Neo Tarot created by Jerico Mandybur with artist Daiana Ruiz, is a book and deck combo, that are very much meant to stay together.
When I bought the book, I didn’t realize that there was a deck that was coming with it—I saw it as an excellent bonus and surprise. Thus, the fun surprise for you, dear reader, is that this is not just a book review, but a deck review as well. be
The deck and book come in a combined dark blue package. When you open it, the deck fits snuggly into its cardboard book bed, and the book itself is on the right side of the fold-out.
While this is handy for marketing purposes, a truly annoying aspect of this is that the book is attached to the packaging. The back cover of the book is the back cover of the packaging. I had read this in a review while I was waiting for the product, and thought maybe it was just a fluke. But no, it’s true, the book is a part of the fold out.
I couldn’t see why they would do this, until recently. I realized how much the book and deck belong together. And while they can’t stop the deck from going without the book, the book certainly can’t be sellable without the deck.
The deck itself is very visually appealing. It’s simple, but the shapes used to construct the images help to tap into the imagination, allowing the mind to construct it’s own images, seeing what it needs to see at the time a card is drawn.
I will say though that I find the cards difficult to shuffle. They’re a great size for what they are, but I have little hands, and one of my little hands suffers from an injury. I might just be able to shuffle the cards, since they are shorter than the standard Rider-Waite Tarot size, but they are wider, and I do have a hand injury that doesn’t enjoy the act of stretching too much. The cardstock is solid, and my little hand struggle to shuffle the cards, as a result. I think anyone with bigger hands would be able to manage it just fine, but mine don’t have the strength.
Neo Tarot is a book on self-care. The premise of the deck is that of self-care. While Mandybur, founder of Girlboss, explains what Tarot is and how it works in this 143-page, all color book, she also expresses how Tarot can be used as a therapeutic tool.
While divination is an intrinsic part of the card’s past and future, tarot speaks to a new generation through the language of self-discovery, self-actualization, and yes, self-care. It’s about becoming present, uncovering our potential, and getting to know your deepest truths…Neo Tarot is about forgiving ourself, cherishing yourself, and feeling yourself, as well as holding yourself accountable and never shrinking away from growth. Tarot isn’t always light and fluffy—if it was, it would be pointless. Likewise, self-care can be difficult—if it wasn’t, we’d all be doing it already. You’ll need as much self-compassion as you can muster. Lather it on, and let it sink in .p. 10
The book gives the many aspects and ways to use this Tarot deck, though does so briefly. It has the beinner reader in mind as it outlines the suits, the Court Cards, the concept of the Major and Minor Arcana, and the numbers.
There are four spreads/methods provided for reading the cards: the 1 card draw, the 3-card spread—which encourages the reader to apply their own meanings to the three cards along with providing some examples, the 6-Card Self-Car Pyramid (which will be the Sample Reading this weekend), and the Celtic Cross.
The book then goes into defining the cards.
The organization of the book is great.
While the Major Arcana are listed first in most tarot books, we’re flipping it here. This is because, as a new reader, the esoteric nature of the Major Arcana can be overwhelming at first, whereas the Minor Arcana’s 56 scenes depict experiences and reactions that we all have, as part of everyday life.
…In this book, the suits are ordered conceptually, from what I view as the easiest for beginners to grasp, to the slightly more heady.p. 14
With each definition of the card, there is a full-colored picture, a definition, a reversed definition, a self-care guide, an affirmation, an astrological association, and a list of theme keywords.
For example, the 3 of Pentacles gives the astrological sign/planet as Mars in Capricorn, the Themes as ‘Recognition, Collaboration, Capability, Common goals,’ and the affirmation as, ‘My integrity earns me reward and recognition.’ The self-care exercise reads:
Finds some old magazine and make a vision board that represents all your goals—those you’re ‘good at’ and those you haven’t even tried out yet. Cut and paste the images you choose into a collage; consider the types of people you’d like to meet that can help you make the goals they represent happen. Get on social media and find those people—in meetups, forums, groups, or by email. Introduce yourself and, if you’re game, share some of your passions.p. 34
The deck is borderless, and simplistic. I’ve already mentioned some of the aesthetics of it earlier.
I really enjoy the colors. While there are different shades of the same color, they don’t blend into each other. There are edges where one color changes from another.
The figures move in bendy-ways, which to me shows flowing natures, as well as representing the feminine attributes. Round shapes and curved edges have historically and esoterically been linked to the feminine, while straight edges with corners linked to the masculine.
This deck is beautifully diverse. Some of the figures come across as androgynous, some more masculine while others are more feminine, but each revealing a degree of the other within them. The actual skin tones are diverse as well, as are the hair styles.
While the latter sounds superficial, I want to point out that the hair in these cards ranges from a long black braid that sometimes acts as rope, to orange, to pink, to white. While there are all these different colors in the hair, not once do I see any degree of age in any of them. These figures are all as young or as old as the reader sees themselves, I believe.
While the cards hold true to some of the classic depictions—for example, the 8 of Wands shows 8 Wands in the air, the Aces all have a hand holding the representative of the suit, the 2 of Pentacles has someone juggling two Pentacles, etc.—the design of the cards lends very easily to the client-leading readings, as I mentioned before.
In trying out the techniques put forth by Katrina Wynne in An Introduction to Transformative Tarot Counselling, I found this deck to be extremely useful. The person I was practicing with picked out things I hadn’t noticed, and were able to let their imagination go with it.
However, if trying to use this deck as a therapeutic method, it might not be best to use it say as the book intends. What I mean by this is that if you want to put to use the self-care exercises in a professional session, you either want to memorize all the suggestions, or not do them at all. It doesn’t really look good for a professional reader to be referring to a book during a reading. However, I think there are ways around it—perhaps in a follow-up email, perhaps, and with proper citation.
I actually spent a lot of time with this deck before I interviewed it. I felt like I already knew the answers to the questions purely by the nature of what the deck was creative for. However, I decided to do the interview for consistency, and I was no disappointed.
1. Tell Me About Yourself – 10 of Wands
The deck tells me that it will deal with the problem or work that is directly in front of it. That is, it will reflect to me what I need to do right now. With everything I might be carrying to the end goal, I still have to go one step at a time, and this deck will direct those steps.
2. What is Your Strength? – The Sun
While telling me the steps to get there, the deck is going to focus on the good, get me to focus on the good, and get me to my goal. Step by step. The goal will happen.
3. What is Your Weakness? – The Lovers
There are two ways I’ve interpreted this:
4. What are You Here to Teach Me? – 9 of Swords
To process what’s going on in my subconscious and heal from it. Perfect, exactly what needs to be done. Exactly what I would expect a care-intensive deck to focus on as well.
5. How Can We Collaborate? – 9 of Cups
Delving in and focusing on gratitude in order to see things more clearly. Gratitude for abundance, and remembering that even the small things that don’t seem like much are still something.
6. What is the Result of Our Relationship? – King of Wands
Mastery. The King of Wands is the Master of his element, the master of energy, activity, and creativity. He is grounded in his passion. Surely this should be the ultimate goal for me, and thus the perfect relationship with this deck.