Tarot Guide

1JJ Swiss Tarot – If you don’t know the story, once upon a time Stuart Kaplan, founder of US Games, was at a toy fair where Swiss tarot manufacturer AG Muller had a booth and were showing off this deck in hopes of finding a US distributor. This was the first time Kaplan ever saw a tarot deck, and he instantly fell in love with it. Today US Games is the largest publisher and distributor of tarot cards in the US and Stuart Kaplan personally owns (or at least used to personally own) the largest collection of tarot cards in the world. The 1JJ Swiss tarot was the first tarot sold by US Games, and they’ve kept it in print ever since.

AG Mueller’s 1JJ Swiss tarot is based off of an earlier deck published in the mid-19th century which is also known as the 1JJ Swiss tarot. Although the cards in both decks are very similar, this is not a reproduction or even reconstruction of an historical deck, but a newly designed deck first published by AG Muller in the mid-20th century. I’m not positive, but I believe that this is the only instance of the Swiss pattern that has been published in the last hundred years. The deck’s name refers to how Jupiter and Juno replace the Pope and Popess cards in the Swiss pattern.

If you’re interested in learning about the Swiss pattern then this deck is going to be a worthwhile purchase, but the Swiss pattern is not all that interesting or historically significant of a pattern, and it doesn’t have any real spiritual significance beyond the fact that it follows a standard tarot design. I don’t even think very many people are interested in this deck, and I’m guessing US Games only keeps it in print for sentimental reasons, or possibly because it picks up sales being the first deck on nearly every alphabetical listing of tarot decks I’ve ever seen. I do not suggest buying this deck.

2012: Tarot of Ascension – The 2012: Tarot of Ascension is a tarot which is themed around the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse theory. The deck doesn’t view the 2012 apocalypse as an end of days event though, instead it views it as a time of change and spiritual ascension. The deck also has a secondary theme of personal spiritual growth and ascension.

The deck’s artwork is technically beautiful. It’s realistic and highly detailed and everything that one would expect from a Lo Scarabeo art deck. When I first saw this deck my original instinct was to write it off as an art deck. However at the urging of fans who claim it has some very significant New Age themed spiritual symbolism, I’ve gone back to look at this deck again and again.

Following multiple reviews, it’s clear that the designer was not just trying to paint pretty pictures, but was also trying to incorporate spiritual ideas into the card designs. Where the deck fails is how interesting those spiritual ideas are and how well they’ve been incorporated into the classic tarot design.

A lot of times the card design is just nonsensical. For instance the Six of Wands shows a man walking down the street while surrounded by wands that form a rectangle around him. There is a light coming either from his hand or his upper stomach. Technically nothing about this imagery is contradictory to the traditional meaning of the Six of Wands, but it doesn’t really have any meaning either. The same could be said for the seven of wands which shows a group of three sitting in a circle. From what I can make out, one of them is creating a ball of what is probably fire in the middle and the others are warming their hands on it. I guess we could assume that creating the fire as the man did is an unnecessary use of magic since it would have been easier to build a normal fire. That would give the card some meaning and kind of fit with the Seven of Wands, but that’s a lot of speculation about what’s shown in the image.

The Death card, on the other hand, actually says something interesting and unique. It’s one of the better regarded cards in the deck and was chosen as the cover image for the deck’s box. In this card we see a town, the background of which is a curtain, and Death is a giant skeleton which is drawing back the curtain to show the townspeople outer space. The card’s imagery is interesting, it works on several levels, and it fits with the traditional meaning of the Death trump. Death, in this interpretation, is transformative. He has ended an era of ignorance for the townspeople by showing them the rest of the universe, a state of knowledge they can never return from. Death does this by removing the curtain, or rather removing the veil. Death shows them outer space, or in other words the heavens. He’s not just showing them what lies outside of their town, but rather spiritually what lies outside of their world. Death is what’s doing this, which ties into the idea that once we die we become spirits and have access to this spiritual realm. Also Death doesn’t just open up the spiritual realm, he opens up the heavens, which ties in nicely with the deck’s theme of spiritual ascension.

The Death card is a good card, and I’m happy that the deck has some spiritual meaning behind it, but it still feels like the Death card doesn’t say enough. A lot more could have been incorporated into that card, and it really needs a lot more to be a great tarot card. This card wouldn’t be a problem if I had found it in a good deck. If this were a strong deck, the Death card would just not be one of the deck’s strongest cards. It isn’t even really a weak card, it’s just not that strong. The problem in this deck is the Death card is not only the very best card, but most of the other cards don’t even rate close to it. This decidedly average card is by far the best this deck ever does.

Ultimately I’m going to remain on the fence about recommending this deck. I like that the deck isn’t just another Lo Scarabeo art deck and has some spiritual meaning behind it, and I’m also giving the deck some extra points because there may be some symbolism or meaning tied into the Mayan Apocalypse that I just don’t understand.

20th century tarot – This is a tarot deck published in 1970, and it’s really only significant due to the fact that it was published in an era when very few esoteric decks were available. The card designs consist of very basic black and white sketches that are done in an amateurish style. There’s little symbolism contained within the deck, and there’s very little room for symbolism with such basic designs. The pip cards are not fully illustrated, and it actually seems wrong to even describe the trump cards as fully illustrated in this deck. The deck has become a collectible, and due to being out of print for so long it can command a high price. Personally I don’t think it’s worth the money it would cost to buy an in print tarot deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

African American Tarot – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck centered around African spirituality and its connection to modern African-American life. The art work is high quality and highly detailed, which is tp be expected from Lo Scarabeo art decks. The deck is less fantastical than most Lo Scarabeo decks done in this style. Many of the pictures show tribal Africans in their normal daily activities and this is compared to the later accomplishments of African-Americans in the United States.

Like most Lo Scarabeo art decks, there isn’t any esoteric knowledge or symbolism contained in this deck, and although it looks nice it lacks spiritual insight. This is just another Lo Scarabeo art deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Afro-Brazilian Tarot – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck themed around Afro-Brazillian religions. Like most Lo Scarabeo art decks this deck is well drawn, very detailed, and highly realistic, but lacks any kind of spiritual value. It is also based more in fantasy than actual practices. As far as Lo Scarabeo art decks go, I find this one somewhere in the middle. The art work is pretty good, but it’s done in the typical Lo Scarabeo style which gets boring, plus I don’t find the theme all that interesting. The deck has no spiritual value, so I don’t recommend this tarot.

AGMEgyptianAG Muller Egyptian Tarot – This is an AG Muller reconstruction of a somewhat obscure deck. The deck consists of the Falconnier-Wegener trumps with the Valcourt-Vermont pips. This thing was put together in pieces, so it’s going to take a moment to explain.

Falconnier was a French comedy actor who was inspired by the works of French occultist Paul Christian. Following Christian’s theories of tarot design, and also the theory that the tarot was originally created in ancient Egypt and brought to Europe by the Romanis, Falconnier designed 22 Egyptian themed trumps which removed the perceived Christian, Greco-Roman, and European elements of the cards and replaced them with Egyptian elements. Wergener was his artist. The trumps were never published as cards, but were instead published as black and white drawings inside of a French book authored by Falconnier. The reader was expected to cut the pictures out of the book, paste them on to cardboard, and color them by hand.

Later another occultist, Edgar de Valcourt-Vermont, writing under the pseudonym Comte C. de Saint Germain (a supposed immortal in European folklore), published Falconnier’s trumps in his own book, Practical Astrology, without acknowledging Falconnier as the original designer of the cards. Valcourt-Vermont also added 56 minor arcana cards to Falconnier’s trumps. Once again the deck was published in Black and White and inside of a book, not as cards.

The purpose of the Falconnier-Wegener trumps was to return the tarot to its original Egyptian form. The deck received some acclaim within French occultic circles, although it seems that about as many occultists hated the deck as liked it. The deck was mentioned by Waite in the Pictorial Key to the Tarot, but Waite reviewed the deck poorly, which isn’t surprising considering Waite argued against the Egyptian origin myth in the same work.

It seems odd that AG Muller and US Games would decide to republish this semi-obscure black and white deck, and even odder that they do so without providing any information about the deck’s origins or historical significance. At a glance it looks like a modern attempt for the companies to cash in on an Egyptian theme, and not a semi-significant historical deck from the very late 19th and early 20th centuries which was created by actual French occultists.

The deck is still something of an historical and spiritual oddity, and it’s interesting in both regards, but not really useful in either. The deck was also influential in the design of many later Egyptian themed decks, particularly decks published in the 1970s. I’m on the fence on recommending this deck. I’d say get it if the deck’s story makes it sounds like something you’d be interested in, otherwise there isn’t any real point in getting it.

Akron Tarot – This tarot was supposedly worked on by Akron, designer of the Baphoment tarot. I’ve heard conflicting stories about Akron’s role in the design of this tarot. I’ve also heard that it was inspired by his work, that it was worked on by his followers, or that he did not design it directly but was actively involved in guiding the designers of this deck. These are all Swiss Left Hand Pathers and there’s little available English information about this tarot or Akron.

The size of this tarot has been increased to eighty cards, and its advertised as being centered around female energies in order to correct the imbalance between male and female energies in the tarot. I’ve always felt that the tarot, at least when interpreted correctly, perfectly balances male and female energies, and I don’t really see the need for these types of feminist tarots at all, let alone a feminist tarot supposedly created by a Swiss man.

A lot of people rave about the artwork of this tarot. Not only is it a completely unique style, but its artistically deep and full of artistic symbolism. If you like the style of the artwork you should definitely buy this tarot. However due to the increased size of this tarot and the rebalancing of the male and female energies, this tarot is broken on a very fundamental level, which is clear without even beginning to look at the individual cards and their design. For that reason I do not recommend this tarot.

Albano-Waite – The Albano-Waite is a variant of the Rider-Waite redrawn by Frankie Albano and colored with an alternate color scheme. The Albano-Waite may seem like just another attempt to redraw and color the Rider-Waite, but the deck, published in ’68, was actually published several years before the official first publication of the Rider-Waite in the United States. There is some speculation that Albano’s coloring choices may be due to the fact that he didn’t have an actual copy of the deck to work off of, and instead created the deck based on the black and white pictures in Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

Several different versions of the deck exist, although for the most part these are minor variations like having round or square corners on the cards. The current edition is printed by US Games, and spiritually there are no differences between this version and earlier editions.

Personally I like the Albano-Waite. The Rider-Waite deck is one of the top two decks in existence, so it’s very hard to find any fault with a variation that follows the original as closely as Albano’s variation does. Albano’s one major deviation, the color choices, are at least based on magical correspondences. If you already have a Rider-Waite and you’re looking for a variant, especially one for energy or spell work, take a look at the Ablano-Waite. On the other hand if you’re looking for a Rider-Waite deck, buy one of the standard ones, because as good as Albano’s variation may be, the original is still the best version. I recommend this tarot deck.

Alchemical Tarot – Three versions of this deck exist. The first version had columns added by the publisher who also rejected the first version of the Lovers card, and forced the designer to create a second, less graphic, version. Later the designer self-published an art edition of the deck removing the columns and including both versions of the Lovers card. Finally the Renewed version was released as a much cheaper mass produced version of the art edition.

Although the deck wasn’t too popular when the first edition was in print, word of mouth spread over time and there ended up being a huge demand for it after it had been out of print for a while. Judging by the sample pictures online, I always thought it was more hype than anything else. The deck looked like something I’d be on the fence about buying at $18, which is far below the outrageous prices the first edition used to go for.

I eventually got a copy of the deck when the Renewed version was released, and when I finally got to actually look at the cards I was completely amazed. I could see why people wanted this deck so bad, and although I still think the Art edition was overpriced, the Alchemical Tarot is a very fine esoteric deck with a lot of really interesting symbolism and ideas and a unique design. It’s one of those decks where you really have to see the actual cards and look through the entire deck to appreciate it. The online samples, for whatever reason, don’t begin to do this deck justice.

The deck was created by prolific tarot designer and artist Robert Place, with the original, now out of print edition, being sold by Thorstons. I highly recommend the in print Renewed edition of this deck. The Art edition is very expensive and will only appeal to people who are huge fans of this deck or the designer. The first edition of this deck is not only more difficult to find, but it’s inferior to the Renewed edition which restores the deck to the designer’s original vision.

Amano Tarot – The Amano Tarot was created by Yoshitaka Amano, a Japanese animator, illustrator, and art designer for the Final Fantasy series of video games. The artwork is beautifully done in a style that is reminiscent of Final Fantasy 6. The majority of cards feature only a solid white background which usually takes up about a quarter to a third of the space on the card. Although the plain white background does sometimes take away from the cards, it also adds to the deck’s style, and on numerous occasions Amano plays with the way in which the white background is artistically used. The pips are not fully illustrated, and with the exception of the aces are overly plain consisting of identical suit symbols put upon a white background.

Unfortunately the deck is completely devoid spiritually. The Amano tarot was created as an art deck, and although the artwork may contain quite a bit of depth and meaning, none of it is spiritually directed. Because of this the deck is not recommended.

As an art deck though this deck excels, even when considering the pips, and it is one of the easier Japanese tarots to obtain in the west. Even though Amano has a history working in anime and video games this deck isn’t just another one of the anime or video game tarots which have oversaturated the Japanese market. The deck is definitely worth at least considering for its value as an art deck or collectible.

Ananda Tarot – The Ananda Tarot is a computer generated tarot which was released both in a German and an English version. Normally I don’t care very much for computer generated decks, but here the artwork, although a bit simplistic, is remarkably well done and I really like how it turned out. Of course the artwork is no where near as technically well done as Marchetti’s tarot decks, however I actually prefer this deck’s artwork over Marchetti’s. The artwork in this deck is much softer resulting in a much more pleasant ambiance.

Oddly enough, for a computer generated tarot, the deck has a lot of deep symbolism in it and a lot of it is unique and interesting. The deck’s designer actually has some grasp of the esoteric meanings of the tarot cards and some interesting ideas about how to express those meanings.

The deck is, however, not without its faults. The card designs do sometimes become too simplistic. The Magician card, for instance, is one of my least favorite cards in the deck. There really isn’t much to the Magician card, and it looks similar to the Magician cards I’m used to seeing in other computer generated decks. Also, with a lot of the cards, the central image is a large head or giant person put into the background, which is a common artistic choice with computer generated tarots. At least in this deck the pictures that people are put into the background of usually feature some interesting scenery instead of just some colors or geometric shapes, but the entire idea of people being put into the background is has become over-used and boring.

Ultimately the deck has some redeeming features despite some serious flaws that are almost enough to make me not want to recommendit. I give this deck a low recommendation.

Anna K Tarot – This is a tarot that I initially wasn’t very impressed with, but the more I looked through it the more it grew on me. Although well done, the artwork used in the deck is largely dependent on personal taste. Many will no doubt like the vibrant yet dark colors, the technical use of shading, and the heavy detail of the cards in what is more or less a largely unique art style for a deck. However others may be turned off by the style used to draw the faces and the less than realistic figure drawing which borders on being cartoonish.

The first thing I noticed about this deck was that the images on several of the cards were very close to the Rider-Waite images. Thankfully though this is only true of some of the cards, and the deck isn’t just another Rider-Waite knock-off. The deck also focuses on people doing different activities, and all of the pip and court cards feature a single person, or less often a group of people, as a central part of the image. This is also true of all but five of the trump cards. This gives the deck quite a bit more consistency than a normal tarot deck, but at the same time it seems to restrict the deck from fully expressing the ideas of certain cards.

When I saw the deck for the first time, beyond the artwork, I was not very impressed with it. However after spending some time studying it I’ve found some unique and interesting ideas contained within the deck. My favorite card though, and the one that sold me on the deck, is the Emperor. Although it follows a standard design, the actual artwork, coloring, and shading seem to express the meaning and energy of the Emperor better than any other depiction of the card I’ve ever seen.

The deck isn’t without some major flaws though. In some instances the interpretations of the cards, although correct, are rather limited and miss several important aspects of the card. One of the biggest offenders is the Devil card, which correctly depicts joy taken from physical pleasures and earthly greed, but just labels these as bad or evil things and fails to see the higher spiritual aspects of the card. The deck also reinterprets many of the meanings for the pip cards, and the new interpretations don’t seem to be kabalistically based. For instance instead of depicting a purity of being, the twos all now depict the existence of duality. I found these interpretations to be nonsensical until I realized the method the designer was using to derive the card meanings, and this was especially obscured with the twos since under this new method the Two of Cups retained its old meaning, but the other three cards had their meanings changed. These new meanings come up again and again with other cards too. The meaning for the Six of Cups is now similar to that of the Four of Cups, and the Four of Cups has taken on the meaning of the Seven of Cups.

I don’t want to rate the deck poorly simply because it uses a different method of card interpretation than the standard method which I’m used to, especially since the method used to design the deck is consistent and not completely unreasoned. However I find that on average the individual cards contain less spiritual depth than standard tarot cards, and that does hurt my rating of the deck.

On a final note, the deck can be a very good divinatory deck for readings, especially professional readings. The deck is very colorful and entirely inoffensive, and although the simple card designs may make the deck less than desirable for experienced taroists, it should make the deck more attractive to both clients and beginning readers who can more easily grasp and intuit the meaning of the cards based entirely on the pictures. Much like the Connoley deck, what it lacks in overall quality it makes up for in usefulness as a divinatory tarot. I Recommend the deck for professional readers and beginners looking for an easy deck to learn. For everyone else I give the deck a low recommendation due to some interesting ideas and nice artwork.

Ancestral Path Tarot – The Ancestral Path Tarot is a 78 card deck with fully illustrated pips. Each of the four suits of the minor arcana depict a different mystical culture from the past (Arthurian England, Feudal Japan, Native Americans, and Ancient Egyptians). The deck’s artwork is amazing.

I can sum up the deck’s design pretty well by describing the Fool card. The Fool card features a woman, supposedly the deck’s designer, sitting at a table reading tarot. Yeah that’s how this deck rolls. It flips everything upside and changes everything you thought you knew about the tarot. I understand what the card is trying to say. The tarot is the fool’s journey, and we, the readers, are the fool, ergo the tarot is representative of our journey. She used herself on the card because it’s always a deeply personal journey, and from her perspective the deck is about her, as it is about you from your perspective. The card is really exactly the same as if it were just a reflective surface, a mirror so you saw yourself when you looked into it. I feel though that if you really take the time to think about it, there’s a much deeper meaning to this card. The deeper meaning is that this woman has cheated us out of getting a real Fool card full of spiritual meaning and symbolism and instead has peddled us pseudo-intellectual bullshit.

Some of the cards seem nonsensical to me. For instance the Eight of Cups has a cloaked person walking towards Stonehenge. I’ve tried to interpret the Eight of Cups every way I can think of, and Stonehenge too for that matter, and still I can’t come up with a meaning or interpretation that makes sense and fits the image of the card, and I can stretch my interpretations pretty far when I try. I know the card is derivative of the Eight of Cups in the Rider-Waite, but in that deck the man isn’t walking towards anything, he’s walking away from the cups. Granted the cups are behind the person in the Ancestral Path Tarot, but the person really isn’t walking away from the cups. They’re walking towards Stonehenge.

A lot of the deck is derivative of the Rider-Waite, and that’s really the best part of the design. Looking through this deck it’s clear the designer has no understanding of the tarot at all. It’s just a bunch of her own personal ideas, like the one I mentioned about the Fool, and she carelessly throws them wherever into her tarot along with elements she swiped from the Rider-Waite design. It’s obvious she doesn’t have even the most basic comprehension of the Rider-Waite design, and usually the meaning of the Rider-Waite is completely ruined, like with the Eight of Cups, because she didn’t understand the concept of the card.

Imagine one of those people who like to read the tarot but refuse to learn anything about the tarot. Things like Kabalism, symbolism, spirituality, and even reading books are so disinteresting to them they’ll never study any of it. Despite the fact that they have learned absolutely nothing about the tarot, they read the tarot by interpreting the cards through what they think of the pictures and titles they see. This method of reading is based on a misunderstanding about a perfectly valid form of hot reading where a psychic uses the tarot cards as a tool to draw energy from the querrent which they then read. What these people don’t understand is that in that instance the psychic may not know anything about tarot, but the psychic is giving the reading mostly, if not entirely, from the energy drawn into the cards and not from the tarot cards themselves.

Now imagine this person we’re talking about has been propped up a bit. People have been telling them how intelligent and logical their ideas on the tarot is and how great and intuitive their readings are. Now imagine this person has been given the opportunity to design a deck based on their immense understanding of the tarot. Although this is only speculation based on the deck, I’m positive that this is what happened with the Ancestral Path Tarot.

The worst part about this deck is that everyone I’ve ever talked to who owns this deck raves about how wonderful it is. They talk about how great the imagery and message of this deck is and how it’s the only tarot that speaks to them and the only one they can connect with. Am I completely missing something about this deck, or am I the only one who can see it for what it really is? This woman has no understanding of tarot at all. It’s obvious that she’s spent no time learning or studying it. Her deck lacks any real spiritual depth or symbolism. She is passing off psychobabble and pseudo-intellectual philosophy as spiritual profundity. The artwork is really good though. I do not recommend buying this deck.

The Ancient Egyptian Tarot – Despite the name this is not an Egyptian style tarot deck. This is a tarot deck that uses an Egyptian motif. The art work is well drawn and very detailed, although the cards do use large borders which take up about a third of the card. The pips are fully illustrated.

Is it just me, or does anyone else interpret the imagery of the Three of Swords as being the shame and regret experienced after sex or losing ones virginity? It’s a correct interpretation of the card, although it is a rather dark and puritanical one.

Some of the cards in the deck are technically correct, but use shallow and unoriginal imagery. For instance the Two of Cups is a couple sitting together. Death meanwhile is Anubis standing in front of a tomb. This is the image for Death used in almost every Egyptian tarot and it really says nothing about the card, the concept of death, or Anubis, except to point out that Anubis is a Chthonic god.

Other cards do however have some subtle and original imagery which works well. For instance the Nine of Cups deals with love, relationships, and emotions in a positive and balanced, perhaps compromised, way, and is usually associated with happiness. In this deck its represented by parenthood and the image shows two parents spending time with their child.

I’m giving this deck a low recommendation because it’s a solid tarot with nice artwork and it has some interesting imagery. Unfortunately it does not have enough depth or originality for me to rate it any higher.

The Ancient Mysteries Tarot Deck – This is a New Age tarot. The deck was made using watercolors and depicts sacred artwork from a variety of ancient cultures. Large borders, depicting a stone wall I think, surround each of the cards and take up about a third of the card space. The pip cards use the corresponding element as the suit, and seem to be this deck’s version of not being fully illustrated.

The artwork used in this tarot is new, but everything except for the pip cards is based off of ancient sources. This makes the deck a lot like a found art tarot, and it suffers from all of the same problems as a found art tarot. The imagery used was not designed to express the meanings of the tarot cards, instead they were designed to express other spiritual ideas, and so the artwork never seems to adequately express the cards. In fact with many of these cards the artwork doesn’t even really fit the card and seems forced. The pip cards meanwhile fail to convey any real esoteric meaning besides naming the element they represent. I do not recommend this tarot.

Animals Divine Tarot – The quality and style of this deck is very similar to the Lo Scarabeo art decks, so much so that when I saw this tarot being sold by Lleweylln (Lo Scarabeo’s United States distributer) I assumed it was a Lo Scarabeo deck. The deck is however published by Lleweylln. The artwork, like the Lo Scarabeo decks, is very detailed and of a high quality. The trump cards feature various animal gods and the rest of the cards feature animals.

There doesn’t seem to be much relationship between the traditional tarot designs, meanings, symbolism, and concepts and which animals are placed on which cards. The animals seem almost as if they were chosen at random, although the traditional elemental suits are respected. The trump imagery meanwhile fits the traditional interpretation of the card in the loosest sense. For instance Coyote is the Fool, probably because a canine is traditionally depicted on the card. The Empress is Hera, a goddess that sort of fits the concept of the card.

The deck claims that it’s about connecting with the spirituality of animals or nature or something, but I’m not buying that. As far as spiritual insight goes, I would not recommend this tarot. The one spiritually redeeming factor about this deck is that it depicts deities on its trumps and the artwork is nice. The trumps can be used for meditation, divine communion, or other purposes involving those gods. If you want to work with the gods featured on the trump cards and you like the artwork, this deck may be worth picking up. I’m on the fence about recommending this deck.

Angel Playing Card Company Tarot – This is an untitled Japanese tarot by an unknown artist published by the Angel Playing Card Company. The tarot is very derivative of the Marseilles pattern, although this is not a reproduction and the tarot takes advantage of modern printing technology. Although the minor arcana uses the traditional Italian suits, symbols representing the corresponding traditional French suits are also present on all of the card designs.

The deck looks good, although I don’t think it holds up too well when compared with the historical European tarots its design is based on. Just like any tarot that closely follows the traditional Marseilles design, this tarot can easily be adapted for divination and other magical uses, although it won’t work quite as well as a deck specifically designed for such purposes.

I’m giving this deck a low recommendation. There’s nothing wrong with this tarot so there’s nothing for me to find fault with. However it doesn’t add anything new to the classic Marseilles design, besides the addition of the French symbols which are nice, and there are a lot of Marseilles tarots already on the market.

The Angels Tarot – This tarot deck was designed by paranormal researcher Rosemary Ellen Guilly and prolific tarot designer and artist Robert Place. The artwork on the trump cards looks beautiful and is done in Place’s typical art style. However the deck does not feature fully illustrated pips, and even the court cards are lightly illustrated.

Being a fan of some of Place’s other work, I was pretty disappointed in this deck. Although the designs for the pips are pretty, they’re far from elaborate, and I’ve really come to expect fully illustrated pips from modern tarots unless there’s a good reason why they use a more traditional design. The fact that the court cards are about as illustrated as the court cards in a deck of standard playing cards is completely inexcusable.

The trump cards don’t really add much more to the deck either. At least some traditional tarot imagery has been preserved, such as Michael holding the scales in the Justice card or Barakiel, the lightning of god, approaching a tower in the Tower card (by far my favorite card in the deck). But for the most part the trump cards are just angels that loosely fit the title and most obvious meaning of the card. Spiritual insight seems completely absent from this deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Annabella Magie Noire Tarot – This is a 22 card trump only tarot published in 1979. The artwork is well drawn and fairly detailed, and the style reminds me a little bit of the Aquarian Tarot, especially the faces.

The symbolism of the deck is correct, but most of it is standard symbolism found in a lot of tarot decks. There are only a few small instances where something new has been added to the cards. If the only issue was the originality, I’d give this deck a pass because it was published in ’79. However the fact that it’s a trump only deck really limits its usefulness. If it were a full deck I’d probably give it at least a low recommendation. With the way it is though I’m on the fence about recommending it.

Ansata Tarot – The Ansata Tarot is a 22-card trump only tarot. The deck’s artwork is phenomenal. There’s nothing special about the style, but it’s very detailed and very well drawn.

The imagery of the deck is what really makes it stand out though (although the artwork does help). The deck uses a lot of traditional tarot ideas and symbolism, so much so that anyone who is married to the traditional design will be happy this deck. At the same time the deck incorporates a lot of new ideas and symbolism into its design, and there is enough of it that the deck will appeal to those looking for something original and new. In fact the deck can please everyone because it finds a perfect balance between using old ideas and incorporating new ideas. Meanwhile every aspect of the card, be it old or new, works with the traditional meaning of the card.

The deck has great artwork, a great design, and contains lots of esoteric knowledge. There really isn’t anything negative to be said about this deck. Its only flaw is that it’s only 22 cards, which limits its magical usefulness. I’m recommending this deck, and the only reason it’s not a high recommendation is because it’s only 22 cards.

Antica Cartomanzia Egiziana – This deck is a recolorization of an older Etteilla pattern tarot. As far as Etteilla pattern tarots go, the designs on this deck are far from my favorite. The images in this edition are also a little bit blurry. I see no point in recommending this tarot when there are several better Etteilla pattern tarots on the market. I do not recommend this tarot.

Antico Tarocco Italiano – This is a generic tarot deck which was packaged with several different Italian books on divination. The artwork obviously makes use of modern printing technology, but the design is based on the Marseilles pattern. The artwork is adequate and almost a bit cartoonish. The deck doesn’t offer anything over a Marseilles pattern reproduction, or any of the better Marseilles pattern designs made over the last century, although it does lack the historical importance of these other tarots and is aesthetically inferior. This tarot is not recommended.

Aquarian Tarot – Created in 1970, this was David Palladini’s first attempt to create a new tarot deck for the modern era.

The deck itself is very minimalistic. Although there are some interesting choices in regards to the symbolism, I can’t help but feel that the minimalistic nature of the deck limits its ability to go too in depth into any of its ideas. This becomes very apparent when you look at the pip cards which are mostly taken straight from the Rider-Waite, except here the cards are stripped of a lot of their detail, and with it they lose a lot of their symbolism and meaning.

Artistically the deck looks fine, but it’s very plain. There is a very limited use of color and few of the cards look distinct. Although the pips are illustrated, I have serious doubts that the artwork would be enough to hold the attention of most people during a reading, making the deck a poor choice for reading for other people. As a final note, the artwork on the faces really dates the deck to the late 60s or early 70s.

I’m on the fence about recommending this deck. Not only is it an older tarot and very popular, but it’s also a solid tarot that works because it is very derivative of the Rider-Waite, and the different art style keeps it from being just a Rider-Waite clone. At the same time though the deck strikes me as being a poor man’s Rider-Waite. It’s not as good as the Rider-Waite deck, and it lacks originality and doesn’t add very much to the Rider-Waite.

Arcus Arcanum Tarot – For some odd reason I thought this looked like a cool metaphysical tarot and bought it. I have no idea how I came to that conclusion. This deck is an art deck. It has no spiritual meaning and no spiritual depth. The art is done in a typical traditional comic book style, although the artwork in this deck is not very interesting nor are the scenes it depicts. This is a bad deck, but it isn’t the worst deck I own. It is however the most boring deck I own, and that is a crime which is unforgivable. I do not recommend this tarot.

Astrologic Tarot – The Astrologic Tarot is a Japanese tarot. The tarot is a 24 card trump only deck with two additional cards added, the Head of the Dragon and the Tail of the Dragon. The art style is bright and colorful and a bit cartoonish, but not so cartoonish that it becomes silly. The artwork itself isn’t very well done, but it is just good enough to be considered professional level artwork and more than adequate for the purposes of this tarot.

The emphasis on the astrological associations of the trumps seems a little bit heavier in this deck than a normal tarot, and I assume that’s where this tarot derives its name. For the most part though the spiritual symbolism through the typical standard symbolism found on most tarot trumps and the card design seems uninspired. I have no idea what the dragon cards are supposed to mean or do, or even if they’re meant to be used with the tarot in practice. The deck is further hindered by being trump only which limits its ability to be used for magical purposes. I do not recommend this tarot.

Astrop-Smith Elemental Tarot – The Elemental Tarot is a weird little deck to say the least. The artwork on the cards is minimalistic, but actually very good. A lot of the trump cards have been renamed, and the suits have been replaced by their element. Instead of coins we have earth. Instead of wands we have fire. Each of the minor arcana also feature a god which ties into the card’s meaning.

Usually when a tarot deck tries to assign gods to different cards, it doesn’t work out too well. Often times card meanings have to be ignored to make a god fit on every card. That isn’t the case with this deck though, and most of the gods fit the meaning of their cards nicely. The way this deck skirts around the issue is it doesn’t limit itself to specific gods or popular gods. The deck will use any god from any pantheon, no matter how obscure they are. This means there are literally thousands, probably tens of thousands, of gods for the designers to choose from, and with such a large variety one of them is going to have to fit each of the 56 cards fairly well. I’ll admit that many of these gods I had to look up on Wikipedia in order to find out who they were, but when I did their mythology usually fit. There were a few gods that I didn’t really agree with, like Bylebog/Chernobog on the Eight of Air, but that has more to do with me not agreeing with the designer’s interpretation of the card than the designer trying to make a god fit where they didn’t.

The deck design is almost entirely unique, and it has a lot of new ideas, all of which I like. Unfortunately the deck designer has some pretty radical interpretations of the tarot cards, many of which are contrary to the original meanings and which I do not agree with. For instance the Magician is now the Trickster, an idea that sort of works with the concept of the card, but one which I don’t think expresses the card very well at all. Usually when a deck makes sweeping changes to the basic tarot design, as this deck does, it’s because the deck designer doesn’t really understand the tarot and so they are trying to create something new which they do understand. With this deck though it seems the designer actually understands the tarot, and that he made sweeping changes to it so that it would better fit his spiritual views.

This deck is far from being my favorite tarot, and I don’t agree with everything in it, but I’m giving it a lot of points because of its originality, and because it seems as if the designer understands the tarot and the changes that he’s making to it. I recommend buying this deck.

Aura-Soma New Aeon Tarot – This is a 98-card (or 100-card depending on the edition) tarot deck that may expand to include even more cards in the future. The reason for the deck’s large size is because it is a marketing tool meant to sell the Aura-Soma color equilibrium system, of which there are currently 100 different kinds of colors. The cards are double-sided with the tarot imagery on one side and the associated Aura-Soma product on the other.

I’m not learning whatever the hell the Aura-Soma system is in order to better understand and fairly review this tarot. It may be a legitimate system, but even if it is, it’s been heavily commercialized. The company website doesn’t even go into much detail about the theory of the system, just that the bottles contain the energies of colors, plants, and crystals that are supposed to equalize and calm you emotionally and spiritually, and bring you to a higher state of awareness.

The tarot itself has some cool looking designs, and I like the artwork. I’m assuming if there is any depth or symbolism to this tarot, beyond its use of traditional tarot imagery, that it ties into the Aura-Soma system, so I’m not fully qualified to judge it.

Ultimately this isn’t a spiritual tool, but a marketing tool designed to sell you on a commercial spiritual system. Even if the system is removed from the tarot, it’s still a 100-card, and growing, deck that completely restructures to tarot to mold it into something that fits the product line it’s trying to sell, which makes it useless as a tarot. I do not recommend this deck.

The Babylonian Tarot – This is a tarot created by Sandra Tabatha Cicero (one of the heads of one of the modern Golden Dawn orders, the one that has a lineage from Regardie). The deck uses Babylonian mythology as a theme and adds five new cards (one trump card and four court cards).

I don’t know enough about Babylonian mythology to accurately judge the cards in that regard. I’ve seen the cards and some of the symbolism is interesting. I really don’t like the idea of adding five extra cards though. It seems like a gimmick to me, or it’s a sign that the deck designer isn’t adept enough to work within the confines of the medium, and it does nothing but hurt the deck overall.

Yes it’s possible to make an 83 card deck that works. But to do that you’d have to throw out everything that came before and completely redesign your tarot so that it works with 83 cards instead of 78. It doesn’t look like Cicero has done that, nor do I think she’s even capable of doing that. It looks more like she just plopped five cards in there, which of course won’t really work because those five concepts would already have been covered by the 78 cards that more or less follow the design of a traditional deck.

Even if she did actually manage to do it though, it would mean that the deck would be something completely new and different from other tarot decks. An experienced reader who wanted to use the deck, or even study it, would have to learn an entirely new system to understand the deck since it wouldn’t follow the standard tarot associations and meanings in any way. It wouldn’t even really be a tarot deck anymore but some other kind of esoteric deck.

One of the advantages of the tarot over other random cartomancy systems is that an experienced reader can take the knowledge and associations they’ve already learned studying other decks and apply them to new decks. This allows them to learn those decks faster and to use their collected knowledge of all the decks they’ve studied to gain greater insight into the tarot as a whole. This is why most tarot designers stick to the standard format instead of trying to recreate the tarot.

Even if this deck featured some really great cards and worked really well, which it doesn’t, I’d still have to not recommend it, because if it was able to do that with 83 cards it wouldn’t be a tarot anymore. As it is though the deck actually is a tarot, it’s just a tarot with 83 cards, which makes it a poorly designed tarot that doesn’t hold together well. There’s no point in looking at the individual cards because if they were great cards (which they aren’t), the deck as a whole will still suffer from a huge flaw that completely breaks it. I do not recommend this deck.

Bakhitin Tarot – Also commonly referred to as the Russian tarot, two different editions of this deck were released. The first edition, released in 1992, featured Russian titles and a purple border. The second edition, released in 1993, featured black borders and English and Russian titles. The artwork is elegant and highly detailed, although not strictly Russian in style. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

The card design, although technically correct, is very derivative. There’s nothing original included on the trump cards, and the only cards showing any originality are the court cards. Even though these cards do sometimes incorporate an interesting idea, they still leave a lot to be desired.

The main draws of the deck are the artwork and the fact that it’s one of a handful of available Russian tarots. If you’re buying it for the later reason, it’s probably best to seek out a first edition if possible. The Russian only titles give it a bit more of a Russian flavor, and the purple borders look better on the cards than the black. As a practical tool though, unless you speak Russian, the second edition is probably preferable. In either case I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Baphomet Tarot – Also known as the H.R. Giger tarot, this is a 22-card trump only tarot designed by Swiss Left Hand Pather Akron. This is a found image tarot. There was no new imagery created for this tarot, and the imagery used was not designed for a tarot. Akron simply took several of Giger’s older paintings and placed them on to the tarot trumps. If you don’t already know, Giger is a famous fantasy artist who is best known for designing the aliens in the Alien movies.

Akron gives a fairly long warning about this tarot deck and how it is not for everyone. It’s not meant for people who don’t question themselves or who hide behind positivity. He goes on about how this is the ultimate shadow tarot, and provides a “panoramic view of the psychological and mental underworld.” Does anyone else ever feel as if some of these LHPers are the types of folk who love to smell their own farts?

