Christiana Gaudet

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Shadowscapes Tarot Sneak Peek Preview of a Deck Now Published

Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Submitted to Tarot World Magazine by Christiana Gaudet

My recent telephone conversation with artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law left me with an understanding of her forthcoming Shadowscapes Tarot, and an appreciation of what it is to be an artist.

I have a fascination with Tarot artists. I wonder about the drive and commitment it takes to complete a 78-piece body of work. I think about the research needed to honor the ancient traditions, especially for an artist who has no real background in Tarot. I admire the imagination and spirituality it takes to add something new to the world of Tarot.

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law has all of that and more. She approaches her soon-to-be-completed Tarot project with the systematic precision that made her a successful computer programmer in the past, and that gave her the courage to leave that behind and become what she was always destined to be; a full-time artist. As she said to me in our conversation and states on her website, “there is the part of me that just loves to draw and paint for its own sake. Forget meanings and high-minded interpretations...when it comes down to it, I just have a need to draw and create.”

Pui-Mun Law defines herself as a fantasy artist. Like many modern Tarot artists she has a successful enterprise illustrating collectable cards games (CCG) and role playing games (RPG). Her credits include Warlord and Legend of Five Rings. She also designs jewelry and greeting cards, which are available for purchase on her website, Shadowscapes.com.

Shadowscapes is the name of her website, and also the name of her Tarot deck. She defines Shadowscapes as something different from the fantasy work that she is commissioned to design. For her, Shadowscapes represent “a way of viewing something with a different mindset. Shadows of reality that are almost grasped, but at the same time dancing in a dream-world made of light and absence of light.”

The Shadowscapes Tarot, which is now very close to completion, has in it many elements that are common to her fantasy work. Dragons, foxes, Celtic knotwork, mystical creatures and mythical beings are all a part of this Tarot.

Painted in watercolor, this deck is ethereal, and not at all as dark as its name might imply.

The images are somewhat non-traditional, but certainly easy to understand. The Fool is a beautiful woman accompanied by a fox, standing on the very edge of a pillar. Birds fly around her, holding in their mouths the ribbons of her gown. She is about to take the leap that begins her journey. The Wheel of Fortune is illuminated by beams of light, and is a colorful Celtic knot. Death is a flaming phoenix.

Some of the cards on the website are accompanied by text that tells the story of the Tarot characters in language that is both fanciful and meaningful. When it is published, the accompanying book will surely be as much of a treasure as the deck itself.

The Major Arcana follows traditional naming conventions, Strength is card 8 and Justice is 11. The Minor Arcana is also quite traditional in its format, though not in its artwork. Pui-Mun Law, in her systematic way, began by designing the Aces, and has worked her way through the Minor Arcana in numerical order. The only cards left to be designed are a few of the Court cards, which are traditionally named as Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings.

Not all the Minor Arcana cards show the specific number of suit icons as more traditional decks do, but each card is identifiable as a member of its suit. Some Minor Arcana cards feature people, some feature only animals, and some include both people and animals.

The suit of Wands has an almost desert-like quality, reminding me of a fanciful version of the African savannah. It is colored in reds and browns. Lions and foxes are prominent throughout the suit.

The suit of Pentacles is colored in greens, blues and gold, and features dragons and lizards on some of the cards. It is perhaps not as grounded or earthy as I expect Pentacles to be, but I love that some of the Pentacle icons are drawn in Pui-Mun Law’s signature Celtic style.

Cups, of course, are watery, and lend themselves beautifully to the expressive style of the deck. Icons are shown as bejeweled chalices or crystal clear fishbowls. Graceful fish swim their way through the blue, white and lavender cards.

A wonderful thing about this deck is there are few truly disturbing images. The traditionally dark suit of Swords is illustrated in a contrast of rich and pale colors. Birds of all types grace this suit. While the Three of Swords does show a wounded Swan, the typically devastating Ten of Swords is an image of a woman falling through the air. The meaning is the same, but the image would be much more palatable for a timid client.

And there I’ve said it. While Shadowscapes Tarot is definitely an art deck that collectors will swoon over, it will also be a serviceable reading deck for anyone who enjoys fantasy images and beautiful colors. It is a deck that will attract new students and seduce the clients of professional readers.

To order art prints of the finished cards, and to order the Shadowscapes Tarot as soon as it becomes available, visit the website at http://www.shadowscapes.com.