The Tarot of Gemstones and Crystals
Review by Diane Wilkes

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

I have worked with crystals for several years, but the extent of my combining tarot with crystals had involved putting a small moonstone or amethyst in the pouches that contained my decks. I had, of course, seen Scott Cunninghamís Stone Tarot (in his Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic), where he aligns each of the Majors with one or more crystals, and Iíd also read Mary Greerís suggestions of combining tarot and crystals in Tarot for Your Self. Both concepts were great in theory, but in practice, it seemed much simpler to take a deck out and use it, sans stones.

Various crystal-oriented decks have been printed in the last few years: the Crystal Ally Cards, the Aora Gemstone Oracle, and the Tarot of Gemstones and Crystals. Because the last seemed closest to a "real" tarot deck (and had the most cards/pictures!), I purchased it recently at my favorite local Wiccan emporium.

If my only interest in this deck consisted of resonant crystal correspondences to the tarot, my money would have been completely wasted. Before I started writing this review, it seemed to me quite obvious that the perfect stone for the Empress is Rose Quartz. There didnít seem to be any room for debate. While I was perplexed to find Cunningham assigned Olivine, Turquoise, and Peridot to the "Goddess," his term for the Empress card, I actually had the thought, "Well, if Cunningham knew a lot about tarot, heíd have written a book about it--Goddess knows he wrote one on everything else." My arrogance knowing no bounds, I was outraged to discover that the Emerald--the stone Cunningham associates with the Empress--was assigned to Key III in my new deck.

It made me think of something Jason Lotterhand said about the High Priestess and Empress being two sides of the same coin--his words were something to the effect that the High Priestess knows everything and the Empress does everything. So I guess they can be two facets of the same gem, too.

And, with that observation, I also recognized that assigning crystal correspondences to the tarot is an exceedingly personal matter. There can be no strict "wrong" or "right" way to do it. Having said that, I still canít relate to many of these designations, for numerous reasons. Most people and authors see red/orange as fiery colors, and blue as cool, relating to swords or cups. So why is cooling Jade chosen as the crystal for the Page of Wands and the warm Carnelian identified with the Knight of Swords? The Five of Swords is represented by the gentle Pearl. You donít have to be a crystal expert to wonder at that correlation. Lapis Lazuli, a stone known for its majesty, is said to have been used in the breastplate of the high priest. It is given as the crystal for The Hermit! Kunzite and Pink Tourmaline, two stones that engender harmony in the heart, are respectively attributed to the Five of Wands (!) and the Ten of Wands.

I have other problems with some of the selections. Moonstone and Sunstone are attributed to the Moon and Sun, respectively. Those seem like superficial choices, made because of their names, not their qualities. Calcite is attributed to The Tower. Because Calcite comes in so many colors, I find it odd that Helmut G. Hofmann (author of "instructions and interpretation") makes no distinctions in that regard. He certainly does with other stones; there are about six different-colored Tourmalines in this deck, all corresponding to separate cards. This inconsistency buttresses my belief that the "matching" of crystals to tarot cards is equally haphazard. Even the sealed cards were out of order--the first card was the Queen of Pentacles and the second was the Wheel of Fortune, and though this is hardly the authorís fault, it reiterates the lack of structure in other areas.

Silex, the stone chosen to signify the energy of The Fool, isnít even listed in Melodyís incredibly comprehensive Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals, nor three other books on crystals I consulted. While I donít consider myself the worldís greatest authority on stones, I think Silex is the name of a kitchen appliance manufacturer, not a crystal!

Iím only half-joking, since I couldnít find this stone in the search engines I investigated, either. I did, however, see many a lovely blender.

Some of the photographs are lovely; others are pretty hideous. The Hematite representing the King of Wands looks like a bowel movement. The Eight of Cups, Malachite, normally a favorite stone, looks like a ball of bilious headcheese. Card images often show the crystal in its raw form with various small polished, faceted crystals in the forefront, which I like very much. However, some of these cards are disconcerting, such as the King of Cups, which has a beaded Labradorite necklace coiled sinuously in the forefront--does this connote a King who wants to be a drag queen?

Even though I found most of the correlations to be uninspired, there were some that seemed delightfully "right." The Ace of Swords (above) shows a Quartz Crystal cluster, with one point in front rising starkly, like a...sword. It is striking, as is the Tourmaline Quartz for Justice. The black streaks in clear crystal offer a clear and powerful contrast. Another of my favorites is The World card; Watermelon Tourmaline seems a perfect choice, with each slice of the stone being a world of its own.

I do not recommend this deck for beginners--of either the areas of crystals or tarot. My original plan when buying this deck was to use it with a "troubling" card in a spread, looking up the corresponding gemstone and try and develop and/or enhance the qualities inherent in that crystal. Since, however, I donít think many of the designations "work" for me, I will have to find other ways to use this deck: using individual cards as talismans or stand-ins for the stones they depict, using simply the image (and not its tarot equivalent) synchronously chosen to clarify a spread with a "real" tarot deck. I could just as easily have bought the Aora Gemstone Oracle or Crystal Ally cards, in terms of trying to find a "tarot" deck. They canít fall much further from the tree (of life) than The Tarot of Gemstones and Crystals.

Then again, I have 78 color images of various crystals to play with--as opposed to the 44 stone cards in the Aora Gemstone Oracle and the 55 Crystal Ally Cards.

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

You can see more cards here.

Tarot of Gemstones and Crystals
ISBN# 3-905017-94-6
Available from U.S. Games Systems

Diane Wilkes

Review and Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes