Do not STOP. Pass go, collect your $200 and get a copy of this tarot deck immediately!

Developing a chosen theme with consistent thoughtfulness and artistic coherence is the benchmark of a successful theme-based tarot deck. And that's where “Dark Goddess Tarot” stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince gets top marks for meeting and exceeding this challenge on every level. Feminine deities of numerous global pantheons are harmoniously unified by the art work and the orderly thought behind the assignments.

In her introduction, Ms. Lorenzi-Prince explains that dark goddesses share powers that are “considered disturbing when in female hands...(and) that their experience may provide strength and guidance in dark or difficult times.” No light, fluffy or happy goddesses need apply! You won't see Lakshmi, Brigit, or Erzulie in this deck, but Hecate, the Black Madonna, and Sedna have their own cards.

The suits are named after the elements (Air = Swords), an appropriate choice that highlights the parade of goddesses. The numbered suit tokens are replaced with divine personalities, their native tools and favored animals. The court titles are absolutely brilliant! The titles accommodate an all-female cast of characters: Amazon (Page), Siren (Knight), Witch (Queen) and Hag (King). Some of the trump cards are renamed to convey a sense of parity with the chosen goddesses.

The artistic style and color palette keep the suit groupings and the deck as a whole visually coherent. This is no easy feat with such a diverse range of multi-cultural goddesses! For instance, the four Air suit court cards are Skadi (Norse), Lilith (Babylonian), Oya (Santeria) and Dhumavati (Hindu). At first one wonders how such an awkward group of goddesses could work together amicably. But the goddesses flow in a seemingly effortless procession from Ace to Hag. It all makes perfect sense when the cards are examined with the booklet.

The cards are beautifully designed and rendered. Each card portrays the unique flavor of a goddess's origins. Greek goddesses look Greek, Aztec goddesses look Aztec. This wild diversity is unified by a rendering style that is cleanly composed, remarkably uncluttered and yet contains a meaningful symbolism. This is an artistic triumph worth admiring even if the deck was printed on newsprint and packaged in a brown-paper lunch bag (and I would still want a copy if it was).   

The 26-page booklet that comes with the deck is nicely formatted and features a half-dozen full-color full-page card images. The card descriptions are well-crafted. Each entry includes the origin and domain of the featured goddess, and a simple sentence or two of meaning. For example: “Six of Water – Tefnut. Egyptian Goddess of Dew and Rain. Renewal starts with simple pleasures.” (p 14). These meanings are by no means trite! On the contrary, they're extraordinarily apt and a marvel of understated complexity. It gives the reader a lot to ponder.

The production values for the deck, booklet and box are flawless. The 3 ½ x 5” cards are printed on good quality card stock. The card backs have a lovely but subtle fish-scale pattern in blue and lavender. The trendy gray borders on the card faces are another distinguishing feature that makes this deck special. The cards and booklet are packaged in a two-part box – my favorite! Thank you! The deck was co-produced by Arnell Ando.

As is stated in the introduction, this is a marvelous deck to use for guidance in dark or difficult times. The cards give the reader something to absorb for hours or days after a reading. It might not be a deck that every reader will want to use for clients, but it's a good deck to use for troubled clients or to hoard for strictly private use! The theme targets women but the bon mots in the booklet are valuable for everyone. There are a couple of custom spreads and some tips for working with the deck included in the booklet.

The Dark Goddess Tarot is beautifully-produced theme deck that's on par with the Wild Wood Tarot or the Tarot of the Trees for internal consistency, excellent artwork, a fully-exploited theme, and superb production values. It gets the High Priestess-Pythia's “five lunar crescents” recommendation for birthday or Yule gifting for goddess devotees. Get one deck for yourself and a few extra copies for gleeful squealing at unwrapping time.

Simply superb!

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Creator: Ellen Lorenzi Prince
Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, 2013
78-card deck, 26-page booklet in a two-part box
$35.00 plus shipping and handling from www.darkgoddesstarot.com

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