Reviews of The Wise Woman’s Tarot
All reviews here are reprinted with permission from their respected sources.
No compensation has been given to any reviewer, other than a standard copy of The Wise Woman’s Tarot at no charge (per standard industry practices).
S. K. Harrell (NC) –
This review is for: The Wise Woman’s Tarot (Spiral-bound)
I’m not a card reader. In fact, I’m not particularly gifted with sensitivity in the synthesis of symbol and personal mythology as it is printed on card stock, neatly packaged and colorfully presented. I hold cards in my hands and any life thrumming in them falls still. It was with a sense of utmost confidence in Flash Silvermoon, herself, that I agreed to review one of the culminations of her life’s work, The Wise Woman’s Tarot.
I began that pursuit as all eager students should–by first reading the accompanying text. Evident from the start was the truth that this deck is created with the feminine fully evoked, which I did glean sentiently from the book and accepted as a keen indicator as to why so many other decks have never spoken to me: they did not intend to.
On first read the name of the deck could easily be misconstrued. It would appear this deck is for women, and it is certainly steeped in the love, lore and legend of the Goddess. Look again. This deck is aptly named for wise women, those who honor the balance of All Things, including the delicate masculine complement and the multicultural ties connecting us all. With this revelation newly opened in mind and insight, the cards spoke volumes.
Silvermoon has put a great deal of thought and introspection into the symbols giving life to her deck. Working within the traditional archetypes of Minor and Major Arcanas the story of each Arcana unfolds, which just happens to smartly mirror the story of thoughtforms becoming the formed world. Using the foundation of the traditional tarot Silvermoon retells its story in true Aquarian style, balanced, nurturing and whole.
While the cards are a work of art and the voice of insight, the spiral-bound text holds its own. Silvermoon doesn’t just explain the cards in intricate detail, she divulges a cumulative and diverse history of every figure and scenario presented, weaving them together as a shared chronicle. It is this facet of the deck that reveals the twenty-five years of work Silvermoon put into it.
Also expressed is the need for and act of how to approach and work with cards as oracles, the necessity of shielding while doing any intuitive work, and how the symbolism of the cards correlates with the chakra system, colors, totems, and planets. The standard presentation of layouts and their function is presented, along with many short cuts, charts and diagrams, as well as instruction on how to do card readings for animal friends.
In summary, the power of this tarot deck lies in Silvermoon’s understanding that despite their historic roots, symbols continue to grow and evolve, as does anyone working within the Wise Woman’s way.
When I sat down to write a review on this magnificent body of work, I wondered if I’d ever get to the end of my rave. Flash Silvermoon’s 2002 Wise Woman’s Tarot is the best Tarot set to come out into the market for many years. Keeping in mind that my own roots in the Tarot are in the feminist tradition, you might imagine how I struggle to restrain my excitement about Flash’s contribution to the modern Tarot.
This body of work took her a whopping 26 years to manifest. Barbara Vogel is the artist who painted these gorgeous images in consultation with Flash’s understanding and interpretation of the Tarot. Flash has obviously spent many hours researching, divining, and journaling what has become a truly unique contribution to an understanding of the Tarot.
It’s hard to choose my favourite cards in this deck. Truthfully I loved them all but if I had to make a choice…I’d say Isis (Flash has named this card “Illumination” which is called “The High Priestess” in other decks) is among those that stand out. This card and it’s interpretation is so wonderful. The card depicts a winged Isis standing strong, tall in the centre of a brilliantly coloured temple, which is in the centre of a scene from another world that Flash has been honoured to experience in her spiritual world. Another is Oshun – Flash has named this card “Fertility” which represents one of the two cards she has designated to what is called the Empress in the traditional decks. The second Empress card depicts the Venus of Willendorf which represents the side of the Empress that is motherly, nurturing, and bountiful. Oshun represents the sexual, fecund, seductive and healing side of the Empress. She’s delightfully depicted lounging naked against a tree while the healing waters flow from her vagina into the river where two womyn are bathing. But the truth is that these cards represent the first few cards in the Majors and if I went through the rest of the deck I’d have wonderful things to say about them all.
This is a stunningly beautiful, mystical and easy to read deck – brilliantly coloured, beautifully crafted, and artistically stunning; it’s a treasure trove of Goddesses from around the world depicted in their regional habitats of worship. But the Goddesses are more than depicted; they are doing, holding, expressing and representing amidst a plethora of sacred objects, activities, and characters converging to make this deck delightful, and smooth to read. Flash asserts that having worked with this deck herself for several years, her readings have been amazingly accurate, mystical and healing for all those clients who frequent her practice. After doing several readings for myself using this deck, I have to agree.
The deck has changed forever the way I read and teach the Tarot. Although I’ve been reading and teaching the Tarot from a feminist perspective for many years, somehow the Wise Woman Tarot has shifted my focus to encompass more of the magic, psychic processes, and esoteric power the Tarot embodies. Flash has so profoundly captured and demonstrated evolution, spirit into matter and the sacredness of reading in her work – it’s influence will be rippled into the far distant future when Tarot cards that are sexist, racist, and classist are viewed with the distaste they deserve.
