Review: The Angel Tarot

coverI have been meaning to write a review for Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Velentine’s Angel Tarot Cards for some time. I must have had this deck for a good few years, so a review is long overdue.

Those of you who have read my review of the Archangel Power Tarot (Doreen’s second tarot deck) will already know how disappointed I was by it. It had nothing to do with how the deck is structured (using an Archangel for each suit) or the colours on the borders or the keywords at the bottom, but everything to do with the artwork. I am probably a little bit more sensitive to the aesthetics of tarot decks than a lot of people; probably due to the hundreds and hundreds of tarots that have passed through my hands over the years. When there is that much competition out there, you want to get it right, don’t you?

I had read very little by Doreen Virtue when I bought the Angel Tarot. To be honest, I haven’t read much more since. In actual fact, I have probably read more about Doreen than I have by her and a lot of what I have read has been through online forums. When this pack was released, there was a lot of negative swiping from the ‘love and light brigade’ (a name I’ve given them with tongue firmly in cheek) about how this deck is unbalanced, since Doreen claims that it is 100% safe and gentle. This claim did not bother me in the way that it did others, since I can understand that a lot of people do find tarot scary (yes, probably through ignorance or a lack of exposure) and this fear is a reality. What did irritate me (as I mentioned in my other review) is that these people have no problem with the unbalanced dark decks on the market – probably the very sets which give people the heebie-jeebies in the first place. I wouldn’t hesitate in thinking that for a lot of them, the dark deck is regarded as cool and makes them feel important and powerful.

I may have not read much by Doreen, but I do tune in to her channel each week on YouTube and watch her readings. A lot of the time, this is the deck she travels with and uses. And she reads it well. For anyone who might think she is no more than a puppet, with little to no connection to the decks which are released under her name, pop over there and have a look. She is a far more eloquent tarot reader than a lot of those you’ll find online, sodding about with their pentagrams and witchy-type figurines.

So the first thing worth mentioning is that this deck is good for anyone (be it reader or client) who has a slight sensitivity or anxiety relating to tarot cards. In order to preserve some balance in this review, let me first start with my only problem with the deck. Once again, it concerns the artwork.

Unfortunately, Steve A. Roberts falls into the same trap as the artist for the Archangel Power Tarot, since he also duplicates areas of his art, using them in cards throughout the deck. For example, look at Ego (The Devil), The Sun, and The Dreamer (The Fool). The exact same image of the ‘dreamer’ is used in Ego, except that his face is covered with a mask and he holds a bag of coins or jewels. Behind him, Archangel Jophiel wears the exact same wings as Archangel Uriel in The Sun. The same background is also copied and pasted elsewhere.

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The duplications do not end there. The children in the 6 of Water are exactly the same as those in the 10 of Water (except horizontally-flipped – as if that would stop us from noticing) and the guy in the 2 of Wands has the exact same face as the king from the same suit.

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Irritating? Yes. But to be honest, Steve A.Roberts does a far better job of disguising these  duplications (and there are many more) than Jeff Bedrick does in the Archangel Power Tarot. They are not immediately noticeable in the majority of cards, so to be honest, this niggle is not really a problem big enough to stop me from using the set. There are too many other interesting ideas and beautiful pieces of art floating around in the Angel Tarot to cancel that one problem out.

Despite that one issue, the artwork in this deck is truly magical. The colouring is almost iridescent, shimmering and sparkling throughout. It is warming, like lights on a tree at Christmas. The Water suit is that bit darker than the others, but it kind of fits, since all of the cards show scenes beneath the surface.

All of the major cards are ruled by different Archangels. Doreen explains why each has been chosen and from what I have read away from this deck, her selection makes sense. There is not a great deal of information about each angel in her accompanying book but part of the fun is being able to go away and compile your own research – better than being spoonfed, yes?

