The Shadowland Tarot
The Shadowland Tarot, published by Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, of Schiffer Publishing, 4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310, is created entirely by Monica Bodirsky, a talented and prolific artist, author, educator, rootworking witch, and professional Tarot reader. This is not Bodinsky’s first deck; she is the author of the Lucky Lenormand Oracle and the House of Shadows Lenormand Oracle. I am thrilled to be reviewing this beautiful and powerful deck.
The Shadowlands Tarot comes in a sturdy 9” by 6” box with a matt color finish. The front of the box has a card image and the name of the deck; the back of the box has an “About the Deck” write-up as well as two reviews. The guidebook is 5” by 7” with a black matte-finish soft cover showing the name of the deck and the spider that seems to be the mascot of the set; the back of the book is yellow with two reviews and a whimsical bat.
The 5 1/2″ by 8 3/4” inch guidebook has 207 glossy white pages with black typeface, sturdy enough to survive daily use and insightfully written by Bodirsky as a valuable companion to her amazing cards. The book begins with a Forward by Liz Dean, a professional Tarot reader and Angelic Reiki healer, that offers information about Bodirsky and her work, followed by a Preface by the author where she describes some of her inspirations. Next is an Introduction that touches on Shadows, Shadowland, and what to expect from The Shadowland Tarot.
Then we move on to the card description section, which is 126 pages filled with valuable explanations of the symbolism of this deck and suggested interpretations of the cards. Each card, both Major Arcana and Minor Arcana, has two pages of information, including a beautiful full-color image of the card, a description of the image, keywords, a shadow description, an extensive card message section, and some reflections to ponder. The Major cards also include an affirmation. Following the card descriptions is a useful section entitled How to Use the Cards, containing information about the suits, numbers and symbolism, a discussion of Court Cards, reversals, shuffling, and bonding with and connecting to the cards and your reading environment. There is a meaty section on spreads and layouts, a Tarot Faq question and answer section, and a brief Conclusion written by the author.
The cards are 2 5/8” by 4 3/4” with a matte finish full color image printed on nice card stock, flexible but durable, that is easy to shuffle. The card edges are finished in gold gilt, and the card images are border-less, so you get the full image on each card. The images are lovely. The details achieved by pen and ink set the mood but don’t distract from the message of the dreamy watercolor images. There is whimsy in the images, but they are not fluffy at all. To me they remind me of Tim Burton’s art, spooky but not scary. There be monsters on every card, but none of them are disturbing. The back of each card continues the yellow and black theme of the box and the guidebook cover.
While quirky and playful, the artwork pulls from traditional Tarot imagery and archetypes as a foundation. However, Bodirsky takes that foundation and recreates it in a fascinating and endearing style. I admit that I’m surprised at the strong connection I felt to the images on the cards the very first time I spread them out before me. The image on The Lovers shows a floaty ghost and a tall hairy monster both holding onto a single red heart balloon. The affirmation of this card in part says “We are lovers and recognize and appreciate our differences and similarities.” Yes! Here is a description of the concept of love that we all, with our unique personalities and forms, can connect to. The 9 of Pentacles shows a fashionably dressed bird surrounded by luxury who is standing in a golden cage, again a brilliant twist on a typical card meaning. The 4 of Swords shows a limp skeleton reclining in a hammock held up by four grounded Swords, with the sun setting in the background. He looks comfortable, reclining in that hammock, and when his nap is over, he will be rejuvenated.
The Shadowland Tarot focuses on shadow work (after all, Shadowland exists in the shadows), but the theme of this deck is more accepting and less “I’m broken and need to be put back together.” Whether we face it or not, each of us contain unlit corners where monsters lurk, but The Shadowlands Tarot faces those skeletons, mummies, bats, ghosts and spiders and shows us they are peculiar and odd, not frightening. Even if you are not interested at all on working within your shadow, you will enjoy the inclusiveness of this deck and its unique way of looking at card meanings.
Each of the 78 cards of The Shadowland Tarot offers new ways to see and understand the traditional meanings and symbols found in a Tarot deck. Both the deck itself and the guidebook invite us to take a second look at the images and delve deep, way deep, into Shadowland!
If you are interested in learning more about this deck (and I encourage you to learn more!), you can visit the author’s website at https://www.monicabodirsky.com (where you can sign up for the author’s newsletter), and the author’s FaceBook page at Monica Bodirsky Design.
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.