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Cats are a popular theme for tarot and oracle decks, and for good reason. For centuries cats have been associated with religion, spirituality, and mysticism. Today, cats are much loved, as companions and as symbols of independence and a lack of concern for the opinions of others. We fancy that this spirit is born of an inner confidence that knows exactly what it wants and the best ways to achieve while maintaining a sense of nobility. In many ways, cats are metaphoric role models.
While there are many cat-themed tarot and oracle decks available, each one exploring various facets of these complex creatures, all are different and have something to offer. However, here we are showcasing the Mystical Cats Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone and Mickie Mueller. The initial reaction has been that this deck is really something special. As with any creative endeavor, the magic is usually something more than the sum of its parts. All the pieces come together in an alchemical magic to create something completely unexpected. The cats you will meet in these cards all have that special something. That said, we'll try to break down some of the key ingredients that came together in this enchanting work.
In her acknowledgements, Lunaea calls herself a "crazy cat lady in the making." I don’t know about that, but I do know that she has decades of tarot experience, a deep understanding of elemental energy, and a way of writing that clearly expresses complex ideas. She also seems to understand the cat magic trick of looking at the world through half-closed eyes with a lens of ancient wisdom in order to see, to appreciate, and to understand the mystery of the world. This, Lunaea's vision, is one of the magical elements of this deck and book.
As an artist, Mickie has a large following and her art is well loved by many and for good reason. Her work captures the magic she sees in the world. It is approachable without sacrificing power and depth. Mickie's art is a skillful combination of line, color, form, and composition. She also includes some very special magic. She uses special herbal infusions in all her watercolors. She selects the herbs based on their magical properties. All of the Mystical Cats images include catnip as well as other herbs. One of my favorite parts of the book is the appendix: Sketches from Mickie Mueller's Old Wooden Art Table. There are thirteen of the initial sketches for the images with annotations by Mickie. There are hand-written notes and some examples of the collaboration between Mickie and Lunaea. This is a fascinating and rare peek behind the curtain of the creative process that goes into the creation of a tarot deck. For each sketch, Mickie shares which herbs she used in each painting, such as ginko leaf, olive, milkweed, althea, and many others.
Enough about the humans involved. It is time to talk about the cats. One things that has delighted many fans of this deck is that it features some real cats, including one of my favorite cats in the world, my father's cat, Grayson. Grayson is the Sky Tom. He was born feral and adopted by my dad and now rules that household as only a Tom from the Sky (Air) family can. Using real cats as inspiration may be one reason this deck feels so immediate. The archetypal energy of the traditional card meanings is channeled through actual cats, bringing the abstract down to earth. Oddly enough, the cats are set in mystical or fantastical locations and settings and yet they all seem perfectly at home there. (Probably because they'd been there before in another life, is my guess.)
To give the cats their own voice, to let them participate in this article, I shuffled my deck and asked them what they wanted to say here, for you, the readers of this article.
They gave me: Earth King, Sun, and Good Kitty (known as Judgement in other decks).
The Earth King speaks of their collective pleasure in working with Lunaea and Mickie. The Earth King is very protective of his clan (in this case not just the Earth clan, but all cats) and is very aware of his responsibility to them and all the ancestors who've come before. He lets us know that Lunaea and Mickie did an excellent job of honoring the spirit of Cat and of all cats past and present.
With the Sun card, these cats let us know that they are so at home and comfortable in this deck. It is warm and full of all the best blessings from their Cat Goddess. They are relaxed and feel they are depicted both honestly and at their best. The Sun shines the light of truth but is also warm and life giving, or even better, life affirming. So these cats hope to reveal truth in a way that affirms and nurtures life.
Which leads ever-so-nicely to the final card, Good Kitty. Humans call this card Judgement, and that title contains so much baggage that we sometimes cannot get past the guilt and self-criticism that is triggered. But Lunaea has captured their voice so well, I will share her words here. I like to think this is their special message for us and for how they hope this, their deck, will help us whenever we consult it for guidance. This is from the accompanying book, Tales of the Mystical Cats:
The Cat's Advice
I think that is a beautiful message and great advice. A few last things before I go take a cat nap. The book includes extra illustrations by Mickie and four spreads that Lunaea created specifically for this deck: At the Threshold, Shield of Sekhmet, Council of the Five Tigers (perhaps my favorite!), and the Nine Lives Spread.
I asked the cats for one last card to end this article, and they gave me The Cat (which is called The Fool in human decks). Clearly these cats are eager to be our companions on the great journey of life.
Barbara Moore (Saint Paul, MN) has studied and read tarot since the early 1990s. She wrote the bestselling Tarot for Beginners and more than a dozen other books, and she has contributed to many bestselling tarot kits, ...