I love these cards. I feel that Michael Goepferd had no idea just how much he had accomplished with this beautiful deck before he passed. Brian Williams, historian, artist, and tarot deck creator certainly knew, as is conveyed in his sensitive text in the book that accompanies the deck. The book is written in equally artistic prose, which is a tribute to the fabulous linoleum blockprint cards.
The process of creating art via linoleum block prints necessitates the ability to see negative space as well as positive space. This use of positive/negative space makes the deck very effective for doing shadow work. Another thing that makes this deck especially suited for such work is its beautifully neutral "tone". This is not a deck like Medicine Woman (reviewed later in this series), which is affirmative to the point of dispensing only hugs, nor is it like the Thoth deck, which tends to hit one up beside the head more often than not. This is not a criticism of either of the decks mentioned above, as I use them both; but for shadow work, the pure neutrality of a deck that offers a clear and equal look at both light and shadow is the ideal choice. The elimination of color is a third mechanism for facilitating such studies. The reader now sees reality reduced to simple black and white, with no distractions.
The word "Shadow", used here to mean a psychological construct, was introduced by Carl Jung. Simply put, the shadow is all the baggage we carry around and refuse to look at, for fear of what we might see. The unfortunate thing is that refusal to acknowledge and deal with shadows is what makes them become increasingly more terrifying and crippling. Shadow work allows the individual to bring those shadows into the light for examination and release. Such a release, though possibly attained with some pain, leads to intense empowerment.
Notice the small, huddled dark figure on the back of the character in the Ten of Wands. This is a great illustration of the conceptual shadow self, which not surprisingly is out of the man's vision, yet adding to his load. The man is carrying far more than mere wands and ridding himself of that shadow burden would make the wands much easier to handle.
Whether Goepferd realized the potential of his art and this medium as a way to access the shadow self or not, his deck is very powerful for such purposes.
The Shaman must be able to see her own Shadow self in all of its manifestations. Only by recognition of these shadows, and by their subsequent acknowledgement, clearing, and healing, can the Shaman move on to heal herself and those who seek her out. I use this deck constantly in my daily work. It never lies to me.... and it never fails to show me where I need to do further work.
Review by Valerie Sim-Behi