Goddess Divination Sets/Decks - An Overview Reviews by Diane Wilkes
What was I thinking? It occurred to me that there are numerous Goddess sets and that, since many tarotists are also Pagan/Wiccan, many Tarot Passages' readers would find a guide to such decks/sets helpful. I hadn't realized this would be as large a task as it eventually became. I suppose that statement could go on my gravestone. Oh well. So that this page didn't take a million years to load, I have divided it into three pages. In addition, you can click on each title in this massive overview to find out more about each Goddess divination system.
Without further ado, here is my version of Consumer Reports for Goddess Divination Tools.
I find the art of Amy Zerner truly awe-inspiring. I remember how excited I was when The Enchanted Tarot came out--I had owned a pre-deck calendar of some of the tapestry images and thought they were breathtaking. The cards themselves were a bit disappointing--they lost something in the translation to the smaller form. But the calendar posters were so exquisite that I've kept them for framing.
I am sad to say that the two goddess decks combining Zerner's art with husband Monte Farber's text are also disappointing--for different reasons. Gifts of the Goddess: 36 Affirmation Cards is a lovely set to give your Aunt Jenny if she's suffering from self-esteem problems. There are 12 different "goddesses," and each one graces three cards, which are stratified into the domains of "Body," "Mind," and "Spirit." You usually see the face of an attractive "goddess" centered amidst various lovely patterns, with the affirmation underneath the image. On the card back, the affirmation is listed again, along with some nurturing, related text.
You, gentle reader, have, no doubt, noticed that I keep putting "goddess" in quotation marks. That is because these lovely images aren't of specific ("real") goddesses, but generic, new-agey goddesses of compassion, courage, balance, transformation, and other virtues. As a primitive, eye-for-an-eye Jewess, I can't imagine where to place Lilith...and less-than-gentle goddesses like Hathor and Kali won't find a place in this toothsome (and toothless) pantheon, either. It's hard to imagine this attractive set offending anyone except maybe Jerry Falwell, but I don't necessarily see that as a virtue.
Having said that, I admire the packaging and layout of this very reasonably-priced set, which is portable and well-made.
If you would like to order the Gifts of the Goddess set, click here.
Would that I could say the same for Oracle of the Goddess.
Well, that's only half-true, actually. The external package is lovely. A silk ribbon ties together a book-like cardboard box that holds Zerner's Oracle of the Goddess cards on one side and Monte Farber's accompanying book on the other. It looks enticing from the outside, but inside, unfortunately, we find Goddess body parts strewn everywhere.
A little history is in order here.
Years ago, the Zerner-Farber connection put out a divination set called Goddess Guide Me (it's out of print, but you can still order it from their site). It included three colored dice that you would throw to determine your Goddess message. Each color corresponded to a category (mind, body, or spirit). After you threw the die for each category, you'd turn to the page. You might have the head of Kwan Yin, the body of , and the spirit of , and you'd read the divinatory passage for each one in that area. I bought Goddess Guide Me (again, out of love for Zerner's art) and found this form of divination lacking in dignity and cohesion.
Then I saw that the art had been released in deck form (Oracle of the
Goddess) and was thrilled...until I saw that the cards reflected the same
tri-fold separation of the Goddesses. The oversized cards are color-coded
to indicate the "areas" of divination: the head (purple), heart (red),
or home (green), and each card shows only the
portion indicated. Underneath the image is an interpretation of the card, as well as a two word directive ("Think Seductively", "Feel Open", "Establish Security"). While this appeals to people who don't want to memorize anything nor trust their intuition, it has the same attraction for me as the Magic 8 Ball...I may turn it over once or twice, but then I go elsewhere, someplace where my mind and intuition can play a part, too.
Farber's text for both Goddess sets is well-written and excellent for people who are unfamiliar with tarot, specifically, and divination in general. I am not one of those people--and, if you're reading this page, you probably aren't either.
The non-reversible backs are annoyingly left-brained. They are color-coded, too, and have the title of the deck in the middle, along with an advertising slogan for the set (Revelations, Reflections,, and Rites of Passage from the Great Goddess to You). I don't get it. An artist like Zerner could make an exquisite tapestry for the backs, and instead she allows them to be turned into billboards.
If you would like to order the Oracle of the Goddess, click here.
I found a beautiful Goddess deck at the American Tarot Association Conference in Latham, New York: Goddesses of the New Light: A-Goddess-a-Day Cards by Pamela Matthews. It is rather obscure compared to the Zerner-Farber collaborative efforts--it may be self-published (the publisher's name is The Grail, which just so happens to be a card in this deck). Published in New Zealand, it doesn't have a large online presence in the United States (Amazon doesn't even carry it, as of this writing), yet is, like the two decks described above, very beginner-friendly.
The deck comes in a box that looks like it contains a Cleopatra video (Isis is on the front--and boy, she gives the young Liz Taylor a run for her money). There are 28 cards, wrapped in a pretty violet silk scarf, along with a 27 page booklet (also with Isis on the cover), and even a nice wooden stand that holds your Goddess for the day. The video comparison doesn't end there--these Goddesses are all movie-star glamour-pusses. I've started to mentally refer to this deck as "The Air-Brushed Goddesses." The fact that the booklet is hopelessly vapid doesn't help the situation.
Artemis, known as an outdoorsy kinda Goddess, wears a diaphanous white concoction that swirls about her arms and legs. I can't imagine it as conducive to running in the forest. The image reminds me of a Stevie Nicks video I saw on HBO many years ago. She would go offstage and a trio of makeup artists would quickly reapply lipstick, spritz her with Evian, and blow-dry her hair in between encores. As a fan of the high-energy, but no-frills concerts of Bruce Springsteen, this seemed to me a desecration of all rock and roll stood for. I'm sorry, but if Artemis was a rocker, she'd be more in the mode of a Bruce Springsteen than a Stevie Nicks. Ergo, this card doesn't work for me a little.
All of the cards, from the Snake Goddess of Crete to the Warrior Goddess Durga to the earthy Gaia, look like they have benefited from a week's visit to Elizabeth Arden. I found the images utterly beautiful--I bought the deck, after all--but, thus far, have found them beautiful and empty, like a 21 year old starlet who doesn't know who Aretha Franklin is.
On the other hand, the backs of this deck have no writing on them--I consider that a plus. They are the size of a standard tarot deck, but wider. The booklet offers several titles for each Goddess, along with a symbol, a short history, a message, and an affirmation. This deck is another example of one where someone need have no background in divination to use directly out of the box. Goddesses Made Easy/Goddesses in Ten Minutes are two other names that come to mind here.
One thing I found interesting about this deck was that the artist chose to include Mary (Mother of Jesus Christ) and Magdalene (Beloved of Jesus), as well as the Black Madonna.
To read about more Goddess sets, click here.
To see some direct card comparisons between all of the sets reviewed, click here.
Art for Gifts of the Goddess and Oracle of the Goddess © 2000 Amy Zerner and
Art for Goddesses of the New Light © 2000 Pamela Matthews
Reviews and page © 2000 Diane Wilkes