Attuned: A Lunar Cycle Tarot, 28 Goddess Cards for Daily Inspiration and Meditation by Andrea Palframan
Review by Valerie Antal
In Attuned: A Lunar Cycle Tarot, artist Andrea Palframan creates a 28-card oracle to explore the patterns of a woman’s life in sync with the rhythms of the Goddess and the phases of the Moon. Despite the title, Attuned does not follow the Major Arcana structure. Rendered in pastels, a flow of rich blues and greens meeting the fire of brilliant reds and orange meld into an imagistic journey of the unconscious.
Figures of the Goddess exist within the landscape to become the force of a river, the embrace of moonlight, and the burst of growth from a seed. Sensuality is the sacred feminine flowing as earthly water. Her body is formed of sumptuous blue curves uniting with streaming water to convey the baring of primal desire. Enrapt in the circular radiance of moonlight, the figure in Satisfaction simultaneously cradles the lunar glow and embraces herself to communicate the voluptuous beauty of her connection with Nature. In Desert Seed, the Goddess embodies the upwelling of life; She is the living fertile earth. The soil is painted as her black hair while roots outline her body. The seedling is a surge of green emanating from her crown chakra to symbolize the path of her deepest hopes and visions manifesting as growth.
Five of the cards mirror the Major Arcana in a traditional Tarot deck: Lovers, Death (at top), Star, Moon and Sun. The Lovers show the spiritual and physical union between the Sun and Moon, invoking the conjoined energy of the divine couple Shiva and Parvati. The Moon is seen as a blue-bodied woman with the face of the unadorned crescent. I wish Palframan had given the Maiden Moon facial features in profile, as it seems the Sun is the only lover capable of full expression, though the artist may have meant for the pair to share a single face as the ultimate union of consciousness. The Moon Goddess has a lotus blooming at the base of her spine, the center of Kundalini energy that illuminates the path of the chakras. In the Indian pantheon, Shiva inhabits the Moon and Parvati the Sun, though within the text Palframan seeks to illustrate “the love dance of Shiva and Parvati” rather than their traditionally honored forms. Seated in the position of the classical thinker with the hand positioned towards the front of the skull, the skeleton in the Death card shows the act of contemplation before release. A fire rises behind the skeleton and green bands of light form a halo of color to illustrate the growth generated from leveling flames. A rose vine originates from yellow fire to begin the cycle of rebirth. The Star connects to the water element as a mermaid swimming from the black fathoms of the sea bearing a radiant pearl whose luster navigates her journey. The circular orb of light is reminiscent of the full Moon or the body of a star. Palframan suggests there is a shadow of experience within the light of the Star: “ Her strength comes from the awareness that is the pain of friction that makes the pearl.”
Replacing the two canines in the Moon are two masked figures whose bodies are layered in turquoise scales from the hips downward and whose fins blend into the ocean calm. The Moon is a labyrinth that births the flight of an owl from its center. The open wings connect the androgynous figures who reach for each other’s hands but are separated by the flow of water. The Moon shows the link to the sea of the unconscious and the masquerade we entertain in our waking lives. The visage of the Sun heavily occupies the space of the card. There is a distinct femininity in the features, a softness in the green and orange eyes that remind me of the color of light resting on a leaf in Spring. The third eye chakra bears a miniature sun to symbolize inner light. Her lips are parted as if to sing or offer words of affection. At the base of the card, two hands cross to touch a glowing heart and the blue face of the Moon respectively. The Sun bestows the promise of joy encoded in the harmony amongst the mental, intellectual, and emotional qualities of the Self.
As the singular astrological sign represented, Gemini displays the essence of Attuned—the blend of lunar and solar elements painting a spiritual cosmology. In Gemini, the curve of the meditative Crone Moon half-encircles a woman’s face whose eyes are a watery blue and whose hair streams like white light. Sharing an eye with the lunar woman, another face is drawn along the opposite side of the crescent and her hair blooms like fiery petals. A blue pentacle forms the breast of the lunar woman and the solar aspect cups her hand as if to catch the light emanating from an orange star in the sky. Although Palframan meant for Gemini to express the duality of our inner and outer selves, I perceive unity when I look at the card as the Moon and Sun share a sense of vision, a physical body and a home in the celestial universe.
