Review: Ophidia Rosa Tarot

Review: Ophidia Rosa Tarot April 25, 2019

The Ophidia Rosa Tarot is an absolutely beautiful deck created by Leila + Olivia. A relatively small and independent company, the bio on their website says the following:

“Leila + Olive is an artist-run line of botanical talismans, illustrated by hand with an eye towards mysticism. Creator Nicole Rallis, a New York visual artist, cultivates each piece from her lifelong enchantment with plant magick into full-grown tools of divination.”

Rallis then talks about her love of working with botanicals and how they speak to her. It only seems natural that the worlds of plant life and divination would come together for her.

I first came upon this deck last October. I was at a night market held at the Old Pioneer Village in Salem, Massachusetts on my birthday, walking around with a dear friend of mine. There were many beautiful things at the market, but sadly most of it had gone by the time I got there as I had been working in a friend’s shop until late that day. We passed a table however and this deck reached out and touched me. “Come here,” it said. “Hold me, work with me.” I fell in love with it the moment that I picked it up.

If you don’t know by now, I have a bit of an obsession with botanicals. I’m an avid botanical gin drinker who makes herbal tinctures, oils, and incense for my shop Hawthorne & the Rose. It may be a bit of interest for me, however, this deck is gorgeous enough in its own right. It plays with the idea of the garden of myth and the serpentine nature of the creatures within it. The detail down the antiqued golden gilded edges, tea-stained thick cardstock, and herbal illustrations is absolutely gorgeous. There is an air of mystery to the deck and an urge to follow through the journey to find what’s around the next corner.

One of my favorite things about this deck is the descriptions in the pamphlet that comes with it. Rather than giving a generic breakdown of the card, each one is supplied with a beautiful poem that transports you into the garden with it. One thing that I will say is that this deck does require a good amount of knowledge of the tarot to read with though. While the illustrations are beautiful, they are subtle and difficult to read intuitively. Unlike a deck based on the Raider-Waite system, there is no clear dialogue painted out on the card. There is something to be said about surrendering to the imagery, the poems, and allowing yourself to be carried away by the spirit of the card though.

Other Works by the Artist

Leila + Olivia also offers two other decks that are infused with the magic of plants. The Pythia Botanica Oracle Deck and the Maiden Oracle. Both of these decks are oracle-based rather than tarot-based and lend themselves beautifully to losing yourself into the art. Both contain the same beautiful tea-stained and hand-illustrated look as the Ophidia Rosa.

The Pythia Botanica Oracle focuses more on the individual herbs and draws from mythological meanings for each, which are printed on each card with the art. Invoked by the myth of the Oracle of Delphi, each of these cards lends themselves to the botanical mysteries. This deck also includes a 54-page guidebook in order to delve deeper into the meanings of each card.

The Maiden Oracle, the newest of the trilogy, also lends itself to a more intuitive reading. Each card is named, but also includes the names of each of the plants included in the art. Though it is an oracle deck, it follows the more traditional structure of the tarot with 46 botanical oracle cards and 22 major arcana cards. This deck also includes a full guidebook to walk you through the deeper meaning of each card and how to read with them.

The poetic description of the High Priestess card.

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