Saturday, 14 March 2015

Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot Review


Mermaid Tarot with Aquamarine and Aqua Lemuria Crystals


Just when you think you don't need any more Tarot decks, along comes something like this. When I first saw these nautical themed cards I was blown away by the artwork. The deck is an independant self published Tarot Deck by Illustrator, Artist, Film Maker and Author Dame Darcy (Did I forgot to mention that she is also a Mermaid Witch Princess?). At the time of writing this deck is only available from Dame Darcy's Etsy shop. From the first moment the package arrived I knew I was in love and till now I have had no strong interest in mermaids but this deck is much more than just that, as you will see.

What I got in the Post

The package arrived with the cards inside their own customised black drawstring bag with a hand drawn anchor symbol on the front. There was a hand written thank you note from Dame Darcy on the back of a sticker with a mermaid illustration from one of her comic books. I also received two extra cards in my deck, The Wheel of Fortune and the Ace of Cups. The does not come with a physical guidebook but you do get a digital one. Please note I noticed that current editions of this deck on Etsy now show an organza bag. If Dame Darcy ever reads this please consider bringing back the original bag.



The Anchor symbol Tarot Bag



Front and backs of the cards with sticker and flier extras

Card Stock Details

As I said there is no box with this self published deck but it came with a bag and fits standard wooden Tarot boxes. As the cards are a standard Tarot card size they are easy to hold and shuffle. They are the size of most Rider Waite decks. The card stock is good quality but not to thick either, just right. The card has a silk finish (semi matte) and are a dream to shuffle. To give this deck an antique feel all the cards are printed on antique effect whites which you can see all the way to the borders, giving it an aged look.

The Artwork

The artwork is all hand drawn and beautifully coloured, with an antique nautical theme throughout. Her  tropical world is inhabited by Mermaids, Mermen, Sailers, Pirates, Dolphins and even the God of the Ocean Neptune. The cards feature Desert Islands, golden Beaches, Sail Ships, Coral castles, an abundance of Seaweed and colourful exotic Flowers. Unlike similar themed Oracle and Tarot decks the cards are not overly feminine, it has a good balance of male and female energy. Slightly adrogenous characters also appear, masculine dressed women, adrogenous and feminine men.

Some of the illustrations have a soft focus like the inks or paints used on wet paper when drawn (Ink Wash or Water Colour?).The colours are watery and aquatic with aquas, sea greens, pale pinks, violets and golden yellows.  If you have any of the antique reproduction Rider Waite decks such as the Smith Waite Centennial Tarot deck or the Original Rider Waite Tarot you will instantly recognise her colour palatte inspiration. Unlike many decks based on the artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith this deck is still a modern deck but uses faded antique colours.

The illustrations are like a nod to Pamela Coleman Smith's artwork but with a unique and original twist. Some cards hit you like the Lovers card which never ceases to surprise me as I recognise the iconic card image but then suddenly notice the man and woman have no legs and fishes tales! On The Moon card the two Towers are replaced by Light Houses. Knights now ride sea horses and dolphins. The fool dives through a hula hoop into the Sea. The Wheel of Fortune is a Ship's wheel and The Hanged Man is now a Sailor tied to the mast of a ship. The Hermit looks like a ghost wandering the caves of a loanly Beach Cove.


Card comparison of Smith Waite Tarot with DD's Mermaid Tarot


One interesting thing I noticed was on the Six of Cups, a smartly dressed 1920's woman I think is giving a cup of flowers to a Mermaid. Her knee is bent as if she is proposing. Dame Darcy has not ignore the darker themed cards either with the Death card featuring a drowned Sailor at the bottom of the Ocean and Death as a skeletal Pirate with a scythe for a hand. All the cards have their traditional names and numbers.

Another thing I love about this deck is that it has replaced some of the overly Christian imagery of the traditional Tarot. The Hierophant is now Neptune as some kind of Priest King. The Lovers has lost its Adam and Eve symbolism and we no longer see the tree with serpent next to the female. Although there are Angels in the deck, the Judgement card has a woman blowing the trumpet, dressed in the clouds with stars in her purple hair which looks like some type of Goddess. Several of the King and Queen Court Cards are real masterpieces and set this deck apart from many others.



Kings & Queens


The Suits keep the traditional symbols with a few variations only on certain cards. The cups are occasionally replaced with conch shells. The Wands are sometimes boat oars, Pentacles are occasionally pearls and Swords can also be tridents. Suit changes in many decks can backfire and become hard to read, but Dame Darcy clearly must have a good understanding of the Tarot as she has chosen such clever replacements which make so much sense.

The Card Backs feature an aquatic deep blue with a traditional ship's wheel with a compass in the middle. Two fish tales fish tales sweep around this. Again very clever, with the compass and wheel symbolising how the Tarot can be used as a guide to life.

The Hand Drawn Lettering makes this deck really special, both in the card titles and Roman numerals. This is how the Tarot used to be made, and what Pamela Coleman Smith did back in 1909. This gives the cards character and a really authenticitic hand made look which is very fresh and enjoying a revival in the Tarot world at the moment.

The Boarders are really thin but what I love is that some cards have slightly bigger or shorter images so when they print the images will be slightly misaligned giving the deck an imperfect handmade look. Never have I loved borders so much on a Tarot card!

Recurring Deck Symbols ive seen in the cards are stars, diamonds, flowers, treasure chests and pearls.



The firey Queen of Wands wearing Dame Darcy's ship hat

My Favourite Cards (lots...)

The Queen of Swords

The Devil

The Ace of Cups

The Four of Wands

The Five of Swords

Temperance

The Wheel of Fortune

The Ace of Swords

The World

The Queen of Wands

The Page of Pentacles

The Seven of Swords


Working with the Deck

Ive had a few months now to work with this deck before writing this review. I find the deck easy to read with, especially if your familiar with the Rider Waite Smith tradition. The images are clear but with enough depth of symbolism to go deeper. I have found it to be very accurate and a little uncanny at times. I drew the Moon card on the full Moon and the 9 of Swords the moring after I had a nightmare. It seems to go to the heart of the matter, I find it confronts me with how im really feeling about things, like it reads me. This is fast becoming my favourite Tarot deck to work with now.


My Recommended Crystals for Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot

These are my personal recommendations for crystals and organic gemstones that work well with the Mermaid Tarot in readings or as a crystal compainion to keep inside your Tarot bag or box with your cards.

Aquamarine

Ocean Jasper

Pearls

Aqua Lemuria

Chrysocolla

Peruvian Blue Opal

Pink Opal 

Coral 



The Moon card with crystals


Final Thoughts & Where to find this Deck

I would highly recommend this deck if you like the artwork or the mermaid and nautical theme. Dame Darcy is a visionary artist who has added a whole lot of magic to the modern Tarot tradition with this deck. This is a must for Tarot collectors, hopefully it will be available for a while but it is self published so I would not wait about too long. It would not surprise me if this deck was picked up by a major publisher. I would love to see a full size printed guidebook with illustrations and more on the symbolism and specific meanings of the cards by Dame Darcy herself in the future. You can order Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot from her Etsy shop at the link below:


Dame Darcys Mermaid Tarot Etsy


Dame Darcys Website






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