Arcana of Astrology Review (by BlackandtheMoon)

You really don’t need to know shit about astrology to use this deck, trust me. I don’t even know the dates for the zodiac signs and I glean clear, consice information from it. 

I almost don’t even know where to start when trying to convey my love for this deck. This is the Thneed of decks. It’s genuinely a “fine-thing-that-all-people need.”

First off, it’s an oracle deck with 42 amazingly illustrated cards in a gorgeous box. Don’t know what the fuck Hygeia means when you draw it in a reading? Never fear, there are three additional keyword cards. 

For anyone interested in learning astrology, these cards are a great jumping off point.

(This, by the way, is the second, expanded edition of the deck. If you have the original first edition, your deck will not have all the cards seen here.) 

This deck is made up of different groups of cards. Firstly: Zodiac signs and their constellations.

Isn’t that shit just to die for? I wish I could decorate my walls with it. Oh wait, you can. 

Next up: planet cards.

If you know your Roman mythology, you probably already have a pretty good grasp on these cards’ meanings, but again, if not: keyword cards.

There are the nine planets of the Solar System (yes, Pluto is a goddamn planet), the Sun, and the Moon. And speaking of the Moon…

There are eight different moon phase cards. I nearly always have at least one of the moon phase cards sitting on my altar (which is a fantastic use for any of the cards in this deck). It could be the current moon phase, a moon phase’s energy I’m trying to harness, or a reminder that I have some shit planned for a specific moon phase coming up. 

As I mentioned earlier, the second edition of the Arcana of Astrology has more cards than the first (as well as many of them reimagined), and these are the “new” cards: the asteroids and eclipses.

Also, have I mentioned that these cards are the exact same size as BlackandtheMoon’s other decks? Yep, these are perfect to shuffle into your Antique Anatomy Tarot or Oracle of Oddities for a little extra oomph in a reading. 

If you give a fuck, these cards also photograph beautifully. 

In conclusion, do you need this deck? Yes. Get it here.

The Labyrinth Tarot Review

I fucking love the Labyrinth Tarot by Luis Royo. Although there are strange and jarring aspects to it (which is normally a good thing, but not necessarily with this one) I have a very strong bond with it.

That’s right. I have a strong bond with a deck of cards.

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WARNING: Pips.

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Fuck.

 

Okay, so pips aren’t that bad, right?

So wands are medeval club-things, and they’re green.

Pentacles are gold.

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Swords are blue.

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Which I kind of thought was strange because I might have made Cups blue…

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Wait a minute. What the hell am I looking at right now? Why are the cups cards red and have fire in them?

I don’t fucking know. This shit is a mystery.

But sometimes, mysteries are good. Look at these mysterious ass knights. This deck has some of my very favorite knights.

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The major arcana are sepia-toned and just amazing. They’re kind of scary, which I like.

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I really like this representation of The Fool. The Fool is usually depicted as a young kid happily skipping off on a new adventure, but this Fool is an older man with facial hair. He thinks he’s ready. He’s researched. He’s studied. He thinks he’s badass so he’s wearing some horns. Little does he know…he’s about to learn some shit.

The court cards are fully and richly illustrated. And if you like titties in your tarot cards, you’ve come to the right place.

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In fact, the Jack of Cups pictured there is the ONLY female in the deck with her breasts covered. Meanwhile, the King of Wands up there is only one of two men who are bare-chested. Do I have an issue with boobs? Nope. But it gives me pause because it just seems a little bit…

Anyway, the card stock is pretty standard. No complaints there.

They’re actually pretty small cards, which fit perfectly in my small hands. No complaints there.

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COMPLAINT: the borders. I am not a person who freaks out over borders. But with amazingly detailed artwork on already small cards, why the fuck is an inch of the card taken up by a damn border?

There you have my only two complaints about this deck: the color of the Cups cards and the size of the pictures vs the cards.

I think my very favorite thing about this deck is the people’s expressions. (When you can see them.)

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The Empress might be your mama, but she’s not in the mood for your bullshit today.

