Review by Kim Huggens
I acquired this deck mostly by chance and
certainly not through planning, when I came across a post on
the Aeclectic Tarot forums offering to trade it for
another deck. I decided to check it out, and fell in love
with it instantly! Within two weeks, I was cradling it
in my arms and praising the day I responded to that
This deck, created by Carol Bridges, is another
treasure. The artwork on its own is gorgeous, being simple
enough to appeal and be open, but still being detailed
enough to convey meaning in an evocative and very
inventive way. Every single thing in the cards seems to
have meaning of some sort: Even the way the titles of
the Major Arcana are written!
To give a brief
background to this deck before I got into details however, I
shall say that its purpose, other than to be a deck for
people to read with, is to help people, both men and
women, regain the feminine healing energy that many
people in the West are brought up to neglect nowadays.
The creator takes pains to reassue that this deck is
not specifically aimed at women only, despite its
name, which came about due to the idea of the feminine
healing energies that we are trying to reclaim. As Carol
"I feel that the division of humans into two sexes is
arbitrary. We exist in a spectrum of sexuality and body
types... A Medicine Woman is any person who has recognised
and actualised their female powers, acting with
intuition, love, and creative force to make this world 'home'
for all generations to come."
This deck has the traditional 78 cards,
and the ordering of the Majors is traditional aswell.
However, Bridges has renamed each Major, and the new titles
of these Majors are written in what I was taught was
called 'Bubble Writing', in a way that fits the meaning
of the card. For instance, the new title of the
Hermit, 'Guide', is written as though it were a 'Guide'
shaped book. The traditional titles of each Major are to
be found on the cards themselevs though, in small
black writing in an unobtrusive place, which helps a lot
for beginners who are trying to work out the
correlations between this deck and the more traditional decks.
The images on the cards, whilst not being traditional,
are easy to interpret and read, and the
meanings are mostly traditional anyway.
The Minor Arcana
are one of the strengths of this deck: Each suit
tells the story of its 'main character', for instance,
the suit of Stones (Pentacles) tells the story of how
a young woman sets up her own small jewellery
'business' from scratch. The suit names have been changed,
but are still recognisable: Bowls for Cups, Arrows
for Swords, Pipes for Wands, and Stones for Pentacles.
The Court Cards have been changed quite
dramatically however, with the traditional King, Queen, Knight,
Page becoming Exempler, Lodge, Totem, and Apprentice.
In all of the suits, the Apprentice is represented by
the 'main character' of the suit's story, as they
began their journey, and the Exempler is represented by
that same character when they are older, and have the
benefit of their experience. The Totem bears the image of
an animal which represents that suit, eg- Eagle for
Pipes. The Lodge, which bears a correlation between the
womb of the Queen, usually holds resources used in the
'story', or shows the harvest which came from the 'story'.
This is a wonderfully insightful way to view the Court
cards, and I found it very easy to read the cards in this
way. However, it could prove difficult if one wanted
to use Significators, as often these Court cards do
not represent people or personality traits, but
situations and consequences.
It becomes apparant after
sifting through this deck a couple of times that the
images a figures within them are primarily female, and
indeed three of the four suits have women as their 'main
characters'. However, this should not be misinterpreted as
feminist overtones: As mentioned above, this deck is aimed
at both men and women, and includes both men and
women in its purpose. The images also show tribal
settings, but this is not based around a specific tribal
culture: Something that surprised me when I received the
deck, as I was expecting it to focus on the Native
American culture. This deck has focussed largely on what
the creator calls "tribes of the future", where
humanity has blended what can be learned from the past
cultures. It shows some tribal scenes which are quite
modern: the people in it are wearing modern clothes for
instance, and some which are not modern, where perhaps the
character is a Shaman, kneeling in his circle with his tools
in front of him. It is certainly a refreshing and
interesting blend, and one which distinguishes this deck from
most others of the same theme.
Overall, this deck is
easy to use once it has been explored, and has artwork
which I personally find very open, honest, and
attractive. The new titles for the Majors offers the reader
of this deck a whole new way of looking at the cards,
and the stories played out within the Minors are a
beautiful way to craft their meanings. A beautiful deck,
and one which I'm sure many will benefit from.
Kim Huggens is a 24 year old PhD student in the Ancient History and Archaeology department of Cardiff University. She has been studying and reading Tarot since the age of 9, and has a deck collection numbering over 250. She is the co-creator of the Sol Invictus: The God Tarot and is currently working on a second deck, Pistis Sophia: The Goddess Tarot", and a book for Llewellyn Publications, due for release Autumn 2010.