The Bonefire Tarot was waiting for me when I returned to the UK from Sweden earlier this afternoon. I was tired, which I believe is normal after a family funeral. Some take a nap under such circumstances (in fact, it was suggested I do just that)… But I prefer to play with my cards and it turns out providence had brought me a really good Tarot pick-me-up in the form of this colourful deck by English-born artist Gabi Angus West, who currently resides down under.
Tarot is divine play that can lead to profound transformation. Gabi Angus West proves that this can be done with a deck that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The artwork is inspired by old school tattoo art and the name of the deck has its origins in the old Beltane ritual of throwing last winter’s old bones and rags on the fire to make room for the new.
I smile a sad smile thinking how apt this is… my dad’s bones were turned to ashes not long ago and we gave him a lovely send-off. His body has been transformed on a different kind of bonefire and he is finally free from pain after battling pancreatic cancer for the last couple of years. I believe this deck will always serve as a ‘memento mori’ and a link to my ancestors thanks to this twist of fate.
The deck arrived beautifully wrapped in the handmade blue felt pouch as seen in the picture above and the LWB (below) is also handmade. The card backs have a reversible design but if you look carefully at the writing at the sides, you will know which way is up. Personally, I don’t read with reversals so it doesn’t matter one way or another to me.
As you can see the cards are quite square – possibly a little wider than a standard deck and a couple of centimetres shorter. The cards shuffle easily thanks to the silky matte finish (my favourite!) and the card stock is sturdy enough for the cards to survive many a less than gentle shuffle.
But back to the deck and what its creator says about it! I sense a kindred ‘magpie’ in Gabi when she freely admits having borrowed ideas for the card images from the following sources:
- Alchemical symbols
- Plants and trees
- Animal totems
- Mythology from all over
- Archetypal imagery
Each image in the deck is crammed full of colourful symbols and at a glance, this gives a whimsical impression… but there is a lot of depth to each composition and I find that a particular symbol will grab my attention, making it easy to read with this deck without going into overwhelm in spite of the many details.
Also, these images just make me happy. Not many Tarot decks have that effect on me, so I already know this will be one of my main working decks, both for self-reflection and readings for clients.
1. Who are you?
Seven of Coins: I am the reward you reap after careful self-reflection and arduous self-development – the reminder that you only reap what you sow
2. What is your strength?
Three of Wands: To inspire you on your journey and to broaden your horizons.
3. What is your weakness?
The Magician: What weakness!? If you use me the right way, I can challenge you to develop new skills in every area of life. Nothing is impossible! But beware of intellectualising and make sure your heart is aligned with the answers received.
4. What types of readings do you prefer?
Six of Cups: Deeply transformational relationship readings – including the one you have with your Self.
5. How do you challenge me?
Seven of Swords: To always be truthful with yourself and others. You will learn to read what you see, plain and simple, as there is less risk for (Self-)delusion that way.