Seriously, this is a found image tarot. Akron didn’t even put any real effort into designing the thing, he just placed unrelated famous paintings by a famous artist on the trump cards. Maybe Giger doesn’t have a huge fan following, but he has a respectable cult following, and most everyone that’s even remotely interested in science-fiction or horror movies is familiar with his work in Alien. I don’t see these people even glimpsing some mental and psychological underworld because they’ve seen Giger’s artwork. Yes it’s weird and otherworldy, but does the fact that someone enjoys that kind of imagery grant them any kind of spiritual enlightenment or profundity? Does seeing this imagery somehow affect the mind in some way that only the mentally strong or special can survive it? The box office gross of Alien, and the lack of a subsequent apocalypse, sort of proves that this is not the case.

This is a found image tarot, and found image tarots suck. Giger, as talented as he may be, was not attempting to design an esoteric tarot when he painted these pictures. The deck itself is however physically of a high quality, and fans of Giger’s work may find this to be an interesting art deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Baraja Egipcia – This is an Egyptian style deck from Mexico that was published in the late 70s. The pip and court cards are not fully illustrated, but in addition to their own imagery feature pictures of two cards, one from a Marseilles style deck and one from a standard deck of 52 cards. The cards each feature various symbols denoting different common tarot associations and short meanings and associations are written on the sides of the cards in Spanish.

This deck is more valuable by virtue of its age than by virtue of being a good deck. It would have been a much stronger deck when it was first published, but only because there were only a handful of esoteric decks on the market to compete with it. There are much better esoteric and Egyptian themed decks on the market today, and they are much easier to find and cheaper than this out of print collectible. I do not recommend this deck.

Barbara Walker Tarot – The Barbara Walker Tarot has long been one of my most hated tarots. It’s one of the tarots I inherited from my grandfather, and in many ways this tarot is the perfect example of some of the things I hate most about a lot of bad tarots. My real reason for hating this tarot so much though is because it’s the first bad tarot I ever got (I’m not counting the fact that my first tarot was the Universal Waite. I didn’t know enough to know how bad it was back then).

To begin with, the artwork makes the deck look very cool and mystical. The pips are fully illustrated, and most of the cards depict some sort of magical act. The court cards each feature a deity, or in some cases a human mythological figure like Gallahad. The mystical artwork is really what draws a lot of people in. However the artwork really doesn’t have much depth or symbolism to it. Even dismissing the deck as a spiritual tarot and reviewing it as an art deck, the fantasy themed artwork is still shallow. The artwork looks like something that would be expected on the cover of a fantasy novel or as part of a pen and paper role playing game. It may look cool, but the artwork is more of a guilty pleasure than something that contains true artistic merit.

The card interpretations get really weird. For instance the Four of Cups is called Decline and shows a king watching a naked woman dance. I have to wonder what associations Walker is using in order to interpret the Four of Cups that way. I’ve never seen an interpretation of the Four of Cups in any esoteric tarot that is remotely similar to the Barbara Walker interpretation, and I’ve gone through every association to the Four of Cups I can think of and tried to stretch every possible meaning of that card as much as I can, and still I’ve found nothing that makes sense with Walker’s image or her title of the card. The Six of Cups is just as bad. It’s called childhood and depicts a naked boy looking up at his gigantic mother. My first thought with this card depicts an Oedipus complex, which could be completely wrong, but there’s still nothing about this card that is relatable to the Six of Cups.

Some of the cards do make sense. The Eight of Cups is loss and it shows a dryad looking down at a crying Satyr. The Nine of Cups is happiness and it shows a couple looking into each others eyes. But even when the images do fit the card they’re placed on, there still isn’t any depth or additional symbolism in the image. It just fits.

It probably goes without saying, but this is not a very good deck. It lacks depth, a lot of the card interpretations are not only incorrect, but nonsensical, and the card interpretations that are correct are not only shallow, but are usually derivative of other decks. I don’t recommend this tarot.

Basque Mythical Tarot – As the name implies this tarot is based on the mythologies of the Basque people of Spain. There’s nothing special about the deck’s artwork, although it does have a unique tone to it, and it’s more than adequate for a tarot deck. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

My biggest issue with this deck is that the pips are not fully illustrated. There’s no good excuse for a modern deck not to have fully illustrated pips. This deck was first published in ’82, and in ’82 it was much more common for a deck not to have fully illustrated pips. However by that time the trend was well under way, so this deck isn’t old enough for me to completely excuse the behavior. This deck may have remained competitive in the market it was released into for a short period of time, it would have quickly become obsolete as the market was becoming far more saturated and competitive. The designer’s of this deck should at least be faulted for not being forward thinking enough to develop a deck that could remain competitive for more than a few years.

As for the trumps and the courts, I like the design of the cards and I feel as if there is some symbolism and spiritual insight hidden within them. However I’m not at all familiar with Basque mythology, or really anything about the Basque people, so I’m unable to give this deck a fair review.

Beginner’s Tarot – This is a tarot sold as a beginner’s tarot, and it’s based off of the Marseilles tarot pattern. Unless you’re limiting your study to pre-twentieth century theories on tarot, the Marseilles pattern is probably not the best sort of tarot to start learning with. I’d actually suggest buying a Marseilles pattern as your fourth or fifth tarot, and only to use as a reference, and instead start out with either a tarot you feel a connection with, or one of the better introductory tarots such as the Crowley-Thoth or the Rider-Waite.

In any instance I would advise against buying this Marseilles recreation. It’s not a true Marseilles pattern, which makes it less useful as an historical reference than an actual Marseilles deck. At the same time it adds no new spiritual, or even artistic, insight into the standard Marseilles pattern. It’s a completely uninspired deck. The worst part though, it’s one of the ugliest decks I’ve ever seen. I do not recommend this tarot.

Blue Moon Tarot – The Blue Moon Tarot is a 22 card trump only tarot created by Julie Cuccia-Watts, designer of the Ancestral Path Tarot, a deck I didn’t think very highly of. Like the Ancestral Path Tarot, the artwork on the cards is very well done. It’s professional level high quality artwork done in a very detailed and realistic style. The tarot was released in two different editions, with the 2nd edition being a limited edition print run.

The deck is supposedly based on the lunar cycles. I really don’t understand how the lunar cycles are supposed to relate to the tarot cards, and I’m not about to figure it out. Twelve of the cards represent the full moon in various signs. When I saw Justice was the full moon in Libra, I assumed it just put the full moon into the normal tarot attribution. But then I saw Strength was the full moon in Gemini. Then I saw that Sagittarius was the Empress and Pisces was the Devil. None of these attributions, besides Justice, are right, and I have no idea where this woman is getting her zodiac attributions from.

Some of the other cards are laughable. Judgement is now Halloween, which just has me thinking WTF!? The Hanged One is Lammas, so I thought maybe she was going with different Pagan holidays, especially since the equinoxes and solstices are also represented, but then shouldn’t Judgement be Samhain?

The World card is by far the worst though. It’s the Central Card. By the time I got to the end of the deck, I gave up trying to make sense of anything in it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really make sense, not even in a context that is divorced from all previous tarot theories and associations. It seems as if everything were just randomly inserted into the deck without any real reason at all, and that anything it got right is completely by accident.

Actually there is a sick sort of juvenile logic to this deck if you really want to look for it. Halloween is Judgement because the normal Judgement card has the dead rising from their graves as Gabriel blows his trumpet (as per Revelations). Ghosts are associated with Halloween. This is the level of spiritual insight being offered by the deck. As you can guess, I don’t recommend this tarot.

BOTA Tarot – This is the deck that was designed by Paul Foster Case, the founder of BOTA and at one time a high ranking member of the Alpha et Omega before being kicked out by Monia Mathers. The deck is black and white, and is meant to be colored in by the owner as per a key. The trumps borrow heavily from the Rider-Waite, although the pip cards are not fully illustrated.

It’s a hard deck to rate. The deck isn’t a bad deck, and Case definitely understood the tarot very well. On the other hand the trump cards are all derivative of Waite, and although Case sometimes offers interesting variations on Waite’s design, it’s never enough to make this deck worth buying in addition to Waite’s deck. The cards are printed on flimsy stock which doesn’t shuffle well and damages easily. If you do color in the cards, this only makes shuffling, and even storing the cards, worse because of color smearing, that is unless you want to go through the trouble of laminating all of the cards. On the plus side though the deck is cheap (but you are getting what you pay for as far as card quality goes).

Ultimately I think the deck is only going to be of interest to people who are involved with BOTA, are fans of Case, or who are interested in collecting all of the tarots made by former Golden Dawn members. Everyone else will probably want to pass on this one. I do not recommend this tarot.

Brancaforte Tarot – This is a 22-card trump only Italian tarot deck. The artwork is simple, but looks nice, and has a slightly cartoonish quality to it. The imagery of the deck closely follows the Marseilles pattern, and the deck fails to offer anything original. From a spiritual perspective, there’s no real advantage to using this deck over a Marseilles tarot. The deck is further hindered by being a trump only deck and not a full tarot deck. The main draw of this deck is the unique art style it uses, which actually fits the Marseilles imagery very well. As a spiritual deck though I do not recommend this tarot.

The Brotherhood of the Light Tarot – This is the tarot developed by C.C. Zain in the 1930s and published at least into the late sixties by his Church of the Light. The deck is a black and white deck which uses an Egyptian theme and is highly derivative of the Falconnier-Wegener tarot. The deck was sold along with a book of lessons that was meant to be used as a sort of correspondence course in tarot. A new color version of the deck was released a couple of years ago and is still in print.

I don’t have a copy of this deck, but I do have a copy of the 1960s version of the lesson book which I picked up at the used book store a few years back. The book is unfortunately falling apart though and every time I open it I’m afraid the binding’s going to completely come apart.

The deck itself is nothing special. If you’re interested in the Egyptian theme and the Falconnier-Wegener design, check out the AG Mueller Egyptian Tarot instead. The only real significance of this deck is that it was an esoteric tarot deck published during a period when esoteric tarot decks were rare. I do not recommend buying the original version of this deck or the new color edition.

Buckland Romani Tarot – Raymond Buckland is a Wiccan author. In fact he’s one of the better and most well known Wiccan authors. And yes, this tarot was actually designed by Buckland and not somebody trying to cash in on his name. As an author, Buckland has written some very good and influential books on Wicca and other spiritual subjects, some of which have even changed the way in which Wicca is practiced today. But Raymond Buckland has also written some really bad books. In fact the quality varies so much between Buckland’s good books and his bad books that I often wonder if they’re all actually written by the same person. I also haven’t yet found a Buckland book that is just okay. Buckland’s books are always either really good or really bad, and every time I buy a Buckland book, which one I’m getting is a surprise.

That being the case, I had really high and really low expectations of this tarot going in. I figured it would be one of the greatest tarots I’ve ever seen, or it would be a useless piece of crap. It turns out Buckland created the later.

There is no actual symbolism or spiritual meaning to any of the cards, and the images are only loosely based off of their traditional tarot counterparts. The deck is supposedly based on Buckland’s memories of Romanis in England both before and after World War 2, and the deck is really nothing more than an art deck featuring Romanis. The style of the artwork is actually quite good, but the images themselves are usually not very interesting. The deck is devoid any spiritual significance, and I don’t think most people are going to find the subject matter all that interesting. I do not recommend this deck.

Buddha Tarot – This is a tarot based on the life of Siddhartha Gautama by prolific tarot designer Robert Place. The artwork is beautiful and follows Place’s usual style. It’s hard to classify the pip cards as fully illustrated in this deck. The majority of each pip card is devoted to the suit symbols, but all of the cards, except for the aces, also feature a small illustration on the card too.

Only being interested in certain aspects of Buddhism, I don’t feel as if I’m qualified to give this deck a fair review. As an art deck though it’s definitely worth buying.

Caring Psychic Family Tarot – This is a trump only tarot deck that was distributed to promote a psychic hotline. The cards depict the traditional tarot trumps, but do so with a juvenile understanding of the cards which lacks any subtlety, depth, or even real spiritual meaning. The artwork is more than adequate, if a bit cartoony, for a tarot deck, although the imagery is not very interesting at all. This tarot deck is not recommended.

cartomanziaitalianaCartomanzia Italiana – This is a limited edition reprint of a 19th century Etteilla pattern tarot. The design is a variation of the Princess Tarot, however the artwork on this deck is not quite as good. The Princess Tarot is superior to this tarot, and unless you collect Etteilla pattern tarots, there’s no reason to own both. I do not recommend this tarot.

Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi – The Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot is one of two 15th century tarots believed to have been hand painted by Italian artist Bonifacio Bembo for the Visconti family. This deck, along with Bembo’s other deck for the Visconti family, the Visconti-Sforza tarot, is one of the two oldest surviving tarot decks, although it is unknown which deck was made first. The deck gets its name from the fact that it is part of the Cary collection of playing cards at Yale university. The deck is an 86 card deck, due to the inclusion of two extra court cards in each suit, although 19 of the cards have been lost.

This is an oversized reproduction of the surviving 67 cards by US games. Additionally artist Luigi Scapini has created 19 new cards in the same style as the Cary-Yale Visconti to replace the 19 cards that have been lost.

As far as I know, this is the only time the Cary-Yale Visconti has been reproduced, making this the best reproduction of the deck. Luigi Scapini is a wonderful tarot artist who has worked on many other decks and his replacement cards are beautiful and a welcome addition to this deck. After all, if you want to be a purist, you can always just remove those cards. Although this deck will be of great interest to collectors of historical tarots, from a magical standpoint it’s an art deck that doesn’t even follow the standard tarot design, which makes it of very limited use. The deck is recommended as a historical tarot only, and not recommended as a magical tool.

Celestial Tarot – This is the second tarot by designer Kay Steventon, designer of the Spiral Tarot. I didn’t much care for the Spiral Tarot, so I was hoping Steventon’s second tarot would be an improvement.

The deck is themed around astrology and astronomy and applying astrological and astronomical associations to the cards. The problem is that tarot decks have been applying astrological associations to the cards since the 18th century. The theme of this deck is nothing new. It’s something that is incorporated into most good tarot decks. The trump cards follow the traditional tarot astrological associations. The Magician is Mercury, the High priestess is Luna, and The Empress is Venus for instance.

However the pip and court cards do not follow their traditional associations. Instead they’re given new astronomical associations. For instance the Two of Swords is represented by the constellation Lupus. I’ll admit I don’t know my constellations or much about astronomy. I do know that the constellation Lupus isn’t used in astrology though, so it isn’t an astrological association. To fairly review this deck, I looked up the constellation Lupus and read everything there was to know about it along with all of the associated mythologies. I used Wikipedia, and that’s not the most reliable source, but I think that it should be more than adequate for my purposes. Anyways I can’t find anything associated with the constellation Lupis or its mythologies that seems related to any of the traditional meanings, symbolisms, associations, or concepts of the Two of Swords. It seems to me as if the pip associations were just chosen randomly for the cards. Maybe their placement on the cards is due to their placement and order in the sky, but I don’t feel like trying to figure out if that’s the case. Even if it is the case, it doesn’t make the deck any better.

As for the trump cards, there really isn’t much to them beyond their traditional association. For instance the Magician card, associated with the planet Mercury, is the god Mercury. Besides some symbols drawn on the card, like the alchemical symbol for air, there isn’t much imagery on the card besides the god Mercury. He’s wearing some clothes, a cross, and his Mercury hat, and he’s carrying his Mercury staff, and that is the entire image on the card. The designer might as well have just written the word Mercury on the card, or put a photograph of the planet Mercury on it. There’s no meaning or symbolism to the trump imagery beyond its traditional astrological association, and I memorized those associations many years ago.

This tarot has no spiritual value at all. It’s nothing more than a collection of constellations randomly put on tarot cards and the traditional astrological associations of the trumps, which you can easily look up online. I do not recommend this tarot.

Celtic Wisdom Tarot – The artwork on this deck is very well done. It’s beautiful and the style is fairly unique, and the pips are fully illustrated. No doubt many people are going to be attracted to this deck because of the artwork.

As for the design, initially I couldn’t make much out of this deck. I looked the deck up online, mainly to find out exactly what religion or mythology was used in the deck, and found out that the card designs are all tied into different Celtic myths, and in order to understand what each card is referencing you really need to have the accompanying book. I don’t read the little white books, so I’m not buying and reading a hard cover book to understand this deck. Like any tarot deck, this deck should be able to express itself within the confines of the cards without any accompanying text. If it can’t do that, it fails and I’m going to give it a bad review.

I seriously doubt this deck would have gotten a great review had I read the book though. The deck completely changes the tarot structure. Every card and suit has been retitled and the imagery is all new. Whatever the imagery is supposed to be referencing, it doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the traditional tarot design and meaning. The deck doesn’t seem to incorporate new ideas, or anything at all for that matter, into the tarot design. Instead it’s just pictures related to various myths put on 78 cards and called a tarot deck. I do not recommend this tarot deck.

Chamberlain-Westernberg Millennium Tarot – The Millennium Tarot is a 22 card trump only deck published in a limited edition of 1500 copies. The artwork is bright and vibrant and very detailed, but the quality leaves something to be desired. For instance, I’m not sure if the Magician is supposed to be an unevenly flat chested woman or a guy with saggy man-breasts. More than anything though the illustrations just don’t seem as interesting as they should be. The artwork isn’t bad, and there are a lot of details and a lot of symbolism, but I still don’t feel drawn to the cards. It’s really a combination of poor color choices, an uninteresting design, the artistic style, and artwork that isn’t quite up to a professional grade.

Esoterically, the cards are full of symbolism. A lot of it is the traditional symbolism associated with the card, but there are also a lot of original symbols and new ideas being expressed. Some of the deck’s choices I was less than thrilled about, such as changing the name of the Fool to the Innocent. All in all it isn’t a bad deck, and it really does have a lot going for it, I just feel like it’s a very hard deck to establish a connection to because of the issues with the illustrations. Magically the deck is also somewhat limited because it’s only 22 cards. All in all I’m giving this deck a low recommendation. It’s just good enough to make up for its flaws.

Cicero Golden Dawn Tarot – This is the tarot created by Chic and Sandra Cicero (heads of one of the modern Golden Dawn orders), and which has been sold both as the Golden Dawn Magical Tarot and the Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot in different regions. I believe it’s out of print right now, but I think it’s still easy to find a deck for sale.

Despite being a “Golden Dawn” tarot, the deck doesn’t strictly adhere to the standard Golden Dawn pattern as created by Mathers. This tarot does however borrow heavily from Mathers’ design, so it probably could be considered a variation on the Golden Dawn pattern, or a modified version of the Golden Dawn design. Like the Golden Dawn pattern, this tarot does not feature fully illustrated pips, although the pips are colorful and a little bit elaborate, which is almost as good as having fully illustrated pips.

At a glance it seems as if it may be full of mystical symbolism and magical goodness, but once you start to study this deck it turns out that almost everything is derivative of other decks. A good portion of the deck is taken straight from Mathers’ design, and the addition to Mathers’ design are all taken from other tarot decks (such as the twin Anubis on the Moon card, which I believe was first seen in Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, but I could be mistaken).

The only original part of this tarot is the art style through which it expresses the ideas. Although drawn okay, I don’t much care for the art style and I find it makes the cards difficult to connect with. I’m not alone in this regard either. Very few people seem to feel any kind of connection to this deck, and I’ve never heard of anyone who uses this deck for divination or spellwork.

Altogether it is a solid Golden Dawn inspired tarot, but it’s inferior to other Golden Dawn tarots on the market, namely the Regardie Golden Dawn Tarot. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Cico’s The Golden Tarot – The Golden Tarot was drawn by artist Melissa Laury in her usual style, which places two dimensional foreground images over a three dimensional background. The artwork also uses bright, soft colors and a small amount of shading. The end result has a unique and somewhat charming look to it. It’s uniqueness aside, the artwork itself seems as if it’s almost up to the level of a professional artist, but falls a little bit short. No doubt some will find themselves drawn to this deck due to the artwork, but it’s going to be largely a matter of taste. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

The deck itself was designed by Liz Dean, and unfortunately Dean’s design doesn’t live up to the originality and charm of Laury’s artwork. Most of the imagery and symbolism on the deck is standard with only a few new elements added through out the deck. From a design standpoint, the deck is just a typical tarot meant to be included with Dean’s book, and Dean’s contribution to the design seems largely unnecessary. Laury, or any artist, could’ve done a tarot like this with very little research, and Laury’s artwork seems wasted on this tarot. Although it isn’t a bad tarot, Laury has enough to be a good tarot artist, and if she were teamed up with a good designer she could no doubt produce a first rate deck.

Since the deck lacks originality and the art style is largely a matter of taste, I really can’t give this deck more than a low recommendation. The deck works though, and I’d be willing to give it that low recommendation, except for the fact that it lacks fully illustrated pips. To be competitive in today’s market, modern decks need fully illustrated pips or a really good reason not to have them. Decks that lack full illustrations on the pip just can’t compete with the wide variety of good decks that do have them. So I’m downgrading this deck to being on the fence.

Circle of Life Tarot – The Circle of Life Tarot is Lo Scarabeo’s first attempt at a circular tarot. I don’t like circular tarots and it’s not the sort of thing I want to promote. Luckily though most circular tarots aren’t very good, so I never feel as if I’m missing out, but with the Circle of Life Tarot I really wish the deck wasn’t circular. Not only is the artwork really good, and different from the typical Lo Scarabeo style, but some of the cards have very interesting designs.

In fairness, there is a point to the circular shape of the cards. The deck is themed around the things that circles represent such as cycles and infinite. The artwork and imagery is also specially designed for the circular cards, and it expresses itself in ways that could not have been done with rectangular cards.

As for the cards themselves, some of the designs are really good. Others seem incorrect or nonsensical. For instance death shows a woman surrounded by skulls and snakes who is holding a young baby in her arms. The deck, in its theme of cycles, is trying to show the death-birth cycle of humanity and how humanity is infinite and unending, defeating death, and ending, through breeding. The problem is this is an idea that belongs in the Temperance card, not in the Death card. The Death card deals with the cycle of Life-Death-Life, if anything.

All in all there are some interesting cards and nice touches. I’m taking points away for the deck being round, even if it does add something to the deck. In order to get away with being a round tarot, a deck needs to be phenomenal, and this deck isn’t. Even absent the round cards it has about as many flaws as it does strong points. With rectangular cards this deck might have gotten a low recommendation from me, but as it is I’m going to be on the fence about this deck.

Classic Golden Dawn Tarot – The Classic Golden Dawn Tarot is a Golden Dawn pattern tarot based of Mathers’ original design. The deck is done in black and white, and like the BOTA tarot the owner is supposed to color it in as per a key. Fortunately the cards are of a much higher quality than the BOTA cards, but there is still the problem of colors smearing when the cards are shuffled or stored in a stack unless they are laminated.

I believe the deck is currently the only true Golden Dawn pattern tarot that has been commercially released besides Regardie’s, so it makes a nice comparison deck to Regardie’s if you want to study the Golden Dawn pattern in depth. Still I think Regardie’s deck is superior, if for no other reason than it is already colored in, and there isn’t enough of a difference between the two decks for most people to need both.

Unless you’re really into the Golden Dawn pattern of tarot, or want to collect all of the tarots associated with the Golden Dawn, you’re probably better off passing on this deck and buying the Regardie deck instead. Mostly due to some slight yet significant differences between the imagery of this deck and Regardie’s, I’m on the fence about recommending it.

Cleopatra Tarot – How many Egyptian Tarots do we need? Apparently one more according to Silvana Alasia. Alasia also designed Lo Scarabeo’s Egyptian Tarot and Nefarati’s Tarot. Of the three decks, this is the newest, but it looks as if it came first. In a lot of ways this is like a poor man’s Egyptian Tarot.

The artwork of this tarot doesn’t look as nice as the Egyptian Tarot, and it seems to me to be a bit more minimal. The Egyptian Tarot is probably the best looking Egyptian themed tarot there is, so saying this deck looks a little bit worse than that one doesn’t mean the artwork is bad. Still it’s stylistically similar to the Egyptian Tarot, so much so I don’t really see the point in owning two tarots that look so much alike.

The tarot also seems to have less spiritual value than its predecessor, which didn’t have much spiritual value to begin with. Added to all of this, I don’t really care for Egyptian tarots.

In the end this is another art deck, one that is very similar to, but not as good as, a tarot the same designer made many years earlier. I don’t see the need to have two Egyptian tarots that look so similar, and there’s no reason to buy this tarot instead of the designer’s earlier deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Codice Kabalistico – The Codice Kabalistico was a Mexican tarot released in 1977. The deck combines the Rider-Waite tarot, the Wirth Trumps, the Swiss 1JJ Tarot, and a Marseilles pattern tarot. Each card takes its image from one of these four decks, and the choice of which deck seems to be made at random. Because of this the cards don’t really flow together and the deck lacks consistancy. Also the images used on the card are often times poorly cropped and grainy. I do not recommend this tarot.

Color Your Own Tarot – As the name suggests, the ‘Color Your Own Tarot’ is a deck that is meant to be colored in by the owner. Like other decks, such as the Classic Golden Dawn Tarot and the BOTA tarot, coloring in the tarot makes the deck largely unusable because shuffling and even storing the deck may cause the colors to smear. That is unless you go through the added trouble of also laminating the deck. It’s a lot of work to go through just to color a deck yourself.

Unlike the Classic Golden Dawn Tarot and the BOTA tarot, with this deck the coloring aspect is really just a gimmick that is used to sell a substandard deck. The artwork on the deck is large and lacks detail, which makes it easier to color. However the artwork is also uninteresting, unattractive, and poorly drawn. The card design meanwhile is entirely derivative and, once again, uninteresting. Although the cards do possess quite a bit of the Rider-Waite’s symbolism, there is nothing added to any of the cards, and much of the depth and detail of the Rider-Waite is lost on this deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Comparative Tarot – The Comparative Tarot combines the images of four Lo Scarabeo published decks (The Universal Tarot, The Tarot of Origins, The Egyptian Tarot, and their Burdel Marseilles) into one deck so that the images can be easily compared.

First off, this method of comparing decks is limited, and always having four different images available can make things very busy and confusing, especially if you want to do something like compare images from two different cards, which would mean you now have eight images to work with. If you want to compare four different tarot decks at once, the best thing to do is buy four different tarot decks. It’s a bit more expensive, but I’m sure you’ll be happier with four individual decks, or even just one deck, then having four images printed onto each card.

Secondly, none of the tarots included in the Comparative Tarot are all that good. Many times in the past Lo Scarabeo has tricked me into buying crappy tarots, but with this deck it seems like they’ve now devised a way to try to trick me into buying four crappy tarots at once. I do not recommend buying this tarot.

Connolly Tarot Deck – This is a deck created by Eileen and Peter Connolly (A mother and son team). The artwork is reminiscent of the Rider-Waite style, except more vibrant, however the actual card design and symbolism is fairly unique and not very derivative of the Rider-Waite at all.

Connolly’s unique design is probably the best and worst part of the deck. Death is now Transformation and the Devil is Materialism, and I think anyone who understands how to read tarot kind of cringes when they see those cards dumbed down like that. On the other hand some of Connolly’s ideas are interesting and even enlightening, and she’s added quite a few new ideas to every card, which is refreshing considering most decks just rip-off the Rider-Waite.

As a side note, Connolly’s deck stays away from vulgar sexual displays and tones down the violence quite a bit. The little bit of nudity in the deck seems tasteful and appropriate. The Connolly tarot is probably the least offensive deck you’ll find that’s still useable for divination and magical work, making it perfect for a situation where there’s someone you don’t want to offend.

Personally my opinion of the tarot is somewhere in the middle. It’s different enough that I feel it’s worth buying, but given the choice there are other tarots I’d rather work with. A lot of people really love this tarot, but then a lot of people also really hate it. It’s one of those tarots where you’ll probably have to look at it yourself and see if you connect with it or if you just can’t stand it. All in all I’m giving this deck a low recommendation, and that’s partly due to it gaining a few points for being a good and brightly colored inoffensive deck for professional readers.

Contemplative Tarot – This deck is based off the ideas of Ouspensky. It’s another one of those tarots that has attached to itself the name of a dead famous person who had nothing to do with the actual tarot design in hopes of gaining some validity through association.

The deck claims that it’s only intended to be used for contemplation and meditative purposes, and that it is geared towards helping you connect to higher planes of existence. The deck was not designed for the purpose of divination, and in fact the deck uses non-uniform backs in order to discourage anyone from using it for that purpose. I don’t understand why a tarot designer would feel the need to intentionally sabotage their deck just to make sure that a person couldn’t use it for some alternative purpose. If I want to use their tarot for divination, why should they care? They should just be happy that somebody decided to buy their stupid deck, regardless of why they bought it.

My other problem with the advertised purpose of this deck, that it was specifically designed to be used for contemplation and meditation and connecting to higher planes, is that any good esoteric tarot deck can be used for those purposes. Unlike this deck though, most of those decks can also be used for divination too.

I tried meditating with the cards to see if they did anything special. They have some energy behind them, but that doesn’t really mean anything, because everything has energy behind it, especially works of art, and I can pull energy off of a company logo or an email if I really wanted to. The deck’s energy varies from card to card, but the energy is never especially strong for a tarot deck. Some of the cards seem to be a bit stronger than what I’d expect from a painting, but with other cards that isn’t the case. The energy present in the individual cards also doesn’t seem to be connected to the actual energy or meaning of the cards at all. The energy that exists in the cards seems more random than anything else. The Universe card in particular has an energy behind it which is just plain creepy and evil and has nothing to do with the 21st trump.

I probably would’ve given this deck higher marks if it was marketed as a standard tarot deck instead of trying to tell me that it has some special meditative purpose. Given the fact that the deck fails to do the one thing it’s advertised for, I’m going to have to not recommend it.

Cosmic Tarot – Better known as the tarot of the metrosexuals. Actually I’ve been told that a lot of the people in this tarot, possibly all of them, were modeled after old movie stars. Still most of the men in this deck look rather effeminate. The Cosmic Tarot was designed by German artist Norbert Losche. Losche claims to be a self-taught artist, but the deck is still of the high quality and technical skill that one would expect from a formally trained professional artist. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

The deck isn’t just an art deck though, there is definitely some spiritual meaning behind the cards. In fact some of the ideas expressed are rather interesting. The Seven of Cups for instance, a card that is usually seen as over-indulgence in romantic, carnal, physical, and emotional pleasures, in this deck is a card of submission with a man bowing down before the things he desires. The card implies that debauchery and physical ecstasy are not things that someone in control seeks out, but rather it’s a lifestyle that a person submits to and then is engulfed by, and this actually goes hand-in-hand with the card’s traditional interpretation of emotional over-indulgence.

The imagery on most of the cards though is far more traditional in its design and honestly a bit shallow. For instance the two of cups shows a man and a woman kissing while surrounded by roses. It’s hard to completely describe the image, but it does technically fit with the Two of Cups. Still it’s a rather plain image without much symbolism and, although technically correct, it doesn’t feel like it fully encompasses the raw power of the romantic relationship expressed in the Two of Cups. The Five of Wands meanwhile shows two men, in what may be a stone circle, fighting with sticks. The imagery fits the card meaning, but it is rather plain and typical and lacks real depth. I could go on. There are lots of cards like this in the deck.

Some of the cards meanwhile seem almost nonsensical. The Three of Wands for instance shows a woman sitting in a magical circle with three flowers in front of her casting a glowing ball of light over her head. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. The Seven of Swords meanwhile shows a woman wearing a large coat at night walking away from a circle made up of swords pushed into the ground. Once again I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

I am going to recommend this deck, although I’m giving it a very low recommendation and there really are a lot of better decks out there. The deck’s biggest flaw is that most of the card designs are boring and lack depth, although they technically are correct. I’m able to live with that because the artwork is pretty good on this deck and there are a few interesting and original cards (like the Seven of Cups).

The Cosmic Tribe Tarot – This is an 81 card tarot that features computer enhanced photographic pictures of naked, but only sometimes attractive, people. Most of the pip cards are entirely computer generated images, but some also contain photographs. The three extra cards are due to there being four versions of the Lover’s card. Two feature homosexual couples and two feature heterosexual couples, because sexual orientation diversity is important and should be promoted or something.

The deck is a celebration of the human body or nudity or something like that, and the whole thing seems like a bunch of packaged feel-good equality-driven hippie crap. Other than sometimes acknowledging the elemental associations of the suits there isn’t anything in these cards that relates to the traditional tarot symbolisms or meanings. Meanwhile some of the cards have been hippified, like Justice becoming Balance and Judgment becoming Emergence. The small amount of symbolism in the deck is obvious and cliched hippie crap, like the person who sheds his old naked man skin and becomes a naked man butterfly in Emergence. Unless you’re into commercialized hippie spirituality I don’t think you’ll find much value in this deck and I don’t recommend it.

Crow’s Magick Tarot – This tarot deck features computer generated illustrations. Usually I don’t like the look and style of computer generated tarot decks, however this deck looks far worse than other computer generated tarots. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about computer generated art to give this deck the criticism it deserves, but the art work here is poorly designed, plain, amateurish, simple, and a good portion of the cards are filled with nothing but the black background. This tarot is the computer generated version of a poorly drawn stick figure tarot.

On to the actual deck design, there is some spiritual meaning in some of the cards, but most of the times the card imagery and meaning is in no way relatable to the traditional concept of the card. For instance the Eight of Coins has the key words knowledge and insight written on the card, and the imagery seems to fit this with a picture of some books and an owl silhouetted against the moon. The imagery fits the keywords, but neither have anything to do with the Eight of Coins. Even taking into account the fact that the cards use non-traditional meanings and associations, the symbolism is still obvious and simple on the cards with the exception of the birds. The deck is filled with different birds that are representative of their common associations, which is a nice and unique touch, but unfortunately not enough to carry this deck with all of its other problems. I don’t recommend buying this deck.

Crowley-Thoth Tarot – Aleister Crowley’s tarot is one of the two best modern tarots. Partially influenced by the work of McGregor Mathers in the Golden Dawn and the writings of Eliphas Levi, Crowley spent five years near the end of his life creating this tarot with artist Lady Frieda Harris (actually her name was Frieda Harris when she created the tarot, although at one time she was Frieda Lady Harris. She was never officially Lady Frieda Harris).

The tarot was finished in 1943 and was published inside of Crowley’s Book of Thoth, but an official deck version of the tarot wasn’t published until 1969. The paintings were again photographed in ’77 for the new editions that were published by US Games and AG Muller starting in ’78, and the paintings were recently photographed once more for the newest version released as the Original Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot in Germany.

As for a review of the deck, all I can really say is that this is one of the two best tarots ever created. It works great for divinations and spell work, and contains a lot of esoteric knowledge (a lot more than is contained in any of Crowley’s writings). In regards to learning how to read the tarot, I find this deck to be superior to the Rider-Waite, although I think most people will get the best results when they’re able to compare the two decks.

I really only have two minor complaints about the deck. The first is that the deck is one of the most sexually vulgar decks out there, which isn’t something I have a problem with, but it can make the deck inappropriate for a lot of situations and readings. Secondly Crowley did add some elements of Thelema into the symbolism of the cards, and so that should be kept in mind when interpreting the cards and a basic understanding of Thelema will help understand the deck. Don’t take that to mean that it is a Thelemic deck, like the Robin Wood tarot is a Wiccan deck. Thelema encompasses a very small portion of the deck, less than things like Kabalism, astrology, Ceremonial Magic, or various mythologies, and the deck is easily read by people that don’t practice Thelema.

On a final note, the deck usually comes in three sizes: small, large, and extra-large. The extra-large size is limited to the very old pre-US Games editions, although some people do like these super big cards. The large cards are actually pretty big though, and people with big hands like them, although people with small hands may find them hard to shuffle. If you do have small hands, I’d say take the time to learn how to shuffle the larger cards and stay away from the small editions. There’s a lot of small details in the cards and the artwork can get really busy on the smaller editions. The artwork really doesn’t fit the small cards very well.

-US Games Editions – The current US Games editions are okay. There’s nothing wrong with these editions, but there are better versions out there (namely the Swiss editions). If you live in the United States this is probably going to be the easiest edition to find, and you can usually buy it in any store that sells tarot decks.

-US Games Green Tint Editions – This is the older version that US Games used to sell. They screwed up the printing and there was a green tint on it. Rather than fix the problem, US Games printed the cards like this for many, many years. Most people bought these cards because they didn’t know how bad they were, or that they had a choice in the matter. The few people who did know imported their cards from Switzerland. Around the time the Internet became big, more and more people found out how bad these cards were, and how they could get good cards from Switzerland, and so US Games finally fixed the problem.

I’ve seen people try to sell these decks for a lot of Ebay like they’re some kind of collector’s item. These decks were printed for years, and this is one of the most popular decks on the market. They made like a bajillion of these things. Not only that but the Green Tint decks are not superior decks, everyone agrees that they’re inferior to what US Games is selling now. Unless you need to have every version of this deck and are willing to pay a lot more than the quality and rarity should demand, stay away from the green tint decks.

-Swiss Editions – This is still the superior edition. The colors in the Swiss editions are just a little bit deeper than the US Games editions, and that makes all the difference. The variation is slight, so much so you probably can’t see it on online scans, but it’s there. Plus the decks sell for about the same amount. The only downside is that the large Swiss cards have never been distributed by US Games, and I’m not even sure if they’re still distributing the smaller cards, so the only way to get large Swiss cards are to import them.

-Original Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot – This is a new edition based off of new photographs of Harris’s paintings, which so far has only been released in Germany, so unless you live there you have to import it. I haven’t gotten one of these decks yet, but I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to finally see the cards. Still I’ve already bought over half a dozen copies of this exact same tarot deck and I’m wondering how many I really need.

-Llewellyn Editions – The Llewellyn editions are older editions of the deck that were printed prior to the US Games editions. There were at least two editions of the Llewellyn tarot, one printed in the USA and one printed in Hong Kong. These decks are probably the worst quality official versions of the deck and are notorious for their printing errors. Unless you collect the different versions of Crowley’s tarot, these aren’t worth getting.

-Weiser Edition – This is the very first official version of Crowley’s tarot. The cards are bigger than any of the current cards which some people like. The only real reason to buy this version of the deck is to own the very first version as a collectible since later editions recreate the cards from better photographs. Remember though that they did make quite a few of these, so don’t pay too much.

