Tired of sickly sweet Tarot decks, replete with fairies and butterflies, that make you long for a large hypodermic of insulin? This may be the deck for you. The Shadow Tarot is a Major Arcana only deck that explores the dark side of the Tree of Life. The deck is based on Aleister Crowley's Liber CCXXXI and the book Nightside of Eden by Kenneth Grant. The cards are 3 5/8" X 5 3/4" photographs. There is a central image which depicts the magical sigil "--probably of Sumerian origin or older, resurrected by Crowley in Liber CCXXXI -- of the Qliphoth of each dayside Path, then immerse in the energies for weeks or months via meditation/tantra." The art is good. At first glance the art seems rather disorderly and primitive, but closer inspection reveals the symbols in the images. The colors are intense and are beautifully set off by the black border. The card number is in the top border and the name of the shadow form or demon associated with the corresponding path on the tree is in the bottom border. The numbers begin with 11, which is the first path. To determine the corresponding Tarot card, subtract 11 from the card number.
There is a book written for this deck (available separately). It has a front-piece with color images of all of the cards. A brief explanation that the book is a mythology and should not be taken as literal truth is next, followed by a description of the Tree of Night. A Tree of Night Meditation is provided. The next section; Earthing the Tunnels of Set, describes the deck creator's 55 month exploration of the Setian Tunnels. The Introduction provides some background information on the deck's premise and a brief history of how we came to separate ourselves from the Ancient Ones. A Brief Note on the problems of Evil and the Darkside is just that. All of these sections can be read in their entirety here. Discussions of the individual cards follow. The shadow/demon name is given with a black and white image of the card. The "dayside" Tarot name and a brief card meaning for the dayside image is given.... This is followed by the corresponding quotes from Liber CCXXXI and Nightside of Eden. A description of the imagery followed by a discussion of the meaning is next. A meditation is provided for each card. I thought the meditations were the best part of the book. They describe the symptoms of a lack of a particular energy and explain how that energy can help us. They also warn of the dangers associated with exploring each energy type. I found the meditations to be practical and down to earth. Following the discussions of the individual cards, an eight card spread called The Web is provided. A sample reading using this spread is also provided. There is a detailed bibliography which includes books, films, music and painters. You can see excerpts of the book here. The deck is wrapped in paper decorated with sigils for various stars, and the spiral bound book is signed by the author.
I recommend this deck for collectors (always) and those who are interested in exploring the dark side of the Tree of Life. You will not find any sweet-faced maidens or sylvan scenes in this deck. You will find images that are conducive to meditation and/or exploration of the "nightside of the tree," and what Jung calls "the shadow." It's a scary place, and not everyone should go there, but if you are interested in doing so, this deck might be helpful.
- The Shadow Tarot
- by Linda Falorio
- Publisher: Headless Press, P.O. Box 9011, Pittsburgh PA 15224
Visit the Shadow Tarot Website