La Flora Tarot is a very unique tarot deck that I am so excited to review for you today. La Flora is a botanical tarot deck inspired by The Intelligence of Flowers and scientific drawings that are centuries old. It offers a study on the correlation between plants and all the Tarot archetypes in a deep, meaningful way. It is then brought to life through beautiful botanical art that is created by stippling, an artistic technique using dots. La Flora is a beautiful Rider Waite Smith tarot deck and I am thrilled to share it with you today.
Tarot Deck Review – La Flora
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In Walter Benjamin’s essay The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age, he describes the aura of a piece of art. It’s “unique existence” that cannot be copied. Though copies are made.
I remember a professor explaining this to us by discussing the Mona Lisa. We can all google images of the Mona Lisa, but there is something about being there. Seeing the original piece of art. That personal connection creates a different experience than telling Siri to show you the Mona Lisa.
While the essay goes on to discuss and critique other aspects of society and technology, the concept of the aura of a piece of art stuck with me.
The Power of Creativity
I’m sure you can all think of a time that you witnessed something special in the realm of creativity. The first time you heard a certain song. The first time you saw that movie in the theater. Where you were when you read a certain part of a certain book.
Me? I will never forget watching the first Lord of the Rings film in theaters when I was a teenager. Instantly, I knew I had just witnessed something special, a labour of love that doesn’t come along every day.
I still remember where I was (eating sushi) when I read a certain famous scene in The Godfather. The aura of brilliance pulsed through that movie and that book.
As I sat down to open and examine this deck, that same pulse quieted all other sounds around me. Time stopped. I remember feeling the cards, my jaw dropping at their beauty, and I had that same realization. I knew I was experiencing a work of art. A labour of love and brilliance, that does not happen every day.
You can sense the love and work that someone has poured into a creation. While Benjamin may have been critical of creating copies, I could only feel grateful for this technology, as it enabled this deck to find its way into my hands and heart.
From the moment I opened the box, examining each card and diving into the wealth of wisdom and perspective in the guide book, I knew one thing.
I had added La Flora to the list of creations who’s aura would stay with me.
La Flora Tarot is a deck based on the Rider-Waite deck’s symbolism. The creator, Iara Côrtes, is an illustrator and lover of plants. Each card in the deck features a different plant with the latin name of the plant to the left and the english name to the right.
Côrtes says in the guidebook that she sought to connect plant symbolism to the meaning of the tarot cards, so each plant has a connection with the meaning of that particular tarot card.
Fear not, you do not need to know about each plant to read this deck! The guidebook explains each card through the lens of both the meaning of the tarot and the plant.
The cards are slightly larger than standard tarot cards, measuring just shy of three inches by 5 inches. The card stock is satisfying, providing flexibility while shuffling without feeling paper thin.
Even the box is a treat, as upon opening it you see that the artwork continues from the outside of the box to the inside of the tuck box it comes in.
Available as either a PDF or a softcover book, the guidebook adds even more depth and beauty to the La Flora tarot experience. In fact, you may find that your experience is not the same without it.
Complete with quotes from various writers and artists throughout the centuries, artwork depicting the deities and plants associated with the tarot, this guidebook is a wealth of information in the form of both words and art.
While this is not a deck for beginners, I cannot bring myself to dissuade anyone new from exploring this deck. Just know that you may also need a beginner book on tarot to help with your foundation.
However, if this deck and book was included in your learning adventure of tarot, you may find your foundation rich with history, lore, and the wisdom of plants. Just know that it is not designed with beginners and mind, and give yourself patience to enjoy this experience.
A tarot deck normally has 78 cards, but Cortes has added an additional five to this deck. Their explanations can be found in the guidebook. They capture not just the history of plants and tarot, but also our current situation in this global pandemic, adding both a historical and modern energy to the deck.
A Few Cards
While I don’t think I could actually pick cards that I like more than the others, I have a few examples for you to give you a look into La Flora.
The Hanged Man
The plant associated with the Hanged Man in this deck is Mandrake, mandragora officinarum. Combining a scientific explanation of the plant, a quote from Shakespeare, and the meaning of the tarot card, Cortes spins a web of literature, science, and magic to illustrate the meaning of this card. As various doses of this plant can provide either a sedative or a hallucinogen experience, we see the meaning of the Hanged Man through this fog. This card suggests altered perceptions, surrender, and enlightenment through its associated planet Neptune. The magic of the mandrake, and its potential poison or break from reality, seeps into the artwork and the aura of this card.
This card not only features a plant, but also an animal. Hibiscus & Serpent, hibiscus rosa-sinensis. The imagery alone evokes a sense of beauty and danger, of fragrance and destruction, as the serpent winds its way around these seemingly delicate flowers. In this she captures an important component of the Tower, which is the necessary albeit painful destruction that provides medicine, change, and rebirth in our lives.
The plant associated with this card is the Opium Poppy, papaver somniferum. The Magician is associated with manifestation, willpower, and creating our life. I have always thought of poppy as a painkiller, so this pairing intrigued me. Cortes goes on to describe the processes of the plant when it produces opium, which is over a shorter period of time than I realized. As to why this plant produces opium, she cites information about this plan that suggests a certain level of brilliance and magic that could only be associated with the Magician.
La Flora Tarot Final Thoughts
La Flora tarot is a love letter of science, literature, alchemy, spirituality, and art. It possesses the brilliance of writers, scientists, philosophers, poets, and the creator herself.
In a world in which we suffer through the fragmentation of attempting to separate every part of life, including ourselves, into little boxes, La Flora tarot bridges these gaps to show how deeply connected life is.
From the past to the present, from science to art, from poetry to flowers, this deck is a symphony of symbolism that pulls you out of what you think you know.
This deck shows us that tarot can be used for so much more than seeking answers. Tarot can help us to ask meaningful questions. At the beginning of the guidebook, Cortes writes “the questions you ask will shape your life.”
Perhaps we can consider that it is not the answers that provide us with wisdom, but the questions inspired in us.
La Flora tarot, I found, inspired many questions and curiosities, opening my eyes to new worlds of inquiry and magic.
If you are looking for a true adventure, a language that opens your eyes and your soul, you will find it in La Flora tarot. You may find yourself not just a reader, but a seeker of questions. Questions for which the answer is not as important as the journey.
May you all ponder the best questions, and may they bring magic to your life.
If you are interested in purchasing La Flora Tarot, you can find the deck here: La Flora Tarot
The Mystic Mermaid
Jenny is a professional shamanic practitioner and tarot reader. Her academic background is in French and Spanish translation studies. Through her academic and spiritual studies, she realized we are all spiritual translators, translating our feelings, experiences, and messages from spirit. Jenny endeavours to help people see the light within themselves, each other, and nature, to dream a healed dream into being for ourselves and the world.