Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“Crystal Visions Tarot” is brought to us by fantasy artist Jennifer Galasso. The beautiful, soft artwork bring to mind another of my favorite decks, the “Shadowscapes Tarot”, by Stephanie Pui Mun Law. I love the colors and sense of grace in this deck. The intention with this deck was to create art that was unique, but that would be close enough to traditional imagery to allow new readers to learn the Tarot easily.
The name for this deck was inspired by the Stevie Nicks CD “Crystal Visions”. Galasso also attributes her interest in the spiritual realm to Stevie's haunting voice, ethereal nature, and poetic lyrics. Her interest in crystal balls is also evident in the deck's imagery. While not intended by the artist, I have to agree with a comment in the introduction that some of the imagery in this deck does bring to mind the faerie realm.
This is a traditional 78 card deck. The traditional names are kept for the Major Arcana, with Strength at VIII, and Justice at XI. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The Court Cards are entitled King, Queen, Knight, and Page. There is one additional card in the Major Arcana, entitled the Unknown Card. It represents an answer that is not yet ready to be revealed. I love decks with an extra card like this – we can all identify with Kat Black's Happy Squirrel in the “Touchstone Tarot”, and who doesn't adore the Artist in Monica Clio Sakki's “Sakki Sakki Tarot”! The Unknown Card can refer to something from the past, or something that is going to happen in the future. The area that this card falls in indicates where steps need to be taken to clarify the big picture. There is also a hint to move forward with an open mind, leaving all bias behind. I loved this card before I even knew what it represented – my thought was “Yes! Another deck with a card that is “gifted”!”
The LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies this deck gives a short introduction, then presents each card, text only. The energy of the card is discussed, with upright and reversed meanings. At the end of the LWB the layout for the Celtic Cross is given – meanings only, no sample reading. This is followed by several blank pages to take notes on.
The cards are 2 3/4” by 4 3/4”, with a slick card stock. The backs have a 1/4” white border, surrounding a gorgeous center done I shades of lavender, with roses and vines in the four corners, and a round globe in the center, surrounded by vines and roses. In the middle of the top and the bottom is an upright chalice. The backs are reversible.
The card faces show the same 1/4” white border, with the card title in across the bottom, with the background color indicating the suit: the Major Arcana is yellow, Wands are light red, Cups are pink, Swords are blue, and Pentacles are gray. The artwork is done in a fantasy style, using reds, greens, lavender, and dark brown predominately. There is a sense of gentleness and “otherworldliness” that draws one in, and makes one feel right at home.
This is one deck that if I had my way, I would talk about each and every card! However, that is not allowed, so we will look at the cards that pulled me in the strongest. One of my birth cards is the Hermit, so that is one card that I look at in every deck. If there was a make or break card for me, this would be it. Here we see a lone figure, in a lavender robe, sitting atop a mountain, with a lamp in their left hand. They face the right hand side of the card, generally considered to represent the future. To me, they appear very wistful.
The Empress stands in the middle of a garden, wearing a bright red dress, and carrying a triskele scepter in her right hand. She holds a heart shaoed charm. Lush greenery is behind her, as well as a tree with bright green foliage and ripe red fruit. In the upper right hand corner of the card we see beautiful butterfly's.
The Lovers shows a man and a woman embracing, with flowers in the right and left hand lower corners. The figures are bound by ties held by two doves,
The Unknown Card is an extra card added tot his deck to represent that which we are not ready to know yet. What an incredible card, with the female figure holding a crystal ball in her left hand, wIn her right hand is ith lit candles on her upper right hand side and lower left hand side. In front of her we see the shadow of an owl. Her whole body posture invites the Seeker to peer into the crystal ball!
The Queen of Cups is shown seated on a rock, surrounded by water lilies and dragonflies, wearing a lavender gown. In her left hand she holds a cup, in her right hand a trident staff.
The Ten of Swords in this deck is one of the least scary, but saddest, images of this card that I have seen in any deck. A female figure is face down in the snow, bloody, with ten swords in her back. She is surrounded by snow and barren trees. The clouds in the sky behind her are attempting to part, indicating that there is hope.
The Eight of Pentacles shows a female figure, standing at her spinning wheel, paying ardent attention to her work. I like this card because she is working outside, with greenery surrounding her and a tree behind her.
The Knight of Wands is seated on his horse, which is rearing up, indicating action. In his right hand is what appears to be a lit torch.
The Fool in this deck just carries incredible energy! The figure is a female, with dark, flowing hair. She stands on a precipice, one foot on land and one in the air. There is a trail of butterfly's in the air to her right.
I found this deck very easy to read with, and feel that it would be a great deck to offer clients as a choice for their readings. The art alone is gorgeous, and the additional card (the Unknown Card) to me opens up new avenues for reading. It could simply be taken out of the deck if the reader preferred not to use it.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.