The accompanying book to this deck is rich with Goddesses cross-culturally; it’s a veritable anthropological treatise that’s a must for every Taroist, especially all of you feminist Tarotists out there! This book represents Flash’s work which spans a thirty year herstory, as a powerful reader and teacher of the feminist Tarot, and activist in the womyn’s spirituality movement. Her book is replete with personal and collective women’s spirituality stories, examples, and coloured pictures.
Aeclectic Tarot – featured ‘Deck of the Week’
4.5 out of 5 stars “… If you are seeking a deck with a female or Goddess emphasis, you’ll definitely find the Wise Woman’s Tarot worthwhile …”
read the full review by Solandia on Aeclectic Tarot
Sage Woman Magazine (full review coming soon)
Cristina Eisenberg writes:
“I recently had the privilege of reviewing The Wise Woman’s Tarot for Sage Woman Magazine. My review is forthcoming… I want to tell you what an extraordinary and lovely deck this is. I’ve been working it for the six weeks since I received my review copy of your book and the deck and have had many amazing readings, very powerful readings with these cards. I’ve worked with other decks before, but have never achieved this level of concordance with a deck, nor have I seen this level of clarity and vision or syncronicity between what the cards tell me and what happens in my life. I want to thank you for creating this wonderful tarot deck. These are beautiful, evocative cards and I have stated so in my review.”
The Beltane Papers (issue #29 – Early Spring edition)
This is both a beginner’s as well as an adept’s deck. If you have never used a tarot deck before and are not overwhelmed by the herstory lessons, it should be easy for you right off. If you are used to more traditional decks, you may be disconcerted or dismayed, for some of the “classic” trump cards have been dropped or combined or split, new ones added, as well as rearranged in order. Flash emphasizes that her “reworking of the. . . deck and story was not undertaken lightly.” Thirty plus years of working with the Tarot as reader and student, immersion in women’s herstory, insights and psychic flashes led her to make the changes. She calls this deck “a Pandora’ s box of women’s mysteries,” with the book as the key to the images on the cards.
What to like about this set? It’s completely fascinating. Some of the images are very simple (the Healer nee Hermit as Sarah/with the influence of Virgo); some are quite complex (XIV, Initiation/Eclipse/Neptune) and can draw you into the scene almost hypnotically. Some are wild (XII,Revolution/Revelation/Pele — once you see this interpretation, you wonder why She hasn’t been portrayed this way before!); some are calm (XVIII, Justice/Maat/Libra, who sits serenely on her throne, the scales of Truth hovering over her head); and some just plain interesting (such as IX, Synthesis/Cerridwen/Saggitarius, with the Goddess straddling and stirring a huge, bubbling cauldron, surrounded by a number of tiny humans, all within the boundaries of a small island, waters around, rainbow overhead).
So much to look at, to read, to learn, to relate to. The presentation has been carefully planned: the book is spiral-bound, therefore can be opened and stay open; there are shortcut guides scattered throughout, such as the meanings and astrological correspondences of the major arcana “at a glance” on page 14; pages 6-7 give the meanings of each trump, explaining how it differs from the traditional and how these all flow together. There is a glossary; an index to the charts, layouts and diagrams in the book; Appendices A through E; the bibliography; list of footnotes; and a regular index. Each card is explained fully and clearly, accompanied by a miniature image of the card in color. Each suit has its own color background, with tiny relevant symbols embedded (and a key to these meanings in the back); each trump has its own color/symbols. These backgrounds add to the “feel” of the cards as well as making it faster and easier to find one among many. And there are many Goddess images here, well-known (Kwan Yin, Venus of Willendorf) and lesser known and a wide range of cultures represented. King/Queen/Knight/Page are instead Priestess/Shaman/Maiden and Seeker. The only males in the deck are the Shamans. Not all cards have Goddess images; some are human, such as the 2 of Cups, which shows two women friends, one Israeli and one Arabic; the 10 of wands is a “joyless, puritanical preacher,” adversary of the Colombian Moon Goddess, paired with a Colombian peasant woman, back bent under a heavy load of wands.
You can read about and see (black and white) pictures of the women involved in manifesting this tarot set, their friends, pets, rituals scattered throughout the book, which makes it all somehow easier to relate to personally. The deck comes banded, the bands designed to come apart and be used as bookmarks, along with the book inside a silk drawstring pouch, woven and sewn by a member of a women’s cooperative in Kabul, Afghanistan, editor/funder E. Tara Allen’s “erstwhile home.” (Parsa kits of the women’s other wares are available through their website: www.parsa-afghanistan.org.). If ever you wanted to get a politically correct deck, this may be the one.