-Tarot Thota – A polish language version of the Crowley Thoth tarot, publisher unknown. The deck is about the same size as the large editions published by AG Mueller. The deck’s colors don’t seem as vibrant as most other versions of the Thoth tarot. The deck is only of real value to native Polish speakers and Thoth collectors, otherwise this edition is not recommended.

-Lo Scarabeo Crowley Thoth Tarot – Lo Scarabeo has listed this tarot on their website for years. Currently there’s no information about this tarot on the site, but the old site had a few pictures which looked like the AG Mueller edition with Italian titles. It’s possible this is the AG Mueller edition printed in Italian. Lo Scarabeo’s US distributor, Llewellyn, also produced an edition of the Crowley Thoth Tarot in the 70s, so maybe this edition is connected to that one.

Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot – Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot’s designer is television writer and producer Paul Huson. In addition to his television work, Huson was also a member of Fortune’s Society of the Inner Light and Stella Mututina (an offshoot of the original Golden Dawn, and precursor to the modern day Regardie descended Golden Dawn) in the 1950s. With this deck Huson attempts to recreate the original esoteric symbolism of the tarot based off of his extensive historical research on the subject, and his earlier published book, “Mystical Origins of the Tarot”.

Reading the information about this deck, I was scared of how might turn out. There are lots of other decks that claim to do the same thing, and these decks are usually filled with wild speculation concerning Romanis, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Hebrews, Atlantis, space aliens, and all sorts of other things, none of which is supported by the historical record, and they’re usually incorporated into a Rider-Waite derivative design. However Huson’s historical research is actual historical research that primarily focuses on the early esoteric decks from the 18th century and the origins of their symbols. His deck incorporates many elements from the Conver Marseilles and the Ettiella pattern with fully illustrated pips as per the Ettilla design.

The only minor flaw with the deck lies in the artwork. The card design is modeled after the older decks which were printed on woodblocks, which is appropriate considering the deck’s theme, but I still feel as if the artwork, although far from ugly and more than adequate for its purpose, could have been better drawn.

As far as I know this is the only deck based off of real historical research which focuses on the esoteric origins of the tarot. I highly recommend this deck, and especially recommend it for those who are looking for an historically based tarot, or a tarot that uses esoteric symbolism which predates the Waite and Crowley designs.

Dark Angels Tarot – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck which features goth styled angels. The artwork is of the usual Lo Scarabeo standards, although it uses a kind of low quality photorealism instead of the typical Lo Scarabeo art style. Personally I don’t care much for the art style of the deck or for it’s theme. The deck contains no esoteric knowledge and provides no spiritual insight. This deck was designed to be an art deck and not a spiritual deck. I only included it because Lo Scarabeo advertises it as a metaphysical deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Dark Grimoire Tarot – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck inspired by the Cthullu imagery. The deck meets the typical Lo Scarabeo standards of high quality and highly detailed artwork, however the imagery has a darker tone than what is usually seen in these Lo Scarabeo decks. Considering the deck’s theme, that’s expected and the artwork fits the motif well.

For decades magicians have been trying to incorporate Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos into magical works. A lot of this goes back to Lovecraft basing many of his horror stories on his dreams, and the theories of magician Kenneth Grant who believed Lovecraft had tapped into a source of real knowledge while he slept.

I’m not about to argue one way or another on the validity of Chtuluian magic in this review. However this deck was not designed to be full of deep, mystical, and arcane magical knowledge based off of or mixed with the Cthulu mythos as per legitimate works of Cthuluian spirituality. This was designed as an art deck inspired by the stories of Lovecraft and his successors. Lo Scarabeo advertises this as an art deck, not as a spiritual deck. The deck has no spiritual value under any system. I do not recommend this tarot.

Daughters of the Moon Tarot – I like to think of this deck as Motherpeace: the sequel, because it’s another feminist driven deck with circular cards. I’m of the opinion that we didn’t need Motherpeace, which was a joke, so I don’t understand why somebody felt we needed two of these decks.

This deck has been broadly restructured on a very basic level to fit feminist ideologies. Several of the masculine trump cards have been outright removed and the court cards have been reduced to three so that they can represent the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The suits have also been changed. While the feminine suits of Pentacles and Cups have remained, the masculine suits have been changed to flames and blades. This is a fairly transparent attempt to misappropriate masculine aspects as feminine and promote women as superior. Chalices are as vaginal as wands are phallic, and if this deck was truly attempting to promote gender neutrality and equality (which I still wouldn’t agree with) it would have changed the chalices as well.

When a tarot makes such sweeping changes to its basic structure, such as changing the number of cards, the entire tarot pretty much has to be recreated from scratch in order to ensure that everything is still contained in all of the cards, and that everything is placed where it is appropriate. That obviously didn’t happen here. The entire point of the changes, and in fact the entire point of this tarot, is the expression of extreme feminist political ideologies. This deck may try to incorporate feminism into its spirituality, or perhaps spirituality into its feminism, but when that happens the end result is that spirituality is perverted and twisted in order to fit a political perspective.

To be completely fair to this deck’s designer, this tarot is better than the Motherpeace tarot. The designer of this deck at least has some idea about the tarot, and they seem a bit more intelligent than the two women who created the Motherpeace tarot. In fact some of the cards in this deck have interesting interpretations and express interesting ideas. However the deck is broken at a fundamental level and is not about the expression of spirituality, but about the expression of feminism. Because I haven’t mentioned it yet, the artwork in this tarot is so-so, but more than adequate for a tarot deck, and female nudity is featured heavily. In addition to the mass marketed color version of this deck there was an earlier released black and white edition. I do not recommend this tarot.

DellaRocca Tarot – First published in 1835, the DellaRocca tarot was created by artist Carlos DellaRocca and comissioned by Italian cardmaker Gummpenberg. Based off of the Marseilles pattern, the DellaRocca Tarot was printed using engraved metal plates which allowed for far more detailed and superior artwork over the older woodblock printing method used with Marseilles pattern tarots. The DellaRocca design is often considered the most beautiful design of its era. The deck itself was reprinted many times by several different 19th century cardmakers, and the design was a major influence on many later decks.

Despite its beauty and historical significance, the DellaRocca tarot was intended for card playing, not for magical purposes. Theories concerning the esoteric value of the tarot had already been in development for decades by the time the DellaRocca tarot was introduced in 1835, and these theories were developed with the older Marseilles pattern tarot in mind. The later esoteric tarots that were eventually published would be based off of the older Marseilles design, not the DellaRocca design.

However since the DellaRocca tarot does remain true to the standard Marseilles deck structure and is clearly influenced by its design, like most historical tarots it can be used in a limited capacity for divination and other magical uses, although decks designed specifically for magical use will be capable of far more. I’m on the fence about recommending this deck with my rating being mostly due to the deck’s historical significance and beauty.

-Soprafino Tarot – This is a limited edition reproduction of the original 1835 Gummpenberg deck by il Meneghello. As is usually the case with il Meneghello reproductions, the quality is excellent and this is the best reproduction of the DellaRocca Tarot.

-The Classic Tarot – This is Lo Scarebo’s reproduction of the original 1835 Gummpenberg deck. The cards have not been cleaned up and still contain the stains and discoloration of the original deck, although a new white border has been added to the cards with a divinatory meaning written on the side of the image. Although not as good as the il Meneghello edition, this is still a good edition of the deck which is also in print and easy to find.

-Ancient Italian Tarots – I’m a little bit confused by this. This seems to be another reproduction of the 1835 Gummpenberg deck by Lo Scarabeo. Other than the missing borders, I can’t tell any difference between this and the images used in the Classic Tarot, although these images seem cleaner and lack the stains of the Classic Tarot edition. It’s possible that this is a reproduction of a later reprint of the DellaRocca tarot, or that this is a reconstruction of the 1835 print and the Classic Tarot is a true reproduction. Still it seems strange that Lo Scarebo would print two different editions of the same historical tarot with both in print at the same time. If this one is a reconstruction of the 1835 deck, it’s strange that the reproduction would be the edition that had the border added to it. If anyone can solve the mystery of these two decks please leave a comment.

-Tarocco Italiano – This is a reproduction of the later 1840s Dotti printing of the DellaRocca engravings published by il Meneghello. Original Golden Dawn member and poet William Butler Yeats owned a copy of the Dotti DellaRocca with handwritten divinatory meanings on the cards, although these are not reproduced in this edition. Being an il Meneghello deck, this reproduction is of excellent quality.

-Tarocchino Lombardo – This is a reproduction of the 1880s Bordoni reprint of the DellaRocca tarot published by Edizioni del Solleone in 1981.

-Tarocco di Della Rocca – This is a black and white reproduction of a DellaRocca tarot. I know nothing else about this deck or the tarot it reproduces.

-Tarocchino Milanese – The Tarocchino Milanese is a late 19th century deck that uses a simplified variation of the DellaRocca pattern. Although the deck’s design is as spiritually useful as the standard DellaRocca tarot, the artwork is far inferior.

Diamond Tarot – The Diamond Tarot is a recolored version of the Rider-Waite deck with large, colorful borders added to the cards.

The new coloring of the cards doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, spiritual or otherwise. For the most part I find the large and colorful borders to be distracting. Sometimes they create a neat artistic effect, which is the case with the Star card, but usually they just seem random and not connected to the cards at all, and they never add anything spiritual to the card design. The Rider-Waite is one of the greatest esoteric tarots ever created, so of course the cards have that going for it.

I really don’t have anything else to add to this review, besides asking the question, “Do we really need another recoloring of the Rider-Waite?”. If you don’t have a standard Rider-Waite deck yet, buy that instead. If you do have one, then there’s no reason for you to buy this deck. The deck is really only useful to Rider-Waite collectors who need to want a complete collection of the Rider-Waite variant decks. I do not recommend this tarot.

Derakkusu ban Hihou Tarot – This is a black and white Japanese tarot created by Oki Mondo, creator of the Shinpi no Tarot Uranai: Big Arukana Tarot. This tarot has been released in three different editions. The original Japanese edition released in 1982 was printed on plain white stock. The second edition released in 1999 was printed on thicker cream colored stock, laminated, and featured a more elaborate design on the card back. A Taiwanese edition was also released on a purple tinted card stock. This edition featured a completely different card back, Chinese card titles in addition to the English titles, and it squished the card images so they would fit on thinner cards.

The tarot features simplistic and unshaded black and white imagery which is simply, yet beautifully, drawn. There is some esoteric symbolism present on the cards, although it is sparse and all of it is standard tarot symbolism. I’m led to believe that this deck was not meant for any spiritual purpose, but was rather meant as an art deck. As an art deck it’s well done, but I also think that whether or not a person will like it will largely be a matter of taste. As a spiritual deck, I do not recommend this tarot, and whether rating it as an art deck or a spiritual deck, I highly do not recommend the Taiwanese edition.

Deviant Moon Tarot – The Deviant Moon tarot is meant to be a darker tarot with much of the imagery inspired by cemeteries and asylums. The artwork was hand-drawn and then computer manipulated, with some manipulated photographs added into the images. The images themselves look great, and the deck doesn’t look like a computer generated deck. The imagery is surreal and often times dark in nature, as are many of the colors, although the deck also has a very playful quality to it that keeps it from getting too dark. The end result are images that, as a whole, come off as twisted and insane.

Spiritually this is a very difficult deck to rate. Now and then there are some traditional symbols incorporated into the cards, but for the most part the deck is full of unique symbols and ideas. The problem is that these new symbols and ideas, although spiritual, don’t fit the traditional associations and meanings of the tarot. The deck also has a very strong and unique energy to it, making it great for energy work, spell work, and meditation. If this were not a tarot deck, this would be a great spiritual deck. But it is a tarot deck, and it has to be taken into account that a good portion of this deck is contrary to the traditional theories, meanings and interpretations surrounding the tarot.

Ultimately I keep coming back to the fact that this is a great spiritual deck, and there are a lot of great ways to use it. The originality, both in the artwork and in the design, also curries a lot of favor with me. The only problem with this deck is that it is not a standard tarot and it can’t just be used like a normal tarot. Some time has to be spent studying this deck and getting a feel for it. That’s the only reason why I’m not giving this deck a high recommendation. If you’re willing to learn a whole new deck structured like a tarot, this is a great deck and recommended.

The Dion Fortune Tarot Cards – Dion Fortune was a Ceremonial Magician, member of the Alpha et Omega, and founder of the Fraternity of the Inner Light. She authored several books on Ceremonial Magic, most notably Psychic Self-Defense and The Mystical Qabalah, and several books of occult fiction. Having died in 1946, she had nothing to do with the design of this deck. The deck is not even based on her writings, but ‘inspired’ by her writings. By inspired I assume the deck designer means that he was inspired to use her name to sell his crap. The deck’s designer is David Williams, the current head of the Society of the Inner Light, the modern name of Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light.

The deck uses a collage style and mixes together a wide variety of photographs, illustrations, and traditional tarot images which don’t blend together well at all. The deck is ugly, and it looks like something that someone with no artistic talent threw together one weekend by combining other people’s photographs and artwork with Photoshop.

Not only is the imagery on the cards jarring (and cheap!), but the actual images chosen are sometimes laughable. For instance, the Five of Cups features a skeleton in women’s clothing with the words Aids Kills plastered on the bottom of the card. The deck might have had some comedic value, except it never takes itself seriously enough to be funny.

With other bad tarots, I at least usually feel as if the designers invested some time and work into them. Even if I don’t like the artwork, I usually feel like a talented professional artist, or at the very least a capable artist, worked really hard on those pictures. I kind of feel bad saying mean things about those decks. With this deck though, I feel like someone with no talent or skill spent the least amount of time and effort possible putting together something they had to of known was crap, and they are now trying to sell it to me in an attempt to make money. So fuck you David Williams. Your tarot is the worst tarot I’ve ever seen, not because it’s an exceptionally bad tarot, but because I’m sure it’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to cheat me out of money by selling me what you know to be worthless and artistically devoid crap.

The Druid Craft Tarot – This is a Druidism slash Pagan deck. Right off the bat I’m giving this deck some originality points for focusing on Druidism and Paganism rather than Wicca and Paganism. When I first saw this deck I really wanted to dislike it, because it seems like just another bad Pagan deck, and it takes me a lot less effort to dislike these decks than like them.

The artwork in the deck is adequate. It’s done in the realistic and detailed style that is commonly found in art decks, but the actual quality is not up to the standards that you usually see in art decks. The artwork is more than adequate for an esoteric tarot though, well for the most part anyways. I’m still not sure if that’s an ugly man or an ugly woman driving the Chariot, and the person’s gender is actually sort of important.

The cards contain a lot of unique and original ideas and symbolism, most of it associated with Druidism or general Pagan practices, and in some instances the cards have been completely reinterpreted. The Four of Pentacles, for instance, depicts a man going to open a locked chest. The idea of a locked chest full of treasure or money is a pretty good and obvious interpretation of the Four of Pentacles, and I’m surprised that this deck is the first time I’ve ever seen it used.

When this deck gets these reinterpretations right, they’re really cool. However just as often the deck interprets these cards incorrectly. The two of cups shows a man and a woman, each holding a chalice which the other is drinking from. The ritual being depicted is about the two of them coming together, sharing every part of themselves with each other, and becoming bound as one. It’s sort of like a marriage ritual. This sort of imagery would be appropriate on the Six of Cups, or even the Nine of Cups, but not really the Two. The Wheel of Fortune meanwhile depicts a woman drawing a magic circle on the ground. The most basic interpretations of the Wheel of Fortune are usually chance, randomness, and chaos, things which are very different from what is implied by a magical circle, which is supposed to connect the magician to the divine and the entirety of the universe, allow the magician to use that power in their spell, and provide the magician with general protection during the operation. All of these things are designed to put the magician into a position of power, and more importantly in a position of control, both over their immediate environment through its protections and over the entire universe as its power enables the magical work. This is exactly the opposite of chance, randomness, and chaos. But then again, both a wheel and a magical circle are round.

I’m going to remain on the fence about recommending this deck, mainly due to the fact that this deck has some really cool ideas and some interesting and unique interpretations of the cards. Unfortunately there are just too many cards within this deck that don’t make any sense for me to recommend it. I’m actually amazed at the fact that the deck designer seems to have a very deep and intimate understanding of some of the cards, but then seems to have very little understanding of other cards.

Dynamic Designs Tarot – This is an untitled tarot deck published by Dynamic Designs in 1973 which is sometimes also referred to as Tarot: The Ancient Prophecy, due to the fact that the word Tarot was subtitled ‘The Ancient Prophecy’ on the boxed set.

The deck uses the Rider-Waite designs, but the entire deck has been redrawn and there are some minor deviations (such as the fool walking to the right, not the left). The art style is very similar to the Rider-Waite, but is a bit lighter and not quite as professional looking. There are also some differences in colorization between this deck and the Rider-Waite.

This deck is nothing more than a Rider-Waite clone, and no attempt is made to add or take anything away from the Rider-Waite design. This is one of the cheaper Rider-Waite clones you’ll find, but the deck is still more expensive than a brand new standard Rider-Waite tarot, so I’m not recommending it.

Eclectic Tarot – When I first saw online samples of this deck, it looked as if it had good artwork and some interesting designs. It didn’t look like a deck that would be one of my favorite decks, but it still looked like a deck that I would be interested in having. When the deck finally arrived in the mail, it turned out to be exactly what I expected from the pictures.

To start, the artwork on this deck is elaborate and beautiful. Unfortunately the pip cards in this deck are not fully illustrated. I believe the deck designer chose not to illustrate the pip cards in order to use designs that were common in pre-1980 occult tarots. To me it’s not as big a problem with this deck as it is with other decks, since this deck had a good reason for not illustrating the pips that fit with its theme, but not fully illustrating the pips really hurts this deck, especially since the artwork is one of the deck’s best features. The pip cards do at least feature some variety with the suit images. For example each card in the suit of swords features a different kind of sword, and each card in the suit of cups features a different kind of cup.

The other major flaw of this deck is that it remains true to its title. The deck is entirely eclectic, pulling ideas and symbolisms from other deck designs. There is nothing new or original in this deck. The one, and only, original aspect of this deck is the beauty and style of the imagery that is used to express these old ideas, and to me that’s the only thing that makes this deck worthwhile.

The deck is a solid tarot deck that works and can easily be used for any magical purpose, although because it lacks fully illustrated pips it’s probably not a good deck to use to read for other people. I recommend this deck, but I’m giving it a low recommendation due to the lack of originality and fully illustrated pip cards.

Egipcios Kier Tarot – This is an Eyptian themed tarot published in Argentina. The deck was first published in the mid-seventies. The artwork is done in a two dimensional Egyptian style and the pip cards are fully illustrated. However the deck has no suits or court cards, just the twenty-two trumps followed by 56 cards numbered 23-78.

The deck was definitely designed for either cartomantic or esoteric purposes, or possibly both. There’s clearly some spiritual symbolism in the cards. However the deck doesn’t hold up too well when compared to certain newer esoteric decks. The real problem with the deck is that the structure has been completely changed, and by removing the suits and the division of the pips and the court cards, this is not really a tarot anymore, it’s some other kind of spiritual deck. If you plan to use this deck like it’s a tarot, either for divination, enlightenment, or some other magical purpose, it’s going to be of limited use.

The fact that this deck really doesn’t work too well as a tarot is my primary reason for not recommending it. But even as a non-tarot spiritual deck, I think there are some much better modern decks out there.

Egorov Tarot – This is a Russian style tarot published by Paitnik. The Russian artwork seems a bit bland to me, but that’s more a matter of personal taste in regards to the art style than a remark about the actual quality of the artwork. The artwork itself seems more than adequate and largely original.

From an esoteric perspective, the deck is not very good. The deck seems to be more based around psychology and the idea of the tarot as a psychological tool rather than metaphysics and spirituality. The symbolism on the cards is usually shallow and the cards have been modified to fit psychological purposes based on a very limited understanding of the cards. For instance the Lovers card has been changed to Choice, and the Hanged Man is now Selflessness, both cards completely missing the meaning of the card in the traditional tarot.

Since I don’t like the artwork and it doesn’t work as a spiritual tool, I’m going to have to not recommend this tarot. However it may be of more use to people who like the Russian art style of the deck, or who want to use the tarot as a psychological tool.

Element Tarot – I’m not sure how to describe this deck. At a glance the deck seems very derivative of the Rider-Waite, both in its imagery and in its art style, but that’s only at a glance. Once a moment is taken to really look through the deck, it makes some really odd deviations from the Rider-Waite design. The magician on the Magician card is now a mermaid. And the devil on the Devil card is now a merman. In fact this deck has more merpeople in it than any other tarot I’ve ever seen, and it will probably hold that record until Lo Scarabeo finally releases the Tarot of the Merfolk.

The artwork on the deck is not very good and seems rather amateurish. The artist definitely has some ability to draw, but they don’t draw very well. The pip cards are not fully illustrated and actually feature a pretty basic design. Unless there’s a good reason for not doing it, decks published after the early eighties need to have fully illustrated pips. New decks just aren’t competitive in today’s market without fully illustrated pips.

In regards to the symbolism in this deck, it sometimes works because it’s derivative. The mermagician for instance has the four elemental tools. She also has the sun and moon in each hand, which is actually a nice original idea and I understand what it means. On the other hand it’s a mermaid and not a merman, which hurts the card since the magician is supposed to be one of the personifications of masculinity. The rest of the deck is pretty much the same. It works when it’s derivative, otherwise it usually doesn’t, but there are a handful of interesting new ideas thrown in. Ultimately I’m not recommending this deck. With the bad artwork, the pips, and the sometimes derivative but usually nonsensical design, having a few interesting symbolic ideas isn’t enough to make this deck worth buying.

Energy Tarot – This is a Chinese tarot. The artwork is well drawn in a highly detailed comic book style, and the pips are fully illustrated. Much of the imagery is derivative of other decks, and these borrowed pieces are the only parts of the deck that contain any spiritual meaning. Normally I’d comment on some of the errors of the deck, such as the Magician and Chariot cards both featuring women, but the majority of the deck seems spiritually bereft and, despite the deck name, I don’t believe this was ever meant as anything but an art deck. As an art deck I don’t find anything wrong with the artwork, but after seeing so many comic book styled art decks, the vast majority of which are published by Lo Scarabeo, it’s hard for me to get excited about yet another deck made in that style unless it’s something really special. I do not recommend this tarot.

Enochian Tarot – The Enochian Tarot is an 86 card deck. The deck contains eight additional trump cards so that each of the 30 Enochian Aethyrs can be associated with a single card. The artwork is fairly well done and the card designs are interesting. The pips are fully illustrated.

I can’t really review this deck as a tarot because it’s not really a tarot. The deck ignores all of the traditional tarot associations and instead associates the cards with Enochian Magick. All of the imagery and symbolism is geared towards its Enochian association, not towards its traditional tarot meaning. The deck has even been expanded by eight cards so that there are enough cards to make the associations. This is a good idea for a deck, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not a tarot deck, and it’s pointless to try to review it as if it is one. I do not recommend this deck.

Enochian Skrying Tarot – The Enochian Skrying Tarot is an 89 card deck that is supposed to be two tarots in one. One side is the Western Tattvas Tarot designed by the Ciceros. The other side is the Enochian Watchtower tarot designed by a different couple. Both tarots are 89 cards. The artwork on the cards is extremely simplistic. The cards contain a lot of magical symbols and correspondences on the cards, but these are not worked into the imagery.

Neither of these decks are real tarot decks. The structure has been so deformed in both instances that it’s pointless to try to compare these decks to tarots. Normally I’d just say that these decks aren’t being recommended because they aren’t really tarots, but I think it’s also important to point out that the deck’s artwork is of a really low quality. There’s very little detail contained in the imagery, and much of it is just geometric shapes. The fact that the correspondences were just put on the cards instead of worked into the imagery is also a lazy and uninspired design choice. Even if this were a traditional styled 78 card tarot, I still wouldn’t recommend it.

Enoil Gavat Tarot – I haven’t actually seen this deck. My review is based off of samples of the cards I’ve seen. Released in ’78, the deck is one of the earlier esoteric tarots. It features rather large borders, and although in color, it makes very limited use of color. The pip cards are not fully illustrated. The cards also feature descriptions on each card, but these are in Italian so I don’t know what they say.

By itself the artwork is more than adequate, but the limited use of color and the small size of the actual images really hurts the deck aesthetically. The deck does have some esoteric symbolism, but it’s not anything that can’t be found in other decks.

This deck is the product of an era when there weren’t very many tarot decks on the market and there wasn’t very much competition. This deck doesn’t compete very well today because of the large amount of tarot decks on the market that feature better artwork, fully illustrated pips, more unique designs, and better symbolism. I do not recommend buying this deck.

Epicurean Tarot Recipe Cards – Dear US Games, please stop putting the Rider-Waite imagery on crap. This deck uses the Universal Waite Imagery, like the Tarot Affirmations Deck, so once again we don’t even get the good Rider-Waite images. Each of the cards also feature recipes that in some way relate to the cards. I’m not that great of a cook, so I’m not trying any recipes out to see how good they are. After all I’m not about to start reviewing cook books on my blog (which is what this is). I do not recommend this tarot deck.

Epinal Tarot – Image d’Epinal refers to a 19th century French art movement which focuses on the “traditional and naive aspects” (thanks Wikipedia!) of the subject. The Epinal tarot is a reproduction of an early 19th century French tarot deck. The deck is cheery and colorful and based off of the Marseiles design, although it does make some extensive changes to the pattern. The deck also features a 79th card, the consultant, which implies that it was designed primarily for cartomancy and not game playing.

The Epinal tarot is one of those historical decks that I have trouble recommending. It doesn’t have any major historical significance, but it still might be valuable to those who like collecting reproductions of historical decks. Some may also be drawn to it because it is an early cartomantic tarot, but at the same time I doubt it will be of any real use to anyone for any magical or spiritual purpose beyond cartomancy. Ultimately I’m on the fence with this deck, since whether or not you should get it really depends on exactly what you’re looking for in a tarot deck.

Era of Aquarius Tarot – This is a Russian deck with vibrant colors, nice artwork, and a simple design. For the most part the deck imagery follows standard tarot designs, and while not unique it also lacks the depth of better tarots. Fortunately though the deck’s standard design allows it to be easily used as a divinatory deck. Sometimes the deck does include some unique symbolism, and a few of the card designs are even completely new, however there aren’t enough unique aspects to carry the deck. Still it’s a solid, albeit standard and shallow, deck with pleasant artwork and it’s good for readings, so I’m giving this deck a low recommendation.

Erotica Tarot – This is a simply drawn black and white deck that features some graphic sexual images. I like this deck, but I like it because I find it humorous. The tower is made to look like a giant penis that people are living in which is now falling apart. It’s probably because I’m incredibly immature, but that picture always makes me laugh.

As for actual esoteric knowledge, whatever may be contained within this deck is lost in the poor artwork and the overly graphic, often comically so, design. If I were rating these tarots on how happy they make me, this tarot would be highly recommended. However as a spiritual tarot I do not recommend it.

Etteilla I – This is the oldest known Etteilla pattern tarot, possibly having been created in Etteilla’s lifetime or shortly after his death. Unfortunately only four cards from Etteilla’s original deck survive today, and only because they were printed in a book he authored. However several of the decks Etteilla influenced have survived, and this deck seems closest to Etteilla’s original design, even including the four surviving cards. If you’d like to know more about the Etteilla pattern, I’ve written an entire article discussing it.

I know some websites are reporting that this is Etteilla’s actual deck, so I’ll save everyone the trouble of correcting me. My source of information on Etteilla and this deck is Kaplan’s Encyclopedia of Tarot vol 2 pgs 398 & 405. Unless you have some better source or there’s been some new discovery in the last few years, Etteilla’s deck did not survive and his involvement with this deck’s design beyond the four cards is unproven speculation.

If you’re looking to try out an Etteilla deck, this is the best one you’re going to find. It’s an historical deck and it follows Etteilla’s design closer than any other.

Keep in mind though that Etteilla’s design is an anomoly in tarot. It deviates from what came before it, very few of Etteilla’s more radical ideas were developed into later decks, and the pattern hasn’t remained very popular. If you want to actually use the Etteilla tarot, you’re going to have to relearn a lot of what you know about tarot, and you’re going to have to do it without the aid of any books since there are very few works that deal specifically with the pattern. For a lot of people this is going to be too much work to make it worthwhile.

-Grand Etteilla Tarot – Some people, mainly Ebay people, erroneously list this tarot as out of print to jack up the price. The tarot is no longer sold in the US (it was at one time distributed by US Games), but can be imported from France. This is France Cartes’ reproduction of the Etteilla I deck, sometimes also referred to as Grimaud’s reproduction of the deck (this deck was originally published by Grimaud prior to that company being acquired by France Cartes). The deck features new borders with the card titles and meanings in both French and English instead of just the original French. The images have been completely restored and look colorful and new. Although it may lack some historical accuracy, if you’re just looking for an Etteilla I deck to work with, due to the availability and restoration work on this edition, this is probably the best choice, and I recommend buying this deck.

-Dusserre Etteilla I – This is a photo reproduction of the Etteilla I published by Dusserre, which is now out of print. This is an exact replica of the Etteilla I deck, and as a historical reproduction this is the best edition of the Etteilla I, although as a working tarot it doesn’t offer any real advantages over the Grand Etteilla by France Cartes. As an historical tarot, I recommend this edition over the Grand Etteilla, but as a magical tool I recommend the Grand Etteilla over this edition.

Etteilla III – The Etteilla pattern was created by the occultist Etteilla, who was the first person to publish a book on tarot divination and the first person to design a tarot deck primarily for spiritual use (prior decks, which were used for cartomancy and esoteric knowledge, were designed either as works of art or for the purpose of gaming).

The Etteilla III is an 1870 deck which is a pretty far deviation from Etteilla’s original design, but it is still an Etteilla pattern deck. If you’re looking for an Etteilla pattern tarot, my first recommendation would be the Grand Etteilla restoration of the Etteilla I tarot, which is fairly close to Etteilla’s original design. If you already have that deck and want another Etteilla pattern tarot, this is probably going to be the only one you’ll be able to easily find a reprint of. There isn’t much interest in the Etteilla pattern today, so I doubt most people will want two Etteilla pattern tarot decks. If you’re willing to search for a second Etteilla deck, I would actually recommend an edition of the Princess Etteilla over an Etteilla III deck.

-Book of Thoth – This is Lo Scarabeo’s reproduction of the Etteilla III. This is going to be the easiest edition for most people to find.

-Tarot Egyptien – This is Dusserre’s reproduction of the Etteilla III. This edition is a bit more difficult to find than Lo Scarabeo’s. This edition is slightly better than the Lo Scarabeo reproduction, but there are no significant differences between the two decks.

Etteilla Princess Tarot – This is an Etteilla Pattern tarot which was released around 1843 as the Jeu de la Princesse Tarot. This deck features more Egyptian imagery than the standard Etteilla decks. Personally I prefer this deck to the Etteilla III tarot, but still prefer the Etteilla I tarot overall. This tarot is only going to be worthwhile if you’re the rare individual who wants two Etteilla pattern tarots. Most people, I assume, would be more than satisfied with just the Grand Etteilla tarot. I’m on the fence about recommending this deck.

-Princesse Tarot – This is Dusserre’s reproduction of the Etteilla Princess Tarot. This is the best, and most historically accurate, edition of the Etteilla Princess Tarot, but unfortunately it is now out of print.

-Esoteric Ancient Tarot – This is a slightly modified version of the Etteilla Princess Tarot published by Lo Scarabeo. This deck features slightly more elaborate borders and has the card meanings printed in several different languages in addition to the original French.

-i Tarocchi dei Etteilla Mignon – I don’t know much about this tarot, but I’ve seen online listings for it. The deck is a 22 card trump only deck, and from what I can tell by the samples the trumps are taken from the Etteilla Princess Tarot.

Experimental Tarot – The Experimental Tarot combines computer generated art with clip-art images and is designed for meditational purposes. I know that description makes this deck sound bad, but the deck is actually even worse than it sounds..

I don’t care much at all for these decks where the artist is Photoshop. I want an artist working on my tarot decks. The art is part of what I’m paying for when I buy a tarot deck. I’m even willing to deal with bad artwork on a good deck, but these decks never seem to turn out good.

I also find with tarot decks when no real effort or talent has been poured in to the artwork, that’s usually the case with the card design too. To give you a description of one of these cards, the Chariot card features a giant Samurai which looks like he might be about to attack a space shuttle that is blasting off from a planet which I assume to be Mars. It might also be a swirling red wormhole though.

We’re supposed to put up with these nonsensical card designs that just randomly throw different images together because this isn’t a divinatory deck or an esoteric deck, but a meditiational deck. Everyone knows that looking at crazy images that don’t make sense the best way to meditate.

The Experimental Tarot is a deck that anyone could have put together on their computer with a good graphics program and access to some clip-art images. It contains no talent in either artistry or deck design, and it doesn’t seem like the deck designer has much real knowledge of the tarot. I do not recommend this tarot.

Faery Wicca Tarot – The Faery Wicca tarot was created by Faery Wiccan author Kisma Stepanich. If you type Kisma Stepanich into the Google search engine, the first suggestion it makes is appending the word plagiarism to your search. I really don’t care about Stepanich’s plagiarism, at least in regards to this review, and I’ve instead based my review on the merits of her deck, not her ethics. After all it’s silly to look unfavorably on a tarot designer because of plagiarism. Tarot design has always been largely based in plagiarism. 90% of the decks on the market today liberally plagiarize Waite, and Waite liberally plagiarized the Sola-Busca tarot and the Book of Days, among other sources. Waite wasn’t the first plagiarist either. Through out the history of the tarot most tarot designs have been largely derivative of previous designs.

I’m not a Faery Wiccan, and I haven’t spent much time studying it, but I figure I should be capable of understanding this deck. I have studied fae, fae magick, and fae lore quite extensively, and I have a pretty good grasp on general Wiccan practices. Unfortunately though I found out this deck isn’t about real Faery Wicca, or at least standard Faery Wicca. This deck is based on a new form of Paganism called Faery Wicca which was created by the author, Stepanich (why she insisted on calling this Faery Wicca, a name which was already in wide use, I do not know). Thankfully Stepanich is a plagiarist, so hopefully there’s very little new material in her religion.

I don’t see much of a relationship to fae lore or Wicca in this deck. I tried looking up the titles of several of the cards on the Internet to see if the terminology was used by anybody and what it might mean, but every time, all I found were websites that talked about this deck. For instance the thirteenth trump is titled The Banshee Crone. I’ve never heard the word Banshee Crone before. There is also a second title, Bean Sidhe Cailleach. I searched for the term Bean Sidhe Cailleach and still found nothing, but I do know that Bean Sidhe means Banshee. After a quick look on Wikipedia, I found out that Cailleach means old woman. So the term is Gaelic for the old woman banshee (banshee’s usually appear as young women, although some myths do portray them as old women). I guess that’s similar to The Banshee Crone, but from what I can tell neither the English translation nor the original Gaelic terminology is used by anyone, or at least anyone that owns a computer.

Putting aside the terminology issue, the thirteenth trump is usually death. In Celtic mythology a Banshee is a spirit which would attach itself to a family and scream when one of the family members were close to death. Unless if Stephanich’s form of Faerie Wicca has a very different take on Banshees than the usual myth, I can only guess that a Banshee was chosen for the thirteenth trump because it is has some connection to death. However a Banshee is not death itself, it’s just a harbinger of death. It’s a messenger. It’s in no way connected to dying, ending, the afterlife, the transition from life to death, the equality of death, the fact that the soul survives death, or anything else that has anything at all to do with the thirteenth trump.

The deck seems to have been designed like an art deck where imagery is placed on a card because it has some slight connection to it. I don’t need to know anything about Faery Wicca to see that this deck is completely lacking any traditional tarot symbolism or meaning. There’s no doubt in my mind that this designer has no understanding of tarot, at least in the traditional sense, and she would have been better off had she plagiarized more of this deck. As it stands, this is just a deck of 78 cards which contain pictures that somehow relate to her new, apparently plagiarized, religion. I do not recommend buying this deck. Even with my limited understanding of her brand of Faery Wicca, I’m almost certain that his deck is almost entirely spiritually devoid, and as a standard tarot it fails miserably.

Fantastic Tarot – This is a 22 Card trump only tarot from Japan. The artwork is copied from the Tarot of the Old Path, although these cards use different borders and the images are cropped.

I’m a huge fan of the Tarot of the Old Path. It’s a great 78 card tarot, it’s still in print, and I suggest buying it. I have no idea if this tarot is licensed or a bootleg. It lacks the Tarot of the Old Path’s minor arcana, and the major arcana images have been modified. There’s really no point in buying this deck instead of the Tarot of the Old Path, or in addition to the Tarot of the Old Path. I do not recommend this tarot.

Fantastical Tarot – Looking at this tarot, the first thing you’ll notice is the art design is different. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say the artwork was different in a beautiful way, such as is the case with the Shadowscapes Tarot, the art style is definitely interesting, and more than anything that’s what makes this a worthwhile deck. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

Going through the trump cards I was ready to write this deck off as an art deck. At their best the trumps are spiritually shallow with the little bit of symbolism that is present being derivative. Several of the trumps, meanwhile, seem completely devoid of any spiritual meaning.

It was the pip cards that made me change my mind. Sometimes derivative, the pip cards are solid and full of esoteric symbolism, and there is even a lot of unique symbolism contained within the cards. Regardless of whether its original or borrowed, the imagery of the pips always presents the spiritual information and symbolism well, and often times subtlety. Taking only the minor arcana into account, this is a fairly strong deck.

