Dreams of Gaia Tarot is an absolutely stunning deck by Ravynne Phelan. The artwork is gorgeous, luminous. The cards are thick heavy cardstock. Their size is great for being able to see the luscious art, but awkward to shuffle. Likewise, the clear PVC coating gives a gloss that makes the pictures shine but can make the cards stick while you’re trying to shuffle.
In addition to being hard to shuffle, the cards have also shifted so much from a standard tarot that they’re practically a brand-new oracle. There is a major arcana and four suits (air, fire, water, earth) but none of the standard tarot symbology remains.
The major arcana has 25 cards instead of the regular 22 and they have been substantially reinvisioned. For example, card XV is the Devil in most decks but rather than find some way of expressing some aspect of the Devil, card XV in Dreams of Gaia is Abundance. And the author doesn’t mean that in some way that shows temptation or materialism but literally,:
Abundance is defined as a state of plenty. When the Abundance card appears, it signifies a feeling of abundance, of appreciation, that opens you to the abundance that surrounds you. In turn, this feeling gives rise to an abundance consciousness.(p. 95)
For this reason, you may want to spend some time exploring these cards and their book before reading with them even (or especially) if you’ve been reading tarot for awhile. The book is small but meaty and for each card it gives a list of keywords, some key phrases, an in-depth meaning, and, for reversals, “potential blockage.”
To me the deck seems far more suited for meditation, journeying, pathworking or journaling than for reading. Each card is so beautiful you will want to stare at it awhile so it works fantastically for meditation. I can also see its use in ritual, for example putting the king and queen of each element at the quarters or on the altar. It would also make an inspirational deck for a fantasy writer.
There is almost no diversity in this deck. The man on the Four of Earth is black and the Choice card depicts a white face and a black face side by side in a tree. There are literally more dragons than people of color in this deck, as the Ace of each suit is a dragon of that element. It reflects more of a high fantasy Norse or Celtic pseudo-medieval landscape than the modern world.
There is very little nudity in the deck but card XXIII “Integrity” is sitting there with her breasts and full bush on display, making this deck not suitable for readings for children or adults who would be offended.
The difficult in shuffling such a large glossy deck and the lack of diversity make this a four star deck rather than five. Overall it’s one of the most beautiful and, as its name suggests, dreamlike decks I’ve seen.
four out of five stars
Dreams of Gaia Tarot
Blue Angel Publishing, 2018