Review by Pandora MoonRaven
The Dance of Life Cards is a 78 card tarot based on our personal “dance” through the cycles and experiences of life. The cards themselves are 5 ¼” high by 3 ¾” wide. Cards are sturdy and glossy therefore may be difficult to shuffle for small hands. I use the side by side or pool method with these cards. The backs of the cards are black with the 4 symbols of each suit reversed vertically making the card itself reversible. However there is a little date caption at the bottom that gives away if the card is right side up or not. Cards can be tough to decipher Major Arcana from Minor Arcana – Majors are roman numerals, Minors are regular numerical. Minor Arcana cards have a small circle with the suit symbol somewhere on it. The roman or numeric number is found in a symbol at the bottom that is a triangle (Male) with upraised arms (female). Illustrations are rich in color, made from paintings, and use understandable and easy to decipher symbols. Deck is suited for readers at any level.
This deck is meant to be used for self analysis and awareness and therefore reads very different then a classic “tarot” deck. I find it to be somewhere between a Tarot and an Oracle, in truth it is a deck different from any other. It does not have the traditional meanings or suits of Tarot in a large portion of the deck; therefore I recommend making sure you obtain the book with the cards. The Author does draw inspiration from classic Rider Waite meanings as well as the Qaballah but the deck itself is more focused on the Cycle of Life then classic meanings.
The companion book is a 300 page book that offers information on the vision of the cards, how to read them, spreads, ideas on our “dance of life”, dialoguing with the cards, meditation instructions, as well as detailed information on the card meanings. For each card you get a black and white picture of the card, what the card illustration, symbols means then you have the Symbolic (right side up) meaning, the Shadow (reversed) meaning as well as Mediation recommendations and finally Deeper Understanding of yourself exercise. Some of the reading meanings are incredibly simplistic such as reversed Polarity meaning, “The relationship in question is relatively compatible”. She tells us that our lives are a dance, sometimes we are dancing in joy, sometimes fast and chaotic, sometimes slow and sometimes we are stopped altogether. These cards are intended to help us maintain a healthy rhythm to the dance. She does have a great section on explaining reading for yourself as well as how to remove the blocks it creates and how to move past them.
Major Arcana has been full renamed as such to more closely fit our lives:
0. Free Child – The Fool
1. The Guide – The Magician
2. The Intuitive – The High Priestess
3. Dancer of Life – The Empress
4. Patriarch – The Emperor
5. Spiritual Teacher – Hierophant
6. Lovers – The Lovers
7. Man of Intention – The Chariot
8. Animal Tamer – Strength
9. Wise Woman – The Hermit
10. Ring of Life – The Wheel
11. Mirror of Reflection – Justice
12. Visionary Spirit – The Hanged Man
13. Death – Death
14. Goddess Harmonia – Temperance
15. Shadow – The Devil
16. Destruction – The Tower
17. Star of Hope – The Star
18. Underworld – The Moon
19. Radiance – The Sun
20. Destiny – Judgment
21. Integrity – The World
The Minor Arcana are renamed as well:
Self - Wands – This is the inner self, introspective suit
Relationships - Cups – Emotions and relationships with others
Health – Swords – How you take care of yourself, physical self/illness
Money & Material World – Pentacles or Coins – How you handle money, business and possessions
The Court Cards are now “Cards of the Inner Temple”:
Muse – This is the beginnings of the Suit, the canvas ready to take form
Dancer – You are now Dancing in the suit, learning it
Lover – Your Love in the suit, wrapping your arms around it
Sage – You now embody the suit and have understanding of the full spectrum
In this deck the Major Arcana is worked bottom to top. The Author suggests laying them in rows 1-7 then on top of that 8-14, then 15-21. The Inner Child is your guide and also represents your innocence and readiness to begin. In working up through the rows I am reminded of the method of thThe Tree of Life travelling from Malkuth (The Physical Mundane) to Kether (The Divine). This is a great method for instance if you look at the 5th row you have the Spiritual Teacher (Hierophant), Visionary Spirit (Hanged Man) to Radiance (The Sun). This makes the natural progression of being taught formally in the teacher, to taking those teachers and molding them to your own understands and realizations of the visionary and upon that finding true enlightenment in Radiance.
This deck has pros and cons. The pros are it is great for self work, the illustrations are outstanding and it offers new ways of looking at things. However cons are if you are used to traditional tarot you may find it limiting in cards like “Allergies” or “Abuse”. Some cards don’t have multi faceted meanings of traditional tarot. Also though we see multi-ethniticity and Budda, yoga etc we also have a lot of Christian themed cards that may be a put off. An example is the Underworld for the Moon, depicting demons and such in a typical “Hell” setting. As well as Demons and cards such as “Seven Deadly Sins”. Some of the cards are somewhat contradictory to me such as Integrity (the World); this card shows a man flying off the cliff and shows us that the “Inner Child” was always ready to fly. I love the idea of this but am surprised at the bleak brown landscape; I would have expected him to be flying over green hills of promise. The Health cards concern me a little because they can indicate good or bad health and needing to see a doctor. I would hesitate to use these cards for sure for anyone else as I would not want to tell them they need to rush to book a doctor’s appointment and create fear!
My last complaint on this deck is the use of fictional creatures that sound for lack of better terms silly. The Suits of Relationships and Money both use characters to explain the situations to you as if you are a child. This I don’t like or respond well too. Examples are “Your Love Leprechaun comes back into the picture and gives you closeness, the experience we all crave in a relationship. But he doesn’t count on the influence of the Foul Fairy who comes along with his Magic Wand” and “Your Money Mogul doesn’t like failure, but your Bully Boogie takes great pride in having directed you properly to your doom”. I can certainly live without Foul Fairies, Love Leprechauns and Bully Boogies. If you can ignore this and take it with a grain of salt as well as the limitations put on the cards this deck is still very useful.
I do get strong readings from the deck and enjoy using it very much. I would recommend this deck for anyone looking for a “self” discovery tool to help you past the little road blocks in life that stop our dance and leave us in a holding pattern. All in all I give this deck thumbs up and continue to reach for it when my life seems off track.