The interesting art style, strong pips, and a few unique ideas are enough for me to recommend this deck. Unfortunately the weak major arcana are almost bad enough to break the deck, and unless you are very strongly drawn to this deck it’s not going to work well for divinatory readings because of this issue. It was very difficult to decide whether to let this deck skate by with a low recommendation or whether to place it on the fence. Ultimately it came down to the trump cards. Had the trump design simply been an uninspired or borrowed design that was nevertheless solid, this would be an easy deck to give a low recommendation to. The fact that there are actually a couple of interesting design choices on the trumps, such as is the case with the World card, would have made it all the more easier. Unfortunately though some of the trump cards just don’t work and are spiritually void, or even in some way incorrect, and this really hurts the deck. I’m going to have to rate this deck as being on the fence.

Fenestra Tarot – One look at the Fenestra tarot and it’s obvious that the artwork has to be one of the major selling points of this deck. The artwork is soft, the colors are consistent throughout the deck, which gives the cards a sort of unity, and the deck looks gorgeous. The pips are fully illustrated.

The design however is not as good. The deck is almost entirely derivative, with a heavy emphasis on stealing from the Rider-Waite. In fact there is only one original design in the entire deck, the Moon card. A lot of the symbolism and depth of the Rider-Waite has also been lost in the transition to the Fenestra tarot..

The deck does make a good reading deck though, and due to its inoffensiveness it makes a nice deck for professional readers too. Because of it’s high quality artwork and usefulness as a reading deck, I’m giving this deck a low recommendation.

Feng Shui Tarot – Looking at the cards, I’m skeptical about how well this deck follows the system of Feng Shui or how much spiritual meaning the deck really has. Unfortunately though I’m not well versed enough in Feng Shui to give this deck a fair review. The art work on the cards is well drawn, although I personally don’t care much for the style. There doesn’t seem to be much traditional tarot symbolism on the cards beyond the card titles.

Fey Tarot – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck themed around Fae. The artwork, although of a better quality than a lot of tarots, is unusually poor for a Lo Scarabeo tarot.

This deck does not have any esoteric or spiritual value. The deck does not follow the traditional designs, meanings, symbolisms, associations, or concepts of the tarot. The deck also doesn’t have any relationship to actual fae or fae lore. The fae depicted in this deck are typical drug store fairies. The only reason why I included this tarot is because Lo Scarabeo lists it as a metaphysical tarot. I do not recommend this deck.

Forest Folklore Tarot – The Forest Folklore Tarot is themed around the New Forest region of England and fantasy creatures. The deck’s artwork is highly detailed using a combination of watercolors and photographs. Sometimes the painted over photographs do seem out of place on the watercolors, and when this happens the affect is a bit jarring and unnatural. Otherwise the artwork is more than adequate for the tarot.

At a glance this looks like a simple fantasy deck, but I had hope for this deck because it had some correct classic symbols on the cards. I’ve also seen the deck recommended as a Pagan friendly tarot in the Rider-Waite style. Unfortunately though the deck is not a metaphysical deck. The only reason why the cards contain any esoteric symbolism is because the designs are derivative of other decks, mostly the Rider-Waite. The new elements added to the cards don’t seem to have any spiritual meaning or association with the traditional meanings of the cards, and the only spiritual expression present is taken from other decks. The deck is just an art deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Fournier Egyptian Tarot – This is another deck that tries to use an ancient Egyptian artwork style. The cards depict Ancient Egyptians in a somewhat Egyptian art style, but the artwork on the cards is rather poor and amateurish.

The deck itself barely seems like a tarot deck. The twenty-two trumps are present, but the minor arcana doesn’t contain suits or court cards and are simply numbered 23-78. Not only do the cards lack anything from the traditional tarot design or symbolism, besides the titles of the trump cards, the cards also lack any real symbolism or spiritual meaning. Considering the fact that the cards are so different from the tarot, I almost want to classify this deck as belonging a different divinatory system altogether and say that it’s not really a tarot. Even then the deck doesn’t seem particularly useful or well made.

The style of the deck is actually similar to several decks that were published, mostly in Central and South America, in the 1970s. Those decks were only worthwhile because of the limited availability of tarot decks and the small amount of competition in the market at the time. Nowadays there’s a lot more market competition, a lot of really good decks being published, and tarot decks are widely available. A deck like this one really can’t compete in this day and age, or even back in the early nineties when it was first published. I do not recommend buying this tarot.

Fournier Spanish Tarot – This is a restoration of a 1760s woodblock tarot from the Liguria-Piedmontese region of Northern Italy featuring Spanish titles. A Braille version of this deck also exists, which makes it one of only two braille decks that I know of (the other being a Braille version of the Rider-Waite).

The deck doesn’t have much historical value, and it is a restoration and not a faithful reproduction of the original deck, making it of limited use to collectors. The deck doesn’t seem so much different from the historical Marseilles decks on the market to warrant a purchase in my eyes, although I have heard from some tarot readers that prefer using historical decks that they find this to be one of the better historical tarots for divination. I do not recommend this tarot.

Fronteras Tarot – This is a redrawn and recolored version of the Rider-Waite by astrologer Adam Fronteras. My first question is, do we really need another version of the Rider-Waite? Personally I think we should have stopped at the Albano-Waite.

My second question is does this deck add anything new to the Rider-Waite design? Other than some new color choices it doesn’t. My final question is how does this deck compare to the Rider-Waite? It doesn’t fare very well. The recoloring looks horrible and is far more limited than Smith’s color choices. The redrawings look like crap, and the overall quality of the tarot is poor. I believe Fronteras created this tarot to use it as a generic tarot for a book he wrote on the subject. I think his book would have done better if he included a good tarot with it. As a stand alone tarot there’s no reason to get this deck over the Rider-Waite, or to get this deck in addition to the Rider-Waite. This tarot is not recommended.

Gareth Knight Tarot – Gareth Knight was a member of Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light, and is the founder of the Avalon Group. He’s been an esoteric author, editor, and publisher. He designed this tarot deck in the early 60s although it wasn’t published until 1984. It is now out of print.

The deck would have been more or less unique and revolutionary if it were released in the 60s (especially considering Crowley’s deck was still unpublished and Waite’s hadn’t yet been officially published in the US). By the time it was released in the 80s the tarot was undergoing a rise in popularity, and this deck was forced to compete with a lot of better yet similarly styled decks, and it ultimately struggled against them.

The artwork is simplistic with clean lines and varies between okay and ugly. The Fool is probably the best looking card in the deck, so it’s often used as the sample. Take a look at the next card though, the Magician, and you’ll see just how ugly most of the cards in this deck are. The pip cards aren’t illustrated, but the designs are elaborate. The symbolism is interesting and at times unique, but is limited and the cards often times seem to lack the detail and depth of better decks.

The Magician card, for instance, has roses above the magician and tulips beneath him, which is common symbolism. The magician has three of the four elemental tools, the staff, sword, and chalice. He’s missing the fourth elemental tool the magician usually has, the pentacle. I’m guessing this is because some systems do not recognize Earth as a spiritually important element, or because some association systems do not assign Earth or Spirit to a tarot trump (other systems however assign these elements to the World and Final Judgment cards respectfully). There is an infinite sign over the magician’s head, another common symbol. The card is a standard Magician card, and there’s nothing really new or original in the design, while at the same time the design is rather limited and doesn’t say as much as the Magician card in other, better designed, tarots.

This is an average deck that might be worth buying if you can find it at a good price just because of who the designer is, but even the $40 price tag I’ve sometimes seen seems pricey to me. All and all I’m on the fence about recommending this deck.

Gay Tarot – As the name suggests, the Gay Tarot is themed around homosexual men. The tarot is published by Lo Scarabeo and is notable as being the first LGBT themed tarot published by a major tarot publisher. The deck features realistic and highly detailed artwork which is typical of Lo Scarabeo art decks, although this deck does use a slightly softer tone.

My favorite card in the deck is the Ten of Swords. This card depicts a computer monitor which is displaying the Ten of Swords from the Rider-Waite. The idea of the Ten of Swords existing not as a physical object but as a digital image in a computer’s hard drive or cache perfectly fits with the concepts of the Ten of Swords. I thought it would be nice to start this review off on a positive note.

I brought up this point many times with feminist decks that are very female-centric, so it’s only fair that I bring it up here too. The tarot depicts masculine and feminine forces interacting in an equal and balanced way. This deck, with its gay theme, dismisses a lot of the feminine symbolism inherent to the tarot, or misappropriates it as masculine. Also a good deal of the tarots symbolism is centered not only around sex, but also sexual procreation, and that’s something that cannot really be expressed inside of a homosexual context.

That isn’t to say that homosexuality has no place within the tarot. Like everything else in the universe, homosexuality exists and is expressed within the tarot, and there are places where homosexual imagery would be more than appropriate, although there are other aspects of the tarot that can only be adequately expressed through heterosexual intercourse and procreation. There are also higher aspects of sex which occur spiritually in which actual gender is inconsequential and where each partner will take on the role and aspects of one of the genders regardless of their actual physical gender, or where both partners approach sex in a state of exact equality and complete androgyny. That isn’t the sort of sexual relationship that is explored in these cards though. In fact the cards don’t really focus on gay sexual practices, but rather the gay lifestyle and gay relationships.

Gender issues aside, and looking at the actual symbolism of the cards, some of the cards just seem nonsensical to me. For instance the Hanged Man is a man jumping off of a diving board. I’m assuming that the man is supposed to be gay Olympic athlete Greg Louganis, because that would at least fit with the deck’s theme, but even that requires some speculation on my part. Even if that is the case, I don’t see what Greg Louganis or diving has to do with the Hanged Man, other than the fact that the diver in the card is upside down like the traditional image of the Hanged Man.

Other cards are absent of any spiritual meaning, and instead seem to be pandering to the image of non-threatening and accepted gay men in happy relationships who are just like everybody else which is promoted in a lot of pro-gay media. The fifth trump shows a gay couple being married by a priest. The five of pentacles, in a scene which references the Rider-Waite, shows one gay man helping another injured gay man to walk underneath a stain glass window. The Knights show gay men in revered professions, like a fireman for cups and a police officer for wands, performing their job.

I’m not saying that any of these depictions of gay men are wrong, or that there’s anything wrong with portraying gay men in that way. However by pandering to this politically correct image a lot the tarot’s symbolism needs to be ignored, or is otherwise lost. In order to truly depict the meaning of the tarot in its symbolism within the gay theme, these cards would sometimes have to depict homosexual men and their relationships in a more negative and unflattering light. If the deck was that politically incorrect, it would probably end up labeled as insensitive, hateful, and anti-gay by a lot of the niche market that it is trying to attract.

Some of the cards do have some spiritual meaning, but even then I often find it a bit shallow and derived from a limited understanding of the tarot. For instance the Six of Pentacles depicts what I assume to be a gay man at the bank. The pentacles suit being representative of things like money and wealth, this card almost makes sense, although the idea of a bank is really more in line with the Four of Pentacles, not the Six.

All in all the gay tarot is a deck which contains some spiritual meaning and innovative ideas in that regard, but ultimately suffers from some huge flaws in its spiritual interpretations of the cards. I do not recommend this tarot deck.

Gendron Tarot – This deck features some sort of Avant Garde art style that at times combines rich illustrations with what is either photo-composites or photorealist paintings (I’ve seen it described as both, and I honestly don’t care enough to figure out which).

The tarot is based around Earth religions and feminism, and like most feminist tarots it completely dismisses the role of masculine forces in the universe and the essential balance between masculinity and femininity which is present in most other tarots. Cards like the Magus and the Chariot now feature women and are regarded as aspects of femininity. Likewise the masculine tulips are missing from the Magus’s garden, and only the feminine roses remain.

There is some symbolism in the deck and the designer uses the deck in order to express her own personal philosophical and spiritual beliefs, but at the same time the deck is removed from all the traditional meaning and spirituality of the tarot.

Not being a feminist and having no need to misappropriate masculine symbols in order to promote women over men, I don’t care much for this tarot and I don’t see any real need to delve deeper into its symbolism and meaning. I do not recommend this tarot.

Gilded Tarot – The Gilded Tarot features computer generated art. I’m not a fan of computer generated art on tarot cards, and I usually don’t like computer generated decks, but that sentiment isn’t true of the Gilded Tarot. The deck isn’t good enough to convert me to a fan of the style, but the artwork looks wonderful, and a lot of this is due to the very detailed designs and heavy use of shading that almost makes you forget the deck was computer generated. The deck’s designer is Ciro Marchetti, an influential and award winning artist who has specialized in graphic design for over thirty years, and no doubt that is why the artwork of this deck succeeds where almost every other computer generated tarot fails. The only computer generated tarot that looks better than this one is Ciro Marchetti’s second deck, the Tarot of Dreams.

As refreshing as the good computer generated artwork of this deck is, the actual deck design leaves a lot to be desired. Looking through this deck the first time I almost passed it off as just another nice looking art deck. However upon closer inspection there are some subtle spiritual meanings hidden in the cards. For instance the Two of Pentacles shows a ship approaching from behind the man, like his ship is finally coming in. And the Nine of Swords shows a woman sitting up in bed with swords over here, drawing a connection between the card and dreaming. If this imagery seems familiar though, it’s because it’s also in the Rider-Waite.

Normally I’d at least be impressed that a designer borrowing from the Rider-Waite had enough knowledge of the deck to know to adapt these subtle aspects of the cards. However in this deck it seems to me as if these adaptations are just happy accidents. The majority of the cards lack any real spiritual depth, new or stolen, and the designer doesn’t seem to have a grasp of the spiritual significance of the cards. In the end I’m going back to my original assessment and classifying this deck as just another art deck, albeit one that does borrow some spiritual symbolism from other tarot decks. I do not recommend this tarot.

Gill Tarot – The Gill Tarot is a tarot created by artist Stephanie Gill. The artwork is bright, colorful, and soft. Although some of the cards are very well done (the Devil card for instance), the artwork on other cards is not very good (like on the Magician), but it’s always more than adequate to express the ideas of this tarot. The pips are not fully illustrated.

The most interesting aspect of this deck are the titles given to the lesser arcana. The titles always fit the traditional meanings of the cards, but often times they express a new interpretation of these meanings. For instance the fives all represent outside conflict and the coins represent physicality, wealth, work, and everything else connected to the physical world. Usually the Five of Coins is interpreted as meaning financial problems and difficulties (of course the card has far more interpretations, more than can be fully listed here, but I’m limiting myself to this one interpretation for the sake of brevity). However in the Gil Tarot the card is titled adaptation. It’s a far more positive interpretation of the card, but it fits the traditional meaning. It focuses on the act of adaptation, the thing you must do because of the conflict and change in your physical environment. Not only does the interpretation fit perfectly, but I never thought of the card in that way before seeing it in this deck. The card titles are so unique and interesting I really wish this deck had fully illustrated pips, because the artist probably could have done something really interesting with them to set this deck apart.

And that’s the real problem with this deck. It’s a completely average deck, and titles aside there is nothing about it that sets it apart from every other tarot deck on the market. Overall the artwork is just so-so. It’s adequate but it’s not enough to sell a deck. Most of the trump cards feature typical designs with little symbolism and not as much depth as other better tarot decks have. The court cards are actually the best part of this deck, featuring both titles, just like the pips, and fairly unique fully illustrated designs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this deck so I am recommending it, mainly on the strength of the court cards and the pip titles, but I’m giving it a very low recommendation.

Gioco di Tarocchi – This is an Il Menghello reproduction of a mid-nineteenth century Milanese tarot. The design is similar to, and definitely derivative of, the Marseilles pattern, although the deck is different enough not to be classified as a Marseilles pattern tarot. The reproduction meets the high standards that are expected of Il Menghello decks, and the deck looks beautiful. The deck was released in a limited edition of 2500 decks, so it should be easy to find a copy.

Metaphysically the deck is about as useful as a Marseilles pattern tarot. It’s a great deck to get if you’re into historical decks, and it’s a good deck if you’re a fan of using the Marseilles pattern, but already have enough Marseilles decks and want something a little bit different. If you’re not a fan of historical decks and just want a good metaphysical deck though, this one doesn’t offer anything over the Marseilles pattern tarots, the better ones being a little bit superior to this deck. For that reason I do not recommend this tarot.

The Glastonbury Tarot – This tarot combines elements of Authurian legend, British Pagan beliefs, and British Christianity. The artwork is simple and crudely drawn, although it is more than adequate for a tarot deck. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

The deck’s symbolism is okay, and it even incorporates a few new ideas into the design. Unfortunately though the deck design can be summed up in the same way the artwork can, it’s simple. There really isn’t much depth to the design, and it never really manages to convey the messages of the cards well. The deck’s theme meanwhile works against it. In every instance it seems as if the elements of Authurian Legend, Pagan Beliefs, and Christianity have been shoved into the cards and made to fit so that the deck can have a theme. It never feels as if any of these elements add anything to the card.

I almost want to put this deck on the fence because it’s not completely broken, but it really doesn’t have anything to offer either. I do not recommend this tarot.

Glow in the Dark Tarot – This is a black and white set of the Rider-Waite trumps which also happen to glow in the dark. The deck is out of print and is now sought after by some collectors. Usually I like neat little toys like this, but I don’t really see the need for this one, especially now that collectors have driven up the price. Plus I don’t see a need for even more novelty versions of the Rider-Waite. How many different versions of the Rider-Waite does a person really need? I do not recommend this tarot.

Goddess Tarot – This deck features goddesses on each of the trump cards, which have mostly been renamed. The deck is fully illustrated and does feature men in the court cards, although they are very effeminate looking. For the most part the minor arcana is derivative of other tarot decks, the only real originality being in the trump cards.

A few of the cards in this deck look okay, and I’ve noticed that these are usually the sample cards that are used to advertise and sell the deck, but most of the cards in the deck look awful. The drawings look like they were done in colored pencil, which is fine, but the actual artwork isn’t very good, particularly in regards to the artist’s ability to draw human figures and faces. Each of the cards also features a fairly large plain border which contains the card’s title, and then a second border with a random design which never really adds anything to the card or its artwork. My guess is that the cards feature two borders in order to shrink the images and help hide the flaws in the artwork.

There really isn’t any spiritual meaning or symbolism contained within the deck, except in some of the pip cards, and only then because the card designs were taken from much better tarot decks. The deck does feature pictures of twenty-one goddesses, which normally would at least make it good for meditation and divine communion with these goddesses, even if the deck itself was bad, but these pictures are so ugly I wouldn’t want to associate any of them with any deities. I do not recommend this tarot deck.

The Golden Rider Tarot Deck – This deck consists of oil paintings of the Rider-Waite line drawings. The oil paintings look nice, but they are copied straight from the Rider-Waite, so nothing new has been added to the cards, and in fact some of the finer details of the Rider-Waite have been lost. Not to mention the Rider-Waite had beautiful artwork to begin with, so there’s really no reason to try to improve upon it. In the end this deck is more of a novelty than anything else. If you’re looking for a Rider-Waite deck, I suggest picking up the standard Rider-Waite deck sold by US Games. Based solely on the strength of the Rider-Waite design I would recommend this deck, but I see no reason to buy this deck when the Rider-Waite is readily available, so I’m not recommending this deck.

Golden Tarot of Klimt – This is a tarot based off of the artwork of Gustav Klimt. It’s a beautiful deck and there’s a lot of symbolism in the paintings, but I don’t really see this as the spiritual deck that some have claimed. It’s really more of an art deck and not really useful for spiritual work. I’m not recommending this deck because it is not a spiritual deck.

The Grail Tarot: A Templar Vision – This deck is themed around the Knights Templar, Gnosticism, and the Arthurian legend of the holy grail. I’m not really an expert on any of this, but I’m going to do my best to review this deck anyway. The artwork on this deck is beautiful, and that’s surprising considering the fact that the artist also worked on the Sharman-Caselli tarot, a deck with well drawn ugly artwork.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the cards really don’t have anything to do with the tarot, not in their design nor in their spiritual meaning. Instead the deck tries to tell a portion of the grail narrative within the cards, and in order to do that it completely ignores traditional designs and concepts. This is a common issue with decks that attempt to apply a narrative to the cards. The cards were not designed to house a narrative, and the spiritual theories surrounding the tarot have not been developed under the assumption that it told a narrative, so the cards are a poor medium to express a narrative in, at least if you want the deck to also retain the tarot’s spirituality.

If anything this deck would be a completely new kind of spiritual deck, and not a tarot, but it still doesn’t seem to have any real spiritual depth. The only spirituality contained in the cards is what is normally present in any presentation of Arthurian legend and the grail mythos. The deck is just an art deck with an Arthurian theme. I do not recommend this tarot.

El Gran Tarot Esoterico – The deck title translates to The Grand Esoteric Tarot in English. This is a Spanish tarot which was first released in the late 70s that is still in print today. Although clearly a modern tarot based on its style and theme, the artwork seems to be styled after the older woodblock printed tarots. Because of this the imagery is a bit limited when compared to modern tarots, and by modern I mean anything done in the last 200 years. The pip cards are only sort of fully illustrated (if you see them you’ll understand what I mean. It’s as if the designer found a happy middle ground between having fully illustrated pips and not having fully illustrated pips).

The deck is full of esoteric meaning and symbolism, and a lot of it is unique. For instance the Justice card shows Solomon about to cut a baby in half, and the Magician card shows the magician with a spiral going around his body which contains the seven planets, each placed near one of his chakras (the chakras seem to have been raised so that the bottom ones are a bit above his naughty parts).

It’s an interesting deck and there’s a lot of depth to it, but at the same time it’s a very weird deck and not really suitable for divinatory readings. The best way for me to describe it is as a unique spiritual curiosity. I recommend this tarot, especially for people who are looking for something a little bit different.

Le Grand Tarot Belline – This is a reproduction of a unique mid-nineteenth century French tarot which was hand drawn by the magician Magus Edmond, and which also features heavy annotations by him in French. If you’re interested, Tarot Garden has posted an article on their website which translates the French from each of these cards.

The deck itself is based largely on the Marseilles pattern, but quite a few significant changes have been made to the cards in accordance with the theories of various 18th century occultists. As I already stated, each of the cards also has French annotations.

With the wide variety of tarot decks being published today, it’s become uncommon for a magician to draw their own tarot deck unless they happen to possess a good deal of artistic talent. Up until as late as the 1960s though, it was much more common practice. Until recently, published tarot decks were far more difficult to come by, and often times the only way to get a tarot deck that wasn’t designed as a game deck, but rather as a spiritual tool, was to draw it yourself.

It’s rare that any of these hand drawn tarots are ever published. In fact, I think this might be the only instance of a magician’s personal hand drawn tarot deck being mass produced like this.

This isn’t a tarot created for public consumption. This is a reproduction of a handmade and personal magical tool used by another practitioner, and designed for their personal spiritual study and ritual use. That makes this a really special, and awesome, deck, even if the artwork is amateurish and it’s not the best or most originally designed tarot on the market. I highly recommend this tarot.

The Greenwood Tarot – Much like the Alchemical tarot, the Greenwood Tarot was originally published by Thorsons and was not very popular, but after it went out of print, word of mouth spread and the tarot started to become sought after. Unlike the Alchemical Tarot, the designer of the Greenwood Tarot has no desire to republish the deck even though they’ve since regained publishing rights.

The deck is themed around pre-Christian Celtic spirituality and shamanism. It’s doesn’t specifically incorporate modern Pagan religions, but due to its theme, it’s definitely relatable to them. The deck makes some big structural changes, such as renaming most of the Trump cards and changing all of the court cards so they now represent animals instead of people. However the basic structure of the tarot, 78 cards divided into 22 trumps, 16 court, and 40 pip cards, is retained, as are many of the traditional metaphysical associations.

Unlike the Alchemical Tarot, which was a really good, yet underrated, tarot during its original publication, this deck’s popularity is mostly hype. It was a solid, though somewhat flawed, tarot whose theme targeted the Pagan community, and if it had been picked up by a major publisher instead of Thorsons, it probably would’ve done a lot better than it did. It’s not a very high quality tarot, and the low interest in the tarot when it was first published was not unjustified.

The card designs are mostly unique, although a few, like the ten of wands, are derivative. The designer has a good understanding of some of the cards, and sometimes even expresses them in a new and unique ways, such as the Ten of Swords being instruction, but just as often the designer seems to have no comprehension of the cards whatsoever. For instance there are problems with all four Twos, and the designer seems to view them as duality and opposition rather than purity. The one Two which is almost correct, The Two of Cups, which is titled attraction, still fails to grasp the meaning of the card.

The Greenwood tarot may be overrated, but its not an entirely bad deck. The deck has some interesting cards, and, considering its theme, probably would have fared much better if it were published by US Games or Llewellyn. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot, and that’s before taking into consideration that it can sell for almost $200 because of its collectible status.

Guido Bolzani Tarocchi – The Bolzani Tarot was published in 1976 and is now out of print. The deck’s art style is more common to standard playing cards than to a tarot deck. The pips are not fully illustrated, and the deck uses the French suits instead of the Italian suits..

Despite the deck’s style, there is some esoteric symbolism and spiritual meaning incorporated into the cards, and some of the design choices are interesting. However there is nothing that really makes this deck special. The deck was designed for an era when there were very few esoteric tarots on the market to compete with, and a deck could sell copies just by being an available esoteric tarot. When you take into account this deck’s artwork, symbolism, design, and unique ideas, this deck doesn’t really have much going for it, especially when compared to any of the better tarots which are on the market today, which is probably why it has never been reprinted. The high price this deck can now command as a collector’s item makes it even less appealing as a spiritual tool. I do not recommend buying this deck.

Gumpennberg Circa 1810 Neoclassical Tarot – This tarot was first published by Italian cardmaker Gumpennberg between 1807 and 1816, although most descriptions of this deck simply list it as being made in 1810 or around 1810. The deck is definitely influenced by the earlier standard Marseilles pattern design, however this deck uses engraved metal plates as opposed to woodblocks, which allows for much finer and more detailed imagery. The deck was mass produced and used mostly for game playing. By 1810 the earlier Marseilles pattern was already in use esoterically, and it was this pattern, not later designs, which were primarily used spiritually by the early French occultists, but these early engraved metal decks were still sometimes used for esoteric purposes and cartomancy, and due to their Marseilles pattern influence, they do have some limited use in that regard. I do not recommend buying this deck.

-Tarot of Lombardy – This is the Lo Scarabeo reproduction of this tarot. I picked it up for three dollars, and its a good reproduction of the tarot. If you’re interested in this tarot, this is probably going to be the easiest edition to find.

-Tarocco Neoclassico – I’m not sure if this tarot really belongs here. Looking at the cards it seems to be a reproduction of the Gumpennberg Neoclassical Tarot, however descriptions of the deck list it as circa 1820, and Kaplan states that the tax stamp on the Neoclassical tarot dates it, at the latest, to 1816. It’s possible that this is a later reprinting of that same deck, or it could be that this is the circa 1810 Gumpennberg Neoclassical Tarot, and that there is some dispute about the date between Kaplan and Il Meneghello. Anyways this is a limited edition reproduction by Il Meneghello, and as you can probably guess if you’re familiar with Il Meneghello, this is the best edition of the deck. Unless you’re a really big fan of this tarot, or Il Meneghello reproductions, you’ll probably be just as happy with the much cheaper Lo Scarabeo edition though.

-Tarocco Neoclasico Italiano – This was a limited edition printed by Edizionni del Sollone in 1980. I don’t know anything else about this edition other than the fact that it was mentioned by Kaplan.

Gumppenberg Circa 1830 – Sold as Tarocchi Italiani di Gumppenberg, this is a reproduction of a deck published by Italian cardmaker Gumppenberg around 1830. The deck is a deviation of the Marseilles pattern and the artwork is done in the older woodblock style. Unfortunately I can’t find any more information on this deck or the 1830 deck it reproduces. The deck is still in print but can be hard to find. If you’re interested in this type of deck, you’re probably better off buying one of the Marseilles pattern tarots. For spiritual use I would particularly recommend the Conver or Marteau Marseilles. I do not recommend buying this deck.

Gummpenberg Circa 1840 Tarot – This deck, sold as Tarocco di 78 Carte F. Gumppenberg by Il Meneghello, was published by Italian cardmaker Gummpenberg around 1840. This is not the same deck that Kaplan lists as the Circa 1823-1840 Gummpenberg tarot, although the two decks are very similar. I haven’t been able to find any other information on the deck this tarot reproduces. This tarot is very derivative of the Marseilles pattern, and the artwork is reminiscent of the earlier woodblock printed decks, although the tarot looks more finely detailed than pre 19th century tarots. This deck is really more valuable to historical collectors than it is to working magicians. If you’re interested in working with this tarot design, you’re probably better off buying an historical reproduction of a Marseilles pattern tarot instead. I do not recommend buying this tarot.

Gypsy Tarot Tsigane – The Gypsy Tarot Tsigane was designed by Walter Wegmuller, designer of the Neuzeit Tarot. I’m not sure which of these two tarots came first, but the Neuzeit tarot does seem like the more mature of the two. Stylistically this deck is a lot like the Neuzeit tarot. The artwork is adequate but not too well drawn, and the cards feature mostly unique designs which are full of spiritual symbolism. The deck looks a lot rougher though, and the artwork is not quite up to the Neuzeit Tarot quality. The cards are also a lot less busy then the Neuzeit tarot, which I would normally prefer.

When decks are very busy, it’s usually because the designer shoved a lot of information into the individual cards. Because of the sheer amount of information, the designer doesn’t focus on giving that information much depth. This results in cards that have a lot of esoteric information contained within them, but all of this information is shallow. This was partially true of the Neuzeit Tarot, which is why it’s such an average deck.

With the Gypsy Tarot Tsigane there is less stuff and less information shoved into each card, which normally would improve the deck, except the information that is in the cards is still just as shallow as busier decks. The Neuzeit Tarot barely worked because it found a good balance between the shallow insight and the wealth of information to be found in each card. This deck skews that balance. It has less information in each card, but still retains the same shallow insight.

This is a deck where really good artwork probably would have pushed me into being on the fence about recommending it. The artwork isn’t very good at all, so I’m not recommending this tarot.

Haindl Tarot – I first heard of this deck when a friend of mine found it online and felt a connection to it. I bought him a copy as a birthday present, and after hearing him rave about it for two weeks, I went out and bought myself a copy.

The deck is often described as non-traditional. It’s eclectic and incorporates ideas from Paganism, Native American Spirituality, and Eastern religions like Hinduism and Taoism. Where the Haindl Tarot differs from other decks that try to use new spiritualities is that it doesn’t abandon the various spiritualities which have traditionally been associated with the tarot, like Ceremonial Magic, Kabalism, and Christian mysticism. The Haindl tarot combines these new spiritualities with the old ones, building on what has come before it instead of dismissing much of the history and theory of the occult tarot in an effort to embrace a more popular spiritual trend.

The art style is atypical for a tarot, and something that most people are going to either love or hate, but I find it fits the deck surprisingly well. The artwork is layered with many details hidden within the paintings. Not only does the symbolism have to be studied on this deck, but some time also has to be spent just studying the individual pictures in order to see all of the nuances and minor details. My only real complaint about the deck is that I wish the cards were bigger. The details would be easier to make out with cards that were, say, around the size of the large Crowley Thoth decks. However the cards are perfectly readable and the finer details can still be seen at their current size, so it isn’t a major problem.

This isn’t a deck that I’d recommend as a first or second, or even third, tarot deck, unless a person felt they had a special connection to it, and with its unique design and eclectic nature I’m sure a lot of people will. However it’s an easy deck to recommend to someone that already has a few tarots and is looking for a good esoteric deck that’s a bit different from everything else. I recommend this tarot deck.

Hallmark Tarot – The Hallmark Tarot (named after the designer, not the greeting card company), is a standard 78-card tarot with fully illustrated pips that uses a very cutesy and cartoonish art style. The deck also replaces the Judgment card with a new card, the Tree of Life, a design choice that makes absolutely no sense to me.

I’d like to start this review by pointing out that the Tree of Life is an abstract concept meant to explain the make-up of the entire universe. That isn’t entirely correct, it actually just covers a good deal of the known universe. There is still what lies beyond the tree of life, which is only represented in the Tree of Life by the acknowledgement that it exists, and there is the Qlippoth, which is represented by the Tree of Knowledge.

Since the tree of life encompasses so much of the universe, it is partially represented in every single tarot card in a standard deck. In order to create a Tree of Life card you’d have to redesign the entire tarot so that every single representation of the Tree of Life was removed from every single card. That wasn’t done with this deck. Instead they just doubled up the Tree of Life associations, and did so by removing the Judgment card, which creates a huge hole in the deck and makes in incomplete. Meanwhile having a card represent the Tree of Life and not the Tree of Knowledge creates a huge imbalance within the deck. Normally both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge are equally represented in each of the cards.

I know I’m spending a lot of time dealing with this one point, but it’s really the only original part of this deck. The rest of the deck is entirely derivative, and it mostly steals from the Rider-Waite. The borrowed designs are also simplified, and so a lot of the symbolism and meaning is lost in them. This a weak and derivative deck, and its one instance of originality creates a huge flaw in the deck design. I do not recommend this tarot.

Halo/Sharp New Energy Tarot Deck – This is a trump only computer generated tarot. This tarot attempts to update and redesign the standard tarot, and in doing so has renamed cards and redesigned them to eliminate any negative energies. The numbering has also been removed so you can order the cards however you want! It’s as if someone specifically tried to design a tarot that included everything I could possibly hate about a tarot.

The tarot is almost as bad as it sounds. The generated artwork of this tarot is actually pretty well done, and isn’t as bad as most decks done in this style. It’s actually good enough that it wouldn’t really bother me if the tarot was better designed. As a side note everyone depicted in this tarot is naked. I don’t have a problem with that, it’s just a little bit weird, especially since I don’t think there’s any specific reason for it.

The Fool is now Joyful and the Devil is Saturn (which BTW astrologically associates with the World card, not the Devil). The other cards I can’t quite figure out. There’s the Master, which I assume is the Magician, and the Calling and the Lightworker which I assume are the Hierophant and Hermit, although I’m unsure which is which. In any case, by the titles alone it’s clear that the designer really didn’t understand the concept of these cards. The cards don’t have much symbolism or any esoteric knowledge. I assume the deck is meant as a tool for meditation or energy work, because that’s usually what these kinds of decks try to pass themselves of as. The cards don’t have much energy behind them, less than what you usually find in a painting, and the energy that is there is all kind of the same. There’s very little, if any, variation in the energy between one card and the next.

As a spiritual aid, magical tool, or guide containing esoteric knowledge this deck is completely useless. I do not recommend this tarot.

Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck – The Hanson-Roberts tarot is a vibrant and colorful tarot deck with a standard, although well drawn, style and fully illustrated pips. The deck features smaller size cards which make them easier to shuffle, especially for people with small hands. It’s also the least offensive tarot deck you’ll ever find. If you thought the Rider-Waite was too violent and sexually vulgar (I’m being serious), then you should give this deck a whirl.

The deck is very derivative, and a lot of the card ideas are developed from the Rider-Waite. I’ve seen some reviewers criticize the deck for a complete lack of creativity in the card design (although the actual artwork shows quite a bit of talent and creativity), but there are actually some creative and unique choices in the design. Sadly though, there aren’t enough. The deck’s adherence to the designs of other superior decks, namely the Rider-Waite, means that it does contain some esoteric knowledge and can work well for divination and spellwork. As with just about any deck that borrows heavily from another though, the Hanson-Roberts loses a lot of the symbolic depth and deeper meanings of the decks it steals from. All in all it’s hard to describe it as anything more than a poor man’s Rider-Waite, albeit with good artwork.

However the colorful design and fully illustrated pips, the extremely inoffensive nature of the deck, and even the small card size all come together to make this a preferable deck for professional readings, and that’s probably the purpose this deck was designed for. The colorful design will keep a querrent’s attention, the inoffensive nature means the deck is good for just about any situation and you don’t have to worry about scaring away or otherwise making the querrent feel uncomfortable, and even the small card size works very well when you want the querrent to shuffle the cards since they may not be used to shuffling larger ones.

I’m on the fence about recommending this deck for most people. However I do recommend at least looking at this deck if you plan on doing professional readings as that seems to be what this deck was designed for.

Harmonious Tarot – The Harmonious Tarot uses the found artwork of English illustrator Walter Crane. Modifications have been made to Crane’s original drawings by the deck designer, Ernest Fitzpatrick, so that they will better fit the tarot structure and symbolism. The deck looks absolutely gorgeous. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

Modifying the images in Crane’s style to make them fit with the tarot works really well, and this is the best found art deck I’ve ever seen. The deck retains the quality of Crane’s skills while still having some esoteric value. I really wish other found decks would be done in this way.

Although better than other found art decks, the Harmonious Tarot lacks the sort of depth you see from a deck that was designed from the ground up. It doesn’t help that the esoteric ideas and symbolisms added to the artwork are borrowed from other decks. Still the deck looks great and it works as an esoteric tool, plus it’s the best found art deck I’ve ever seen, so I’m giving it a low recommendation.

The Herbal Tarot – Initially I had some fears about this deck. My first fear was that the deck simply took another popular tarot deck’s style but also included an associated herb on every card. A deck like that isn’t very interesting because it would be cheaper and easier to just get a list of the 78 herbs and what cards they are associated with rather than have to buy a whole new tarot. My second fear was that I’d be expected to identify these herbs on site (my herbs come from the herbal shop already ground up, or at the very least in leaf form).

As for my first fear, at least it didn’t steal from just one tarot. I’ve noticed elements of several different tarots in the cards, which kind of gives the illusion that the deck may be unique and have something to say beyond herbal associations. Unfortunately besides the herbal associations, there isn’t much depth to the card meanings at all. I guess this would be okay if the entire card was designed to expand upon the meaning of the herb, but this isn’t the case either. It seems as if the cards simply use a picture that is normally associated with that card, and then add an herb to it.

My second fear was completely unfounded though. The deck clearly prints the name of each herb on the top of every card.

