A Review of The Moonchild Tarot
Starseed Designs, 2018
Review by Christiana Gaudet
I received The Moonchild Tarot as a gift from my friend and fellow tarotist Serena Fox. Serena attended a tarot class I gave at True Bikram Yoga in Madison, CT, and brought her Moonchild Tarot with her. I was impressed with the unique images. When I returned to Florida, my own copy of The Moonchild Tarot was waiting there for me. There’s a reason I often say that your tarot friends are your best friends!
Danielle Noel is the designer of The Starchild Tarot as well as The Moonchild Tarot. The Starchild Tarot is dedicated to those who identify as starseed. The Moonchild Tarot is for those who honor the moon as part of their spiritual path. While both decks are exquisitely illustrated, The Moonchild Tarot is definitely the appropriate deck for me.
The Moonchild Tarot comes in a lovely, sturdy box with a lift-off lid. This is a deck that will not require a special pouch. The bottom inside of the box is graced with an illustration of the moon, within which reads “You are the dance of light and shadow”.
The cards themselves are larger than usual and printed on heavy stock. The edges are matte gold. The backs are reversable, with a lovely design embossed in gold. The card faces have an appealing matte finish and are borderless. There are many details that make this deck exceptional in its presentation and artistry and justify its $65 price tag.
The box contains not only the tarot deck, but also a hefty 279-page fully illustrated booklet. It turns out that Danielle Noel is a good writer as well as a talented artist.
The booklet contains in-depth meanings for the cards, both upright and reversed, spreads, keywords, and something that is often irritatingly missing from tarot companion books; descriptions of each piece of artwork with some explanation of what the artist was trying to convey with their depiction of each card. The guidebook also includes tips for using the cards in magick and meditation, something I fully appreciate.
I have to say Danielle Noel loses me a bit with her writing tone. She waxes poetic in a way that doesn’t appeal to me, but I think will appeal to many tarot folks. I respected the deck enough to stomach her flowery writing style, until I got to her chapter on tarot history. She makes a case to validate theories of tarot history for which she admits there is absolutely no historical evidence. She says that she judges tarotists based on their take on tarot history. I do, too. I am uncomfortable with those who propagate myth as fact. To me that this the stuff of flat-earthers, fundamentalists, snake-oil peddlers, and those who subscribe to alternative facts. I believe that the current historical understanding of tarot is meaningful enough and doesn’t need to be dressed up with illusory tales. I use tarot to tell truth. Therefore, it feels important to me to clearly distinguish the power of myth from the power of fact when we speak of tarot’s origins. Does the artist’s fanciful take on tarot history take away from my enjoyment of the deck? It might, if the deck weren’t so lovely!
The Moonchild Tarot is fairly abstract. It is is worked in pastel colors contrasted with black and white, in a collage style that includes a variety of artistic techniques, including photography. The moon figures heavily in many of the images. Many cards also include Egyptian references. One of the things I love about this deck is how evocative the images are, while still honoring tradition. This balance makes this deck perfect for readers like me who use both interpretation and intuition to create an insightful reading, and for those who are trained in the Waite tradition. Not every card pictures people, but most do. The people are diverse in race, attire, and body size. To me, this is a huge selling point for a modern tarot deck.
The Knight of Pentacles sports a manbun. The Empress is dark-skinned and dreadlocked. The High Priestess is an Asian woman depicted in a way that honors the Waite tradition magnificently.
The Wheel of Fortune tips a hat to Waite by including the wheel from that card. I particularly love Death, which shows a woman dancing amid images of creatures who transform as part of their life cycle; moths, butterflies and snakes. Major Arcana 21 is called “The Universe” and is a striking silhouette of a robed woman holding a moon against the backdrop of a pastel galaxy.
The four suits are traditionally named and numbered. Some of the images are a step away from any traditional depiction I have seen, but in each case the artist explains the image, and each makes sense to me. Stonehenge is used to depict the Ten of Pentacles; I thought that was particularly clever.
The traditionally disturbing Swords cards convey mood without showing doom-and-gloom images, so this would be a great deck for squeamish clients.
The Moonchild Tarot includes three “bonus keys”, that is, extra cards. They are Shadow Work, Divine Wisdom and Moonchild. Normally, extra cards in a deck earn my ire just by existing. Yet, Danielle Noel does a great job explaining the cards and suggesting uses for them, to the point that I surprised myself by sort of liking them!
The cards are large and hard to shuffle. I am not sure how easily I could make The Moonchild Tarot my professional workhorse deck, but I am tempted to try because the images are so lovely and evocative. I also believe that in-person clients will really be impressed by these cards.
The Moonchild Tarot would be a fine first deck for a beginner, and a wonderful addition to any collection. It’s available directly from Daniel Noel’s company, Starseed Designs.
Images of The Moonchild Tarot by Danielle Noel, used with permission.