Lorenzi-Prince has an uncanny gift for harmonizing the imagery and card meanings around her themes, thus producing decks that are incredibly well-planned and thoughtful. The Tarot of the Crone was the first of her unique theme-centered tarots, originally released as a handmade limited edition in 2002. It is now being re-released in a professionally printed and packaged edition. Her other decks include the Dark Goddess Tarot and the Minoan Tarot.
The theme of this deck is Power: learning how to use and focus one's own power, discovering things and people in the world that are sources of power, and balancing the power that others have and use with one's own. The crones that appear in the deck all have bits of wisdom to share. Each card description in the booklet is preceded by a short poem that distills the card's main idea. The deck is printed on easy-to-shuffle cardstock and the 3” x 4 ½” card size makes the deck easy to handle. It's packed in a two-part box that contains the deck and accompanying booklet.
The cards feature non-traditional imagery that supports the development of the theme through the Major and Minor Arcana. The suits have the traditional names: Wands, Cups, Swords and Disks. Each suit has a unique color palette to emphasize the suit's particular energy and wisdom. For instance, Wands are red and yellow. Swords are yellow and blue. This makes them easier to identify in a spread. The Court cards are renamed Beast (Page), Witch (Knight), Grandmother (Queen), and Shadow (King). The Beast of a suit represents its primal elemental power. The Witch represents elemental modes of using the element power in personal ways. The Grandmother is concerned with the collective and communal context of the element, while the Shadow shows how the elemental energy can be destructive and devouring. All of the pip cards, Ace through Ten, are given short names.
The clever imagery featured in the deck is impressive. Simple figures and shapes effectively convey very complex ideas. The Witch of Wands “Sorceress” shows a familiar primal goddess figurine rising from a fiery torch. “Her intent moves mountains. Her use of power is pure and unabashed.” The Ace of Swords “Thought” is a large eye beneath a point. “See now with fresh eyes. Hear now with new ears. Perception is a power not to inhibit or take lightly.”
The Seven of Disks “Travel” shows a road with seven turns. Each bend in the road has a different landscape. The thrust of the card's meaning is that you're stale and need to get out there and explore options. The Six of Cups “Ritual” shows three figures pouring water from ritual bowls into a pool that reflects them. It illustrates the maxim “As above, so below.” The card's meaning underscores using rituals to find harmony and connect with a sacred source.
The Major Arcana follow the standard order and number, with a few cards re-named. The Hierophant is called “Tradition” and features five Matroyshka nesting dolls that represent generations of little mothers. Each is unique but connected to the ones that came before and the ones that follow. The card highlights a connection to ancestors. The Tower shows a shattered, screaming mother. The last few lines of the card’s introductory poem states, “I scream/Because things are Wrong/And I cannot have it so”. The stunning image is of a black crone face broken into chaotic fragments. A hollow, brittle shell that no longer serves is destroyed. The World card is a favorite: a single large figure contains twenty smaller figures. The poem states, “I am the exercise/Of your power/And the key/To your future.” The hollow face of the large figure is like a keyhole that's open to the world haloing her head. The text states that the individual is more than the sum of her parts.
The Tarot of the Crone is a timely production that underscores women's power and the accumulated wisdom passed down by uncounted generations of women. The message of each card targets self-empowerment, self-knowledge, and personal development. Crones are sometimes perceived as fearsome and shadowy beings. In this deck, they become fully-realized as teachers, oracles, wells of collected memory and sharers of that wisdom. Once again, Ellen Lorenzi-Prince demonstrates her capacity for using the armature of the tarot for exploring a tightly woven web of related ideas expressed through original imagery. Excellent!
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Creatrix: Ellen Lorenzi-Prince
Arnell's Art, 2017
78 cards and 85-page booklet in custom two-part box.
available through www.darkgoddesstarot.com and www.arnellart.com.
$40 plus s/h