The biggest problem came though when I looked at which herbs were associated with which cards. Now when I bought the deck I assumed that by calling it the “herbal tarot” that the tarot would deal with the magical associations of herbs, something I know a little bit about. However I read more descriptions of the deck and have found out that it’s supposed to deal with the associated healing properties of these herbs. I don’t know much about that, and that may be where my problem comes from. But there are connections between the healing properties of an herb and its magical associations, and the deck also claims to utilize the energies and astrological associations of the herbs when placing them on the cards. So I assume that with my knowledge of magical herbalism I should be able to see at least some connection between the cards and the herbs.

But its not there. In fact the herbs seem to be randomly chosen, which makes me think the designer either didn’t understand the herbs (which is unlikely since he’s supposed to be a professional herbologist or something like that), or they didn’t really understand the tarot (the more likely scenario). But I’m not talking about having an in-depth knowledge of the tarot, I’m talking about not knowing the basic one word descriptions of the cards divinatory meanings.

The first card I really looked at in the deck was the Tower card, and it’s a good card for me to judge the deck on because I know the associated herb very well. Most novice readers see the tower card as a negative card, mainly because all of its initial meanings seem negative. The card is associated with the tower of Babel and the power of god being brought against man. Generally the key words given for this card are things like destruction, chaos, confusion, and ruin.

So what herb does this card get? Garlic. Really? Garlic is generally known as a protective herb. Just about everything associated with it is protective, from its protection against diseases to its protection against spirits and even people. I guess perhaps Garlic could be associated with the tower because Garlic’s protective power is derived through an offensive attack of sorts, and in this sense Garlic is the power of god being brought against disease, but I think that this is stretching things a bit too far.

So I’m going to try another random card and see what comes up. The Ace of Cups is associated with the Lotus. At a glance, these seem like two completely separate things that have no place being put together. I suppose we could look at the lotus flower as bringing perfect spiritual love and perfect harmony, but if that is the case I would say that the card should be associated with the Six of Cups, at best an argument could be made for the Nine, but not the Ace. Perhaps because of the spiritual importance and divine connection attributed to the Lotus in some Eastern spiritualities the designer felt that the herb belonged to the ace because it should be placed in Kether, a oneness with the divine. Even so I’d say what is being talked about in Eastern spiritualities, the implied connection of the Lotus flower, is referring to the middle triad, not Kether. Once again I’d say the Lotus belongs to the Six, not the Ace. This could just be a difference of opinion, although I would still look at it as an error and attribute it to a limited understanding of the tarot if I weren’t assuming these herbs were just randomly chosen.

Okay, one more. The Five of Cups is associated with mistletoe. I really have no clue here. The best I can come up with is someone once told me that mistletoe was an ingredient in an herbal mix that was used to cause miscarriages. It’s a real stretch to associate that to the Five of Cups. Perhaps it’s mistletoe because kissing under the mistletoe is kissing someone else, and the Fives represent outside forces where as the cups represent relationships?

The thing is, all of these connections I’m making seem like I’m trying really hard to do it. And in truth I’m pretty sure that if you picked any random tarot card and gave me any herb I was familiar with, I’d be able to find some sort of association between them. For example, the Three of Swords and Belladonna. The Three of Swords is associated with the corruption of a purity of being or a purity of thought through the introduction of knowledge, particularly self-awareness. It’s often associated with the story of Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge, and often times makes reference to the sorrow or loss associated with gaining knowledge. Belladona is known for its hallucinogenic properties and was often used to gain spiritual enlightenment. It is however highly poisonous and can easily kill you. My random association is surprisingly better than anything I’ve found in the deck.

I’m going to have to not recommend this deck, mainly because I don’t think the herbal associations to the tarot cards are correct, and that’s really all this deck has going for it. However if you think that my above associations hold any more weight than an uncanny ability on my part to find associative properties between any random tarot card and any random herb, then maybe you should look into buying the deck.

The Hermetic Tarot – I actually have the original 1980 release of this deck, which I hear from reviews is better than the 2006 rerelease, although I haven’t yet seen the rerelease. Prior to the rerelease the deck actually sold for quite a bit on Ebay, and I would have been tempted to trade or sell the thing but it’s one of a few tarot decks I have that belonged to my grandfather. The popularity of the deck largely stems from the fact that it advertises itself as combining the works of Waite, Crowley, Case, and Mathers, although none of these men worked on the deck.

To begin with, the artwork on the deck is all black and white, and it makes heavy use of shading so it’s not supposed to be colored in. With the exception of a very few small run indie decks (usually with stick figures), I can’t think of any other black and white deck that wasn’t either meant to be colored in or a historical reproduction of a black and white work.

The cards are very detailed and, like I said, are black and white and use heavy shading. The cards are also pretty small. So small it’s very difficult to see the detail on the cards, or sometimes even distinguishing features. It looks like the cards should be at least four or five times bigger to accommodate the pictures.

The biggest problem though is that the deck is completely unoriginal. It steals liberally from the Rider-Waite, BOTA, and Crowley Thoth tarots along with the Golden Dawn pattern, but it only ever steals and never offers anything new or unique. I really can’t find any justification for owning this deck alongside the four decks that it’s based on, especially considering the aforementioned problem with the artwork.

Some might think that combining four of the most popular decks together like it does would make a superior deck for divination or spellwork, and that would be true, except this deck isn’t good for divination and it doesn’t do spellwork very well either.

As for divination, the black and white cards with the hard to distinguish details are going to bore querrents, most of which are going to want something more colorful and flashy. It’s also going to cause problems for the reader since the tiny hard to see details make it difficult to tell which card is which when using the deck, and even once you’re familiar with the deck the heavy shading and black and white color scheme means a lot of the cards are still going to look alike and be hard to distinguish.

The difficult to distinguish cards don’t help with spellwork either, not to mention that the deck can’t take advantage of the natural energies given off by colors. Ultimately I find the deck design lacks any real energy or power, despite the fact that the decks that it steals from have quite a bit of energy and power behind them. Yes I can still make a deck like this work in a ritual, but if the deck isn’t doing some of the work I might as well be using Bicycle playing cards. I do not recommend this deck.

Hoi Polloi Tarot – This early 70s tarot is actually unnamed, Hoi Polloi being the name of the publishing company that made the cards. The designer and artist are unknown, and the deck was meant to be more of a novelty cartomancy game than a serious esoteric tarot deck.

The deck itself closely follows the design of the Rider-Waite tarot, although it does deviate a bit on the color scheme at times and on some of the finer details. The deck has been completely redrawn in the style of the Rider-Waite (including the art style), and isn’t a copy of any particular printing of the deck.

I really don’t have anything else to say about the deck. It’s really just a novelty that appeals to people who like to collect Rider-Waite decks and clones, especially since it isn’t all that difficult to find. The deck doesn’t really offer anything over the standard Rider-Waite to the non-collector though, and so I do not recommend buying this deck.

Holy Order of Mans Tarot – The Holy Order of Mans was a Christian religious group or holy order that was founded in the late 60s and continued until ’84 when the group eventually disbanded. Although Christian and requiring intense bible study and prayer sessions, the order also taught subjects like alchemy, science, and tarot to its members and placed an emphasis on experiencing the spiritual mysteries for oneself.

The Holy Order of Mans Tarot was a set of black and white tarot trumps developed by the group. The trumps are actually very deravative of the BOTA trumps. The drawings are new, but even the style of the art is the same as the BOTA deck. There are some slight variations in the cards (such as death being called transformation) and some new minor symbolisms or meanings may have been added to some cards, but for the most part the deck is just a rip-off of the BOTA cards. With BOTA cards being much more readily available, I do not recommend this tarot.

Hudes Tarot – The Hudes tarot is based off of Medieval artwork. The artwork is well drawn and has its own unique style. The artwork is also the kind that will no doubt draw quite a few people into this deck and help them form an instant connection with it. However even those who aren’t instantly taken by this deck’s artwork will probably still find it to be beautiful and engaging.

Many of the card designs in this deck are original, and the symbolism and meaning of those cards tend to be very subtle yet very deep. That combination of subtleness and deepness is perfect for this tarot and it exactly fits the art style and energy of the deck. Unfortunately though many of the card designs in this deck are very derivative, often times taking from the Rider-Waite. The symbolism and meaning of those cards tend to read like, well, the Rider-Waite. Those card designs fit the Rider-Waite deck, but they seem out of place here. The Rider-Waite card design is a bit more transparent and a bit louder than this deck. Not only do those designs seem out of place here, but moving between an original card and a derivative card is like reading cards from two different decks. At times this feels like a frankendeck created by combining two completely different tarots. It’s really unfortunate that the deck designer chose to use these derivative designs since they were more than capable of creating completely original designs that worked better within their tarot.

With the large number of original elements and the good artwork I’d normally let a deck like this slide with a recommendation even with a lot of the cards being derivative. Unfortunately though the derivative designs, although correct, don’t fit this deck and create a consistency problem. The deck is far from broken though, but I’d still consider this a serious flaw. I’m giving the deck a low recommendation.

Ibis Tarot – This is a full color modernization of the Falconnier-Wegener-Valcourt-Vermont cards (see my entry on the AG Mueller Egyptian Tarot for more information on them). I felt that deck was a spiritual and historical oddity, so as you can imagine I don’t really see much of a need for a modernization of the design. I actually like the artwork on this deck, but from a spiritual perspective this update doesn’t add anything to the classic cards. I’m on the fence about recommending this deck. The deck is really only useful to people who want to work with the Falconnier-Wegener design but want the cards to have a more modern and elaborate art style.

The Illuminated Tarot – This is a redrawing and recoloring of the Rider-Waite deck created in 1989. The deck is available in two sizes, medium and pocket, and there may be other older editions of this deck.

This is a very bright and pretty version of the Rider-Waite. It was also made relatively early in the Rider-Waite cycle, before every other deck released by US Games was a slightly modified Rider-Waite deck. As with any Rider-Waite deck though, the question has to be asked, do we really need another Rider-Waite tarot? More importantly as a tarot collector I have to ask myself if there’s any reason for me to buy yet another Rider-Waite deck for my collection.

In order for me to recommend yet another Rider-Waite deck it has to add something significant to the standard version of the deck. This is the case with the Albano-Waite which features spiritually aligned colors and has historical significance. Very few other decks manage to add anything to the Rider-Waite design though. Although

I’ll admit the cards do look nice in this tarot, which is more than I can say for a lot of Rider-Waite redrawings, but I like the original artwork on the Rider-Waite, and I don’t see any need to try and fix that. I’m not about to recommend this deck instead of the standard Rider-Waite, and the cards don’t add to the Rider-Waite for me to recommend it in addition to those cards. I do not recommend this tarot.

Infinite Tarot – This is a 76 card deck with five suits and no trump cards. The deck is based off of elemental energies with the fifth suit representing the element of spirit.

To start every esoteric tarot deck ever made has been based on the five elements, and each one does get its own suit with the trumps representing the element of spirit. So this deck’s theme doesn’t add anything new to the tarot which isn’t already contained in every good deck ever created. However its complete restructuring of the tarot takes a lot away from the tarot, and in fact makes it pretty much useless, as a tarot anyways. Whatever this is, it’s not a tarot, its some other kind of spiritual deck.

And that’s a shame too because there are some cool ideas contained in these cards and I’d really like to see what the designer could do in the confines of a real tarot deck. My favorite card is the Seven of Water (which I’m associating with the Seven of Cups) which in this deck is called Poetry.

In any case I’m not going to do a full review of this deck and instead I’m just going to not recommend it because it is not really a tarot deck.

Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn – Yet another deck that says Golden Dawn, but doesn’t actually follow the Golden Dawn pattern. I’d have a lot more respect for these decks if they were sold as original creations instead of trying to make it more popular by stamping the words Golden Dawn on it.

I’m intrigued by some of the cards in this deck, but I’m not very impressed. For instance the Lovers card is based off of the Mathers design and features Perseus saving Andromeda, and it’s a really cool picture, far more elaborate than what is seen on other Golden Dawn decks. Unfortunately the symbolism is not as good as other Golden Dawn decks and a lot of Mathers’ design is lost on this card. Persues’s attack from the top right corner and the lightning bolt on his shield were supposed to parallel the lightning bolt sent down from God in the Tower card. Ergo one card depicts God attacking man, and the other depicts man attacking a god. That symbolism is absent in this version of the card and it makes me wonder how well the designer even understood the Golden Dawn material.

I have serious doubts that this deck offers any new insight into the Golden Dawn system or even the validity of the information that it does include. I suspect the goal was just to shove Golden Dawn crap into the cards wherever possible. Meanwhile there are a lot of really good decks that did develop out of the Golden Dawn, in fact they’re some of the very best decks of the 20th century. Still I do like the artwork in this deck and that’s enough to convince me to buy it. As a purely spiritual tarot though I don’t recommend buying this tarot.

Insight Institute Tarot – This deck was possibly published as early as 1949. Several different editions of this deck were released and from what I hear the card quality differs between editions. The tarot was originally released in conjunction with a correspondence course on reading tarot by the Insight Institute. The deck itself is based off of the Marseilles pattern, and a lot of people have noted similarities to the Conver Marseilles, but it is a new drawing and not just a reproduction of a historical deck. Although I’ve heard the card stock on some of the editions is very good, there’s nothing special about the cards themselves and it’s about what you would expect from a second rate Marseilles derived deck. The only real significance of the Insight Institute deck is that it was a tarot meant for esoteric purposes released during a time when such tarots were rare. It’s become a bit of a collector’s item now and probably isn’t worth the cost for most people to pick it up. I do not recommend this tarot.

Intuitive Tarot – Most experienced tarot readers will shy away from anything that claims to be an intuitive tarot. Usually when a tarot describes itself as intuitive that means it was created by someone who doesn’t understand the cards and never spent the time to learn the cards (or possibly lacks the capacity to learn the cards), and that the deck was created for people who want the benefits of reading tarot but don’t also don’t want to spend the time to learn the cards. Some people may hate these decks because they don’t like the idea of other people reading the tarot without going through the same hard work and training that they did. There is a much better reason to hate these decks though. They usually don’t have anything to offer an experienced reader who has learned tarot, and they usually lack any real spiritual insight and are magically useless.

Unfortunately I cannot review this deck in the manner that it was meant to be used. I’ve spent over half of my life intently studying the tarot, and at this point I have a fairly good grasp of it. Any attempt I make to read with these cards is going to involve me applying all of my knowledge and experience to the card interpretations. Unfortunately I cannot go back in time and look at these cards as a tarot newb who knows nothing about the tarot. For as much as I know, this deck might work very well for people who have no knowledge or understanding of the tarot and it might make it very easy for them to do accurate divination or find spiritual insight through the cards. It might also be complete crap. Even if I had someone who was completely new to tarot who was willing to try out these cards I wouldn’t trust their opinion on them. They have nothing to base that opinion against. Obviously this would be the greatest tarot deck they ever worked with because it would be the only tarot deck they ever worked with. That’s one of the great things about selling stuff to newbs, they don’t know enough to know you sold them crap.

I can say that learning by intuition is not the best way to learn the tarot. Whatever you want the tarot for spiritually, be it divination, or for spell work, or for spiritual enlightenment, you’re going to get a lot more out of the tarot, especially in the long run, if you actually learn it. The best way to learn the tarot is to get one of the better, standard introductory tarot decks, like the Rider-Waite or the Crowley-Thoth (in fact I’d say buy four or five different decks like this to compare), and to spend a few years studying the tarot in order to learn it.

As for this deck, the artwork is well drawn, but it’s plain and lacks variation. The imagery on most of the cards seems to fit the traditional imagery or meaning of the card. For example the two of cups shows a couple kissing, and the chariot shows a man riding on a chariot. Although the imagery fits and isn’t contradictory, I still don’t see how a new tarot reader could derive even a small portion of the actual card’s meaning from the imagery without some tarot instruction. The card imagery in the deck typically doesn’t have very much symbolism or spiritual depth, and although some (but not much) of the imagery may be unique, it lacks the depth to get me excited about it.

There’s a lot of talk about the energy of this deck, and its use as a meditative tool. From my experiences with tarot decks, that usually means the deck lacks symbolism, spiritual meaning, or even a designer that understood the tarot and instead tries to pass the deck off spiritually as a meditative tool. Meanwhile most good tarots are also meditative devices and they have a lot of energy within them too, the good tarots just don’t have a need to focus on this fact. As for the energy of this deck, there is some energy behind the cards, but comparatively it’s less than other good esoteric tarots. The Rider-Waite, the Crowley-Thoth, and even the old Etteilla pattern designs have a lot more energy behind them than this deck.

I don’t recommend buying this deck. That’s partially a condemnation against learning the tarot solely through intuition, but mostly it’s because I don’t see much spiritual value to this deck, especially when compared to other better tarots.

Jacques Vieville Tarot – This is a reproduction of a 17th century French variation on the classic Marseilles design create by Jacques Vieville.

Because of the obscurity of the deck, the fact that it differs from the classic design, and that it has relatively little historical importance, the deck is only going to be of interest to people who collect historical reproductions and are interested in Marseilles variations. I do not recommend this deck.

Jolanda Tarot – There are two editions of this deck, the original Swedish edition, known as the Swedish Witch Tarot, released by Fischer Company and the newer international edition published by AG Muller. The two editions are almost identical, except the borders are lighter on the Swedish edition and the card titles are all in Swedish.

The Jolanda Tarot is one of the great success stories in tarot. It succeeded by doing things right. Originally released in Sweden in 2001, there is nothing special about this tarot. No big names are attached to it. It doesn’t have any kind of special theme. It wasn’t released by a major tarot publisher and there was almost no promotion for this deck. And there’s nothing all that fantastic about the artwork. However it was a well designed tarot with solid artwork and some unique ideas. Ideally those are the basic requirements every tarot deck should have before someone publishes it. Unfortunately a lot of tarots on the market today have some sort of gimmick that is used to sell the deck while the actual deck design is substandard, which is why it’s really nice to see a deck like this get marketed internationally.

Over the years word of mouth spread about this deck over the Internet, and more and more people from around the world were trying to navigate a Swedish website to order the cards internationally. Swiss publisher AG Muller took notice and licensed the rights to the deck releasing an international edition in 2008, and the Jolanda Tarot has remained popular ever since. It’s really nice to see a major publisher like AG Muller pick up a deck whose best quality is that it’s well made instead of just commissioning another deck with great artwork based around the latest fad. I really wish it was more common for these major companies to look for good decks like this one and license them for a wider release.

As for the deck itself, at first glance it is not a phenomenal deck, but it is a really good deck, and the deck quickly turns out to be much better once you start working with it and studying it. The deck easily competes with other very popular standard tarots such as the Morgan-Greer Tarot, the Palladini Tarots, The Connolly Tarot, and the Robin Wood Tarot. There’s no doubt in my mind that if AG Muller continues to publish this tarot it will be added to that list as one of the staple popular tarots within the next ten years. Where this deck really pulls ahead of those other tarots though is that both the card design and symbolism are largely unique and new in this deck. This deck is not very derivative of other tarots and there are a lot of new ideas incorporated into the tarot design.

The Seven of Swords is a card that represents, among other things, and over indulgence in thought, fantasy, the attainment of knowledge, and intellectual pursuits. It’s also a card that applies to ideas that have become so abstract that they no longer have any relationship to the physical world and no real world application. In the Jolanda Tarot we have an attractive couple sitting naked and back to back on a cat. Both have their eyes closed and pleasurable looks on their faces. The seven swords are behind them and they’re turning into snakes as they hit the ground. In the card the couple could be enjoying each other physically but instead they have chosen to indulge themselves in sexual fantasy. The snakes, while obviously a phallic sexual symbol, are also symbolic of knowledge (it was the serpent who convinced man to eat from the tree of knowledge, and the biblical serpent was based on an earlier serpentine god of knowledge). In addition to being symbolic of knowledge though, snakes are also dangerous and poisonous, and this is clearly implied by the imagery which shows some of the snakes with fangs, with their mouths open, and poised for an attack. The fantasy these two are choosing to indulge in instead of each other is harmful and poisonous to them, both as individuals and as a couple. All in all the card is based on one of the negative aspects of the Seven of Swords, and overindulgence in fantasy at the cost of real world attainment, or the overindulgence of thought at the cost of physical action.

With such radical changes to the imagery though there are of course some choices I don’t agree with. This deck features a female Magician, which is a flaw I’ve noticed in many tarot decks and I’ve explained why this is a design flaw in several other reviews. The Ace of Cups also has a unicorn. The unicorn is of course symbolic of purity, but also untameability. I understand why the designer chose this symbol for the Ace, but I think these are qualities that are better attributed to the Two of Cups. The unicorn is also symbolic of innocence and virginity though, and I don’t think those qualities should be attributed to either of the cards.

The deck has a few minor flaws, but nothing that ever breaks the deck or makes in any less useful as a magical tool. The deck has some really good card designs, but I find the designs usually stop just short of being truly phenomenal, which is why I’m not giving this deck a phenomenal review and highly recommending it. This is still a solid deck though, and so I’m still giving it a solid recommendation.

Jungian Tarot – Despite the fact that Jung discussed tarot in his works, he did not have a hand in the creation of this deck which was made after his death. The deck itself is designed and drawn by Robert Wang, better known as the artist on Regardie’s Golden Dawn Tarot.

I know in recent times quite a few of the famous Ceremonial and Chaos magicians have obtained psychology degrees, and that Jung’s theories often times delved into the metaphysical making him one of the more popular famous psychologists in the magical community, but I still don’t think there’s enough community interest in Jung’s psychological work to warrant a tarot deck.

I don’t have anything nice to say about the deck either. It’s not that I’m complaining about it, but I don’t see it as containing any real esoteric knowledge or being useful for divination or spellwork. It’s really only going to be of interest to Jung fans, and even then you have to take into account that although it may use some of his ideas, Jung didn’t actually collaborate on the deck. I do not recommend buying this tarot.

Kabbalah Tarot – The Kabbalah Tarot is a Japanese deck which was sold with a divinatory book set. It’s clear that the cards were meant simply as a generic type of tarot for divination to accompany the books. The cards are not in color although they are heavily shaded and have a yellowish tint. The artwork is done in a classical tarot style. The pips are fully illustrated.

The imagery and symbolism through out the deck is standard imagery and symbolism. There is not much real depth to the cards, although for the most part the symbolism is correct. The trumps have all been renumbered, to what purpose I do not know. All in all the deck can be used for divinatory and other magical purposes, and the artwork does sometimes offer some charm, but the deck doesn’t offer anything over much better designed, and drawn, decks, or even any originality. I do not recommend this tarot.

Kamasutra Tarot – I bought this tarot thinking that it could be used to play a fun game where I draw a random card and then try out the position. With the first card I drew I needed to be hung upside down from a tree. It looked like a lot of fun, but my partner told me no, mainly because I’d have to hold her up while hanging from the tree and I have a habit of dropping things. The second card required a camel. I have no idea how I’d even go about finding a camel in North America, let alone one I’d be allowed to have sex on top of. A lot of the cards in the deck require props, and not easy to find props either. Things like camels and horses and elephants and one card even uses a sex swing. The third card I drew, the five of cups, has two girls on it, and despite my protests that I fairly drew the card and should get the prize on it, my partner once again told me no.

There actually were quite a few cards in the deck we were able to do. As a sex game, it’s fun. I was hoping that the deck would somehow incorporate sacred sexual practices into the standard meanings and associations of the tarot cards, but it really doesn’t. It seems like the sexual positions put on the cards are more or less random, and the only real association with the tarot is that sometimes the people are having sex on or around things that are traditionally found on that tarot card. I do not recommend this tarot (for spiritual use anyways).

Karma Tarot – This is one of the tarots that I inherited from my grandfather but later lost. I was initially drawn to it because of the vivid, different, and just plain awesome artwork of the cards. As I learned more and more about the tarot I found the cards to be unworkable though.

To me the deck seems to be an art deck, granted it’s an awesome art deck. In fact the deck was created by an artist and is themed around the people, mainly musicians and artists, the artist knew during the period when she was drawing the cards.

A lot of people swear this deck contains deep spiritual symbolism. The artwork in this deck is very good, and not just in a technical sense but in an artistic sense. I have no doubt that the pictures do contain quite a bit of symbolism, and some of this symbolism may be very spiritual in nature. It is however not what would normally be associated with the spiritual symbolism of the tarot. I suppose an argument could be made that this is a spiritual deck, but then I think it would have to be classified as something other than tarot. However I don’t think the Karma Tarot is any more a spiritual deck than a collection of say Van Gough or Monet’s paintings printed on a deck of cards would be.

I highly recommend this deck as an art deck. However as a spiritual tarot or magical tool I do not recommend this deck.

Karmic Tarot – This is a Russian published tarot. The cards feature nice and detailed images on the trumps, but the pips are not fully illustrated and feature rather simple designs. The artwork on the court cards is also relatively limited.

This deck already has one major strike against it because the pips are not fully illustrated. Even when compared only to other decks without fully illustrated pips, the pip cards on this deck are simple, unelborate, and boring. The deck gets a second strike for the limited artwork and design of the court cards. The only part of this deck left to redeem it are the trumps. Although well drawn and usually based off of standard tarot designs, the pip cards in this deck are lacking in esoteric symbolism and spiritual depth, and the little bit that does exist is all unoriginal and derived from the standard design of the cards. For example the Devil card features a goat demon devil with a torch and a jeweled staff who is sitting on a rock that two smaller demons, which are playing or talking or something, are chained to. Almost all of the meaning and depth of the devil card is lost.

Much like an historical tarot, this tarot can be adapted for divination and other magical uses, however there isn’t much point in doing this when there are other much better esoteric tarots on the market. Even with a purely historical deck that had no esoteric value there would at least be some historical value to the deck which might make adapting it to magical use worthwhile. With a new deck like this though there really isn’t any point. I do not recommend this tarot.

Karty Ridera Waita: Proste i Skuteczne – This is a Polish deck whose title loosely translates to Simple and Effective Rider-Waite cards. The deck uses the Rider-Waite images, with Polish titles, and adds large white borders. These borders then contain Polish language divinatory meanings for the regular and reversed positions. I’ve talked at length in other reviews about the issues with beginner tarots which print the meanings on the card, so I’m not going to go too much detail into it here, except to say that it doesn’t work like it should. Since I don’t speak Polish, I can’t fully judge the meanings given, but I can tell by their length that aren’t nearly long enough to adequately explain these cards. The images used are all Rider-Waite, and in that regard the deck is about as good as a Rider-Waite (which makes this deck better than other divinatory meaning tarots).

The only non-Polish speakers this deck is going to appeal to are Rider-Waite collectors. Even if you do speak Polish and can read the divinatory meanings, you’re still better off buying a standard Rider-Waite. I do not recommend this tarot.

Kay Book of Thoth – Derivative of Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, Kay’s Book of Thoth was published in 1968, a year before the first publication of Crowley’s tarot in deck form. The deck is sometimes erroneously regarded as an early bootleg of the Thoth tarot. Kay’s Book of Thoth features entirely new artwork, a different art style, and adds some new elements to Crowley’s design. The deck is black and white.

Because it was released in 1968, I can cut the deck some slack both in regards to being derivative of the Crowley Thoth and for being black and white. I don’t need to cut this deck much slack though. Crowley derivatives are far less common than Waite derivative decks, so they’re much more interesting when they pop up. What really makes the deck interesting are the original aspects that were added. Although some designs are very similar to Crowley’s, some are completely different and largely original. In other instances the deck reverts to a more traditional style, or incorporates elements of the BOTA tarot or the Waite tarot.

This is a deeply esoteric deck that borrows from several famous tarots, but also adds quite a few original elements. Even if this deck were published today, it would be hard for me not to recommend it, although I would probably be more critical of its unoriginal elements. As it is I recommend this tarot, but if you want it expect to pay quite a bit of money for it. Although the print run on this tarot is larger than many other tarots printed in the late 60s, due to the Crowley connection there’s also a very high demand for this deck, and on the few occasions when a copy does pop up it usually demands a high price.

Keishobou Tarot – Published in the 1970s, this was one of the very first tarots to be Published in Japan. The trump and court cards follow a Marseilles pattern design and art style. The pip cards are fully illustrated using imagery taken from the Rider-Waite, although the art style remains consistent with the Marseilles pattern art style used on the trumps. Spiritually the deck is equivalent to a standard Marseilles tarot, actually it’s a bit better than a standard Marseilles tarot because of the Waite imagery on the pips, and can be magically used for any purpose that a Marseilles tarot can be used. The deck is completely unoriginal in its design and symbolism, but considering the that this tarot was introduced into Japan during a period when tarot was not readily available in that country and even internationally very few tarots were available, it’s not that big of an issue because of when it was made. The deck is a good, and interesting, buy for collectors of Japanese tarots, Marseilles tarots, and even Rider-Waite inspired decks, but as a spiritual tool it has not aged well and this tarot no longer offers anything over the large selection of better tarots which are now available. I do not recommend this tarot.

Knapp-Hall Tarot – Called both the Knapp Tarot and the Knapp-Hall Tarot, three different editions of this deck were released. The first edition was released in 1929. A second edition was released by Hall’s Philosophical Research Society in 1979, and a third edition was released by US Games in 1985. This tarot was designed by Manly Hall, occult author, lecturer, and founder of the Philosophical Research Society. This deck is one of only a handful of esoteric decks released in the first half of the 20th century. The deck is now out of print and all editions of the deck command quite a high price when they do pop up.

The deck itself looks beautiful and follows the standard tarot design with very little variation. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

There’s a lot of interest in the deck, so hopefully there will be a reprint sometime in the future. I wish US Games would have reprinted this tarot due to fan interest instead of the Hermetic Tarot, but since the deck is still owned by the Philosophical Research Society there may be some issues with licensing the deck.

The Knapp-Hall tarot doesn’t offer much over other esoteric decks, and a lot of its value lies in its historical value and the fact that it was designed by Manly Hall. It’s a solid and beautiful esoteric tarot, and I recommend it, but due to the high price of these decks it’s probably not going to be worth the cost for most people. If you find it at a good price though, or if it ever gets reprinted, definitely pick it up.

Latino Tarot – Also known as the Bella Vista Tarot, this is a 22 card trump only Spanish language tarot published in Chile. The artwork is very detailed and has a classical style to it, although it does sometimes incorporate more modern elements. The deck contains quite a bit of esoteric symbolism, although the majority of this symbolism is standard tarot symbolism. The original symbols added to the cards, at a glance, make this deck seem like it might be worthwhile. However when they’re studied in greater depth, it turns out these original symbols, although correct, are remarkably shallow and often don’t add anything new to the card. The deck is also of limited use due to being a trump only deck. Although not bad, there just isn’t anything that makes this deck stand out, and it’s further limited by not being a full tarot. I do not recommend this tarot.

Legacy of the Divine Tarot – This is Ciro Marchetti’s third computer generated tarot. I don’t like computer generated art or tarots, but Marchetti’s stuff is really good. You can read my review of his first tarot, the Gilded Tarot, to learn more about him.

Artistically this is Marchetti’s best tarot. Despite the fact that his first tarot look really good, and is the third best computer generated tarot in existence, his subsequent tarots have continued to show improvements. With his third tarot it’s becoming difficult to even tell that the tarot is computer generated and the images look like they could have been drawn by hand.

As Marchetti’s tarots have gotten better artistically they’ve become worse spiritually. This isn’t a big deal though since all of his tarots are really art decks and never had much spiritual value to begin with. The Gilded Tarot was the most spiritual of the set, and that was only because parts were Rider-Waite derivative. Being an art deck I’m not recommending this deck, but definitely pick it up if you liked either of Marchetti’s other two decks.

Liber T – This is an interesting deck to say the least. The deck is based off of the work of Aleister Crowley and the OTO and Golden Dawn tarot systems. The trumps borrow heavily from Crowley’s Thoth deck, and except for the fact that the artwork is of a lower quality than Harris’, there isn’t much difference between the trumps of this deck and Crowley’s. If that was all there was to this deck I’d have to say is that this is just a poor man’s version of Crowley’s Thoth Tarot.

But where this deck really shines are its pip cards, all of which feature completely original designs based in Ceremonial Magic, Astrology, Egyptian Mythology, and the theories of the OTO. The Seven of Cups for instance shows a face crying blood on top of a bloody cross. From the cross are three images, one of self-flagellation, one of a nun beating a school boy, and one of a pair of religious men torturing a naked witch hung up on a pole. The card shows what would be the perfect love of god, except that it has been embraced with such zeal and intensity by its most faithful adherents that it has become unbalanced and perverted into something violent which only causes pain and suffering.

It’s not a deck that I’d suggest using for divination or consider using over Crowley’s Thoth, but it’s an interesting variation on Crowley’s design and it has some very original elements. Plus there’s some power behind these cards which makes them a good choice for spellwork. I recommend this tarot.

The Llewellyn Tarot – Tarot card publisher Llewellyn decided to make a tarot branded with their company name. The Llewellyn Tarot incorporates Celtic myth and much of the Rider Waite tarot design together. The artwork is pretty and the deck is everything you’d expect from something called the Llewellyn Tarot.

The inclusion of Celtic lore into the cards and the design of the trump cards doesn’t seem to have any particular spiritual reasoning or symbolism beyond finding something that loosely fits the name of the card and would make a cool looking picture. Even the power and symbolism of the Rider-Waite imagery is largely lost in the translation.

For example the Magician still has his elemental tools and is still pointing to the Earth and the heavens, but now he’s dressed in Celtic garb. The card also takes place in a forest now, and not a garden. A garden is something that is ordered and created and controlled by man. A forest meanwhile is a wild place which is chaotic and uncontrolled. The change in scenery is a small one, but it’s very significant. The rose and tulips are also missing from the card.

Other cards, such as the three of wands and the eight of cups, look almost exactly like redrawings of the Rider-Waite.

Llewellyn sells this as a spiritual deck, but outside of the Rider-Waite imagery it lacks any kind of deeper meaning, and much of the energy and power of the Rider-Waite tarot is lost in this translation. I’d rate this deck higher as an art deck, it is nice to look at, but it’s not very useful for anything else. I do not recommend this tarot.

Lo Scarabeo Celtic Tarot – This is the Celtic Tarot deck released by Lo Scarabeo. The cards are very detailed and well drawn, which is expected of any Lo Scarabeo art deck, although I find this deck to be a bit softer than the typical Lo Scarabeo style (which is a welcome change of pace). The deck features fully illustrated pips.

I’m going to start my review with the Hierophant card, which is probably the most poorly designed tarot card I’ve ever seen. The card shows a fully clothed adult man with a porn star mustache standing in some water holding a sword while watching a group of naked prepubescent young boys play or bathe in the water. I’m not sure what the artist was going for with this card, but the end result screams pedophile and I don’t understand how Lo Scarabeo’s quality control allowed a card like this to slip into one of their decks.

Beyond that the deck has a lot of random nudity thrown in and some nice looking fantasy images with a Celtic theme. There isn’t any spiritual or esoteric value to the deck though. It’s another Lo Scarabeo fantasy art deck whose title makes it look as if it might be spiritual. I recommend not buying this deck, if for no other reason then because of the Hierophant trump.

 

Lo Scarabeo Elemental Tarot – This deck advertises that it incorporates the energies of the four elements into the four tarot suits, which is what every other esoteric tarot deck ever made does. The deck is highly detailed and well drawn, like any other Lo Scarabeo art deck, however the tone is much darker then what you usually see in these decks. Usually I think that variety helps distinguish these Lo Scarabeo art decks, but in this case I think the deck is worse for it. The deck theme isn’t very exciting and the imagery used for the cards is actually pretty boring. It isn’t just a problem with the theme though, the designer decided to make some pretty boring images. The Devil card for instance is an old woman with horns dancing. That’s really the best idea the artist could come up with for the Devil? The design he went with has nothing to do with the elements so the deck’s theme isn’t even an issue here. The worst part is that isn’t the only card in this deck that the old woman appears on. Anyways the deck has no spiritual value whatsoever. I do not recommend this tarot.

Lo Scarabeo Native American Tarot – The Native American Tarot is an 80 card deck published by Italian company Lo Scarabeo. The deck is designed by Laura Tuan, a prolific designer for Lo Scarabeo designing such decks as the Tarot of Sexual Magic and the Witchy Tarot (you can read my reviews of those decks to get an idea of what I think of Tuan’s abilities). The deck’s artist is Sergio Tisselli.

The two additional cards in this deck represent Mother Earth and Father Sky. There really isn’t any reason for me to go into any more depth about this deck’s design. The deck is nothing more than another Lo Scarabeo art deck, this one being inspired by Native American spirituality and fantasy. There isn’t any spiritual value in these cards, and the Native American spirituality depicted is less authentic than anything the New Age community has ever churned out. The real highlight of this deck though is Tisselli’s artwork. The artwork is as realistic, detailed, and fantastic as you’d expect from a Lo Scarabeo art deck, but Tisselli’s style still manages to be unique and the images are as impressive as they are beautiful. This deck is definitely recommended if you’re a fan of art decks or Tisselli. However this deck fails as an esoteric and spiritual tarot, and so I do not recommend buying this deck.

Lo Scarabeo Tarot – Much like Llewellyn, Lo Scarebo made a tarot with their name on it, and much like Llewellyn it’s what you would expect from a tarot called the Lo Scarabeo tarot. Lo Scarabeo advertises that they have combined together elements of the Waite, Crowley, and Marseilles tarots to create this deck.

The tarot is well drawn, however unlike the Llewellyn tarot it’s done in a more standard style. So despite being well drawn and detailed, the drawings still come off as uninspired and boring. The tarot is largely derivative of other works, although the designer makes some interesting choices with the symbolism and there are a few sparks of creativity and originality in the card design which are really cool, so much so that it’s almost enough to make the deck worth getting.

As far as the design and art go, the knowledge and the talent are definitely there to make a first rate tarot deck. Unfortunately the deck itself seems more like something that was churned out by the marketing department than an actual inspired esoteric, or even purely artistic, tarot deck.

