The Goddess Tarot Deck by Kris Waldherr                        Review by Michele Jackson

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This deck, by artist Kris Waldherr is a mixture of old and new. Waldherr is well known for her Goddess art as the creator of The Book of Goddesses, and from having illustrated several other books and calendars. The Majors are non-traditional having been renamed in many cases, and are peopled with Goddesses from various cultures. The Majors and their associated Goddesses are:

0 - Beginning: Tara VIII - Justice: Athena XV - Temptation: Nyai Loro Kidui
I -Magic: Isis IX - Contemplation: Chang O XVI - Oppression: The Wawalak
II - Wisdom: Sarasvati X - Fortune: Lakshmi XVII - The Star: Inanna
III - Fertility: Estsanatlehi XI - Strength: Oya XVIII - The Moon: Diana
IV - Power: Freyja XII - Sacrifice: Kuan Yin XIX - The Sun: The Zorya
V - Tradition: Juno XIII - Transformation: Ukemochi XX - Judgment: Gwenhwyfar
VI - Love: Venus XIV - Balance: Yemaya XXI - The World: Gaia
VII - Movement: Rhiannon    

The suits are Swords, Staves, Cups and Pentacles. The suits are also assigned Goddesses. The suits correspond to the Major Arcana card which has the same Goddess as listed below:

The court consists of King, Queen, Prince and Princess. The cards are slightly larger than most at 4 3/4" X 3 1/2". The art is excellent, with the best work found in the Major Arcana. Each card has a central scene in a braided border, surrounded by a second border. This border depicts a landscape in the Minor Arcana which is consistent throughout each suit. In the Majors, this border is different in each card and is complementary to the Goddess depicted in the card. This is surrounded by another, light brown border, and finally, a white card border.

As previously mentioned, the concept and art of the Major Arcana is non-traditional. Assigning Goddesses to the Major Arcana opens up many new sets of possible correspondences. After breaking new ground with the Majors, Waldherr retreats to safer ground in the Minors, whose images are obviously based on the work of Pamela Colman-Smith. In many cases Smith's scenes were just reworked using Waldherr's characters. Most of the cards within each suit seem to be showing the same person, who is almost always a woman from the culture of the Goddess assigned to the suit. Swords depict an Egyptian woman, Pentacles depict a Hindu woman, etc. One exception is the tens, which are not peopled in this deck for some reason which is not explained in the little booklet. The interpretations for the tens also seem a little more upbeat than the traditional in the case of the Ten of Swords and Ten of Wands. The deck is multicultural with Goddesses from all over the world, but the lack of male images aside from the Kings and Princes and a couple of other Minor Arcana cards will probably be troubling to some. I found that the use of what appears to be the same person over and over in the Minors of each suit made them rather monotonous, even though Waldherr's drawing skills are excellent.

The little booklet that comes with the deck provides a short description of each card followed by brief upright and reversed interpretations. A four card Past, Present and Future Spread is provided, as well as the Celtic Cross. Waldherr chose Goddesses whose myths represented the archetypal energies of each Major Arcana card. Her choices may not work for everyone. The Minor Arcana interpretations are fairly traditional, by which I mean Golden Dawn based, though the some cards seem to have a more positive slant than they do in other Golden Dawn based decks. I think that some study would be required for the Majors. Even if one were well versed in Goddess lore, I doubt that most users would be able to recognize all of the Goddesses used in this deck. Waldherr chose little known Goddesses from less well known cultures as well as the easily recognizable western and European Goddesses. A good book on world mythology or a dictionary of Goddesses might be helpful in exploring the Major Arcana of this deck.

I recommend this deck for those looking for a Goddess oriented deck and who don't mind a minimum number of male images. This deck is also well suited for meditative work.

Excerpt

My intention in creating the art and design for the Goddess Tarot was to create a deck that would speak directly to women using our stories, while incorporating the archetypal power and symbols of the tarot. In this way the Goddess Tarot is meant as an accessible alternative deck for tarot readers already familiar with the popular Rider-Waite deck who seek a deeper experience of the Divine Feminine in their readings. It has been designed to be readily accessible to lovers of Goddesses and mythology without any tarot experience as well.

XIII - Transformation

After her death, the Japanese food Goddess Ukemochi's body transformed to supply food to humanity. Her head turned into cows; grin sprouted from her forehead; rice plants sprouted from the Goddess;s belly - and so, life was transformed from death.

Meanings: Transformations. The need to allow something to die in order create room for the new. Painful change that is necessary. Creating life out of death. Reversed: Fear of change. Resisting transformation."

From the Goddess tarot little booklet pg. 4 and 10

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

The Goddess Tarot Deck
ISBN: 1-57281-066-1
Published by US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St, Stamford, CT 06902, (800)54402637, Fax (203)353-8431

You can see more cards from this deck and even get an online automated reading at Kris Waldherr's web site or you can see more cards from the Goddess Tarot Deck here.



This page is Copyright 1998 by Michele Jackson