Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Death and the Devil

It seems like most people have one or two (or more) cards that they absolutely must love in a deck in order to consider purchasing it.  I have mine: Death and the Devil.  These are not my favorite cards in Tarot, however they are the cards which I feel are both important and often misunderstood or misrepresented.  So I feel picky about the way they are shown, and hence the potential impact they have on the person being read!

In many decks, Death is portrayed as a skeleton, or a hooded figure on a horse, with a scythe.  I really hate that interpretation of Death.  To me, Death is a beautiful card.  It's about change, about seeing the beauty in shedding the old and embracing the new.  It's about life, really, and renewal.  When I bought the Golden Tarot (Liz Dean), my first deck, I wasn't thinking about these things, but I'm happy with the representation of Death in that deck.  Death is a women in a cloak, holding a rose bloom in one hand, and a rosebud in the other.  She's at the edge of a wood, and in the distance you see a sun setting.  The emphasis centers on the idea of new beginnings, so it has a stronger essence of hope, and isn't negative.  I can't wait until my DruidCraft Tarot cards come (Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm) because aside from how much I love the images in general, the Death card features a robed woman (in this case, elderly) standing at a boiling cauldron holding a skull.  Out the window you see a sunset/sunrise in the distance.  It's beautiful, and also draws you (me) into the mystery involved in major life changes. I love it!

The Golden Tarot by Liz Dean
DruidCraft Tarot

The Devil card is often portrayed with a very evil looking figure, like the traditional, Christian "Satan." It's usually a rather scary looking card, but I feel like it's unnecessary to portray the Devil in a way that could potentially scare the crap out of querents.  So in the Golden Tarot the Devil really looks like Pan - not evil or scary.  (It resembles the Rider-Waite deck's Devil, but that one is a bit frightening in comparison).  He sits above a man and woman in bondage.  I appreciate that the card is able to represent the essence of the Devil without being frightening.  In the DruidCraft deck there is no true devil... it's Cernunnos, the Horned God, standing rather threateningly in the forest behind a pair of exhausted lovers, asleep.  The focus is not on "sin" or "evil," rather the concept of the natural aspects/desires/motivations of our beings as humans, and the unhealthy behaviors that can result when those aspects are not in balance.  So it represents the important meanings illuminated by this card, but through a new lens, and with a new name.  Cernunnos does look really intimidating - he's shadowed, large, one eye aglow, almost beastly, really.  But not evil - more wild than anything.

DruidCraft Tarot

Now, I have gone against my own preferences and ordered the Morgan Greer Tarot because I absolutely love the rich, colorful artwork - but the Death/Devil cards are pretty traditional, and not really my cup o' tea.  But I'm okay with that in this instance, because the artwork is so colorful and inspiring, yet not overdone (in other words, there isn't so much going on in each card that it takes time to sort out all of the details/symbols).  I feel it would/will be a wonderful pack to read with, and while the feel is different than Rider-Waite, the symbols are very Rider-Waiteish which I'm comfortable with.  And, on the up side, while the Death card does have the skeleton/hood/scythe, the card also features a large rose, so it's a nice contrast.

What are your deal-breaker cards?

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