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Deck Review: The Shadowscapes Tarot – 5/16/2020

I have referred to, sung the praises of, and posted examples from the Shadowscapes Tarot since day one of this blog; I figured it was high time I at least tried to explain what this deck means to me. It has been my companion for the better part of a decade, soaking up my energy and serving as a reminder of my strengths and weaknesses... whether I want it to or not.

The artwork is what drew me to the Shadowscapes Tarot. Specifically, the depiction of the Death card (XIII). In all other decks currently in my possession, Death is shown as a somber figure: an unsmiling, skeletal figure that does little to reassure the reader that no, you're probably not actually going to die in the near future. In the Shadowscapes deck, Death is depicted as a phoenix, and is in my unprofessional opinion a much more faithful representation of its meaning of metamorphosis, transformation, and change. The phoenix reaches the end of its time and gracefully self-immolates, the better to bring about the next stage in a perpetual cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Its ending catalyzes the next beginning.

I could ramble about this for pages, but basically I think this illustration is beautiful and it is the whole reason I purchased the deck in the first place.

The images on the cards evoke watercolors: soft, yet vivid. Their interpretations as presented by Barbara Moore are gentle--you won't find much doom & gloom in this deck, even in the cards that convey heavy themes. In reading with this deck, I felt as though I truly understood the suit of Swords for the first time.

This is an excellent intermediate deck. There are nuances of meaning and interpretation that allow a lot of wiggle room, and may challenge a novice reader. I also don't recommend this deck if you find yourself drawn to more minimalist styles. Each card contains layers upon layers of images and Easter Eggs that are drawn from stories and experiences meant to enhance the card's meaning for you, but can be overwhelming. Once you feel you have a grasp of the basics, though, I cannot recommend this deck enough.

Interview Spread: this is a handy spread to use after you've started to work with your cards individually. No diagram this time; trust your tingle to place the cards for you. I used a pyramid for mine.

  1. What is your most important characteristic? 10 of Pentacles: completion, stability, familiarity, sharing of wisdom

  2. What are your strengths as a deck? 5 of Pentacles: a reminder to reach out, that I am not alone, that things aren't as dire a they may seem in the immediate moment.

  3. What are your limits as a deck? 3 of Pentacles: ...when it comes to actually ASKING for help, or allowing the opportunity to work with someone else...

  4. What are you here to teach me? Knight of Swords: honesty, action, clarity of purpose; even the consequences of a mistake are better than stagnation

  5. How can I best learn to collaborate with you? Queen of Cups: develop a relationship with your intuition (emotions) that you can trust, and move through them with confidence.

  6. What is the potential outcome of our relationship? Judgement: learning to let go, freedom, forgiveness, following a calling.

Extra Card (this fell out of the deck as I put down the last card): The World - completion, success, peace, fulfillment.

I chiefly use this deck for my own meditations, or reading for close friends and family; it does not often read well for strangers/clients. Given how I long I've used this deck, it turned out to be as much a "self interview" as an interview with the cards themselves. I had to think about the apparent conflict between the 5 and the 3 of Pentacles for a long time before I realized that, true to the Wisdom of Pentacles spread from last week, I have a much easier time offering help than accepting it. I see the work I've been trying to do in this spread: with therapy, with finding a healthier balance between day-job concerns and what I actually want from my life, and the progress I've made so far in my day-to-day life. If the Wild Unknown has become (in)famous in my life for their blunt callouts, the Shadowscapes are beside them with gentle encouragement.

Today, at least.

Happy reading!


2010. Shadowscapes Tarot, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law & Barbara Moore. Llewellyn Publications

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