Doreen Virtue. A name (or practically institute) you either love or hate. Whatever side you’re on, her decks tend to bring out some pretty spicy discussions on the average forum. And with reason, because what she produces does have her very specific stamp. Virtue has built up an empire with her Angel Oracle decks. The Angel Tarot, in collaboration with Radleigh Valentine, is one of the newer additions, complete with possible certification. So, is it worth your hard earned [add currency]’s? All I can say is: I am conflicted.
As with every deck, one of the first questions asked (at least by me) is: how is the card stock? Well, they won’t die on you any time soon. The cards have silver edges, are pretty sturdy, but also really huge. With smaller hands almost impossible to shuffle, and I would guess the ones amongst you with bigger hands might have an issue too. They are glossy, so can be a little sticky. In a way it makes this deck quality stock, but I guess big and thick isn’t always a pleasure (yes, I went there).
The Angel Tarot has keywords and key sentences on the cards, which on the one hand makes it easier for beginners to work with them, but on the other can be distracting if you work intuitively or are advanced. Although there were a few keywords I could add to my list, I’d rather read them only in the little booklet.
Virtue & Valentine adapted most of the majors -name wise and symbolically-and I think that in too many cases they lean towards the ‘positive’. We all have a shadow side and so does every card + vice versa. To call one of the most intense cards XVI Life Experience and describe it as ‘a powerful revelation that leads to change’ and ‘a moment both of freedom and awakening’ is not doing its deeper meaning any justice. Nor this it point out the possible (temporary) chaotic and even destructive events in a querent’s psyche or life. However, she does get high points for naming the Queen of Swords independent, realistic and witty, instead of that ‘bitter divorced woman’ many readers still cling to. But that’s a personal annoyance if there ever was any…
Elements and angels
Instead of suit names, the Angel Tarot consists of elements. And this does give the deck a little more depth. Virtue has color coded every minor arcana which instantly gives you an overview (in a spread) what is dominant and what is lacking – which is something I use in my readings. Only the majors have practically the same color as Air/Swords and that can be a little confusing. Like I said: the majors are quite different and sometimes have the name of archangels. If you don’t know much about the angels you can turn to the quite decent little booklet, but if you’re really into the deck you can always buy the Big Book of Angel Tarot, a good addition if you’re planning on using these cards more.
The suits can be quite similar to Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) and at other times completely deviate from it. The latter being the most obvious in the swords. I don’t mind cards/decks having their own symbolism, I even applaud and welcome that in new decks, but while it works really good in some cards in the swords the adaption fails most of the time.
When it comes to the artwork it is always subjective, but in my opinion some cards are really beautiful and have loads of symbolism, others I just do not get. Why? Well, the image oozes the opposite of what that card is saying in the Waite-Smith (RWS). Put a ‘standard’ 8 of Swords next to the 8 of Air in de AT and you’ll see what I mean. It’s that I know its meaning and I can read the keywords, but otherwise I would have never guessed or felt it. So in that case the image doesn’t help me at all. Seeing that the Angel Tarot follows the RWS-tradition in its meanings that is strange. And esthetically some of the faces are horrific (Lovers, King of Water). Looking at the complete deck, the artwork is nice and I can imagine fans of cute & fairy-like art will like it.
I have noticed that people who are afraid of hearing their answer or view Tarot in a more negative way prefer this deck. If they see it, they would most likely choose it. But to be honest, I’d rather take any discomfort or fear away by using a ‘normal’ neutral Tarot deck. Perhaps this deck might serve as an introduction to tarot cards and you can later move on to decks that do show the darker and more realistic side of life. And before anyone boo’s: I am well aware of the fact that this is my personal opinion.
All in all, the Angel Tarot looks pretty, has some interesting adaptions and you’ll get fairly accurate answers from it. But it’s mostly sugar coated. Logical, since that’s exactly what Doreen Virtue intended to do; have a deck that looks at life from a loving and positive way. A nice thought, but that thought is really incorporated in this deck and in its artwork, which sometimes makes it confusing. and Besides, these cards would – in the way that I read tarot – definitely not work for self awareness, therapy or personal growth. If you’re looking for shadow sides and straightforwardness, keep that wallet in your bag a little while longer. If softness and positivity is something you’re looking for, make this one your next purchase.
Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine recorded a short video with a 1-card reading tip. Check it out!
|Author or artist||Publisher||Publication|
|D. Virtue & R. Valentine/S. A. Roberts||Hay House||2012|