When I was offered the chance to review The Sirian Starseed Tarot – “A tool for higher consciousness and awakening” – I had my doubts. I have a well-advertised dislike for photo decks. Photo collage decks – even worse. Photo-collage decks with a New Age theme? Someone better hold me down until the room stops spinning. But then, I’m always up for trying something new and pushing my tarot boundaries, and surely my rather dark collection could use a little light and fluff – ?
If you like lengthy reviews, you’re going to love this one! Up-front, I was sent a review copy by the publisher, but am not being paid to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Let’s start with a statement from the deck creator, Patricia Cori:
Honoring the wisdom of what has for centuries been portrayed in the Tarot pantheon, my intention in creating the Sirian Starseed Tarot was to abandon the restraints of past authority Sirian Starseed tarotstructures and the icons of their influence, and instead bring to light new perspectives upon its theater of characters – and the energies they represent…
Having been guided to creating a Tarot Deck for Starseeds by her Sirian High Council contacts Patricia Cori was drawn to the inspirational work of metaphysical artist Alysa Bartha. Together they considered a radical new approach to the Tarot – one that would encompass the traditional Tarot format and structure but which at the same time would broaden the scope of established Tarot philosophy and make the divination system reflect the newly-emerging metaphysical ideas of Sirian Starseed concepts.
I know. That’s a lot of *woo* to digest; just ignore it if it doesn’t work for you. I mean, Crowley was an insufferable ass, but that doesn’t mean the Thoth… oh, wait. Um, ignore that last bit too and carry on reading!
- Channelled by Patricia Cori; rendered by Alysa Bartha; published by North Atlantic Books, 2012.
- Deck is packaged in a cardboard box that fits snugly enough to protect the contents, but not so snugly that you struggle to get them out!
- Cards are 4″x6″ ie. HUGEMONGOUS. You might have no choice but to shuffle these on a flat surface.
- Cardstock is thick and glossy – the deck stands approx. 1.5″ high – which adds to shuffling difficulty, but also means the cards don’t suffer during the modified shuffling process.
- Art is digitally-rendered, high-colour, high-contrast photo collages.
- Backs are printed with non-reversible Sirian Seal design.
- Most cards have been renamed.
- LWB is also 4″x6″; 90 pages (82 relating to the deck) printed in B&W, including card thumbnails.
Packaging & Presentation:
The cardboard box housing the deck and guide book is very sturdy and well-sized in relation to its contents. The deck is larger than most, so it is naturally heavier, but the box makes it very easy to travel with, without fear of dinging up the corners or scratching the card faces etc.
The cards are stiff, with a glossy lamination that is “sticky”. The cards don’t actually stick to each other, but they bind. I’ve found that overhand shuffling them along the narrow side to be the most effective method. Once you’ve done this a few times, the cards are separated enough that you can cut them into each other if you’re careful.
There is a double-border around the card art. A narrow white border – within which the card art isn’t perfectly centred, but this can be trimmed – and an inner blue “starscape” border which encloses the card art. The card titles are printed on this blue border in a white font with a slight glow to it. The backs feature the Sirian Seal on the same blue starscape and are non-reversible.
The cards – or Keys – and suits have been renamed, for the most part. The “scary” cards are among these, but it works within the system of the deck and it says something that The Tower has not been renamed or fluffified. The renaming of the Suits and Courts are perfectly reasonable – ie. they do not lose their connection with the most commonly known associations – and I find the Courts especially make more sense when reading with this deck.
- Wands = Flames
- Cups = Chalices
- Swords = Orbs
- Pentacles = Crystals
- Page = The Seeker
- Knight = The Adept
- Queen = The Sage
- King = The Master
You can see how the representation of the Courts varies across the Suits and face cards. I really like this, as I find it gives the cards individual personalities, rather than feeling like they’re the same person just with a new name tag.
The Sage of Orbs (Queen of Swords) is a mosaic – “Law” – by Frederick Dielman; this works on several levels. The “Queen of Swords” is impartial, can be strict – to the point of unbending – and ALL ABOUT THE TRUTH, much like the personification of the law. Her depiction here as a mosaic enforces her detachment; cold tile is very impersonal. The mosaic technique reflects how the QS thinks, taking many small, related pieces and building a complete picture out of them.
I assume the Master of Flames is an allusion to the legend of the crystal skulls. The Master of Chalices just does things for me. The composition of the image is so simple, but there’s something about the shades of blue, the reflection of the eyes and the vast expanse of sea that has meaning beyond what I’ve figured out yet. The Seeker of Flames features a statue of Sekhmet – which is personally pleasing – but what strikes me most is that the Seeker holds a torch that is unlit. Of course!
All of the cards I’ve examined so far have offered up these multi-level insights when looking below the surface imagery.
