By Maria Distefano
The Circle of Life tarot is a deck printed on rounded cards. Although I thought the rounded cards was merely a gimmick, I loved the concept and absolutely needed it to be a part of my collection. As excited as I was about this deck, however, I never used it after I got it. Not even once.
For almost two years, this deck sat on my shelf without even a sample reading just to try it out. While the circular shape makes this deck hard to shuffle, I knew that wasn’t the reason for its disuse. The exact reason, however, was unknown because I didn’t spend time analyzing my lack of interest and merely shelved it away.
But for no particular reason, I was suddenly overcome with the urge to revisit this deck a few weeks ago. And, so, for the last two weeks, I’ve been using this deck for my daily one card draw.
After being better acquainted with this deck, I now understand that my initial reaction to this deck was that of discomfort. Being titled Circle of Life, I thought that the deck would be filled with a gentle and caressing nature. To my surprise and disappointment, it felt cold and uninviting instead. Many of the people depicted seems angry to the point of bitter.
Take the Empress and Emperor, for example. In the Circle of Life deck, the Empress if filled with mistrust and distain for society. Stripped naked and hidden in a cave, she is actively rejecting society’s standards of beauty and values. The Emperor is shown as a man who possesses nothing but power. His lesson is that ‘life at the top is lonely, and it takes a cruel hand.’ In my opinion, both cards portray the most negative aspects of these archetypes.
Strength is another example of a card that is depicted with a similar attitude. Instead of the famous image of a woman gently taming a lion, the woman in the Circle of Life deck is engaged in a life or death struggle with the beast.
As unpleasant as these images appears to be at first, however, after two weeks, I began to see value in them. I am reminded that every deck is an oracle and every oracle is unique. Some are filled with comfort and reminds us of the beauty of life. Some are witty and some are sarcastic. Others still are stern and unafraid to hurt our feelings; they tell the truth boldly and bluntly, leaving no room for misinterpretation. The Circle of Life is such a deck.
Let’s use the Strength card again as an example. My initial reaction was that of dislike because I thought that Strength is a gentle quality. After meditating on the image for some time, however, I began to see its value. It made me re-evaluate my beliefs about the virtue depicted in this card and now think that the Strength shown in the RWS deck is an ideal. Until we reach that level of grace, balance and confidence, this is how many of us deal with our inner demons – fighting tooth and nail.
Also, not all the cards have the same aggressive vibe. Many are simply different. These cards provide a similar interpretation as the standard RWS deck but either with twist, viewed from another lens or simply using different images to represent the same thing. For example, the 2 of Pentacles uses the image of a snake shedding its skin to depict transformation.
Having finally used the deck, I can now provide an honest feedback, which is that I really appreciate it. Having that said, I won’t use it often and I probably won’t use it for client readings. Instead, it’s good for those times when what I need isn’t comfort or advise, but un-sugar coated truth.