Ask the Witch is a 78 card Tarot deck and guidebook that comes in a well constructed hinge box. The cards are 3x5 inches, glossy and made from exceptional card stock. The deck is an upgraded version of Waite/Rider deck with images of Goddesses, nature spirits, people, and animals taking the place of the traditional archetypes. They are black bordered and the images are exquisitely rendered in comic book style.

The deck comes with a beautifully constructed saddle bound guide book. Each page is illustrated; the paper is brown which is easy on the eyes as well as the font. The content is packed with information including a bit of tarot history, as well as information about the witches that each card depicts. There are stories, keywords labeled as spells, spreads, and an introduction in the back where you find each witches message.

Major Arcana is female-centric, which depicts a wide array of goddesses, witches, sprites, and people, such as my beloved Joan of Arc. The Minor Arcana are a bit more ambiguous, such as the Five of Swords. For every witch, there is a familiar. I love the red wolf at the foot of the Queen of Pentacle's throne, for example. All the knights rides birds that are associated with their element. The Knight of Cups, for example, rides a heron, and the Knight of Swords, rides a raven.

The Major Arcana archetypes are fascinating in that they carry traditional symbols, but are slightly different slightly different. Take, for instance Empress card in the traditional Waite/Rider Deck. In the Waite, the Empress is all motherly, warm and obviously pregnant, both physically, and creatively. But take a look at the Empress in the Ask the Witch Deck. Here we see Ceridwen leaning in her throne, stick in hand, stirring her cauldron containing a brew that can kill if one is not prepared to drink it. She is not the gentle benevolent Empress we expect to see. Ceridwen is looking right at us with tears of frustration flowing down her cheeks with an expression that lets us know she's  not going to put up with our sass. She expects us to create something wonderful and she won't take no for an answer.

This is a wonderful deck, and the more you work with it the more intimate it becomes. It vibrates with clear vibrant energy that is soothing and welcome. The cards in the Minor Arcana are designed with enough ambiguity that anyone will feel comfortable with it. And with the loving care and  excellent construction, it is well worth the price. Red Wheel and Rock Pool really hit this one out of the ball park. Outstanding.

~Review by Patricia Snodgrass

Creator: Franchesca Matteoni, Illustrations by Simone Pace
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2021
p. $24.95 pp.126