When Irene Mudd graduated from art school, Irene wanted to play around with mediums that were new. Collage art was a medium Irene found interesting because of its free form and limitless creativity. Irene pulled from a working history of fiber arts and painting to enhance the artistry of The Guided Hand Tarot. The art work for this deck was influenced by Hilma Klint who makes an appearance as the High Priestess. It was a conscious decision to deviate from the gender binaries found in the Rider-Waite-Smith by featuring women in traditional male roles and visa-versa. I was pleasantly surprised by the vast diversity in this deck, with images originated from across the world.

I must admit I was apprehensive about this deck because I had a prejudice in my head that I did not like collage decks (which is a joke since I own quite a few). Somehow the collage art in this deck didn’t capture me initially so I passed on the Kickstarter. When the opportunity to review this deck presented itself to me I decided to give it a try and I am pleased with my decision to do so. With many digital collage decks on the market this deck is unique because it utilizes “analog” collage techniques mixed with a retro color palate of mint greens, radiant blues, pastel pinks, golden yellows, and earthy browns. The color combination and vintage images give this deck a distinctly retro vibe. When I look at this deck I feel like I am sitting in my grandparents’ house.

My initial apprehension made my first few readings a challenge and I found myself struggling. Some images are familiar while others are new and may require you to pull interpretations from your own experiences. Once I released myself from the rigid system of rules and symbology of the RWS I was able to be more free form with my readings and developed a connection with this deck. While this deck is not exactly beginner friendly I find it to be inspirational for someone who may consider themselves an interpretive reader.

My first visual impression of The Guided Hand Tarot was that it is very tactile. Irene’s technique of combining cut and paste clippings, fiber embellishment, and gouache painting, create a three-dimensional effect on some cards. I find the cards have a mesmerizing quality that allows me to zone out and to dialogue with them. This is a classic 78 card deck with 22 major arcana and 14 cards (including the courts) in each of the traditional four suits of Swords, Cups, Wands, and Pentacles. The cardstock is on the thinner side but it is matte with silver gilded edges. It shuffles quite nicely and seems to hold up well to rougher handling.  The deck will arrive in a standard, sturdy, two-part box of a soft grey, white, blue and purple. The backs of the deck feature a reversible image of two hands layered over cut work collaged pieces of triangles and half dome shapes in the same pastel tones as the box.

A few of my favorite cards from the deck include: The Chariot, a gondola is suspended in the cosmos as passengers peer curiously over the sides. This method of travel is not my cup of tea, much too high and not enough control for me; Temperance, water is poured from one yellow enamel bowl into a green enameled bowl and in the bottom are coins. Coins in this image represent energy to me, and I am reminded to use it wisely; Five of Pentacle, two girls walking along in the rain, both sheltered by a single parasol. In the lowest times, be thankful for the friends who stick by your side; Queen of Swords, this queen sits confidently with a look of “don’t mess with me” this is balanced by a sense of grace and serenity. She reminds me of a photo I have of my mother as a debutant; Finally, Six of Swords, A young girl and older woman hold up a string of swords as they cross a body of water. Behind them are treacherous mountains but I wonder what lies before them.

I decided to do an interview spread to see what The Guided Hand Tarot had to say for itself:

  1. Tell me about yourself. Two of Pentacles
    This deck is a workhorse deck, it does not shy away from a difficult challenge. It is practical and balanced, able to multitask for multiple types of readings.
  2. What can one learn from you? Six of Pentacles
    Once again, we are represented with a theme of balance however instead of balancing from within this deck will teach you how to find balance from your environment. It will help you become grounded enough to understand where you should give and where you should take.
  3. How should one work with you? The Moon
    Allow your intuition and subconscious to guide you as you work with this deck. As the name of the deck suggests, let it guide you. The Guided Hand Tarot is great for dialoguing and if you allow yourself to become lost within the image you’ll find the answers you are seeking. You may also find that using this deck with the phases of the moon an enjoyable experience.
  4. What is your strength? Three of Swords
    The Guided Hand Tarot will not mince words, it will not be a “fluffy bunny” deck, it is here to do the hard work. Although the readings with this deck may be challenging or brutal they are meant to help you grow.
  5. What is your weakness? The Chariot
    If you are comfortable with traditional standards and rigid symbology, this deck is probably not for you. This deck is progressive, unique, and unconventional. When working with the Guided Hand Tarot it’s best to go with the flow.

Overall, I find the Guided Hand Tarot to be a one-of-a-kind art piece. It challenged what I thought my preferences in collage art could be and forced me to look at my deck collection differently. Even though I might have been reluctant to explore this deck in the beginning I am finding it quite endearing. I have a soft spot in my heart for decks who’ve changed my way of thinking. The Guided Hand Tarot will hold a spot in my collection as a reminder of my personal growth.