Detail of the Five of Cups from Raven's Prophecy Tarot, by Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven's Prophecy TarotThe Raven’s Prophecy Tarot, By Maggie Stiefvater
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0- 7387-4743- 9, 78 cards, 192 pp., 2015

Disclosure #1: I love Maggie Stiefvater. She is one of those writers other writers aspire to be. Or, at least, I do. The way in which she crafts the perfect words into multifaceted sentences that read like lyrics to some otherworldly saga, creating worlds into which you fall headlong happily, hypnotizes. Her work with The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot is no exception.

A renaissance woman, Stiefvater’s skills reach beyond writing and extend into art and music. Her talent as a writer is well­-established, and her illustrative prowess makes itself known in the imagery portrayed in this deck. The lyrical tapestry woven between the deck art and the magical writing in the accompanying book delivers a unique and exciting experience. So much so, it was nominated for the Best Tarot Deck in 2015 by the International Tarot Foundation, as well as Stiefvater herself for the Best Illustrator for a Tarot.

Disclosure #2: I love ravens. Any corvid, actually. Brilliant and resilient, corvids — especially ravens and crows — represent creative energies. In Celtic belief, they are associated with the Morrigan, as well as with Lugh (derived from the Celtic word for raven) who are both creators. Bran (the Blessed) who derives his name from the Welsh word for raven, is the sleeping god guardian and the god of regeneration. The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot emphasizes the “push­-pull relationship between logic and creativity,” and the balance “of our creative and logical selves,”  traits which reside within raven. ((p. 6))

Disclosure #3: I love Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle 4-book series, the series from which The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot is derived. After devouring The Raven Boys, The Dreams Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I couldn’t wait for the final book. A #1 New York Times best selling author, Stiefvater’s command of language weaves magick into the pages and through the narrative, which revolves around five young peoples’ quest to find and wake a lost Welsh king — the Raven King.

Stiefvater plucks juicy morsels and tidbits from Welsh mythology, within which ravens play a prominent part, expertly weaving it into her series and into this deck and book set. From the ravens so beautifully drawn to represent the cups suit, to the oak tree held so sacred by the Druids, the illustrations seem to be pulled right from the dream realm (something which Ronan — one of the characters in the Raven Cycle books — can do!)

Final disclosure: I love The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot. For all the reasons above, with the added bonuses of the simple yet fascinating guide entitled Illuminating the Prophecy, written by Stiefvater.

This is a great deck for creatives — writers, artists, musicians, crafts persons, etc. — or those who have long harbored the inner spark of creative fire and need direction or guidance. This deck may be the push needed to unleash the full flame, and if they lack the business acumen or know-how to shape their creativity into a workable plan, could assist in setting the seeker on the right path.

A few of my favorite cards from this deck include the Magician, represented by an open hand symbolizing how everything you create comes from the head and heart and is executed by the hand. The High Priestess, represented by a hand holding a mirror, symbolizes self­-reflection, dreams, and one’s unconscious — I love this card. The Hermit card depicts a light within a sacred space. For a creative person, the light represents you and your ideas, an illumination within the darkness.

Detail of the Three of Cups from Raven's Prophecy Tarot, by Maggie StiefvaterAlthough the tarot is based on the book series, The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot stands on its own merits. Tarot plays a prominent part in the book series, but the art in this tarot deck doesn’t exactly reflect the content of the series, although some of it is directly inspired by it (the Fool reminds me of heroine Blue, the Empress reminds me of the dream-like mystical forest of Cabeswater, the Hermit imagery is the hollowed-­out enchanted Oak, the cups suit is represented by ravens which represent the relationship of the characters, etc.)

The imagery created for the deck showcases a dream-like quality. The major arcana art runs the gamut from earth to stars and human to animal (my favourite is tThe Moon, represented by a raven swallowing the moon), while the minor arcana suits are represented by: ravens (the cups suit of relationships), roses (the coin suit for the hard work of the material world), hands (the sword suit for logic, argument, discussion), and fire (the wands suit of creativity).

One strange though not necessarily a negative thing about the accompanying book, Illuminating the Prophecy, is that it includes no interpretation for reversed card meanings. Says Stiefvater, “I’m not going to go over reversed meanings in this book; I find the cards carry all the nuance they need…”1 Every time I’ve used this set, I’ve used the traditional 10-card spread. And, every single time I’ve used it, the ninth position card (the path) and the tenth position card (the outcome) have always turned up Death and Temperance (they seem to like to switch positions). Also very appropriate every time.

The very first time I used the deck, the cups suit of relationships, represented by ravens, showed heavily. Appropriately, it reflected both my state of mind, state of emotion, and my physical state at the time. The last time I used it, prior to this review, both the wands suit of creativity and the swords suit of logic showed up in equal number — exactly in the positions reflective of my situation.

Using The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot allowed me to scrutinize some of my long-held beliefs — strengths and weaknesses, dreams and fears both perceived and real. It made me think and become clearer about how I write and why I write. What has been holding me back (fear that I’m not good enough, fear of success, fear of not being able to make a living from art), and some of the possibilities of the “why” behind the “what.”

What I love about all tarot, but especially Stiefvater’s deck, is it allowed me to confirm and acknowledge those fears that hover on the edge of my consciousness, treading water just below the surface. With the Raven’s Prophecy, I feel as if a winged life-preserver was cast out into the waves just for me.

The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot is one set in which the connection between self and the universe is made to resonate deeply. With haunting illustrations and imagery that resonate on a soul level, this deck and the insightful guide is a new tool for self-discovery. It has set the stage for me to overcome my fears and misgivings in my creative, professional, and personal life, which, as so many creatives understand, lives that are always intertwined. This set is the one I’ll be using and referring to over and over again as I travel the creative path in life.

  1. p. 12 []