When I say “I flipped out” when I learned about the LXXXI Tarot – The Quareia Magician’s Deck, I’m not even exaggerating. Somehow I stumbled on Cassandra Beanland’s Instagram on Sunday night and there it was, the Giver of Life, giving me ALL THE LIFE (named “Fate Giver” below).
Though I haven’t purchased any new decks in more than a year now – due to our dollar being in the shitter and shipping costs being outrageous (I’m so sorry all my darling indie deck creators I love you I do) – I immediately pre-ordered this deck (go now NOW NOW!) both because that art? I cannot live without it, and also the price is very reasonable (even after conversion) – you’re getting 81 cards and a book, c’mooooon – and it includes worldwide shipping. Oh, and all pre-order decks will be signed.
My advice? Stop what you’re doing and go snag one of these beauties while you can.
Okay. Onto the deck itself.
There are 81 cards, which mimics the 81 lessons in each stage of the Quareia course. The deck is divided into four realms: the Divine, Inner, Physical World and Realm of Death & the Underworld. Obviously, it is not a traditional tarot, appearing to be more of an oracle deck.
I don’t know dick about ceremonial – or any other kind – of magic, so I’m not going to try and explain how the deck works in that context. According to the website though:
The cards themselves can be used in many different ways. Besides using the cards with the layouts, they can also be worked with in meditation and magic. The cards, which are inner contacts, spirit beings, places and powers can be worked with in a ritual, visionary or meditation setting in order to connect with those powers, or to bring the power into a ritual work space.
If selected cards are placed on the directional altars, they can be worked with to build up thresholds for inner contacts, or placed upon a central altar as the main focus for the magician to connect with that power or place.
Similarly, if the magician wishes to work in vision in a certain inner place or realm, or connect in vision with a specific contact or being, placing the card as a certain point of focus can create a threshold where the magician can pass into the card. As a passive form of contact, carrying a specific card around, or having it close to where you sleep can enable the bridge of connection between you and the place/contact.
Ultimately – all magical properties aside – I think the best definition of the LXXXI Tarot is a working deck; a tool for serious personal contemplation and development.
The art is gorgeous, end of story. It runs the gamut from fantasy, to mythological, to meditative, to visionary, with several stops at places in between. The original paintings are a combination of acrylic, oil and watercolour works, and the project took three years of collaboration between Beanland, Littlejohn (a loooooooong time favourite – I have his Hekate) and McCarthy.
You can judge how successful the collaboration was by how seamlessly the cards fit together – though there are small differences in individual style from one card to the next, it isn’t the jarring effect so often found in collaborative decks. Rather, these tiny variances allow the characters in each card to feel like unique personalities existing within a larger world.
Obviously, certain spheres of the larger divination community will classify the art as “dark” and “scary” – this ain’t no Doreen Virtue Love ‘n’ Light Weekend Roadtrip with Your Angelic BFF™ – and while I’m sure rose quartz could be used alongside the LXXXI, it seems like obsidian would be a more natural fit. I personally prefer my readings to be illuminated by truth, rather than ~*good vibes*~, so a deck that shreds the veil of ego is a welcome addition to my collection.
The finished cards are going to be large in size (I’m thinking Mary-el-ish?), but you should be able to trim them if they’re too difficult to handle (I know, I know, the horror and savagery of talking about trimming a deck before it’s even here – shame on me!) I’m nooot loving the huge borders and title, so if this is the final card format, I will be trimming down to let the art b r e a t h e , assuming it doesn’t interfere with the card backs etc.
Speaking of the Mary-el Tarot – imagine the readings you could get by combining these two decks… talk about soul spelunking! What’s great about the LXXXI is that it isn’t attached to any one magical system; the characters/beings/entities are recognizable without being confined to a specific paradigm, so I imagine you could use these cards equally effectively in combination with RWS, Thoth or GD decks.
And there you go. I hope I’ve managed to instil a small amount of the excitement I feel about this upcoming release – gods know I have enough to spare! Even if you are unable to contribute to the Quareia crowdfunding through purchasing a deck or making a donation, you can support this project by spreading the word – I know I would have been gutted if I hadn’t learned about this in time!