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Slavic Tarot Decks Are Back!

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

By popular demand, I restocked my Slavic Tarot decks over on my Etsy site! I still can't believe the first printing sold out as quickly as they did, but here we are, about a year later and I already had to restock. So for those who haven't been following the project from its beginning, here's a run down of what the Slavic Tarot deck is all about, including some explanations of why I chose the associations I did for each suit of the Minor Arcana (which is a question that has come up a few times):

A full deck of 78 cards, including both the Major and Minor Arcana, based on Slavic mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and featuring original artwork. The deck comes boxed, complete with a booklet explaining the story behind each card as well as its divinatory meanings. Each card is labeled in both English and Russian, and the booklet is written in both languages as well. From Ivan the Fool to the Tsar of Cups, the Slavic Tarot deck is the first of its kind and features original artwork on every single card.

The Major Arcana includes folkloric heroes like Ilya Muromets; deities from the early Slavic pantheon such as Perun, Mokosh, and Svarog; fairy tale heroines like Vasilisa the Beautiful; and even the darker figures like Baba-Yaga and Koschei the Deathless. The Minor Arcana includes the four familiar suits, but with a unique twist: in addition to the usual elemental associations, each suit is also linked with a season of the year as well as a specific subgenre of Slavic folklore, including skazki and byliny.

My take on the tarot is a little different. Although I kept the same basic four suits of the Minor Arcana, I--and I am in the minority on this, but I assure you I am not alone--prefer to associate Wands with the element of Air and Swords with the element of Fire (usually the associations are the reverse, but again: it varies). So let me take this opportunity to explain why. For me, Swords represent the heat of battle, the passion and energy and danger of quick decisions made during chaos. How could that be anything *but* fiery? Wands (or Staves, etc), in contrast, are smooth and elegant, reaching upward, and instead of the heavy arc of a sword, it's a delicate swish through the air. I am not sure of the reasoning behind having that association in the other direction; the reasons I've read about make no sense to me. While a stave can certainly be used as a weapon, its other use as a walking stick or a wizard's/witch's wand brings to mind associations of wisdom, contemplation, and the ethereal magic workings that to me are all aspects of the Air element. Swords, on the other hand, have no other purpose but war and violence. While Fire, as an element, is not solely linked to such matters, they are certainly a key aspect.

As for my choice in seasons and folkloric subgenres, I wanted the Minor Arcana to tell a story and represent a journey through the wheel of the year, not just the cycle of a single life. Thus, cycling from Spring to Winter--and this seasonal association is, to my knowledge, unique to the deck I created--the four suits of the Minor Arcana circle around the Wheel of the Year:

  • Wands: Air, Spring, Skazka

  • Coins: Earth, Summer, Skaz

  • Swords: Fire, Autumn, Bylina

  • Cups: Water, Winter, Volshebnaia Skazka

A labor of love, I was first inspired to make this deck because I was looking for any kind of tarot deck based on Slavic mythology and folklore, yet could find nothing. I scoured the internet, every store I knew that sold tarot decks, and every craft fair and gathering I came across. Yet there was nothing. Not one to let something as trivial as "it doesn't exist" defeat me, I set out to make one. Six researched-filled years and numerous hand-cramps later, the deck is finally printed and ready to go! And now, less than a year since that original printing, we're already on our second run!

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