Review by Christiana Gaudet
Thank goodness for the fantasy artists who have brought so much new life to modern tarot. I have often wondered what might have happened if an earlier generation of artists like Roger Dean and Alton Kelley had turned their attention to tarot.
The past few years have brought to tarot talented artists such as Lisa Hunt, Ciro Marchetti and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. These fantasy artists and collectable card game (CCG) designers have changed the face of tarot, evolving it into the new century.
Now we can add to that list Jennifer Galasso. In some ways, Galasso’s art is not quite as strikingly detailed as that of those aforementioned tarot artists. But Galasso has done something that none of those artists have yet done. She has created a truly traditional deck in fantasy style.
On first glance, U.S. Games’ Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso struck me as just another art deck with fairies, unicorns and skinny young women in sexy medieval clothing. It seemed cheesy, and a bit flat. I didn’t like the addition of “The Unknown Card,” and the stark setting of some of the Major Arcana characters.
Somehow, I felt compelled to look through the cards a second time, and a third. Each time I did, I saw something I hadn’t noticed before. There are figures of people in the twisted tree branches, and delicate angels in the clouds. The lush flowers and trees have lovely texture, as do the brilliantly colored dragons. The skies and landscapes are evocative.
When I looked closely at each card, I realized this isn’t a trite deck. I felt like an old woman who has mistakenly assumed a young, pretty girl to be shallow and stupid.
Crystal Visions Tarot is true to Rider Waite Smith structure and interpretation. In many cards, the subtle symbolism honors a wealth of tarot tradition, often in clever ways.
The Major Arcana is no more ornately illustrated than the Minor Arcana. The suits are easily identifiable by color and style. The beautiful cardbacks are reversible, and reversed interpretations are given in the Little White Book. The deck is standard size with white borders, and is packaged in the classic U.S. Games box.
My least favorite cards are the Magician and the High Priestess. The Magician fails to hold his arms in the traditional “as above, so below” pose. He does have the Four Tool of Magic, and stands above a crescent moon. The High Priestess stands directly on that crescent moon. Butterflies surround her – what’s up with that? Butterflies, in tarot, are best reserved for air cards. The High Priestess is a water card. Humph. But, honestly, these are small complaints when compared with the overall beauty and readability of this deck.
It would take a long time to describe all the cards I love in this deck. They include the Fool, who is female. Butterflies, appropriate for the air correspondence of this card, also surround her. Her dress has red ribbons, one of which has casually wrapped around her leg, giving her the ancient tradition of the Fool’s red-striped legs.
In the World card we see a large lotus flower cradling a globe on which sits a woman in lotus position. More butterflies here, not elementally appropriate, but acceptable, because they are flying out of her palm chakras.
As I mentioned earlier, I question the addition of a seventy-ninth card, entitled The Unknown Card. This card says that the answer is, at present, unknowable. Perhaps we need to look within and find the answer in our own heart. The card is actually quite lovely. It shows a modern Goth-looking young Pagan woman holding a crystal ball. The image is rather different from the rest of the deck. It stands out as a special card, belonging to none of the suits.
It is a legitimate tradition in random token divination to use a blank token. Many tarot readers include one of the title cards for this purpose. Some Rune casters use the Blank Rune. One on hand, it makes sense for Galasso to offer us this option.
On the other hand, I feel the seventy-eight cards hold every message we could want or need. The Moon may say, “It’s a mystery,” while the Wheel of Fortune may say, “Anything can happen.” The High Priestess may say, “Look deeply within for your answers.” With all that wisdom already available, I have a hard time justifying The Unknown Card.
That I have already started using Crystal Visions Tarot for professional readings is the highest praise I could give any tarot deck. However, I was initially unsure if I wanted to use the Unknown Card, or use my prerogative to remove it. So far, I have left it in the deck. I must admit, it pops up at very appropriate times.
As I explored this deck, its title kept grabbing at me. Where had I heard those words before, Crystal Visions...? When I read the very informative Little White Book, I slapped my forehead in a classic Homer Simpson D’oh moment. The title is a tip of the top hat to the Welsh Witch herself, the legendary Stevie Nicks. What might have seemed cheesy makes perfect sense when inspired by the ethereal Unintentional Godmother of Goth. I am so pleased to use a deck that honors Stevie, whom I have loved for thirty-four (yikes!) years. That’s just a bit longer, even, than I have loved tarot.
It has been a while since I’ve discovered a new deck to add to my short list of professional reading decks. Crystal Visions Tarot is attractive, evocative and easy to understand. Unlike many fantasy art tarot decks, its images are uncomplicated and traditional. Do not be fooled by its youthful energy, Crystal Visions Tarot will give great wisdom and depth. It will be a solid learning and reading deck for anyone from beginners to seasoned professionals.
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.