The Tarot of Light and Shadow

It is not unheard of for a tarot deck to have an additional card or two added for an added effect. You may remember when I reviewed the Santa Muerte Oracle, the creator discussed how it could be used in conjunction with his Santa Muerte Tarot Deck. (Both decks are wonderful, by the way.) However, I was particularly intrigued when I learned about “The Tarot of Light and Shadow” by John Matthews and Andrea Aste, which has two decks packaged together.

What is so compelling about the “Tarot of Light and Shadow” is the decks and their accompanying guide are built from the ground up on the idea of using both decks for a single reading. Examining a shadow side is not as misunderstood as it used to be. It is not as simple as Light = good and Shadow = bad. From the accompanying guide:

“It is important to understand that when you choose to work with the double deck that it shows us truths from two angles, mirroring each other in a strange and wonderful way. The two sides should never be seen as somehow positive and negative, with the light deck good and the shadow deck bad. Put such thoughts from your mind. We are a naturally dualistic species, and it can be hard not to see things in this way – but the “Tarot of Light and Shadow” is not like this. It sets out to show you not only two aspects of card, but to show you h ow they relate – how the inclusion of cards from one aspect or the other changes what you see.”

The artwork by Andrea Aste is wonderful, full stop. However, genuine applause is due for the effort put into creating paired artwork. The cards mirror each other but are not just reflections. Subtle changes are made between Light and Shadow to highlight deeper and different meanings between them. For instance, let’s looks at one of my favorites from the deck, Death. Note the different flags, how the Light version has heads on the ground, where the shadow shows plants blooming. Each card deserves careful study, which only makes you appreciate the work of Matthews and Aste more.

Obviously, if you choose, you can use each deck by itself. Although Matthews outlines several thoughtful ways you can use the decks together.

On social media I called out Watkins for putting on the back of the deck box, “The most subtle and insightful tarot ever created.” Now I am not claiming to have seen every deck ever made, or even being a tarot expert, but in my opinion “The Tarot of Light and Shadow” by John Matthews and Andre Aste may very well be the most subtle and insightful tarot ever created. A truly impressive feat.

You can learn more here.

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Battle of the Dragon Oracle Decks

If you follow The Magical Buffet on social media, you’ve watched the evolution of this review idea. What started as an overall preference for me to review the dragon themed oracle deck I received, quickly morphed into a “battle of the dragon oracles” when I received a SECOND dragon themed oracle. Here we are, two decks enter and well, two deck will leave because destroying perfectly good oracle decks would be stupid.


“Dragon Wisdom” is a 43-card oracle deck and book by Christine Arana Fader with illustrations by Anja Kostka. It is beautifully illustrated drawing on the four elements and figures from mythology, as well as dragons. Duh! Its suggested retail price is $19.99.


“Dragon Path Oracle Cards” is a 33-card oracle deck and book by Caroline Mitchell with illustrations by Tiras Verey. This deck features gorgeous art of dragons from four clans: Earth Walk Dragons, Galactic Dragons, Grand Master Dragons, and Guardian Dragons. Its suggested retail price is $22.95.

Being oracle decks, both are versatile in how they can be used, and both books feature several ideas as to how to use them. Both Fader and Mitchell are passionate about dragons, and both Kostka and Verey are gifted artists. In all honesty, these two decks have a lot in common. I’m unable to declare one truly superior to the other, or a personal preference. I mean, for me, what’s better than dragons? MORE DRAGONS! Particularly when they’re so beautifully rendered in decks so intuitive in their use.

Try to decide for yourself with the links below!

Want to learn more about “Dragon Wisdom”? Click here.

Want to learn more about “Dragon Path Oracle Cards”? Click here.

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How to Learn Tarot

Learning tarot sucks. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but I have an AWFUL memory regardless of how interested I am in the subject I’m studying. I mean, after YEARS and YEARS I am finally starting to wrap my head around it. People learn in different ways. I’m at the point where I learn by doing. However, in the past when it comes to tarot, I’ve worked with flash cards and rote memorization. Perhaps my learning trajectory would have been different if years ago I had access to “How to Learn Tarot: A Guided Tarot Journal with Intuitive Prompts and Spreads” by Jess Carlson.

Carlson’s approach is simple in appearance, but has the potential to create personal, long-lasting, connections to the tarot. “How to Learn Tarot” dedicates a page to each tarot card, showing it in the corner of the page. She provides a prompt and encourages the reader to write down all their thoughts and associations with the card. No wrong answers. The act of writing helps you remember what you are learning, and creating an idea makes it personal to you. The back of the book includes keywords associated with each card, but Carlson encourages you to go through the entire journal, which includes exercises and sample spreads, before browsing the keywords.

