Donnaleigh's Lessons



Deck Review: Dark Goddess Tarot

Posted by Donnaleigh on September 3, 2013 at 12:45 AM



Welcome to the Dark Goddess Tarot, a place where the shadow feminine is explored though goddess energy and feminine folklore. If you think you need to have a full understanding of the goddesses to benefit from this deck, think again. This deck has a distinct language through imagery and ... if you do know the goddesses, be prepared for quite a journey of depth.

Title - Dark Goddess Tarot   (


Author - Ellen Lorinzi-Prince

Publisher -Arnell's Art,

Medium of Art:  Micron pens for the outline; prismacolor art markers for color.

Card stock - Crisp, slippery, slick, smooth feel


Finish - Matte

Shuffles - super easy, although the cards are long and may be difficult for smaller hands to riffle-shuffle.

Size/readability - Robust card size of 3" x 5 1/2", good-sized font makes the keywords easy to see.

Image size - bold, colorful, easy to see

Color - Vibrant with bold colors. This deck is loaded with chunky color with a classic and sometimes primitive or hieroglyphic feel. The mood of the art and card changes within the deck: some have softer pastels, others bold primary colors.


Card Backs - look like scales in shades of blue and lavender, image below.


Number of cards - 78


Elements: Traditional Earth, Air, Fire, Water


Strength/Justice = Strength is 8, Justice is 11


Major Arcana = Fool plus 21 cards, traditional titles/names based on RWS system other than the following  changes:

  • Emperor = Sovereignty
  • Temperance = Alchemy
  • Devil = Corruption
  • Tower = Destruction
  • Judgement = Liberation


Courts: The court cards have been renamed to:

  • Page = (fierce) Amazon
  • Knight = (seductive) Siren
  • Queen = (conjuring) Witch
  • King = (death walking) Hag



Aces - contain character images just like the remaining pips


Instruction booklet

- 26 page glossy Little White Book (same size as the cards at 3' x 5 1/2") with six full color photos of cards included.

- Each card description includes:

  • the tarot name of the card (i.e., Ace of Fire, Death, Amazon of Fire),
  • the goddess attributed to the card
  • a brief passage on what that goddess represents
  • and a key phrase to represent the tone/theme of the card (image above).

The Major Arcana cards are described with a similar structure as the Minor Arcana.

The instruction booklet also contains two original sample spread ideas. One is a 2-card spread about substance and shadow that is a quick look into everyday challenges, and the other is a fabulous 4-card "Goddess Be With You" spread meant to orient us to our true self, and it is wonderfully insightful.

There is an additional section in the LWB on working with the Goddesses, and how to learn about them beyond the scope of the reading.


Themed - Essentially Rider-Waite-Smith theme, the samples below demonstrate how most of the images carry over the RWS meanings.


Unique trait/s -

This deck consists of all feminine goddesses or mythical female figures. They are described by the author as following:

"Dark Goddesses may be beautiful or horrible, loving or wicked. What they share are powers that are disturbing, or considered disturbing when in femaie hands. These are the poewrs of suffering and shadow, of sex and sovereignty, of magic and mystery, of death, violence, and transformation. Dark Goddess Tarto invokes these goddesses, that their experience may provide strength and guidance in dark or difficult times."

Different ethnicities are represented throughout.

Packaging - Very sturdy, rugged glossy box that will proudly contain the deck for years with solid protection. Vibrant image of the Death Card (La Santa Muerte, the Mexican Goddess of Death) adorns the cover.


Price - At the time of this review, the deck is priced at $35.00.


Font size/style -Clear white font on a gray border, easy to read for those (like me) who don't have the best eyes.


Border: Nonobtrusive neutral gray border, matches the cards.  Though I don't care for borders, these are borders I'll keep.


Ease of shuffling - Shuffles easily, smoothly like a typical deck of playing cards. They are long cards, so small hands may have time grasping them from end to end for a riffle shuffle.

Opinion - I was worried I'd not be able to read the cards well as I have so little knowledge about goddesses and folklore, but my worries were unfounded. I immediately clicked with the emotive imagery and found the robust images speaking a clear language to me, as you'll see in my sample readings here. The first night I spent with the cards, I was so enamored with them that I fell asleep with them splayed around me, doing reading after reading, exploring the images until I exhausted myself (sheer bliss).  I also found myself journeying online to learn more about the folklore behind the images, and found myself adding this information to the readings I explored. I love the language of the deck as experienced through the imagery.


