Review: Guardian Angel Tarot

GUARDIAN_ANGEL_TAROT_PUB__48446.1408072994.1280.1280I occasionally watch Doreen’s weekly videos on YouTube, so am aware that she has an amazingly large following. Doreen travels all over the world, delivering her angel-card-reading classes to thousands of eager and excited apprentices. However, regardless of the praise received through these communities, she also receives an extremely large dosage of negative feedback from those who critique her work. A lot of this has come from people in the tarot community who find her work to be unbalanced and too positive; but with the release of this new deck, it seems that some of her most ardent followers are still alarmed by her use of tarot cards.

This is not Doreen and Radleigh Valentine’s first move into the world of tarot: this is, in fact, their third deck together. Both of their previous tarot outings were bashed for dismissing the darker side of life, but it would seem that some of Doreen’s hard-core followers found even those packs to be scary and too intimidating.

This third set, the Guardian Angel Tarot Cardsis advertised as “the world’s gentlest and sweetest tarot cards”. The advertising is not wrong. Not only has those aspects of tarot which might upset the most sensitive of her fans been removed, the entire project is dripping in a saccharine palette of pastel pinks and blues, edged in a rich gold gilding, and sprinkled with glitter. Many tarot readers will recoil in horror, like vampires who have been met with the rising sun. As someone who likes a little balance in his tarot decks, you may wonder how I have received this tarot?

Actually, I like it a lot.

I have not bought or felt drawn to everything which Doreen Virtue has released. Her oracle decks have never really fitted with my personal reading style and I have read only one of her books. However, I was very pleased to praise her first tarot deck with Radleigh (The Angel Tarot) in my review of the set, but found their second (The Archangel Power Tarot) to be a big, fat disappointment: I wasn’t the only one. Because of the latter, I had pretty much written this third tarot publication off, until I began to see images of it floating around the internet.

Before we get down to the details of the Guardian Angel Tarot, I can tell you that this is a tarot deck, since I have read comments to the contrary elsewhere. This set has 78 cards, four tarot suits, sixteen courts, and imagery relating to the Waite tradition. The card names have all been changed (as have the suits), but they will be recognisable to anyone who knows their way around a Rider Waite Smith. This is not an oracle.

Thought 06The suits in this deck have been changed to Thought (Swords, Air), Emotion (Cups, Water), Action (Wands, Fire) and Abundance (Pentacles, Earth). Of course, some might argue that there is more to the Swords suit of traditional tarot than just ‘thought’, but generally, the new titling does its job and doesn’t stray too far from a tarot path most readers understand. Each card in every suit shows a small picture (as does every card in the Major Arcana) with a written interpretation beneath.

The four suits each have a distinct background. For example, the Thought suit is backed with a floral and striped wallpaper. This obvious distinction between the four suits would help a newbie recognise their difference. As an example, the Emotion suit has a white and green polka dot backing. This part of the design takes up just over half of each card. A possible interpretation sits below, accompanied by a uniform colour. The Thought cards are cream and the Emotion cards are pink.

holy cardThe Guardian Angel Tarot has an over all vintage feel. Not only does the deck have a shabby-chic style to it (even worn in places to look antique), the pictures (which are not credited to any one artist) have an immediately recognisable Victorian character. They remind me of holy cards.

Holy (or Prayer) cards are small, devotional mass-produced pictures for the use of the faithful (see left). They typically depict a religious scene or a saint in an image and are about the size of a playing card. Many look similar to the cards in this deck. The visual setup also reminds me of antique Lenormand cards, where a small image and interpretation was printed straight onto the card front. It might have been nice if this deck’s printed meanings had taken form as a verse, as they used to in Lenormand decks, adding to the deck’s quaint and quirky flavour.

In most places, this deck follows the Rider Waite system closely. The 3 of Emotion (Cupsshows three cherubs and it’s interpretation concerns celebrations, emotional announcements and the community. The 9 of Abundance (Pentacles) shows a single woman on a swing and speaks of security and financial independence. Not all cards are as obvious to begin with though. The 9 of Action (Wands) does not show the familiar wounded-soldier; instead, we’re presented with a woman and her three lambs. The interpretation beneath the image reads “You’ve worked hard to create the things you cherish in your life, such as beloved relationships, amazing accomplishments, and hearth and home. Rest assured that all these treasures – and you – are being constantly protected by your angels. In return, Mother Earth, the animals, and the environment need your protection”.

Minor Cards

The Major Arcana in this deck is recognisable by a number at the top of each of its cards and a lime-green base. Like the Minor Arcana, they also contain a small image, a title, and a meaning for reference. All of the titles have been changed to protect the sensitive readers amongst us. In places, this is actually quite refreshing: The Hermit becomes The Spiritual Teacher, The Emperor is Organisation, and The High Priestess has been changed to Go Within. In others, the omitting of anything vaguely negative can leave a seasoned tarot-reader scratching their head to begin with. Card #15 has been remodelled from The Devil to Choose Freedom and shows a girl in thought. She sits behind a fence (which we might assume relate to the chains of the traditional card) and the script below the illustration reads “Sometimes you may feel as though your way is blocked, but often that’s just an illusion. You could free yourself from the obstacles that you’re so focused on by choosing a different path. Turn your thoughts away from negativity, and instead envision endless other possibilities you might act upon”.

