Deck review: The Golden Moth Illumination Deck

I’ve been a fan of Aijung Kim‘s artwork for a few years now — since I first purchased a copy of her zine, We Carry Each Other (I later purchased another copy to gift to my mother — it affected me so profoundly). So I was thrilled when she sent a letter to her mailing list about a divination deck that she had created and started a Kickstarter campaign for. I didn’t even hesitate in supporting the project and a few weeks ago I received my backer’s award — a copy of the finished deck.

The deck is so special. You realize this as soon as you have the package in your hands. Kim sent a copy of the cards in a sturdy tuck-box, the handbook that accompanies the cards, a spreadsheet poster, a postcard of her work, a doodle and her business card to her backers. My copy is 83/300. Yes, there are only 300 copies of this. Go get one now.

Kim illustrated 68 cards, but includes seven blank cards (with encouragement to draw your own symbols). The printing is two-color, blue and gold, and the illustrations are simple line-style drawings. The cards are approximately bridge sized and the stock is a thick, uncoated card-stock. You could riffle shuffle, but I’m not sure I would. I’d like to think my precious copy will last for years and years, but it’s definitely not a deck for taking to the pub or reading where coffee-cups totter tenaciously nearby. So far as I can tell, the box is of the same stock. It’s lovely to the hand, but feels ephemeral (beautiful, mind you — do not hesitate to purchase this deck — but it is delicate).

The handbook is another treasure all together. While reading through it I realized this was entirely hand-lettered. When this became apparent to me — Kim’s lovely hand and straight lines — my respect for her as an artist went WAY WAY UP. This is truly a handmade endeavor.

The symbols are non-traditional and untitled. Kim doesn’t explain the cards in the manual, rather she encourages the user to intuit their own meanings based on the context of the reading. The style one might approach this deck is similar to how a Lenormand may be read, though the Golden Moth’s symbols are more abstract and surreal than what you’d find in a historical cartomantic deck. She doesn’t mention it in the handbook, but the numbers may be useful if you fancy a bit of numerology. Kim also includes a spread poster designed specifically for the deck and suggests other spreads in the book, along with transcripts of sample readings.

I’ve already use the cards on several readings, completely satisfied with the results. Though the use of surprising, non-traditional symbols requires a bit of flexibility on the user, the fluid nature of the deck works just perfectly for me. If you can look at pictures and make up a story, you’ll find this deck a treasure in your collection.

And finally, I recommend this deck because Aijung Kim makes art and it’s good art. And this deck rings true to the heart of an artist — which is so rare in the world of divinatory cards, where so many decks are mass-produced by hired guns. The Golden Moth Illumination Deck speaks to me as an artist, as someone who could only tell my story through pictures that are meaningful to me. Kim accomplishes that and more with this little nugget. And you can bet it’ll soon be as rare and precious as gold itself.

Author: Melissa

Melissa Jozefina is a poet, stargazer, and fortune teller.

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