Every now and again a deck catches your eye and you just KNOW that its going to be a powerful tool to work with. This is exactly the situation with Ellen Lorenzi-Prince's Tarot of The Crone. Ellen is an experienced deck creator and has two other decks under her belt (The Dark Goddess and the Minoan Tarot)
From time to time I would catch sight of these assured, dark images in facebook or blog postings by friends and was immediately attracted to something in them, the Cailleach. Whether its because I'm currently finding ways to embrace my own cronehood, I don't know. I certainly don't think that the deck should be limited to moody and perimenopausal me - it's a fantastic deck to work with when you want to go deep and personal.
The material considerations are : really sturdy lift-off top box in glossy black and illustrated with small representations of cards around the edges and The Moon image on the box front. The cards measure 7.5cm x 11cm and are good card stock with a satin-type finish and a plain black card back. The card stock is pleasantly resistant to fingerprint smudges - important when the backs are undecorated, I think! Shuffles well.
It's a 78-card deck with a traditional structure but some card names have been changed. The Emperor, for example, remains in name but is represented by an obelisk that rises from the backs of human bodies. The Hierophant becomes Tradition and is represented by Matroyshka dolls.
Although some Majors are renamed, it does not affect how you work with them and they are easy to understand. Justice sits at VIII and Strength at XI.
In the Minors, suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Disks. Each card bears its title, but the keyword (shown in the book) is not included on the cards. The Ten of Wands keyword is, for example, Transformation. Keywords on cards can be quite limiting, I find.
The small accompanying book contains a colour image for every card. Each card is allocated an explanatory affirmation and around a page of deeper insight and explanation.
Here's the affirmation for The Devil. The image is of a red bodied figure hungrily devouring itself, oblivious to the teeth that surround it.
I am the Mother of Monsters
I am the Mistress of Lies
I am the Fear that binds you
The Hate that eats you
The Pain that never lets go
I have the Power
You give to me
The book clarifies each colour aspect - those allocated to the suits and Ellen's associations for the colour palette generally - white is the colour of bone and represents truth and purple represents the life force as magic.
In the video I have shown the court cards. As you might expect in a deck that embraces all aspects of the Crone, there is no space here for Knights or Kings. In fact there is no place here for the ranks as we know them at all. The courts represent the various faces of the Crone as she is found amongst the elements.
Firstly we have the four Beasts, then the next rank is Witch. This is followed by Grandmother and the final rank is Shadow.
The Beasts represent the purest expression of the element.
The Witches represent the focussed use of power (through self)
The Grandmothers represent mature expression of the power (through relationships)
The Shadow represents the element tipping into excess and deficit - almost like a 'reversed' interpretation of the suit's qualities.
The illustrations are bold and seemingly simple. But each card has been carefully constructed to reflect Ellen's intent for the card. The Tarot of the Crone has a fiercely loving Cailleach at its heart - the Bone Mother who is simultaneously compassionate and awe-inspiring in her power.
I was given this deck to review by Arnell, so I want to be up front about that. It truly is a REALLY good deck to work with - I have used it in readings since I received it a fortnight ago. And the deck is now in its third impression, so that's a sign of its popularity in itself. For me, ironically, the courts are the only cards that took a little getting used to because they do not rely on any earlier template.
Who is this deck aimed at? Anyone who wants to work more deeply with all aspects of The Crone or Cailleach. That said, I am going to withdraw it from general use and keep it by the side of my bed for personal work. I have just purchased the playbook that includes exercises to help me learn the deck. I'll let you know how that turns out!
To explore Ellen's work and purchase any of her decks and their associated workbooks. Please visit: