Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Deck Review (and a reading): The Stone Tarot

I recently acquired the Stone Tarot, and I am so pleased! I'd been admiring the images for a few months, and finally decided to take the plunge. This deck was self-published in 2000 by Alison Stone, a writer, poet, and psychotherapist who lives and works in New York. The Stone Tarot is a series of 78 oil paintings that she created over a period of many years. She has used bright, rich colors and visible influences derive most noticeably from Rider-Waite-Smith, with touches from Marseilles and Thoth.

Deck Basics

Card count: 78
Card backs: Star/moon design, non-reversible
Card stock: Sturdy, matte, easy to shuffle
Majors: Traditional titles (Hanged One, Universe) Justice XI, Strength VIII
Minors: Illustrative pips
Courts: King, Queen, Knight/Amazon, Page
Suits: Wands, Swords, Pentacles, Cups
Stone Tarot by Alison Stone
The card backs are technically not reversible, however as you can see, they are painted in rich blues and purples in a star and moon design. Due to the texture, reversed cards would be noticeable, but would not stand out significantly. I love this color scheme, and in fact Alison Stone's use of color throughout the entire deck is breathtaking.

The Majors are traditional, with the Hanged Man appearing as the "Hanged One," and the World appearing as the alternate "Universe." The silver crescent moons in the High Priestess card seem to glow over the purple and blue backdrop, and the reddish staff held by the Hermit took on an almost 3-D effect as I was examining it, which was very cool. This is the result of the color and textural combinations that Stone has employed.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
This is perhaps one of my favorite Tower depictions ever. A jagged lightning bolt descending from the sun pierces the tower and sets it alight with fire as two figures fall towards the earth. The image is very traditional, but the rich hues, and the combination of primary colors softened by the white plumes of smoke and orange glow of the flames, are captivating.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
The Hanged One shines brightly in front of what appears to be a deep, blue cave. The light surrounding his head brings to mind the enlightenment possible through sacrifice. Justice glows in bright red, off-set by green detailing, her scales balanced, and sword upright and ready for action.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
The Minor Arcana do not feature full scenes with people, but they are not truly "pips." Alison Stone has done a wonderful job of highlighting the core energy of each card via the positioning of the suit elements and the use of color and texture (as goes with the theme!). You can see that here in the 6 of Wands, where all are aligned and upright, basking in the glow of the sun, or in the 5 of Wands where strife is cleverly conveyed over an orange background.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
I particularly love the Court cards in the Stone Tarot. Here, the Knight of Wands rides forth with purpose and smoldering energy, under a lion-faced sun. The Queen of Wands is lit by fiery heat, but the blue background reminds us that she is "water of fire."
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
In the suit of Cups here are two examples of the unpeopled-yet-clear card meanings. The 5 of Cups obviously draws from the RWS system, conveying the sense of loss in the 3 spilt cups, while the two remaining cups stand in the shadow - healing that is available yet at the moment forgotten. The 2 of Cups draws on the joy of the sun, and the unity between the two forces - one gold cup, one silver - is shown in the water leaping from one into the other.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
In the Stone Tarot, Alison Stone has added some gender-balance by having Knights in two suits (Wands and Swords) and Amazons in the remaining two (Cups and Pentacles). Both Knights and Amazons are portrayed astride horses per the traditional depictions, and they carry traditional meanings despite the slight variation. While the background in these cards carries the same color scheme (blues, greens, purples), the use of texture sets a rich scene that looks rather like the Louisiana bayou.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
From the suit of Swords, it's clear that even without human figures, no meaning is lost or muddied. The 10 of Swords shows ten swords protruding from a stone that appears to bleed into the surrounding water. In the 3 of Swords we see a very traditional and jarring image of three swords piercing a realistic-looking heart. In the background the sky is stormy grey, with a bloody rain falling.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
The Knight and Page of Swords show every evidence of their suit, as they're surrounded in pale clouds, each bearing an upturned blade. The Knight rides a swift pegasus while the Page card features a flying hawk.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
The 7 of Pentacles is exquisitely painted, with green leaves, and bright flowers in red, blue and purple, with golden pentacles in their centers. The connection to the RWS farmer reviewing his harvest can be seen here. In the 5 of Pentacles, five coins are stacked in a dreary-looking room that looks rather like a prison. The red-streaked wall calls forth feelings of discomfort, which is appropriate for this card!
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
I think the Court cards from the suit of Pentacles are my favorite. You'll notice that all of the people in this deck look rather serious, however I don't see this as "dour," rather it reminds me of medieval portraits or religions icons, which I like. I adore the deep greens and purples here. I love the bright red flowers hanging in the Queen's tree, and the lush fields of violets in both cards.
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
I am very pleased to have this deck in my collection, not least because it's self-published rather than being mass-produced. The card stock feels....self-published! I don't know how else to describe it. It's sturdy and high-quality, but the cards have a certain matte-feel that is unlike typical mass-produced decks, and adds an extra layer of uniqueness to the deck.

If you like what you see, you can purchase this deck directly from the artist (click here for her website) or through Goddess Ink for an extremely reasonable price. Alison Stone also offers a book of Tarot poetry for those interested.

A Reading with the Stone Tarot

Now, a review wouldn't be complete without at least a short reading! I decided to pull a card asking "What will help me get through the next week?" I'm balancing two intensive classes, double lectures (which means teaching non-stop from 9am-5pm), and to top it off I'm feeling a bit under the weather!

As I was shuffling I was thinking: "It'll probably tell me that 'it's all in how you look at things'." And then I flipped over the Hanged One. Sigh. Gotta love it!

My Uncle Joe always said, "Attitude is everything." And he was right: attitude is quite a powerful thing. For some reason, seeing this card reminded me of the laughing therapy of the curanderos: laughing releases endorphins which make you feel good, heal faster, and overall make you more resilient. You just...start laughing...deep belly laughs, at first manufactured but eventually they become sincere because, you know, it's kinda funny listening to yourself laugh heartily!

So the key to changing my outlook about work is to find the humor in my situation - or just in general to be open to laughing a bit, and see how it lightens my load.

For curiosity's sake, I decided to ask the cards: "How would you describe the impact of laughter therapy?" I pulled the King of Cups!
Stone Tarot - A. Stone
Healing force (the counselor), emotional balance and health, reclaiming power. Hm, yeah. And this king is the court that most often represents me, so I'll take it as a doubly positive sign that laughter is indeed my best medicine this week. (Fortunately I have a really good sense of humor!)


  1. Well this deck is definitely accurate. I always have to laugh when the cards are so beautifully to the point or perhaps even literal.
    Hopefully you will feel a lot better before the coming week
    Keep "Laughing Out Loud" lol

    1. Olivia DestradesJuly 22, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      Ha! Yeah, and you know what, I haven't been consciously attempting to do it (laugh out loud) but I seem to be finding a lot of things funny today ;-)

  • Great review, Olivia! The artwork in some of the cards, especially the Court Pentacles, reminds me of some of Rousseau's paintings. This one has gone on to the wishlist :)

    1. Olivia DestradesJuly 22, 2015 at 5:50 PM

      Thanks, Rose! Yes, you're right, and I hadn't thought of that! I knew they reminded me of something.... there is definitely something similar in the style of art that Rousseau has, cool observation!