And it’s a shame too, because there are elements of the design I really like and I would’ve loved to have seen the deck move in those directions. If the same talent and energy were directed towards just making a good tarot instead of trying to make a tarot deck that would appeal to the most people, I think this would be one of my most favorite tarots and one of the best tarots of the 21st century. As it stands I find myself on the fence as to whether or not to recommend anyone buy this.

The unique symbolism on some of the cards are interesting, and if you have a lot of tarots and are looking for another one, and don’t mind if it’s largely mediocre, give the Lo Scarabeo tarot a try. If you don’t have that big of a collection though, I’m sure there are much better tarots you could be spending your money on.

The Luciferian Tarot – This is a tarot deck created by Luciferian author Michael W. Ford. The artwork on the trump cards is rather poorly drawn. Not so much that it takes away from the deck, but it might really hurt a better deck. The pip cards aren’t really fully illustrated, although they do have some small images put among the suit symbols. The artwork on court cards are also very limited. Everything is put on a plain black background and the whole thing looks Satanic and menacing in the “someone from my Dungeons and Dragons group drew these evil looking magical images in my basement last night” Satanic and menacing sort of way. In other words its the typical dark yet poorly made imagery that’s been associated with the Satanic/Luciferian movement since its beginnings.

As for the design, some of the trump imagery has been moved around. Baphomet is now on the Hierophant card, not the Devil card. The Empress is naked and riding a many headed dragon much like Crowley’s Lust Card. This image couldn’t go on the strength card because in this deck the strength card is a Wolf standing in the snow by a sword during an eclipse because…On second thought I’m not wasting my time trying to figure this crap out.

The imagery and symbolism on this deck goes from completely misunderstanding the tarot to being just plain laughable. There isn’t much in this deck that is relatable to traditional tarot imagery or concepts. As I understand it, Ford was trying to rework the tarot to make it into a Luciferian tool. I think the tarot could probably express his Luciferian spirituality if he had incorporated it into the existing design (as has been done with other decks that incorporated new spiritualities into the tarot), but his attempt to remold and restructure the tarot doesn’t work at all. Even taking into account that this is a new kind of spiritual deck, or at the very least a major deviation from the tarot, I still find the deck to be shallow with weak symbolism and its spiritual expression seems to be of a limited and immature understanding. I do not recommend this tarot.

Ludvig Tarot – This is a deck created by artist Zsuzsa Ludvig and originally designed for the 1996 International Playing Card Society convention. The deck follows the general style and design of classic woodblock tarots, although the cards do feature some elements of more modern styles and do at times take advantage of modern printing technologies.

The words beautiful and award winning are often times attached to descriptions of this deck. I really don’t see it. It’s a nice enough looking deck in the historical style, but I don’t find myself taken aback by its beauty and I think its inferior to the plethora of historical reproductions that are currently available.

Spiritually the tarot works more or less like a standard Marseilles tarot would. The tarot was not designed specifically for esoteric use, so that’s going to hurt it when compared to tarots that were, but the cards can be adapted for divination and most magical purposes. I’d only go so far as to say this is a good historically themed deck. Still I don’t recommend this tarot.

Lunatic Tarot – China has a large tarot industry. Unfortunately a lot of the tarots coming out of China are unauthorized tarots that use artwork taken from popular anime, manga, and video game sources which is then carelessly applied to the card based on their titles. These decks are then sold as bootleg fan merchandise through out Asia, with from what I hear quite a few of these decks ending up in Japan. It’s such a problem that I had totally given up caring about tarots published in China. It’s not worth the time it takes to find information about and pictures of Chinese tarots unless you’re interested in collecting unofficial anime merchandise. Needless to say I was completely surprised to find out China is also home of one of the greatest original tarots ever drawn, and its completely renewed my interest in the tarots being drawn in this country.

The deck comes in two different editions. The first edition was printed as a large sized tear-out portfolio book. These images featured no borders and the backs contained the title of the cards and an image of the equivalent Rider-Waite card. Later a smaller deck edition was published. This edition added borders and titles to the front of the cards, card backs, and unfortunately had to crop the images to make them fit into the new card size.

The deck’s artwork has an Asian look to it, which isn’t surprising considering where it was made. All of the characters depicted on the cards are Asian, and there are urban fantasy elements like those found in Japanese animation and video games through out the imagery and especially in regards to the costumes being worn by the characters. However that isn’t to say that this deck has an anime or Japanese art style to it.

There actually isn’t any real theme to the deck or its artwork. The artwork on the deck is a standard oil painting design and there aren’t any gimmicks to make it more interesting or sell the deck. The one thing the artwork of this deck has going for it, which is the thing that really sells this deck, is that it has the most realistic and beautiful human figure drawing to ever appear on a tarot. I’ve reviewed hundreds of decks so far for this guide, and I’ve looked at hundreds of other non-spiritual decks that are artistically or historically important, and in the entire history of the tarot no deck has even come close to depicting the human figure as well as its been done in this tarot. The fact that the imagery is also colorful, vibrant, and interesting is really just a bonus, because artistically speaking had this deck stopped at just drawing the human figure in dreary and boring situations it would still be worth buying just to be able to spend hours staring at its beautiful depiction of the human anatomy. I’m really not exaggerating about this deck either. The pip cards are all fully illustrated.

It’s very easy to write this deck off as just an art deck. The urban fantasy imagery usually isn’t seen in spiritual decks, and the artwork in this deck is so well done it makes it hard to focus on anything other than the artwork and see the esoteric symbolism contained in the cards.

The first time I looked at the Magician card I thought he looked like an anime stage magician, and was ready to write the deck off as an art deck myself. After looking at it a few more times though I noticed that, to the side of the magician, he had a box containing the four elemental tools. Then I noticed that the magician was also in a garden, and that beneath him were roses. These are the typical symbols of the Magician card, and a good deal of the spiritual symbolism found in the deck is the typical standard symbolism found in many other decks, but that isn’t to say the deck doesn’t sometimes add new elements too. For instance the magician is also wearing a hat which has French suited playing cards around it. On the picture we can see four of the cards, an ace through four, and each one is a different suit. These correspond to the Italian suits of the tarot which represent the four elements, and once again we get the symbolism of the Magician being a master of the four elements.

The Strength card meanwhile, which is one of my favorite cards, completely reinterprets not just the symbolism of the card, but also its meaning, yet the new meaning fits in with the traditional ideas about the Strength card. The normal Strength card shows the power of the High Priestess in action. Here her ability to adapt and move with the universe becoming what she needs to become allows her to have power over the lion. She is able to open or close the lions mouth, with no fear of injury, not through brute force but because the lion wants to do what she wants it to do. In a sense the two have merged and become of one desire. The lunatic tarot meanwhile shows a woman behind a man. Once again the two have merged together, which is the adaptive power of the High Priestess, but here the purpose isn’t so that their desires are in synch, but rather so the woman can empower the man. Now together as one they are each stronger than when they were separate.

The individual cards are usually light on symbolism. The deck doesn’t try to fit a lot of esoteric symbolism and ideas into the cards. Instead each card picks just a few symbolisms and ideas and presents it very well with a lot of depth. The Chariot card shows a man in what is probably a chariot being drawn by two blindfolded and bound women. The symbolism is straight forward, but the card’s imagery conveys a sense of mastery and control this man has over these two women perfectly encapsulating the meaning of the Chariot. The Seven of Cups meanwhile shows a woman decked out in a leather fetish outfit, which perfectly expresses the debauchery or sexual indulgence of the Seven of Cups.

In fact every time I start to doubt my objectivity and think that maybe I’m only rating this deck so high because of the artwork I’m able to look through the cards and find some new spiritual symbolism or idea that I missed before, and often times it’s something unique that I haven’t seen in other decks. About the only issue I have with this deck’s rating is deciding whether or not to recommend the standard deck or the portfolio edition. The portfolio edition is larger, which is a good thing with such detailed artwork, and the images are uncropped. The backs though make the portfolio edition not very useful for divinatory readings, and although I’m not a huge fan of the borders on the card edition having the titles on the front of the card is convenient.

Ultimately there are advantages to both editions and which is better is largely dependent on why you want this deck. In fact I would really recommend buying both because this deck is good enough to be worth the cost. I highly recommend both the portfolio edition and the standard card edition of this deck.

The Lyle Lovers’ Tarot – This tarot deck, by Jane Lyle, was originally released as a 22 card trump only deck. Several years ago a new addition came out which added the 56 minor arcana to the deck. I’ve only seen samples of the 78-card edition, so my review is primarily directed towards the 22-card deck. But the samples I saw of the minor arcana looked worse than the original trumps, and it also looked as if the pips were not fully illustrated.

The deck claims to have spiritual symbolisms, especially in regards to certain medieval practices, namely astrology and alchemy, but I really don’t see it. It has some spiritual symbolism, but only in the sense that any tarot deck which at least loosely follows the standard tarot designs has some spiritual symbolism just due to the fact that it is a tarot deck. This is really nothing more than an art deck, and a very ugly one at that. I do not recommend buying this tarot.

Maddonni Tarot – This is a weird little tarot published by Grimaud. The designs are very simple and, personally, I find the art style ugly. The tarot follows the traditional tarot imagery, so it may be of some limited spiritual use. However the designs on the cards are very simple, so simple they leave very little room for symbolism and expression, be it artistic or spiritual. In fact a lot of the symbolism of the traditional design has been removed from this deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Magic Manga Tarot – This is a Swiss deck published by AG Muller that uses Japanese style manga based artwork. US Games is trying to pass this off as an esoteric tarot in their advertisments. I don’t understand why they’re doing that.

The deck is an art deck, there is nothing spiritual about it. As an art deck I really don’t know how to rate the deck. The artwork’s fine, and it’s really a celebration of Japanese manga art. But it’s not connected to a specific property. There are a lot of decks like this in Asia. Some are legitimate decks made in Japan, some of which use actual properties and some of which use new artwork in a manga style, but most are unofficial decks made and sold in China. So this deck really doesn’t break any new ground.

Lately Asian decks have been becoming more and more popular with Western collectors. Prior to the mid-90s most collectors weren’t even aware that there were a large number of decks being printed in Japan and China, and there still isn’t much information available about which companies are printing decks or what’s available. Part of the allure of these decks, to collectors, is that they are foreign, and rare, and something that is not usually available in Europe and North America. If you happen to have one of these decks, it’s very likely that you are one of only a handful of people outside of Asia who own a copy. If you buy a copy, so long as you don’t travel too Asia very often, there’s a good chance you’ll never come across a fellow collector who also has a copy. This is why these decks have become so popular, not because there’s a huge crossover between Tarot collectors and anime/manga fans.

AG Muller is no doubt trying to capitalize on the current popularity of Asian decks by producing an Asian styled tarot. Unfortunately though it doesn’t have the allure of an Asian deck because it’s a mass produced Western tarot backed by some of the largest Tarot distributors in Europe and North America. The deck isn’t going to be very appealing to manga and anime fans either since it doesn’t have a property attached to it.

Anyways my criticism of AG Muller’s business practices aside (they really are an awesome company, I just think they made a mistake here), this tarot has no spiritual value, so of course I’m not recommending it.

The Magic Tarot – This is a 22-card trump only tarot that was originally published in France as Le Tarot Magique in 1980. An English language version was released in the United States in 1982. The tarot features magical symbols on each of the cards.

To start this deck is going to be of limited use because its a trump only deck. Secondly the cards in this deck are not illustrated. I’m not saying they’re not fully illustrated, I’m saying there really aren’t any illustrations at all on these cards. The cards use a plain white background on to which a few colored symbols are printed. The deck features yin yangs, pentagrams, stars, and the like. I suppose it’s supposed to have some sort of magical or initiationary use, but it doesn’t. The cards don’t really do anything. I tried using them for spell work, and they don’t work nearly as well as a real tarot card. I tried pulling energy off them, and they have less energy than a typical painting would. I’m not talking about an esoteric painting either, I’m talking about any kind of painting. Hell, the first panel in the newest Batman comic probably has more energy in it than the strongest card in this deck.

I don’t have anything else to say about this deck. There’s not really much to do this deck. It’s just some symbols on a card. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Magickal Tarot – The Magickal Tarot is one of those hard to find tarots that magicians drool over even though it isn’t very good and is far inferior to magical decks that are currently in print and easily obtainable.

To start, the imagery on this deck is very limited. The cards put images on a white background, and most cards feature quite a bit of white. Also taking up space are words, Hebrew letters, and other spiritual symbols. Magicians see this stuff and think it gives the deck magical power or spiritual depth or something. What it’s really doing, since it’s just a random symbol and not actually incorporated into the image, is taking up space on the card so there is less room left for the image. That isn’t a big problem with this deck though. Even with all the symbols the artist still can’t seem to use up all the space still left on the cards.

To get an idea of the actual symbolism of these cards, let me describe a random card, the three of disks. The border features the roman numeral three and the word disks along with the alchemical sign for Earth in each corner. The card has two circles, one within another. Inside the smaller circle is the alchemical sign for earth with a Hebrew letter in it (my Hebrew sucks and I’m at the mercy of my notes which I don’t feel like getting out). In between the two circles are drawn three small trees. The top of the circle says Lord of Works and on the bottom is some Hebrew. Beneath that it says Binah and then there’s an anvil and the astrological associations of the card. More than half the card is the white background.

I could try to interpret this card, but it’s rather simple. Most of the card is just the typical associations of the card, such as the Disks being the earth suit, the Threes being associated with Binah, and the astrological associations of the card. Obviously the Anvil is related to the idea of work. About the only interesting part about the card are the trees, but the deck seems to associate trees with the Disk cards as if that’s its suit symbol. There’s three because it’s the third card. Trees are part of nature and earthy, thus Earth. It’s a rather limited understanding of the concept.

This card isn’t atypical of the deck. You might think that it’s a weak card because it’s a pip and this deck concentrates on its trump cards, but the trumps aren’t much more detailed. I’d estimate that at best a trump may have twice as much, maybe two and a half times as much, imagery as a pip card.

As you can see, this isn’t a very detailed deck, it’s imagery is very limited, shallow, and mostly consists of common associations. This deck tries to sell itself as a magical tool specifically designed for ceremonial magicians, much the same way that other bad decks try to sell themselves as meditational tools. Just about any good spiritual tarot deck can be used as a magical tool, and many were designed specifically for ceremonial magicians, like the super popular Crowley Thoth and Rider-Waite Tarots. Unlike this tarot though those are actually excellent tarots with detailed images, lots of symbolism and depth, and they can be used for divination, meditation, for esoteric knowledge, or just about anything else you can use a tarot for. I do not recommend this tarot deck.

Margarete Petersen Tarot – Two editions of this deck were made. The original German Edition featured black borders and German language titles. The International version featured a lighter border and English Language titles. At a glance, the deck’s artwork is reminiscent of the Haindl Tarot. However several of the cards in this deck have much finer details than the Haindl Tarot, and the imagery isn’t blended together as much. Also several of the cards seem to have more of a science-fiction feel to them.

The design of the cards is completely original, and it contains a lot of new concepts and ideas. For the most part the imagery works with the traditional meanings of the cards, however this isn’t always the case, and sometimes the imagery becomes so abstract that I really can’t objectively say how well it fits the card.

The deck’s originality is its strongest point. Unfortunately though it does make some choices which aren’t going to mesh well with everyone. It’s really a deck where you have to look through some of the sample images, because the imagery is going to draw about as many people to the deck as it pushes away. Still it looks beautiful, the artwork is unique, and it contains a lot of original spiritual ideas. That’s really more than enough for me. I recommend this tarot.

Marseilles Tarot – The Marseilles tarot pattern is one of the best known tarot patterns. Approximately 400 years old, new variations on the pattern are still being developed today. The pattern was originally designed to be mass produced on woodcuts and then hand-colored.

The Marseilles pattern is a French tarot pattern that uses the Italian suits (The standard tarot suits of wands, cups, swords and coins are the Italian suits. The French suits are clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds). It’s generally believed that the basic elements of the design were developed in Italy and then were brought to France. In the 19th century the pattern came to Italy from France and several Italian cardmakers began publishing Marseilles pattern decks. Despite its long history the pattern wasn’t named until the late 19th century, and the name refers to the city of Marseilles, France, a prominent French card making center through out the 17th and 18th centuries.

There are some slight deviations in the cards between different manufacturers, especially since the pattern was produced for so long, although all of the decks in the pattern more or less follow the same design. The use of wood blocks to mass produce the cards instead of having every one hand painted made playing cards affordable for the common person, but they were still a very expensive purchase. It would be the equivalent of buying a brand new video game system today. And the same way you wouldn’t throw out your Playstation 3 because a controller broke or the hard drive failed, a couple hundred years ago you wouldn’t toss out your deck of cards because one of the cards was damaged, or lost, or worn out. You’d just go out and purchase a single new card to replace it.

Because of this the mass produced decks made for the masses had to be more or less alike so that customers could replace single cards as needed. So the Marseilles pattern has remained largely unchanged for all of its existence. The pattern was superceded by advances in printing technology in the 19th century, although the pattern has remained popular and new Marseilles decks are still created today.

Due to the patterns large and long popularity in France, it became an influence on many later tarot designs (such as the DellaRocca pattern). The Marseilles pattern was also the tarot that was being worked with by the early French Ceremonial Magicians in the late 18th century, and it was this tarot design that was eventually introduced into England as an esoteric tool, leading to the Marseilles pattern becoming the foundation of most modern occult tarots.

It’s good to have at least one Marseilles deck as a reference, but don’t expect to see too much of a difference between the different decks. The main difference you’ll notice is going to be between reproductions (which are basically copies of old decks, fades and all), restorations (which take an old decks and clean them up so they look like they probably did when they were new) and new decks which use modern printing technology.

Spiritually most people probably won’t need more than one of these decks, or maybe two if the first one they bought was a crappy one. The decks are mostly of interest to people who collect historical Marseilles pattern decks, many who enjoy hunting for slight variations between the different decks.

-Heron Conver Marseilles – If you want a historical Marseilles deck, I really suggest getting this one. The Conver version is a late era Marseilles deck first published in the middle of the 18th century, and one of the most popular versions of the Marseilles pattern. The Conver version of the Marseilles tarot is also the version that was first used by French magicians when they originally started to develop the spiritual theories surrounding the tarot. I highly recommend this tarot.

-Lo Scarebo Conver Marseilles – This is another reproduction, similar to the Heron one, although I believe it’s sourced from a different physical deck. I’m not sure if this deck is still in print, but it was not too long ago. Taken on its own I recommend getting this deck, but I don’t recommend it over the Heron version.

-Camoin Conver Bicentenial – This reproduction of the Conver Marsellies was produced by Camoin in the mid-70s and is pretty hard to find and sought after by collectors. This is a good edition of the Conver Marseilles, and the only reason why I don’t recommend getting this edition is because both Heron and Lo Scarabeo have editions which are much cheaper and easier to find.

-Thunder Bay Conver Marseilles – Now out of print, this deck is a bit of an oddity. Publisher Thunder Bay reprinted a Conver Marseille to package as a generic tarot with an unnotable book on tarot divination they published. The deck was never really marketed towards the collectors of historical reproductions and restorations who would have liked to have bought this deck and so the original sales of the deck were limited to those lucky few who stumbled upon it. I don’t recommend this edition, but only because it’s difficult to find and several other editions of the Conver Marseilles are available.

-Dusere Dodal Marseilles – First created in the middle of the 17th century, the Jean Dodal version of the Marsellies deck, one of the major versions of the pattern, is the oldest known Marseilles version of which a complete deck still exists today.

Released in 1990, the Editions Duserre reproduction is now out of print. It’s a must have deck for collectors of Marseilles pattern reproductions, especially since it’s a reproduction of the oldest complete Marseilles deck in existence, but I don’t think it’ll be of too much interest to anyone else, especially considering its similarities to other Marseilles decks which are more easily obtainable and because of the condition of the very old cards which were reproduced. As a spiritual tarot this deck is not recommended.

-US Games Dodal Marseille – This is a restoration of the Dodal tarot done by US games. In regards to the colors, language, and even the lines, the restoration isn’t very faithful to the Dodal cards off of which they are based, and the deck is largely disliked by collectors of historical reproductions. This tarot is not recommended.

-Flornoy Jean Dodal Tarot –Jean-Claude Flornoy has independently released restorations of a couple of Marsellies decks, including the Jean Dodal Marseilles. Two different versions of this tarot exist, both a full 78 card edition and a 22-card trump only hand colored version released in two limited editions. Flornoy’s restorations are well researched, meticulous, and some of the best on the market. This is a must buy for fans of historical restorations, especially since the 78 card edition of this deck is still in print right now. However once again this probably won’t be too useful to anyone who isn’t a collector who likes historical restorations. As a spiritual tarot, I do not recommend this deck.

-Lo Scarebo Burdel Marseille – The Burdel version is another major version of the Marseilles tarot created in the middle of the 18th century. This is actually a full restoration of the deck, and I’m not too sure how true it is to Burdel’s original design. I’m also not a huge fan of the Burdel version, so as you can guess this is far from my favorite Marseille deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Universal Tarot of Marseille – This is Lo Scarebo’s attempt to update the Burdel version of the Marseilles pattern. Based off of the Burdel deck, this deck features new colors and other additions to the cards made possible with modern printing technology. I got this deck and a few others for $3 each when Lleweylnn had an online clearance sale years ago, and I’d say it’s worth exactly what I paid for it, no more and no less. I do not recommend this tarot.

-AG Muller Burdel – This is supposedly a restored version of the Burdel Marseilles, but I’ve heard rumors that it’s actually based on a different deck. A lot of historical collectors dislike this deck, and it’s even worse for me because I don’t really care for Burdel decks. Plus this deck just looks ugly to me. I do not recommend this tarot.

-France Cartes Marteau Marsellie – Sold as the Ancien Tarot de Marseille, this is France Cartes’ version of the Marteau version of the Marseille tarot. The Marteau version was created by card historian and collector Paul Marteau and first published in 1930. This was a new version of the pattern based on Marteau’s extensive research on historical decks. The deck is still in print (once again despite what some ebay people claim) although it needs to be imported from France. If you’re looking for a good Marseilles deck for general use, this is actually a really good choice. The deck is easy to find and nicely priced, and because the design is less than 100 years old, the cards are all vibrant and new while still true to their original design and not faded like many of the reproductions listed here. I highly recommend this tarot.

-Grimaud Marteau Tarot – This is just the older version of the Marteau tarot which was published by Grimaud from 1970 up until Grimaud was acquired by France Cartes. I haven’t seen this version of the deck, but so far I haven’t heard that there are any differences between the Grimaud and France Cartes versions of the deck.

-Dussere Marteau – Editions Dussere also released a version of the Marteau tarot in 1990 which was a reproduction of one of the original 1930 Grimaud copies of the deck. The Dussere version has some variations from the France Cartes version, such as the tone of some of the colors. The deck is now out of print and difficult to find. Once again it probably isn’t worth getting for anyone who doesn’t collect Marseilles reproductions. As a spiritual tarot, I do not recommend this deck.

-Paitnik Krebs Marseilles – The Krebs version of the Marseilles pattern is one of the minor versions and of little historical interest. This deck by Paitnik is a reproduction of a Krebs deck. I honestly don’t know where, or when, or why I bought this deck, and forgot I even had it before I started writing this article, but I suspect that it was an impulse buy. It’s a nice reproduction, but I believe it’s now out of print, and I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble to find a copy. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Tarot Rhenan – I’m not sure what this is. I found this listed online as another Krebs Marseilles. It’s also listed as being published by Paitnik. Paitnik also published the Krebs Marseilles that I have (which is definitely a Krebs Marseilles), which is sold as the “Tarot de Marseille”. It seems unlikely that Paitnik would have two reproductions of the same deck for sale at the same time, especially a deck as unpopular as the Krebs Marseilles. It’s possible that this is the same tarot being sold under a different name for different regions. If anyone knows the story behind these two decks, please leave a comment.

-Flornoy Jean Noblet Tarot – The Jean Noblet version of the Marseilles pattern is another one of the major version. It’s also one of the two Marsellies decks that Jean Claude Flornoy has decided to do full restorations of. Flornoy has released two different versions of this deck, a full 78 card edition and a 22 card hand colored trump edition (I’m not sure if the 22 card deck is a limited edition like with Florony’s Dodal tarot). Just like the Dodal tarot, this tarot is well researched and one of the best tarot restorations on the market. Unfortunately the deck may be out of print now, but I’m not sure of that. If you can find it, it’s a must buy for anyone interested in historical restorations. As a spiritual tarot though it doesn’t really offer much over the Conver or Marteau designs, and so I’m going to have to not recommend this deck.

-il Meneghello Marseilles – This deck is sold as the Classico Tarocco di Marsiglia, and was released in two limited editions in 1987 and 1996. The deck is a historical reproduction of a Marseilles pattern design that is very similar to the Swiss Jean Proché Marseilles. This is an excellent quality reproduction and up to the normal high standards of il Meneghello decks, however the deck is of minor historical importance and of limited magical and divinatory use, especially when compared to the Conver and Marteau Marseilles which are both still in print. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Heron Payen Marseilles – This tarot is sold as the Tarot of Nostrodamus. It’s a liberal restoration and redrawing of the Payen version of the Marseilles tarot, another minor version of the pattern. The restoration doesn’t stay too true to the original, and collectors mainly put up with it because so far it is the only version of the Payen Marseilles that has been released. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Lo Scarabeo Bolognese Zoni Marseilles – Sold as the Ancient Tarot of Bologna, this is a reproduction of a late 18th century Italian Marseilles pattern deck. I bought this deck because I thought the death card looked cool. I’m not a huge fan of the rest of this deck, and it’s far from my favorite Marseilles. The deck isn’t very useful for divinatory readings or esoteric study, and it’s of minor historical importance, although fans of historical reproductions of Marseilles decks might like it. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Rodes & Sanchez Marseilles – This is a recent version of the Marseilles pattern by Spanish historians Daniel Rodes and Encarna Sanchez. The patterns was well researched and the deck is generally well liked. It’s a nice version of the Marseilles pattern, but I believe the deck is out of print and may be hard to find. Normally I would recommend this tarot, but I’m going to downgrade it to a low recommendation because of its lack of availability.

-Fournier Marseilles – This is another recent version of the Marseilles pattern published by Fournier. The deck follows the basic Marseilles design, but through the power of modern printing technology uses much more vivid and vibrant colors. I’m not a huge fan of this tarot and think it looks pretty ugly. My friend calls this the gumball tarot because it looks like it’s raining gumballs on the tower card. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Camion-Jodorowsky Marseilles – Yet another recent version of the Marseilles pattern, this one designed by French historians. The deck aims to reconstruct the original Marseilles design and the designers studied many different Marseilles decks to recreate the pattern, although the designers seem to be largely influenced by the Conver version. I think this deck looks beautiful and this is my favorite modern recreation of the Marseilles patterns. I’m not sure if this is still in print, but if you’re looking for a Marseilles tarot this is a good choice. I recommend this tarot.

-Hadar Marseille – Another modern version of the Marseilles pattern which wishes to recreate its original design. This one is done by Kris Hadar. I really don’t know much more about Hadar or this deck in particular, except that it’s generally been well recieved. It is a nice deck. Although it is a must buy for collectors of Marseilles tarots, I don’t believe this deck offers anything spiritually over the myriad of other Marseilles tarots on the market, so I’m not recommending this tarot.

-Plenata Tarot of Marseilles – This is a Brazilian Marseilles tarot from the early 60s. The card titles are all in Portuguese. The tarot follows a standard Marseilles design, and it’s been speculated that this deck is most likely based off of a Conver Marseilles or a close derivative. Unless you’re a native Portuguese speaker this deck doesn’t really offer anything over other Marseilles tarots. This deck is not recommended.

-il Libro Completo dei Tarocchi – This is another modern take on the Marseilles pattern tarot. The deck uses modern printing techniques, and I’m pretty sure it was done in colored pencils. The artwork is very crude and amateurish, and is completely uninteresting. The colors used are bright and bland. The deck looks horrible. Metaphysically the deck doesn’t add anything to the Marseilles design, so it’s about as useful as any other Marseilles pattern deck. With so many Marseilles pattern tarots on the market that look nice and have first rate artwork on the cards, I’m not recommending this tarot.

-Tarot Marsylski – This is a miniature sized modern Marseilles pattern tarot created in Poland, and the deck serves as proof that not every tarot made in Poland is great. Normally I’d knock off points for the small card size since a normal sized deck isn’t available, but in the case of this deck it managed to lose its recommendation even before I considered the size of the cards. With so many good historical recreations and modern designs of the Marseilles pattern available, it’s really hard for me to give a recommendation to a Marseilles style deck. It really has to be something special. This deck however is just plain ugly and one of the worst examples of the Marseilles pattern that I’ve seen. With so many good modern Marseilles designs available there isn’t really a reason for one of this low a quality to exist. I do not recommend this tarot.

-Tarot de Marseille Convos – Another modern version of the Marseilles pattern. Once again I don’t know much about this deck or who made it. But it’s ugly. Very, very ugly. The ugliest version of the Marseilles tarot on this list. I do not recommend this tarot.

Masonic Tarot Deck – This is one of those decks that Ebay people try to say are out of print. The deck is still being published by France Cartes and can be ordered through them, but it needs to be imported since there are no distributors in the US.

If you look at a few sample cards this deck looks really cool. There are these super detailed images full of magical symbolism and the designer redesigned all of the cards with unique ideas not seen in other decks. Unfortunately it’s more flash than substance.

Pull a few random cards from the deck, and they look really cool. Start to look at the entire deck at once though and the cards don’t look so cool anymore, and if you start studying the individual pictures you’ll notice that they aren’t all that well drawn either.

The symbolism is the most important part though, but unfortunately the deck fails here too. It looks really interesting and deep when you’re just glancing at the cards, but when you start to study them and delve into the symbolism, you’ll notice it’s actually pretty shallow and obvious.

The Magician for example looks really symbolic and mystical. It’s actually one of the most common sample card used for the deck because it’s one of the strongest and best looking cards in the deck, and it’s also the card that convinced me to buy this deck. The card features a figure (it’s male but it’s oddly colored and missing a face and genitals, so I wouldn’t call it a man), who is wearing an amulet and holding a staff, sword, and chalice (the four elemental tools). The four elements, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth are also all swirling around him (which is repetitive symbolism since the magician is shown with the elemental tools). The magician meanwhile is green and some sort of plant. He’s connected to the world with roots growing into it as he rises up above it. In other words he’s connected to and part of the physical world but rises up to the heavens. There is a serpent beneath the magician which symbolizes knowledge. That’s all of the imagery and symbolism contained in the magician card. There is nothing else. I’ll admit the bit about being a plant and rising to the heavens is cool, but by itself it isn’t enough to make the card worthwhile. The symbolism is rather limited, obvious, and basic, and it’s no where near as deep or informative as the card appears to be at a glance.

The deck looks cool initially, but it turns to crap when you actually try to use if for something and even the artwork doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny. Due to a few interesting and unique ideas though I’m going to remain on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Masenghini Tarot – Sold as the Masenghini Tarocchino Milanese, this is the Del Negro reproduction of the late 19th century Masenghini Tarot. The Masenghini is a fairly typical metal plate engraved tarot which more or less follows the standard Marseilles pattern deck design. Because it follows a standard tarot design it does have some limited magical and esoteric use, although not nearly as much as a good tarot designed specifically for esoteric use. The deck also doesn’t look as good as, or have the historical importance of, earlier engraved plate tarots, such as the DellaRocca. The deck is really only valuable to collectors of historical reproductions. I do not recommend buying this deck.

Master Tarot – Published by US Games, this is a well drawn Christian themed tarot deck. The deck features no suits, although it does split the cards up into three divisions, trumps, court cards, and pips. The court and pip cards are just numbered though, like the trumps.

Due to the major structural changes, the deck really isn’t a tarot anymore. Only the trump cards are relatable to the traditional tarot, and even that is hit or miss. The twelfth trump, for instance, is the Whip, which I’m guessing refers to Christ being tortured prior to the crucifixion and that kind of makes sense. However the sixteenth trump is Munch’s famous Scream painting. What that has to do with the Star, or even Christianity for that matter, I’m not even going to begin to try to figure out.

The pip cards don’t fare much better. Sometimes I’m able to figure them out, but when I do they’re usually some form of empty, clichéd Christian preaching. The Four for instance is Absent Promises and shows a lot of pop culture media references including Superman, Batman, Mickey Mouse, a cell phone, camel cigarettes, a naked woman which I assume is pornography, and what I think is a television with Dick Cheney on it. Other cards I think are nonsensical. The Eleven card for instance is Father and Mother, which I’ll admit may have meaning in Christianity, but the image for the card is Wood’s American Gothic. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean other than the fact that the designers were too lazy to come up with 78 original designs so they swiped some public domain paintings.

Anyways its not a very good tarot and its useless as a magical tool. Even as a Christian spiritual aid it seems at times nonsensical and at other times too preachy and negative for most Christian’s tastes. I do not recommend this tarot.

Medicine Woman Tarot – This is a deck based in Native American and Hawaiian (I guess because they’re sort of Native Americans and should be included too) spirituality. The artwork on the cards is amateurish yet adequate, however it’s lacking in detail. All of the cards are set against white backgrounds which usually take up a third or more of the card. The pips are fully illustrated.

The deck doesn’t depict real Native American spirituality but rather depicts the New Age version of Native American spirituality. Not only that, but the deck is based in the most cliche, naive, and ignorant form of New Age Native American spirituality that exists.

The cards do not follow the traditional tarot meanings, and it seems like the deck designer was mostly ignorant about these meanings. Instead each card is based in a New Age concept that in some way fits with the title of the card while an effort is also made to somehow fit something Native American on the card too. Even when you forgive the fact that this deck is divorced from traditional tarot designs and meanings, the new card designs are entirely straight forward and don’t contain any spiritual symbolism or subtext.

The spirituality espoused by this deck is also incredibly shallow, and I’m not saying that because this is a New Age deck. I have a great deal of respect for the New Age movement, and New Age practices can be very deep, effective, and spiritual. However this deck is representative of the worst part of the New Age movement. It’s the part that takes something that is considered spiritual or sacred, makes no attempt to understand it or the spiritual context it exists within, and then packages it in order to sell spirituality all the time endorsing the idea that true enlightenment is gained by embracing a few key buzzwords.

I think it goes without saying, but I do not recommend this tarot.

Medieval Scapini Tarot – The artist Luigi Scapini was originally commissioned by US Games to create a few new cards to replace the missing cards in Bembo’s Visconti-Sforza Tarot. After completing that job Scapini felt inspired to create an entirely new tarot in the Visconti-Sforza style.

The Medieval Scapini Tarot is a beautiful tarot done in a 15th century style. If you like either of Bembo’s historical tarots, the Visconti-Sforza or the Cary-Yale, for their artistic beauty, you’ll no doubt fall in love with this modern recreation of the style.

However keep in mind that, despite claims to the contrary by some of its fans, this is an art deck. It was always intended to be an art deck and has no actual spiritual or historical value. As such the deck is recommended as an art deck, but is not recommended as a spiritual or historical deck.

Merlin Tarot – This is a tarot deck based in Arthurian mythology. The artwork is well drawn and fairly detailed. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

Released in 1988, this deck is too new to excuse the fact that the pip cards are not fully illustrated. Not only are the not fully illustrated, and for no good reasons, but the designs that are used, with the exception of the aces, are extremely simple and not colored. A modern tarot should always have fully illustrated pips unless there is a good reason not to use them, and even as early as 1988 a deck without fully illustrated pips would not be competitive on the market.

As for the deck itself, it seems like more of an art deck then anything else (which makes the pip card designs even worse in my opinion). The pip cards do contain divinatory meanings, most of which are more or less correct, so I’m assuming it was meant for some sort of spiritual use. The card designs do not contain much in terms of esoteric symbolism or spiritual meaning though, and what is present is due to the elements and symbols of the traditional tarot which have been incorporated into this design. For instance the Magician is seen with the four elemental tools.

All in all this is a deck with limited spiritual use. None of the changes or additions that have been made to the tarot in this deck add any spiritual or esoteric meaning, and any spiritual or esoteric meaning found in this deck is derivative of other, better, tarot decks. I do not recommend this tarot.

Miracle Tarot – The Miracle Tarot is a Japanese tarot deck created by manga artist Reiko Shimitsu. The artwork is done in an anime style with bright and usually soft colors and the entire deck is beautifully drawn. The pip cards are not fully illustrated The tarot was one of the first Japanese imports to become widely available in the US, which is the reason for much of its popularity.

Spiritual meanings and symbolisms are completely absent in all but a few cards in this deck, and even then it seems as if the symbolism is more accidental than anything else. This deck was obviously meant to be an art deck, not a magical tool, and it turned out to be a really good art deck. As a magical tarot though I do not recommend this deck.

Miss Cleo’s Tarot Power – This tarot was promoted by the infamous Jamaican psychic Miss Cleo, an actress, conman, and the television spokeswoman for the Psychic Friends Network. The deck was sold as part of a book and video set designed to teach tarot divination and was mass produced for distribution primarily through Walgreens stores. Shortly after the release of the set the Psychic Friends Network became embroiled in legal problems over fraudulent business practices which ultimately exposed Miss Cleo to be Los Angeles born actress Youree Dell Harris. As a result the set was pulled from store shelves.

The deck is exactly what you’d expect from a telephone psychic. It’s a low quality product which was marketed to make a few bucks off of other people’s spirituality. The imagery on this tarot is not only uninteresting, but it is one of the ugliest decks I’ve ever seen. The artist actually has some skill, and I’ve seen tarot decks that were drawn by far less capable people, but the entire deck looks rushed and wreaks of very little effort.

The deck design itself isn’t much better than the artwork. The deck features an Egyptian theme, probably to tie into the myth that the tarot was developed in Egypt. Some of the cards are clearly derivative of other decks such as the three of cups. Other cards seem like nothing more than an attempt to draw some Egyptian themed imagery which somehow relates to the title of the card. This is the case with the Death trump which shows a man kneeling before Anubis who holds an Ankh in his hand. Needless to say the deck lacks any symbolism, depth, or spiritual meaning. I don’t recommend buying this deck.

