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 judgement 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 Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.
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From the back of the box:
Surrender to the fantastical world of your deepest dreams…where butterflies float upon shifting mists set aglow by the rising sun. A place where twisting branches arc across shimmering skies, willowy fairies dance on air, and tree spirits sing from a hallowed oak. Delve into the shadows of your dreams―and awaken to truth.
Weaving together Asian, Celtic, and fantasy styles of artwork, this breathtaking Rider-Waite-Smith-based tarot deck by renowned artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law is infused with universal symbols found in fairy tales, myths, and folklore from cultures around the world.
A companion guidebook presents the artist’s evocative interpretations of each card’s significance. It also features an introduction by award-winning tarot expert Barbara Moore that includes tarot basics, instructions for giving insightful readings, and practical spreads.
About the author:
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Stephanie Pui-Mun Law is an artist based in Oakland, CA. Her work is an exploration of the mythic arts, journeying through a surreal otherworld, to seek the manifestations of desire and archetype when seen with a shifted perception. Much of her inspiration stems from mythology and folklore, mingled with the movement of dance, and the chaos of Nature’s wild growth.
Her work has been featured as interior and cover art for a number of clients including Wizards of the Coast, LUNA Books, Tachyon Books. She has authored and illustrated Dreamscapes (North Light Books), a series on watercolor technique. She is the author and illustrator of the tarot deck, the Shadowscapes Tarot (2009, Llewellyn Worldwide).
She exhibits original works with regular shows across the country in galleries in San Francisco, Seattle, Nashville, and San Diego. Her work has also been included in the Spectrum annual of fantastic art for several years. (Amazon authors page)
Card Stock and Shuffling
Printed on lightweight cardstock, these cards have a glossy finish with rounded corners, making them easy to shuffle, especially for beginners. The cards flex smoothly and slide apart effortlessly without sticking together. However, with heavy usage, the deck might require replacement within a short period.
Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The artwork is stunning, highly detailed, and rich in colors. However, it is not what I would consider visually accessible. You cannot just look at the cards and discern the meaning, like you can with a deck like the Osho Zen Tarot or the Law of Attraction Tarot.
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The Devil signifies facing inner fears and negative patterns. It urges you to confront addictions, material attachments, and unhealthy relationships. Recognize the power you’ve given to external forces and reclaim your freedom. Be cautious of manipulations or deceit. Embrace self-awareness, break free from limitations, and embrace positive transformations to transcend the Devil’s influence.
5 of Pentacles
When the 5 of Pentacles appears in a reading, the card indicates financial challenges and feelings of lack or isolation. Be cautious of focusing solely on material needs, neglecting emotional and spiritual well-being. Seek support from others and don’t hesitate to ask for help. It encourages resilience and perseverance during difficult times. Remember that hardships are temporary, and better days will come. Remain open to new opportunities and remain steadfast in your efforts to overcome adversity.
9 of Wands
The 9 of Wands appears in a reading and signals resilience and perseverance amidst challenges. You may feel exhausted from past struggles, but your determination keeps you moving forward. Take a moment to assess your progress and regain your strength. Prepare for potential obstacles, but have faith in your abilities to overcome them. Stay focused, protect your boundaries, and draw from past experiences to achieve your goals with confidence.
Explanation of the Cards
This deck comes with a companion book that offers excellent, clear explanations for each card, including ample guidance. The book’s introductory section provides valuable advice on utilizing the cards effectively, enhancing your overall tarot experience. It’s a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced readers.
As a professional reader, I find this deck visually captivating due to its beautiful artwork. However, it has its limitations, primarily concerning the size of the cards in relation to the intricate details of the illustrations. The small cards make it challenging to discern the finer elements without a magnifying glass, which can disrupt the flow of a reading and limit the deck’s visual accessibility.
For professional use, I would not recommend this deck due to the size issue. However, as a personal collection, it is a delightful addition, providing inspiration and appreciation for the artistry. With regular practice and familiarity, you can still derive value from this deck at a personal level, connecting with its symbolism and messages on a more intimate scale. While it may not be ideal for professional readings, its allure and artistic beauty make it an enjoyable and valuable deck to have for personal use.
I give this deck 3 out of 5 stars. The meanings in the booklet are well-written, and extremely insightful. The artwork is stunning, but poorly delivered on cards that are too small to do it justice.
Where to Buy this Deck
If you like this deck and wish to purchase a copy, you can do so on Amazon.
I am a spiritual adviser based in Cumming, Georgia, serving clients both locally and worldwide. With a background in academics and a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I bring a unique blend of knowledge and intuition to my practice. After a fulfilling career in academia, I transitioned into the role of a stay-at-home father in 2007. In 2013, I established Black Unykorn Enterprises, LLC, offering spiritual guidance and support to individuals seeking insight and clarity on their life's journey. My services encompass various tools, including astrology, tarot/oracle cards, numerology, and past life regression utilizing muscle testing. I am dedicated to providing personalized sessions that empower and guide my clients towards their highest potential.
Conveniently equipped with a home office and utilizing platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp, I offer virtual sessions for local clients and for those around the world. Distance is not a barrier to the transformative experiences and guidance I provide. To learn more about my practice and explore how I can assist you on your spiritual path, I invite you to visit my website at https://www.blackunykorn.com. There, you will find detailed information about my services and a contact form to initiate a conversation.
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