Having reviewed and featured a number of tarot decks on this here blog, I was recently contacted by Schiffer (Red Feather) asking whether I would like to review a few more of their amazing tarot decks – well why not?! I was honoured to be asked to collaborate with Schiffer and couldn’t wait to be able to work with yet more tarot decks.
Schiffer enquired as to which decks I may be interested in featuring and having flicked through their incredibly tempting catalogue, I asked whether it may be possible to have a copy of the new and revised second edition of The Mary El Tarot – a tarot deck which I’d heard of but never yet seen…
Low and behold I was in luck and as a result, I am so pleased to be able to share this beautiful tarot deck with you, my lovely readers.
The Mary El Tarot
Until last week, I’d never clapped eyes on the Mary El Tarot. I had however heard plenty about this tarot deck as its reputation precedes itself.
The Mary El Tarot is built and inspired by the three pillars of the Marseille, Rider Waite and Thoth tarot decks – Marie has combined her love for art with her love for the tarot and the result is stunning!
Designed and created by Marie White, The Mary El Tarot is hugely popular with tarot readers worldwide and no wonder considering the sheer effort, talent, and time that Marie put into creating these cards.
Born and raised in Southern California, Marie now lives in Piedmont Forest, North Carolina with her three children. Since an early age, Marie viewed art as important as oxygen and water and was compelled to create artwork of her own. Marie grew up with a pencil in hand, she was forever creating imagery recording the subjects of her dreams, visions, nature, and the human form.
In 1997, Marie’s love for mysticism, symbolism, words, and art collided to create The Mary El Tarot, though it was a labour of love as it took Marie almost a decade to complete!
Boxes, Bags & Books
I do love a well-packaged tarot deck, though the Mary El arrives in a sturdy, glossy, magnetic-close box, the box itself is quite large as it houses both the tarot cards and the guidebook. However, due to the box’s size and the fact that the tarot cards were sitting within a cardboard template, I have chosen to transfer the cards from the packaging and to place them into a tarot pouch.
This is the only issue with large tarot packaging, and not just The Mary El – largely packaged tarot decks could really do with including a little pouch or bag perhaps which I’m sure customers would be more than willing to pay for.
I, however, was rather lucky last week as not only did I receive The Mary El Tarot to review but I was so kindly sent two beautiful OrsettiCraft tarot pouches created by the incredibly talented Ann Forte from my lovely friend Lyvia. One of these pouches is now home to my Mary El Tarot.
The Mary El Tarot ‘Landscapes of The Abyss 2nd Edition’ guidebook features a beautiful introduction explaining the history of tarot reading, the inspiration for Marie’s work, and the structure of the tarot system. There is a double-page spread for each of the seventy-eight cards which includes quotes, keywords (for both upright and reversed readings), and a wealth of detailed information upon each and every tarot card.
Marie has also included a guide upon how to read with tarot cards and examples and guidance upon a range of inspirational tarot spreads including a daily reading spread, a relationship spread, a yes/no spread, a past-life spread, and the Tetractys spread.
Finally, Marie concludes by stating “Lastly, there is no knowledge that can be found outside yourself that is better than what is inside yourself.” This a beautiful statement that I feel captures the essence of tarot reading – it is indeed an art form that can only be discovered from within.
Marie’s guide to The Mary El Tarot (which comes as part of the Mary El Tarot 2nd Edition set) is far more than just a little white book, it’s a fully comprehensive 192-page, colour-printed compendium to the tarot. This isn’t just a guidebook – it’s a tarot scripture!
Getting A Feel For The Cards
The Mary El Tarot deck is finished with a sheek, silver edging and the backs of the cards are printed in a glossy black with two orange and blue intertwined snakes. This particular design reminds me of two interlinked wedding rings, perhaps suggesting the idea of unison between the reader and the cards.
Although when this deck first arrived, the cards (which are of a standard tarot card size) were a little stuck together (due to the edging) they have since been very smooth to shuffle.
The Major Arcana
Marie’s rich, vibrant, bold, and beautiful artwork seeps from the very core of The Mary El Tarot deck, the core in my eyes being the major arcana. Marie’s imagery is so very deep and soul-bearing, she herself states that “Art is the language of the soul.” and this is certainly apparent within the major arcana of The Mary El Tarot.
There are some tarot decks which do seem to feel far more artistic than tarot – The Mary El Tarot border on this but the cards do provide excellent imagery to convey their intended message. Though, I must admit that with this deck it’s all too easy to find yourself lost within the beauty of the imagery, and if your not too careful, carrying out a tarot reading with The Mary El Tarot can become more like visiting an art gallery than divination.
The Minor Arcana
The Mary El Tarot minor arcana follows the traditional four suits which are named as cups, wands, swords and disks. Unlike many tarot decks, where the minor arcana features less imagery than the major arcana, The Mary El Tarot is so rich in imagery with astonishing oil painted pictures right the way through the deck – it’s such a busy, awesomely arty deck with such enchanting and powerful pictures.
Here’s a short video walkthrough guide of The Mary El Tarot that I have put together for further information.
Reading With The Mary El Tarot
There certainly seems to be a force behind this particular deck and having acquired my own copy, I felt much like I’d joined some sort of sacred society – a tarot cult club if you will. Don’t get me wrong, I was more than happy to join ‘the club’ as having worked with these cards for a few days, I too began to understand and to appreciate why so many tarot collectors and readers seem to hold a sort of deck lust for the Mary El Tarot.
The Mary El Tarot features rich, oil-painted, enchanting, elaborate images depicting ethereal, god-like figures. Sure, there’s a fair amount of nudity but why not?! The human body is something that we should respect and admire, it is after all our vessel through our journey upon this plane and should be celebrated as such.
I must admit that the ‘Mary El’ isn’t a tarot deck for the faint-hearted, it’s images are fairly fierce in places but that’s precisely what I like about this deck – its artistically bold, brash and brilliant.
Upon my first reading with the Mary El Tarot, I was stunned with the accuracy of the cards. Talk about straight-talking, the Mary El Tarot cut straight to the chase – there was no beating around the bush and whilst I’m not sure whether I’d wanted nor needed such a serious slap from reality at that moment in time, the Mary El Tarot made damned sure their message was made loud and clear.
Pricing and Purchasing Information
The Mary El Tarot (Second Edition) has a recommended retail price of $39.99 (which equates to £32.18 GBP) and can be purchased directly from Schiffer Publishing.
However, if you are in the UK, it is probably easier (due to shipping) to purchase this deck from Gazelle Book Services for £40.99 or from the likes of Amazon who are currently (as of June 2020) selling the Mary El Tarot for only £25.35 though prices do fluctuate, especially due to the current pandemic.
Though I feel that The Mary El Tarot is more suited to experienced readers, I don’t doubt that it could be used as a beginners/ starter-deck given that the guidebook is so detailed.
The Mary El Tarot is a unique tarot deck ideal for art-appreciators and tarot-collectors (such as myself) featuring such elaborate and exquisite art-work, it truly is a joy to work with.
The Mary El Tarot has a traditional yet vibrant and vivacious vibe, this tarot deck certainly offers a clear and concise reading, so if you are looking for a sincere and artistic tarot deck, the Mary El Tarot is most definitely the deck for you.
For further information upon The Mary El Tarot (Second Edition) or alternative Schiffer/ Red Feather products visit https://www.schifferbooks.com
Disclosure: I was sent the above product for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.