I am a huge fan of Mary Elizabeth Evans' Spirit Speak Tarot, so it comes as no surprise that her new oracle deck, Vessel, was very highly anticipated around here! After seeing sneaky peeks of it on instagram for weeks before its release, I am so pleased to have this baby in my hot little hands. Now that I've had a little time to get to know it, I thought I'd share a bit of a tour around this deck, so you can see it for yourself.
In case you missed it, a few weeks ago I spoke to Mary about this new creation and she gave such in-depth and thoughtful insights into her work - a must read!
I've said before that I'm not crazy about oracle decks (tarot structure nerd, hello!) but honestly, that is beginning to shift. There used to be a few exceptions to the rule, but now, I'm using a whole variety of oracle decks more and more. When reading for myself, I use them almost exclusively these days - what's that about, I wonder? I think I have to credit the amazing creators working in this space for that shift - there really is an oracle deck out there now for every approach and aesthetic taste! Vessel is definitely a deck after my own heart.
The first thing that bears a mention is the sturdy and sweet packaging. This box seems tough enough to survive all manner of handbag misadventures! The cards come in a very structurally sound gatefold box with a magnetic closure - a very nice touch! Nice touches are really the name of the game with this deck, as we find inside, the box is lined with Mary's heart illustrations, a detail that makes the whole package so delicious and pleasing to the eye.
The deck itself is comprised of thirty-five cards, and comes with a little white book on glossy paper with short meanings for each card. Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I really like that the cards are not numbered. Maybe it's my tarot structure nerd busting in and trying to take meaning from everything, but I often find the numbers on oracle cards distracting if they aren't meaningful! Here, there are no numbers to get in the way, just a word or phrase, and Mary's evocative and strange illustrations. Fear not, the book is arranged alphabetically, so even without numbers it's easy to look up the card in front of you.
Getting into the deck itself, it's interesting to see the contrast between this deck and its predecessor. The Spirit Speak Tarot can be quite stark (which is one of the things I like about it), but Vessel is all warm pinks and love hearts. For my 80s and 90s babes, you could say the whole thing has a bit of a Weetzie Bat feel to it! It also brings to mind that other 90s cultural icon, the heart-shaped box, because this deck encourages us to think about the range of emotions that our hearts can hold and work through. As the creator herself says,
The idea is that our hearts are like vessels that contain our emotions and feelings. Looking at it that way makes me feel less consumed by one feeling because there is space for them all. Some feelings or emotions just need to be acknowledged or worked through and call for our energy.
Vessel reminds us that our emotional bodies are the stage for this rich aspect of life. By working with this deck, we can come to know our hearts more deeply, to heal their wounds, and open ourselves up to the variety of experiences available to us. It's a sweet and comforting idea, but one that runs deep. This is some serious healing business!
In terms of the subject matter of the cards, there are some straight-up warm and fuzzies, like Support, Love, and It Gets Better, while other cards run the gamut from what I would think of as more neutral concepts, like Choice, Make, and Freedom. Others take us into more challenging territory, with Fear, Anxiety, Defeat.
It's interesting to me, though, that the cards I consider to be positive, neutral, or challenging, might be rather different for someone else. What makes this deck so powerful is that while the emotions it describes are universal, our individual experience of them will be utterly unique. As a good card deck should, these simple concepts can be read in myriad ways, and each card offers many layers of potential interpretation, ready to be informed and coloured by the reader's intuition and personal experience. A simple idea like Rest or Movement can be made rich with complex and individual associations.
When I first sat down with Vessel, I did what I usually do after flipping through all the cards and oohing and ahhing over the packaging. I asked it what it wanted me to know - about its nature, and how it would like to be used. This was my first draw -
POWER - LOVE - HEALING - BEGIN. You don't need to tell me twice! Vessel is clearly ready to get to work, to unleash connection, meaning, and heart healing. I'm looking forward to using it in my own readings, and also throwing a card or two into client tarot readings, too!
Vessel, as well as its sister deck, The Spirit Speak Tarot, is available from Two Sides Tarot now! As ever, shipping is free within Australia. If you're in the UK or Europe, you can find both these wonderful decks at Little Red Tarot, or directly from the creator in the United States.
What are your thoughts about Vessel? If it's part of your collection, how have you found working with it? I'd love to know, so do leave me a note in the comments!