Category Archives: Tarot deck review

The Starman Tarot: Review

The Starman Tarot is a beautiful 78-card deck based on the Rider-Waite system of divination. The theme of this deck is the mythology surrounding the late great David Bowie. Bowie was a musician and actor who started his career when he was a teenager in the 1960s. He went on to become a superstar.

I was drawn to this deck because I greatly admire David Bowie as an artist. I became aware of him in the ’70s when his song “Fame” was a hit on the charts. I have loved his music over the years, but in addition, I have always been drawn to his distinctive look, which has ranged from in-your-face androgyny to extremely tailored, well-dressed metrosexual. At every stage of the game, he impressed me as being modern and forward thinking.

The Starman Tarot is illustrated by Davide De Angelis who worked with Bowie on several art projects including album art. The deck is beautifully packaged and includes a nearly 200-page guidebook. The book is a great read. It describes each card in detail and the introductory chapters also talk about De Angelis’ relationship with Bowie and the history of Tarot itself.

The card stock is excellent, very sturdy, and the finish is so smooth that the cards are very easy to shuffle. But they are not so slippery that they fall all over the place. They fit well in my hands. The backs of the cards have a simple design; the artist says it is alien calligraphy. Why not? It works for me!

When it comes to the card descriptions, De Angelis shares his own personal feelings about what the cards mean to him — and he has some wonderful insights. For instance, he feels that the Chariot and Strength cards are the masculine and feminine sides of the same energy. He explains that whereas the masculine energy of the Chariot card is about determination and taking power through the sheer force of will, the feminine energy of the Strength card is about controlling a situation using serenity and the power of heart. Throughout, it is clear that Davide has thought deeply about the Tarot and that this deck is not just a gimmick.

While some of the images on the cards clearly depict a man or a woman, some of the characters are ambiguous as far as which sex they are. I love this because it reflects David Bowie’s gender-bending persona. Just as importantly, for me anyway, this is in line with my own personal philosophy that it doesn’t matter whether you are a woman or a man, you have both masculine and feminine qualities that you can tap into.

Of course, many of the characters on the card have David Bowie’s face. Most notably is the Starman, which is this deck’s version of the Magician. Starman was a title of a David Bowie song released in 1972. The Alien, which corresponds to the Hermit card, reminds me of the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth, which Bowie starred in. Other cards in the deck that have Bowie’s face include the Moon, the Devil, and the Wheel.

What I also appreciate about this deck is that the artist made it a point to make his characters racially ambiguous, as well. Don’t get me wrong: I love, love, love and respect the traditional Rider-Waite images because they have given us a language for us to tap into our intuition. But all languages evolve over time, and I love it that modern Tarot decks are constantly being created to reflect both the creators of the cards and the society they live in.

As I mentioned up top, the drawings on the cards are spectacular. The palette is rather dark but with bursts of bright color. The imagery is dense and the emotional intensity is off the charts.

If I had one criticism, i will say that I can imagine that some may find this deck to be overwhelming. Not one section of any card is empty, and for me I have to ask the question: Is every stroke symbolic of meaning or is it just decoration?

For one example, the Lovers card is simply gorgeous to look at. Around the lovers’ midsection, there is a swarm of bees. In the guidebook, the artist notes that the bees are dripping with honey, and that honey is an ancient symbol of love and fertility and was thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac. There are dozens of bees in that image. Yet, how many bees were needed to convey the symbolism: Would one bigger bee, or even a few bees, be enough?

In this case, I think the sheer number of bees in this image is a stylistic thing rather than a symbolic one. But with that being said, the overall power and feel of this deck is well worth overlooking any excesses. It is a beautiful work and a heartfelt manifestation of self expression. For me, it is a pleasure working with this deck.

What do you think of this review? Have you worked with this deck and how do you like it? Please leave your comments. Peace and Love.


Review: The Angel Tarot

Box, booklet, and deck

I recently started working with a new Tarot deck called the Angel Tarot, published by CICO Books. It’s a 78-card deck based on the Rider-Waite system. Included with the cards is a 64-page booklet written by clairvoyant Jayne Wallace.

The packaging has vibrant, bright colors and the artwork on the box drew me to this deck instantly. I felt a strong, compassionate, reassuring energy just by handling these cards. The card stock is good — just the right amount of sturdy and flexible.