Considering its full-color and trade paperback format, a suggested retail price of $14.99 is reasonable for a tool that would be great for beginning tarot fans or for more experienced readers looking to add depth to their readings.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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Santa Muerte Tarot

Many of you who follow The Magical Buffet on social media, particularly Twitter, probably saw that I was excited about Llewellyn’s recent tarot deck sale. Sadly, money is tight so I could not take full advantage of the awesomeness, but I did pick up a deck or two. Despite all the decks I purchased being older, lots of people were interested in my thoughts on the “Santa Muerte Tarot” by Fabio Listrani, so here we are.

You might remember that in 2018 I reviewed the “Santa Muerte Oracle”, also by Fabio Listrani. I found the deck to be thoughtfully constructed with wonderful art. That said, I absolutely adore this original tarot version. The oracle deck told a story and provided a Ouija board however, the tarot deck has iconic tarot imagery, and that cannot be undersold. In our western esoteric culture, the archetypal images of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck are ingrained into our subconscious. Seeing Listrani’s artwork blending with it is at a minimum pretty, and at peak, breathtaking.


The “Santa Muerte Tarot” interprets the tarot through the Mexican traditions of Calavera Catrina, Santa Muerte, and Dias de los Muertos. From the accompanying book, “The motif is that Death as it appears to us, due to erroneous mental constructs, is not the opposite of life but rather an integral part of it.”

The “Santa Muerte Tarot” is a wonderful addition to my tarot collection and could be for your too.

You can learn more here.

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Gemstone Guardians Cards & Your Soul Purpose

In case you did not know, I’m a sucker for crystals. I am sure you’re shocked. I suspect you won’t find it shocking then, that I wanted to review “Gemstone Guardians Cards & Your Soul Purpose” by Margaret Ann Lembo.

For starters, it is 44 full-color cards featuring crystals! Pretty, pretty, crystals. However, there is more to this deck of cards than just full-color crystal porn. Lembo outlines that there are 11 Soul Purpose archetypes: Art, Building, Communication, Education, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Healing, Investigation, Justice, and Protection. Within those archetypes are 44 life paths. This deck is designed to help you understand yourself and your goals. Each card has a Soul Purpose, a life path, and a crystal, and affirmation to help support you.

You might think that a deck like this is only good for single card draws, but you would be mistaken. The sizeable, 128-page, booklet includes a 3-card spread for past, present, and future, and a nice 7 card spread based on the chakras.

“Gemstone Guardians Cards & Your Soul Purpose” by Margaret Ann Lembo is an intriguing idea for a deck that was well executed, and at $19.99 suggested retail, it is priced right to try out.

You can learn more here.


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The Shadowlands Tarot

As time goes on, more and more people view, and use, the tarot as tool for self-discovery as opposed to telling the future. With this progression, we’re seeing more decks that are designed to facilitate with that process. Monica Bodirsky has created just that sort of deck with “The Shadowland Tarot”.

Bodirsky’s “Shadowland Tarot” can operate as a more traditional tarot deck, stemming from its roots in the Rider Waite deck. However, with her focus on the shadow aspects of our psyches, you have the potential to discover things about yourself that perhaps you weren’t ready to acknowledge. Then, you can continue to acclimate and integrate those discoveries.

In another creator’s hands, “The Shadowland Tarot” could be an alarming, or frightening experience. Fortunately, Bodirsky’s (who also illustrated the deck) shadows are playful, charming, and nothing to be feared. Her “Shadowlands” are populated by a colorful cast of characters that you’ll want to get to know better.

If you’re looking for a tarot deck with wonderful art and penchant to encourage introspection, “The Shadowland Tarot” by Monica Bodirsky is for you!

You can learn more here.

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Persephone, Seasons & Tarot

From Stacey B. (aka TarotPugs)

Springtime marks the return of Persephone from the Underworld (Hades) when the flowers and trees begin to blossom again and her descent marks the beginning of autumn, but how can we relate this to the tarot?

The minor arcana is associated with the four elements and the four seasons and depending on your practice, it may look like the following below:

• Wands – Spring / Summer
• Cups – Summer / Spring
• Pentacles – Autumn / Winter
• Swords – Winter / Autumn

For the purpose of this post, we’ll use this method:

• Wands – Spring
• Cups – Summer
• Pentacles – Autumn
• Swords – Winter

So how does this all connect with Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld?

Her return to the upper world (Earth) is around the Spring Equinox and her descent beginning around the Autumn Equinox.

