It is rare to have a new deck so wonderfully ingenious and fresh these days. Even though I am a fan of the romantic and ethereal, I do appreciate variety and substance. This deck has recently graced my table, and I believe you can still get copies directly from the author – check out Jessica Rose Shanahan’s site.
This first edition is a limited print of 600, and it comes with an extra card signed by the author. Mine happened to be the 9 of Swords, which, for once, I didn’t recoil in horror upon seeing it.
I love the way the dreamer holds the sword in this card, as if she is unfazed and completely comfortable in her night of dreams or nightmares. Like being in a lucid dream where you know that’s all it is and you cannot be harmed because you know it’s just a dream. Perhaps it’s an invitation for me to try and practice lucid dreaming, or change the way I perceive this card. Or simply, to not be afraid of the night, of being alone in the night.
The imagery in this deck is new and oddball and fruitloop and whacky, but equally it has depth and substance. I think this is a difficult combination to achieve, and yet it is well blended in the cards, without losing the essence of each card’s message. It is a black and white deck throughout, following the traditional structure of tarot.
The four suits are Coins, Blades, Cups and Sticks. I think the artist’s background as an arborist comes through in the Sticks (Wands) suit. For me, this brought back a few memories as I actually got half-way through an arboricultural degree a few years ago (I am still quite the hippy-tree-hugger enthusiast and get to spend a lot of time at work assessing trees and learning about them!). There is a beautiful synergy between people and trees in this deck, and I love the way this interaction is portrayed.
I think a black and white deck would be a very difficult task, considering there are 78 cards each with its own message. Difficult because of the challenge to infuse a card with enthusiasm, zest, and dynamism in the absence of colour, yet all of this is so abundant and overflowing in these cards. Personally, I think Jessica has done a brilliant job and I hope this deck makes its way to many happy shufflers out there. Enjoy!