This deck. THIS deck, people! It is just amazing. Prepare for some serious gushing because I love the Mary El so much. I’ve had it for about six months now and wouldn’t part with it for love nor money, it is my zombie apocalypse deck. If the shit hit the fan and I could only take one deck with me, this would be it, the imagery is just so evocative and visceral. You will probably tire of reading this word, and I will try not to repeat it too much, but the best way I can find to describe it is raw; it is a burning torch thrust into your sub-conscious and unconscious mind, it slices through every façade you’ve built up and leaves you bare, warts and all. Throw your keywords and tarot books away because this deck is primal, it doesn’t speak in words, it hits you right in the gut with raw emotion.
On that note, I must add that while I connected instantly with the imagery of this deck, I can have a hard time connecting with it as a tarot deck. It isn’t RWS, Thoth or Marseille, you will often find that the guidebook meanings do not have any relation to the established systems and you will rarely see imagery that is familiar; it is in a class of its own. Tacking established meanings onto the cards will, in many instances, leave a huge disconnect with the imagery (this is more true for the Minor Arcana than the Majors), so it can be pretty daunting at first, and you do have to put the work in. For this reason, I find it easier to read with if I just put aside tarot traditions and think of it as a kind of oracle deck. Take a few keywords or concepts from the guidebook then stare into those cards and let your intuition do the rest.
Speaking of the guidebook, I do find it a bit bananas in places, there’s quite a bit of repetition (seriously, if I have to read Magnum Opus one more time) and it feels a bit rushed and hap hazard. There is much mention of Western Esoteric Kabbalah, which I am not really familiar with, so perhaps her deck is intended to be closer to the various meanings of the Sephiroth and their paths in the Tree of Life than any specific tarot system (?). I don’t know if Marie White channelled these messages or was just a bit frenzied with excitement when she wrote them, but an editor would not have gone amiss. This is a very minor quibble though and is of no detriment at all to the deck.
I’ve seen a lot of pictures on the internet where people have removed all the borders and titles from the cards so the images can stand alone, and I can certainly see why; on a number of occasions I’ve felt that the titles just get in the way because I know what I think the card should mean, but I am not looking at a visual representation that supports it, I’m looking at something else entirely. I’m not quite ready to put the cards to the guillotine and corner cutters yet, but I could see myself doing so in future.
As you will see, I got a bit carried away with the interview, these babies are addictive, so I added a few more questions to my regular interview just so I could keep talking to these cards! Continue reading “Mary El Tarot Interview”