However, when we observe the Earth as a whole, Persephone is always in a duality state.

As Persephone rises to be renewed in one hemisphere to mark the beginning of spring known by her name of Kore, she also begins her descent in the other hemisphere to mark the beginning of autumn.

The back and forth of birth and death, spring/renewal, autumn/decay happens twice a year that even in the flourishment of springtime, there is still a hint of Persephone as the Queen of the Underworld.

Persephone, Springtime & Tarot

When working to understand ourselves, our renewal and what we are reawakening after the long sleep of winter, we can turn to the Ace of Wands in the tarot.

The most iconic image of the Ace of Wands in many tarot decks that are based on the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) tarot system depict a wand with buds and leaves growing from it and sometimes falling from it.

New life and vitality are being created, rejuvenated as the Earth below begins to thaw and awaken.

We can examine simply by gazing at the Ace of Wands or when we see the Ace of Wands in a tarot reading during the springtime and ask:

What is being reawakened?
• What is giving me new life from deep within the depths of my unconsciousness?
• What seeds have I planted that are ready to grow now?

These questions can be elaborated and carried through as if a string of thought all the way in the remainder of the Wands suit.

Find and name what is being reawakened, stirred and sprouted from your unconsciousness and watch it grow and mature through the rest of the Wands – from the 2 of Wands until the 10 of Wands when you are then overwhelmed by what has been created.

That’s when the Cups (Summer) happens, the Ace of Cups, to remind you that what you have created is a blessing and that even though you may feel overwhelmed by your creation, your cup is over flowing with love and abundance.

Carry this love and abundance of what started as a seed in the springtime from the Ace of Wands, the seed that Persephone had given you from the depths within, and it flourishes and grows.

Persephone starts as Kore in the springtime, flourishes to her bounty, and then in the Autumn returns to the Underworld and depths as a cycle of life.

Persephone, Autumn & Tarot

When autumn soon arrives again after enjoying what we have created, gave birth to and flourished, we realise our mortality, our finality, the physicality of it all, that all eventually returns back to the earth from whence it came.

When examining the Ace of Pentacles, it becomes as if a token to enter the depths below into Hades.

Charon, the ferryman, must be paid to cross the River Styx, the Ace of Pentacles coin grants this favour to begin the journey across.

As you go further in the suits of the Pentacles, down into Hades and the world where Persephone rules as Queen, you may ask when you see Pentacles cards in your readings in the autumn:

What do I hope to reap?
• What must I leave behind?
• What will my legacy be?

These questions can be elaborated and carried through as if a string of thought all the way in the remainder of the Pentacles suit.

Find and name what has been manifested, created and matured from the springtime and summer, and observe what will be laid to rest so to give nutrients to what will be recreated in the next springtime.

After this, comes the Swords (Winter) and everything from previously in the year comes to rest and the work is done silently and quietly under the surface.

Reflection on the past, processing thoughts and ideas, coming to terms, even travel in the Underworld until finally reaching the end of the suit of Swords when you can finally release and surrender to all that was and be ready to be renewed again in the springtime.

Seasonal Tarot Journey with Persephone

Working with the minor arcana and Persephone can be done through meditation, ritual or journaling to explore the seasons and your own development through the seasons.

Start with the minor arcana suit that corresponds with the season that you’re in now where you live and begin the journey from the beginning of the suit and ask yourself questions along the way how you feel you’re progressing.

Continue the journey until you reach the next equinox or solstice, then begin the journey again with the next suit corresponding to the season.

To add more spirituality to the process, you can work with Persephone to follow her journey along with the seasons.

“Persephone,
blessed daughter of great Zeus,
sole offspring of Demeter,
come and accept this gracious sacrifice.”

– excerpt from Hymn to Persephone (The Orphic Hymns by Apostolos N. Anthanassakis and Benjamin M. Wolkow, The John Hopkins University Press ©2013)

About TarotPugs:
Stacey B. is a psychic tarot reader, Usui Reiki Master (Distance Healing Specialist), Animal & Pets Reiki practitioner, crystal healer, chakra energy healer and eclectic witch focusing on dark goddess spirituality and features Rocky & Rosie, a.k.a. the Tarot Pugs which can be found at tarotpugs.com.

Wizards Tarot

If you’re a regular reader of The Magical Buffet, odds are, you like wizards. You may even identify as one! What I’m getting at is, no one into magic would ever NOT be interested in a wizard themed tarot deck. Which brings us to today’s review of “Wizards Tarot” by Barbara Moore and illustrated by Mieke Janssens.

