Saturday, September 22, 2018

"THE FIFTH TAROT" deck review: a whole new dimension; guest post by Christine Hirlehey

THE FIFTH TAROT is an innovative new deck with a reading and healing system which is completely inspiring, focused on the needs of today's world. [Note from this blog's editor (Roswila): to see images from this impressive deck, click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph to visit the deck website.]

Devised by Martien & Teressena Bakens, symbols, astrology, spirituality and meditation are just some of the aspects meticulously worked in this holistic Tarot perspective. The couple managed to create a meditative tool that goes beyond traditional formats to include an element that is what truly makes the deck indispensable: a fifth suit, the ether.

The Fifth Tarot is a very intuitive approach that feeds on disciplines and complementary arts, with images painted by Teressena Bakens. Beautiful pastel colors provide a positive and optimistic approach to the whole deck. This approach moves away from the more fearsome archetypes and reconciles them through an approach which embraces the shadow that lives in every one of us.

In The Fifth Tarot deck you can find Native American, Shamanic, Mayan, Egyptian, Paganism, Spirit animals and new age symbols as well as directly Greco-Roman symbolic associations such as the birth of Venus.

A new approach:

There are detractors of the traditional decks who believe that the ether element is already contemplated in The Major Arcana cards and there’s no need to add an extra suit to adapt to the current era. The Lotus suit shows us a contemplative face in which spiritual and meditative growth is successfully interwoven with the traditional cards.

In fact, Martien & Teressena Bakens go further and seize the opportunity to complement The Fifth Tarot reading experience with the use of selected essential oils. These are organized in a set that pairs them with each of the Major Trumps, enhancing the experience of growth and deepening the internal enlightenment process. They also offer a Platonic Solids set to deepen the understanding of the sacred symmetry that is in tune with every aspect of the universe.

Fifth Tarot Deck Review:

To complete a review of The Fifth Tarot deck it is essential to enter into the universe that the Bakens created. Every detail of the deck tells us of intricate experimentation and development in search of reaching a truly transcendent and original result.

For those who believe that the frame of the cards doesn’t contribute to the reading, instead being a waste of valuable space to expand the symbolical cards content, there's a curve ball. The white frame of The Fifth Tarot deck includes color codes to identify the suit to which each card belongs. These symbols vibrate in correspondence with the central image, the name and position of the card and offer a word or phrase that evokes the emotion, sensation or learning intended for each card.

Made in a resistant and luminous design, in this Tarot deck review we found variations in the traditional suits: stones instead of pentacles, feathers instead of swords, shells instead of cups and fire instead of wands. And the fifth, the ether suit, represented by the lotus.

As we all know, the lotus is of great importance in Buddhism since it represents the purity of the body and the soul which is reached through meditation. The lotus is a flower that grows in swampy water, and yet overcomes its surroundings to seek the light.

The deck:

The Fifth Tarot restores the fifth element giving the complete set of fire, water, air, earth ... and ether. We find some changes that diminish the negative connotations of the elements, providing a greater space for reflection.

In The Fifth Tarot instead of the Hanged Man there is the Cosmic Man, a figure who floats inverted in space. There is Shadow instead of The Devil, a pretty Jungian setting that is delightful; Realization instead of Judgment; and Universe instead of The World. These are some of the strategies that the authors used to break previous limits and take the reader further.

Another interesting change that connects the reader with the spread at a more intimate level is the transformation of the court cards. Instead of holding noble titles they received a level which is assigned according to their message: the Pages are now Seekers, the Knights are Initiates, The Queens are Apprentices, and the Kings are Elementors.

Also, they are not depicted as traditionally found in other decks. For example, in the Court Cards of Shells you'll find:

• The Seeker of shells is a mermaid drinking from a shell, learning to control her emotions.
• The Initiate of shells is an allegory that closely resembles Lemanja's Afro-Caribbean religious syncretism and refers to the cycles of the moon, connected with its ancestors and its genetic memory pool.
• The Apprentice of shells looks a lot like THE STAR TAROT card. She is a woman who can begin to accept herself while contemplating her reflection in the water surrounded by pearls on a clear night.
• Finally, the Element of water is an image that pays homage to the birth of Venus. This is represented by a feminine form that emerges from the ocean on a shell with the foam of the sea transformed into a goddess connected with its feminine energy. It is inevitable to think of Alfonsina Storni.


It’s fair to accept that The Fifth Tarot is a complex and challenging deck for the novice reader. This is amplified if you do not have a broad base of symbolic, cultural, artistic and holistic knowledge. On their website, the Bakens offer workshops, courses and other tools to facilitate the understanding of their work.

It is not a coincidence that the deck is accompanied by an explanatory book that includes more than 300 pages. It is a job that will require dedication and work by the Tarot reader to enter the ocean of new challenges that the deck entails. But where there are challenges you also find opportunities…

For those more familiar with the Jungian archetypal study, the Rider-Waite, Marseille, and Thoth decks, the challenge may be to include the new possibilities and meanings of the fifth suit.


The original set of The Fifth Tarot includes an explanatory book of 352 pages, with detailed images in black and white with symbolic interpretation and an in-depth explanation of each beautiful element that makes up this system. There are correlations with the Kaballah, astrology and other complementary disciplines.


This Tarot deck raises complex questions for card readers. Does the Rider-Waite need an adaptation? Or can the archetypes manage to stay alive and stand up for themselves beyond the times?

It is true that there are constant reinterpretations of the Rider and the Thoth, new visions and symbology. However, there is no doubt The Fifth Tarot incorporates a powerful tool that assists in the walk towards spiritual growth without neglecting to consider that everyone is interconnected, and our spirituality an indispensable element of our circumstances.

* * * * End of Review * * * *

N.B. A small thing, but just in case: some of the extra reference links offered at the very end of my [Roswila's] oldest (years old) posts to this blog no longer work. As there are so many posts here to go through I am choosing not to search for and change all of those links that are "dead." (Though I do immediately delete any I stumble across that now lead to questionable sites.) If you are interested, you can try Googling for the name of the site or article referenced. I've found that some are still around in new locations or incarnations, some not.

'til next time, keep enjoying The Tarot, in whatever ways it comes to you in your life,

[aka: Patricia Kelly]
****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under "View my complete profile")**** SEE ALSO: Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry; Roswila's Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka); Trying to Hold A Box of Light for digital photos only; and THE MARKER TAROT.