The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr - Review by Diane Wilkes

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

I couldn't write up a lot of Goddess divination sets and not include this beautiful deck by Kris Waldherr.  I have mixed feelings about this deck, which I'll share with you, but I can say without doubt that this deck is worthwhile for the art alone. 

Like many of you, I first saw this deck online (from a link Michele included on Michele's Tarot Page).  What a wonderful website Waldherr had (and has--you can even send tarot postcards from her deck.  I use this more often than any other online postcard option).  You can do a reading with her deck there, too, so you can see ALL the lovely goddesses in "full star strength," to quote Bruce Springsteen.  Each of the Majors is based on a goddess archetype, and I lusted in my heart until this deck was released.  To salve my fevered yearnings, I bought Waldherr's The Book of Goddesses  for children; it has huge illustrated pictures and makes a wonderful gift for the young ones in your life (I kept mine, of course) and her empowering, creative Embracing the Goddess Within.

But you know that those other things weren't going to satisfy a tarotholic.  And I was thrilled when the deck was finally released.  It was easy enough to read with.  Each of the minors is a revisioning of the Rider-Waite-Smith cards, but with a twist; Waldherr has used a specific goddess for each of the suits, and illustrates each card in that suit with that goddess.  Cups/Water are ruled by Venus, Freyja rules the path of Staves/Fire, Isis, the path of Swords/Air, and Lakshmi rules Pentacles/Earth. 

This device might have been convenient for Kris Waldherr--she was using goddesses she had already drawn for The Book of Goddesses to begin with--but it forces matches that don't always fit.  

But some fit perfectly.  The Nine of Pentacles works on a number of levels-- Lakshmi is a great match, the card retains the sense of abundance that Pixie Smith expressed so well in the Rider-Waite deck, and the borders (that are, alas, on all the cards, not just the Pentacles) have that golden-brown color that intimates a time of harvesting and Monet's haystacks.  The Eight of Staves doesn't have a goddess; it mimics the Rider-Waite version identically, except soothing colors are used.  Unfortunately, there's nothing soothing about the traditional Eight of Wands. 

The word "pretty" comes up again and again in this deck, and that's part of its charm--and its downfall.  I remember Rachel Pollack saying once, "This isn't the Pollyanna Tarot."  She wasn't referring to the Goddess Tarot, because it sort-of is a Pollyanna Tarot.  The Nine of Swords, normally a card of desolation, seems to be less so, because you just know Isis doesn't get nightmares, She gives them.  You get a sense of brooding vengefulness in the woman's posture, certainly not a feeling of despair or wretchedness.

On the other hand, the similarity to the Waite deck makes this deck an easy one for beginners and those familiar with Waite-Smith to read "out of the box." 

And the Majors are spectacular.  Kuan Yin as The Hanged One makes for a very spiritual and ethereal re-visioning of this card--purists might mutter that this card originally referred to Judas, but hey, we're approaching a new millennium.  Let's not get weighted down with history.  The World, aka Gaia is not particularly earthy, but the sense of dancing within the constraints of the world is expressed brilliantly--these goddesses invented the dance.  Athena and her owl are an ideal choice for Justice--and she looks just right surrounded by pillars. 

The cards are a bit shorter and wider than standard, and the backs are reversible.  The LWB is a bit plumper than average, and there are two books you can buy for this deck.  One is the standard book U.S. Games generally publishes to accompany a deck, and the other is The Goddess Tarot Workbook, which I plan to review soon.

I recommend this deck for followers of the Goddess who are more Cups than Pentacles (if you know what I mean--and I know you do) and art lovers of any spiritual persuasion.  This would also be a great deck to use with the Goddess Spread--either as the card stand-ins for the goddess or the deck you use for the reading.

You can read another review of this deck by Michele Jackson and another review of this deck by Sarah Ovenall.

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

You can see more cards and/or buy the deck directly from the artist (and get it signed) here.

Review and page 2000 Diane Wilkes