First Impressions: The Good Tarot by Colette Baron-Reid

Monday, 24 April 2017

Before learning to read tarot, I was using Colette Baron-Reid's Wisdom of the Oracle, which I find lovely to use and very insightful. When I saw she was bringing out a new deck in collaboration with the same artist I placed a pre-order, but I cancelled it after previewing a few of the cards at Hay House Ignite - The Magician looked too much like Santa, and I wasn't sure this deck was for me.

After being released a couple of weeks ago it has been popping up in my Instagram feed since then, showing lots of imagery which did appeal to me, however the reviews I found were less than consistent. For everyone who loved it, there was another condemning it - one Amazon review headlined 'NOT TAROT' stated "There is fluff and then there is the lint that sits on top of fluff - and that, my friends, is what the 'Good Tarot' by Colette Baron-Reid is, fluff-lint. I never hate decks but I actually hate this deck." Intriguing! 

The extreme reaction of early reviews turned out to be in my favour when I found an opened but unused deck for sale (for a steal!) and decided to make up my own mind. These are my first impressions.

The deck arrived in the same sturdy box as my other Hay House oracle decks and the cards are the same size too - 9 x 10.8 cm - bigger than a standard tarot deck. I say 'other' because, on Colette Baron-Reid's website and in the accompanying book, this is described as an oracle deck. Despite this, it follows the traditional 78-card Major/ Minor Arcana tarot structure with four elemental suits. I suspect this might be the reason it is a 'Marmite' product (people seem to either love it or hate it, with little in between). 

This unusual approach is addressed in some detail at various points in the guidebook, where Colette describes wanting to work with tarot in a non-conformist way so that it can be meaningful psychologically and spiritually, outside the realm of fortune telling (if you read this earlier post, you'll have guessed that this appeals to me). 
This deck was created to find solutions, choose direction, and gain understanding of any situation for the highest good of all, so working with it may be an experience unlike any you have had before in doing a tarot reading..... If you want to use this deck in the way you already know, you can do that too. Traditional tarot spreads and intentions will work with this deck... Even though imagining time differently and being accountable for your thoughts, feelings and beliefs may seem a bit daunting, the truth is it's how you claim your power. And you have lots of it!
I have seen various criticisms of this, and the title, from people who are keen to remind us that life isn't all 'Good', and that typical tarot cards have both light and dark sides. If you are familiar with Colette's other work, you'll know that she often talks about working "for the highest good of all" - this is not only reflected in the deck's moniker, but also some of the trump names (there is no Death, Devil or Judgement, etc), and in the guidebook. Here's why:
As you look at the images and read the words interpreting the message of the card, you will not think about the bad things that might happen to you and dwell on loss, grief, resentment anger or worry. Instead, you will be gently guided to experience the Light aspect of any message.
The meaning of each card is provided in the form of a few keywords and a short paragraph of present tense first-person affirmations*.  This is intended to help the reader "integrate the energy personally and immediately now". It's about being present - you are invited to consider that time is not linear, but that things happen in cycles and there is only ever 'now'. (I like this - it's the subject of my favourite book.) There is power in accepting this - it gives you choice and free will in the present-now, in order to manifest or 'co-create' the future-now. 

The accompanying book includes information on basic numerology and what each number tells us about the energy of the cards. For example, "Ace is the driving, primal, originating force of the element". Then it moves on to describe the trumps which are the described as "Symbolic Life Themes". Each card has its own page, with a small black and white image and affirmation paragraph.

Before each suit, there is an overview of the element it represents and indeed the suits are named after these, rather than the traditional Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. I imagine this will be easier for those completely new to tarot, removing one level of symbolism and making the cards immediately more accessible. 

The artwork is well-suited to each of the elemental suits, using appropriate colour-schemes. The digitally produced images include animals and lots of otherworldly people (and Santa-in-blue-wearing-spectacles). There is some ethnic diversity, with the majority of characters having more of a Caucasian appearance.

I've put together a selection of my favourite images below - do you notice the way the edges have been made to look as though they are well-used and scuffed? I did a double-take on first inspection. 

The deck is intended for one- or three-card draws, for use when you are feeling confused and wondering what's happening / what you're not seeing, and when you want to know about a situation and the flow of energy around that, respectively. It is suggested that a single clarifier card can be used with either of these. The deck isn't designed to be used with reversals (unlike Wisdom of the Oracle).

So who will this deck appeal to? I suspect it will be incredibly popular with Colette's legion of fans, and those who use her other oracle decks. I count myself amongst them, although I can't help thinking that for anyone without prior tarot knowledge, the guidebook may seem somewhat lacking, in comparison with the Wisdom of the Oracle guidebook (which is incredibly detailed), and may disappoint those who have only used that method of reading Colette's cards.

For those who are looking to develop their intuitive reading, there is quite a lot work with from the imagery, and it's helpful not having so much to fall back on in the book. It would be a good deck to use for meditation. Traditionalists who like the artwork might like to try using this as a standard tarot to see how they get along with it, with a background knowledge of the more traditional meanings, this would make a pretty deck to use for a sensitive querent, as there is nothing that looks dark or challenging. 

Those with smaller hands will probably struggle to overhand shuffle these thick cards unless they turn the cards to hold them at the sides, rather than the top and bottom. I had to riffle the corners to mix up the deck. So this is worth bearing in mind if it's likely to bother you.

First impressions then: for a deck in this price range, I think it represents value for money - it's well produced and nice to handle (apart from the size). The art is lovely and as I mainly read for myself it suits my purposes. I realise that it won't suit everyone, and it will very much depend if you're looking for a true tarot deck, or whether you like the idea of a tarot themed Oracle deck.

I'll let you know how we get along after daily use, in the meantime, please do let me know if you've tried The Good Tarot and what you think of it! 

* On the subject of the affirmations, it's worth noting that the deck was very much created to read for one-self, so you'll need to alter the given meanings if reading for someone else.


  1. It's interesting how her work is always so polarising - like you said it's marmite.

    I actually sit on the fence with this deck - the images are nice but I haven't gotten a lot of substance from the readings I've done for myself with it. Some of the air and water cards should've been switched around so I think the elements weren't quite spot on.

    Will have to keep working with it...

    Erin |

    1. Oh Erin, that's interesting - you're the first person I've seen who is on the fence about it. Your point about some of them being in the wrong element is very interesting. Thanks!



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