If you love multicultural goddess-themed tarot or oracle decks, you’re going to love Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Tarot. To me, it’s just very iconic of where the goddess movement and intersectional third wave feminism was at in the late 90s, early 2000s.
The artwork is soft, with low contrast and low saturation, light values, and if I had to speculate on the medium used, I would guess watercolors and maybe some colored pencil. The only male representation in this deck are in the Princes and Kings, and that was done intentionally by the artist. The Goddess Tarot is a “celebration of the Divine Feminine” (quoted from its LWB) with drawings of goddesses from around the world. Writes Waldherr, “My intention in creating the art and design for The Goddess Tarot was to create a tarot deck that would speak directly to women using our stories, while incorporating the archetypal power and symbols of the tarot.
Something I admire so much about the illustration work here is the depiction of texture. If you can zoom in close, even the sandy brown border conveys texture. As for the border, I think that can be a point of debate. Personally, I like the many borders or frames, and how detailed each one is. Others might prefer a more direct focus on the tarot artwork. Waldherr’s style reminds me a bit of Lisa Hunt (The Fairy Tale Tarot; Fairy Tale Lenormand). I love the illustrated framing around the tarot card image, where in the Majors, that illustrated frame reflects the culture that the goddess is from or give you insights into the goddess’s primary associations. Then there are four detailed scenes for the four suits. It’s got a bit of an illuminated manuscript aesthetic, which is really pronounced in the above Key XX: Judgement, Gwenhwyfar.
There are Four Paths of the goddesses that this deck facilitates your work with, and they correspond to the four elements and four suits in the Minor Arcana. The Suit of Cups is the Path of Venus; Suit of Staves is the Path of Freyja; Suit of Swords is the Path of Isis; and Suit of Pentacles is the Path of Lakshmi. These Four Paths are led by four selected Major Arcana cards– the four cards featuring these goddesses. That would be Key I. Magic: Isis, which is associated with the Suit of Swords. Key IV. Power: Freyja is associated with the Suit of Staves (Wands). Key VI. Love: Venus is associated with the Suit of Cups and Key X. Fortune: Lakshmi is associated with the Suit of Pentacles. The LWB gives the card meanings for both upright and reversed, and I still remember studying that LWB and trying to memorize as much as I could about the goddesses, since many of them were unfamiliar to me back then. Once upon a time I knew this deck by heart. Name any card in the tarot and I could picture what that card looks like in the Goddess Tarot.
—Benebell Wen, Tarot author and reviewer