In a globalised and digitalised world, humanity seems to lose its way. Although it may have been a long and subtle process, the signs of disaster are more obvious nowadays than ever before. The Tarot deck is one of the most relevant examples.
The Tarot, by definition, was an esoteric instrument up till the dawn of the twentieth century. Esoteric means hidden, something not accessible for the majority, but only for the few – chosen ones. While before the twentieth century there were only a handful of Tarot decks available, nowadays every day hundreds of new decks are published and commercialised. Something special was transformed into something ordinary. Something deeply spiritual was transformed into something material, and in most of the cases, strictly commercial.
Fortunately, it is not the case of the Lions Gateway Tarot by Jessica Leigh Henry.
In the age of digitalisation and dematerialisation, the Lions Gateway Tarot is much as it is possible close to hand made and old-school. The Lions Gateway Tarot is a pyrographic deck. It was first hand drawn, then wood burned, then oil painted and only afterwards scanned and printed. The journey was not bumps and craters free. It was a challenging process which required sacrifices, dedication and perseverance.
The first image, The Magician, was burned on August 8th 2017, the day of the astronomical Lions Gate. It is when the brightest star Sirius, aligns with the Pyramids, streaming light into the Queen’s Chamber. It was an important moment for the ancient Egyptians, the beginning of a new year. That is how the deck was named Lions Gateway Tarot.
Jessica Leigh Henry’s affinity for arts and spirituality has manifested itself from an early age. Her parents bought an image of Krishna when she was about three or four years old which completely fascinated her. When she was fourteen, she gets from her mother her first Tarot deck, and we can say that her fate was sealed. She knew that one day she would create her own Tarot deck. That day came on August 2nd 2018 when she finished the last of the seventy-eight cards, The King of Wands.
Although the cards were created purely intuitively, they cherish and preserves the traditional content of the Tarot. I consider this highly valuable and gives the deck both the feeling of new and refreshing, but also familiar. Therefore, the Lions Gateway Tarot is a good choice both for beginners and advanced Tarot practitioners.
The artwork itself has a very nice warm feel and a childish, read innocent/pure at heart candour. Even in the case of generally darker depicted cards such as the Ten of Swords, due to the warm colouring, Jessica managed to tone down the gloomy vibe of these cards. If one is looking for a ‘happy’, positively resonating deck, I would definitively recommend the Lions Gateway deck.
The original preliminary drawings and wood burning of the cards were executed on 8”x12” birch panels. The printed cards are also a little bit larger than the traditional Tarot cards: 133 x 80 mm, respectively 5.14” x 3.18”. The bigger size favours the artwork and brings each subtle detail visible. However, no need for worry; they still can be easily shuffled and handle.
The cards are printed on 300 gsm card stock, they are UV varnish and have a gold gilt edge which adds class and brilliance.
The deck is delivered in a fancy cardboard box which also includes the 47 pages guidebook.
The guidebook is well structured and practical. Introduces general notions regarding the Tarot tradition and practice; gives both upright and reversed interpretation for all the seventy-eight cards and three spreads to work with, including the Celtic Cross.
The Lions Gateway Tarot is a compact and complete package which is perfect for one to begin the Tarot journey and it is a great piece in any Tarot enthusiast’s collection.