Review: Modern Witch Tarot Deck

Review by Serendipity Wyrd | Website | Instagram | YouTube | Facebook

About the Creator

Lisa Sterle is a comic artist & illustrator from Columbus, OH.  According to her bio, her “mission is to create narratives of women discovering their own magic & strength from within.” 

About the Modern Witch Tarot Deck

“You are a badass being full of life, love & possibilities.  Through this deck, may you find a path to your best self.” – Lisa Sterle, extra (80th) card.

The official blurb about the Modern Witch Tarot states the “Tarot has never looked more sophisticated and contemporary! Acclaimed illustrator Lisa Sterle marries the symbolism of the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck with youthful, stylish characters and items from our modern lives. With its diversity and all-female celebration of womanhood, this vibrant, fashion-forward, and colorful deck brings fun and fresh air to the tarot!”

I couldn’t agree more! 

Many of my own complaints about the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck (lack of diverse figures, aggressive color palette) are answered beautifully in the Modern Witch Tarot Deck.  One of the greatest strengths of this deck is the variety of skin tones, body shapes, gender expression found throughout the illustrations.  This deck offers images that reflect real, modern people while maintaining the feel, positioning, and emotion of the traditional RWS imagery.

The Packaging:The Modern Witch Tarot is packaged in a solid, two-part box.  Removing the top portion of the box reveals the cards, a thin piece of cardstock packaging to prevent shifting, and a 56 page hardcover booklet. The booklet features a colorful exterior cover and grayscale interior.  The book and cards fit easily back into the sturdy box for storage between readings.  For more details on the measurements for the packaging and cards, check out the Deck Specifications at the end of the article.

The Cards:
These cards are THICK and glossy.  Fresh out of the box, some cards did stick to one another, presumably due to the glossy finish.  Moving through the deck card by card, then shuffling, removed the tendency to stick.  All cards have a simple white border around the front and back illustrations, with no ornamental edging.  The card back illustrations are mostly symmetrical with minor differences in the locations of clusters of halftone dots (reminiscent of early comic prints). 

Initially, the cards are very stiff, even side-shuffling proved difficult.  The length and thickness of the cardstock may create some continued difficulty in shuffling. Riffle shuffling and bridging has proven to be a challenge for me with the full deck, even after several readings.  I found it useful to split the deck into two piles and riffle shuffle each pile separately (at least three times) before bringing (or side-shuffling) the entire deck back together. Using a “wash” technique to randomize the cards on a large reading surface is a one method I will be using for readings with this deck.

While most tarot decks stop at the traditional 78 cards, the Modern Witch Tarot includes two additional cards, “Everything Is Fine” (and alternate version of the Ten of Swords), and an inspirational message card which was quoted at the beginning of this article.

Art & Images

The art style is modern illustration reminiscent of comic art with a vibrant, colorful palette.  The colors are consistent throughout the deck, as is this clean modern style.

The imagery follows the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) format.  The position of the figures and their props echo the positioning found throughout RWS decks. Each card, other than the Aces, clearly depicts a figure in a scene.  The Minor Arcana are all fully illustrated which allows for intuitive readings of the deck.

The Modern Witch Tarot is a HUGE upgrade from the traditional RWS which features virtually zero diversity besides stereotypically male and female figures.  In this deck, a variety of gender expressions are represented along with an array of skin tones, hair color, body shape, and some age variation.  Non-binary, queer, and femme expressing people are all depicted.  Notably absent are obviously male figures.

The symbolism is inline with the traditional RWS symbolism while including modern tools and settings with diverse figures.

Does the booklet provide clear, concise instructions?

Yes! The booklet contains the following sections: the Foreword by Vita Ayala, an Introduction by Lisa Sterle, Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, Reading the Tarot, Spreads, and Extra Cards.  No reversal interpretations are provided or mentioned in the booklet.

A brief description of the Major Arcana is offered before launching into interpretations.   Each Major Arcana is given a full page including a small grayscale illustration of the card’s image along with the story and interpretation of the card. 

The Minor Arcana section offers a one page empowering explanation of these cards starting with, “If a Witch knows the Elements then they know the Minor Arcana.”  The overview of the Minor Arcana provides a glimpse into their structure, elemental associations, and keywords for the suit.  This section continues with short interpretations for each card starting with the suit of wands, then cups, swords, and finally pentacles. 

Two pages are devoted to “Reading the Tarot” an eight step instruction guide that moves through cleansing and preparing your cards for use into reading and asking any additional questions that may arise. 

Six pages are dedicated to spreads starting with a simple one card draw, options for four card spreads, the six card “Four Powers” spread, and the nine card “Inner Wheel” Spread.
The booklet ends with the final page explaining the inclusion of the two extra cards, “Everything is Fine” and the empowering inspiration card. 

Other books available for this deck are A Modern Witch Tarot Journal and Modern Witch Coloring Book.

Ease of Learning & Memorizing

This deck is accessible to the new tarot user who wants to work with the essence of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck while having a diverse display of figures interacting with modern settings and items.  No specific knowledge is needed to begin working with the Modern Witch Tarot.  A background in the traditional meanings of the RWS system will make this deck incredibly easy to read but is not required to understand what is happening in each card.

The Modern Witch Tarot is very similar in layout to other RWS clones.  Where it differs (in such a wonderful way) is in the depiction of the figures and their modern settings.  Experienced RWS readers will feel at home with the illustrations of this deck.

All major and minor arcana are fully illustrated making intuitive readings with this deck possible right out of the box.  No memorization or book interpretations are necessary for working with this deck.

Deck Specifications:

Publisher: Sterling Ethos

Number of Cards: 80 total.  The 78 traditional cards of the tarot + 2 extras.

Publication Date: November 5, 2019Package Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.5 x 5 inches (7.6 x 6.6 x 12.7 cm)
Approximate Card Measurements: 2.9 x 4.8 inches (7.3 x 12.1 cm).

The Modern Witch Tarot may be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About Serendipity Wyrd: 

Serendipity Wyrd is a professional tarot reader, intuitive witch, and content creatrix who specializes in divination and working with deity.  A denizen of social media, Serendipity is the lead admin in The Witch With Me Community facebook group where they create engaging content while encouraging new (and experienced) witches in their craft.  They own and operate their own group, Wyrd Divination, focused on reader development and exploring different methods of divination.  

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