The Everyday Witch Tarot has 78 whimsical tarot scenes of black-hatted witches going about their lives, set in a world of medieval fantasy mixed with modern reality. It's a charming deck of positive energies, serious intent, and light heart.
While there are many tarot decks focused on witches very few are as well envisioned, charming, and satisfyingly complete as the Everyday Witch Tarot.
This deck steps away from depicting witches as serious, humourless, and weighed down with new-age cliches – clad in monastic robes, a crystal clasped in one hand and communing solemnly with the spirits of nature. Instead we are presented with witches tackling everyday life issues with exuberance, grit, and determination. A broad spectrum of situations and corresponding emotions are tackled with a delicate touch which neither mocks the seriousness of the situation nor suffocates them under a blanket of Pagan jargon.
The deck is created by author Deborah Blake and artist Elisabeth Alba. This is a classic 78 card deck, with 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana cards. The titles of Major Arcana cards are familiar and unchanged, and the suits of the Minor Arcana are Swords, Pentacles, Cups, and Wands. The Minor Arcana suits each have 10 number cards and 4 Court cards – Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The titles of all cards are given in full on a banner at the bottom of the illustrations. This deck measures 70 x 118 mm, which makes it a fairly standard sized tarot which will sit comfortably in most user’s hands.
The card stock is light and quite thin, which makes the cards extremely flexible. A heavy-handed user that was not particularly careful with their cards could easily bend or damage them. The finish on the Everyday Witch Tarot is smooth and glossy with an ever so slightly toothy texture which facilitates easy handling and shuffling.
The print quality is superb, reproducing the fine lines and subtleties of colour without misprints, blurriness, or colour bleeds. The Everyday Witch Tarot has a broad palette of both strong and delicate colours. The colour schemes tend towards poetic realism with gorgeous skies that veer between peachy sunsets, aqueous evenings, and moody days, rich green fields and deep dark woods, with the witches clad in inevitable black, vivid scarlet, midnight blues and Lincoln green.
Elizabeth Alba utilises modern techniques with watercolours in a style often found in fantasy art and children's book illustrations. The images are whimsical, with strong bright colours and lines. Each card is detailed and well balanced; and executed with deftness and assurance. The images have been crafted specifically for this deck with imagination, sympathy, and humour – the witches themselves sport their conical hats and striped socks (or stockings, leggings) as they go about witchy deeds as part of their daily lives. There are both male and female witches, as well as some quite androgynous characters, spread across a broad age range. They live in an enviable world which is suspended somewhere between pseudo-mediaeval fantasy and our modern reality. Witches ride motorbikes complete with black cat in a sidecar, practice yoga, wear drapey robes and cloaks, brandish wands swirling with magic, and drink cocktails on the shore… Yet life is not relentlessly positive, bad things happen too, but the Everyday Witch has an optimistic outlook.
These cards have no borders to the image, and the titles, as noted before are given at the bottom of the illustration on a cream coloured banner. The image on the back of the cards - a black cat, witch’s hat, and broom on a dark blue and starry background - is not reversible.
The tarot deck and guidebook come packaged in a solid cardboard box with a high gloss finish. The lid of the box is held shut with magnetic clasps, and folds back like a book cover. The cards sit in a well with the guidebook atop them. A dark blue satin ribbon wraps around the cards and beneath the guidebook to help the user lift them out. The box cover has a deep blue colour scheme and features images from the deck as well as information about the cards. Inside the box is finished in golden yellow with tiny stars and cat footprints, this too is gloss and polished.
The 254 page guidebook is written by the deck’s creator Deborah Blake, who has authored 'The Goddess Is in the Details’ and 'Everyday Witchcraft’ among many books. The guidebook is printed on heavy, glossy paper with a smooth finish – and the gorgeous colours of the deck are captured in large reproductions of each card. The 'Introduction’ tells of the inspiration and ideas which led to the creation of the Everyday Witch Tarot.
Chapter 1 gives a (very) brief history of the development of tarot cards. This is followed by information about the deck and how to maximise its features to obtain the best reading. There is a lengthy exposition on how to do a reading which covers such fundamentals as choosing a spread, shuffling the cards, wording the question, laying out the cards, and some pointers about interpreting the layout. Chapter 2 focuses on common questions asked about doing tarot readings – choosing and using significators, clarifying cards, reversed cards, negative readings, rituals to do before a reading. Included here are three spells for use with the tarot ranging from complex to quick and simple.
Chapter 3 first tackles the Major Arcana. Each card is reproduced in full colour with their title beneath them as well as a phrase which summarises the essence of the card. There is a one line description which cuts straight to the heart of each card’s interpretive meaning, e.g. The Magician is summarised as 'You have all the tools you need to accomplish your goals’. Following this is a detailed description of the illustration explaining the meaning of various symbols (although this deck is a largely shorn of obscure esoteric symbolism) in the illustration as well as the intentions and actions of the individuals depicted. The Seeker is then given Things to Consider which is essentially a divinatory meaning coupled with sage advice. Here the author also gives options for interpreting each card, perhaps representing the future, the past, or a person other than the Seeker. Each Major Arcana card has a full lined page with space for the reader’s notes. The Minor Arcana cards are given less description than the Major Arcana, but equal amount of Things to Consider. Lined pages for notes are interspersed randomly among the suits rather than assigned to each and every card.
The Everyday Witch Tarot is an homage to the Rider Waite Smith deck and its illustrations and interpretations are strongly linked to its classic predecessor. The divinatory meanings honour tradition yet offer progressive and quite positive interpretations and the advice given centres around self-care, trusting one's instincts, practising mindfulness, valuing friendships, and the removal of negative people from one's circle.
