Tarot of the Four Elements - Isha Lerner and Amy Ericksen
“We examine the roots of various cultures that have flowered before us as a means to discover a common ground that can anchor our universal myths and symbols into the deep terrain of our unconscious. Long buried, these symbols gestate within the treasure chest of life and, in time, can arise as the jewels of new and transformed concepts and vision. The unification and repetition of symbol and myth through the ages create a universal backdrop for the art of the Tarot of the Four Elements. The deck draws upon the icons and images of nature that have endured the passage of time, yet it is modern and near extraterrestrial in spirit.” –Isha Lerner
The vibrant, folkloric cards in the Tarot of the Four Elements were created by artist Amy Ericksen. After finding out that a companion book needed to be written, she determined that she was more of an artist—not a writer. Renowned Tarot creator and author Isha Lerner stepped in to write the 198-page book, consulting often with Erickson.
Through their shared vision, Tarot of the Four Elements celebrates tribal folklore, earth mythology, and human magic. Lerner introduces the deck by discussing the tribal art and symbols that shape our consciousness, as well as the magic of numbers, form, and color. In fact, she dedicates eleven pages to the archetypal associations of number and form—from Pythagoras to Fibonacci, Jung to the Kabbalah. From astrology to alchemy to Tarot, numbers and form play an integral part in expressing the symbolism of the psyche and of human drama.
Along with numerology, the four elements also factor heavily in Tarot symbolism. In Tarot of the Four Elements, the Minor Arcana reflects traditional elemental components: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Although some are quite symbolic, I wouldn’t consider them illustrated pips.
The 22 Trumps—or Major Arcana—follows closely to conventional designations except the Hierophant has become The Priest, The Hanged Man has become The Shaman, Judgment is Realization, and The World becomes The Universe. The card backing features four vertical columns representing the four elements, which are done in pastel shades: green and yellow for Earth, blue and white clouds for Air, yellow and orange flames for fire, and aqua and white waves for Water.
The Court cards follow Page, Knight, Queen, and King designations, although some of the representations (namely Knight and Page) appear genderless.
Those attracted to shamanism, Toltecism, and Earth-based spirituality will no doubt enjoy this unusual, colorful deck. However, I don’t think Tarot of the Four Elements is a good first deck for beginners, simply because Lerner introduces each card describing the traditional imagery and symbolism—but then proceeds to give her interpretation of the cards in light of Ericksen’s artwork. The sheer amount of symbolic and esoteric information would likely overwhelm those new to the Tarot.