If this deck were a person, it would be a quiet man who, when he does speak, likes to say shocking and disturbing things just to see how you’ll react. But regardless of how you respond to him, you’ll think about what he said later.

 

A NOTE ABOUT PIPS

Don’t be afraid of pips.

Seriously.

Unless you’re a novice tarot reader, try this shit. It won’t kill you to look one up if you have to.

Who the Hell is Ethel Jean? An Antique Anatomy Tarot Review

So who IS Ethel Jean?

Ethel Jean is my Antique Anatomy Tarot deck, by Claire Goodchilde of Black and the Moon.

To make a long story short, this is my second review of this deck. The first one only covered the Major Arcana (which was released separately first) and you can read it here. It contains Ethel’s origin story. Then, once the deck expanded into a full 78 card deck, her name expanded too, so now she’s Ethel Jean and she needs another review.

I’m just going to dive right in without repeating myself, so if you haven’t read my first review of majors only, go read that shit.

NOW THE MINORS.

The suits are Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. Here are the Aces for your viewing pleasure:

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I love these Aces. A single, skeletal arm reaching up, ready to pluck their respective element symbols right out of the air and start some shit. I like to imagine they’re poking up out of the dirt to grab your ankles.

There’s no shortage of unsettling shit. We’re at Ethel Jean’s house, after all, and one can never tell if she would like you to have a cup of tea or if she’d like to murder you and bury you in the overgrown flower bed.

 

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Just like in the majors, there’s a great use of animal bones as well as human. Ethel Jean doesn’t give a fuck what or who is in her Sunday stew, thanks.

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Ethel Jean may listen much more than she speaks, but that’s only because she doesn’t have to fucking talk forever to get her point across. She says what you need to hear and that’s that. Have a stale sandwich cookie from the clear plastic tub and get the hell out of here.

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Who would have thought a toothless skeleton could be so goddamn cute?

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

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My very, very favorite thing about this deck is the way the pictures are so descriptive without having to be busy.

I use this deck every single day at least twice. Once at the ass crack of dawn when I have to get up to get kids ready for school, and once before bed. It’s always good to check in with Ethel Jean.

WHERE CAN YOU GET THIS DECK?

Get it here. Trust me, you won’t fucking regret it.

 

The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot Review

Don’t even act like you didn’t just come here for the pictures.

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There.

Now, THIS REVIEW WILL BE SPOILERY. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

This deck has literally leapt from the pages of Maggie Stiefvater’s book series: The Raven Cycle. If that turned you off of this deck, from the very bottom of my heart, fuck you. This deck is absolutely full little pieces of the books, placed neatly into the cards’ meanings. Can you use it without reading the books? Sure. But why the fuck would you?

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It comes with a guidebook, BUT THERE ARE STILL FOUR OTHERS OUT THERE TOO.

Okay, so, I’m about to say some weird shit: this guidebook is absolutely perfect for the beginning tarot reader. It’s clear, it’s witty, and it’s memorable.

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That being said, I would not recommend the actual deck itself to a complete beginner. Especially a beginner who has never read The Raven Cycle books. The only reason being that the artwork on the cards is…sparse.

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There just isn’t too much to remind a novice reader (or any reader for that matter) of the card’s meaning.

There’s an easy fix for this, though. READ THE FUCKING BOOKS.

Arguably, most striking thing about the deck is Maggie’s use of hands throughout it. These hands, marked with the suits of the tarot, belong to a young man who has sacrificed his freedom to become the eyes, ears, and hands of a rather fussy ley line in order to save his friends.

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His hand first appears as The Magician, clenches with Strength, and protectively cups the little glow of The Sun. His hands dominate the Swords suit and grace several of the Wands cards. The power comes from the simplicity of these cards.

The energy I get from this deck is decidedly masculine while simultaneously feeling very inward-focused. A perfect example of this is The Sun card. Rather than a big beaming Sun brightening an entire city, this is a private little light, cradled in the hands.

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Also, there is no shortage of Ravens, flames, and other strange, quiet things. I, personally, find this deck great for shadow work.

There are some cards that are very pointedly referring to a certain character from the books. Here are a couple of Richard Gansey III.

