i’ve been following isabella rotman’s work for years, loving her illustrations, digital comics, and beautiful pins - it seems like every time i notice a clever little portrait for a podcast or enjoy a brilliant doodle, i realize it’s isabella’s and love her work all over again. so when she announced that she was launching a tarot deck project on kickstarter i backed it immediately - and yesterday, the gorgeous this might hurt tarot finally arrived.
this deck is designed to be a modern interpretation of the rider-waite-smith cards, viewing the original symbolism and imagery through today’s lens. as someone that’s never been particularly drawn to the “original” tarot deck, i love this version of the classic, traditional cards - they feel both powerful and accessible, pulling out the important imagery and grounding it in a more modern perspective. the cards themselves are thin and flexible, easy to shuffle but with enough weight to feel luxurious. each deck comes packaged in a beautiful black and gold tuck box, with a small but clever and thorough guidebook that fits inside. preorders include a choice of edging - i chose holographic black, but the gilded gold also looks beautiful.
the illustrations are both clear and clever, changing horses out for motorcycles and putting people of all ages, races, sexual identities, and body types into the cards. more traditional decks tend to highlight white, cis, straight, wealthy folks, leaving the rest of us struggling to find ourselves in the images - but this deck beautifully brings all types of people into these archetypes, making it easy to identify with and understand.
my beloved deck interview spread (created by beth at little red tarot) has been getting a real workout lately, but it’s so fascinating to me to see the similarities and differences in the decks i’ve picked up recently. my interviews with both the muse tarot and the soul cards tarot also featured a lot of pentacles, which has been an ongoing theme for me this month - but while those two decks both felt like very earthy decks to me, this one feels like fire and inspiration, in spite of three more pentacles cards. i love the balance that i feel in this deck, the way that it feels like a set of cards that will steady me and keep me focused.
tell me about yourself. what is your most important characteristic? nine of cups. a card of contentment and fulfillment, the nine of cups so often speaks to joy and deep internal satisfaction, while still maintaining that potent sense of wishing for more. we find here a balance between enjoying all that we have created, feeling pleasure and stability in the relationships we’ve formed and the emotional support we’ve found - and yet there’s a sense that our work is not yet finished, that more is to come. in this position, the nine of cups tells me that i’ll find both support and encouragement in this deck, that these cards will remind me of everything i have built while still making space for bigger dreams, larger hopes, intentional growth.
what are your strengths as a deck? knight of pentacles. taking a break from movement but planning out every step of the journey, the knight of pentacles is thoughtful and resourceful, pushing towards goals with steady focus and incredible patience. and while the fire i’m getting from this deck is fast moving and eager to create, this knight knows that growth cannot be rushed, and that moving with care and intention can help progress feel more permanent. this deck will excel at helping me stay focused, pay attention to details, and take satisfaction in each stage of a project or goal.
what are your limits as a deck? ten of wands. a perfect complement to the knight of pentacles, the ten of wands is what happens when we say yes to too many things, refuse to prioritize, spread ourselves too thin. in this card we find ourselves carrying far more than we can handle, limiting our growth and progress on everything, and ultimately accomplishing very little. this deck may not be as helpful for me when i’m trying to do too much, when i’m ignoring my instincts to take a step back from something or leave something behind.
what are you here to teach me? ace of pentacles. more earth energy, and in a beautiful way - the ace of pentacles is that first choice to move forward, planting a seed and making the commitment to tend and nurture it to full growth. this deck can teach me how to set long term goals, how to think about my career in a way that’s more wholistic instead of just jumping from project to project. i may also find myself relishing new opportunities or learning how to fully appreciate and take advantage of them when using these cards.
how can i best learn and collaborate with you? ace of wands. in spite of all this calming, focused earth energy, the ace of wands asks that i bring fire, energy, passion, inspiration, and ideas to my readings. this is a card of yes, bringing endless potential and powerful creativity - and in spite of the warnings from earlier cards about not taking on too much and staying focused on bigger, future goals, this is a deck that wants me to come with enthusiasm and excitement, to trust my instincts, to be ready for a flash of encouragement.
what is the potential outcome of our working relationship? two of pentacles. following the theme of the entire reading, the potential outcome of this connection is balance. this card speaks to our abilities to navigate complicated sets of tasks and responsibilities, to the ways that we can juggle many projects at once - and yet it’s not easy or simple to do, and isn’t often sustainable. by staying focused on planting seeds that matter, by not taking on too much, by moving with grace and purpose, and by honoring the creativity and inspiration i can bring to readings, this deck can help me be organized, prioritize my work, and celebrate everything i’m accomplishing.
i absolutely love this reading, and the clear messages that i’m finding in these cards. having never worked with the rider-waite-smith deck i was concerned that the meanings would feel confusing or scattered, yet i find these cards easy to work with, pulling me in with vivid illustrations and bringing enough symbolism and iconic imagery to keep me focused.