Choose FreedomThere are further instances where troublesome subjects are concealed by lace and Victoriana (The Moon shakes off any hint of deception in its imagery and becomes Intuition and Insight), but on the whole, the changes made in the majority of these cards do not detract from traditional tarot meanings; they simply aid the reader to alter their perspective around difficult cards and situations. I agree that a tarot deck should encompass both the good and bad aspects of life, but there are times when a real stinger doesn’t aid a reading or help a client. This deck reminds me that there are ways in which we can acknowledge pain and discomfort without walloping someone around the head with it.

The courts in this deck are renamed but traditional. The Page becomes The Messenger, the Knight becomes The Helper, the Queen is transformed into The Healer and the King is The Guardian. Each bears a strong resemblance to the traditional Waite court and features a short interpretation of their basic characteristics. The Helper of Abundance (Knight of Pentacles) is one of my favourites. Dressed in green and stood amongst some clover, he is concerned with organisation, rolling up our sleeves for work, and loyalty.

Like many, I am often surprised by how many decks are born via Doreen Virtue. However, we must remember that she is not the only creator or author who publishes many titles or decks around similar subjects. I never imagined that she’d create anything which would rival her first Angel Tarot deck, but interestingly, I think I actually prefer the Guardian Angel Tarot to its oldest sibling. This has a lot to do with the design of the cards. The set reminds me of antique fortune-telling decks, a look which is actually enhanced by the wording on each card. Aesthetically, the deck is charming and a pleasure to read with. Some may complain that the images are too small, but I think their scale compliments the layout of the cards, giving each a storybook feel to it.

I think it is difficult to remove one of Doreen’s pieces from the entire body of her work. But if you can for just a second, you’ll see something which is visually charming, elegant, and well thought out. Of course, this deck will not please tarot-purists or anyone interested in the darker (or possibly more fashionable) side of tarot, but for anyone who is looking for a positive slant on traditional tarot symbolism, the Guardian Angel Tarot would work well as a reading deck. It is good for three card spreads and the cards work well as springboards in larger readings, but for the moment, I am enjoying using it for one-card daily draws. I absorb the image when I pull the card with my coffee and ponder the words below it. I have found that there is something comforting in doing this.

Not everyone wants a deck as complicated as The Thoth. Not everyone requires a deck which is loaded with esoteric symbolism like the Rider Waite. As a tarot reader, I find that the cards are at best when they can empower people and give them a reason to get up in the morning. This deck does not entirely shy away from the shadows of life; it suggests ways of dealing with them. For that reason in itself, I give it the thumbs-up.

To finish, here are a few samples from the Guardian Angel Tarot.

Cards Virtue

Print

© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014

All images from The Guardian Angel Tarot by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine, published by Hay House Inc.

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15 thoughts on “Review: Guardian Angel Tarot

  1. I’ve always liked the look of holy cards. I used them quite a bit when studying the Tarot of Saints.

    Funny, I saw a couple of these cards on your Instagram account and thought “What IS that deck?” and then had to dash off. I actually like the look of them, the comparison with ephemera is apt, it has that look.

    For a daily draw this looks excellent. I thought, like you, that verse form would have added a nice touch to the words, but I don’t actually mind the writing.

    I have no doubt the crowd at the Jump the Shark forum will be horrified. You know, I actually saw someone there briefly mention her idea of using flash cards as an oracle–I did that years ago and got hammered for even thinking of something so ridiculous. My point being that personal vision is just that, so if people like these cards just get the deck and enjoy it.

    Years ago I use to make wallpaper backgrounds for graphics–doing it right now for a picture–I like that aspect of these cards. Oh yeah, you could do all kinds of things with these. Glad you like them.

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    • Yes, there is a really nice feel to them. I used wallpapers like this in one of degree portfolio projects, where I dressed up Mark Ryden’s characters in my clothing. I’d used his pictures for my design colour palette. I love the layering up here. It’s considered.

      And they read nicely. I got ‘Celebration’ (The Star) this morning, depicting a light at the end of a tunnel. I have been in bed with a terrible stomach bug, sleeping and in pain and feeling sick. I am only just starting to feel better now (couldn’t even shuffle the cards yesterday) so it was a warming card to draw.

      People will complain about this because people enjoy to knock Doreen, I think. It’s a common sport around those parts. Maybe it is easier because she is not there to comment. Personally, I think this deck is charming and reads well. I admit to not thinking it would be for ‘me’ initially, but I was wrong.

