Lupa’s new deck is one of the most unusual tarots ever created. It was inspired by ancient bone-casting divination methods. Each card features a skull or assemblage of bones arranged on a background field constructed with natural and reclaimed materials. The images were photographed by Sandra Swan.

This beautiful deck was approached with a great deal of thought. The imagery combines hints of RWS symbolism merged with Earth-spirituality. Major Arcana cards feature a wide variety of skulls and bones from mammals, birds, and amphibians. For example, The Emperor features a goat skull placed on top of a hill of stones that represents all the battles he’s won. Remaining on top requires constant vigilance. The card’s meanings include battles for supremacy, holding one’s ground, and gaining respect and authority. The Fool shows a coyote skull with a deer antler in her mouth surrounded by flowers. Coyotes are highly adaptable animals with great curiosity and intelligence. The bright flowers represent the optimism of spring. This Fool is eager for fresh adventures.

The Lovers card shows resin replicas of Galapagos albatross skulls within a circle of colorful stones. These birds engage in ritual mating dances every spring. Meanings include romance and more generally, successful cooperation.

The Minor Arcana cards are similarly ingenious. Cups cards are illustrated with ribs, the bones that protect and surround the heart. Wands use the movement-intensive bones of legs and feet. Pentacles cards show vertebrae, the spine bones that support the entire skeletal structure. Swords are represented by teeth and jaws that are capable of both intake and defense. The 4 of Wands has metacarpal bones of whitetail deer arranged with a garland of flora, echoing the same card in the RWS deck. The Ace of Cups centers on a lotus pod with flowers and a dog rib bone. The King of Pentacles is perfectly represented with a bison skull on a deep red field with golden adornments.

The companion book offers detailed card descriptions and meanings inspired by nature and natural history, along with spreads to use. Some – like the Horse and Wolf spreads – are designed specifically for this deck. Lupa explains her reasons for choosing specific bones and background items for each card, and includes fascinating tidbits about the animals and their habitats. The descriptions combine traditional, personal, and nature-inspired meanings.

Tarot of Bones is one of a very few decks that includes a twenty-second Major Arcana card. In this deck, the card is The Happy Squirrel. When it appears in a spread, it underscores the influence of chance and choice. The card backs are a collage of bones, mosses, stones, and fur.

The first view of these cards took my breath away! I was impressed by immense dignity and respect that Lupa’s arrangements confer to the bones and skulls. The deck conveys intense reverence for the natural world…to the extent that I felt the deck couldn’t be used until it was consecrated. I waited until the Moon was in Capricorn, the sign that rules bones! The first reading provided another jolt: this deck seems to convey one’s identity and activities unharnessed from gizmos and the trappings of contemporary life. The spread delved into my inner nature in a manner that was different from other decks. What a treat!

I highly recommend this tarot deck for a number of reasons. First, the sheer artistry is sensational. There’s not another deck like this one! Second, the book is well-written and offers a highly unique perspective on the cards. This deck, quite literally, cuts to the bone. You’ll get insights from this deck that can’t be obtained from other decks. It’s also perfect for a personal ceremonial deck. The depth of spirituality projected by the imagery is palpable. This deck is a bonanza for practitioners and tarotists involved in Earth spirituality. Lupa is consistently good and her work has been gaining depth and wisdom for years, but with this deck and book set, she’s outdone herself.

Profound and excellent: highly recommended.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Deck and Book by Lupa, 2017.
79 cards in custom box with 152 pg accompanying book. Deck $35, book $20. Available from