Illuminating the Prophecy

I have always loved the concept of tarot cards. They are beautiful, and intriguing, and magical (not literally, guys. 😉 my humble opinion) but despite my long-distance admiration I never invested in owning a deck of my own until very recently.

If you’ve read the Scorpio Races or the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy then you know of Maggie Stiefvater, author extraordinaire. She’s funny, sharp as nails and always wears black. She also writes what she loves without shame or fear. I don’t like all of her books. But I love some of them. And I love her.

If you’ve read the Raven Cycle, also by Mrs. Maggie, then you know the tarot of which I speak. The tarot makes an appearance several times in those books, and Stiefvater, brilliant son-of-a-gun that she is, decided to make it happen in real life. She called it “The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot” for obvious reasons and it is a stunningly beautiful deck. Each card displays art of her own creation (because she’s sickeningly good at everything), carefully chosen to reflect her own interpretation of the cards.

Enough words. Let me show you:


Hideous, right?

As you can see from the pictures, the tarot deck comes with a little book titled “Illuminating the Prophecy” that helpfully explains Stiefvater’s approach to her deck, how she sees tarot in general, how to do a reading, and lists each card with a picture, its meaning, and her reasons for the art she chose to go with it. In some ways, I love this book more than the deck itself, because she never writes anything—even what is, in essence, an instruction booklet—without making it into art.


I am all about her view that the tarot is a story. Seeing this before ever doing a reading of my own was unbelievably helpful. The deck is not a series of individual cards that you pin with one specific meaning and then call it good…they weave together and create something whole. It’s quite lovely to look at the tarot this way, and also quite fun.

I also appreciate her down-to-earth understanding of the tarot. Like I said, it’s not magical. It can give you some stunningly accurate readings, but there’s nothing mystical in this. The whole concept is based on the fact that you often know, in some deep layer, maybe, the answer to the question you ask. The cards simply draw on your intuition and teach you things about yourself, or gently nudge you to do what you already know you needed to do. They are an incredibly helpful tool in illuminating (see what I did there) the things you need to hear. But in the end, it’s all just You. And You make up the rules.


She also uses the book to explain the only three spreads she uses: a single card reading, a three card reading, and a ten card reading. The single card reading is helpful for a quick, simple question, or for a “weather report,” as she says. The three card reading (the one I use the most) is best for direct questions or for readings when you are pressed for time. The ten card reading (my personal favorite) takes a bit longer and can be an almost exhausting experience of self-reflection, but is useful for more complex or ambiguous questions.


The rest of the little book is filled with full page descriptions of each card, and they are a lot of fun to read.


This turned into a tarot deck review, but it’s also just a general fistbump to creativity in general. There are so many ways to tell a story, and tarot is just one of them. If you’ve ever thought of trying tarot, give it a go! There are hundreds of decks to choose from, and thousands of stories to tell ;).

Are you a fan of tarot cards? Got any stories to share? Let me know, I’d love to hear them!


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