Deck Review: Shadowscapes Tarot

I found the Shadowscapes tarot when I was looking for something special. I’m comfortable with the Raider-Waite structure, but I didn’t want the same old Raider-Waite deck.

Enter Shadowscapes…

Shadowscapes Tarot
  • Creator: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
  • Publisher: Llewellyn
  • Year: 2010
  • Deck tradition: Raider-Waite-Smith
  • Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles
  • Court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King
  • Minor arcana: Illustrated
  • Back design: Reversible

General thoughts

The Shadowscapes tarot is every bit as magical as expected and then some. The artist has revisited the imagery in every card, staying true to the Raider-Waite vision but offering her own interpretation, and while many decks have tried to do this, Shadowscapes tarot not only manages it: it excels. The entire deck exudes this gorgeous, dream-like energy, as if the cards were speaking to one another and to the reader all at once.

A detail that was brought to my attention: some people find certain cards in the tarot to be “dark” and even scary. If you’re concerned about that, rest assured: the evocative, mythical artwork takes the inherent “darkness” of cards such as the Ten of Swords, Death, or the Tower, and gives us a fairy-tale interpretation that’s still true and honest to the energies of each card.

Reading ease

Because the imagery is so personal, the Shadowscapes tarot might not be the easiest deck to learn tarot with. It’s not always evident which card is which at first glance, and the interpretations supplied in the Little White Book (or the companion book if you go with the set) are poetic but a bit too vague for beginners–and they do differ from the standard Raider-Waite-Smith keywords at times.

If experience isn’t an issue, the rich artwork, full of movement and depth, will add countless layers to any reading. The Shadowscapes tarot became one of my favorite decks for personal readings as soon as I got it, and it remains my go-to tarot deck when I’m blocked and in need of urgent clarity.

My favorite cards

Cards I Love

It’s really hard to pick only a few cards to showcase because there are so many that speak to my soul.

Death must come to mind first because it’s a glorious image. The woman turning phoenix, flames enveloping the sky as she stretches her wings in this new stage of the cycle, flowers blooming in the firestorm… Death just gives me an enormous strength to face any challenge.

Then, the Six of Pentacles does a great job of depicting that generosity isn’t always about money, and that it’s a cycle of give-and-take, never flowing just in one direction. Indeed, he who gives gets just as much in return, except in a different way–in this case, the plant he waters buttresses his perch.

The Four of Pentacles is spot-on, depicting a little dragon hoarder. It’s so cute, and at the same time, it’s the perfect warning this card is meant to give us: focusing on what we have will close us off from the world and our riches will become stagnant.

The Seven of Swords conveys the idea of trickery, and of never being able to truly get away with it, better than any other deck I can think of. And the Knight of Wands is a personal favorite–can you see the proud arrogance and determination that fuels him? I’m ready to follow him anywhere!

These cards don’t resonate with me

Cards not resonating

Every card in this deck is astonishingly beautiful.

If I had to pick my least favorites, I’d choose them because the image doesn’t resonate with their usual meaning with me.

The Four of Wands gives me a feeling of energetic movement, and the imagery doesn’t tell me much more than that. In a deck so full of nuances and details, where gazing at a card for a few minutes draws you down into its world, it feels flat and empty.

The Nine of Pentacles, usually known as the Lady of Pentacles, transmits a feeling of peace and introspection that I hardly ever associate to her more common, proactive, successful incarnation.

Deck interview

This is a little something I do for every new deck I get my hands on. It’s a short drawing of cards to get to know each other better, and I thought it would be interesting to include it as a section for my tarot reviews. These are the answers the Shadowscapes Tarot gave me:

Who are you?

9 of cups
Someone who has much and enjoys sharing it, who is fulfilled and satisfied by their current success and secure in their situation.

How will you help?

8 of swords
When you feel trapped, unable to see clearly a way forward, or when you do see a way but are afraid to follow it.

Who can we become?

king of pentacles
We can be a successful, steady presence, generous and willing to mentor others because all our needs are sated.

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