The Mary-El deck had been on my Wish List for quite a while. A few months ago, I had to have it. Since then the deck sat unopened, its beautifully designed box propped in front of the cabinet with all my other cards. Today I finally opened the box. Not much takes my breath away but as I laid out each card, I honestly forgot to breathe. It’s a disturbing deck. Combine Meinrad Craighead, Charles Vess in Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust”, add a sprinkle of the Thoth Deck, and you begin to get an idea of the Mary-El’s dark complexity. The words that came to mind as I turned each card were “stunning, shocking, visceral, vivid detail”. I’m not even sure how to use these cards other than as 78 pieces of art. They don’t seem to consistently follow conventional tarot themes or design, so I wouldn’t recommend this as a beginner’s deck. They are profoundly, frighteningly powerful – this is a deck for those ready to delve deep into the real work of their lives, with nothing held back, no secrets, no holds barred. The Mary-El takes no prisoners. Each card is graphic and immediate; more than with any of my other decks, I had an instant, physical reaction to each card, with no time for a cooler, more objective mental interpretation. There is nothing light and fluffy here. You might even be hard-pressed to find friendly, yet there is an odd comfort in the deck’s brutal honesty. Every card is unflinching, unforgiving. Each will pull a little piece of truth from you.