New tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and in bookstores every month. There are literally thousands of decks available today, both published and out-of-print ones. A deck review is a personal assessment meant to assist readers in deciding if they want to purchase 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 Angels Tarot by Kate Kalmykova from Da Brigh Publishing.
From the back of the box:
Get your guidance from the Angels. This wonderful deck, embossed with beautiful foil accents, pays tribute to Renaissance art. The Angels Tarot connects you with the many representatives of Heaven’s Glory. Illustrated by artist Kate Kalmykova, these cards will help you unlock divine messages for yourself and your clients.
About the artist:
Ekaterina “Kate” Kalmykova has worked as a lead artist for several mobile and PC game design projects, some of which have millions of users. She has also worked on educational games for adults and children, as well as a series of coloring books published in the United States.
“I studied design and art at university, and I was going to become a traditional painter, working with oil colors and canvases. But at some point, I started learning more about digital art and illustration, and realized how many more opportunities I would have with those skills. I started working as an illustrator, creating digital art for books, prints, and cards. I love working on colorful, detailed artworks that can bring joy to people. Creating this tarot deck, I used Renaissance paintings as the inspiration for the composition of the cards.”
Card Stock and Shuffling
Printed on thick card stock, these cards have a matte finish with curved edges and gold foil accents. They are relatively easy to riffle shuffle (interweaving them between two hands) when you first get them out of the box. However, with any new deck of cards, overhand shuffling (transferring them from one hand to the other by sliding small groups on top of each other) can help break them in. Even If the deck is used heavily, it will not need to be replaced for a long time.
Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The artwork is quite beautiful and well-done, and you can see Kate’s professional skill in the composition and finished art of each card. The artist also does a good job communicating the meanings through the artwork, making this deck very good for beginners or professional readers. The classical style of the rendition of the Angels is very visually appealing.
From the booklet:
Meaning: The Empress represents the feminine divine, the essence of creativity, abundance, and nourishment. The Empress archetype is the third encounter for the Fool, teaching us about the natural world, how to care for the world, what we need to thrive, and how to care for others.
Angel: Sandalphon (Archangel)
Symbolism: Sandalphon is the Angel who provides a bridge from humans to God through their prayers. She sits upon her throne, watchful for the prayers she needs to deliver to God and waits to deliver the answers from God.
Upright: nurturing, abundance, the feminine divine, and caretaking
Reversed: hardships, scarcity, barrenness, and neediness
The Hanged Man
From the booklet:
Meaning: The Hanged Man represents knowing sacrifice, when we realize we must accept a short-term difficulty for a long-term gain. The Hanged Man archetype is the twelfth encounter for the Fool, showing us the importance of devotion, surrender, and sacrifice. Forgiveness is also a message contained within this card.
Angel: Raphael (Archangel)
Symbolism: Raphael is the leader of a group of Angels known as the Virtues, the Brilliant or Shining Ones, who bring blessings and perform miracles. He is the Angel of Healing. By hanging upside down, he shows he understands the suffering of humanity.
Upright: knowing sacrifice, change in perspective, and patience
Reversed: helplessness, impatience, confusion, and selfishness
The VIII of Pentacles
From the booklet:
Meaning: Use your skill and experience to improve your financial status.
Symbolism: An Angel perfects his craft making new pentacles of the finest design, showing the grace in expertise.
Upright: expertise, mastery, and craftsmanship
Reversed: obsolete, undervalued, and poor quality
Explanation of the Cards
This deck does have a companion booklet that is very good, with clear explanations that follow the Rider Waite system. There are short sections for the essential “Meaning:” and “Symbolism:”, as well as keywords for “Upright:” and “Reversed:” One very nice addition is the assignment of specific Angels to cards in the Major Arcana (as shown above in the examples of The Empress and The Hanged Man).
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 people who enjoy hand-drawn work over computer-generated images. If you are someone who feels especially connected to classical art and Angels, then this is a great deck for you.
I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, and general professional use. This deck is creatively drawn; and provides positive themes about archetypes with thoughtful visuals.
The deck is quite good, visually-speaking. The art conveys the meanings in smart and beautiful ways. The companion booklet that comes with the cards provides very thoughtful explanations. The card stock is not so stiff that it makes shuffling challenging, but it is high grade enough that the cards will last. I rate this deck five out of five stars.