Deck Review: Influence of the Angels Tarot

Sunday, 6 January 2019

This new deck had completely slipped beneath my radar until last week, but as soon as I saw Influence of the Angels by (Games designer) Jody Boginski Barbessi and her sister Karen Boginski, I knew it was EXACTLY what I'd been looking for. This is a 'true' Tarot with an angel theme - it has all 78 cards I would expect to find in a Tarot deck, with their common/traditional names, nothing watered down, and plenty of detail in the artwork. And what beautiful artwork it is!

On first impression, this is quite unlike any of my other US Games decks, which commonly come in thin cardboard flip-boxes with a small stapled-paper pamphlet. This arrived in a thick (good quality) cardboard box and was accompanied by a beautifully produced 184-page book. 

The cards are a standard Tarot size, with a shiny gloss finish and a gilt edge. They feel much more expensive than most of my other US Games decks, although at the time of purchase (from Amazon UK) they were around the same price. 

Click to view enlarged image
The images are classic-inspired fine art which is largely in the Smith Waite tradition, at least for the Pips and the Major Arcana, although the latter features named angels posing as the different archetypes. The guidebook includes information about these angels and it's clear that each one has been very carefully selected to illustrate the archetype. As an example, the Empress (pictured in the image above) is Omael - the "guardian angel of fertility and reproduction. She is known for her love and protection of animals and the natural world."

Although the Pip images are similar in theme to Pamela Colman-Smith's art in the Rider-Waite deck, there are some differences. The Five of Wands is a good example. It shows the typically ambiguous boys with sticks but in this case, they are being watched over by a concerned angel. The angelic message that accompanies this card is "When faced with a conflict, sometimes it's better to just walk away. Choose your battles." 

This is not the only card with an angelic message - every card has one. Which brings me onto the guidebook, the most comprehensive and genuinely useful in-box book I've seen for a mass-produced deck. 

For each card in the Major Arcana and the pips, it includes information about the angel, the symbols, a direct meaning and shadow meaning, plus the angelic message which brings it all together. For the Court Cards, there is an additional section. Each Page, Knight, Queen and King is based on a real historical figure and there is a page or two devoted to each of them, and their relevance to the card. 

Not only is this interesting (I learned a lot about historical figures by reading through the book!) it addresses one of the most common problems with learning the Tarot - typically, the Court cards are the most tricky to identify with and learn. Additionally, there are two extra cards in the deck which act as a reminder of general suit and number meanings. For all of these reasons, I think this would be a wonderful deck for someone who is just starting out with Tarot, but experienced readers will love it too!

I could wax lyrical about this deck for some time, but in an attempt to offer a balanced view,  I tried to restrain myself and also to identify the things I like about it the least. I only came up with one thing - the cards are slippery (I typically prefer a matt finish) and I got quite a few 'jumpers' when shuffling and they are tricky to photograph. That's it. 

If you're into Tarot and angels, or even if you're a beginner looking for a beautiful and well-produced deck, I think you will enjoy this. If you have it already, let me know what you think in the comments below. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a collage of some of the cards I particularly like. 

Influence of the Angels is widely available from your favourite stockist, and in the UK from Amazon, or in the US/worldwide from US Games and

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