I'll admit, I was surprised to have bought this deck. In fact, I had never really looked at it before because I had read Eileen Connolly's book Tarot: A New Handbook for the Apprentice. It's not a bad book but it is steeped in Connolly's Christian approach to tarot reading. I think her book is great for Christians who want to read tarot, but I personally prefer books that are non-religious or have a pagan slant. I just assumed that her deck would have a very Christian slant as well. I already have Tarot of the Saints, and I wasn't looking to expand the Christian section of the tarot collection. Then a friend of mine who also reads tarot mentioned that he enjoyed the deck. I'm bored at work so I decide to check out the sample deck. Surprise! It's not Christian-based imagery and I actually like it!
Part of it is the fact that I'm a sucker for bright colors. The cards are drawn with colored pencil in lovely bright colors without crossing the border into garishness. The coloring reminds me a lot of the Hanson-Roberts deck, but I like this deck better because the human figures are more proportional with the background of the card. The artwork is pleasantly like Boticelli but with more color. I like it.
For the most part, the cards follow the Rider-Waite-Smith example, but there are some significant differences. Death has been changed to Transition, which shows a man leaving a dark building for a sunrise outside. I think this subtracts from the power of the card, but at the same time, this particular depiction would be good for those who might be intimidated by the more traditional symbolism. It's the same with the Devil, which has been replaced with Materialism. A man chained to representations of the elements still gets the basic point across while avoiding more controversial or potentially scary imagery. Yet it does narrow the potential meanings of the cards quite a bit. Still, I don't mind the changes too much.
The only changes that made me scratch my head a little were to a few of the swords cards. For example, the 7 of Swords shows two musicians playing near 5 swords in the ground with 2 swords poked into a dark cloud above them. When I looked in the little white booklet for some explanation, all I found was a traditional RWS meaning. The 9 of Swords shows a man walking in the snow with 9 swords, which reminds me more of what the 7 usually looks like. I don't really understand these changes, but perhaps Connolly's book (mentioned above) explains them better. As with the majors, I don't really mind the changes that much. It gives me a chance to read more intuitively, and I feel like the swords got a bad rep anyway. It's nice that someone is trying at least a little to take away the association of swords with gloom and doom.
Because of the changes I've mentioned, I can see how people might not like this deck due to "fluffiness." Maybe it's because of the nice artwork but my purist self isn't objecting that strenuously to the changes. I can even see how they might be appealing to some people.
The only thing I'm really disappointed with is the card back design, which is white marble veined with grey. It's really too plain for a deck with such lovely color, but that's my only really big complaint. Not bad for a deck I wasn't even considering.
Copyright K. Mayberry. Not to be used without permission.
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