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Monday, 13 July 2015

Deck Review - Intuitive Tarot

Intuitive Tarot: Unlock the Power of Your Creative Subconscious by Cilla Conway (St Martins Press 2004)

I bought this deck at the London Tarot Festival last weekend, having never seen a single card of it. This is something I have never done before. My tarot life began in the digital age, where any tarot you can think of can be viewed and ordered online. It was a new experience for me, and an impulse buy. I thought I'd give you my impressions of the deck having worked with it for a week.

Thoth Influence

The first thing I said to myself when I starting flicking through this deck was 'Thoth-based'. Now that I have worked with it for a week, I would amend that to 'Thoth-influenced'. There are only a few cards that use images directly from Thoth: Hermit, Strength, Hanged Man and Sun.  The rest of the deck may be reminiscent of Thoth in mood, but that is down to art style and not the deck's system or meanings. The majority of the deck seems to me to lean far more toward the traditional RWS, not just because the pip cards are illustrated and most of them are riffs on the RWS images, but because the interpretations supplied in the companion book seem to me, on the whole, to be more Waite than Crowley.

Rider Waite Smith
For example, though the art style may have a slightly Thothy feel and Thothy names (Discs instead of Pentacles), the scenes are decidedly RWS: 3 of Cups, 8 of Swords, 6 of Swords and 8 of Discs all have the RWS scenes we might expect. The 3 of Cups shows 3 revelers lifting their cups to the sky. The 8 of Swords shows someone tied up, surrounded by swords (though the means of escape is not quite so obvious in this depiction). the 6 of Swords shows the classic retreat to new shores in a boat. And the 8 of Discs shows the craftsman or apprentice churning out copies of his product. There are several more cards that keep to an RWS image and similar interpretation, so this deck would be comfortable for those unfamiliar with Thoth.

The Divine Feminine

You may have noticed the prominence of the oval shape in this deck. even the box has a special design with an oval opening, and all the cards are framed by an oval. In the introduction of the companion book, Cilla explains that the oval frame 'appeared very early in the journey' and is a reflection of her 'discovery of the Divine Feminine' and 'early Goddess cultures'. It isn't quite a vesica piscis, but close enough (in fact the oval is more pleasing to my eye than the pointed vesica piscis).

We could be all refined and explore the history of the vesica piscis, but instead we'll talk about full frontal boobage. The boobies kinda stood out at me in this deck, so I counted them up. We got bare norks on: High Priestess, Empress, Strength, Devil, Star, World, Queen of Cups, and Queen of Rods and let's just say none of them need any corrective surgery. So if you don't want no nipples in your tarot, be warned.


Court cards are important to me in a deck. The courts here are okay. They're mostly close-ups in profile, but most of them have enough detail to make a start, though I must be honest and say if you don't already know something about tarot, I'm not sure how much you could come up with about personality of the courts just by looking at these images. The Pages are all female, which is nice.

The colours in of the each suit roughly match. The Discs are more or less yellow (more money than earth if you ask me). Cups are blue. Swords vary a bit but tend to be reddish, and Rods are kind of dark blueish. Not particularly coded to the Elemental attributions, then. This is not really a problem for me. Sometimes stark colour-coding can be trite.

'Intuitive' Imagery

I've noticed a tendency for people to talk more about their 'intuition' when a card is a bit different from expected, or if the art work is more abstract, so that you have to look for images, rather like tea leaf reading. You get a bit of that in this deck in several cards, such as seven of Discs and One of Cups, One of Rods, Two of Discs, Ten of Discs and Four of Rods.

The Companion Book

Cilla Conway references Carl Jung, synchronicity, gestalt therapy and shadow work frequently throughout the book, and some have said this is quite a 'psychological' deck. After an introduction, Conway presents each card, two pages for each major with a blank page for your own 'intuitive notes', and for each minor, one and a half pages with half a page left for notes. 

Of particular interest to me are the 'dialogue' prompts for each card. These are meant to help us step into the card and experience it. Here are a couple of examples:

Major - Strength -- 'Dropping down into the image of the lion, connect with your own shadow (your fear, rage, greed, fury). To deny such emotions is to deny your own humanity. Try to draw or write about the type of creature that would feel such dark emotions. Don't edit or erase. If you find yourself wanting to do so, stop and look at what lies behind the urge, because that will probably be particularly revealing. Once you have done this, talk to your shadow. Seeing it as an ally, rather than repressing it, frees up its energy and allows your psyche to begin its transmutation into wholeness.' 

Minor - Nine of Rods -- 'When you drop into the image, discover his story by dialoguing with the figure, both in the third person and in the first. You may like to think about constancy and resolve, courage and self-defence. Is anything in your life so important that you would die in defence of it? In your dialogue with the figure as yourself, you may like to consider how you feel about his naked vulnerability. I found I hated the idea so much I gave him some weapons!' 


Overall, I find this deck quite pleasing. It was a happy accident that I encountered it last weekend and I look forward to working with it more over the years. 


  1. Very interesting thank you. This deck has now gone romping up my wish list. BB

    1. Yay! I hope you like it. It's on Amazon way cheaper than what I paid in person. Oh well! :D

    2. That's interesting to know... next pay day :) thank you BB

  2. Your 'bare norks' comment made me lol. Not something that bothers me ;) The companion book sounds really interesting!

    1. It's not bad. I enjoyed reading it. :)