Moore’s affection for wizards, spellcasters, and magic users is on full display with this deck. As you thumb through the deck you may find some of the cards remind you of characters or scenarios from your favorite magical books, movies, or television series. In reading the “Wizards Tarot Companion” for the deck, it is as much a lover letter to wizards, as it is a guide to how to use the deck. It is, in fact, one of the better tarot companion books that I’ve read. Offering new insights into learning the cards, along side suggested spreads and detailed card meanings. Any ideas on the inspiration for this card?

“The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don’t you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The choice of Mieke Janssens for the illustrations was an excellent one because her style feels like a modernized version of classic fantasy art. The art for the back of the cards screams “classic wizard”! It reminds me of old Dungeons and Dragons and air brushed t-shirts in the best way possible.


It is hard for me to imagine someone not wanting “Wizards Tarot” by Barbara Moore. Honestly, the only reasons I could see someone passing is a shortage of funds or a shortage of storage space for more decks.

You learn more here.

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The Art of Kipper Reading

What the heck is Kipper? I had never heard of it until I was offered the opportunity to “The Art of Kipper Reading: Decoding Powerful Messages” by Alexandre Musruck and its accompanying oracle deck.

So, what is it? According to Musruck, “In 1890, in Germany, appeared the ‘Kipper Fortune-Telling Cards’, a deck that clearly reflects the founding period, an era in which Germany was in the economic boom. The illustration clearly shows that the deck is from Bavaria, a state in the southeast of Germany. The deck, like Lenormand, bears the name of famous fortune teller Madame Susanne Kipper, but here again there is no evidence that it was created by her or simply a marketing strategy. In 1920, the publishing rights went to the company FX Schmid and in 1996 on to the Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik.”

The art is delightful, depicting all kinds of situations, emotions, and events. And what’s truly interesting it that the cards are read by direction, like an actual story! In many ways, this makes the Kipper more intuitive right out of the box, on the other hand, the accompanying book is VERY thick because each card has a different interpretation depending on what cards around it. There are 3 card readings, 5 card readings, 9 card readings, and most impressively, the Grand Tableau which utilizes the entire deck of 36 cards.

Alexandre Musruck did an excellent job of introducing me to the divination method of Kipper. He, with Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit packaged up a beautiful deck, and he wrote an easy to comprehend accompanying book. If you want to learn about Kipper, you’ll want to check this out!

You can learn more here. Deck.

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The Hoodoo Tarot

I don’t know where to begin with this review. I have received, and purchased, many tarot and oracle decks throughout the years, but I don’t think I have ever learned as much as I did from “The Hoodoo Tarot” by Tayannah Lee McQuillar.

McQuillar presents a new take on the traditional tarot, by infusing it with Hoodoo history and practices. She, with illustrator Katelan V. Foisy, present the deck as Elders, Family, and Community. The Elders represent the Major Arcana, the Family are the Court cards, and the Community is the Minor Arcana. The Tools, represented by 4 suits, like the Minor Arcana we’re familiar with, are Sticks, Baskets, Knives, and Coins.

For instance, one of my favorite cards in The Hanged Man. In “The Hoodoo Tarot” this card is represented by Gullah Jack. Info from his entry includes his Biblical reference of Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” His plant is hemp. More from the book:

Gullah Jack has a noose around his neck, but his face is serene. He has a Kongo cosmogram as his third eye.

Gullah Jack (?-1822) was a Bakongo prisoner of war who was sold into slavery in Zanzibar. He was eventually sent to Charleston, South Carolina, and purchased by a man named Paul Pritchard. Gullah Jack had a reputation as a powerful rootworker with a particular talent for making protective amulets. This may have been one of the reasons Telemaque, a.k.a. Denmark Vesey, recruited him to plan a revolt consisting of only African-born men against the colonists. Gullah Jack instructed the rebels to eat a special diet of corn and peanuts the day of the attack and provided them with crab claws as a talisman to keep them safe. He also threatened to put the root on any other slaves who spoke of the plan. Unfortunately for the rebels, the plan was betrayed, and the revolt was suppressed. All of the plotters, including Gullah Jack, were sentenced to death, but not before Gullah Jack used mysterious hand gestures, presumably to curse all of their oppressors. Gullah Jack was hanged on July 2, 1822.

This level of information is provided for EVERY CARD. Think of how much you can learn from this deck! Think of how much I learned from this deck! I learned SO MUCH. Seriously, I may curl up and reread the book again!

“The Hoodoo Tarot” by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is the perfect deck for anyone looking for a unique tarot experience, or someone who wants to learn more about Hoodoo and its history.

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet