Creator: Liz Blackbird
Year published: 2021
Publisher: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
The Heart & Hands Tarot by Liz Blackbird is a gorgeous black and white deck with a vibrant aura. On the one hand, the artwork is in the style of busy doodles, with lines, dots and simple patterns filling up much of the free spaces surrounding the subjects. The cards with people in them also give me a groovy 70s vibe that causes my mind to fill in these images with bright colours.
On the other hand, there is a beautiful simplicity in these images. The only traces of humans in the pip cards are depiction of hands. It’s absolutely incredible how much can be expressed using only hands to describe actions. My personal favourites are the 8 of Swords, in which a pair of hands are tied, and the 5 of Pentacles, with a hand holding a knife and using it to pickpocket. The juxtaposition of complexity and simplicity results in a deck that is incredibly visually appealing.
While I personally find this deck intuitive and easy to read with, I may be reluctant to recommend this deck for beginners. Even though this deck follows the RWS tradition, the images are greatly reduced to their essences. I would not be able to decipher the intended meanings of some cards if the original RWS images aren’t so deeply ingrained into my mind.
Examples of this would be the 7 of Swords along with the 3 and 9 of Cups. When I first saw the 7 of Swords, I thought the image showed five swords inside a bag with a hand clutching onto them while two swords remain outside the bag. It wasn’t until I read the guidebook that I understood this to be a person trying to fit the swords inside a cloak.
As for the 3 and 9 of Cups, the card descriptions in the guidebook are consistent with the standard RWS meanings for these cards. However, at first glance, both cards appear to be scenes of celebration. Without the clarification of the guidebook, a beginner may have difficulties distinguishing the difference between the two.
I want to stress that this is far from a criticism or a strict warning for beginners to stay away. The guidebook is an easy and entertaining read. One quick read through and the meanings become obvious and clear. I merely want to point out that, for those who are new, it may take some time for this deck to feel intuitive. This is, however, something that I wouldn’t hold against this deck. In my personal opinion, its beauty makes a little learning curve worth the while. These cards are so gorgeous that I had an incredibly difficult time choosing which cards to photograph for this review. My initial pick of cards was well over half the deck!
Aside from the visual attractiveness, I also find this deck to be very emotionally engaging. I think fellow deck collectors will understand what I mean when I say that each deck has its own personality. While many decks possess beautiful artworks, some don’t translate well into spiritual tools. The Heart & Hands Tarot is much more than an art exhibit. There’s a sense of playful warmth to it that makes it feel like that positive and light-hearted childhood friend who knows exactly what to say to lift your spirits.
The introduction of the guidebook describes the artist’s experience of creating this deck. She speaks about creating different parts of it during different phases of her life. When I work with this deck, I can feel its spirit – it’s a soul that has experienced numerous emotions and lessons that give life its meaning. The soundtrack to this deck would range from The Beatles to The Scissor Sisters.
This deck is approximately 3.25’ x 5’, making it slightly wider than the standard mass market deck. As I’m a bit of a clumsy shuffler, it took me a few readings before I got comfortable with its size. I’m happy to say that this deck is still within the range of what I consider to be a good size. I was able to get used to its dimensions with very little effort.
Another feature worth noting is that it comes in a nice, sturdy two-piece box. Personally, I’ve grown to be a bit of a snob when it comes to deck storage. I generally don’t prefer the standard tuck boxes and will make my own storage for them. With this deck, I am happy and proud for it to sit on my bookshelf with its original packaging!