From seeds first planted in the nineteen eighties, The Gaian Tarot has developed from a Limited Edition deck into the mass market edition, printed and released recently by Llewellyn Worldwide. Created by Joanna Powell Colbert, The Gaian Tarot combines her love of symbolic art and the natural world, and was nine years in the making.
This deck lovingly reflects Joanna's special relationship with nature, her neighborhood and her spiritual community and is an absolutely gorgeous earth centered deck that depicts local Pacific Northwest landscapes, incorporates naturalist history and the very best part...all of these wonderful, everyday people are real! This is a fantastic, multicultural deck that pictures people and animals that are all familiar with Joanna, in her everyday life, her nature journals and photo's taken by her.
Joanna's artistry is simply amazing, her creative process starts out with several thumbnail sketches, a photo shoot, a digital collage, line drawing and finally, a medium of waxed based colored pencils... the imagery is so real that the Gaian Tarot nearly seems as though they are actual photographs.
I was immediately drawn to The Gaian Tarot mainly because of it's earth based theme and was doubly delighted to discover just how truly special this deck is. I do a lot of reviews but this deck definately stood out among the rest the second I held it in my hands and began to slowly look through each card. This is not just a RWS clone, although Joanna has faithfully kept the traditional Tarot structure, the images are fresh and contemporary, making it very appealing and quite relevant to our modern daily life.
The cards are so realistic, making it possible to actually envision yourself as part of the scenery and meaning of each card. The accompanying 288 page companion book is a beautifully written and the card descriptions very nurturing and uplifting. I'm a huge fan of affirmations and each card has really wonderful and reassuring affirmation that you can't help but feel great about yourself after reading them.
There are some differences in The Gaian Tarot that you will instantly notice. In the Major Arcana some of the cards have been given updated and more relevant names such as The Seeker instead of The Fool, The Gardener from The Empress and The Builder instead of the Emperor but this just makes this deck so special because when you think of the traditional Tarot titles and their keywords, isn't the Gardener a more fitting title as she represents fertility and abundance as well as creativity and nurturing, all ideas that befit a gardener or someone who works closely with Mama Gaia.
The Minor Arcana are grouped in an elemental manner, with Swords represented by Air, Wands as Fire, Cups as Water and Pentacles as Earth which in my opinion works very well when reading elemental dignities in a spread. Joanna also updated the familiar Court Cards and more accessible titles such as Child for Pages, Explorers for Knights, Guardians instead of Queens and Elders for Kings. Each Court Card group also has a glorious mix of two male figures and two female figures which makes reading the Courts so much more appealing as they represent actual people and roles that we encounter in our daily life.
This is truly an amazing deck and it would make a fantastic deck to use if you are a beginner! I love it's coloring, modern imagery and earth based theme, I highly encourage you to go give it a look because I can honestly say that The Gaian Tarot is definately one for your collection!
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Artist: Joanna Powell Colbert
Images used with permission from Llewellyn Worldwide