Now, this deck is an interesting creature. When I ordered it, I was expecting a tarot deck and an oracle deck, with a little guidebook. I got the guidebook as expected, but what I got was… not a tarot and oracle deck. It was one huge oracle deck with a strong astrological and elemental bent, and secondary card numbering and naming based off the traditional structure of tarot for 78 of its cards. That is: we have Fire, Air, Water, and Earth 1-10 each, and each with Page, Knight, Queen, and King. We have roman numeral O-XXI, each named also with the traditional corresponding Major Arcana cards. In addition to these cards named after traditional tarot, we have arabic numeral 1-22. 1-22 are much more freeform cards, and are the ones that do not correspond to constellations, but are named after the planets and other cosmological entities.
I am not sure if the intent was to make the deck this way. Given that it is marketed specifically as a tarot and oracle deck, I have to assume that it was designed to be a tarot deck. I would like to be very clear when I say that I do not consider this to be a proper tarot deck, and I therefore offer the following warning: If you just want a tarot deck, then this deck is not for you.
With that out of the way, there is more review under the cut.
Why is this not a tarot deck? Well, I suppose that requires a little bit of exploration into what I personally consider to be the characteristics of a tarot deck.
The Cosmos Oracle does not appear to be aware of the history of tarot. It doesn’t echo in a way that I can think makes any sense. Its meanings and keywords, which are even written on each card, are based upon the mythology behind each constellation, or on the traditional astrological associations of the planets. Some of the cards 1-22 are even simply give meaning based on the immediate characteristics of the cosmic phenomena they are named after. Supernova: outburst, explosion, surprise. Galaxy: community, diversity, contributions. The ‘oracle’ cards are nigh indistinguishable from the ‘tarot’ cards, and the ‘tarot’ cards are in all honesty barely identifiable as such. They do not reflect any degree of traditional meaning in their artwork, on average. Even when looked at with intuitive reflection on the artwork, and no thought for traditional meanings, what I get from each card is so far off from the traditions that it may as well just not be connected. There is no common thread to be found. However, when intuiting meaning from the art, and then looking at the keywords? They are so relevant.
This is an oracle deck, following its own system. I therefore treat it as a single deck of 100 cards (Wow! Huge for an oracle deck.), and in my assessment below I will be simply noting the cards which stood out to me.
Black Hole (21). This card is, in a way, the one that I bought the deck for. I greatly enjoyed many of the other cards, and thought it a worthy investment for the whole, but this card is the one that drew me. It is a massive, eel-like creature with a gaping black maw, swallowing stars, and fuck but does it speak to me. I have, helpless in the face of my instant connection to this card, designated it as my significator for this deck. This card is “consumption of resources, dangerous undercurrent”.
Eridanus (XVI). This card has another eel-thing on it. I may just have a weakness for creepy eel-like fish creatures, but this is the card which originally compelled me to check out the Cosmos deck. I saw its picture in a post on Little Red Tarot, and was immediately drawn to it. Somehow, without background, and without much detail beyond the eel-creature’s fins and scales, the card screams ominous. Threat. Run. I love it. This card is “a twist of fate, at the mercy of a greater power”.
Sculptor (fire 1). Moving away from creepy eel creatures, this card bears an image of a huge marble figure, contemplating eir open hands peacefully. One of the sculptors stands on the hands of eir creation, looking up at its face. The sculpture seems to gaze right back down at its creator, knowingly, and seems to be blessing it. As an artist and writer myself, the communion shown here between creator and creation is very important to me. This card is “creative vision, artistic creation, the creator”.
Ara (fire 9). A goat, cut cleanly into pieces, tumbles in the air over an open wicker basket. This card is “ritual, ceremony, sacrifice”.
Ursa Major (air 4). A huge black bear-like creature, leaping into the air and raining a laser-beam down upon the hapless city from its mouth, a lá kaiju style. This card is “standing up for one’s self”.
Sextans + Octans (earth 2). A vast, labyrinthine maze with a tower keep at the center — some kind of prize. Ivy grows along the walls. The card is “science, education, mentorship”.
Crater + Corvus (earth 7). A crow flails, trapped in a net. This card is “procrastination, delay, excuses” — an image so, so accurate to that feeling and to my life. I’ll be watching out for this card.
To end the show, allow me to share with you my hands-down favorite card in this entire deck.
It is Cepheus (air 7). In fact, when I first acquired this deck and flipped through the art, I was quite skeptical of this card. The art style is really not my cup of tea, but I guessed it was the price of a deck where every card is illustrated by a different artist. Notably, I failed to read the key phrase when I first passed over this card.
“Foolish involvement in petty matters.”
Eventually, somehow, I did, and now… I love it. The art style, once ‘meh’, is perfectly suited to capture the sense of that key phrase, and now every time I look at this card my love of it and its ridiculous appropriateness grows.