I never thought I’d like a deck with such big borders or the meanings printed right on to them, but surprisingly, these are two of the features which I particularly like about these cards. Aside from the different coloured borders being soothing (purple for the Majors, light blue forWater, navy for Air, a rustic red for Fire, and green for Earth), they make it easier to find a card if you need it and can give us an idea of what suit predominates in larger readings. The meanings of each card are condensed into a few little sentences or words at the bottom. As an example, for the Nine of Fire it says ‘Don’t give up. Protect that which you’ve created. Have courage, and believe in yourself ‘. For the Ace of Air, the card reads ‘Brilliant new ideas and inspirations. Seeing the truth of a situation. A challenging beginning’. You might think that these little snippets would be a distraction, but they read like words from a story next to the beautiful illustrations – especially in a past, present, future layout. Some days, I don’t notice them so much, but on others (especially when reading for myself) it is nice to let the cards take over when we can be easily subjective. In many cases, the words are almost poetic.

One of the other gripes I have read about the Angel Tarot  is that the suits are broken up into different worlds – mermaids for the Water suit, unicorns for Air, faeries for Earth, and dragons for Fire. People have complained that there is too much going on, but in all honesty, I haven’t found any problems with the structure. As you read with this deck, each suit has a different feel, which is a good thing, and their difference provokes a more empathetic response to each element’s vibrations. The courts (Page, Knight, Queen, King) are also attractive, traditional, and multicultural. Aspects of their character are included on the face of the card, under the title, and wider interpretations are below, should the card be centred around a situation. The traits for the Page of Water are ‘Intuitive, Sensitive, Artistic, Friendly’. As a situation, this card says ‘A new person enters your life. A relationship begins a new phase. Heightened psychic abilities’. Since courts are difficult to read, this would help many a frustrated reader to get a grip on the characters in each suit when reading.

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There are far too many attractive cards in this deck to mention them all and Doreen’s changing of titles in the majors seems appropriate. In fact, her retitling of The Devil card (to Ego) makes much more sense for me, suggesting that the real devil is not an external problem we can blame (like the Christian scapegoat) but a mask we choose to wear our self and must take responsibility for.

Although others may try to persuade otherwise, Doreen Virtue has not shied away from the darker side of tarot. All of the darker stuff is still here, but she has provided a proactive way of dealing with it. As an example, for the Death card (renamed Release), rather than a grim reaper, she has provided us with Archangel Azrael, a grief councillor, ready to help us deal with those things which must pass. What a beautiful concept.

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I really think that this is an underrated set of tarot cards, which has a very worthy place on the table of beginners and more advanced readers alike. It is verging on arrogant to dismiss it as being little more than fluffy. A lot of thought has gone into it and it provides more than just a vehicle for an artist, which so many decks seem to be these days. I didn’t initially think it would be my cup of tea, but I can honestly say that it is one of my favourites and can whole-heartedly recommend it.

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Print

Illustrations from The Angel Tarot (by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine) by Steve A. Roberts

© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014

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23 thoughts on “Review: The Angel Tarot

  1. A very detailed and comprehensive review! Reading this makes me wonder why I haven’t used the deck more often. Thanks for reminding me of the beautiful qualities of this deck.

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    • Thank you Ellen.

      As someone who reads reviews, I like them to be balanced when I write them. I am happy if it this encourages people to use this deck as it really is a worthy addition to any collection (especially as a workhorse deck). You can tell when a lot of thought and effort has gone into something.

      Even though the key words and phrases do not bother me, I would love them to introduce a set WITHOUT them for those who have used the Angel Tarot for a long time and no longer require the prompts. A pack option like that would probably become a ‘go-to’ deck for me, since I like the style and structure very much.

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  2. I had the Virtue deck Goddess Guidance Oracle but I traded it. There was no substance in the book, no depth of information and history of the goddesses. The artwork was nice but nothing else.

    I think it works best to base judgements about decks on the deck, how it works for you, what bothers you, rather than painting “all” decks by an author goofy. However, due to my experience with the Goddess deck I doubt I would buy a Virtue deck again.

    I like decks with research and history, something you can get your mind into.

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    • Good points there, Judy.

      I am presently reading her ‘Big Book of the Angel Tarot’. It still doesn’t go into great detail about the angels, but as a tarot foundation, I think it works well. She simplifies things, which is not a bad thing – such as the astrological correspondences to each and ever card (if you are into that kind of stuff).

      What is most interesting for me is the sections on symbolism, explaining why each detail is in each card. I never realised that every aspect had a reason for being there [aside from being aesthetic] so those sections are interesting. I shouldn’t have assumed.

