Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Lisa Hunt (“The Fairy Tale Tarot”, “Fantastical Creatures Tarot”, “Animals Divine Tarot”, “Shapeshifter Tarot”, “Celtic Dragon Tarot”, “Celestial Goddesses”), has another slam dunk with the “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot”! I have followed this deck since day one, and no one could have been happier when the lovely deck appeared on my doorstep!
This is a 79 card deck, with accompanying 61 page LWB (Little White Book). Excuse me … 79 card deck? Yes, 79 card deck. The additional card is meant to be a special bonus card for those questions that require deeper reflection. Lisa suggests that the reader allow the ghosts and spirits to talk to them, to help dissolve the barriers between conscious constraint and objective inner reflection. She goes on to say that ghosts and spirits are often messengers that are trying to tell us something, and that it is her hope that the “Ghosts and Spirits Tarot” provides a conduit for further communication and understanding. I love the extra card - very reminiscent of the Happy Squirrel in the “Touchstone Tarot” (Kat Black), and the Artist in the “Sakki Sakki Tarot” (Monica Cleo Sakki).
The deck follows a traditional structure, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The Hierophant becomes the High Priest, and the Devil becomes Chains. The suits are entitled Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The Court Cards are entitled King, Queen, Knight, and Page.
In her introduction in the LWB, Lisa talks about growing up in a wooded New England town, where she played in the woods, never doubting that they contained supernatural energy. She saw faces in the trees, and “little people” in the garden. It is a blessing for all of us that she was allowed these beliefs, as many children are strongly encourage to “forget” this type of connection in their early years.
She notes that many types of ghosts appear in various guises throughout the world. Included in this deck are ghosts and spirits from legend and lore. They represent an array of ethereal beings found throughout the world. Some are friendly, some are terrifying … all are part of the anthropological landscape, reflecting a relevant aspect of our humanity.
The LWB presents the cards through text – no scans. Each card includes a description of the ghost or spirit represented, along with the divinatory meaning. From the book:
The Hermit (Dryads)
Dryads were ancient Greek nymphs that dwelled in forests and lived in trees. Although they were gentle woodland spirits, they were fierce guardians of the environment. The dryads are one with the trees and elements. They participate in the mysteries of the forest and feel connected to the organic matter that is swirling with magical energy. The spirits in the trees mingle with the dryads and exemplify the sacred nature of the isolated ofrest.
Divinatory Meaning: Seek out a sacred space to relieve the mind of external noise. It is important to unplug and release all the mental debris that may be rendering you fatigued and uninspired. Sometimes a time-out is just what you may need!
At the end of the LWB is a five card spread entitled “Realm of the Spirits” that Lisa developed specifically for this deck. This is followed by two lined pages meant for note taking.
The deck and LWB come in a standard sized box, with the image from the card of Justice on it. The front of the LWB carries the image from the Six of Cups. The cards themselves are 2 ¾” by 4 ¾” – a good size for small hands. The backs show a ¼” white border, followed by a thin b lack border. The background is predominately blue, with a swirling yellow circle of energy in the middle of it. Three white ghosts flow in the center of the swirling energy. The card backs are versible.
The card faces are a beautiful beige color, with a thin black border ¼” in from the deck sides. For the Major Arcana, the card number and title are printed in black across the bottom of the card. For the Minor Arcana Pips (numbered cards), the number and suit, in text, rare printed in black across the bottom of the card. For the Court Cards, the title and suit name are printed in black across the bottom of the card.
The artwork immediately draws the reader in – it is the most extremely detailed, in depth fantasy work that I have ever seen. Anyone who has ever seen Lisa’s work knows what I am talking about. Her work is haunting, to say the least!
Let’s start out by talking about the bonus card. It shows the head of a figure that appears to be behind bars. Look closer … another face appears to the right of the central face (I didn’t even notice this at first!) More faces are below, and one gets the impression of water. Not a scary card, but a very deep one.
The Queen of Pentacles is Cailleach Bheur, a winter spirit in Scottish tradition that is capable of summoning destructive storms. With her staff, she beat down vegetation and suppressed the soil with an icy grip. Remember, however, that she was an important part of the seasonal cycles.
The Knight of Cups to me is simply haunting, as we see a male and a female figure, hands clasped, flowing towards each other. This Knight is an Undine … a changeling born from the sea as a water-sylph, raised by mortals, that grew into an ethereal beauty. Born without a soul, the only way she could obtain one was by marrying a mortal. This she does … but you will need to read the LWB yourself to see how this turns out!
The Ace of Pentacles is Rubezahl, a German forest spirit who loved to confuse travelers. I love the steps that wind from the bottom to the top of this card, representing ascension and unexpected opportunities.
The Moon is represented by Aeneus’ Journey to the Underground. A prophetic dream sends him to the underground in search of his father. There is good and bad on this journey. When Aeneus finds his dead father, he learns that he, Aeneus, is fated to be the founder of Rome. The underground passage in this card displays the faces of both tortured souls and enlightened beings.
Death is represented by the Grim Reaper, in dark cloak with scythe in one hand, and an orb in the other. The scythe symbolizes linear time, while the orb symbolizes sacred time. The setting indicates that the end is drawing near.
Strength is represented by Mummy/Ka. Ancient Egyptians believed that each individual is born with a spiritual double lived detached from their body, and served as their life force. The deceased would join Ka for eternity. Ka was an important energy, as it wandered in the night for a place to live and food to eat in the afterlife. If Ka were neglected, it would return to haunt the living. The swirling energy int his card shows the duality between the physical body and the eternal spirit.
The Six of Cups is represented by Revenants … restless ghosts who return to the land of the living to tie up lose ends. Some of them could assume mortal qualities, some could come back as ghost animals or apparitions. They seek assistance from among the living to complete their mission and find closure and a peaceful exit to the land of the dead.
The Knight of Wands is represented by Hiku, a Hawaiian hero/demigod that traveled to the land of the dead to bring back his wife, Kawela. When Hiku was traveling with his wife to the physical world, she attempted to escape by turning into a butterfly. Hiku recaptured her and took her to surface. When the butterfly united with the corpse, spirit and body merged, and Kawela returned to consciousness. The edge of the ocean surface represents restrictive thinking.
Note: The descriptions of the cards are directly from the LWB. Lisa is an excellent writer!
This is a very special deck, that could easily be used by anyone, from any background. It is perhaps best not used with children, due to the graphic nature of the cards. However, it may also be that children, who generally do not judge, would find it easier to accept the cards than some adults would. It works well as a reading deck on its own, and could easily be used in comparative reading, or for meditation, ritual or journeying purposes. I don’t think I have to say that I highly recommend this deck!
© May 2012 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.