Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot: Deck Interview & First Impressions

I thought it was about time to introduce some of my new deck arrivals, so first up we have a deck interview and first impressions with the Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot, which I purchased from Little Red Tarot (Beth’s shop is fabulous for more unusual decks, so I highly recommend taking a look).

dame darcy interview

Tell me about yourself, what is your most important characteristic?

Six Pentacles – In this card we see a ship emblazoned with pentacles on its sails, coins are piled up on the deck and pouring into the sea from its gun ports. This deck is all about cultivating feelings of abundance and generosity.

What are your strengths as a deck?

Queen of Swords – This is such an awesome looking card, her tears are flowing and yet in her eyes we see a cool determination and sharp intelligence, she’s not going to be crying for long… or is our clever Queen shedding crocodile tears?

I see that the strength of this deck lies in its pragmatic approach. It won’t drown me in esoteric symbolism, just straight up tell it like it is and push me to be stronger in the face of any challenges or setbacks.

What are your limits as a deck?

The Star – I’m guessing this isn’t a deck for tea and sympathy. With the earthy pentacles and a most pragmatic Queen, this seems like a deck for straightforward advice and practical approaches rather than commiseration during a difficult time. Other decks are more suitable for the confusion and upset stages of life, this is the one to come to after the initial clouds have lifted and I’m ready to get on with doing, making, fixing and rebuilding. 

What are you here to teach me?

Hanged Man – This deck is completely different from my other decks, with a few exceptions, as I tend to go for non-traditional systems and more mature styles of artwork. This is probably the closest deck I have to the Rider Waite Smith, yet at the same time it is so distinctive and humourous, so I can definitely see how these cards could teach me some new perspectives on reading tarot.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you?

Page of Pentacles – It always cracks me up when these sorts of pentacles cards come up here in interviews, it’s like the deck is saying, “Seriously? You just need to put in the time and hard work to understand and connect with me, DUH”.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

Page of Wands – This Page is all about seeking inspiration, being free spirited and passionate with heaps of, as yet, untapped potential. I hope this means that working together will help me to always refresh my attitudes and enthusiasm and push me towards more creative and dynamic output.

It’s interesting that two Pages came up, suggesting that this deck is big on potential, new beginnings and new ideas.

dame darcy

There are so many awesome looking cards in this deck, it is hard to pick a few, but above are some of my favourites. The Queens are kick-ass looking, Death rides a seahorse (!), and I just love the humour, like with the pearl-clutchy looking Devil and the angry mermaids bashing each other over the head with oars in the Five of Wands – it cracks me up every time.

I’ll admit, this wasn’t a love at first sight, have-to-have-it deck for me. I had seen the images around for a while, and though I thought it was novel and fun, it didn’t really speak to me. I tend to go for quite confronting imagery (Mary-El, Tarot of the Sidhe etc) and this seemed a bit too childish for my tastes. Anyway, there I was all happy not having it on my wish list until I stumbled across a couple of videos of people reading with it and I just fell hook, line and sinker (ocean puns intended). Some decks seem to really come alive when you view them in spreads as opposed to the individual imagery you see in walk-throughs. Laid out in a spread you can see how the cohesiveness of a deck’s theme works to create stories and the ‘bigger picture’. Put together this deck just looks cool with the added bonus of some fun camp humour.

A spanner in the works came when I stumbled onto information about the controversy surrounding this deck. After reading this post by Benebell Wen and a particular thread on Aeclectic, it became pretty clear that there were, shall we say, some rather blurred lines as to how original Dame Darcy’s artwork was, with a number of images heavily “inspired” by or possibly even directly traced from Lo Scarabeo’s Tarot of Mermaid’s and Pierre et Giles photography (which makes it all the more annoying and cheeky that she signed and dated every card). I read that the owners of Lo Scarabeo didn’t have a problem with the deck and had no plans for legal action, but I put my purchase on hold nonetheless, as it still left me feeling kind of ick.

Still, I kept sneaking peaks at card images online and after a few months I finally decided to purchase it. Once I held the deck in my hands I really felt no regret….I guess my morals kind of suck. It doesn’t help that they have my favourite card stock ever, not too thick, not too thin, smooth and glidey and a joy to riffle shuffle, I’m not sure if they are laminated with mermaid magic or made with 100% paper-feel plastic to give them that gorgeous flexibility, but they feel awesome in hand and are addictive to play with.

I don’t have many criticisms of the deck, the one I bought is the 3rd edition and the cards that appeared to have been copied have all been changed with new artwork. There is just one card in the deck that I’m not keen on, the Eight of Pentacles.

dame darcy not like

It’s very contemplative and I’m not getting the feeling of hard work, crafting and skill building I would normally associate with this card, not to mention it looks too similar to the Nine of Pentacles. The Eight of Pentacles was one of the cards that was redrawn in later editions and you can see that the style is quite different to the original. Also, I’m not sure what happened during the prep and printing stage but the cards with redrawn imagery are all much brighter and sharper. In some of the original cards, the lines look a little blurry and the colours aren’t as vibrant. I don’t have the older edition to compare and contrast, but just going by the vibrancy and sharpness of the lines I can make a pretty good guess as to which cards are from the 1st edition and which ones are new. Overall though I must say that this card and the visual inconsistencies aren’t enough to put me off or spoil the experience, it is still a very fun deck to look at and work with.

 

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