Chapter 4 offers three divinatory spreads – the one card draw, the three-card spread, and the classic Celtic Cross, which are probably the three most commonly used layouts for both tarot and oracle decks.
This is a beautiful deck full of positive energies, serious intent, and a light heart. The images are whimsical yet retain their spiritual power. While it is probably not the most ideal deck for an absolute beginner, the Seeker who has their fundamentals down will find this an exceptionally easy deck to work with. Experienced tarot readers will find this deck easy to master and a pleasure to use. Modern witches will love this deck, and Pagans seeking a tarot full of laughter and wisdom are well advised to check out the Everyday Witch Tarot. This is a strong and satisfying deck to work with, yet like the bubbles in champagne it adds a little fizz and joy to life.
Llewellyn's January, 2017 release, the Everyday Witch Tarot, is a young-at-heart deck by author Deborah Blake and artist Elisabeth Alba. The Everyday Witch Tarot features images of mostly young, female witches in scenes inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. The witches wear the classic black, conical, wide-brimmed hat. These witches often also wear horizontally striped stockings, just as the Wicked Witch of the East did in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Most of the scenes and clothing evoke European life centuries ago. Girls wear lace bodices and long skirts. Boys wear tunics and tights. The witch mixing a potion in the Eight of Coins is working under a thatch roof in a shop with an old-fashioned hanging sign that announces her profession with an image of herbs and a broom. There are castles, scrolls, chalices, and cauldrons, and, on the knight of wands, a red, fire-breathing dragon. The dragon appears contentedly tamed, and breathing only smoke, in the queen of wands card.
Other cards suggest that the centuries-old feel of the deck may be merely the dress-up of a Renaissance Fair. The lady of the Nine of Pentacles relaxes with a glass of wine. She is seated in a wicker chaise lounge on a patio. The two of cups couple occupy folding chairs. The witch in the World card is enjoying that most modern of inventions, an umbrella drink. Temperance balances her craving for cupcakes and martinis with a bunch of leafy carrots. The Chariot is a daredevil in a motorcycle; her helmeted cat has taken the sidecar. The Hierophant is a yoga instructor.
One notices the light-hearted feel of the deck in the heavier cards. In the Ten of Swords, the figure with ten swords in her back, who is usually depicted as very dead, shows signs of life. In The Tower, a witch has just used her magic wand to reduce a stone structure to rubble. She is turned toward the viewer and she looks proud of her handiwork rather than vengeful.
My favorite cards in the deck include The Moon. In this card, we see the classic Halloween image of the silhouette of a witch on a broomstick flying across a full moon. Just looking at this image I get a craving for a Butterfinger, a favorite Halloween treat, and I can hear "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on TV. The Three of Swords is a color-drenched card, all red, orange, and brown. Three swords pierce a Valentine-shaped box of candy. A journal lies locked on an empty bed. A quill rests in a puddle of spilled black ink. The Ace of Swords is mostly blues and grays; it depicts a youthful witch looking skyward. Birds, lightning and clouds appear moved by her magic. The Five of Wands depicts five witches and their five cats quibbling over a cauldron, which spills its fiery, foamy contents onto the floor. Light is handled especially well in this card. The glow from the fire casts the witches' dramatic shadows onto the wall behind them.
This deck will suit those seeking a deck stripped of all Judeo-Christian iconography. The High Priestess, for example, is seated between two pillars, one white, one black, but the letters B and J are not inscribed on them. These letters are a reference to the pillars in Solomon's Temple. There is no veil behind The High Priestess separating the viewer from the holy of holies, and there is no Torah scroll in her lap. She is focused on a crystal ball.
Deborah Blake's 252 page accompanying book includes full color reproductions of, and a blank page for notes on each card. Blake's text emphasizes self-reliance and spunkiness and rarely mentions the metaphysical. For example, in most decks, The Hanged Man is depicted as experiencing transcendent self-sacrifice. He wears a beatific expression and a halo surrounds his head. Blake describes her Hanged Man as someone who is "just hanging around." He is "uncomfortable," "stuck" and needs a "solution." The message of the card for the querent is "You can do something to get yourself unstuck."
The High Priestess traditionally represents the numinous that which we can never know. She sits before the veil that separates the profane world we inhabit from the holy of holies. The mystery she hints out but never spells out is symbolized by the hidden "h" in the Torah scroll in her lap. Blake's High Priestess is very different. No mystery here. "Higher wisdom is available to us all." Temperance tells us that we should "try to go with the flow and every once in a while, treat yourself to a cupcake." The Death card reminds us not to "make the mistake of hanging on to something that's already gone." The five of coins tells us to "maintain a positive attitude and have faith." In fact, in many cases the text would work fine in a book that didn't have the word "witch" in the title.
The deck is not reversible. The backs are a midnight blue sky scattered with five- and eight-pointed gold stars, and a black cat, a broom, and a witch's black hat with a red hatband in the foreground.
The cards are borderless. Alba's images are ink lines and water color, painted in a muted and limited palette. Dominant colors include midnight blue, forest green, brown, grayish black, and rusty red. The cards look a bit like the illustrations one might find in a young adult adventure novel. This would be the perfect deck to use at a Halloween-themed slumber party.
quibble: the witches are almost all young and slim, and all
of them are white. I like tarot decks, like the
Victorian Fairy deck, that include a fair amount of older,
younger, and even fatter characters. I think the inclusion
of some everyday witches of color would have enhanced
this deck. And a final note of praise: the box for the
book and cards is exceptionally sturdy and attractive.