There are two cards in Attuned in which the text did not feel synchronous with the vibrant images. Expression is meant to detail the articulation of the emotions through the elements: “rage is like a fiery tempest, love is a torrent of water, forgiveness is an airing out, trust is the earth beneath us.” When I view the green figure whose ears end in pointed flourishes and whose mouth opens in a black heart shape, I think of a singing alien rather than a woman projecting from her emotional center. The fusion of orange, yellow, and red radiating from her head attributes a solar quality to the card but I do not see the presence of water or air in either the verdant body or the flaming aura. In Abandon, a green child of the Earth grasps the hand of a celestial spirit whose purple body blends into the starry backdrop of night. I find the keyword “Abandon” distracting from the message of metaphysical surrender to the presence of magic. Perhaps it is more of a reflection of the state of our planet rather than the actual card that my instinctual reaction was “Please don’t abandon your baby!”
The meanings of the cards are arranged on a parchment foldout. Although I usually prefer a detailed booklet, I admire how the keywords are scripted in a lovely typeface and the text is printed in brown ink to complement the parchment. The 28 keywords are as follows: birth, aspiration, harvest, sensuality, lovers, contemplation, desert seed, wisdom, muse, sun, moon, patience, satisfaction, dream, angel, nurture, serenity, star, playfulness, synergy, gemini, luna, expression, windsong, abandon, confidence, humility, and death. I wish the phases of the Moon were painted on the cards and the keywords were paired with the names of the Moon as she journeys through the night. I could imagine Angel as the dark Moon with her deep blue skin and her eyes, watchful and intense, gazing into the shadow form of the unconscious. Her feathers are tipped in orange as if she could extend her wings to usher the return of the waxing light.
I found the text useful in communicating which cards Palframan associated with specific Goddesses and which were painted as archetypes. The information provided in the foldout deepens the associations with the divine feminine and guides the reader into meditation.
Non-reversible, the card backs depict three crescent Moons, each containing a lotus blossom. The border is painted with a single brush stroke forming a silver frame. The color choice of the backs reflects the white and silver traditionally associated with moonlight. I would have preferred if the Moon were represented as the waxing and waning crescents along with the full or dark phases to show a greater synchronicity with her movement in the sky. I alternate between admiring the Zen element of the white background and wishing the rich gradations of blues from the front of the cards were utilized to covey the dark firmament inhabited by the Moon.
The deck is held in a hand-made cedar box with the card image of Satisfaction adhered to the center of the sliding lid. Inside, the cards fit into an olive-toned organza bag with a drawstring ribbon. The gathering of the bag requires some negotiation with the sliding lid but the care taken with packaging could only be found in an artist-produced deck.
I would recommend Attuned as a gift to the woman who appreciates the art of Tarot but may not feel comfortable reading with a full 78-card deck, to Tarot enthusiasts and professionals who enjoy exploring the meditative potential of oracles, and to collectors who are drawn to cards saturated with a palette of color. Attuned would also be a beautiful offering for a teen beginning her monthly cycle as well as a woman who celebrates herself as part of the living patterns of the Moon and Sun.
Attuned can be ordered through the artist’s website http://www.ampersandimaging.com/order.html.
Valerie Antal is a Dianic Pagan living in Philadelphia, PA. She is currently writing a book of ritual meditations to the Goddess to honor the Celtic Wheel of the Year. She works as a Tarot reader, via phone and in person, specializing in Triple Goddess Readings and Celtic Animal Meditations. For more information, visit her on the web at www.tarotbydiana.net or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2005 Andrea Palframan
Review © 2005 Valerie Antal
Page © 2005 Diane Wilkes