The Luna Sol Tarot
September 27, 2018
The Luna Sol Tarot, designed by author and illustrator Mike Medaglia, is based around balance. Duality is a major theme of the tarot in general, so it feels very appropriate—a great theme to meditate on even for someone very experienced in tarot, but also a great place to start for a beginner.
Even at a glance, the symbolism is clearly based on the traditional Rider Waite deck. The similarities are enough that, as someone comfortable with the Rider Waite, I was able to pick up the Luna Sol deck and read pretty seamlessly from it right away. But while the symbolism is very similar, Luna Sol’s fresh art gives it a very different feel. It’s unapologetically colorful and those colors are evocative, relying on a mostly warm and pastel color palette that’s very soothing. The art is both pleasantly cartoony and wonderfully arcane—I’m not sure how it manages to be both at once, but it absolutely does.
The other very cool thing about the art is the diversity in the depictions of people. Older, traditional tarot decks tend to be very white, and so seeing a much wider range of skin colors represented in Luna Sol feels like a wonderful breath of fresh air. We also see a diversity of body types in this deck, as well as some people who definitely read as queer to me. That’s harder to gauge, of course, but I particularly liked the androgynous character depicted on the “Hanged One,” as this deck renamed card XII (usually known as the “Hanged Man”).
There’s something about this deck that feels very gentle, beyond just the colors and art. The gentleness is in the symbolism too. There are several traditionally dark and serious cards that feel a little more mellow in the Luna Sol. The Emperor, usually stern and patriarchal, looks more like an explorer, learning things about the world around him. The Hierophant, normally depicted as a pope, is shown here as more of a guru or a sage. In the Ten of Swords, the swords are still piercing through the person, but flowers grow out of the tips, representing new growth after hardship. Even Death seems affable.
That gentleness is also represented in the small guidebook that comes with the deck, which is written in a very supportive way for newcomers to the hobby. In addition to the descriptions of each card, which are thoughtful and approachable, Medaglia gives tips on how to read intuitively. He suggests readers really look closely and meditate on the pictures, asserting that “the images are where the magic lies.” He also encourages trying out different ways of reading to see what suits you, as there are no right or wrong answers. It’s the correct way to look at tarot in general, and it makes me glad to think of newbies looking to this book for guidance and receiving this kind of gentleness and reassurance.
The booklet also contains some sample spreads for reading, including the traditional Celtic cross (my favorite spread) and a unique Luna Sol spread, designed to complement the deck. I really enjoyed doing readings with the Luna Sol spread, which focuses on reflecting thoroughly on the present more than looking towards the future. Reading from this deck felt calm and meditative to me. I found that the cards spoke plainly and intuitively, reading kind of like a story, and I found myself nodding and thinking, “okay, that makes sense.” Even seeing cards that I would rather not see felt less like a cause for panic and more like a gentle nudge towards understanding something difficult.
Overall, the Luna Sol Tarot is a really solid deck. It’s high quality, feels good to shuffle and read from, is reasonably priced, and even comes with an embroidered velvet bag to store your cards in! I think it would be particularly good for a beginner who wants to study the Rider Waite but prefers more gentle imagery, or a more experienced tarot reader looking for a quiet deck that imparts some tenderness into its readings. And Liminal 11 is definitely a publisher to keep your eye on for fans of the tarot, particularly with Lisa Sterle’s Modern Witch deck slated to be released in summer 2019!