Order a Reading from Me

Order a Reading from Me
Please send relevant information to zannastarr@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

REVIEW: The Animal Wisdom Tarot


_About My Reviews_

The Animal Wisdom Tarot
by Dawn Brunke
Illustrated by Ola Liola
CICO Books
ISBN 978-1-908862-58-7

Related Web Sites:

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Those of you who know me, know that I love animal decks, whether they be true Tarot decks or oracles. I could tell from sample cards I saw on a web site that this deck belonged in my collection.

From a Tarot standpoint, I appreciate the suit names Dawn Brunke chose: Branches, Shells, Fossils, and Feathers. These seem clear and logical to me, so I won't flounder when I do readings with them. Her colors and elemental associations ring true as well. The titles on the Majors (listed below) fit very well with the traditional names/meanings of the cards.

From a numerological standpoint, I appreciate the Quick Guide provided in the accompanying book, as well as the symbols Brunke used to tie the suited cards linked with each number together (even though in at least a couple of instances, the symbol is missing from a specific card).

From an animal-knowledge standpoint, I appreciate the associations, parallels, and insights Brunke provides when describing how a particular animal exhibits characteristics linked with its associated Tarot card. I love that Brunke included such a wide variety of animals. Creatures in the suit of Air (Feathers) are birds; creatures who are at home in the Water populate the suit of Shells; land-dwelling animals are shown on the Earth (Fossils) cards. Fire (Branches), always presents a bit of a challenge in animal-themed decks. Brunke includes the expected reptiles and insects, but appearances are also made -- and justified -- by the Hummingbird, Lynx, Fox, Camel, Leopard, and Tiger.

I find the illustrations delightful -- realistic with a touch of fantasy and just enough whimsy to bring a smile to my face.

I do think that a reader who is already familiar with the Rider-Waite deck will get more out of this deck than someone who has limited or no experience with the RWS.


"Using tarot cards is a time-honoured way to see the patterns of the past, explore the potential of what is to come and predict your future. The Animal Wisdom Tarot contains an inspirational book and a complete deck of 78 tarot cards. Every card in the deck has been assigned its own animal from the major arcana cards to all the cards in the four suits. In the accompanying book Dawn Brunke gives an interpretation for each card, both on its own and in combination with others. For more inspiration, there are messages and guidance on how to read and interpret the cards. The cards and the book feature specially commissioned illustrations by Ola Liola."


Dawn Brunke
About the Author (from Amazon.com): "Dawn Brunke is a writer and editor who specializes in the areas of healing, metaphysics and spirituality. She is also an animal communicator and the author of Animal Teachings (CICO), Animal Voices, Shapeshifting with our Animal Companions and Animal Voices, Animal Guides, all of which explore the deeper nature of our relationship with animals, nature, spirit, each other and ourselves. Since 2004 she has been a columnist for Timeless Spirit, a spiritually enlightening online magazine. She is listed in both Who's Who in America and Who's Who of American Women."

In the introductory material of the accompanying guidebook, Dawn Brunke provides separate pages called:

  • "What is Tarot?"
  • "The Animal Wisdom Tarot"
  • "The Major Arcana"
  • "The Minor Arcana"
  • "The Four Suits"
  • "The Court Cards"

The following topics are also covered:

  • A Quick Guide to Numbers
  • How to Read Tarot Cards (The Basics, Suggestions)
  • Tarot Spreads (Past-Present-Future, Bear Pause, Honeybee: Lovers Spread, Celtic Cross)
  • Sample Reading

The suits in this deck are as follows:

  • Branches (Wands / Fire)
  • Shells (Cups / Water)
  • Fossils (Pentacles / Earth)
  • Feathers (Swords / Air)

Brunke tells us that a common symbol featured on each card unifies each set of numbers. For example, the illustration on each number Two card incorporates a yin-yang symbol (unfortunately, although I looked closely, I could not see such a symbol on the Two of Feathers). Each Three card features a trio of animals. Fours incorporate a four-leaf clover; Fives feature a pentagram, and so forth.

The Courts consist of the Seer (Page), Seeker (Knight), Nurturer (Queen), and Guardian (King).

Brunke tells us that she used her intuition and imagination to pair an animal spirit with each Tarot card, and that some these pairings surprised her. Here are her choices for the Major Arcana:

0 Coyote - The Trickster
1 Raven - Messenger of Magic
2 Cat - Knower of Secrets
3 Cow - Earth Mother
4 Ram - Earth Father
5 Bull - Keeper of Sacred Tradition
6 Honeybee - Heart Awakener
7 Horse - Spirit of Freedom
8 Lion - Ruler of the Open Heart
9 Owl - Keeper of the Light
10 Spider - Sacred Spinner
11 Elephant - Bearer of Justice
12 Bat - Master of Suspension
13 Moth - Omen of Death
14 Swan - Angel of Alchemy
15 Goat - Shadow God of Liberation
16 Serpent - The Quickener
17 Peacock - The Illuminator
18 Rabbit - Moon Dreamer
19 Rooster - Call to Awakening
20 Crocodile and Butterfly - Masters of Discernment
21 Whale - The All-Encompassing

Among the pairings that Brunke found surprising were "the friendly, inquisitive Goat" with The Devil and the "delicate Moth" with Death.

Brunke used her experience with Tarot and familiarity with animal teachings to create guidelines for artist Ola Liola to follow in her illustrations.

Printed on glossy, standard-weight stock, these cards measure 3-1/8 inches by 5-1/8 inches. Corners are rounded. There are no borders. Card backs are reversible.

The 96-page paperback guide measures 6-1/4 inches by 5-1/4 inches and contains color illustrations of cards. A descriptive page is devoted to each of the 78 cards. All of these include the name of the animal, card title, card number (and suit if applicable), title of the corresponding traditional card, and a Message. For the Majors we are also given a "Keynote" (keywords). For the Pips we are given the Element and a Theme. Court Cards are given two Elements each and a Quality (actually several qualities).

Pages have color-coded borders: purple for Majors, red for Branches, blue for Shells, green for Fossils, and yellow for Feathers.

This set is contained in an attractive, high-quality, heavy cardboard box with a removable end piece.


To describe the art style, I turn to illustrator Ola Liola herself: "Due to obsession to a tiny details and complex patterns I have developed my own unique and modern illustration style. My illustrations are hand drawn. I use water colours and ink with an occasional pencil and Rapidograph lines which give finished and precise look to my work."

Liola notes that her animals are realistic but their colors and textures are often surprising. She writes: "My goal is to create a strong experience that spark the curiosity to explore the world around us and a dream. In my work can be found a constant dialogue between two worlds: urban life and nature. My inspirations coming from fashion design, mythology, microscopic world, flora and fauna."

Not being a professional art critic, all I can tell you is that I LOVE Liola's art. I encourage you to visit her web page and blog (links above), where you can swoon or drool or any number of things that make me glad no one can see me through my computer...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving a comment. I love hearing from my readers!
~ Zanna