Monolith Graphics Gothic Tarot – The Vargo Gothic Tarot is based in dark themes, horror films, and Gothic settings. The deck’s artwork is fairly well drawn, if a bit minimalistic, and makes heavy use of Blacks and Grays, often to the exclusion of other colors. The deck’s art style may prove very appealing to some, but just as many people are probably going to be completely turned off by it. My biggest issue with the artwork is that although the images on the cards are completely different, the deck is overly consistent with a lot of the cards sharing a very similar style and not looking very distinct. There doesn’t seem to be much spiritual depth to the cards at all, and this deck is really best classified as an art deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Moonprincess Himiko Tarot – This is the second tarot designed by Japanese astrologer Moonprincess Himiko. The artwork was done by Japanese graphic artist Ayumi Kasai. The artwork is highly detailed and both in the art style and of the high quality that one would expect from a professional graphic artist. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

Esoteric symbolism seems non-existent within the deck. Even the traditional symbols have mostly been removed from the cards. Since she is a professional astrologer and this was sold as a divinatory deck I was expecting more from Moonprincess Himiko. It’s especially strange considering her other deck has a much more traditional design and retains much of the traditional tarot meaning and symbolism. I can only guess that Kasai was given free reign to do whatever she wanted with this deck and that Himiko simply wrote a tarot divination book to accompany it.

The deck is really nothing more than an Ayumi Kasai art deck. The artwork isn’t bad, in fact many of the pictures are interesting in their own right, but the comic book style artwork has already been done to death by Italian tarot designers, and its hard for me to get excited about yet another comic book styled art deck. As a magical tool the deck is spiritually bereft. I do not recommend this tarot.

Morgan-Greer Tarot – The artwork is in this deck is well drawn, although I’m not a huge fan of the style, and it does have a very late 70s hippie-Pagan vibe to it. Whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing is really going to depend on the person. The artwork is bright and vibrant, and the deck does feature some nudity, but not more than most decks.

The deck is often times considered a Rider-Waite clone, which may not be entirely fair. Many of the cards are very similar to the Rider-Waite design. The Magician for instance is still in a garden with the four elemental tools. The tulips and roses are present, as is the infinite sign over head, although the table blocks the magicians left hand so it’s unclear if it’s pointing to the ground (but it could be). Almost all of the Rider-Waite imagery and symbolism has been preserved in the Morgan-Greer Tarot, and the only addition to the card is that the Magician is now sporting a 70s porn star mustache.

However some cards are very different from the Rider-Waite. The Wheel of Fortune for instance shows a wheel with a king and queen sitting on top. The wheel is turned by a handle, and the handle is being controlled by a hand which is presumably the hand of god. The wheel has just been turned landing the king and queen on top, and the last occupant is seen falling having been thrown off the wheel while it was turning. The card of course represents random changes of fortune which is one of the meanings of the card. Some might interpret the fact that God is controlling the wheel as implying that the changes in fortune are due to the divine will of god and that, through god’s will, the universe is an entirely just and ordered place, which although spiritually debatable is contrary to the meaning and concept of the tenth trump. However it could be argued, and I personally believe, that the addition of the hand of god has a much more literal interpretation. Its in reference to the fact that the Wheel of Fortune card also encompasses “acts of God”, and although a bit vague, it’s a cute little piece of imagery I like.

Although in a lot of ways similar to the Rider-Waite, the Morgan-Greer still has a lot of unique imagery and ideas and is really its own deck. It’s far from my favorite deck, but I do like it even if I don’t much care for its hippie-Pagan ambiance, and I can see how certain people may form a very strong connection with this deck. I recommend this tarot.

Motherpeace Tarot – The Motherpeace tarot was the first tarot printed on round disks. Initially I wasn’t going to review any round tarots in this guide, because that’s bullshit and I don’t want to encourage that behavior, but ultimately I decided that I would rather speak my mind about these tarots. Have you ever tried to shuffle a round tarot? Or work with it? Notice how if you try to lay a round tarot out in a spread on a square table (or even a round one for that matter) you end up with a lot of wasted space. Playing cards were made square for a reason. Some earlier card maker who had a little bit of common sense noticed that, considering all of the shapes a card could be, the most utilitarian shape was by far the rectangle. If you lack the intelligence and common sense to understand very basic geometry, then don’t try to reinvent the wheel with your card design. Just copy what the great masters realized centuries ago, squares are better than any other shape.

The designers of this deck describe themselves as radical feminists, and they come from an era, the 1970s, when extreme feminism was more acceptable. They based the Motherpeace Tarot on the idea that the traditional tarot design was imbalanced and far too masculine, and so there tarot was meant to rebalance the tarot. Normally I’d argue that the tarot was never imbalanced, at least in the traditional occult designs, but I’d rather just focus on how these women “fixed” the tarot. Even conceding the fact that the tarot was imbalanced before, their solution was to remove everything that might have been perceived as masculine from the tarot and replace it with a feminine counterpart. Anything masculine that remains has been misappropriated as feminine. This tarot deck is an extension of extreme feminist ideologies that does not seek equality, but rather tries to promote the dominance and superiority of women, and that views anything masculine as being inferior, non-existent, or actually belonging to women.

In their biography these women claim to have started work on this deck less than a year after first being introduced to the tarot. I know that after studying the tarot for a full year I still lacked any real understanding of it and hadn’t even begun to grasp the concepts behind it. I couldn’t accurately explain a single card let alone design an entire deck. The fact that these women were able to make a deck after knowing about the tarot for less than a year is amazing. Or they no nothing about tarot and threw some crap together. That seems the most likely scenario considering the fact that they couldn’t figure out that cards needed to be rectangular.

These women also claim to have degrees in history and anthropology, and one is even a college professor, or says she is. Meanwhile on their webpage they promote historical myths about the tarot. They talk about how no one knows its origins (late medieval Italy) or that it was brought into Europe by Gypsies (for feminists they’re awfully un-PC, those are Romanis, and they didn’t even start using tarot until the 19th century). These are myths that the academic fields of history and anthropology disproved long ago, before either of these women were even born in fact. These women are so ignorant about anything having to do with tarot that they can’t even get right the basic factual information that pertains to the specific academic fields they studied in college.

These women do claim to be intuitive, and this is an intuitive designed tarot. In the magic community, especially when these women were active, intuitive means that you don’t have to learn anything or try to grow intellectually or spiritually. Instead you remain ignorant and attempt to feel things out, and its always right because everything is right and everything’s an illusion or some bullshit. That kind of thinking is what leads to circle cards.

This deck lacks esoteric knowledge, spiritual value, magical energy, or even having been designed by someone who knew anything about tarot or even had a bit of intelligence. This has become the joke tarot of the community, and the prime example of a poorly made tarot. Everything from the extreme feminism to the circular cards screams poor design. It’s as if they were not content to just make a bad tarot, they had to find new and creative ways to make it bad. This deck is highly not recommended.

My Tarot – My Tarot is a black and white version of the Sharman-Casseli Tarot meant to be colored in by the owner however they please. The Sharman-Casseli tarot is nothing more than an uninspired Rider-Waite clone that doesn’t add anything to Waite’s design. My suggestion with that tarot was to spend a few extra dollars and buy a Rider-Waite tarot instead.

All in all My Tarot is probably better than the Sharman-Caselli Tarot because it’s also a coloring book, and that at least adds something to the tarot which is not already found in the much superior Rider-Waite tarot. However I am not going to rate this deck higher because it is making me do more work to have a complete tarot. This tarot also suffers from all of the same issues as other coloring book tarots, namely that the colors have a tendency to smear when the deck is stored or shuffled unless you go through the added trouble of laminating each of the cards. As was the case with the Sharman-Casseli Tarot, I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot in the Land of Mystereum – Two editions of this deck have been released. The first edition was titled the Mystereum Tarot. The second edition included some revisions, used larger sized cards, and was packaged in a boxed set. This edition was titled Tarot in the Land of Mystereum.

Mystereum Tarot – I was really excited about this deck when I first saw it. The large and colorful images I saw looked really cool and full of symbolism. Unfortunately the cards are really small. The tarot is smaller than a pocket sized tarot. Not only that, but the images don’t seem like they were designed for such small cards. A lot of the objects in the images are very tiny and I have to strain my eyes to make them out.

As for the symbolism of the deck, it looks much better in the sample pictures than it does in the actual tarot. The card designs are usually unique, and sometimes there is even unique symbolism within the card, but usually the symbolism is rather tired and shallow, and this is always the case with the spiritual concepts and ideas expressed in the cards. Ultimately the deck is more flash than substance. I will admit that I didn’t give this tarot a fair chance by spending a great deal of time trying to study it, but that’s because I probably need reading glasses and it hurts my eyes to look at the cards. I don’t recommend this tarot.

Tarot in the Land of Mystereum – On the plus side, this edition uses larger cards, which was my biggest complaint of the previous edition. Unfortunately though the deck design hasn’t been improved. I do not recommend this tarot.

Mystic Tarot – This tarot, sometimes referred to as the Mystic Meg Tarot, is marketed as being somehow connected UK psychic Mystic Meg. I don’t know anything about Mystic Meg beyond what I read on her Wikipedia page, but she is supposedly one of the more famous psychics in the UK despite the fact that she’s completely unknown in the US, which is why the deck’s name was probably shortened to just the Mystic Tarot in the US. Needless to say I had very low expectations for this deck as every other psychic designed or endorsed deck I’ve seen has been an uninspired design done with poor artwork and cheaply made.

My first thought when I looked at the deck was that it looked a lot like the Elemental Tarot. It turns out that this deck was actually designed and drawn by the artist of the Element Tarot, thus the similarities. I was surprised the deck’s creator, Caroline Smith, who is a real tarot creator was willing to work on a psychic’s deck, since they almost always turn out bad. I was also surprised that the people behind this tarot hired a real designer to work on it instead of just hiring some hack to draw the deck and then trying to sell it on the merits of its branding. I’m also wondering what Mystic Meg had to do with this deck, but I’m guessing nothing.

Unlike the Elemental Tarot, which was a very unique deck, this deck is fairly standard. The designs on the trumps are solid but for the most part the cards only contain standard imagery and symbolism. The pip cards meanwhile are not fully illustrated.

All in all it’s a solid deck, although due to the unillustrated pips it’s not a good deck for reading for others, which is ironic considering the fact that this deck is being marketed by a professional psychic. Due to the similar style and artwork it’s a definite must buy for anyone who is a fan of the Elemental Tarot. For everyone else though this deck doesn’t really offer anything new or interesting and so it probably won’t warrant a purchase. I’m on the fence about recommending this deck.

Mystic Dreamer Tarot – The Mystic Dreamer Tarot is a photo-collage tarot which also incorporates some computer generated images, and so it combines two of the things I hate most in tarot artwork. As far as photo collages and computer generated images on tarots go, this deck is far from being the best in either regard, however it’s also far from being the worst, and the artwork on the cards is at least adequate and not completely ugly.

Since I completely dislike the art style I may as well concentrate on the deck’s design. At their best the card designs are just uninspired. This is the case with the Magician, which is a person (I can’t tell the gender for sure) standing in a cave pointing up and down with the elemental tools laid out on a table. It’s technically correct, but the design is a standard design that appears in a lot of other decks, the only difference being that the better decks will include even more imagery in the card (such as the garden with rose and tulips in the Rider-Waite).

At its worst however the deck simply becomes nonsensical. The Chariot is a woman with a torch riding a two horse chariot through a dark and foggy forest or swamp, I’m not sure which. On the Sun card meanwhile the Sun is a giant head, and the lone woman standing on the ground is wearing what looks to be a winter coat. Esoterically what does all this mean? Probably nothing. My guess is the designer thought these images would make for neat pictures on the cards without any thought given to the esoteric meaning of the images, or even having any understanding of the esoteric meaning of the cards.

The deck has poor artwork (so-so if you can actually get into photo-collage), uninspired designs, nonsensical designs, and all of the designs lack depth. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Mythic Tarot – The Mythic Tarot is themed around Greek mythology. The deck’s artwork is only so-so. Some of the cards look decent, but other cards look horrible. The entire deck looks amateurish, like it was drawn by someone who had some natural ability to draw but really didn’t understand how to do it. The pip cards are fully illustrated, and in this deck the pip cards in each suit tell the story of a different Greek myth.

This brings up one of the big issues this deck has, namely that it tries to shove Greek mythology wherever it can without taking into consideration the actual cards. As you can guess the pip card associations and meanings were never designed to tell any kind of narrative, let alone specific Greek myths. So in order to tell these myths through the pip cards you have to either completely hack apart these myths until they barely resemble their former selves, or you have to completely ignore the meaning and concepts of the pip cards.

As for the trumps either they follow the standard design and I can’t identify the Greek myth they reference by sight, or they shove some Greek imagery into the card that really doesn’t fit. For example the Magus shows a Greek guy in the mountains pointing to the heavens and the Earth while the four elemental tools rest on a rock. That’s pretty standard magician imagery. I’m sure it also references some Greek myth, but I have no clue what that might be based on the image. I’d guess Oedipus, but that’s only because if I were designing a Greek mythology tarot Oedipus would be the obvious choice for the Magician. I can’t see the Magician’s feet, so it could be Oedipus.

The Hierophant card meanwhile shows a Centaur with a crown and a scroll standing in a passage way. I’m guessing this is Chiron, because Chiron is the most famous Greek Centaur, but I don’t know what Chiron has to do with the Hierophant card.

That’s pretty much what the entire deck is like. It either uses a standard tarot design, or it just shoves Greek mythology into the card so the imagery makes no sense whatsoever. I don’t recommend buying this deck.

Nanako Tarot – A 22 card trump only Japanese tarot which closely follows the designs of the Rider-Waite. The main draw of the deck is the art style which is cartoonish and looks like it was drawn by a semi-talented twelve year old. The art style will no doubt seem charming to some, but even more will be turned off by it. There is nothing unique or original about the card design which is taken straight from the Rider-Waite, and being a trump only deck it’s of limited magical use. I do not recommend this tarot.

Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA – This is a deck that I unfortunately avoided for some time due to the name. I really didn’t know what to make of the name, and I honestly thought it would probably turn out to be some bad New Age deck. I’m still not sure what to make of the name, but I do understand the deck a bit better now.

The deck is actually based in Ceremonial Magic, Kabalah, and Hermeticism. The deck claims to have been influenced by the Golden Dawn design, and it has also clearly been influenced by Crowley’s design, but the deck itself is largely unique and is far from being a Golden Dawn pattern deck or a Crowley Thoth clone deck. In fact every card in this deck seems to have been redesigned and reinterpreted.

That being said, this deck is far from being my favorite tarot. The artwork is very well done and the style is unique to the deck, but most of the cards are a little bit too busy for my taste. Instead of adding so many symbols to the cards I would have preferred it if the deck designer used less imagery and focused more on what was used. The pips are fully illustrated.

If you’re looking for a deck that follows the traditional Golden Dawn or Crowley’s imagery and interpretation of the cards, this isn’t that deck. Almost all of the card designs in this deck are new, although for the most part they still follow the traditional concepts of the cards. There are a few unique symbols to be found through out the deck that I really liked too. For instance the Chariot card shows a man with a sword kneeling down next to the Chariot in service to the rider.

Unfortunately though I find it very hard to connect with this deck, or even desire to study it for any length of time. The very vibrant and busy imagery on the cards is just overwhelming, and at the same time the symbolisms, which are many and varied, for the most part lack depth. This deck is a good example of what I don’t like about these busy decks. They fit a lot of surface information on to the card, so much that it becomes overwhelming to work with it, and the designer’s energy becomes focused on fitting as much as they can into the card instead of improving the card’s imagery.

It’s an interesting deck, and it’s one of the few straight Ceremonial Magic tarots out there which isn’t just a rip off of Waite, Mathers, or Crowley’s design. I’m going to remain on the fence about recommending this deck since I’m sure a lot of people will be interested enough in it to at least look at it, but personally I didn’t find the deck magically useful enough to recommend buying it.

Necromantic Tarot – This is a 22 card trump only deck released in a limited edition of 1000 copies. The deck was designed by Leilah Wendell, an occult author who writes about working with death energy spiritually. I’m actually a fan of her work and was expecting good things from this tarot. The artwork is very detailed and fairly well done. Although not bad, I did feel as if it could be a bit better. As one would expect from anything done by Wendell, the deck uses dark colors and shades and is thematically death-centric.

Metaphysically I was really disappointed in this deck. I was hoping Wendell would take her unique philosophies about death and death energy and incorporate them into the traditional tarot design. Unfortunately though the deck is entirely centered on the idea of death, so much so that the tarot design is often eliminated. The Hanged Man is a dead body that’s been hanged. The High Priestess is being killed by lightning. The Emperor is a skeleton man (I get this one, Death rules all, I just don’t think it’s very clever).

That isn’t to say there is nothing good to this deck. Some attempts are made to add symbols and spiritual expressions to the cards. The High Priestess for instance is killed in front of a door, and we see her soul, in the form of a shadow, rising up behind her. It’s a death-centric interpretation of the High Priestess’s representation of the crossing from the physical world into the spiritual world. The Strength card meanwhile, which is an expression of the High Priestess’s power, shows a dead winged woman or angel and her soul rising up behind her; the strength that comes from death.

The deck also has a unique death-like energy to it, which I believe was intentional. Normally this would be a huge plus, but I don’t really feel as if the energy is as strong or directed as I would have liked or as the designer intended it to be.

The Necromantic Tarot isn’t a bad deck and it definitely has some positive things going for it. At the same time though the deck feels like it was very close to being a good deck and doing something unique with the tarot, but that it fell just short of achieving that goal. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Necronomicon Tarot – The Necronomicon Tarot is part of occult author Donald Tyson’s Chthulean mythos work. The first book I ever saw by Tyson was his Necronomicon, and ever since I’ve been avoiding his spiritual work. The book Tyson wrote was fantasy. It didn’t deal with real magic or look at the things that do exist in the universe which are connected to the Chthulean mythos. It was as, at best, as fictional as Lovecraft’s writings. The Chthulean mythos in magic originates with Kenneth Grant who first theorized that their may be some truth and power behind Lovecraft’s writings and Simon who was greatly influenced by this theory. The difference between these guys and Tyson is that their explorations into the Chthulean mythos produced workable magical systems. You can dispute Grant’s initial theory, the systems they developed may or may not have actually been connected to Lovecraft, but the systems they created were successful and based on application and their practical experience. Tyson’s work, meanwhile, is Lovecraft influenced fiction.

Despite my issues with Tyson’s spiritual theories, I’m keeping an open mind and judging this deck on its own merits. To start the deck is computer generated. I don’t like computer generated decks, but in this instance the artist had some skill in the medium and at times I even forget the deck is computer generated. It’s not as good as Marchetti’s computer generated tarots, but it’s good enough.

As for the tarot imagery itself, it’s what I would expect based on Tyson’s books. The deck doesn’t contain much of the traditional design or symbolism. It doesn’t much adhere to the traditional concepts, associations, and meanings of the cards either. It doesn’t even really have any original spiritual insight. It’s the standard spiritually devoid Chtulean themed fantasy depictions that I expected from Tyson. The Three of Disks, for instance, is a woman stealing a hand from a dead body from a dead prisoner in a cage (I don’t know what they’re called. It’s what they imprisoned Val Kilmer in in Willow). What does this have to do with the traditional Three of Disks? Absolutely nothing. What sort of spiritual insight or knowledge can be gained from this picture? Hopefully nothing. At best Tyson is trying to convince people to steal body parts from the dead, which is something I hope no one will actually do. The other cards in this deck are just as Chthulean and pointless. I do not recommend this tarot.

Nefertari’s Tarot / Tarot of the Sphinx – I do not like Egyptian tarots very much. I find the artwork boring and limited and usually the decks don’t have much spiritual value. Plus they all sort of look alike. Silvana Alasia has designed three Egyptian tarots, this being her second, and so I’ve had to review three of these decks because of her. Because of this I’m going to be very brief with this review.

Two editions of this deck have been released. The first edition was titled the Tarot of the Sphinx. The second edition was titled Nefertari’s Tarot and added a gold foil stamp to the cards along with making some other minor changes.

Silvania draws the best Egyptian tarots, no doubt, but how many Egyptian tarot art decks do you really need? Unlike her other two decks this deck at least looks a little bit different, which gives it a bit of variety. I’d rate it as better than her third deck but not as good as her first. Yes her decks get progressively worse. The artwork in her worst deck, the Cleopatra Tarot, is still better than any other Egyptian tarot though.

Ultimately this is an art deck without much spiritual value. I don’t see the need for so many Egyptian themed art decks, but at least this one is different enough from the other two to maybe be a worthwhile purchase for fans of Alasia’s tarots. I do not recommend this deck.

Neuzeit Tarot – The Neuzeit tarot, also known as the New Age Tarot, was designed by Walter Wegmuller, designer of the Gypsy Tarot Tsigane. The cards, although they contain some elements of the traditional tarot, feature mostly unique designs.

This is one of the most difficult decks for me to review, because it is in almost every way an average deck. In no way is this a bad deck, so there really isn’t much for me to gripe about. But at the same time there’s nothing about this deck that really gets me excited either. In every way it seems to be middle of the road.

The deck’s artwork is average. The style is unique but the art isn’t very pretty, however it’s more than adequate for this deck’s spiritual expression. This is also one of those decks, which normally I don’t like, where the images seem to be very busy with a lot of different things thrown into them. However the images in this deck never seem to get too busy and the designer seems to have found that perfect balance of being able to fit as much as possible into the cards without having them become overwhelming.

Sometimes the card designs do seem a little bit crazy and absurd, but if you take the time to study the card the symbolism always makes sense. The deck does incorporate quite a few news ideas and unique symbolisms into the deck, and usually that’s something that makes me rate a deck really high. I’m definitely giving this deck a lot of points for that, but the new and unique symbolism doesn’t excite me as much with this deck as it does with other decks.

I am recommending this deck, although it is a low recomendation. It is in every way an average deck. It’s found that perfect balance of being just good enough to be worth buying without being so good that you’ll actually like it.

New Century Tarot – This is a very beautiful art deck that was released by US Games. The designer is a German architect who, in 1989, received a copy Stuart Kaplan’s book “Tarot Classic”, which was written to accompany the US Games produced tarot deck of the same name. The book inspired him to begin designing his own tarot which he completed in 2002. The deck looks beautiful and its nothing less than what would be expected from a professional artist who spent over a decade working on a tarot as an impassioned labor of love.

The reason why I don’t now just say this is an art deck, not recommend it, but tell you to buy it anyways because the artwork is really good is because there are subtle hints of esoteric symbolism through out this deck. At first I thought these symbolisms were coincidence, but the more I looked at this deck, the more and more symbolism I found. And some of it is pretty cool and unique. For instance if you look closely at the High Priestess you’ll notice her red dress is transparent and you can see her naked body underneath.

I’m not sure what happened with this deck. Judging by the imagery I’d assume the designer had, at the very least, an intermediate knowledge of both metaphysics and traditional esoteric symbolism in the tarot. Nothing I’ve read or heard about this designer seems to imply that though. Even assuming he studied the traditional esoteric symbolism of the tarot at some point while designing his deck, that still doesn’t account for his application and reinterpretation of the symbolism within his deck which would have required him to also study metaphysics to some degree and have at least some small amount of experience with practical magic.

It’s possible that all of this is just coincidence. It’s possible that this designer just drew a tarot that he though would look nice, and by coincidence subtle esoteric symbolism could be perceived in his design. If that’s the case though this is the most serendipitous accident in esoteric tarot design since the original Marseilles pattern which French occultist first applied esoteric symbolism too.

In any case the deck has some esoteric symbolism and it is spiritually useful. I’m also give the deck a lot of bonus points because of its awesome artwork. As a spiritual tool though it is not as good as a lot of the other esoteric tarots on the market, although it looks better than almost all of them. I recommend this tarot.

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot – By the title, I thought this deck would be centered around the spirituality and practices of Louisiana Voodoo. I’m not so sure that is the case though. The suits are named after different types of practices, one of the suits being Santeria which is an entirely different religion from Voodism. Another suit is Petro, and I may be wrong, but I thought that term was limited to Haitian Voodoo and not a part of the Louisiana practice.

Even with my somewhat limited understanding of voodoo though it’s clear that this deck has very little in common with the tarot. The card imagery, symbolisms, and even the titles don’t seem to have anything to do with the traditional meanings, symbolisms and concepts of the cards. I would go so far as to say this isn’t even a tarot deck, but rather an alternate spiritual deck that has some, although very few and mostly structural, similarities to the tarot.

The deck’s artwork is colorful and bright and although it may not be the greatest artwork out there, it’s more than adequate to express the ideas of the deck. Unfortunately I’m not familiar enough with the systems used in this deck to properly evaluate its spiritual value. I am however not recommending this deck on the basis that it is not actually a tarot deck, or at the very least it is very barely a tarot deck.

New Palladini Tarot – Released in the mid-90s, this is David Palladini’s second attempt to make a new tarot for the modern era, his first attempt being the Aquarian tarot. I figure we only have a few years left before Palladini’s third attempt, and since this deck is better than his first deck, I’m really excited about what that might be.

The artwork is pretty good and has a unique style to it, although I don’t care much for the faces. The Hermit card in particular makes me want to break out laughing every time I look at it. The deck features fully illustrated pips.

This tarot borrows a lot from the Rider-Waite and many of the cards use the exact same imagery and symbolism, but there are also some new ideas and a few unique card designs incorporated into this deck. Some of the new designs are actually pretty interesting, such as with the Strength card, and these newly designed cards are really what sold me on the deck.

The New Palladini Tarot is a solid deck which will work well for divination, esoteric knowledge, meditation, or any other spiritual use. My biggest complaint about the deck is that it is very similar to the Rider-Waite, but unlike others who borrow the Rider-Waite imagery, Palladini seems to at least understand the meaning of what he stole, which makes him quite a bit more adept at incorporating the material into his own deck. Based solely on its spiritual usefulness I would recommend this deck, but due to the fact that it is very derivative I’m downgrading it to a low recommendation.

The New Tarot Deck – The New Tarot was first released in 1974. The deck is in black and white and the artwork is of very poor quality and barely adequate. The deck features fully illustrated pips.

Despite the low quality artwork, this is one of the most sexual esoteric decks on the market. A lot of the symbolism in the cards is expressed through sexual imagery, and where other decks imply or hint at sexual symbolism this deck blatantly states it.

For instance the Moon is seen as a feminine card, in contrast to the Sun which is masculine. The Moon also represents the night, and darkness, and that which is hidden (within darkness). Because of this the Moon also represents mysteries and things which are unknown (hidden), and in particular the Moon represents what is known as the great mysteries, or spiritual mysteries, or the sacred mysteries, which collectively are the secrets, or hidden knowledge, of spirituality, magick, and religion. The sacred mysteries are also represented by female genitals (and if you’re a man, think back to the first time you ever tried to figure out how one of those worked and you’ll understand why), and penetrating or entering the vagina is representative of entering into the sacred mysteries, or penetrating the veil and discovering its secrets. Although this is implied by the Moon card, you’ll notice most imagery of this card shows a path leading off into darkness as a few animals howl at the Moon. The standard imagery still connects to the vagina, but it takes a bit of work to find that connection. In contrast the New Tarot has a naked woman lying on her back as Anubis and another figure pull her legs apart (it could be a double Anubis, like Crowley’s deck, but the head looks different, so it may be Seth or another god, the artwork is of too poor a quality to tell). There is a path leading to her vagina and there is a ball of light which may or may not be the moon.

If you can get past the overt and graphic sexuality of this deck, bad artwork aside the deck design is fairly interesting. There are a lot of unique ideas in the symbolism and the deck is worth studying, I only wish that the designer had the benefit of a professional artist to help express his ideas. As it stands the deck looks like someone’s personal hand drawn deck, not a deck that was meant for publication. Given the low quality of the deck, the deck has a surprising amount of energy behind it, which makes it a descent deck for meditation. The only problem is the energy is very sexualized, which is probably part of the reason why it feels so strong. Sexual energy is usually easier to sense and has a stronger impact on people than most other energies.

I am recommending this deck, mainly because the design is good enough to warrant that, but I’m also giving it a low recommendation mainly due to poor quality artwork, which in this instance is bad enough to obscure some of the esoteric expression of the deck, and because the deck is out of print and difficult to find. Also, if anyone feels like correcting me, my comment about the female sexual organ was in jest and I understand the actual symbolic meaning of the vagina as the entry way to the sacred mysteries.

The Nigel Jackson Tarot – This deck is also sold as Medieval Enchantment: The Nigel Jackson Tarot. Nigel Jackson, the deck’s designer and artist, has worked as the artist on several other non-tarot spiritual decks for Llewellyn, including one deck he created with Silver Ravenwolf. He uses a very soft art style which I don’t particularly care for, and which I at least feel makes some of the cards look too much alike to easily distinguish on sight. This deck is often criticized as being just another Rider-Waite clone. Jackson also commits one of my cardinal sins of tarot design, he clearly associates the swords with fire in his deck.

As you can probably guess, I really want to hate this deck. In fact I’m ready to nitpick any minor flaw in this deck so I can not recommend it and fill the rest of this review with a rant about how Nigel Jackson is a Lleweylln whore. But I can’t because this is actually a pretty good deck.

To start, the comparisons to the Rider-Waite are really unfair. Yes the deck is at times influenced by the Rider-Waite, and even outright borrows from the Rider-Waite, but it’s far from a straight rip-off of the Rider-Waite. The deck also has clear influences from several other decks, including older historical decks, and it also contains a lot of new and unique ideas too. The deck is less of a Rider-Waite clone than 80% of the tarots that have been released in the last twenty years, and I really don’t expect decks not to be influenced by the Rider-Waite at all considering the fact that it’s the most popular tarot of the 20th century.

What really makes this deck attractive to me though is that there are some new elements in the card designs. Not only does the symbolism make sense, but there are some new ideas and interpretations in the cards.

The Nigel Jackson Tarot is far from being my favorite tarot, and I’m not about to heap praise upon it. But if a deck has good artwork and new and unique symbolism and ideas added into the card design, that’s more than enough to make it a worthwhile buy for me. Jackson also has his own unique style of artwork which is different from other tarots on the market, and I have no doubt that the unique artwork and esoteric value of the deck will allow some people to make strong connections with this deck. I recommend this tarot.

Norse Tarot – The Norse Tarot is based upon Nordic mythology and practices. When I first saw online samples of this deck I assumed it was an art deck with a Nordic theme. After seeing the deck though it’s clearly designed as an esoteric deck, one that was most likely designed to appeal to Pagans with Nordic based faiths, such as Asatru.

The artwork on the deck is realistic and detailed. It is not up to the standards of typical art decks, but the art is technically better than most esoteric tarots. I say technically because although the artwork is well drawn, for the most part the images are not very interesting. They are more than adequate for a tarot though. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

I don’t really like this deck, and so I’ve tried very hard to find fault in the symbolism or design of the cards. Unfortunately I can’t because every time I draw a card from this deck it is technically correct. Let me give some examples.

The Chariot card depicts Thor on a chariot being pulled by goats. My biggest issue with the design of this card is that Thor is holding his hammer not the reigns to control the goats. The fact that the man in the chariot is in control of whatever is pulling the chariot is an important bit of symbolism in the card. Still I suppose that it could be argued that, even with out reigns, Thor is in control of this chariot. He also probably does fit the necessary representation of power.

The two of swords depict two men playing a game. I’m not sure what game the Nordic people played, but I’m assuming it’s something that could easily be replaced by Chess or Go in the card. Game playing imagery is something that I would assume would be put in a different sword card, like perhaps the seven or the nine. Still I guess an argument could be made for putting that image on the two.

Every card I pull pretty much comes up the same as these two. But remember that I didn’t just describe a small part of these cards. Although I may have missed some of the finer points, what I described was the majority of the image. Pretty much the entire card is what I described. Although these cards are technically correct, there isn’t a lot of symbolism, spiritual meaning, or depth to these cards. Although this may technically be an esoteric deck, it may as well be an art deck considering its spiritual value. I recommend not buying this deck if for no other reason than because every bit of praise I’ve given this deck has been qualified with the word technically.

Le Nouveau Tarot de Marseille – This deck is based off of the Marseilles pattern but incorporates that design into a tarot which is printed with modern technology. Although the design of the imagery is taken straight from the Marseilles pattern, I don’t classify this deck as a Marseilles tarot since all of the artistic elements of the Marseilles pattern that were due to it being printed on woodblocks have been removed. The artwork of the tarot is not only simple, but also ugly and poorly drawn. Spiritually the deck can be used in any way that a normal Marseilles pattern tarot can be used, however this deck lacks any historical significance and doesn’t look anywhere near as nice as traditional Marseilles tarots or the better modern creations that have followed the pattern. I do not recommend this tarot.

Olympus Tarot – The Olympus tarot is a Lo Scarabeo art tarot dealing with the Greek gods. Like Most Lo Scarabeo art tarots it’s not very useful as a spiritual tarot. However since this tarot features Greek deities it can be used for meditation and communion with the gods and for other similar purposes. That purpose is going to be the focus of my review.

The artwork on the deck is well drawn and very detailed. It’s the typical art work of Lo Scarabeo art decks both in quality and style. Unfortunately I don’t think the style of the artwork really fits the Greek gods and heroes very well. I also don’t care much for the way the gods and heroes are depicted. The entire deck seems to be more based in fantasy or comic book depictions of the Greek myths rather than creating divine or spiritual depictions of these gods.

Although the deck may still be useful for divine purposes, especially if you connect with the art style, I would personally not use this deck based on the artwork. I do not recommend this tarot.

One World Tarot – This deck features computer generated art and, as the name implies, this is a New Age Tarot. The deck was published by US Games, and it’s surprising that a major publisher agreed to publish a deck of such low quality. I don’t care much for computer generated decks, but even when compared against other computer generated tarots the artwork in this deck is at best average. Where this deck’s artwork really suffers though is in the design’s simple imagery. The images are largely made up of simple geometric shapes and basic symbols leaving little room for artistic license. The pips are not fully illustrated.

As I mentioned this deck is based in New Age spirituality, supposedly anyways. I was really interested in seeing what this deck could do, especially after seeing the High Priestess as a sample card. The High Priestess card depicts what looks like a photo negative of a naked woman with her chakras lit up. It’s hardly the greatest tarot design ever, but if the rest of the deck were of at least equal quality it might actually be a somewhat interesting deck. Unfortunately that is by far the best card in the deck and not representative of the deck as a whole. The New Age spirituality this deck embraces is not real New Age spirituality, but rather the type of New Age spirituality that just carelessly and ignorantly throws together an eclectic mix of religious and spiritual symbols into a cheap package and then tries to sell it for money.

The Empress is a pyramid with the sun over head and palm trees behind it. The Emperor meanwhile is a transparent red pyramid with a yin-yang symbol inside, no palm trees, but the sun is still overhead. What do these cards even mean? There isn’t even enough to these images for me to begin to analyze them. The other images are pretty much of the same quality. The Magician is a red yin-yang symbol. Temperance is one of the Stonehenge column sets.

This deck is pure crap. The artwork is limited and ugly and looks like something that someone without any artistic talent drew on their computer over a weekend. The pips not being illustrated is bad enough, but in this deck the trumps aren’t really fully illustrated either. The designs are largely nonsensical and it doesn’t seem like the designer put the least amount of effort into creating them. I’m pretty sure they just followed a template of: make a triangle/circle/square (choose only one), throw some religious or spiritual symbol in there, pick a color, done.

I expect that decks like this might sometimes be published by untalented shysters scheming to make a few bucks off of other people’s spirituality, but I can’t believe that US Games actually published this. I understand that US Games is not a spiritual organization and they sometimes publish non-spiritual decks, and even bad decks. But this deck is low quality cheaply made crap, and they should be ashamed at themselves for selling it to people. This is the only deck I’ve found that is as bad as the Dion Fortune Tarot, and it’s possibly even worse than that tarot. This deck is highly not recommended.

Osho Zen Tarot – Not knowing what Osho Zen was, I was actually looking forward to this tarot because I thought it was going to be a tarot based in Zen Buddhism. I don’t have a very strong understanding of Zen Buddhism, or any kind of Buddhism really, but looking through the cards I could tell right away this tarot was not Buddhism. There were a lot of key Buddhist terms, but they were all shallow and cliched. The tarot’s understanding of Buddhism lacked any of the depth or sacredness I’d expect of any major world religion.

At its best the cards have some slight connection to their counterparts in a traditional tarot, but even this isn’t always the case. For example the ninth trump is Aloneness, which is kind of like a hermit I suppose. However the fifth trump is No-thingness, and the imagery is just a blackness.

The minor arcana are even worse. First off the court cards aren’t really court cards since they may not depict a single character, and they lack titles although each has an arrow pointing in a different direction in place of a number. It took me forever to figure out that these were the court cards, since they seem in every way to be just like the pips but without a number. I’m also not sure which suit each card belongs to because the deck doesn’t list suits or even use suit symbols of any kind.

There is no theme or consistency to the minor arcana, and the cards don’t mesh with their traditional meanings either. It seems as if the deck designer just came up with random ideas and incorporated them into the cards. Some cards depict things, others emotions, and others behaviors. Some examples of the minor arcana titles include: The Dream, Fighting, Guilt, Laziness, Going With the Flow, Patience, We Are The World, Letting Go, and Turning In. I can’t even begin to make sense of the system that this deck is trying to use.

I looked up Osho Zen on the Internet to find out what it was, and it explained this deck to me perfectly. Osho Zen is not really Zen Buddhism, or at least what most people imagine when they think of Zen Buddhism. Osho Zen is a commercial form of Buddhism which is meant to target the New Age community. There are books and DVDs and weekend retreats that cost upwards of ten thousand dollars, and apparently there’s also a tarot deck now too.

