Creator: Christopher Butler
Number of Cards: 78 Major Arcana: 22 Minor Arcana: 56
Card Size: 2.75 x 3.75 inches
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Year Published: 2017
Deck Tradition: Rider-Waite-Smith & Thoth
Minor Arcana Style: Unique Scenes With Suit Symbols
Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles
Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King
Major Titles: The Fool, The Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower, Star, Moon, Sun, Judgement, World
The Fool is 0 Strength is 8 Justice is 11
Deck Theme: Ancient Celtic inspired; people and animals in scenes are silhouettes
Card Back: Reversible
Back Design: Starry night sky with a Mandorla, the center of which is a bright sun-like light
Companion Material: A 127-page softcover book is packaged along with the cards.
Languages: Book is in English, Italian, Spanish, French and Chinese. Deck titles are in English.
Ever since I saw early teasers of the Healing Light Tarot, I felt a connection with it and wasted no time in pre-ordering it. It recently showed up in the mail and was delighted and impressed by both the beauty and intensity of it.
For those familiar with Christopher Butler, you will no doubt immediately recognize his bold and vibrant abstract art. Mr. Butler is the author of several decks, including the Quantum Tarot, The Son Tarot, and Lenormand Cartomancy.
This is quite a unique and artistic deck. So what is this deck about?
The theme of the deck can be best described from in the author’s own words:
It relates to the periods of Dusk and Down, where the veil between this world and the spiritual realm is at its thinnest. This is a time for visions, realizations and above all, healing. The other main motif is the mandorla, the oval shaped portal created when two circles overlap and a symbol of the divine gateway…where it opens, healing and wholeness can be found.”
So there you are.
The cards themselves come with a smooth, matte finish with a good quality card stock making the cards quite durable (though they are a tad slippery at first) and can easily be riffle shuffled.
The backs are reversible and feature a blue starry sky design with a mandorla at the center of the card.
The numbering system of the deck uses Roman Numerals for the majors and standard numbers for the minors. The names of the major arcana cards, the court cards, and the aces are displayed on the bottom of the card. And my favorite – they are completely borderless! No scissors required.
The deck consists of 78 cards and all of the pips are fully scenic. While the deck does follow the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition of order and number, the imagery and symbolism are vastly different. For instance, the image of the mandorla is blended into the imagery of each card.
Also, there are no actual images of people in this deck; rather, the humans are presented as silhouettes. So instead of relying on facial expressions, costumes, and color, we need to look to the movement of the figures and observe how he or she is interacting with their environment to determine the card’s meaning. If you are familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism, then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty in interpreting most of the cards.
As an example, the Emperor is holding up a shield with his eagle symbol upon it in one hand and in the other hand is a scepter topped with a globe and the Maltese cross. The silhouette of a ram, representing the sign of Aries is also visible on the card.
In the Chariot, a warrior queen stands on a chariot that is swiftly drawn by two horses (the queen and the horses are silhouettes). In the Justice card, we see the silhouette of Justice standing between two pillars. In her left hand she raises a set of scales; in her right hand, she holds a sword.
If you are familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery of the Hanged Man, you will quickly be able to identify that card in this deck.
I found the depiction of the Magician to be especially interesting. Instead of a table on which are placed the 4 representations of the suits, the Healing Light magician has four arms with each hand holding one of the elemental symbols (a wand, a chalice, a pentacle and a sword). The streaks of electric current coming down from the top left of the card also makes for a nice effect.
Another one of my favorite cards is the High Priestess, in which she is touching a floating sphere that is reflecting the light of the moon. It’s truly a beautiful card.
Thoth and the Golden Dawn Imagery
Some of the imagery, however, corresponds more to the Thoth tarot meanings than the Rider-Waite-Smith. For instance, the 9 of Wands in the Thoth tarot is titled Strength (the Golden Dawn Title: Lord of Great Strength). In the Healing Light Tarot, we see a weightlifter raising his barbells into a mandorla above his head.
In the Seven of Pentacles, we see a man pointing at his barren fields. It’s important to note that the drawing of each of the pentacles in the card is incomplete, with parts of the line missing. The Thoth title for this card is “Failure” (the Golden Dawn Title: Lord of Success Unfulfilled).
The Six of Wands imagery is similar to its Thoth counterpart: two clusters of three wands, criss-crossed. The laurel (symbolizing victory,) that we see in the Rider-Waite-Smith version of this card is also present.
The deck uses wands-fire, swords-air symbology with the suits of the minors being Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The court cards follow the RWS tradition of Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The title of each court card is listed, in all capital letters, on the bottom of each card.
When first heard about this deck, I was unsure about the idea of the silhouettes but it works! The lack of detail is compensated by the storytelling action of each card, with the movement of the characters demonstrating the card’s meaning. I love the juxtaposition of the shadow of the people and the animals with the bright light in each image.
The LWB and the Box
The cards come in a sturdy box with a removable top. Inside the box are the cards and the companion guide. As is Lo Scarabeo custom, the guide (LWB) is translated into five languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French and Chinese and is printed on glossy paper but with no images of the cards. Three spreads are included in the book and a picture of each spread layout is included. About 3/4 of a page is allocated for the description of each card.
For the minors, the esoteric Golden Dawn title is given for each numbered card. For instance, the heading for the Two of Swords card in the book is: Two: Peace Restored; the Seven of Swords is: Seven: Unstable Effort.
I was really looking forward to the release of this deck and I was not disappointed. I find it evocative and easy to read with, and I especially like the interplay of light and shadow. I feel that this would be a good deck for personal shadow work.
I’ve done quite a few readings in the past few weeks with the Healing Light Tarot and it has consistently given me clear, concise readings. Given that there are no “flesh and blood” depictions of people, nudity is not an issue with this deck so it could be used for any client, regardless of sensibilities. The colors of the deck are not overwhelming; I find them actually to be quite soothing.
Though it does stray a bit from traditional Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, readers familiar with this tradition should be able to work with this deck without too much difficulty. The companion guide is well-written and thorough so beginners could also work with this deck. All in all, I love the richness of the colors and the expressive art of this deck, and I find it a delight to read with. Recommended!
Buy the Healing Light Tarot HERE
All images of the Healing Light Tarot © 2017 Lo Scarabeo