      The nice thing about this tarot though is that you can take it without any of the books and it will open itself up to the individual. You can use the cards and angels with any book you choose, however light or deep. It is a deck I always seem to return to. I do find the images very comforting. What some see as ‘fluffy’ (like the unicorns), touch something deep within me. They are very otherworldly.

      I don’t know the Goddess deck (and I only have a few other sets of hers) but your opinion is valid. I can see a lack of depth in the other [Indigo] oracle I own. However, in certain areas, I think a lot of people bash Doreen unfairly (and personally), just for the sake of it.

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      • It’s one of those vibes, those group things, where people leap up and jump onto the bandwagon.

        I like to decide for myself on these things. Bashing an author personally has no relevance to a deck. Celebrity can give you an assumption that you know a person–not the case.

        Each deck really needs to be looked at individually. Some are good and some not, and it changes with each person looking at it. Just like books, in the oeuvre of an author there are hits and misses.

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        • Yup, I thought the same, re the bandwagon. It’s a way of fitting in with the crowd.

          Really important thoughts there. Yes, I think a lot of people think they know those in the public eye; at least, enough to make opinions about their private lives.

          And also, I agree about the importance of a deck individually. Do you remember the fun we had with that Tarock deck, the Tarot of Reincarnation? I think we might have been the only people to like that. It’s about perception, taste, and sometimes, persistence with a set of cards. I got so much from the Favole Tarot but it was canned pretty much everywhere else.

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  3. Oh yes, I remember that bit of fun with the Tarot of Reincarnation. I got a bit frustrated identifying some of the other animals in that deck but still have my review of it up.

    I don’t have the Favole but I think many panned the Dreaming Way Tarot and it’s one of my favourites. I also have some odd oracles and such like this. So many of what I call “stinkers” have been fun for me. Stella’s Tarot–there’s another I got a lot out of that didn’t seem popular.

    I know the Blue Dog Rose and the Badgers Tarot are not as popular but I love them. I LOVE the Tarot of the Absurd and several other of my black and white decks that people don’t favour. The Absurd deck is an undiscovered gem of a deck. So many, eh?

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    • The Dreaming Way was a real surprise for me. I didn’t think I would get much from it but I realise that the quieter decks often read better for me.

      I saw a stash of Stella Tarot’s in a bargain bin once. I also enjoyed the artwork on that one a lot.

      Yes, there are so many. They’re like people, I find. You have to spend a bit of time talking with them to find out what they are really about.

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  4. Funny, this post makes me think about a recent review of the Greenwood by Carla over at Rowan Tarot. She said the Greenwood was panned when it first came out, then went OOP and now fetches silly prices. Not that a Doreen Virtue deck is ever likely to go OOP, but it’s that initial hue and cry: good or bad. I, too, love the Tarot of the Absurd, the Dreaming Way, and the Stella Tarot. And I see the same thing in the world of Lenormand: the Mystical Lenormand is regularly panned, though it is probably one of the best-selling Lenormand’s of all time, and reads just fine! 🙂

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    • I like the Greenwood, but always thought that the illustration styles jarred a bit – the courts look softer than the pips. I remember people falling over themselves trying to get a copy. Similarly, when the New Mythic Tarot was released and people (who had previously never shown the slightest interest in Tricia Newell’s paintings) clambered for copies of the original before it went out of print. I remember one person ordering five. Personally, I like the Wildwood Tarot, in terms of illustrations. It has a cohesive style and I have a deeper connection to the artwork.

      I don’t hang around anywhere where there is much panning, so was unaware that the Mystical Lenormand was regularly criticised. I always thought that it was one of the more appreciated. I like the artwork a lot, but I admit to it not being the easiest for me to read. Just a personal thing, I guess.

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      • Likewise, I far prefer the New Mythic artwise 🙂 I love the Mystical Lenormand, but agree you have to get used to it. It is panned for being too busy and throwing in too much additional symbolism. It was the only Lenormand I read with for a couple of years, though, so to me the images leap out, even of a GT, as I know them all so intimately 🙂

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        • I think it is quite lovely but I read best with quieter cards. Titania’s Lenormand always worked well for me, as does the Caitlin Matthews one. But like you say, when you are used to something, it becomes easier to work with. I always believe that any deck can become familiar and a good working deck if effort and practice is put into the experience.

