Heaven and Earth Tarot
Concept and artwork by Jack Sephiroth
Published by Lo Scarabeo, November 2020
RRP GBP 27; USD 35.95; EUR 34
First of all, some deck details: this 78 card deck comes in a sturdy box with a lid that lifts off, so it’s a box that should last a long time to keep the cards in. There is a sturdy little white book (LWB) with 47 pages in English, and in addition there are Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese translations; the information in it is quite basic. The card size is 2.75” x 4.7” (7cm x 12cm) and the card stock is sturdy and laminated, so overall I find it a good deck to shuffle and handle easily; my hands are quite big though.
The beauty of the artwork is what drew me to this deck. It looks otherworldly, dreamy and lost in the mists of time, with predominantly sepia tones with white, grey and black and some splashes of colour in a narrow range from brown to orange that are used for clothing, fire and wood. It’s based on the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck with some variations (such as in The Lovers, the woman is carried in the man’s arms), though I do find that the artwork makes it a far more three-dimensional and more animated deck than the original RWS. The introduction in the LWB says that there are elements of the Thoth tarot blended into these cards, but as I haven’t used the Thoth I’m not in a position to see what they are; however I would say that anyone with some familiarity with the RWS could read with this deck easily. It also makes some of the easily missed background elements of the RWS more prominent, such as the tower in the background of the Five of Cups; I’d forgotten that the tower was there as it’s so tiny in the RWS.
As in the RWS, the characters are depicted as white European, though I feel that the depictions of women in the deck show a greater strength of character than in the RWS. The deck has Princesses instead of Pages. Whilst I’m not prudish I do tend to be put off by graphic nudity in decks – I often wonder what sort of querent reaction you might get – but I find what nudity there is in this deck to be low-key and tastefully done.
One feature of this deck that I find distracting is that there is a key word on each card and this isn’t a feature that I like generally, and the design of the cards doesn’t lend itself to chopping off the bottom of the card to do away with the key words. Each card does show the symbols of its astrological and elemental correspondences, plus the Hebrew letter correspondence for the Majors, which could be a useful prompt for anyone who is learning those. The keyword however could be a useful stepping stone for beginners to tarot, in addition to the cards being very visually expressive.
Two of my favourite cards are the Knights of Wands and Swords. The artwork integrates raging fire and the rapid movement of air respectively in these cards in a way that expresses very visually the key aspect of the impulsive and impetuous nature of these knights.
I also like the Empress; she is not as maternal as in other RWS-based decks and if she is depicted as pregnant it’s a very small bump (it’s hard to tell), but I see her very much as ‘the power behind the throne.’ She is not someone to mess with!
To understand this deck a bit more, I did a deck interview reading and I found the answers very interesting!
Tell me about yourself, your most important characteristic: Three of Swords. Life with all its ups and downs, not everything is rosy. This suggests a ‘hard truths’ deck that will not sugar-coat anything, but tell it as it is.
What are your strengths? The Lovers. This deck offers choices for harmony and integration on a spiritual level; it aims to lead the way to becoming whole and balanced, and to move beyond the ego. ‘Mind is maya’ came into my head when I looked at this card.
What are your limits? Princess of Cups. It suggests to me that this is not a deck that will be a soft balm for emotional issues; as it has indicated that it is a hard truths deck, it will give direct, possibly uncomfortable truth answers.
What can you teach me? Princess of Wands. It will lead the way to show me how to step fully into my power, to raise my energy level and to bring out the inner warrior in me. (This is very significant to me right now!)
Overall this deck gets a thumbs-up from me; I love its energies and its artwork’s visual expression, and it seemed to bond with me straight away when I started to read with it. As well as being an ideal deck for readings, the interview that I did suggests to me that it is also a very useful tool for personal development.