Review by Christiana Gaudet
After a few months of fussing and fuming about the
disingenuous promotions Hay House has used for the new Doreen
Virtue Angel Tarot Cards, I am finally holding the deck
in my hands. No, I didn’t break down and make the
However, I do believe the Doreen Virtue
Angel Tarot is a legitimate contribution to the tarot
corpus, and I am glad a friend lent me her copy so I could
give it a legitimate review.
Angel Tarot Cards
(yes, that is the official title) looks like a typical
Doreen Virtue oracle. It is oversized, printed on very
sturdy stock and packaged in a lovely box with a small
but substantial booklet. Because of their size and
sturdiness, the cards are a bit hard to handle, but lovely to
The deck is a standard 78 card tarot deck in
many respects. The artwork is gorgeous, but there are
few visual clues in each picture about what the card
might actually mean. Never fear, there are
interpretations written on each card. There is no need to actually
intuit or study anything. This is a boon for new tarot
readers, or for those who want to use the deck as a simple,
I like many of the written
interpretations on the cards and in the booklet. Virtue and I
agree that every tarot card can have an uplifting
meaning. The punctuation on some of the interpretations
summons my inner grammar police. The interpretations are a
mishmash of full sentences and key words, but each thought
is punctuated with a full stop. Apparently angels
find no need for complete sentences or proper
punctuation. We can’t really blame the deck designers for this;
many other oracle creators are guilty of the same lazy
crime against the English language.
Arcana cards are each illustrated with an archangel. The
cards bear the traditional number at the top. Each Major
Arcana has a name, although many of the names have been
changed from the traditional Major Arcana designations.
Under the Major Arcana name is the name of the angel,
then the illustration. The written interpretations are
at the bottom.
In this deck, Justice is card
eight, and Strength is card eleven. The Fool has been
renamed as “The Dreamer.” Major Arcana five (Hierophant)
is called “Unity,” twelve (Hanged Man) is called
“Awakening,” thirteen (Death) is “Release,” fourteen
(Temperance) is “Balance,” fifteen (Devil) is “Ego”, sixteen
(Tower) is “Life Experience” and twenty (Judgment) is
“Renewal.” The rest retain their traditional names.
am comfortable with changing the traditional names of
Major Arcana cards. In the five hundred year history of
tarot some have already been changed. The Hierophant was
once the Pope, for instance. I like Lisa Hunt’s
replacement of “Chains” for the Devil, and Eileen Connolly’s
“Transition” for Death.
I think Virtue’s “Release” for
Death is brilliant. I also like “Ego” for the Devil. I
think “Life Experience” for the Tower is shallow, and
“Unity” for the Hierophant is simply wishful thinking.
The assignment of an archangel for each Major
Arcana is very interesting, and will be helpful to those
who work with archangels, or want to learn more about
them. Following in the footsteps of Kris Waldherr and
some other modern tarot designers, this is a great
example of what I like to call “archetypal assignment
tarot.” The question is, how well do the archangel choices
reflect the standard Major Arcana archetypes?
“Unity” card (Hierophant), is represented by Archangel
Sandalphon. Sandalphon is one of the few archangels who was
once a mortal man. This makes sense for the “Pope”
archetype of Major Arcana five. The Pope is a mortal man who
is also God, or God’s representative on Earth.
Sandalphon’s responsibilities include prayers, personal
ascension and Earth. To me, this seems like a very good
The High Priestess is represented by
Archangel Haniel. Haniel is feminine, and associated with
grace, intuitive development, and finding our divine
essence. Again, this seems a perfect fit.
studying the archangels and the Major Arcana cards with
which they are assigned, I feel the designers of this
deck really did their homework. One problem with
archetypal assignment decks is the assignments sometimes feel
forced. In Angel Tarot Cards, the assignments make sense,
and feel natural.
My only real complaint with
the Major Arcana in this deck is the loss of the
“Fool’s Journey.” I would be fine with the “Dreamer’s
Journey.” But here, there is no journey at all. Instead,
there are simply twenty-two archangels, each with a
beautiful picture, a strong archetypal association and a
powerful message. For many, this will be enough.
me, the concept of card zero (Fool or Dreamer) as the
star of the show and the representation of each of us
on our journey through life is critical to developing
a full archetypal and allegorical understanding of
The Minor Arcana of Angel Tarot Cards uses
the elements instead of the icons. This is not an
unusual switch in modern tarot. The Earth cards have green
borders and are illustrated with faeries. The Water cards
have dark blue borders and are illustrated with
mermaids. The Fire cards have dark red borders and are
illustrated with dragons. The Air cards have light blue
borders and are illustrated with unicorns.
of the Minor Arcana is quite traditional, with ranks
of Page, Knight, Queen and King. The interpretations
include the possibility of the cards representing people,
energies or predictions.
I have a problem with mixing
archangels with unicorns, mermaids, dragons and faeries,
especially since Virtue has made a living of presenting the
angels as actual beings rather than mythological beings.
Does this mean she thinks unicorns and mermaids are
actual beings as well? Many people do, but for me this
demotes the archangels to mere mythical beasts.
Clearly, Angel Tarot Cards would not be my first choice for
a personal or professional tarot deck. However, the
artwork and deck quality are stunning. The deck honors
tarot tradition in many ways, and will be a great tool
for folks who want to learn tarot, or who want to
learn about the archangels. It is evident that a great
deal of work went into producing this deck. That work
has resulting in a strong tarot deck that many people
will cherish and enjoy. Angel Tarot Cards is a valuable
offering to the tarot community, and may serve to bring new
tarot enthusiasts into our community.
Christiana is a professional tarot grandmaster based in
West Palm Beach Florida. She is the author of "Fortune
Stellar" and the organizer of several tarot meetup groups.
She also teaches tarot webinars to a world-wide audience.