Back of the cards

Angel-Like Characters
The images on the Major Arcana and Court cards feature characters with angel wings. The blurb on the box says that the cards are “angel-inspired.” There is no indication that these “angels” are necessarily associated with beings such as Archangel Michael, Raphael, or others from any of the various religious belief systems.   And to me, that is a strength of the cards — that they are not overly bogged down with a lot of preconceived ideas. As a result, the characters can be seen as angels, spirit guides, or any type of being that resonates with you.

Differences from the Rider-Waite Deck
If you are familiar with the traditional Rider Waite deck, you may know that the images have a lot of detail in them and there is a lot of symbolism from Christianity, astrology, Kabbalah, and more. By contrast, the images on the Angel Tarot are beautifully drawn but simpler. To give a hint at the cards’ meaning, the Angel Tarot cards include keywords that are close to the meaning of the corre

Fool card comparison

sponding card in the Rider-Waite deck.

For example, with the Rider-Waite Fool card, the color of the sky, the pattern on the Fool’s clothing, and the flower the person is carrying all have a significance, according to traditional interpretation. On the other hand, the image of the Angel Tarot Fool does not have that type of symbolism. Instead, the words “Angel of Innocence” are written on the bottom of the card. The idea of “innocence” is the bare bones meaning of the Fool card in the Rider-Waite deck.

The Moon, Rider-Waite
The Moon, The Angel Tarot

I like the simplicity of the Angel Tarot because to my mind, it doesn’t carry the tremendous weight of lore and tradition that the Rider-Waite deck carries with it. I find that some Tarot readers try to cram in every bit of symbolism of the Rider-Waite cards when they do a reading, even when it doesn’t really fit the situation. There is a danger of getting bogged down in tradition instead of really answering a person’s question. I believe that there is less chance of that happening with the Angel Tarot. The reader is better able to focus more on the question and channel a meaningful message, with the lighter energy of the Angel Tarot Deck serving to help guide the reader’s own intuition.

Major versus Minor Arcana

Images on the Minor Arcana are minimalist

The images in the Angel Tarot are most detailed with the Major Arcana cards and the Court cards in the Minor Arcana (Cups, Swords, Pentacles, and Wands). The number cards are like a regular deck of playing cards, with the pips drawn against the background of wings (no angels in them).  Again, on the bottom of each card is a descriptive word that matches with the concept of the traditional Rider-Waite card. So with the  Angel Tarot Four of Cups, for example, the word “Indifference” is written on the bottom of the card. But the image on the card of Four Cups doesn’t help to interpret the Angel Tarot card the way is does on the corresponding Rider-Waite card.

Rider-Waite Four of Cups full of symbolism

Some people may think that it would be hard to read the Angel Tarot without prior knowledge of Rider-Waite. But I’m not so sure about that. The key words definitely help. Also, the booklet gives a bit of guidance on how to interpret the cards. (It also suggests that the suits represent the four elements.)

Even with my knowledge of Rider-Waite, if I were doing a reading for someone with the Angel Tarot cards, I could look at the Four of Cups card to think about the word

“indifference,” and use it as a tool to channel a message from the Universe for the person. Without relying strictly on my memory of traditional card meanings,  I would draw on the idea that the suit of Cups relates to the element of water; I would use a similar concept of the elements when it comes to Swords (Air), Wands (Fire), and Pentacles (Earth).

In other words, I think a person using the Angel Tarot could draw on their knowledge of  Rider-Waite as much or as little as they feel comfortable. In fact, with the key words on the Angel Tarot cards, you could start reading the cards immediately with absolutely no knowledge of Rider-Waite or any other system. You could simply use free association based on the card and key word sitting in front of you.

Ethnic Diversity
One of my favorite  characteristics of the Angel Tarot deck is that there is a multicultural flavor to it. I truly appreciate that the “angels” seem to come from various ethnicities and some of them are racially ambiguous. I applaud this effort toward inclusiveness.

Although I am a huge fan of the Rider-Waite deck and I respect its rich traditional symbolism, it can be a challenge to interpret the cards freely based on modern thinking, modern culture, and individual spiritual guidance. When I use the Rider-Waite deck, I find myself tailoring the reading to resonate with my sensibilities and guidance, as I think everyone should.

Ms. Joyce holding the World card

With that being said, it’s nice to have so many other decks to choose from, including the Angel Tarot,  to offer a fresh perspective on traditional interpretations and to help the mind expand to new horizons.

Long story short,  I really love the Angel Tarot deck and I would encourage anyone to give these cards a try.

Any comments? Have you had experience with this deck? Let me know!