The Herbal Tarot

Designed by Michael Tierra (Herbalist) and Candice Cantin (Artist)

This is an interesting deck which, as the name suggests, tries to tie in herbal attributions with each tarot card. The artwork is fairly similar to the type used on the Rider Waite deck - simplistic and using few tones and shades, each card bearing an image related to the card plus an illustration of the allocated herb.

I think really that featuring the herb so prominently probably does sometimes interfere with the visual symbolism that can be picked up from the overall illustration, so I would not recommend this deck as a good beginner's pack. The cards are not all as evocative as they could be.

On the other hand, for the more experienced reader, I think the Herbal Tarot could definitely introduce a new slant on certain cards which would be fascinating and useful. For instance it took me a little while to figure out why chamomile would be allocated to the Ace of Swords, until I started to consider this herb's ability to cut through emotional disturbance in order to achieve a more objective overview on a given situation.

In addition, you end up learning quite a bit about herbs. The handbook gives medicinal and magickal definitions on all the herbs allocated to Major Arcana cards, whilst the Minor Arcana has a slightly more condensed examination of herbal properties. All cards are keyworded in the booklet as well, and reverse meanings are also given. There's a lot of information in there, but there's only one suggested spread - the inevitable Celtic Cross.

Courts follow the traditional King/Knight/Queen/Page format. There are three changes of named Majors as well.Fortune becomes the Medicine Wheel, the Devil becomes Pan, and (very politically correct) the Hanged Man becomes the Suspended Person - this gave me quite a chuckle I can tell you!!

My favourite card of the deck for visuals is the Ace of Cups - the associated herb is the lotus, and the card depicts a lotus, with a hand appearing from a cloud holding a chalice from which streams water. A dove flies toward the chalice carrying an olive branch in his (or her) beak.

I wouldn't call this a beautiful deck, but it certainly is an interesting one which could definitely stimulate new understanding on certain cards.

Review by Jan

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