Tuesday, September 03, 2013

REVIEW: Dark Goddess Tarot

Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince (Arnell’s Art, 2013), 78-card deck measuring 3" x  5.5"

Although I’ve been reading Tarot professionally for more than a decade and began my Tarot journey in the 1970s with the 1jj Suisse deck, as many regular readers of this blog may have noted, I don’t usually blog about Tarot. But Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s exquisite new deck, Dark Goddess Tarot, is so Goddess-focused—and so excellent in art, design, and production, that I can’t resist sharing it with you.

Copyright Ellen Lorenzi-Prince 2013.
Used with permission.

The term “dark” in the name of this deck does not refer to color, nor does it mean depressing or scary, at least not any scarier than a lot of other Tarot decks. To quote the sturdy box holding both the deck and the “little white book” (lwb), this deck “features 78 powerful female figures, of magic and mystery, sex and death, sovereignty and shadow.” These figures are drawn from many different cultures and are not limited to goddesses usually considered “dark,” though one might say that the pov is not rosy or “fluffy,” but rather realistic and profound.

The card stock is glossy and sturdy, yet flexible. The colors are strong, intense. The back of the cards are designed in small semicircles of blue and pink with touches of white that have a slight 3D effect. To me, the subtlety of this design allows you to notice they are reversed if you desire, but also to ignore this if you prefer. Each card shows the name of the card, (e.g., “Fool” ) plus the name of the card’s Goddess or mythological female figure. The Trumps (aka Major Arcana) have the names standard for decks derived from the Waite-Smith deck (sometimes called Rider-Waite) except for the following: Trump 2 is called Priestess (dispensing with the hierarchical adjective “High” and represented by the Pythia/Delphic Oracle); Trump 4, conventionally the Emperor, is transformed into “Sovereignty,” (The Morrigan); Trump 14 replaces Temperance with “Alchemy”(Brigid); Trump 15 replaces the Devil with “Corruption” (Tlazolteotl); Trump 16, the Tower, becomes “Destruction” (Kali); Trump 17, The Star, becomes “Stars” (Spider Woman); and Trump 20, Last Judgment, becomes “Liberation” (Persephone).  The suits, in most conventional decks swords, cups, wands, pentacles, are instead named for the elements with which they are often associated: fire, water, air, and earth. In what may be the greatest naming departure of the deck, the suits’ court cards (moste commonly Page, Knight, Queen, King) are Amazon, Siren, Witch, and Hag.

The front of the deck’s box features Trump 13, Death, La Santa Muerta of Mexico, an absolutely stunning card showing a skeleton robed in bright red, wearing a yellow necklace, with a white and yellow jaggededly pointy crown (that could also be sun emanations), and behind that, the sickle of a waning moon. She holds a small globe in her left hand, her thumb on South America. On bottom of her robe are 3 large red flowers blending in with the robe. The back of the box shows Trump 17, Stars, Hopi Spider Woman weaving her web in the sky at night, high above a town. In addition to short explanations of each card, the lwb has 7 color images: Trump 1,  the Magician (on the cover), is Isis, who to me appears to be  bringing Osiris back to life; Trump 7, Chariot, Ishtar holding the reins of her lion(s) as she rides standing; Trump 12, Hanged One, Tiamat upside down in the sea at night under a full moon; Hag of Fire, the Vodun Maman Brigitte shown as a skeleton with bright pink hair, clothed in violet and black, sitting on a gravestone in a cemetery at night with a rooster and her symbol in the foreground; Ten of Water, the Mayan Ixchel, in front of a large full moon, next to water swimming with creatures; Eight of Air, Hopi Crow Mother; and Eight of Earth, the Scottish Goddess Cailleach.

In a daring departure from conventional decks, Dark Goddess Tarot’s first card, Trump 0, the Fool, is Sheela Na Gig. To me the displaying Sheela on this card brings our attention to the birth passage through which we all embark on life’s great journey. It may also represent the admirable risk that Lorenzi-Prince herself is taking by placing this card at the beginning of her deck. Other Trumps not mentioned above are: 3 Empress, Black Madonna; 5 Hierophant, Cybele; 6 Lovers, Freya; 8 Strength, Samovila; 9 Hermit, Baba Yaga; 10 Wheel of Fortune, Fortuna; 11 Justice, Maat; 18 Moon, Arianrhod; 19 Sun, Sekhmet; 21 World, Coatlicue. Among the goddesses represented in the suits are: Fire—Vesta, Hekate, Circe, Kamui Fuchi, Durga, Pele, Cerridwen; Water—Mama Wata, Lethe, Tefnut, Maeve, Sedna, Ixchel, Aphrodite, Ran; Air—Nemesis, Athena, Blue Dakini, Nut, Harionago, Crow Mother, Erinye, Skadi, Oya; Earth—Gaia, Hel, Norns, Demeter, Ereshkigal, Cailleach, Ala, Artemis, Baubo, and Inanna. (Not a complete list.) 

