I distinctly remember my first Tarot deck and the sense of anticipation, “danger,” and intrigue it held for me. I was about 13 when I got it, a Rider-Waite in the yellow box, and I did NOT like it. I never connected with the deck, the book was way too esoteric and, frankly, boring, and I didn’t find the images compelling at all. This experience set me “off” of the tarot for a long time.
I discovered other oracle systems I greatly enjoyed, such as Crone Stones, I bonded powerfully with Womanrunes and wrote a book about them, but I felt like Tarot and me were just not a match. Ah, then…The Gaian Tarot.
One afternoon in 2013, I was turning over some issues of leadership, power, group dynamics, and “warrior priestessing” and, for a reason I no longer recall, decided to do an online reading using the Gaian Soul website. Now THIS, this was a deck with which I could connect. The images. The earthy-messages, the goddess roots. I fell in love. I ordered the deck and began to regularly use the cards, enjoying many profound and illuminating experiences with them. So, when I found out a new edition was being released I was thrilled to review it!
Since I have and love the older edition of the Gaian Tarot, my first instinct when receiving the new one was to compare the two and the new edition does not disappoint. The cards are larger and thicker and edged with silver.
New edition on left, older edition on right.
The set comes in a sturdy reusable box that holds both the deck and the cards (somewhat rare with Tarot decks!). The gorgeous photo-realistic colored pencil images on the cards are as potent, inspiring, and lovely as ever. The book is now full color as well.
The cards are size 4×6. The deck contains 78-cards and follows the same broad structure as any Tarot deck, but the suites are re-named to match the elements–Earth, Air, Water, and Fire–and the “people cards” include a broad swath of multicultural, mixed age, and mixed gender personifications, which I love. The court cards are not hierarchical and instead are based on life stages: the Child, the Explorer, the Guardian, and the Elder. The court cards for each suite include two female and two male representations, which is refreshing. The focus of the deck, the interpretations, and the uses is on the healing of the earth and of the self. The companion guidebook includes interpretations (including for reversals), themes, exercises, symbolism, journal questions, affirmations, and ten card layouts.
The Gaian Tarot is earthy, practical, and connected. While it is rooted in the classic structure and powerful legacy of the Tarot, it’s themes and Joanna’s writing do not echo the esoteric format my thirteen-year-old self found so off-putting in my first exposure to the Tarot, instead they speak directly to my heart.
If you’d like to explore resources from Joanna Powell Colbert, she makes all the images from the Gaian Tarot helpfully available to explore on her website. You can also do an online reading. You can sign up for one of her powerful, seasonally specific 30 Days courses or for her Gaian Tarot for Tarot Beginners course (I took this over the summer and found it extremely helpful in digging much more deeply into how to live and work with Tarot beyond just pulling a card). You can also sign up for her free Tarot Sparks mini class.
Side note: one of my bucket list items for when I no longer have a nursling is to go to one of Joanna’s live retreats!