“The goal of the Numinous Tarot is not just to uplift and empower, but to allow for vulnerability, mistakes, and flaws as well. We cannot be strong all the time.” – Noel Arthur Heimpel
When I first started reading tarot nearly 5 years ago, I found my way into a subsection of the online tarot community via tumblr. Because I didn’t know folks IRL who did tarot, and I certainly wasn’t ready to tell people IRL that I read tarot, connecting with folks online was a great way for me to explore and dig in and talk to other people about all things tarot. During my tenure on the site, I learned about Noel Arthur Heimpel and the deck they were creating, The Numinous Tarot. I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to see them share the artwork as they went along, because it was clearly going to be a unique as fuck deck. By the time the kickstarter came around, my tumblr presence had decreased significantly, and I admit, I also wasn’t positive that I was going to order the deck.
Then I looked at it again. More closely. And checked out some of the art I hadn’t seen yet. And came across the 9 of Vials. There are so many incredible cards in the deck, thanks to Noel’s intentional dedication to inclusivity around ability, race, body type, gender, sexuality… and it was the 9 of Vials that I found myself staring at. The card showed someone with my body shape, my gender presentation, and they had this bliss on their face as they held these 9 glowing vials in their hands. That card only stalks me when I need a reminder that I also deserve happiness, so I backed the deck in its final days. It was a tiny piece of magic.
I still wasn’t sure if I was going to like using the deck, but when it showed up and I started pouring through the cards, I was entranced. I immediately knew that I had found the perfect complement to my Slow Holler deck in this airy deck that had the depth of an ocean. Fantastic.
Let’s talk about deck aesthetics: the gold gilded edges are lovely and perfect. The deck backs are gorgeous pink and blue watercolor. The cardstock is thick, but still fairly easy to riffle shuffle. The coating is matte and feels so nice to touch. The box… not a fan. I like my boxes to fit the deck perfectly, but I understand that the guidebook needed to fit the box too. I make my own deck bags, so it’s a minor gripe.
Like many modern tarot decks, the Numinous Tarot has some card titles that are non-traditional. Here, several Majors were renamed to be non-gendered. The minor suits were also reimagined as Candles (Wands), Vials (Cups), Bells (Swords), and Tomes (Pentacles). The Court Cards are renamed to be non-gendered: Dreamer (Page), Explorer (Knight), Creator (Queen), and Mystic (King). The recreation of the Courts, I think, is one of the most well done components of this already well done deck – they have a clear progression in skill and growth. And they read beautifully for me; the courts feel much more clear to me than the traditional medieval court system.
Noel provided a gorgeous guidebook for the Numinous, and it is, again, one of the most well written guide books I’ve seen paired with a deck. Noel’s intention and conscientiousness comes through while reading it, and I learn something valuable every time I consult it. While the deck reads well without the guidebook, the book enhances the cards and showcases Noel’s creative take on them. In addition to the card meanings, they included a write up of the structure of the deck, the Fool’s Journey and the journey of suit, and provided a few spreads based on the suits.
I wanted to share cards from the deck that I hope show its range and scope. All the cards are well thought out, and it’s easy to pull out symbols and ideas from the imagery. So here are five cards that get me excited to look at and pour over and explore.
- The Lovers: Such a unique take on this card! Everytime I read it, I end up calling it “community” in some way. This card is your people catching you when you fall. It’s the choice we make to be in connection with others. It’s Love on a large scale.
- The Sun: This individual is bright and beautiful and unapologetically Black and Tender. They’re soft. They shine. I always smile when I see this card.
- 10 of Candles: I can feel the weight and the heat and the burden in this card, and it makes me wonder who the backbreaking effort for…and is it worth it, in the end?
- 9 of Tomes: Libraries and bookstores are, for me and many others, happy places. They’re also places filled with an abundance of knowledge and the weight of humanity’s thoughts and creativity. Somedays, I wish I could be this librarian.
- Mystic of Bells: Femme and a wheelchair user – two things that typically aren’t shown in this card. Just look at this badass planner and activist.
“Interviewing the #numinoustarot. Finally. This deck is about The Journey. It’s about processing and letting go. It’s speaking truth, honestly. It doesn’t do lovey dovey, but it shows its heart in other ways. This deck is about owning your sense of power and building a life that lets you do that…and that means asking questions and actually hearing the answer. This deck is for walking into the light, not staring at the shadows on the cave walls. It’s growth. It’s the work. Beautifully, when I flipped to look at the bottom card, I pulled the dreamer of tomes: a soft reminder that we dream in order to do. ❤️”
To wrap things up, I wanted to showcase a small test reading with it, in contrast to the older deck interview from my instagram account. Here, I asked the deck to introduce itself so I could share it with everyone else.
Looking at these cards, I see hard work, passion, and even pain and trauma all making their way into the deck. Underlying it all, however, is connection. Connection to the past, to ancestors, to the experiences that we find ourselves coming back to over and over. Each component influences how the deck interacts with its readers. These cards illustrate what Noel wrote in their guidebook introduction:
“The Numinous Tarot began as a personal project. I had just graduated from college, and for the first time in my life I had absolutely no idea what to paint. At the time, what little sense of self I had was so strongly wrapped up in my identity as an artist that this caused me significant existential distress…I had no idea who I was without art.
…As a trauma and child abuse survivor; I had no core sense of self. At the time I had made great strides in recovery, but I was still very, very deep in the woods. I scrambled for subjects to paint in order to fill the void. I’d wanted to make a Tarot deck ever since I started reading cards at age 13…I decided I was ready.
I had no idea how important this deck would become to my recovery, my career, my social life, my everything, in the ensuing four years. I had no idea how deeply it would connect me to a community that uplifts marginalized people and supports narratives outside of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
…The heart of this deck is hope. I started it for myself, but I finished it for all the others who have been led to believe we don’t have worth or a place in the world. We do. We may have to build this place ourselves, but we are worth the effort, the space, the and the care of doing so.” – Noel Arthur Heimpel, The Numinous Tarot Guidebook, p. 2-3
This deck is intensely personal, intensely connected, and it is absolutely a gift. How lucky we are that we get to use it.
The Numinous Tarot is available to purchase at Noel’s website.
The Numinous Tarot has sold out! Noel has stated they have plans to run a Kickstarter for a second edition.