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  5. The Angel Tarot is a very interesting deck on more than one level. One could dismiss it as too fluffy at first glance but indeed there is a shimmery luminous quality that will open up a sensitive chord if one allows it to. There is a quiet power about it, if you will. Therefore there is a gentle strong quality about it. I had a bit of trouble with it in the beginning because it seemed that all the cards looked the same–that’s probably why I didn’t notice the repeats lol! I have done some nice readings with it and have managed to ignore the key words-yes, it would be fab to have the same deck perhaps borderless, without anything written on it, and the pics amplified. It would be glorious actually.
    Some of Virtue’s oracle decks are puzzling-there could have been much more effort put into the artwork, since she did have the green light from Hayhouse, she could have done justice to her ideas in a more esthetic way, but it seems that mass market is not ready for this sometimes…
    On etsy for example one can now find some home made oracle decks which are far and above any commercial pack.
    There are some cards I just don’t get tho, and have had to stretch my imagination to school it into accepting certain images and squeezing them into an erstwhile meaning-can you explain the 5 of Swords to me????
    I love your reviews and hope there will be more forthcoming. There are alot more indy decks coming out now what with Kickstarter and personal printers, which certainly will take us tarotistas off the beaten path and into a whole new realm of unfettered magic!

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    • Thanks Nathalie. There seems so many decks out there these days. I just can’t keep up. But from what I have seen, there are many interesting ones, which compete heavily with what we see from mainstream publishers (especially artistically).

      I am away from home this week, so don’t have access to the larger Angel Tarot book. When I am back home, I will find out what Doreen and Radleigh say about the 5 of Swords.

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      • That would be great–that card really stumped me; the imagery just didn’t make sense at all…
        I wonder did you ever see the Fountain tarot? I thought of you when I saw it. The artwork is amazing although perhaps a bit cold? But that’s a zen sort of thing too, and I think this deck would read very well, like the one you’re designing now in a way..
        http://www.fountaintarot.com/
        But even here there’s that one card-The World-which really puts me off–and I keep thinking about the excellent review you did on your once favourite deck and how a few cards just put such a damper on the rest of the deck it made it impossible! Isn’t that a funny thing?

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        • I have seen this deck. The artwork is beautiful and I appreciated it immediately. Probably one of the most beautiful set of images I have seen in a long, long time. I doubt I will buy it but it does look very much like the kind of set I have always dreamed of having. Amazing artist!

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          • Thank you! We were always dreaming of a set like it too, so we did everything we could to make it… and we’re almost to that magical point where we get to actually hold it in our hands!! Now I’m curious what you’ll think of it, so I’m sending you a deck when they arrive from the printers in February, if you want?!

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            • Jonathan, I am extremely touched. I would very much love to own a copy and would be honoured to write a review and share it on social media etc. How can I get in touch with you, regarding addresses and details, etc?

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  6. I just found your site and reviews. I am not a fan or follower of DV and I don’t care for her decks. However, I have been curious and attracted to maybe purcahsing this and/or the archangel power one. Did you notice/know that in the archangel power tarot deck she has included/used photos of herself, her husband, friends?!
    I saw a review on Amazon pointing that out and it just stunned me. Not only that, but like you, I am very ‘picky’ about artwork. I do like some of the fairies cards you have mentioned in this site, but I just realized they are not all done by the same artist or the same quality of artwork.
    For $10-12 I may get the decks to get my own opinion on them. but ….still not sure.

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    • Hi Anna. I did own the Archangel Power Tarot but I didn’t like it. Part of the problem was the recognisable photos (Radleigh, Louise L. Hay, Robert Reeves)nosing distracting. But also, there was a lot of brash copy and pasting in it which felt crude. I sold my copy. The Fairy Tarot is all by the same artist but two different styles of his artwork have been used, which I feel clashes in the same deck. If I was going to buy any of Doreen’s tarots, I would say that Angel Tarot has substance to it and that the Guardian Angel Tarot is probably the most attractive. I hope that you find one you enjoy. While I don’t use them for the majority of my professional work, I do find they have their uses and really enjoy this particular one.

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