Better Together: Black Lilly + Cards of Chaos
When I'm scrounging through the Internet for new decks, two things appeal to me generally. One, unique artwork that I haven't seen before (this is why I love independently published decks!) and two, smaller-sized cards that aren't a hassle to tote along with me. Out of the box art always surprises clients, especially the ones having their cards read for the first time — mainly because they're mentally prepared to see the Rider Waite Smith images… I haven't had a client who hasn't been pleasantly surprised to see different images. Size-wise, tarot readers should never leave home without a deck of cards and smaller-sized cards just make this a whole lot easier.
I first came across Aya Rosen's tarot art through Elyse of Wild Moon Woman. I did a little bit of research on the cards after seeing her flip through of the Black Lilly Tarot, was a little heartbroken when I saw that I could no longer get it off Etsy, and then found out that I could get them over at Gamecrafter (!).
That's when I discovered that apart from the Black Lilly, Aya Rosen also had an oracle deck (Cards of Chaos) on offer, as well as a majors only deck (Metro Tarot Cards). Gamecrafter is a print-on demand site, which means its decks don't go out of stock but do come at a relatively higher cost than usual. I did give my purchase a lot of thought before going through with it, and even when I did buy the decks I opted to just get the Black Lilly and the Cards of Chaos first, since I had never gotten a Majors Only deck and wasn't willing to pay $20.99 for a set with no majors.
The Cards of Chaos deck is vibrant, bold and will have you pulling heavily from your intuition as it doesn't come with a guidebook. I love how it mixes just the right amount of whimsy with a little bit of the grotesque. I was never one for 100% positive messages only decks, which is why I took to this one right away.
That said, I do find myself struggling to find enough meat with single pulls from this deck, which is why it works so well with the Black Lilly tarot. I like how the tarot structure can support the more free-flowing qualities of this deck and vice versa. On the other hand, I think that artists, writers, and musicians who are looking to find inspiration will love the prompts and sparks that this deck can offer.
Both decks come in a semi-matte semi-gloss finish that are wonderful to handle because they have a great slip to them. They're smaller than what tarot readers are used to — think a regular pack of cards. The packaging that Gamecrafter offers isn't that great — they're regular tuck boxes that have a slightly flimsy card stock. If you're taking these cards along with you, it would be better to slip them into a bag to keep them protected and their packaging safe from nicks, dents and wear.
The Black Lilly tarot is mystifying, dark, and makes fantastic use of color. The Wands are depicted with tree branches, the rest of the suits are much easier to figure out. A female-centric deck, the courts go from Page, Knight, Princess and Queen. The deck has a lot of artful nudity, which I feel adds to its boldness — I can imagine using this deck for clients who've been through the gutter emotionally and spiritually, and who have come out of it strong, wise and a little world-weary. The key to cracking the symbols lies in many of the faces depicted in the deck — there is much to glean from their expressions, stances, and clothes.
It also comes with a LWB that is good for beginners as it gives short definitions that you can cherry pick your own meanings from. If you're having a bit of trouble deciphering the images (since they're not as scenic as the standard RWS), the book will be useful to you too.
So far, I have used this decks mostly for myself and am still a little iffy about taking them out, just because I've been developing such a quiet, intense, personal relationship with the messages they've been giving. If I could pick one tarot muse, it would definitely be the Black Lilly.
If these decks appeal to you, follow Aya Rosen on her Instagram — she's been working on a Thoth-based deck that I cannot wait to see completed!