The Persephone Tricolor Tarot by Marisa de la Pena of Circo Tarot is an updated release of her monochromatic Persephone Tarot, both releases in 2018. Marisa says she was inspired by the myth of Persephone’s Descent & the Deck is directly correlated to the mythos of Hellenistic Greece. She has changed the names of almost all the Major Arcana & woven Ancient Greek myth into the pips & court cards. The illustrations are simple line drawings, which is a stark difference from the gauche paintings Marisa created for her namesake Circo Tarot.
The archetype of a goddess descending to the underworld, moving through trial, and coming back to the middle world with wisdom is a key component to my spiritual path. The spiralic path of Descent & ascension, the shredding & shedding of layers of self, the deep soul truth found in the darkness are the themes of goddess adventures in the underworld & mirror my own life. When the original Persephone Tarot was released, I was given a deck by a friend & coven mate. We agreed to share the deck in our coven as a kind of community tool. I connected deeply to that deck & then passed it along to my coven. And then, in true universal hilarity, the coven unexpectedly, spectacularly fell apart. Where I had been standing at the edge of the Underworld, unable to take those steps into the darkness, Spirit pushed me. And I fell. And I wished I had kept that beautiful fucking deck.
As I walked from the Underworld with a new skin, head high & shoulders square, the new Persephone arrived in the mail. So, here we are, almost 9 months later & I am cradling the Persephone & crying. As I returned back to the middle world, so did Persephone, so did this tarot deck I loved. The beauty of divine timing. And like me, this deck is something birthed from the underworld, red & strong & clear in its truth.
I do have some small critiques of the deck from a technical standpoint. I feel like Marisa is really finding her stride in her creative process & expression but some of her choices in reimagining this deck are incongruent to me. Specifically, the use of a black background is very inconsistent; most of the cards with black backgrounds are generally considered negative, except for the ones that aren’t. Why have the Star (Ourainia) & the Hierophant (Zeus) & the Lovers (Cupid & Psyche) be on a black background but not the Tower or Judgement (Pluto) or the Hanged Man (Arachne)? Why have the 6 of Wands be black but not the 3 of Swords? The visual language inconsistency, to me, takes away the power of the black background & makes the deck a bit harder to read.
On the other hand, many of Marisa’s stylistic choices are beautiful, full of her voice & cultural background. I feel the cards that show her cultural roots, such as The Fool (Icarus), Death & the Wheel of Fortune, are the strongest in the whole deck. The Death card has a black background with white & red line work & is so stunning, almost glowing in its darkness. Marisa’s style also really reminds me of the show Adventure Time. Marisa & I are the same age; Adventure Time is becoming an incredibly important cultural touchstone of our generation. This influence is apparent in many cards; Mighty Mercury, Queen of Wands & Bacchus all could be (and should be!) characters in the show. This influence from Adventure time is apparent in many of the pips as well; figures with loose noodle arms, strangely cute body shapes, gleefully spooky faces. Marisa’s voice is so wonderfully unique but also so completely contemporary. Her stories are timeless & new. Much like Greek myth, the stories resonant deeply across time & so does this deck.
I am so thankful to Persephone for coming back into my life & Mercury for giving me the easy flow of language to write about this deck.