The Unicorns of the Universe Tarot Deck is by Rebecca Schoenecker of Laughing Eye Weeping Eye Tarot, published in 2014. Rebecca is a Chicago-based creator, artist and musician who has been working with tarot for many years. The Unicorns of the Universe is the second tarot deck she has created. It is based on Rider Waite Smith imagery and symbolism, while also tying in astrological correspondences from the Golden Dawn. The art she has created is whimsical, simple and cheerful. Each card is full of sweeps of watercolor, gliding marker, and textures similar to crayon. The cardstock is very bendy and shuffles easily. This deck is great for people beginning their tarot studies; the cards use a stripped down exploration of the familiar symbology of the Rider Waite Smith deck while also shining a playful divine light

The Major Arcana shows the Fool’s Journey, with Pegasus as the Fool. The Pegasus has a vast and varied mythology. Wherever the Pegasus’ hoof hits, an inspired spring comes forth. A symbol of wild freedom, grace from the Gods and eternal imagination, the journey of Pegasus from Fool to World is beautiful.

Each suit has its own mythological unicorn associated with it. The court cards have stylistic similarities, with similar color palettes and angles for each. Rebecca has really stripped the court cards down to their essence, removing the standard Rider Waite Smith symbols and using her own intuitive guidance. Other than the names of the cards, they are completely genderless expressions of the Court, which is very refreshing.  

The suit of Cups is shown by the Qilin, a one horned mythological beast that are very similar to Chinese dragons. Their voice is an auspicious omen that sounds like tinkling bells or chimes. The appearance of a qilin is said to herald the coming or pass of a great sage. They are quiet, moving with a peaceful nature so that no living creature or blade of grass is harmed by their passing. A qilin will only live in a kingdom with a benevolent ruler or near a household of benevolent souls. They will fiercely protect a soul that is pure, spouting flame & fury. Qilin are thought to be a symbol of luck, good omens, protection, prosperity, success, and longevity by the Chinese. Qilin are also a symbol of fertility, and often depicted in decorations as bringing a baby to a family. I really love connecting the gentle Qilin to the suit of Cups. The gentle, compassionate aspect of the cups is brought out through the dreamy artwork & cool toned colors.

The suit of Swords is the Shadhavar, a mythological gazelle like creature from Middle Eastern traditions. A shadhvar is said to have a single horn with 72 branches that play music that is so peaceful all animals will sit to listen, so joyous to fill even the most heavy heart with light or so sad that all are brought to tears.  The horns of this creature are gifts to kings. The philosopher Plato came into the possession of one shadhavar horn which has been supposedly passed down through the generations of his family. Rebecca toned the branches of the shadhavar down to two, very reminiscent of the sword that this unicorn is representing. This unicorn brings sharpness to the reading, and while sharp, this suit is still kinder than other swords in other decks. More of a gentle poke than a cut to the bone.

The suit of Pentacles is the Karkadann. Also called “the lord of the desert”, the karkadann comes from the plains of India & Persia. A fearsome beast with thick black scaly skin and a large horn, the tears of the Karkadann are used to make holy beads for Islamic prayer. Like the European Unicorn, a Karkadann can only be soothed by a human virgin. The horn of the Karkadann weeps in the presence of poison and is an antidote to all poison. This mythological creature is said to actually be a rhinoceros, which to me is literally the earthiest type of unicorn we can imagine. In the deck, the karkadann is almost always touching the Pentacle on the card, either with its hoof or horn, or on its actual body. There are exceptions – the 5 of Pentacles shows the karkadann laying next to the Pentacles as if they were spilled or rotten. The 8 and 10 of Pentacles, respectively, show the pentacles as separate, as craft, as actual physical things the karkadann has created.

The suit of Wands is Monokerata. First recorded sighting of a Monokerata is recorded by the Greek historian Ctesias in the 5th century BC during explorations into India. The horn of a monokerata, when used as a drinking horn, prevents poisoning, epilepsy and convulsion. They are quite fierce, refusing capture, biting and kicking until they are killed. Historically, it is said their flesh is too bitter to eat. They are one of the fastest land creatures, their speed building continuously as they run. This creature is where European unicorn lore springs from, so it is fitting that Rebecca has chosen them to be the heralds of Wands, of creation, the spark of Spirit. The way they are drawn in this deck reminds me of dragons or birds, with sharp mouths and laughing eyes. This suit is full of joy.  

I have loved unicorns my whole life. This deck, with its cheerful art and easy to understand energy brings me all the joy of unicorns while also still being a divine conduit for Spirit to speak through. I’ve found in the past that using unicorn imagery is too childlike, too cheesy, for my (regrettably) adult proclivities. The Unicorns of the Universe deck connects me to the wild barefoot sensitive energy of Kid Anna while also being palatable to Adult Anna. That is a magic I want in my life.