This is the first deck to be released from the Dual Deck titled Book of Shadows. This first component is titled Vol. I, "As Above". Vol. II, "So Below" is to be released in March of 2013. As Above is a full 78 card deck where it is not a RWS "clone". In her blog, Barbara mentions that she has taken more liberties and strayed from the standard RWS format. She states that the companion deck So Below will be more RWS friendly. This first deck is a more mystical and spiritual deck, where the As Below deck is said to be more down to Earth.
The cards are all painted, no CGI here! You will also not find the "faces of people" some find bothersome. The artistry is wonderful! This deck features the collaborated works of Simone Gabrielli, Grzegorz Kryinski, Franco Rivolli, and Pietro Scola di Mambro. For anyone worried about the unity of the deck due to multiple artists, I do not find it to be a problem. While there are some artistic differences to be found within the deck, the deck is very cohesive and united as a whole.
The Borders are a deep blue, with a bit of green undertone. The Numerals are held within a grey Triple Goddess symbol as the united Waning, Full and Waxing Moons. The cards' imagery is contained in a thin grey outline. The font and titles of the card are also in grey, in an all-capital font which is a flourished print. The titles of the cards are all done in English, no multi-lingual Lo Scarabeo titles to be found here!
The backs of the cards are also bordered in the deep blue-green, with a thin grey outline separating the main image from the border. The image background is of a starry sky. The foreground features the Triple Goddess symbol of Waning, Full and Waxing Moons. These Moons are done in a tarnished brass, with the Full Moon containing a Pentacle etched in a purple overlay. This symbol is taken from the card III - The Goddess. There are two sets of this symbol; top and bottom. The bottom symbol is reversed, so that the cards are completely reversible.
In the As Above Major Arcana, Barbara Moore has re-named most of the traditional titles (with the exception of XXI - The World), but managed to stick with a RWS format. -That is, 22 Cards numbered 0 - 21, with her equivalents to Strength as VIII and Justice as XI. The Majors are titled with their Roman Numeral at the top, and Moore's title at the bottom.
In the LWB provided with As Above, Moore lists the Majors in the traditional format, giving the numerical value, traditional title, and her title:
0 - The Fool - The Summerlands
I - The Magician - The Elements
II - The High Priestess - Wisdom
III - The Empress - The Goddess
IV - The Emperor - The God
V - The Hierophant - The Book of Shadows
VI - The Lovers - Beltane
VII - The Chariot - Transformation
VIII - Strength - Spellcasting
IX - The Hermit - The Path
X - The Wheel - The Wheel of the Year
XI - Justice - Mabon
XII - The Hanged Man - The Circle
XIII - Death - Yule
XIV - Temperance - Ostara
XV - The Devil - Lammas
XVI - The Tower - Omens
XVII - The Stars - Imbolc
XVIII - The Moon - Samhain
XIX - The Sun - Litha
XX - Judgement - Initiation
XXI - The World - The World
The Suits are: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. The Aces are labeled as "1", and the Courts are: Elemental, Maiden, Mother and Crone. Moore equates these with the Traditional Knave, Knight, Queen, and King. The Elemental has the Alchemical Symbol at the top, The Maiden has a Waxing Moon Symbol, The Mother a Full Moon Symbol, and the Crone a Waning Moon symbol.
The suit of Fire is the Astrological component of the deck. Ace (1) is The Sun, 2 - Mercury, 3 - Venus, 4 - Mars, 5 - Jupiter, 6 - Saturn, 7 - Uranus, 8 - Neptune, 9 - Pluto, and 10 is The Stars. The Planets are depicted in the backgrounds with their mythological God/dess gracing the foregrounds. X - The Stars depicts the Sun Sign Zodiacs amongst a celestial background. The Elemental is a Salamander slithering amongst lit candles. The Maiden is a woman dressed in red, with red hair, holding a lit long-stemmed candle. The Mother is a woman dressed in red, with red hair, standing before an open flame. The Crone is an older woman in red, who holds an extinguished candle.
The suit of Air is the Divinitory and Sense of Reality aspect of the deck. The Ace (1) is titled Dreams, 2 - The Pendulum, 3 - Scrying, 4 - Omens, 5 - Palmistry, 6 - The Attendant, 7 - I Ching, 8 - Meditation, 9 - The Runes, and 10 is of course The Tarot. The Elemental is the Sylph surrounded by clouds and blank pages flitting through the Air. The Maiden a younger woman searching through a natural area; it appears to be night, and she is surrounded by golden birds. The Mother is a woman amongst the clouds where books fly around her freely. The Crone is an old woman gingerly holding the biggest book yet closed. The Minors depict scenes and situations where the Sylphs can be found interacting with otherwise realistic scenarios.
The suit of Water is the Faces of the Goddess aspect of this deck. While the suit of Fire depicted mostly male Gods, the suit of Water appropriately depicts mostly female Goddesses. The Ace (1) is The Chalice and The Athame (depicting The Great Rite), 2 - Aphrodite (and Eros), 3 - Flora, Creation and Fertility, 4 - Bridget - Healing, 5 - Bellona - War, 6 - Sarasvati - Wisdom and Culture, 7 - Ma'at - Justice, 8 - Cerridwen (and Taliesan) - Magic and Transformation, 9 - Lakshmi - Prosperity, and 10 is Hecate of the Otherworld. Barbara has included many Goddesses from different cultures, and managed to include the iconic Goddesses of the Wiccan and Pagan Cultures. The Elemental chosen are the Nixes, creatures made of Water splashing happily amongst Water. The Maiden is a young woman standing in the sea at sunset, while a dolphin makes its way out of the Water. The Mother is a woman reaching to the sky as the rain pours down upon a rather barren landscape. The Crone is an older woman, supporting a bottle (which looks rather like a wine bottle) with its liquid contents safeguarded.
The suit of Earth contains the natural World and Earthy aspects of our planet. The Ace (1) is The Human Body imposed on Pentacle, surrounded by the Elementals of the Suits, 2 - The Beach, 3 - Stones and Crystals, 4 - Mountains and Waterfalls, 6 - Trees and Forest, 7 - Sea Creatures, 8 - Air Creatures, 9 - Land Creatures, and 10 is titled A Full Day; where we see the Earth in the celestial stars, Sun atop, Moon below, Gnomes gracing the Earth's surface. Gnomes are featured in every Pip card, while the Elemental has a close-up. The Maiden is a young woman happily making her way through a field of flowers. The Mother is a woman standing amongst a field of grains. The Crone is an older woman standing in a winter scene, relishing the falling snowflakes around her.
Overall, I'm surprised and shocked how well Moore's themes mesh with the traditional titles and card meanings. They fit so well together, that I'm baffled no one has managed to come up with it before! Truely, this is THE Pagan/Wiccan deck for me! I can see so many uses for it besides the standard divination purposes based off just the Major Arcana alone! The Goddess and God cards could be used for meditation and contact with the divine. The Sabbats cards would make lovely alter decorations for these special times of the year. This deck is not just a Tarot deck, but could supplement and encourage deeper Pagan and Wiccan spiritual studies. Myths, God/desses, Sabbats, Astrology, and Divination techniques are portrayed being a welcome introduction for those unenlightened. Inspiration and meditation, among many others, are other ideal uses for this pack of divinitory cards!