If you’re a fellow tarot reader, you probably know that feeling of having the right tarot deck show up in your life at just the right time. That was sort of what happened to me with the Gaian Tarot.
I was contacted by Joanna Powell Colbert, the deck creator, and offered a complimentary deck in exchange for an honest review. I looked at some pictures of the deck online and proceeded to tell her “sure!” I believe it was originally self-published but this edition is put out through Schiffer publishing. Watch the video review, or read the text version below:
As I’m doing this review it is July of 2016, and there’s been some tumultuous stuff, violence going on in the world. Like many people I’ve been struggling to process the news lately, and I have to say, the Gaian Tarot feels like a very healing deck. In fact, the tagline of the deck reads “healing the earth, healing ourselves.” There’s been several times when I’ve pulled cards from this deck simply asking for a healing message, and I’ve had some profound experiences already.
So, let’s get into the details of this review, shall we? The box is nice; it’s big, and it’s sturdy. Upon opening the box you’ll find what might be my favorite thing about the deck – the accompanying book.
This is not your average “little white book.” It is a legitimate book, in full color, and the information here is high quality and in-depth. In fact, I’d imagine that even if someone was a complete beginner to tarot, the book that comes with this deck would give them a good starting point. For each Major Arcana card the book offers an overview, thoughts on what the card means in a reading, themes and symbols of the card, journaling prompts and an affirmation. This is a lot of info, yet it is still presented clearly and concisely.
The Minor Arcana cards are structured by number, instead of by suit. I’ve only seen a small handful of tarot books that use this approach, and I quite like it. This book still pays respect to the differences of the suits, but using this structure puts a special focus on the numerology at work. For each minor card; the book gives an overview, thoughts on what the card means in a reading, and an affirmation. In addition to describing each card, the book also gives some thoughts on working with tarot and includes ten spreads for you to try.
Although this deck does follow a traditional tarot structure, there have been many changes to card titles, especially in the Major Arcana. About half of the Majors go by unique names here. I’m sometimes leery of decks that use alternate card titles, as it doesn’t always hit home for me. However, I think it was pulled off beautifully with the Gaian Tarot. The card titles used here all have a subtle, earthly spiritual vibe to them, and that fits the vibe of the deck as a whole. The minor cards are referred to by their elemental titles: air, fire, water and earth.
Card stock is not a deal breaker for me, but I do appreciate good card stock, and this deck is a bit lacking in that department. The card stock is glossy and shiny, and the cards are also quite large. The size is nice in terms of having more visibility for the images, but it makes shuffling awkward. I’m also not a great fan of the blue card borders (the video shows what I mean). I think they make the cards look sort of like flashcards – like I should be learning my times tables with them, ha! But again, card stock is not a deal breaker, and it isn’t terrible – just not what I prefer.
As is clearly apparent by the name, this deck has a lot of earth-based spirituality themes. If you are interested in the ways that humans, plants and animals energetically and physically co-exist, you’d probably vibe with this deck. It has a holistic feeling, a sense of interconnectedness. I’ve seen some decks that get a little too Disney Princess-y in this regard, but I think the Gaian Tarot does show the gentleness of the earth without ignoring the sheer power of nature.
One of the coolest things about this deck is how authentic it feels in the portrayal of humans. If you spend a lot of time hanging out in the tarot community, you may have been aware of the hashtag #tarotsowhite which has been doing the rounds. This deck is a nice example of a deck that honors diversity. Here, we see humans of different ages, different body types, different skin colors. It feels like a more genuine representation of the human species, and I appreciate that.
That said, the next thing is more of a personal style note. Lately, I’ve been gravitating more towards decks that don’t use human figures, or use very abstract human figures. However, working with the Gaian Tarot has helped me appreciate that there is a certain place in my practice for a deck like this. Again, I have to mention the healing energies of this deck; especially as they pertain to real, human events. When I find myself troubled by violence, misogyny, racism or any other shadowy aspects of humanity; this deck has already proven itself to have great wisdom, providing messages of reconciliation and unity.
Last but not least, I think you can actually FEEL the care, attention and love that went into the creation of this deck. The art isn’t flawless, but it doesn’t need to be because it is thoroughly expressive. This wasn’t a deck that was thrown together in haste. The creator spent nine years on this deck, and I feel that time and devotion comes through in the finished product. This deck is a healing gift, and I’m glad it came into fruition.
Sign up for fresh blog posts weekly + my free ebook ‘The Tarot Reader’s Daily Companion’.