Maggie Stiefvater and The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot

Raven's prophecy tarot 3This tarot deck was one of my most anticipated items on my holiday wish list this year. And because my parents love me, I got it for Christmas! For those of you who don’t know, Maggie Stiefvater is one of my absolute favorite authors of YA fantasy, and she recently designed a tarot deck to go with her latest series, The Raven Cycle. Since the first book in this series, The Raven Boys, was my favorite book of 2015 and I’m always drooling over Maggie Stiefvater’s artwork, I knew I needed to get my hands on this deck.

While the Raven’s Prophecy Tarot doesn’t resemble any particular deck mentioned in the Raven Cycle books, the artwork is loosely inspired by the series, and ravens are featured prominently on many of the cards. The best part of this tarot set, however, is the reading guide that comes with it. Illuminating the Prophecy by Maggie Stiefvater is by far the most approachable tarot guide I’ve ever read. I’ve been trying to get into tarot for years, but none of the previous guides and explanations I’ve read really did it for me, and I just never felt like I truly understood the cards. Reading interpretations straight from a book in the middle of a tarot session always felt clunky and often irrelevant, but I had no idea how to go about memorizing the seemingly arbitrary interpretations of seventy-eight different cards and then applying them appropriately during a reading. Maggie’s deck changed all that. In Illuminating the Prophecy, she describes each suit as if it were a cohesive story—generally the story of the development from a young novice to an experienced master and all of the trials, tribulations, and successes that come between. This makes it easier to remember the interpretations of each card, since from the number on it alone, you can at least tell where it falls along this arc. Then of course, each of the minor arcana is associated with a particular aspect of life—like cups with emotions or relationships and coins with the material world. Lastly, Maggie gives an explanation of her decisions behind the artwork on each card, which can help you find hints on the card itself of its meaning.

Maggie takes a story-based approached to interpreting tarot spreads, as well. Though Illuminating the Prophecy also includes instructions on how to do the more common one-card or three-card spreads, the book’s focus is on Maggie’s preferred ten-card spread. While this is one of the most elaborate methods of doing a tarot reading that I’ve ever encountered, having so many cards makes for a much more detailed reading, and Maggie teaches you how to tie all ten of them together into one story.

Maggie's ten-card spread. For those of you who don't have The Raven's Prophecy Tarot, she also explains how to do this spread on her tumblr.
Maggie’s ten-card spread. For those of you who don’t have The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot, she also explains how to do this spread on her tumblr.

The only downside for serious tarot readers is that Maggie Stiefvater’s personal biases are quite evident in her interpretations of the cards—although this is kind of an upside for serious fans who might enjoy the insight into this author’s brain. It quickly becomes clear that wands are Maggie’s favorite suit, and she rarely has anything negative to say about any wand card. The opposite is true for swords, which made it rather difficult to use Maggie’s guide for interpreting a spread I did where swords kept cropping up in seemingly positive positions. As with any tarot deck, you’ll have to work to develop your own personal understanding of the cards. But in the meantime, The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot is perfect for beginner tarot readers—especially those who feel a special connection to Maggie Stiefvater and her works.

Have you done any readings with The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot? What did you think? Did you find Maggie’s interpretations useful? Got any helpful resources for other ways to interpret cards in the swords suit? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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