The Light Seer’s Tarot: First Impressions

I backed The Light Seer’s Tarot on Kickstarter, because the art appealed to me. In the long wait for the deck to be made, I admit I wasn’t always happy with the card images. The minors appeal to me much more than the majors, and cards were revealed one by one that was a little disappointing, but I still looked forward to the deck’s eventual arrival. The art was the reason I backed the deck, so when I say I have trouble with certain cards, know it’s because when balanced against the rest of the deck, they stand out for the wrong reasons.

Art-wise, there are a couple of issues I have with it. The Page of Cups looks like he’s delighted that someone just hanged themselves. I hate the Empress – naked pregnant women flip “body horror” switches in my brain, and I would so much rather see the Empress reigning rather than pregnant. It feels like a sexist card to me and that’s disappointing. I’m always sad when there’s no death in the Death card, and the Strength card is bizarre, with a lamb floating in mid-air and art that feels rushed and unfinished. There’s no strength in the Strength card. There’s no emotion in her face, no muscles in her arms, and compared to the rest of the deck she’s colourless. One arm appears to be coming out of the side of her neck. The Queen of Swords I don’t get at all. I’m not sure what she’s meant to be sitting on or where she is or what the flags are in aid of. I have issues with the Fool because she’s not doing anything… She’s not taking the first step on a new journey she’s excited about, she’s clinging to something behind her with her back to a world of possibility. The Eight of Wands actually hurts my eyes; I don’t like looking at it.

It’s disappointing that many of my favourite cards don’t appeal to me in this deck, but that’s always going to be the risk when backing decks on Kickstarter, and every deck has a card or three we don’t jive with. Most of the cards are lovely, interesting, exciting.


But when I opened this deck, and picked up the cards, I had an instant negative reaction to them. They feel terrible. I hate touching them. They are hard, inflexible, plasticky and inorganic. It’s honestly unpleasant to hold them in the hand, let alone shuffle the cards. They smell so strongly of chemicals that they make me feel physically ill and slightly dizzy.

I find them extremely difficult to read. They don’t speak to me, and that’s weird, because usually when there’s art I like then a deck is fairly easy to read. I don’t have this trouble with The Wooden Tarot, and that’s a stand-offish, unyielding deck that doesn’t even come with a LWB. The Light Seer’s Tarot comes with a full guidebook, and I still find the cards impossible to read. They don’t speak.

For example: the Soul Joy spread, from the guidebook. The spread is called “soul joy” but it’s focused on other people, which is odd, but I wanted to give it a try. Card one is “my gift to the world” and I drew…. the 7 of Swords. Card two is “what can I illuminate for others?” and I drew… inverted 4 of swords. Finally, card three, “lessons of joy”, is… 2 of Pentacles. The cards don’t speak, they’re too wrapped up in their own business to look outside their plastic prisons.

I expect that I’ll unlock the trick to understanding them in time, but unless they lose the chemical smell I won’t have that chance. It’s a great shame because they are beautiful cards and I do like them, so it’s a great disappointment that they’re so inorganic.

Nine of Swords

I’ve been seeing this card a lot lately. Everyone sees something negative in this card, but I think it’s based on the modern interpretation of being up at night. We must remember that in the Middle Ages people did not sleep the same way we sleep today. Waking up in the middle of the night was normal. People used that time to pray, talk, think, have sex.

To me, that’s what this card means: waking up alone. The quiet solitude of the middle of the night. This solitude, this quiet, means we are alone with our thoughts, and they can be overwhelming. But nines are linked to the Hermit. Swords are communication, thought, intellect.

I think we can allow the image of the Raider-Waite to override the basic patterns and symbols of the Tarot. We see what looks like despair. But why are the Swords different from the other suits? Nines, as a rule, are positive cards. A surfeit of emotion, good times, finances, courage and resilience. What of a surfeit of thought? Sleepless nights? But it need not be negative. A surfeit of ideas, a flow state, something that gets you up because you have to write it down immediately. Solitary work; working late into the night. Midnight prayer, midnight journalling, work for oneself that is not shared.

The hours in the middle of the night between first and second sleep used to be productive ones. The Nine of Swords is pointing to this productivity. It is saying: since you’re up, use this time. You have ideas shooting around your head, so explore them. Write them down. Look at the symbols on the blanket: the roses, the astrological symbols. The Nine of Swords is saying you have the knowledge of the world in you. But if you don’t do anything with it, it is useless. It may even drag you down.

The Hávamál speaks often of the virtues of wisdom, but stanza 54 warns, as many of us already suspect, that intelligence does not mean happiness.

A measure of wisdom each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;
For the wise man’s heart is seldom happy,
If wisdom too great he has won.

In other words, ignorance is bliss.

You know things. You’ve taken steps, you’ve studied, and now your head is full of thoughts. What are you going to do with it? What is your next step? How will you translate idea into action?