Shannon Loftis, creator of the Augenblick Tarot and the Augenblick Lenormand, is our guest reviewer for the Guided Hand Feature.

I always get excited when I see that someone has done a collage tarot deck. In my opinion, it is the most difficult medium in which to create tarot cards. You need to create 78 individual pieces of art encompassing a set structure, specific symbolism, elemental correspondences and personal translation using multiple source mediums that have no inherent thematic consistency and weave it into a cohesive whole that can do a job.

Irene Mudd has tackled this task and come out the end with a pretty impressive tarot deck. The edition I was gifted came in a sturdy, two-part cardboard box and had silver gilded edges. The gilding is the variety that will flake off and create a glittery residue on your hands and reading surface, though, and this was a sticking point for me.  In checking on her Etsy site, it looks like she is taking pre-orders for the next edition which will not feature the gilded edges so if the glittery thing was an impediment, you’re in luck!

The cardstock quality is good – it’s not too thick or too thin, easily shuffled, and looks like it will hold up well to repeated use. I have a proclivity towards wash shuffling and it did just fine in that process. I appreciate that the card backs have reversible images as I read reversals and get thrown when the backs don’t have an image that can accommodate that. If you look reeeeaaaaallly closely, they are not an exact mirror image but it’s nothing that I even noticed enough to make any ripple in the reading process for me. The backs also have a color scheme that took me a while to get used to. It seems overly delicate when compared to some of the strong colors and images used in the card fronts but overall, there is enough consistency that I can see the thread that weaves it all together.

The aspect that thrills me as a long-time reader and collector of tarot is when an artist can convey the standard meaning of the card in either a unique way or with a small twist. The three cards that stood out in this aspect were the Four of Cups, the Four of Pentacles and the Chariot.

The Four of Cups shows our subject actually holding the one cup instead of looking at the offering askance or portraying any kind of petulance usually seen in a RWS image. I can’t wait for this card to come up in a reading I do for someone to see how that small element changes the meaning of this card! He has the cup, he hasn’t turned his nose up at it – what will he do with it next?

The Four of Pentacles also uses the standard RWS sitting position but the look on the woman’s face is fascinating. She’s sort of slouching, half-smiling, a little bit resigned maybe. What an interesting choice for a card about protecting resources. This is not someone jealously guarding wealth but a person who looks laid back and pleased.

The Chariot is an interesting choice as well. Instead of directing one’s own path, they have stepped into this conveyance with others that has a set destination and single path. The aerial tramway is also set in space, among the stats and nebulae. What sort of message will come from that perspective?

The three more traditional cards that stood out to me were the 10 of Swords, The Tower, and the Ace of Pentacles. The darkness and intensity of the 10 of Swords and The Tower are spot on. I live in the Pacific Northwest so whenever I see trees burning it makes we worried about the old growth and forest fires. It was definitely an emotional reaction that I look for in the Tower card. The potential prosperity and growth of the Ace of Pentacles is just so stunning.  The Aces in this deck are some of my favorites.

I have to say that my first few readings with this deck worried me a bit. I kept getting reversal after reversal. Trust me when I say that I shuffle a deck thoroughly. Why is this happening?? One of the things I realized is that reversals force me to slow down and really pay attention to what cards are coming up, what the images are saying, and what sort of interpretation I’m going to bring forth – forcing me to not rely on stock meanings I have lined up in my brain. Apparently, the deck was taking me to task about my attitude! So noted, Guided Hand!

One of the small readings I did for myself (asking my guides what message they have for me) began with two reversals followed, finally, by an upright card. 9 of Wands reversed, High Priestess reversed, and 2 of Wands upright. I have been stressing recently about how I don’t feel tuned in to my intuition as strongly as I think I “should” be. This was a reassuring message that I need to learn how to bend without breaking, that the High Priestess is not necessarily every day wear. That 2 of Wands, though! My eyes read it as 3 of Cups at first. But it has a delightful interpretation for me that the plans I am making for my life, the work that I’m engrossed in right now, is a collaborative effort. That other people will be featured strongly in the journey.  That I’m not alone in this path.

Overall, the Guided Hand tarot by Irene Mudd is well packaged, easy to handle, and eager to work with you. It’s a deck that can be as simple or complex as you need it to be which makes it pretty versatile in the tarot card world.

You can find the Guided Hand tarot at Irene’s Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GuidedHandTarot

Her artist website: http://irenemuddart.com/

Her Instagram: @irenemudd