The story behind this tarot deck is as fascinating as the deck itself. Lucy Delices is a wandering orphan who’s traveled to extraordinary places around the world to find herself, searching for healing from personal losses, and for spiritual connections. Over a period of several years, Delices traveled and worked in northern Scandinavian countries and worked at a hotel in the Lake District of England. She began to study healing plants and most particularly plants with hallucinogenic properties. Eventually she was drawn to the Amazon River and the Andes Mountain range. She ingested ayahuasca with spirit doctors. Her visionary experiences helped her reconnect with her childhood love of art.
Her tarot art was rendered in the Peruvian Andes where Delices explored Incan ruins and symbols. The deck contains a wide variety of imagery from prehistoric and ancient civilizations around the globe including Celtic, Egyptian, South American, shamanic, and Viking graphic elements. Design features recur on various cards. For instance, the Emperor has a mushroom head, and mushrooms reappear on the 4 of Pentacles, The Hermit, the 7 of Cups, and other cards. Henge structures and menhirs are featured on various cards, as are totemic masks, feathers, witch’s hats, marijuana leaves, ziggurats (step pyramids), bugs and insects, snakes and serpents, birds, trees, and flowers. Some of the figures are bordered with Celtic braiding, others with clouds, and many with intensely detailed patterns drawn in black ink. The patterns hark back to ancient Greek pottery and indigenous tribal weaving designs. Solid black fields surround the central images in their settings.
The deck is black and white, a rarity. The lack of color heightens the power and intensity of the images. There are few fully drawn human figures; busts or bust and torso renderings predominate. The heavy black borders in the drawings threw me at first but became more helpful and meaningful as I became more familiar with the deck.
The Major Arcana cards have the standard titles and the suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The card backs show a hand with a star on the index finger; reversals will be apparent when shuffling.
Delices taps into the primal, alien imagery that may be experienced during hallucinogenic visions. Her renderings delve deeply into the collective unconscious’s caverns of memories of cave paintings and Stone Age structures. Some of her images, The Devil in particular, shares the impact and presence of the stone carvings found in Gobekli Tepi (discovered in modern Turkey, built approximately 11,000 BCE). The drawings draw the reader to a place where realities and barriers lose relevance. The language of trees, plants, animals and even the pulse of the Earth herself become more palpable. Some may experience a daunting leap into the Time Before when first encountering this deck. With increasing use, a tarot reader will discover enough familiar mooring posts to avoid drifting into the forgotten storehouse of the primitive mind. The deck will be most easily accessible by readers who’ve had guided hallucinogenic trips, vision quests, or familiarity with prehistoric artifacts.
The Visionary Path Tarot is an astonishing tour de force, an eldritch blend of great subtlety and fierce power. The reader should be prepared to sink into the images without judgment and allow them to speak. Once tapped into the wavelength of the deck’s imagery, readers will discover depths of meaning far beyond the basic divinatory meanings in the booklet. This one’s a keeper. Bravo!
~Review by Elizabeth Hazel
Creator: Lucy Delices
2020. Park Street Press (Inner Traditions)
78 cards and 32-page booklet in two-part box