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  2. I like the fact that you always keep an open mind with the Most Bashed and present things in rather objective light. I didn’t run out to buy the Unicorn deck lol but it was a pleasure to go through it with you.
    But you know, the Victorians did have their dark side, and were not afraid to admit to it; let’s not forget Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Grey, Jack the Ripper etc. and so when I first saw the images for this deck, I didn’t see it as so sweet. Indeed if anyone troubled to do a bit of research they would find that this deck need not be seen as so frilly, saccharine, or vapid.
    It’s interesting you’re thinking of holy cards-I was thinking of those beautiful adverts they used to have for soap or chocolate-did you ever see Marcia McCord’s Victorian Trade Card tarot
    http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/victorian-trade/

    There’s not a little trendiness going on in some tarot forums and some people being influenced by the makers and shakers there….its almost as if they have to prove something by only subscribing to the “dark” decks-may I suggest without sounding snobbish that a genuine tarot lover will find some value in these?
    This deck does have more soul and personality than some other of Virtue’s creations, any road.
    Why in the world are some people so afraid of tarot, yet, in this day and age, especially when there are so many versions out there? If you’re not afraid to use an oracle, why would you be afraid of a tarot deck?
    But here’s a question: this might sound a bit weird but it just occurred to me–why does Doreen Virtue feel it so necessary to promote tarot as being safe? What a strange thought!

    Some of her oracles have such beautiful images on them but the sermon or paragraph on the bottom of the card is a killer some times-perhaps a borderectomy might be the solution? The cards would have such odd shapes tho…been debating this for a while 🙂 But I know a professional reader who simply ignores the writing on those cards and just uses the image and title for clients. They work beautifully that way.

    By the way, another way of using Virtue’s cards which is fun-you can juxtapose any of her angel oracles or tarot decks with any vampire or darker deck, a sort of light and shadow reading. I used my Bohemian Gothic tarot side by side with one of her angel oracles-a row of three tarot cards with an angel oracle card at the end like punctuation. The reading was excellent.
    Maybe with this deck, one could do the reverse, with a darker oracle?

    Thank you for the review, it was as always, a joy to read, share and ponder 🙂

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    • You know, I can see how these sweet images could have a side to them in the right setting or perhaps in a darker reading subject. Many cute things have teeth.

      I think that a good reader should be able to get the most from any deck. A lot of the time though, I think that a reading can become more about the reader, which it shouldn’t – this happens when they are too caught up in what cards they are using, their table set-up, and how dark and mysterious a deck makes them look to the client. Of course, I believe in people using images they are drawn to, but a good reader can read any deck which has a basic tarot structure. I like your idea of mixing decks up 🙂

      I’d not seen Marcia’s set. Nice art pieces!

      Re, bashed decks, I think everyone deserves a chance. And I really do not think Doreen’s offers to tarot are not bad (even though I didn’t like the artwork on the Archangel Power Tarot). There are far worse decks on the market than hers. She’s not everybody’s cup of tea and she needn’t be. There is enough for everyone.

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  3. Again a very in depth review. I don’t like Victorian “sweet images” so I wouldn’t be inclined to buy a deck based on that but you almost had me checking Book Depository for the price Ha ha
    I like her first deck a lot and it is enough D.V for me. The comforting experience you mention I do have with some of her oracle decks. Whenever I want to be sure not to be poked by a seven of swords or something like tat I pull an angel/mermaid/fairy/goddess card 🙂

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  4. I was looking up these cards on the internet ever since I saw them posted on Tumblr. I like the fact they are masked tarot cards, because they can be subtle and secret for the reader, and give plenty of affirmative advice to the reader. I’d use something like this in a face to face reading for somebody of faith, or somebody who isn’t comfortable with tarot.

    Thanks for the comprehensive review!!!

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    • This is very true, ML. Some people have big fears around the problematic cards, so these kind of decks do allow the messages to get through, just in a way that they can hear them.

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  5. Hello, I just bought this deck earlier, and I’m a bit confused, I also own a Rider Waite deck, and I know most tarot cards have different meanings when reversed, do they work the same for these cards? Like if they come out as reversed, does it mean I reverse the meaning written on it? Or are they really designed to work without the card reversals?

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    • Hi there. Not all card designers incorporate reversals in their decks. I think that Doreen may be one of those. Of course, you can use reversals if you want to. This deck might make that slightly harder because of having the meanings on the cards but that doesn’t mean you cannot use reversals with it if you want to. Some readers will reverse meanings (the spontaneity and risk of The Fool might suggest caution when reversed) but often, I see it as a blocked energy. It might mean, as an example, that you are unable to feel carefree or are scared to show who you really are or take a chance. I believe that it is important to make a deck your own. Practice with reversals and find what works for you. Not everyone uses them but I have found that they can fine-tune a message. As an example, a reversed 2 of Cups can suggest difficulties in a relationship which an upright card might not detect.

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  6. Thank you so much for your unbiased and brilliant description and for explaining the correspondences to the original Tarot cards! Also comprehensive for beginners. 😉 Love and abundance to you!
    😇🌈💜🤗💜🌈😇

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