deck review: The Herbal Tarot

RATING: ●●●●○

Quickly becoming my most used deck, I’ve fallen in love with The Herbal Tarot. One of my favorite things about this deck is that it was co-created by two herbalists passionate about herbs and their use in our daily life. It’s a treat to be able to handle a deck that brings together my love of both tarot and herbs and does so respectfully and with great insight.

Blurb from USGames:

The deck was drawn by artist Candice Cantin under the direction of herbalist Michael Tierra. According to the creators, “The Herbal Tarot is a tool for studying the psycho-physical energy of herbs. Herbs, when joined with the tarot, can provide a symbolic material manifestation to accompany a specific divination. This will encourage communication with the subconscious for which the tarot cards are especially powerful.”

33The deck is very obviously borne of the Rider Waite tradition and thus very useful for beginners looking to begin tarot with a widely studied system. The pictures are rather more charming to me than the traditional Rider Waite deck, but I’m heavily biased by the presence of herbs and the resulting cohesive color palette evoked by the artist here. The card stock is of standard sturdiness and flexibility and is easy to hold and shuffle (and I have tiny hands so this is very important to me). The image on the back of the cards is a reversible gorgeous rendering of rosemary- which is another one of my favorite things and such a great choice of herb to go on the back of tarot cards.

I love the art, evocative of the standard Rider-Waite style without annoying me by looking exactly like it. There also seem to be some ethnically ambiguous brown people in the art! Whether that’s purely an accident of the artist or color printing, I’m choosing not to care because that is always important to me. There is absolutely something to be said about seeing an image of yourself in your deck. I know some tarot folks get annoyed about borders, I’m personally fine either way but I can see why borderless cards would be attractive. In this case particularly, as the art has the traditional white space border margin and a medium size colored border around the art that matches the palette of the card image. This I wouldn’t care about so much except that there is no cohesiveness- i.e I wish all the major arcana would be for example, bordered in green, and all the cups bordered in blue, etc. That irks me depending on my mood but it is a minor quibble.

23While it is impossible for an artist to render too much herb detail on cards this size (2.75″ x 4.75″), I think they do pretty well- and folks with a knowledge of herbs will be able to generally identify most of the herbs here without looking at the keyword at the top of the card. My one critique of the herb names is that on some cards, they chose to use white for the herb name instead of the black that’s used on most of the deck which made it very difficult to read.

Otherwise, the correspondence of herbs to tarot cards is impressive, made even more so when you look them up in the accompanying LWB which gives common name of the herbs, the scientific name (important! to avoid confusion as some herbs can share common names), and their uses for the body, mind, and/or spirit. It also provides information on the “Divinatory Meaning” of the card and its reverse energy. There is an accompanying book, I suppose a BWB, big white book, that includes more information than the LWB like astrological correspondence, herb preparation, and affirmation. I’m seriously thinking I might purchase it as I go deeper into herbs, the reviews out there for the book are mostly positive.

I emphasize herbs here, but I do so only because well it is The Herbal Tarot, and I love herbs and their incredible energy in various healing work. However, you do not have to be an herbalist or even interested in herbs to be charmed and enjoy using this deck. I’ve found this deck to be incisive and clear on the purely tarot side.

RATING: ●●●●○

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