I think this is one of the very best modern decks, but while I remember them I want to mention a few faults. I'll make a longer post later about its many good points.
1. The minor arcana are all drawn upon a plain cream field. There is no 'background' as such.
2. The cards are full of wonderful detail, but annoyingly that detail is very hard to discern.
3. There is a gold barleytwist frame to every card. I think a straight line would have been better.
4. The card titles are all done in Holy Union Regular font. I think that font is anachronistic to the era suggested by Scapini's style. An Uncial style would have been more appropriate.
5. The verso of the cards looks faded. This could be a printing effect.
These are all minor quibbles. I'll give my plus points a bit later.
The Ark Animal Tarot & Oracle Deck is unique in a number of ways, with the most prominent reason being that it is a 100-card deck (with options of getting additional cards) which is comprises 78 tarot cards and 22 bonus oracle cards. The interpretation of the tarot cards is based on the Rider-Waite system, however these cards have been designed in such a way that they can also be used as oracle cards. This deck was designed to be a diverse tool. The list of applications given on the back of the companion book are:
-Oracle Readings & Daily Inspiration
-Shamanic Readings & Healings
-Meet & work with Spirit, Totam, & Power Animal guides
The cards are beautiful and vibrant in color with a glossy finish. They are quite large, which is great for immersing yourself into the spirit of the animals but also challenging for handling and riffle shuffling. Each card is mostly just a large image of an animal with a background of the animal’s habitat. There aren’t anyRWS symbols that one might see in the tarot cards, therefore I find it very difficult to read the cards without the companion book. The cards do have a few keywords/phrases, so perhaps once I have become more familiar with each animal’s description in the book then the keywords will become easier for me to rely on. So far, I haven’t found them to be sufficient to complete a reading.
My reliance on the companion book has not been a problem for me, though, because it is truly a joy to read each and every entry in the book. Each card gives a detailed description of the animal with a major focus on the spirit meaning. A lot of times the description talks about history, mythology, or stories from other cultures that involve the specific animal. In addition, the tarot cards provide a clear enough description for the reader to make sense of why some animals were chosen to represent certain cards. You can truly feel the authors’ love for animals in this deck.
I have used this deck for both tarot and oracle readings. For tarot, I simply remove the 22 bonus cards. When I use the deck for an oracle reading, I use all 100 cards. There is so much depth and energy to each card that I find that this deck is quite powerful even with single-card draws. But it is also quite fun to draw multiple cards or use a spread and see how all of the animals relate to each other.
I simply adore this deck and would highly recommend it to any tarot or oracle reader who loves animals!
The Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot is a tarot deck designed for magick. The artwork and descriptions are integrated with magick and the deck itself can actually be used as a magickal tool. The deck has some similarities to the Rider-Waite-Smith system, however there are several notable differences, too. First of all, and probably most obvious since magick is the main focus, much of the symbolism is different since it is inspired from ancient Pagan mythos and witchcraft. The second major difference is that the suits don’t all align with traditional elements: Wands are Air and Swords are Fire (Cups are still Water and Pentacles are still Earth).
I wanted to get this deck almost immediately after I first started learning tarot. What drew me to it wasn’t the magickal component, but rather the diversity. It felt more real to me to see a deck with images that had people of varying skin colors, orientation, etc. I eventually got the deck after I started feeling more comfortable with tarot. I loved the cards so much that I would just sit there and keep looking through the whole deck. Even though there are some fantasy elements to the deck (with creatures, magick, etc), it felt very real and energetic.
The deck comes with a companion book which I feel is a bit lacking. The book starts off with a general overview of tarot but fails to really provide a good introduction for this specific deck. Each card has a colored image in the book with a description, reversed description, and magickal uses (Major Arcana also have divinatory meanings). The descriptions are poor in that they are just a list of keywords or phrases that one can associate with each card. This would be fine except for the fact that there is also no description of the magickal symbols in each card. I am not familiar with what many of these symbols might mean, therefore it leaves me relying heavily on only key phrases and I feel as if I am not quite capturing the full meaning of the card.
As a result of the poor descriptions in the companion book, I have found this deck to be challenging to learn to use. It’s not impossible, it just takes a little extra time. Surprisingly, the difference in suits and elements (Wands = Air and Swords = Fire) did not bother me much. I would recommend this deck to anyone who does have knowledge of ancient Pagan mythos or magickal symbols. If you do not have that much knowledge of these things but are still interested in the deck due to the diversity of it, I still would recommend it but will warn that it will take some time to get used to.
After owning this deck for a few months, I have found that I will use it only occasionally for tarot readings. Instead, I am more drawn to use it with tarot-inspired creative projects. I have not used the deck as a magickal tool, therefore I cannot make any remarks about that aspect of this deck.
The Mystical Shaman Oracle Deck is a “blend of mystical and shamanic wisdom” that is inspired by multiple ancient traditions and practices. It is a 64-card deck that covers a range of ancient symbols. When consulting the cards, you connect with Spirit through these symbols. Some symbols are more familiar to the average, modern person (such as Fire or Moon) while other symbols might be more abstract (such as The Spiral or The Corn). The deck was designed to use reversals, so each card has two ultimate interpretations. The “Essence” of the card remains the same, however whether the card is upright or upside down will determine whether Spirit is giving you an “Invitation” (a message that offers a gift or call to action) or “Medicine” (a message the touches upon something that needs work or to be improved upon).
When I purchased this deck, I wasn’t necessarily seeking out an oracle deck but I somehow stumbled across it while browsing the internet. I instantly fell in love with the artwork and could not stop thinking about the deck. I felt so much energy and inspiration from the preview of cards that I saw so I knew I had to get it. Upon arrival, I was slightly disappointed because the actual cards weren’t quite as vibrant in their color as the pictures on the internet suggested. There was a slight dullness to them. The card-stock was also very thick, making it difficult for me to shuffle at first. Despite this, I still felt connected to the deck and continued to use it. I found that the artwork remained profound to me and I eventually got the hang of shuffling the deck. If anything, the thick card-stock is nice because the cards have proven to be durable over time.
The deck comes with a small companion book. The pictures of the cards in the book are in black and white, but that doesn’t bother me because it is in the cards themselves that I look for energy and connection. The explanation of eachcard is separated into three parts as I mentioned above: “Essence,” “Invitation,” and “Medicine.” The descriptions are typically concise yet always complete. I have never been left with a feeling of confusion or wonder on what more a card might mean.
Overall, I absolutely love this deck. I don’t typically go for New Age things, yet the artwork drew me in and I am happy it did. The blend of traditions and practices might not appeal to many, and I can totally understand that. But I think it is still worth giving a shot because the messages are all pure, motivating, and genuine. I use this deck in a number of ways such as drawing a card for an overall theme of a tarot reading, looking for a message of the week, seeking inspiration when in a challenging position, and so much more. It is powerful as a stand-alone yet flexible to use with other tools such as tarot. The fact that this deck is the result of a blend of traditions is what I think makes it so applicable and adaptable to a variety of uses.