Flash Silvermoon wrote the astrology section for Of A Like Mind for 10 years; she is a Tarot reader, works with past life regression, flower essence therapy and creates her own power tools (no, not chainsaws). She is a psychic, a ritualist, a musician and animal healer. She has participated in the peace movement, lesbian/gay rights activism, anti-nuclear organizing, and now lives in Melrose, FL, busily continuing to “stir the cauldron.” She is one of the many thousands of women who became involved with the early ’70s women’s spirituality movement whose names are not as well known outside their area or region but who have been and are as potent a part of the phenomenon as any of the more widely-known. She has circled with Z. Budapest (and one of her cards illustrates Z’s article in this issue) and played music with Kay Gardner (read Flash’s reminiscence of Kay). Oh, and Flash’s rambling about croning, which comes from her website, is the preface to the list of crone and croning books in Octava. And if that’s not enough, go to her website any time and read and learn even more! — The Beltane Papers, issue #29
Flash has reworked and created a powerful Tarot deck that illustrates the global nature of our Feminine Lineage while providing an exceedingly useful tool for divination and empowerment. Flash’s work, which she has never taken lightly, took her deeply into the matriarchal “herstory and esoterica” and the mythological heritage of more than 100 cultures from all over the world. The results are a user friendly multicultural deck that draws from the symbols and myths of these many cultures. Even the card frames are symbolic! There is a table at the back of the companion book (more on the book below) showing the detail of the card frames and what their subliminal symbols mean.
You will find the Goddess, including Cerridwen, Tara, Hecate, Kali (check out the Kali card!), Epona, Amaterasu, Isis, and Oshun, to mention a few, beautifully illustrated by Barbara Vogel on these cards. The Ace of Cups, one of the cards that do not have a Goddess on it, is mesmerizing and highly symbolic, as are many of the other cards in this deck.
The Wise Woman’s Tarot deck has a companion book (sold separately) that explains each extraordinary card and what meaning this card may hold for you if drawn individually or used in a layout. This book is packed with information. One of the things, in the very beginning of the book, that I love is the “Ancient Mothers’ Invocation for the New Millenium” which draws on the power and protection of the four directions for your work.
I pulled one of the cards as an example to share with you, and there appeared Changing Woman. (How appropriate!) Changing Woman is depicted on the Universe card in the Major Arcana. Bringer of change, the symbols on this card represent the four directions and cyclic renewal. Changing woman teaches us about the flow of life. In keeping with the sacredness with which the Native Americans view Changing Woman, this card is represented in the form of a shield. In the center of the card, Changing Woman stands in a dance-like posture, surrounded by a rainbow, and standing on a bed of flowers.
As an explanation for this card, Flash’s book tells us that “when receiving this potent image in a reading, be aware that your life is invoking a period of growth, expansion and success. Change may well provide a route or gateway for your expanded consciousness. Don’t resist; enjoy the dance of your liberation as you become one with the Universe.”
This is the most beautiful and most extraordinary Tarot deck I have ever seen. Anyone, novice or adept, can read for themselves with this deck. The images are simple and easy to interpret and relate to. The interpretations are powerful and healing. The knowledge gained from using this deck is truly inspiring.
The Wise Woman’s Tarot is truly about finding “the Goddess within” and then noting the illumination that follows from listening with your intuition and your heart.
Within the pages of The Wise Woman’s Tarot companion book you will find numerous charts for easy reference showing the symbolic meaning of colors, the elements, astral correspondences, and repeating symbols. There are basic layouts, a health layout, instructions for how to do a reading for your pets, Tarot tips and more. For such a small book (180 pages) there is a vast amount of information, including, of course, instructions for using the deck.
Sprinkled throughout the book you will find pictures of Flash, her beloved pets and many of her friends. By the time you finish reading this gem of a book, you will feel just like you know Flash personally. She is very knowledgeable, caring, and friendly, and this comes through in the pages of her remarkable book.
I love that this book is spiral bound; it sits flat while you are doing one of Flash’s spreads or referring to one of her charts. Seems like a small thing, but it is REALLY nice!
These beautiful silk pouches were made by our Afghan sisters, a cooperative of women in Kabul, who have survived the ongoing and devastating patriarchal battles and control in their country. These women are trying to rebuild their lives and have found a creative outlet for them in this cooperative. The silk pouches can be purchased separately and used for your existing Tarot or other divination deck.
Each of the cards is beautifully displayed on Flash’s website so that you can see for yourself the awe inspiring beauty and wonderful symbolism of each Wise Woman card. The Wise Woman Tarot deck and book are a MUST HAVE for every Goddess library!
Patricia Monaghan, author of “The Goddess Path”:
“in compelling images and vivid text this deck opens a secret door to the heart of women’s wisdom. Every Goddess library needs this!”
Kay Gardner, Priestess, musician:
“Flash is the best tarot witch on the east coast!”
Joan Larkin, poet:
“with its deep, powerful interpretations and gorgeous glowing cards, TWWT is a healing, integrating, inspiring experience – a pleasure!”
Byllye Avery, founder Black Woman’s Health Project:
“…so beautiful!..love the politics and inclusive nature of book & cards. …spiritual world view puts us all under the sky feeling powerful and strong..!”
Caron Cadle: Goddess scholar:
“TWWT is pure magic;…deep insight & profound knowledge; …for all who love the Goddess and resonate with women’s power!”
Charla Herman, founder Hawkwind:
“insight…beauty…look forward to sharing TWWT!”
Read excerpts from The Wise Woman’s Tarot