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Fantasy artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law spent six years creating  the Shadowscape Tarot, and it was worth every minute. The original art was done in watercolor, a media Ms. Law has mastered through dedication to her career as an artist. It is also evident that she spent a good deal of time thinking deeply about each card, composing each image and selecting contents with loving care.

The overall deck doesn’t stray too far from the RWS, but it does so with great style and panache. This deck contains much that will please animal lovers, animal omen readers, and shamans. In addition to the human figures, as the Wands feature foxes, cats, and a badger. The Cups include a variety of fish, mermaids, and giant turtles - what a treat! The Swords are graced with elegant swans, butterflies and crows. The Pentacles feature lizards, dragons, bugs and spiders. Animals are also generously represented in the Trump card images. Each elemental realm is lush with appropriate flora and fauna integrated into the card symbolism.

For the most part, the Trump cards are dominated by large solo figures enacting the symbolic content of each card. Although the card can be a stumbling block for many artists, in this deck the Emperor is especially powerful. The male figure exudes a sense of mastery, lordship, and order as he wields his dragon orb and is haloed by a disk of intertwined elements. Ms. Law manages the neat trick of depicting a masculine model free of overtones of patriarchal oppression. It should be much easier for women to relate to this card in a useful, positive way. The Hermit stands on a summit of a great dobby stone, with migrating geese flying on their lonely path. The Death card features a joyful phoenix rising in flames with an evocative shell-like spiral showing the patterns of time that bring about beginnings and endings. The Moon card is utterly magical and uncanny. The moon maiden strolls in a fairy ring of mushrooms, surrounded by the wee folk. Each trump card deserves careful study, as more details become apparent with time and use of the deck.

The Court Cards are creatively thematic. The Queen and Page of Wands are both playing stringed instruments, and the Knight of Wands rides a lion. The Page of Cups is a mermaid, the Knight rides a unicorn through the waves, while the Queen and King of Cups both float in watery realms with sea turtles. The denizens of the Swords Court interact or ride various birds. The Knight of Pentacles rides a dragon, and the Queen and King are integrated into trees.

The Shadowscapes Companion book merits commendation as well. The artist and the noted tarot-writer Barbara Moore have formed a true collaboration in this book. After Moore’s basic introductory section, each card is shown as a full-page gray-scale image and accompanied by notes from Ms. Law and a card meaning from Barbara Moore. Readers will benefit from reading both viewpoints. Nine card spreads are included at the end of the generous 253-page text. This is a beautifully formatted text and a fine companion to the deck.

The superb colors and visual richness of the images, the masterfully composed paintings that enhance the divinatory card meanings, and the well-produced book make this a deck-book set worth acquiring. Fantasy-fiction and animal lovers, children’s book aficionados, and pagans will adore this deck if the art appeals to them. This deck is superb for regular readings, meditation, ritual use, for dream readings, and for spell-casting. Kudos to Stephanie Pun-Mai Law and to Barbara Moore for a job well done!

Be aware that there’s an extra purchase option, a special edition sold directly from the Shadowscapes website at a later stage for $55 + shipping, including:

* artist autographed kit (retail value $28.95)
* a Major Arcana 8.5x11 inch print of your choice (retail value $15.00)
* a special Happy Squirrel card
* a unique original ink sketch card (7x11 cm, deck card sized)
* a greeting card of the Page of Wands
(http://www.shadowsc apes.com/ Tarot/deckSE. php)
There’s no mention of a different box or container for the cards - sorry!

~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Tarot deck by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law; book by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore.Llewellyn International, 2010, boxed kit includes 78-card deck, organza tarot bag and 253 pp book. $28.95

(previously published in ATA Quarterly Journal, Summer 2010 issue)

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