Tarot in Wonderland Review
Tarot in Wonderland deck by Barbara Moore and Illustrated by Eugene Smith
One of my very first tarot decks was The Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore. It remained my favourite deck for many years and as I added to my collection, I found that nothing was able to compare. The accompanying guidebook taught me most of what I know about tarot and I found so many decks failed to live up to this level of detail. I am not a psychic medium and I don't do readings for anyone but myself and maybe a couple of friends. I am just someone who loves the concept of Tarot and really identifies with the artwork and somewhere along the way has built up a collection of 'niche' tarot decks. Divination itself is supposed to be about self refection and guidance so Tarot is really for anyone who wants to try it. Sadly a lot of decks expect the buyer to already know how to interpret tarot and have very vague guidebooks, some without any at instructions at all. With my love for the steampunk deck, I went on a search to find more from Barbara Moore. I loved how easy she made it for someone like myself to get a grasp of understanding tarot and making the most out of my deck. When I found Tarot in Wonderland, it was love at first sight. Who doesn't love Alice in Wonderland? How many times have those of us in the paranormal field used the term 'down the rabbit hole'?. I felt like this theme would really mix well with the concept of tarot and boy was I right!
Unboxing this set was a pure joy. In the past a lot of tarot is in a thin cardboard box with a book and a deck of cards inside. The boxes often wear quickly and you are forced to either buy a pouch or find another box to store it in. I was pleasantly surprised opening this box. It was quite a thick material and opens from the side much like a book. It reveals an A5 size guide book in full colour. The book itself is made a high quality stock material with a nice glossy feel. It feels expensive which is something I like, especially if I have just treated myself with a new deck. I personally paid around $38 AUD for this deck from Book Depository when it was on sale which I think is a great price and in hindsight I would have been happy to pay more knowing the quality I was receiving. The guidebook starts with an introduction on Tarot and even a person picking up a deck for the first time will have no problem learning and understanding from this guidebook. This was one of the reasons I chose this deck specifically as I myself do like reading Barbara Moore's work when it comes to tarot. She talks about how the world of Alice in Wonderland incorporates with tarot while remaining true to the traditional Rider Waite cards meaning that more experienced readers should have no trouble reading the cards. Quotes from Alice in Wonderland provide an insight to just how well the story of Alice in Wonderland can help with tarot readings. Overall it is quite a comprehensive guide that readers of all experience levels will be able to easily understand and adapt to.
After going through different spreads and ways to read the cards, the book has a full colour picture of each and every card with a full description of what the card means with it's imagery and ways to read that particular card. For myself as someone not so confident to fly blind when I read tarot, this really helps to make the difference with a reading. Each card also contains a quote from Alice in Wonderland significant to tying in the story with the meaning to the card, something which fans of the story will take much delight in. The text for each card is split into two very smartly themed categories:
- Through the looking glass talks about the imagery itself and what inspired the artwork with it's tie in to Alice in Wonderland. Fans of the Alice in Wonderland series will really enjoy these musings but I also find they help the reading as well as you have a better understanding of the card itself.
- Down the rabbit hole focuses on the divinatory meaning of the cards with some key words to help your reading along. The keywords are really helpful when trying to piece together multiple cards in a reading or can even serve as a bit of a reminder for those rusty on the card meanings.
The fun part about this deck is of course seeing which characters will pop up where. I am a big fan of the Major Arcana in decks and I already have a few favourites here represented within the Major Arcana. Those who are fans of Alice in Wonderland will resonate with the choices and I think it in fact helps to give you an even greater understanding of the card the character represents. Some of my personal favourites are:
The Mad Hatter as the hanged man
Alice jumping down the rabbit hole is the fool
The Cheshire Cat as the Hierophant
Alice chasing the white rabbit in The Wheel of Fortune
The major Arcania
The artwork itself is colourful yet seems dark. The faces are hardened and look very obviously different to the Alice in wonderland that we know, but familiar enough that we know exactly who they are. It almost is like the characters have jumped out of a cartoon and come alive. These characters are not just telling the story, they have lived it and for me this is an important part of resonating with tarot artwork. To be able to look at a card and feel what the character is feeling and immediately identify with it's meaning makes a reading enjoyable yet fulfilling and meaningful. When I have read with friends in the past often we will be talking about a situation and when a card comes up we laugh at how much of a representation is it of the situation we are talking about. The Tarot in Wonderland is the perfect example of this and in a recent reading I did, drawing 'The Queen of Hearts' as the 5 of swords was not only very fitting for the reading, but a very easy way to identify with the situation at hand. In fact the image spoke for itself and gave me everything I needed to know without even having to consult the book.
Overall this is fast becoming one of my favourite decks. I can't say I am a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland like others are, but I certainly enjoy the way this has been cleverly wound into the world of tarot and I find the artwork appealing. The guidebook makes reading and development extremely easy and the cards themselves are a nice size with a good weight and a nice gloss feeling. I don't like cards that are too big nor too small, this size seems just right making shuffling quite easily. I definitely recommend this deck to any lovers of Alice in Wonderland, but also to anyone who is looking to buy their first tarot deck but is hesitant. The original Rider Waite imagery can seem confronting or maybe even outdated to some people, so choosing a theme with beautiful artwork you resonate with is a great choice and also a bit of fun!
Tarot and more specifically divination, is not about 'telling the future' it is about gaining perspective and clarity in a situation and self reflection to help us navigate our daily lives. A lot of the time, we discover a lot about ourselves during a reading and are sometimes forced to confront our very selves. Who are we? As the guidebook smartly points out, after Alice jumps down the rabbit hole she herself is questioning who she is
Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!
Perhaps using tarot to help us navigate our journey can help us discover who we truely are. Keep in mind of course this is a very 'niche' deck and a lot of serious tarot readers particularly those who read professionally for a living may not like the 'gimmick' or the interpretations. I do find tarot selection to be very personal I know with myself when I look at a deck, I instantly either love or hate it. Thankfully, this one was the former for me and I will certainly be breaking it out for many spins. For a lot of people learning and avid tarot collectors, this is definitely one deck you will want to add to your collection.
* I have not been paid or sponsered to write this review. I bought the deck from the book depository, however most online book stores or Amazon will have this in stock.
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