|About this item
- The I Ching Dead Moon has 64 cards, illustrated by artist Luis Royo. The cards are darkly atmospheric, with the I Ching
- hexagrams inset at the base of each card. There are also 15 instruction cards included with the deck, explaining the I
- Ching and the hexagram meanings.
I Ching Dead Moon
Minor Arcana Style
Chinese characters in a red square on a black textured background.
87-page little white booklet in French, German, Portuguese, Korean, and Italian. 15 companion cards with instructions in English and Spanish.
deck by Luis Royo... As a collector's item, that is.
Royo's artwork in Dead Moon is what I'll describe as East
Asian post-punk gothic rock that borrows imagery from
Japanese samurai culture and imperial China, altogether
with lots of blood, wild black hair, and intricate
tattoos. And the consistent depiction of inclement weather
in the backdrop.
In other words, awesome.
there's some hypersexualization and exotification of Asian
women in there, but let's just agree that post-colonial
social politics will be beyond the scope of this deck
Without question Royo's Dead Moon deck is one of the best
on the market when it comes to art. It is an oracle
deck, however, and not tarot in the traditional sense.
As it is based on the I Ching, the oracle deck has 64
rather than 78 cards, each corresponding with one of the
hexagrams from the I Ching. However, the Dead Moon I Ching
deck is haphazard with the illustrations. They don't
necessarily correspond with the hexagram it's supposed to
represent. Other I Ching oracle decks, such as the I Ching
Tarot by Kwan Lau, depict images that the illustrator
believes represents the meaning of the hexagram. If that
was Royo's intention, then it may have failed, at
least for me.
For example, Hexagram 2, Kun, or Earth,
represents stability, support, strength, fertility,
nourishment, etc. It's a hexagram that reminds us to be calm
and receptive to the natural world around us. In other
I Ching oracle decks I've come across, Hexagram 2 is
usually represented by a tree or a Mother Earth type
figure. In the Dead Moon deck, we've got a half-naked
forlorn looking woman who is kneeling, looking down. There
may or may not be a waterfall in the background. It's
an incredible work of art, no question, but perhaps
not the most comprehensive image to symbolize Hexagram
2. Not to mention there are no words on any of the
cards to suggest what the hexagram you're looking at is,
other than the number. So either you know it or you
don't. No hints, anywhere.
As a result I found it
difficult to use. When the I Ching is used on its own for
divination, you consult the book after yarrow stalks or
tossing coins or what have you. When the tarot is used on
its own for divination, you interpret the meaning
through the imagery and symbolism on the cards. A
divination fusion of I Ching and tarot, one would think,
would mean the ability to interpret the meaning of the
hexagram via the imagery and symbolism on the oracle card.
For Dead Moon, not so much.
For instance, Hexagram 9,
Shiao Chu, is about restraint and propriety. I just
don't get that from the card's imagery. In fact, the
woman on that card looks sexually inviting. Hexagram 11,
Tai, is about reaping the fruits of your labor;
success. Stunning artwork in Hexagram 11, but it makes no
sense as applied to the meaning of Hexagram 11. Hexagram
22, Bin, is about grace and beauty. The image of the
woman depicted therein kind of works for me but also
kind of doesn't. If I didn't know the meaning of
Hexagram 22 prior to encountering that card, I would not
have guessed "grace and beauty." Maybe melancholy.
The deck did not work for me when I applied
traditional I Ching divination techniques and it did not work
when I applied it to my go-to tarot and cartomancy
spreads. I know I said that that post-colonial social
politics is beyond the scope of this review, but the
scantily clad, sexually objectified Asian women were
offensive to me. Aren’t we beyond that kind of antifeminist
and racist behavior yet?
What’s more, to use Dead
Moon as an oracle deck, the practitioner would need to
be quite advanced and highly knowledgeable already of
the 64 hexagrams. With no keywords, no card titles,
illustrations that for the most part have little to do with the
hexagrams, none of the symbolism of the original I Ching, and
a barebones booklet that offers a shallow
interpretation of Tao, if you don’t know the I Ching going into
the Dead Moon, you won’t learn much about it after
using the deck. Truth be told, I found the
artsy-gothic-lots-of-sexy-Asian-women-and-hot-warriors deck of cards unappealing as a representation of
the Tao, which I deeply regard.
Dead Moon is not a
tarot deck in the traditional sense and will be a leap
for tarot readers to use. So from a marketing
standpoint, who exactly is Royo targeting?
I Ching Dead Moon is going to be a favorite in any
tarot/oracle deck collection. The art is beautiful and the dark
ambiance of the deck is altogether thrilling. However, for
me, that is where the Dead Moon’s purpose ends. It
does not work for divination under either of the two
esoteric paradigms it claims to be inspired by, tarot or I
Ching. It is pretty to look at and that is about it.