A full-size companion book on this deck is being prepared. In addition to giving more information about the cards in the deck, it will have dedications of the cards to individuals. I have it on good authority that the Lilith card (Siren of Air) is being dedicated to Judith Laura (aka me).
Copyright Ellen Lorenzi-Prince 2013.
Used with permission
In addition to the info about the deck and the color pics, the lwb contains two suggested spreads, a 2-card spread near the beginning of the book, and a 5-card spread in the concluding “Working with Goddesses” section. After looking through the deck, I decided to try the 5-card spread, “Goddess Be With You,” for a (non-paying) visitor, who has given me permission to include it in this post. First a note about my reading style: I read reversals (upside down cards—some readers don’t) and I tend to respond at least equally to what I see on the card as I do to the “standard definition” for the card. Because of this I did the reading without referring to the definitions in the lwb first (though I’ve read them now). The reading:
Card 1, responding to the lwb question “Who stands at your left hand?” was the British Goddess Lady of the Lake (9 of Water). I interpreted this as a sweet caring woman who is very helpful to the readee.  The readee said that there were several women in her life that this described. Card 2, “Who stands at your right hand?” was the Celtic and Roman Goddess Epona (6 of Fire), shown with her horses and with a bowl of food, and reversed. I said this represented one of the health professionals the readee consults, one who is more intellectual than feeling (due to reversal), and one who has a connection with horses. The readee confirmed that she consults such a health professional. Card 3, “Who has your back? Where do you find protection” was Eris (5 of Fire), Greek Goddess of Chaos and Strife, reversed. Because of the reversal I interpreted this as another health professional the readee consults whose approach is more feeling and protective. The readee confirmed this. Card 4, “Who is leading the way forward?”  was the Ainu Hearth Goddess Kamui Fuchi (4 of Fire) reversed. The card shows the Goddess with her hand raised in what appears to me as blessing over much smaller figures. Because the card is reversed I interpreted it to mean that the readee does not have anyone adequate to lead her forward, especially at work. The readee confirmed that this was true. Card 5, “Who is emerging from your deep self? What is your potential?” was Trump 9 the Hermit, represented in this deck by the Russian Crone/witch/grandmother Baba Yaga, who is shown on this card airborne in her mortar, and holding her other symbols, a pestle and a broom. 
Copyright Ellen Lorenzi-Prince 2013.
Used with permission

Below is a forest and her house with—consistent with legend—chicken feet.  I interpreted this to indicate success in a current area the readee is preparing for through studies, which will result in her being better educated and stronger in a practical way. I interpreted the house being moved along by the chicken feet as indicating that the readee would take with her or be able to make use of abilities previously acquired in other ways, including those acquired at home. Reviewing the entire spread, because of the 3 reversals in Fire, I told the readee that what she was aiming for would happen, but not right away. She said she could already see this trend. This interpretation is strengthened by the lwb’s Baba Yaga/Hermit quote: “Keep going, knowing the journey does not end.” I have confidence that the readee will do this, as one of her great qualities is persistence.

I enthusiastically recommend Dark Goddess Tarot for both reading and meditation. You can find out more about it, and see more of its cards on darkgoddesstarot.com. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s previous decks are Tarot of the Crone, and Pandora Tarot, a Majors-only 22-card deck.   

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At Thursday, September 05, 2013 5:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I get this deck and how much is it?


At Thursday, September 05, 2013 5:56:00 PM, Blogger Medusa said...

This info is on http://darkgoddesstarot.com/order.htm

At Sunday, December 08, 2013 3:10:00 AM, Blogger Reverend Donna M. Swindells said...

I bought this Tarot deck because of the beautiful art work on the cards. Some of the Goddess featured are never shone in a tarot deck.
I collect tarot decks, and this one is a real winner. I Can't wait for the book that will go with the deck. So sad to have missed the lovely dark goddesses necklaces!
Reverend Donna M. Swindells
fellowship of Isis


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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.