Better Together: Persephone Tarot and Strange Lands Oracle
I had snapped up the Circo Tarot when its third edition came out and became an instant fan of Marisa de la Peña's work. I loved her use of color, the kooky and quirky figures, even the shiny quality of the cards (they feel really nice in your hands!), and how lovingly made everything is—every order of the Circo deck comes with a handmade hand-stamped drawstring bag (who doesn't love a pretty carrying case, right?).
So when Marisa announced that she was creating new decks, they immediately went on my wish list. It took me a while to purchase the Strange Lands Oracle and the Persephone Tarot because I was trying to space my purchases out. When I spotted a 15% off sale on the site, I took my cue and went ahead with my purchase.
I have been on the market for a fresh, new oracle because my copy of the Vessel is starting to show its wear (I use it nearly every time) and while I've gotten a few others, I haven't really found one that struck me the way the Vessel Oracle did. Strange Lands is a small-sized 43-card Oracle deck that merges the colorful vibe of the Circo Tarot with cosmic themes, desert settings, cool creatures, and relatable messages.
The Persephone Tarot, on the other hand, is a black and white deck (something I have a propensity for!). It's based on the myth of Persephone and uses the gods, goddesses and their stories to illustrate the tarot archetypes. I used to love myths as a kid but have long since forgotten all of them, so I'm taking the Persephone Tarot as a fun way to dive right back into the world of the Greek and Roman gods.
The package came gloriously (!!!) wrapped. I had a message exchange with Marisa shortly after I had received my box of goodies and she asked me if everything went okay—it went more than okay! What greeted me weren't just my decks + the signature hand-stamped bag. There was also some lovely pink gift accessory thingamajigs (what do you call these delightful swirls?), some strawberry scented matches, and a crystal (a crystal!).
Because everything takes extra longer to get to Manila, these decks just a few days before my birthday and I waited 'til midnight to open my package. Best gift ever!
Each deck comes with a pocket-sized guidebook. What I like about Marisa's writing is she's able to keep her messages short and just a page long (note that each page, apart from having the description of the card, also has an illustration—this goes for the Persephone's Major Arcana and the whole Strange Lands Oracle). Everything is written in no-nonsense straightforward speak. I don't normally read through guidebooks but I went through these from cover to cover because they were so accessible and easy to grasp.
The Persephone Tarot Guide is especially interesting if you're not familiar with the myths. It also carries reversed meanings if that's something you want to look into.
While the alien creatures of Strange Lands may be decidedly different from the gods and goddesses of Persephone's realm, I think these two could work together. I hardly ever go through a reading without pulling in a tarot + oracle combo after all!
I'm probably going to have to use the guidebook with both these decks the first few times I use them, just because I really do value the way the books have been written. Also, I still need to navigate my way around mythology and feel like knowing the stories adds an extra layer to my general tarot knowledge. For all you 80s kids—I feel like Persephone is the more serious Cousin Larry (from "Perfect Strangers," LOL) and Strange Lands is Balki Bartokomous. Hahaha. :P
While the Persephone is mostly black with white-inked drawings, Cupid and Psyche stand out as the only card on white as The Lovers.
The card stock of these are different from the high gloss of the Circo Tarot, which I don't really mind. They're relatively thin, making them very easy to riffle shuffle. I find that smaller-sized cards like the Strange Lands are better shuffled overhand style though.
To mix things up, I tried adding the Circo Tarot to the mix and I feel it bridged the gap between Persephone and Strange Lands quite nicely! I don't think I would ever use three decks all together for an in-person reading though (too confusing!) but my e-mail reading clients have gotten a lot of readings from me that use multiple (as in three, sometimes four) decks.
These two new additions to my collection have only boosted my admiration for Marisa dela Peña's work even more. She's actually updated the Circo Tarot to go along with a book she illustrated, "How to Deal." The book, written by Sami Main, looks at the tarot through the lens of young adults and teens, and Marisa's new How to Deal deck reimagines some of the Circo Tarot cards for an all new "How to Deal" deck. I CAN'T WAIT.