Review by Solandia
A new female-focused, multicultural and independently published tarot set, the Wise Woman's Tarot was created by Flash Silvermoon, a Dianic Wiccan and activist in the women's movement since the 1970s.
Silvermoon's vision for her tarot was to 'illustrate the global nature of the Feminine Lineage while providing and exceedingly useful tool for divination and empowerment'. This is a matriarchal deck, in that sense that its social, political and religious systems have a cyclical perspective, and value life and nature over the patriarchal values of power, possessions and property. But men are by no means excluded from this deck as they are from other feminist tarots, though the emphasis is very definitely on women. Men appear infrequently in the minors (Orpheus as the Seeker of Cups, King Minos as the Four of Pentacles, Attis as the Shaman of Pentacles) and do not appear in the majors at all.
Research for the Wise Woman's cards took her into the cultural myths and feminine heritage of more than one hundred cultures throughout the world, and the cards feature a diverse array of deities. Representatives from the better-known Greek, Roman and Celtic pantheons, as well as lesser-known goddesses (and a few gods) from every human era and area - the variety is staggering. Polynesian, Semitic, Tibetan, Polish, even Eskimo (Inuit) and Caribbean - and that's just a few of them.
As you might expect, the majors have been substantially altered in title and image, and reshuffled to better show the feminine side of the 'spiritual evolution' of the human race. The Star appears towards the beginning of the trumps, the Empress card has been split into two cards - III Fertility - Oshun and V The Nurturer - Venus of Willendorf, and Justice and the Wheel are near the end of the arcana. (This does make the cards a little confusing to use for the experienced tarot reader, at least until you've thoroughly read the book and mentally matched up the cards a few times.) All majors have an Goddess association, though the correspondence is in some cases a composite image of several cultures.
0 - Essence - Mu
1 - Sorceress - Magic
2 - Illumination - Isis
3 - Fertility - Oshun
4 - Star - Tara
5 - Nurturer - Venus of Willendorf
6- Lovers - Soulmate
7 - Gorgon - Medusa
8 - Strength - Asherah
9 - Synthesis - Cerridwen
10 - Healer - Sarah
11 - Amazon - Myrine
12 - Revolution/Revelation - Pele
13 - Limitation - Oracle, Sarah, Myrine
14 - Initiation - Eclipse
15 - Awakening - Hecate and Pandora
16 - Moon - Ixchel/Stonehenge
17 - Sun - Amaterasu
18 - Justice - Maat
19 - Wheel of Life - Kali
20 - Transformation - Phoenix
21 - Universe - Changing Woman
The minors have situational cards interspersed between many minor deities. The suits are standard Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles, and the court card titles are Priestess, Shaman, Seeker, and Maiden (equivalent to Queen, King, Knight and Page). All cards also have unique and very tiny subliminal symbols: miniscule images repeated as a pattern in the coloured borders of every card. (The majors have an individual symbols for each trump, but the minors only differ for each suit.)
In the hand the cards seem very large, as they are printed on rectangular 8.5cm wide x 15cm high, glossy, flexible and very thin card stock. Two extra cards are also included with quick notes on goddess associations and divinatory keywords, called 'major/minor arcana at a glance'. (Well, three sides of these cards have keywords; the fourth side is an advertisement for Silvermoon's other creations and services.) The set also comes with an oversized cloth bag that is large enough to fit both the cards and companion text.
The companion book, The Wise Woman's Tarot, is a 178 page spiral bound text. With plenty of background on global women's history and symbols, and the matriarchal myths and cultures that forms the basis for the cards, it's also a tarot primer. There are basic instructions on using the cards - including a section called 'Care and Feeding of Your Tarot Deck' - five spreads and sample readings, and even an unusual section explaining how to read for your pet. The text is more personal than most tarot books; along with the colour-printed card images in the book are numerous black and white photos of the author, her friends, and pets, images of her process of developing the tarot set throughout the book.
Beginner reader or not, you will need to learn a new and unique tarot system to use these cards effectively. However, Silvermoon used these cards as her main tarot set for several years before publication, so they have been intensively tested! If you are seeking a deck with a female or Goddess emphasis, you'll definitely find the Wise Woman's Tarot worthwhile.