Friday, 30 January 2015

Women's Tarot Overview

The Women's Tarot (AGMüller, 2006) uses the art of Peter Engelhardt, collaged into cards.  And while his art is very beautiful, in soft tones and with a zen-like, spiritual feel, overall this deck doesn't really do it for me.  It's not the semi-illustrated pips as such, that's something I quite enjoy.  The issue is more with the way the collages have been done, and the fact that the same or similar images are used so much.

Looking at the Hanged Man (and why didn't they rename that, given it's clearly a woman?), we have a woman hanging with her hair forming a sea beneath her.  Above her, there is a crescent moon in the sky, and an orange fram around her that might be the frame she hangs from.  I'm unsure whether the lines from her breasts to her genitals are supposed to indicate lines of energy, blood, or some kind of kinky chain.  Far clearer, though, is her peaceful expression and posture.  And I like her nudity and her exposedness.  It feels like it's saying that through this sacrifice, this willingness to be in limbo, she becomes very fertile, filled with ideas and the ability to manifest them.

The Page of Wands echoes the King of Wands which we saw on Monday.  He is bluer, less filled with light, less dynamic, which is appropriate.  The wavy line descending from his heart (or is it rising from the earth) is less wide, less energetic.  I'm not sure how much this image says Page of Wands to me, but it does have clues enough, if you look for them.  Though once again, from the colour scheme, I would have been more likely to guess Page of Cups...

Turning to the Aces,we have the Ace of Pentacles, with a naked though cloaked woman.  Her hips are broad, and her cloak falls around her like a dark night, echoed in the star-filled sky above her.  One of those stars is in fact a pentacle.  As the seed of the suit associated with earth, the colouring does work for me.  Afterall, seeds grow in the dark depths of the soil, before emerging as shoots.  And the woman seems fertile with possibility, her cloak could equally be the dark folds of the earth, lined with blue rivers to feed those seeds.

As for the semi-illustrated pips, the card I drew here is the Three of Swords.  A heart is hemmed in on all sides by swords, rather than being pierced by them.  While there may not be that same sense of being cut to the heart, the feeling of constriction is still quite a strong image.  The fact that the swords form the alchemical sign for water could either be seen as a negative, or as suggesting the emotions which are caused by painful thoughts...

While I feel fairly comfortable reading with this deck, I will admit to being disappointed with it overall.  As another reviewer also mentioned, there are far too many "spiritual faces".  Here are a selection of just six that seem almost identical, but there were at least as many similar if slightly different ones I could have chosen.

On top of that, some faces and figures are quite literally repeated.  The face on the Nine of Pentacles shows up again as the Queen of Pentacles, and the face on the Ace of Cups is joined by another on the Ten of Cups (both perhaps understandable progressions).  Less clear is the Hierophant also being the King of Pentacles!  Then, there's the fact that the same pair appear on the Ten of Pentacles, the Six of Swords and the Lovers, and another little pair appear on the Six of Cups and the Four of Wands.

So, while this is a quite beautiful deck, these niggles will definitely prevent it from becoming a favourite.


  1. Some of the art is beautiful in this deck, though I dislike the repeating images such as the faces in the cups. Sometimes when I'm looking at a new deck, I imagine it without borders and keywords, and "fall" into the art. Then I ask myself, "Is there any tarot framework here that I would recognize? Would I even know what card I was looking at?" I thought the Page of Wands above was the Hierophant!

    1. I agree with Bev: the image has to tell the story and give its meaning clearly without having to check the title of the card.

    2. The Minors work in that sense, as they have the requisite number of suit elements on each card. However, other than that the deck definitely falls down on clarity. And the repetition is a real shame, too :(

  2. Oh, it's the repeat the head trick, last time seen in Tarot in the Land of Mystereum.

    Definitely something I dislike. To me it screams "I ran out of ideas" or "I can't draw well enough" or "I'm too lazy to make each card unique."

    This deck would be an ignore after seeing this.

    1. Yes, it's a shame. The art is lovely, and I enjoy semi-illustrated pips. But the repetitiveness really spoils it for me, too, JJ!