Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince
Published by Arnell’s Art 2013

Review by William Haigwood

The goddess has always been with us. Now with the appearance of Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s stunning and artful Dark Goddess Tarot we have a newly opened door to an understanding of how long and how far we have traveled with the goddess in all her powerful, averring and revealing transmutations. Vocations of the feminine, those of priestess, sibyl, and wise woman, have returned in recent decades to raise again the profoundly essential consciousness of the earth, of the spiraling process of experience, of the deep creation that germinates and thrives in warm darkness.

Lorenzi-Prince’s new deck is a marvelous inventory across time and cultures of the goddesses who have drawn from darkness the fulminating mystery of creation and destruction; who both rage and repair, who model in their myths the ardent process of destiny, and who have returned with their immortal powers to reframe again the terms of fate for a postmodern world. The Dark Goddess Tarot is not only comprehensive in its presentation of so many goddesses (and beautiful in its colorful, clear and evocative recreations of their forms), but also keenly insightful in its representation of Tarot symbolism. I am especially drawn to decks that interpret the qualities of the Tarot, what I term each card’s “silo of experience,” with a fresh, integral understanding of a subject. The Dark Goddess Tarot does not disappoint with its informed, indeed brilliant, inventory of traditional dark goddesses and their thoughtful alignment with the cards of the Tarot.

The journey begins fittingly with Sheela Na Gig, the English goddess of warning and invitation, as the Fool. The major arcana go on to include Isis as the Magician, the Black Madonna as the Empress, an evocative Hermit (Baba Yaga), La Santa Muerte (Death), Persephone as Liberation (Lorenzi-Prince’s name for the Judgment card). Suits of Fire, Air, Water and Earth feature Amazons, Sirens, Witches and Hags (in place of Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings). Aphrodite rules as the Siren of Water, and Lilith is the Siren of Air. Baubo appears as the Siren of Earth. Each suit offers an aggregate of dark goddesses well linked to the suit’s qualities. Lorenzi-Prince has been thoughtful and selective in her choices. Among the air cards (traditionally the swords) she has chosen Harionago, a Japanese spirit of mischief and mayhem, as the always problematic Five card. It is a clever and engaging choice and typical of the deck’s intelligent and uplifting allegiance to its theme.

The Dark Goddess Tarot is certain to inspire (as it did in me), a search through references and anthologies for more information about each of these important goddesses and the stories that support their myths. As well, and due to the strength of its images, this new deck can be a fabulous and well-grounded oracle. In succinct, clever lines in a small guide that accompanies the deck, Lorenzi-Prince describes a quality attributable to each card. “Surrender to the sea to find her secret places,” she writes of the Hag of Water (Ran—Norse Goddess of the Drowned). It is an evocative spark intended, I’m certain, to inspire a deeper, darker (if you will) thoughtfulness about the issue at hand.

The Dark Goddess Tarot is a unique and enlightened Tarot creation. In a time when many decks are produced that do little more than brand each card with a light, not very thoughtful parody of its meaning, it is a wondrous delight to encounter such a considered and consequential deck. And the Dark Goddess Tarot is more than a deck. It is an elevation of the Tarot into a new and rich realm of experience. Put it at the top of your list.

William Haigwood
Creator of the Counterculture Tarot

Dark Goddess Tarot is copyright protected. Card images may be used on blogs/websites as 'Card of the Day' endeavors or for review purposes but must contain the website along with Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. The images are not to form part of written teaching materials or otherwise be used without prior consent from the artist.  

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