Wish list/What I'd Change –

Since I know so little about the goddesses and mythological figures, I wish I knew more! I'm excited to hear that Ellen is creating the answer to my wish for this deck. She is authoring an accompanying book to go with the deck. She anticipates this will be complete by January, 2014.  She reports, "The book isn't going to be long. I like to be succinct. And I'm not writing a goddess book but a tarot deck companion. Here is what I've written for Isis today:

-Isis, or Auset, is the Egyptian Goddess of Magic. She is wife, mother, queen, protector and healer of the living, and helper to the deceased. Central to all her roles is magic. Heka or akhu, ancient Egyptian words for magical power, also translate as sorcery, enchantment, creation, and destruction.

Though a trick worthy of a Magician, Isis becomes the most powerful of gods by her acquisition of heka,. Ra, the God of the Sun, has the greatest power of all. But he is uncaring, and the people suffer under his reign. Isis, goddess rof earth and protector of her people, decides to change things.

She mixes some of Ra's saliva with mud and creates a snake. The snake bites Ra. Its venom causes him great pain, and nothing he does relieves it.

Isis offers to cure him, but for the cure to work, she will have to speak his secret name, the source of his power over life and death. Eventually, reluctantly, he tells her. Isis says his secret name while performing her magic, and Ra is healed. But the goddess now holds Ra's powers of life and death as well.

Isis needs her newfound power after her jealous brother Set murders and dismembers her husband, Osiris. She gathers the pieces, although his penis cannot be found so she fashions one for him from gold and wax, or sometimes clay. Isis spreads her wings over her beloved, speaks her magic words, and raises him from the dead. She and Osiris then conceive a magical child, the new Sun God, the falcon Horus.

Through his resurrection by Isis, Osiris becomes the Lord of the Dead and also the Lord of Life, shown by his green skin as all growing things begin life sleeping within the earth. Isis wears on her head the solar disk that represents the powerful, severe Eye of Ra, while on her magician's table is the healing, beneficent Eye of Horus. In Egyptian myth the eye is not a passive organ but an agent of action, whether of anger or protection. In Isis these powers of life and death are enlivened by her inventiveness and balanced by her compassion."


Ellen says that what happens after reading the goddess summary is where the divination occurs.


Sample Readings with the Dark Goddess Deck:


Reading #1

Below is the first reading I pulled using the deck, and I found that the stance of the characters was particularly meaningful. Corruption in the middle, spewing its information to the waiting mouths of minions, while the freedom fighters flank him, taking a stance against him. The goddess on the right shows a defensive postsure while walking away. She is safe. The goddess on the left is going right for him, skis and all. This shows an excellent reflection of the fight against corruption in our world as well as in my life.


Reading #2

My second reading had a specific question. I asked about the state of Fukushima, and about the safety of the world. The cards I received are below, and they are particularly meaningful. They show me the relationship of water and the tides here, and that a wider scale of the radiation seems to be traveling through the water than through the air. The Moon controls the tide, and she is looking squarely at the cards beside her.

The key phrases Ellen uses in the booklet with these cards are included below.

Moon: Arianrhod, Welch Goddess of the Moon

"In the realm of the soul, the Moon is your guide."

Witch of Water: Haya-Akitsu-Hime, Shinto Goddess of the Sea.

"Every stream ends in the sea, there to rise anew."

Ten of Water: Ixchel, Mayan Goddess of the Moon

"Birthdays and endings come in a flood."

And this is sad, as the nuclear reactor was first damaged by the flood of a tsunami, and the repercussions are still being felt in our seas. The waters birthed the problem, and the waters continue to carry it. Recent news suggests the radiation is expected to hit the United States by sea by 2014 by water.  The image here of the man pouring water onto all the animals and fishes of the ocean -- after all, the ocean is the basis of our ecosystem and even the land animals will link back to its health -- and his hand continues to pour out into the sea in this image.

The central image shows how the flow of her hair travels to all the lands in all directions...the rippling out of the water sending her tendrils (the toxins) to lands at all corners. When I first looked at the image, I wondered if she were vomiting...but then I realized she was just trying to hold onto one strand....but the length and impact of her hair is beyond what she can hold.

This is a sad but poignant and powerfully honest reading. Be prepared to read the depths of pain with this deck, and to look face to face with suffering. The deck has a powerful honesty to it that gives meanings with grit and substance.

Addendum: after reading this blog, Ellen reported to me that the Witch of Water card shown above in this reading had been dedicated to the people of Fukushima. "And here she was."

Other decks by this artist:  Ellen also created the highly popular Tarot of the Crone (



The Dark Goddess Tarot is a deck that will give a fresh new face to tarot for those who need a shot of inspiration in their readings. The images invoke deep meaning and stir emotions with the bold imagery. There is a bold use of color in this deck and a dark-ish shadowy feel that feels almost dream-like.

I look forward to Ellen's accompanying book for the deck, and have no doubt that this will add an ever deeper dimension to the cards as I learn about the goddesses in greater detail. I highly recommend this deck and look forward to hearing about how it speaks to you.






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Categories: Deck Reviews