evokes nostalgia for sweeter times. Kai and Gerda are best friends as children, but when Kai is struck with depression, he leaves with the Snow Queen. Through many adventures, Gerda saves him, but by then, innocence is gone.
Explanation of the Cards
The booklet is quite nice. The color images are reproduced vibrantly, and each page has two cards side-by-side, with information about the representative, a description, and upright/reversed meanings:
|Osiris, Set, and Isis Egypt, Egyptian Mythology||Danae and Perseus Greece, Greek Mythology|
|The Five of Swords represents a fight won through deceit. Set overthrows his brother Osiris and is seen gloating over his brother’s wife, Isis. While Set represents a tyrant of a victor, Isis is a defeated combatant who will eventually bring about Set’s defeat.||The Six of Swords represents leaving behind tumultuous waters for a future that is calm and promising. After being imprisoned by her own father, Danae and her young son Perseus escape. Perseus will eventually grow to defeat the gorgon Medusa.|
|Upright: Surrender, betrayal, bullying, violence, crime||Upright: Healing, moving forward, stability, escape, journeys|
|Reversed: Resolution, compromise, sacrifice, peace, justice||Reversed: Feeling trapped, instability, canceled travel, abuse, unresolved issues|
As a professional reader who started reading cards for pay in 1992, I can say that this deck does work well if you know the deck thoroughly and can share the story of each character, fable, or myth that informs the card. The cards are not visually accessible but are visually “arresting”. They will leave an impression; so, it is a great deck to add to your collection.
Therefore, I would recommend the deck for use, but be prepared to learn a lot of stories and be able to share them with people you read for; otherwise, you will be going back and forth to the booklet each time you do a reading. If you would like to own a copy of this deck, you can purchase it on Amazon.
While the deck does require significant study to master, it is a visually stunning set of cards. The mix of fables and stories from across cultures is wonderful for this powerful tool, which makes learning the deck a worthwhile journey into the history of literature and worldwide societies. Even if the deck was not used for professional readings, it is certainly one you would want to have in your collection. For all its complexity and amazing art, I give this deck a high rating.