Tarot of the Spirit

Images by Joyce Eakins, text by Pamela Eakins, 1992

The Tarot of the Spirit is the collaboration between Pamela Eakins, who wrote the book for this deck, and her mother Joyce Eakins, who painted the gorgeous images. The deck was published in 1992 by U.S.Games Systems.

Pamela’s book is one of the best I've seen on the tarot. She discusses using the cards
from three different perspectives: as a divine oracle, as a comprehensive system of study illuminating our spiritual path, and as a ‘psycho-spiritual’ tool for meditation. I get the impression that the schools of thought which have influenced this spiritual deck go on and on, and in my opinion the richness of these paintings implies that rich heritage of teaching. And I think that this is largely what the creators of the deck intended, that the structured symbols of the tarot joined to an intuitive painting style would combine into powerful Yantras or Mandalas with the potential to awaken inner truths. That is how I see this deck.

I consider this a ‘sister’ deck to Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. Both have styles of imagery that lend themselves to intuitive visualization. Both integrate multiple influences into a cohesive system, although these images don’t give you the feeling that you will have to study years before unraveling a complexity of symbols. Yet the teachings of the Order of the Golden Dawn and its many offshoots were some of the major influences in the concepts behind this deck. Another reason that I see a comparison to Crowley’s deck is in the archetypal titling of the forty suit cards. Crowley’s titles are sometimes considered pessimistic. Pamela has kept a few of those, but many of her card titles imply a more objective view of these aspects, in my opinion. That is why I would recommend this deck not only to those who enjoy Golden Dawn related decks but also to those who find Crowley’s titles too dark. More important than the titles, though, are the detailed interpretations her book gives to each card.

The paintings themselves are full of movement and texture. There are a few figures on the trumps that I wish had either been painted more abstractly or painted with more anatomical accuracy. On the other hand many of the figures on Joyce’s court cards are painted so beautifully that they look like spiritual visions. Some of her figures are rendered more realistically, such as in the Universe; others are quite abstract, as in the Sister and Brother of the suit of Fire. The colors are all rich, even on the darker paintings which have wonderfully rich colors. They all seem to have a certain light or brightness that emanates from them, which may be from the way the artist has woven the white paint into each picture. As I leaf quickly through the cards it looks like she has integrated white paint into every one of the images. Even the darkest paintings have swoops or sparks of white.

I think that this deck has inherited benefits from many sources, yet at the same time stands solidly on it's own. A lot of study, as well as inspiration, has gone into it, and though there is great depth to this deck I think that it could also be used easily by anyone new to the Tarot. To those interested in acquiring these cards I would recommend getting the book/deck set.

Review by Mark Filipas, 12/8/99


This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson