Blessed Be and Merry Meet!
Welcome to a new deck review! The chosen deck for this review is the Guardian of the Night Tarot by MJ Cullinane (Margaux Jones). Her first tarot deck, the Crow Tarot, was a big hit in the community. She has several tarot and oracle decks. The Guardian of the Night tarot was released in July of this year.
When MJ Cullinane started revealing the cards that she was creating for this deck on Instagram, I was definitely intrigued. I felt the artwork was absolutely beautiful, the animal symbolism was well done, but did I really need a new deck? Over the years, I’ve collected many decks on my journey and each one is special to me. Because of this, I try to limit myself on buying new decks. They have to really call out to me.
Admittedly, it was the Orcas that sold me on it (King and Queen of Cups). Orcas are my favorite animals. They make me emotional and I love their connection to Mothers, dreams, wolves, family, communication, strength, and teamwork. I had yet to find a deck (although I’m sure there are some out there) that contain Orca imagery. When I saw the King and Queen of Cups (I might have let out a ‘fangirl’ type squeal)... I said to myself, “I HAVE to buy this deck!” I’m so glad I did. I will be forever grateful to the author for including the Orcas. Favorite animals aside, this deck is sooo worth it, especially if you are a lover of animals and tarot. It is full of beauty and mystery.
Okay, down to business…
Artwork: Dreamlike, magical, visual movement, absolutely beautiful
Cardstock: Sturdy but not too thick, flexible, smooth and paper soft (but not waxy)
Shuffle Feeling: For medium size or small hands, it can take some getting used to. There is a nice papery sound when shuffling.
The Guidebook: Great combination of Tarot interpretation and animal symbolism. Love it.
Symbols of Note Throughout the Deck:
Flora & Fauna (Land, Sea, and Sky): those that thrive in the night, or use it to their advantage
Eyes: Look closely at the artwork, usually in the background, there are hidden eyes. Symbols of intuition, seeing, and guidance.
Stars/Fireflies: Lighting the Path, Guiding you home, Magic
Crowns of Starlight: Kings and Queens
Artwork & Symbolism
Each one of these cards is like walking in a dream. While some aspects of the symbols are clear, some of them seem strange and out of place, much like the way that our subconscious speaks to us when we are dreaming. While the color schemes are darker to give the feel of the world at night, elements of bright lights in silver and gold give it a magical, Fae quality. Also, there is always some bit of wavy movement in each card, which seems to offer more connection to the state of dreams.
The author states in the introduction, “The Guardian of the Night Tarot calls animals who thrive in the dark to be your companions, animals who use the night sky to their advantage, to be your trusted guides as you navigate your way through even the darkest of times.” This idea comes alive in the artwork. The Owl, for instance which can be found throughout the deck, is a creature who can see in the dark and move with stealthy silence. Throughout the ages, the Owl has been a messenger from the other side, they have been said to help us see into mysteries, detect falsehoods, and travel between realms. Obviously, this is an excellent choice for a deck such as this one.
What I really enjoy about this deck is the variety of creatures. Owl, Snake, Spider, Wolf, Fox, Lion and Bat are common throughout the world of tarot, but MJ Cullinane took her selection to a whole new level. There are some really interesting creatures that you will not often see in a tarot deck (oracle, maybe). For instance the Pangolin in the 4 of Cups, and ORCAS! For the Queen and King of Cups. One that I really appreciate is the Warbler and Cowbird in the 10 of Swords. Alligators, Cows, Barracuda, Salmon, the mythical Jackal, even the Opossum are represented. High five and standing ovation for the creative nuance with the choice of animals and symbolism.
I love it when guidebooks go into detail, especially about the imagery and their own perspective on what the cards mean to them. MJ Cullinane does not disappoint. It’s so interesting to consider other viewpoints, whether they align or differ from my own. I’ve often wished that I could have an in depth discussion with the authors of certain tarot decks. When the author takes time (or has the means) to create a decent guidebook, it's almost like being able to talk to them and see bits of their personality come through.
This Guidebook has a brief introduction, some ideas on preparing a deck, a few ideas for spreads, then the interpretations of the Major Arcana, followed by the Minor Arcana. One section that I appreciate that I don’t often find is a section titled, “Questions from the Major Arcana”. Basically, the idea is to ask yourself the particular question when a certain card is pulled.
Example: “Justice: Are the decisions you make today based on logic and wisdom, or are you letting expectations cloud your judgment?”
Personally, I think this is a nice touch and can certainly be helpful for people who are just starting out with tarot. It would also be helpful when you find yourself blocked and the message isn’t quite clear (it happens to the best of us).
What I like about her interpretations is that she writes them in a way that feels personable. The vibe is comfortable, like she’s talking to a friend. She adds personal stories in there as well. With her interpretation of the 10 of Swords, she described a documentary she watched during the pandemic that inspired her art for that card. I’m pretty sure I watched that same documentary. So when I first saw the 10 of Swords, before reading the guidebook, I thought it was an excellent concept for that card and was quite surprised to see it. Then I read the description and it made me smile because of the personable connection.
This is a shorter list. I had to narrow it down for the sake of editing.
|King of Cups||Queen of Cups||The High Priestess||The Emperor|
|The Hermit||Wheel of Fortune||The Devil||King of Swords|
Full List of Favorites (Without Images)
|The Magician||The High Priestess||The Empress||The Lovers|
|Strength||The Hermit||Wheel of Fortune||The Hanged Man|
|Death||The Devil||Judgment||The World|
|Wands||They're great, but none stood out as my favorite|
|Cups||3, 4, 5, 9, 10, Queen, King|
|Swords||8, 10, Queen, King|
In case you can’t tell, I REALLY like this deck. It’s interesting, thought provoking, stunning, and worthy of many gasps (that’s a thing I do when I really love a depiction of a card). The deck offers fantastic perspective and is a true work of art. If I didn’t use it as a reading deck, I would definitely frame some of the cards and display them on my walls. Big moment of honor and gratitude to MJ Cullinane for putting this work out into the world.
Kali is a spiritual crafter, artist, and educator. She has over a decade of experience teaching students from early childhood to adults in a variety of subjects. A life-long learner and a jack of all trades, Kali has been studying and working with Tarot since 2014. Her passions in life revolve around crafting with her hands (such as knitting, crochet, herb gardening, jewelry, and baking) and being of service to those on their own spiritual journey. Connect with her on Instagram at @serpentandspider.
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