Dick

Cabeswater, bitches.

Cabeswater, bitches.

Chainsaw, bitches

Chainsaw, bitches

That one sexy dream that turned into a terrible, terrible nightmare, Bitches.

That one sexy dream that turned into a terrible, terrible nightmare, bitches.

There are also some fascinating cards whose artwork kind of goes together. Check out the Four and Five of Wands.

Ahh, everything's so stable and comfy, it's just...oh...oops...aw, fuck.

Ahh, everything’s so stable and comfy, it’s just…oh…oops…aw, fuck.

And look at this bullshit progression.

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Additionally, I normally fucking hate court cards, but these are beautiful.

Kings and Queens

Kings and Queens

This deck is gorgeous, insightful, and has one hell of a guide with it.

WHERE CAN I GET THIS DECK?

I got mine on Amazon.


The Antique Anatomy Tarot Review (number one)

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I took the above photo all willy-nilly and slapped it on instagram, and had I known I would end up using it on the blog, I probably would have made the circle of cards more even. But, you know…fuck it.

Anyway, behold the Antique Anatomy Tarot by Black and the Moon! It’s only temporarily the Major arcana, and the rest of the deck is scheduled to be released early 2016.

This is one of those indie, self-published decks that will plummet its artist to stardom, and I will be honored to be able to say I got to nag at her to hurry up with the minor arcana.

These tarot cards were inspired by a love of oddities and antique anatomy books. Just look at this shit.

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These cards are beautifully minimalistic: they’re not full of a bunch of shit. This deck is to the point, and that’s how I want it.

So: cardstock. Let’s talk about it. These have a nice matte finish. They’re not sticky, they’re not slippery, and they’re a nice, regular size for tarot cards. I’m not going to fucking measure them. However, there is one thing I must say about the cardstock: it warps. I have two other self-published decks that are on this exact same cardstock, and they have done the very same thing. (I never “bridge shuffle” my decks, so I do not warp them.) The good news is it’s an easy fix. I slammed a couple of big, thick, heavy books on top of them overnight. Done.

Now we can talk about the fun shit. Here are the card backs:

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The backs of the cards look like the worn leather of an old, creepy anatomy book. They’re completely reversible (if you have time for that bullshit).

The details are fucking magnificent. Each card has astrological symbols that coincide with each card. For some reason, one of my favorite things is the little “item. the hierophant, fig. V”

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Just like in those old anatomy books.

I know this is a common question, so I’ll just say it: YES, this deck is very readable. It’s all too often that someone comes up with a really badass, specialized idea for a deck, but the end result is just…a bunch of similar pictures with a constant theme, but they don’t really MEAN anything. This deck is not like that. I super-duper love the artist’s use of animal skeletons as well as humans. And combinations of animals and humans.

I guess I would call this a “dark deck.” Some of the imagery is a bit…chilling.

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I’m writing this from about a month away from Samhain, but I’m going to be using this bitch all year round. There’s no shitty coloring book drawings or neon colors screaming from this deck. The color scheme is subdued, mostly black and an aged parchment color. I mean, this shit is classy. It’s fucking sophisticated.

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Personally, I feel like I never had to “get to know” this deck. It showed up and it felt like an old friend. If this deck were a person, it would be the old woman in the tiny house just outside of town. She lives alone, but she’s never lonely. Her hair is wispy and gray, and her eyes are a pale grayish blue. Her rocking chair creaks on the front porch as she slowly knits with knobby hands and scratchy wool. The tea kettle is already on by the time you get there; she knew you would be visiting, because you always do. The window ledge above her kitchen sink is crammed with little glass bottles and jars that almost seem sinister until you see her pull dried elder flower out of one, wild sage out of another. She listens while you talk, and her only response is a pointed facial expression now and then. When you leave, you’re not really even sure if the place existed or not.

I love every fucking thing about this deck. I’ve named it Ethel.

Buy us, bitch.

Buy us, bitch.

WHERE YOU CAN GET THIS DECK:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/blackandthemoon?ref=search_shop_redirect