The Fool = Starseed
The Magician = Indigo
The High Priestess = Higher Self
The Empress = Abundance
The Emperor = Reason
The Hierophant = Guidance
The Lovers = The Lovers
The Chariot = The Chariot
Strength = Strength
The Hermit = Reflection
The Wheel of Fortune = The Great Wheel
Justice = Divine Justice
The Hanged Man = Hanging Man
Death = Transition
Temperance = Alchemy
The Devil = The Shadow
The Tower = The Tower
The Star = The Star
The Moon = Luna
The Sun = Solar Deity
Judgement = Karma
The World = Ascension
Here are the most common “make or break” cards. No problems with the High Priestess as “Higher Self”. I love the blue tones and the pillars in the background are playing that game where they’re one thing… and then another when you look again. This is a very accurate depiction of how the subconscious works – things are not always what they appear. The Moon – “Luna” – is simple, but powerful, her sway over the tides being the focus of the imagery. I think the card could have been developed a little to incorporate more depth of meaning in the artwork.
Yes, Death is now “Transition”, which is often a sticking point in the “fluffification” present in most new age decks. However, as the deck is a meant to be used as a tool for transformation, the depiction of Death as a transition from one state to another is appropriate. And the card does show a (presumably) dead body, with the spirit moving into the light, so the fact of physical death isn’t completely avoided. The Devil as “The Shadow” works in theory and in practice (having received it in readings I have done with this deck). The Shadow ties us down, traps us (in the web on the card), confuses and waylays us with riddles (the Sphinx) and appears larger (and more frightening) than it is. I also like that you have to look twice to see what the shape in the background is, much like in the Higher Self card.
So we’ve already established that new age photo-collage decks give me the hives and, while not perfect, the Sirian Starseed has done a lot to change my mind on this opinion. This is a deck of, “I shouldn’t like you, HOWEVER…”!
On first glance, the cards seem a little cold and impersonal. This is largely due to the digital nature of the artwork – and my personal preference – and the overall colouring of the deck; there is a lot of blue in the cards and the deep blue border lends a coolness to even the fire cards. However, when laid out in a spread, I find the colouring can work to form “hot spots” and “cold spots” in the reading that can be interpreted accordingly. The use of bright white highlights draw the eye and create a vibrancy in spreads.
The digital collaging… eh, I struggle with some of it clumsy and somewhat lacking in finesse (the 4 of Flames makes obvious use of clipart). At other times it is embarrassingly overwrought. However, when reading, all this fades into the background. The jarring collage work, just plain odd image choices, and overly-detailed and stark by turns imagery on the cards all make sense. This deck functions as a unit and that’s the most important property a deck can have.
These are some of the most problematic cards for me. The 2 of Chalices is straight off a Mills & Boon cover, circa 1986. The soft focus makes me want to vomit and “Fabio” isn’t helping the situation. And yet… the 2 of Chalices can be about this kind of overly romanticised, exclusionary love. The 8 of Chalices is so close to the RWS imagery that it is disappointing. It’s almost as if this was the point in channelling the deck where everyone said, “Ahhh, we’re done. That’s all you get.” Now use that impression in a reading. Works, doesn’t it?
The 5 of orbs is fucking creepy, the end. Until you read the guide book and it talks about him as being an unsavoury character with a void within him. Ohhh. Well, you certainly succeeded on that one! As for the woman in the 10 of Crystals – why is her face so red? The guide book doesn’t address this, so it might be a case of colour-balance over-tweaking. At first, the severe case of copypastitis that afflicts this card made me mad. Once I started looking at it – and other cards – as more symbolic depictions of situations, emotions, choices and so on, the collaging technique – once again – made sense.
The “little white book” is an 90-page guide book, just under 4″x6″ in size. There is a 3-page introduction to the deck, followed by 2 pages on the definition of “Starseed” and an an explanation of the structure of the Tarot, especially relating to this deck. The cards/Keys each receive roughly a page of explanation, with a B&W thumbnail of the card and include a paragraph of questions that can be asked to examine each card more closely as it relates to the querent. The People Keys (Courts) only get a couple of paragraphs addressing each of the archetypes; it is up to the reader to decide what they mean in the individual Suits. There is a page on reading reversals and then the Sirian Starseed Spread, based on the Orion constellation and the three Sirian stars. The book closes with author and artist profiles and image credits.
But Does it read?
- I am not psychic; the cards do not vibrate for me; I don’t receive visions when reading with them, but yes, they read.
- I don’t always want to know about matters concerning my higher self and purpose; sometimes it’s ugly, mundane, earthy shit and yes, they still read.
- I am neither a professional, nor an amateur, but I feel I have done enough time with my 78 friends to say that, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an old-timer, they will read.
I have done several readings with this deck and in each case the reading was very easy to interpret (without making use of the guide book as a crutch), as well as relevant to the question and accurate within the framework of information I possess. Although the deck is intended as a tool for “higher consciousness” and the imagery is geared towards this, it performs just fine when asked about more grounded issues.
Despite all my reservations, my experience with the deck has been very successful. That shows me, then! Not saying I’m going to suddenly start spouting love and light, but this deck will definitely not be relegated to the back of the drawer, never to be read with again.
My sincere thanks to North Atlantic Books for this opportunity!