I have a great deal of respect for New Age practices, and I’m in no way attacking the general New Age community, but systems like Osho Zen are created by spiritually devoid individuals who don’t see spirituality as something that must be experienced and understood or even as something that is sacred, but rather collect things which have been labeled as spiritual so that they can be packaged and sold as enlightenment. Organizations like this are not about sharing spirituality or teaching others, but rather about using a spiritual label to sell inferior products at outrageous prices. I highly do not recommend this deck.

Oswald Wirth Tarot Trumps – Around the turn of the 20th century French occultist Oswald Wirth drew 22 trump cards which were then published by his friend, Papus, in the Tarot of the Bohemians. Wirth himself went on to publish books on the tarot, but his tarot mainly became popular through Papus whose book was very popular both in French and English esoteric circles, and is written about extensively by Waite in his super popular Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

Predating Waite and Crowley, Wirth’s trumps are one of the early attempts of an occultist to try to modify the tarot design to make it more spiritual outside of the Etteilla pattern, and because of its inclusion in the Tarot of the Bohemians it was also one of the widest published tarots of this kind during the first half of the 20th century. So the deck not only has spiritual significance, but it also has historical significance.

Unfortunately the fact that it consists of only the trump cards means the deck can’t be used to divine and its of limited use in regards to esoteric study, although I do find that it works well with spell work.

-US Games Wirth – US Games published a 78 card version of the Wirth tarot. The deck went out of print a few years ago, but it’s still probably the easiest version of the deck to get. Wirth’s 22 trump cards have been fully restored for this edition, and a new minor arcana has been created for the deck based on the Marseilles pattern. I recommend this tarot.

-Wisdom of Tarot Wirth – A set of Wirth trumps released in 1975 as a pack in with the book Wisdom of the Tarot. I don’t know much about this edition.

-Planches Wirth – A French reproduction of Georg Alexander’s redrawing of the Wirth trumps published as a pack in with a copy of Wirth’s book ‘Le Tarot des Imagiers du Moyen-Age’.

-Tchou Wirth – A Canadian reproduction of Wirth’s trumps published as a pack in with a copy of Wirth’s book ‘Le Tarot des Imagiers du Moyen-Age’. I don’t know much about this edition.

-Editions de l’Aigle Wirth – I know nothing about this edition of the cards, except that it exists.

Otherworld Tarot – This is a rather poorly drawn tarot, although the artwork is still better then a lot of decks and more than adequate. The decks features fully illustrated pips and each card has a large border which includes a title or meaning for the card. Some of these make sense, but most don’t. For instance the Hanged Man is Limbo and the Seven of Swords in Underhandedness. Many of these meanings seem like they were derived directly from the card’s title without any thought to the meaning of the card. For instance the Lovers is titled relationship, the Sun positivity, Strength courage, and the Devil temptation. All of these terms are related to the title, but they don’t really have anything to do with the card.

Most of the imagery on the cards is new and unique, but unfortunately it usually doesn’t make sense. A few of the cards do make sense in regards to the traditional meaning of the card, but not in regards to the card’s title, which makes me wonder if it’s just coincidence that sometimes the nonsensical designs were correct. In any case there’s not much depth to the imagery even when it does work.

This seems like a tarot that was designed by someone who didn’t understand the tarot. Even assuming that they made up a whole new system of meanings for the cards, even if it was completely random, the imagery still doesn’t make sense or show any kind of depth. I do not recommend this tarot.

Pagan Tarot – Yet another Pagan tarot deck. The Judgment card in this deck depicts a Wiccan woman having a past life regression of the Salem Witch Trials. That should really be an adequate review of this entire deck. Need more? The Hermit card is of a woman surrounded by various arcane texts writing something at her desk.

The artwork is realistic and detailed and everything you’d expect from a Lo Scarebo art deck. The symbolism however varies from laughable to nonexistent. More than anything this seems like an art deck where the theme is modern Pagan life, with the images being very loosely based on the traditional imagery or title of the card. I do not recommend this tarot.

Papus Tarot – The Papus-Goulinat tarot was originally published alongside the Oswald Wirth tarot in Papus’s Tarot of the Bohemians. Like the Wirth tarot, it’s an early example of an occultist redesigning the tarot to make it more spiritual, and like the Wirth tarot it was a highly influential tarot and one of the most widely published in the first half of the 20th century. Unfortunately the cards have never been published as a deck.

Instead of a restoration of the Papus-Goulinat tarot, what US Games decided to give us was the Papus Tarot. This is a tarot designed and drawn by Oliver Stephane and based off of the Papus-Goulinat tarot. It’s not great, but it’s the closest thing we’ve gotten to a Papus-Goulinat deck. I find the new artwork on this deck to be ugly, and I don’t really care for it. Plus it’s out of print and hard to find. If you want to see a copy of the Papus-Goulinat tarot, save some money and pick up a copy of the Tarot of the Bohemians instead. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Parrott Tarot Deck – The Parrott tarot is a very brightly colored, happy, 82 card tarot deck. At times it even seems too happy. It’s also one of those busy decks that try to shove a lot of symbols and images into the card. At a glance the deck seems to have a lot going for it. There seems to be a lot of symbolism on the cards. Every association imaginable is also listed on the card. Hebrew letter, astrological sign, planet, element musical note, and the card’s equivalent in a standard 52-card deck are all listed.

The four extra cards in the Parrott deck are called Mentor cards. They’re a fifth court card that is located between the Queen and the Prince. The Mentor cards represent the planet Chiron, the Sepiroth Daath, teachers, and although it is never explicitly stated (yes I broke my rule and read the book on this deck to understand the card), the way the designers describe the Mentors it seems to me as if they represent the spirity part of the different elements. Where do I start to pull this apart.

Let’s start with Chiron. The designers label Chiron a planet (which it isn’t) and place a great deal of astrological importance on its discovery. Even if Chiron was a planet, it wouldn’t really matter. The only planets that have specific card associations are the seven planets visible to the naked eye which exist in classical astrology. Neptune and Uranus, real planets, don’t have associations like the seven planets of classical astrology, nor do the dwarf planets Pluto and Ceres. Also let’s not forget that there are believed to be most likely hundreds, and possibly thousands, of undiscovered planets and dwarf planets in our solar system. We can’t be making new cards for all of them. Well we could, but thousand card decks are hard to shuffle.

Does this mean that Chiron, Neptune, Uranus, Pluto, and Ceres are not represented in the tarot? Of course not. They are after all part of the universe, and so they are incorporated into the tarot, they just don’t have specific card associations like the seven planets of classical astrology do. You might be wondering why those seven planets have associations and not the others. It’s because in astrology those seven planets represent the seven primary forces in the universe. These are the most powerful forces that act upon us. All of the other objects in the sky, be they planets or dwarf planets or asteroids, represent lesser forces. Asteroids represent very minor forces. Does that mean that an asteroid is unimportant or it has no effect? Of course not. Properly placed in your natal chart an asteroid can have a huge effect on you. But it is still not as powerful a force as the seven classical planets.

As for Daath, it’s not newly discovered. It’s been a part of Kabalistic theory longer than the tarot has. The problem is that Daath isn’t a real Sepiroth. It’s something in the universe that is at times incorrectly perceived as being distinct and outside of the tree of life, but in reality it is already incorporated into the tree of life and into the already existent paths and Sepiroths. As you can guess I don’t want to spend twenty paragraphs going into the Kabalistic theory of Daath, I’m trying to keep this as short as possible. But every other esoteric tarot designer that has used Kabalistic associations has seen no need for a new card to represent Daath, and that’s because they already see it as incorporated into the other cards.

Finally there is the associations of the spirity part of the elements. This is based on the idea that each of the court cards represents a different aspect of the elements. For example the king of swords represents the fiery part of air. The problem is that there are five elements, not four, and although the element of spirit is represent by the trumps and not the minor arcana, the spirity parts of the other four elements are not represented by the court cards. This isn’t exactly true though since the aces act as both pip and court cards, and they represent the spirity part of the elements. This is one of those almost obvious tarot associations which you almost never see printed in books. Considering the fact that the designer seems to have known and discovered so many associations to incorporate into the tarot, it’s odd that this was missed.

Which brings me up to my next point about the other 78 cards. They contain a lot of associations and symbolism, but it’s all derivative. The pictures and symbolisms are taken from other decks. List of the tarot card associations which are present on each of the cards are very easy to find. Even oddities, like the musical notes, have already been published by others. There is nothing original about this deck. Everything has been swiped from some other source.

Not only is there nothing original in this deck, but it doesn’t seem as if the designer even understands what she has stolen. Take for instance the Hermit card. Here the Hermit is standing with his lantern turned on. The problem is that, in the brightly lit and overly happy world depicted in this deck, it’s still daytime. The area around the Hermit is brightly lit. Normally the Hermit moves through darkness. The night is symbolic of the sacred mysteries. His lantern is associated with the element of spirit. It’s a magical tool, and with it he is shining light into the darkness, exposing the absolute truths contained within the sacred mysteries. The night is feminine and the light is masculine, and these two forces are coming together within the Hermit’s work. Once again I’m simplifying for the sake of brevity, but I think I make my point. If it’s daylight out, the Hermit’s just a jack-ass that’s wasting his lantern oil.

At a glance the Parrott tarot is a deck that looks like it might be good. Upon further inspection though it has a completely unoriginal design that takes from other sources, and the designer doesn’t seem to understand anything that she has borrowed to the point that she can’t reinterpret the symbolism into her design. I’m going to have to not recommend this deck.

Paulina Tarot – All in all I’ve reviewed a few hundred decks for this guide. Some of these decks I’ve been lucky enough to study intently for years, but a lot of these decks I’ve only glanced at for a handful of hours in the past, and some of these, like the Paulina Tarot, I’m looking at for the first time as I write the review. I have to look through these decks, study them, rate them, and figure out something profound to write about them, and actually write it. With so many decks I ideally want to get this down to ten or fifteen minutes a deck, but in any case I really can’t afford to spend more than an hour or hour and a half on any one deck.

For most of the decks this timed system works, but not on a deck like this. This is the kind of deck I feel I’d have to study for months, even years, before I figured out just how wonderful it was, before I could take apart a card without feeling like I may be missing something crucial and it’s going to make me look like a fool.

To start, the artwork on these cards is beautiful. In fact it might be too beautiful. The problem is when I’m trying to look at a card, and study it, and figure out its symbolism and its meaning, and figure out if I’m just making stuff up or if the designer intended this, or even just sense the energy of the card, I find myself distracted and wrapped up in just the beauty of the card. It doesn’t help that there are details in the card that are difficult to see unless you really take the time to look at it. For example it was a long time before I even noticed that what the Fool was walking off of was a cloud and not a white cliff. It took me a while longer to realize that he wasn’t walking off a cloud at all, but rather an elegant white horse. What does the white horse mean? I don’t know, I’m too busy admiring it.

Not going too in depth into the cards, there are little touches all over that I love. The butterflies above the figures in the two of cups represent their souls, and everything about the card seems to imply both a physical and spiritual romantic love and entanglement. The High Priestess is opening up her robe and a dark spirit world seems to exist inside. The Knight of Swords seems translucent, almost unreal.

The deck is definitely spiritual and filled with esoteric knowledge. At a glance most of the cards seem compatible with the traditional tarot concepts, and the few instances which I disagree with may just be because I haven’t studied the card long enough. Even after several hours with these cards I don’t feel as if I’ve studied them well enough to give these cards a review that does them justice, but I absolutely love this deck. It says a lot about a deck when my biggest, really only, complaint is that the artwork might be too good. I highly recommend this tarot.

Pearls of Wisdom Tarot – This deck uses bright vibrant colors and large borders. The borders are more or less unique and full of details, but this leaves less room for the actual images. This makes the deck seem, at a glance, like one of those very busy tarots that has a lot of different things shoved into every single card. That isn’t the case here though, it just seems that way because of the art style and the borders. The actual amount of imagery in the card is just a little bit more than what’s average for a tarot deck. The images never become so clustered with symbolism that they become overwhelming and there’s a lot of depth to the imagery that is used. There is however quite a bit of additional imagery and symbolism shoved into the borders of the cards, but with this deck it works really well as a nice way to organize additional symbolism for the card outside of the actual image.

As far as the actual symbolism and ideas expressed in the cards, and even the actual card design, this is one of the most original and unique tarots I’ve ever seen. Very little in this deck is derivative of other decks (in fact if it was any less derivative I’d be reluctant to still call it a tarot), and every card has been almost completely redesigned. Still the deck remains deeply spiritual and manages to respect the traditional interpretations of the cards. That isn’t to say I agree with everything in this deck (although I do agree with most of it), but at least when this deck is wrong it’s wrong in an original and deeply spiritual way.

I highly recommend this tarot deck. Not only is it beautiful but the symbolism on some of the cards is really extraordinary. This is also a great deck for people who already own quite a few tarots and want something different and new rather than just a rehash of the same old ideas that are present in most other tarot decks.

Piatnik Celtic Tarot – With this tarot Celtic refers to the deck’s art style, not its theme. The trumps more or less follow the Marseilles pattern but add elements of ancient Celtic art, namely the use of either straight lines or curves in the pictures, but not both. The style of the artwork is interesting, and if this was all that was done to the Marseilles pattern I’d recommend this as a spiritual deck for people who want to use the Marseilles pattern but are looking for something a bit different.

Unfortunately the Marseilles pattern is changed quite a bit more as this deck features fully illustrated pips, and I believe this is the only time where I’m giving a deck a lower score because the pips are illustrated.

The problem with this deck is that the pip imagery doesn’t really fit the meaning or concept of the card. The Nine of Swords depicts a man about to be executed. The Five of Pentacles is a man and woman hugging outside their house. The pentacles in this deck are not the traditional coins or pentagrams, but are instead magic circles full of Hebrew inscriptions, which says to me that the designer was at the very least trying to make this deck look mystical and like more than an art deck, but the end result is still pretty much an art deck.

I’m going to be on the fence about recommending this deck, although I’m really close to not recommending it. I’m giving this deck some points because I like the artwork and art style, and because the trump cards are still workable interpretations of the Marseilles design.

Piatnik Pointner Tarot – The Paitnik Pointner Tarot was first published in 1974. The deck features vibrant bright colors and a cartoonish, sometimes silly design. The pips are not fully illustrated.

Most of the cards are more or less modeled after standard tarot designs, although there are deviations. Some elements, such as the weight lifter on the Strength card, are just silly.

The deck doesn’t have any esoteric value of its own. It does however incorporate standard traditional tarot designs, and because of this it does have some limited esoteric and cartomantic use. If you like reading with a Marseilles pattern deck and want something a bit different and childish, you might want to give this deck a look, but otherwise you’ll probably want to pass on this deck. I don’t recommend this tarot.

Pictorial Key Tarot – This deck takes the Rider-Waite card designs and recreates them in a computer generated 3-D style. I’ll start by saying I don’t like computer generated art, I think it looks boring, and I don’t like it in my cartoons (although Reboot was cool and the computer generated art was appropriate), let alone in my tarot decks.

The Pictorial Key Tarot never adds anything to the Rider-Waite design of the cards. There are no new ideas or new symbolisms in the cards, or even reinterpretations of old ideas. However quite a bit is lost in the transition to computer generated art. For instance on the Magician card the Magician is now in front of the garden, not in the garden, and the only flowers that can be seen are behind him. The roses are still present, but the tulips are gone. The palm of his left hand is now entirely flat, and so he is no longer distinctly pointing towards the ground. These are key elements of the Rider-Waite design of the Magician card and they’re missing from this redrawing.

In the end this is really just a poor man’s Rider-Waite. The artwork is ugly and the cards have lost a lot of their meaning and symbolism without gaining anything. I really wish companies would stop trying to improve upon the Rider-Waite design. The Rider-Waite is probably the most perfect tarot in existence, and any attempt to improve upon it is only going to make it worse. I do not recommend this tarot.

Polish Tarot – Also known as the Jasniak Tarot, as the name would suggest this tarot was first published in Poland. The deck is well regarded for its unique art style and colorful cards, however the cards follow a standard design and the actual pictures are rather simple. The pip cards are not fully illustrated, but they nevertheless remain colorful and interesting.

Due to its simple and standard design the deck lends itself well to divinatory and esoteric use, however at the same time it lacks any unique esoteric symbolism. The deck is essentially an art deck, but it’s a very good art deck. In fact its simple design and the large amount of praise this deck has received speaks to how unique and well executed the actual artwork is. As a spiritual deck though I do not recommend it.

Prediction Tarot – This tarot follows the traditional tarot design and is reminiscent of the engraved metal plate tarots. Artistically the deck looks nice, although it is no where near as good as the historical engraved metal plate tarots designed by master cardmakers. Spiritually this tarot follows the traditional design and structure of the Marseilles tarot, and is about as useful as a standard Marseilles deck. The only difference is that this deck lacks the historical occult significance of an historical Marseilles deck. Also, although this deck does have some limited spiritual use, a tarot specifically designed for spiritual and magical purposes is going to be far more useful. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

The Pythagorean Tarot – This deck is based off of the teachings of Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagorean along with the ancient Greek spiritual beliefs and practices of Pythagorean’s day. It’s meant to be the tarot deck that Pythagorean might have made if the Ancient Greeks had tarot decks.

The deck’s artwork is done in colored pencil. It’s soft and amateurish but more than adequate for this deck. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

To begin, this deck reorders quite a few of the tarot trumps. The first seven follow their original order, but after that quite a few get shuffled around. Trump order is actually important in the tarot since different cards relate to each other in certain ways based on where they are placed in the order. The Kabalistic associations are also dependent upon the order, which makes think this deck probably completely dismisses any Kabalistic associations (which would make sense since the Ancient Greeks did not have access to Kabalism).

Many of the cards in the deck are derivative of the standard tarot design. Beyond the reordering of the trumps, the only major changes made to the cards seem to be that the people depicted are now wearing Ancient Greek fashions, and that a lot of the Christian imagery of the cards has been removed and replaced with either similar Greek or similar ambiguous imagery.

The deck admittedly has a very unique gimmick, and it’s a gimmick that will no doubt appeal to anyone interested in Greek mythology or magick in general. But take away that gimmick and this is just a poorly designed tarot. Its poorly drawn, the imagery and symbolism is largely derivative, the pip cards are not fully illustrated, and the decks suffers from some serious structural flaws. It has enough aspects of traditional esoteric tarots that it can be adapted for spiritual use, but even then its usefulness is going to be limited by its flaws. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Quest Tarot – Of course my first thought upon seeing this deck was, “not another computer generated tarot.” For the most part I really don’t like computer generated tarots. The computer generated artwork is also low quality in this deck far beneath the standards of Marchetti’s decks or the Ananda Tarot. Usually this isn’t a good sign for a tarot. Although some really good tarots have been made with substandard artwork, tarots with substandard computer generated artwork tend to be decks made by lazy designers.

To be fair, the Quest tarot is actually far better than most of its computer generated brethren. The cards are colorful and highly detailed and feature actual pictures (as opposed to shapes). It’s clear that quite a bit of effort and thought actually went into designing this deck and creating the imagery, although it’s also clear that the deck’s designer is not a professional level graphic artist. Even the pips, which may technically be classified as not being fully illustrated, are full of details and vibrant colors, and I can easily say these cards are almost fully illustrated.

I was really hoping that this would be the deck that would change my mind about computer generated decks. The fact that it was designed by a professional tarot reader for practical use left me even more optimistic about the deck. After seeing the cards the deck suffers from a very serious flaw (and no it isn’t that it includes an extra trump since in this case the extra trump almost makes sense). The cards lack any sort of real depth or symbolism and the card meanings are usually far from realized.

Despite a few different symbols and some detail, the card design is remarkably straight forward and simple. If you’re looking for some deeper meaning to these cards beyond what is implied at a glance, there really isn’t any. The deck also makes the mistake with most cards of exclusively concentrating on a single aspect of the card while ignoring all other aspects, some of which are very common. For example the divinatory meaning on the Death card reads endings, and all the card depicts the Grim Reaper moving through either a lake or a swamp and some imagery behind him. The card doesn’t deal with other common aspects of the Death spell, such as an ending being incomplete since some small part of a thing will survive. The Devil card is even worse. The divinatory meaning of that card is temptation, and that’s all the card depicts.

I was actually hopeful about this deck and thought it might have some redeeming qualities, but it was ultimately a disappointment. Even when I completely ignore the artwork and the fact that it is computer generated, the deck is incredibly plain, shallow, and fails to adequately explore the cards. I do not recommend this tarot.

Quester Tarot – When I first heard about this deck I was excited. The deck is advertised as a Native American spirituality deck which incorporates elements of the Kabalah. I thought this was finally going to be the Native American deck I was looking for, a deck which takes elements of Native American spirituality and applies them to the traditional tarot meaning and design. However this deck turned out to be just another deck that uses Native American imagery, except that sometimes it steals images from the Rider-Waite.

The artwork on the deck is fairly well done. It’s a professional level of quality, although I felt it could be better, and there’s nothing really spectacular about it. The style is typical, and there isn’t anything unique or original about it. The pips are fully illustrated.

The twenty-two trumps have been completely modified and rearranged so that they fit some idea about a Native American spiritual life path (even with my limited understanding of Native American Spirituality, I can still tell that this is purely invention and has nothing to do with actual Native American spirituality). It’s strange that the trump order was changed without any regard to the Kabalistic correspondences in a deck that claims to incorporate the Kabalah. There’s nothing on the cards either to make me think the Kabalah was involved in the design. There are no Jewish letters, symbols of the kabalistic correspondences, or even numbers on the cards to help show the order they should be put into. The imagery doesn’t seem related to the Kabalistic correspondences of the cards.

The Minor Arcana meanwhile follow a much more typical design. However don’t expect any great insight from these cards either. The imagery typically lacks any kind of symbolism or deeper meaning. Sometimes images and ideas are taken from the Rider-Waite, but these are poorly understood by the designer and are not presented in a way in which their meaning is retained.

There’s nothing really Kabalistic about this deck, and other than loosely following the tarot structure it doesn’t seem in any way related to the Western Magical Traditions. I’m not very familiar with Native American Spirituality, but the deck seems to mostly represent some sort of fictitious Native American religion rather than actual beliefs. Taken as a purely spiritual deck absent its themes, the deck lacks symbolism and any sort of deeper meaning. I do not recommend this tarot.

Quick and Easy Tarot Deck – The Quick and Easy tarot takes the short paragraph long divinatory meanings given in some books and places them on borders of the cards. Both the upright and reversal meanings are included. The Rider-Waite deck is used for the tarot artwork.

First off, I don’t like these summary divinatory meanings of the cards, at least as a learning aid. They’ll teach you nothing. The only time they’re useful is once you understand the meanings of the cards and how they are derived, then it may be useful to look at another tarot reader’s interpretation of the cards and compare it with your own. Memorizing the divinatory meanings of the cards will never help you understand the tarot and ultimately its a lot more work than just learning how to understand the tarot.

As much as I like the Rider-Waite, the borders on this deck and the addition of the divinatory meanings makes the deck look ugly. It doesn’t look like a tarot anymore, it looks like some stupid teeny parlor game based on divination. And even if you are a teenager who just wants to play some stupid teeny parlor game, the fun of using the tarot for that is that it actually looks mystical and magical. If you want to actually learn tarot and do actual readings, buy a real Rider-Waite deck and learn how to actually read and understand the cards. I do not recommend this tarot.

Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot – This deck completely redraws the Rider-Waite tarot in order to make the cards more vibrant and bright. The deck actually does look nice, but I still prefer the original Rider-Waite. Also I have to ask, “How many versions of the Rider-Waite do we really need?”.

I mean, I understand that the folks at US Games are huge Pamela Coleman-Smith fanboys, but I really wish they’d stop commissioning all of these Rider-Waite recolorings and redrawings. There are so many different versions of the Rider-Waite already in existence I just don’t see the point in making any more. I don’t understand how anybody can need that many different slight variations of the exact same deck. I do not recommend buying this tarot. If you do, you’re just encouraging them to make even more needless Rider-Waite editions.

Radical Wirth – This deck redraws and recolors the Oswald Wirth trumps. The new drawings and colors look fantastic, and the drawings themselves don’t take anything away from the Wirth trumps or add anything new to them. Spiritually speaking the cards are as valuable as the original Wirth trumps in every way, and this rendition is by far the most beautiful rendition of the design. I recommend buying this deck, the only issue being that the deck will be of limited magical use since it is not a full deck.

Regardie Golden Dawn Tarot – This is a tarot deck designed by Ceremonial Magician Isreal Regardie and artist Robert Wang. Regardie was a student of Aliester Crowley and a member of the OTO, and later joined other off-shoots of the Golden Dawn. Eventually he published much of the Golden Dawn material, several original works, and helped to get some of Crowley’s unpublished works published posthumously. Regardie was also responsible for reviving the Golden Dawn and played a role in the revival of the OTO.

Regardie’s Golden Dawn tarot is based off of the Golden Dawn pattern, which was based off of Mather’s hand drawn deck. Members of the Golden Dawn were expected to draw, by hand, a tarot in the Golden Dawn pattern after achieving a high enough rank within the organization.

Some criticism has been laid on the deck because, at times, the artwork seems simple and amateurish. This was an intentional style choice though so that the deck would resemble the hand drawn decks of Golden Dawn members rather than look like something produced by a professional artist. The artist only partially succeeded in this goal though, since even though the deck does look amateurish at a glance, upon closer inspection it was obviously drawn by a professional.

For a long time this was the only Golden Dawn pattern deck which was commercially available as a deck. A second deck, the Classic Golden Dawn Tarot, was finally released a few years ago, and some elements of the Golden Dawn pattern were present in the Hermetic Tarot, a tarot that has been out of print longer than it has been back in print. This is still the only available color Golden Dawn pattern tarot.

I really like this deck and I don’t mind the art style. In fact I kind of like it. But it’s really Mathers’ symbolism which sells this deck. Mathers redesigned several of the trumps and a lot of Mathers’ changes, such as the Lovers card, were not only revolutionary but completely unique and not derivative of other decks. Not to mention that this deck is important, if for no other reason, than the fact that this pattern was a major influence on both Crowley and Waite.

The only real problem with this deck is that the pips are not fully illustrated. This means that the deck is not very good for doing readings for other people. The amateurish art style doesn’t help too much in that regard either. But I have found that it works fine for personal readings. I highly recommend this deck.

Reincarnation Tarot – This deck uses the French suits, not the Italian suits usually used in tarot, and each card has a picture of an animal printed on it. The animals usually have nothing to do with the card they’re printed on, or they have very little to do with the card, such as the owl being on the Hierophant card. This deck looks like a deck of playing cards and I have no idea how a person is supposed to use this spiritually.

I’m guessing the animals are supposed to be your past lives or something and there are ways to lay out the cards to figure out what you were. That’s a guess though. I think I would need the little white book to figure this thing out, and that’s not going to happen. However this thing is supposed to work, it’s not a tarot and it can’t be used for anything a tarot is traditionally used for, that is except for playing a card game, which is what I suspect it was designed for. I do not recommend this tarot.

Renaissance Tarot – The Renaissance Tarot is themed around artwork done in a renaissance style and depicts various figures from Greek and Roman mythology. It’s important to note that the artwork is done in a general renaissance style, not in the style of renaissance era tarot decks. The pip cards are somewhat illustrated, each suit depicting a different myth.

Discounting the theme entirely, the quality of the artwork on this deck is just okay. It’s better than a lot of other tarots, and it would have been more than adequate for a normal tarot deck. However with this deck’s theme of an older art style, I would expect it to have very high quality art work done by an artist known for beautiful artwork. That’s sort of the point of a deck like this.

Spiritually the deck doesn’t fare much better. The trump cards follow a fairly standard design, and most of what symbolism is present is due to the cards following a standard design. The individual scenes depicted on the pip cards, meanwhile, usually have little or nothing to do with the meaning of the card. I was hoping that the deck’s depiction of Greek and Roman mythology might make it a useful meditative aid, but very little of what’s depicted on the cards is useful for meditation. Even when the cards would make a good meditational aid, I find myself turned off from them because of the low quality of the artwork.

This deck doesn’t have much going for it. It does a few things adequately and a lot of things poorly. The deck doesn’t do anything well enough to make the deck stand out or make anyone want the deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Rider-Waite Tarot – I’m going to start by saying this is by far the most popular modern tarot and one of the two best tarots in existence (the other being the Crowley Thoth Tarot). I’ve talked a lot about other tarot decks being derivative of the Rider-Waite, so it’s also only fair to point out that the Rider-Waite is very derivative and Waite stole from many different sources, some of which were very obscure.

The deck was first published in black and white inside of Waite’s book, the Pictorial Key to the tarot in 1909. The first print run appeared in 1909, and there were two different Rider-Waite decks that appeared that year, the blue rose and lily deck and the red rose and lily deck, although it’s unclear which of these decks was published first. These decks had a very short print run and are extremely rare.

The deck had four more editions published by Rider, was subsequently published in numerous unauthorized editions and variations (which continue to this day) and eventually ended up being published by US Games, who has so far released three different versions of the standard deck (not including box variants) and numerous variants.

There has been some dispute over the copyright of the deck, despite the fact that it was published in 1909. US Games has sued many small companies who were unable to afford a legal fight for reprinting the public domain deck. It has been their claim that they own the US copyright which they purchased until 2012 since, in the US, copyright is for life plus seventy years (Waite died in 1942). There are numerous issues with this statement.

First off anyone who knows a little bit about US copyright law knows that life plus seventy years wasn’t established until 1978, and it isn’t retroactive. Older works have to follow the copyright law of the time they were written or published, and without exception anything published prior to 1923 is public domain in the US. Furthermore the deck was drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith, not Waite, and she did so on a work for hire basis which US Games acknowledges. Work for hires fall under a different category and the length is based on publication, not the creator’s life. Life plus seventy can’t be sold to another in a work for hire situation as US Games claims. All of this is inconsequential though since there’s never been any evidence that Waite went through the proper channels to establish copyright when he first published the deck, which was required in both the UK and US at the time, so barring other evidence the work was actually public domain the moment it was first published.

On to a proper review of the deck, the Rider-Waite has been one of the most popular and influential decks in existence since its publication over 100 years ago. For many tarot readers and magicians it’s their first deck, and many very experienced tarot readers and magicians prefer this deck. And that’s because the deck is pure awesome, and one of the two best tarot decks in existence (the other being Crowley’s Thoth).

The deck is full of esoteric knowledge. It works great for divinatory readings and the colorful cards and fully illustrated pips make it ideal for reading for other people. There’s also a lot of power and energy behind the cards, which makes it great for spellwork.

If you don’t own this deck, you have to buy it. Not only is it the greatest tarot deck ever made, but no one will ever take you seriously as a tarot enthusiast if you don’t own a copy of this deck.

As a final note of interest, Waite actually made a second deck after this one with another artist (and most likely he made an earlier deck too modeled after the Golden Dawn pattern). Waite’s second deck remains unpublished and was intended to be his deck for personal use, with the Rider-Waite being intended for the general public. This deck is highly recommended.

-US Games Digitilized – This is the standard edition currently being published by US Games. Around 2000 the Rider-Waite was digitalized and the font on the cards was changed. Many people feel the digitalized cards look worse than the previous editions and the new fonts are ugly. US Games have stated that they’ll look into fixing this, but so far they haven’t (it took them forever to fix that green tint on the Crowley deck too). The deck isn’t as good as the older versions, but it isn’t that bad. Meanwhile because a lot of people are now looking for these older editions of the deck the prices have gone way up. If you just want a standard Rider-Waite deck, I’d suggest just getting this one unless you have some time and money to burn searching for an older edition on Ebay. This deck is highly recommended.

-US Games Copyright Notice – This edition was released in 1975 and continued to be printed until about 2000. It’s exactly the same as the previous edition released in 1971 except that the cards all contain a small copyright notice printed on them. If you can find it, this deck is highly recommended.

-US Games Original Edition – This is the original edition of the cards printed by US Games from 1971 until 1975 which did not contain a copyright notice. The copyright notice doesn’t detract from the cards in any way, so I can’t recommend this edition over more readily available editions.

-Original Rider Waite – This is a reproduction of an early Rider-Waite deck with the blue rose and lily background. It’s a facsimile edition so some of the pictures are now faded and the details are sometimes difficult to see. I’ve found this deck to be more of a fun novelty for Rider-Waite collectors and enthusiasts and not very useful as a working deck. Some people do prefer the fonts on this deck though. This deck is not recommended.

-Smith-Waite Centenial Edition Tarot Deck – This is the new version deck released by US Games in celebration of the 100th birthday of the Rider-Waite tarot and is sold inside of the Pamela Coleman Smith Commemorative Tarot Set. The deck has been reproduced from one of the original red and brown rose and lily decks. I don’t have a copy of this deck yet, but it’s one of the decks I want and the reviews I’ve read so far have been very good.

-Giant Rider-Waite – I believe two versions of this deck exist, both a pre-digitalized version and a post-digitalized version. I bought this hoping the larger cards would be easier for studying the designs. Unfortunately the pictures seem to work best in the standard size and they don’t look as good when they’re blown up this big. This deck is not recommended.

-University Press Tarot – This is an early pre-US Games edition published by University Press. These aren’t that uncommon, and sometimes you can get them for a good price on Ebay, but sometimes they go for a lot more than they’re worth. For the most part these decks are sought after only by collectors, but some have also claimed that the colors of this edition are more vivid or truer to the Rider editions than the US Games editions. This tarot is not recommended.

-deLaurence Tarot – There were three different editions of this tarot published, all of which used alternate color schemes. The deLaurence Tarot is sort of like a cheap bootleg of the Rider editions which were sold in the United States before they were officially published there. The decks aren’t that hard to find, but they’re really only of interest to collectors. These decks are not recommended.

-Rider Editions – These are the original editions of the deck published by Rider company, and there are several different known editions. These can be hard to find and can be a bit expensive when they do come up. Once again these decks are mainly of interest only to collectors due to the fact that the deck is still in print and the cost of these early editions can get rather high. For spiritual use these decks are not recommended due to the fact that they don’t offer any spiritual value over the current editions.

-AE Waite Tarot – The AE Waite Tarot is a Polish Language version of the Rider-Waite. The backs are unique for the Rider-Waite and feature a poorly drawn cross on a shaded blue background. The deck’s color seems a bit blander than the various US Games editions of the deck. The deck is a novelty for Rider-Waite completionists, but not recommended for anyone else.

Rider-Waite (1950) – I know nothing about this deck except that Kaplan lists it.

-Lo Scarabeo RWS Tarot – This version of the Rider-Waite is listed on Lo Scarabeo’s website. It is not sold by Llewellyn. I doubt Lo Scarabeo has created a new version of the Rider-Waite tarot that no one has heard of. It’s possible Lo Scarabeo is lisenced to produce an Italian version of the new Smith-Waite Bicentenial Tarot and that’s my best guess as to what this is.

Robin Wood Tarot – There were tarots that incorporated Pagan elements prior to the Robin Wood tarot, and there were even full Wiccan tarots prior to the Robin Wood Tarot, but the Robin Wood Tarot was the first mass-produced tarot outside of Japan to be centered exclusively around Wicca and Paganism, and it became hugely popular because of it.

So let’s start on the Robin Wood. First off the deck throws away a lot of the elements of tarot that don’t exactly fit into the Wiccan religion. This includes things like Kabalism and Christian and Egyptian mythology. By removing elements of the tarot to make it exclusively Wiccan instead of incorporating Wiccan elements into the existing ideas of the tarot, the deck loses a lot of the meaning and history of tarot that has been developed over the last 200 years.

Although I think making the deck exclusively Wiccan was a bad choice, it could still work, you’d just have to redesign the entire tarot from scratch so that Wiccan beliefs and spirituality, and only Wiccan beliefs and spirituality, can fit in it. The problem is the Robin Wood Tarot wasn’t developed from scratch. It used the popular Rider-Waite deck as a template.

Now Wicca is related to Ceremonial Magic and was developed from it, but there is very little in common with what Waite, a Christian Mystic, practiced and the Wiccan religion. In fact Waite is probably as far removed from Paganism as a person can get while still being considered a Ceremonial Magician.

So we take Waite’s deck, which was based in ideas like Kabalism and Christian mythology, and we strip it of any symbolic meaning it may have had by taking those things away. Then we try to shove Wiccan beliefs and practices in there where ever we can. Not to mention Wood seems to have a very basic and shallow understanding of the card meanings, and so her interpretations of these cards are very shallow and basic. For instance I could easily write books on the symbolism meaning inherent in just the Devil card, although I see very little of that meaning inherent in the Robin Wood version of the card. In fact I doubt it would take me more than a few paragraphs to completely sum up the meaning of the symbolism in Wood’s Devil card.

Needless to say, I don’t like this deck. I only own it because it’s an important and influential deck. I recommend not getting it. Also I’d like to point out that the deck uses a special artsy box design instead of the standard one (yes, they decided to get creative not with the deck itself, but with something as utilitarian and simple as the box design). This box has caused me nothing but problems. In fact, while putting the deck away just now I accidentally spilt the cards all over the floor because of the stupid box.

Rohrig Tarot – Two versions of this deck exist, the original German version and the later US Games international release. The US Games version of this tarot unfortunately censors a lot of the nudity in the deck. US Games doesn’t usually release decks that feature very realistic looking genitals and in a couple of cases, the Rohrig tarot being one, they’ve added underwear to the cards. I really wish US Games wouldn’t do this, and I don’t really understand why they insist on censoring these decks. The sexual imagery and large amount of boobies present in this deck, for instance, means that it still isn’t going to be family friendly and inoffensive no matter how many penises and vaginas you remove.

The artwork on the deck uses what Internet people tell me is an “air-brush technique”. I’m not sure what an air-brush technique is, but the images look almost like collages made out of photorealism paintings with some additional color shading. I don’t really care for the art style of the deck, but some people really like it.

The Rohrig deck attempts to modernize the traditional tarot designs, which usually isn’t a very good sign. In theory I don’t have any issue with a tarot deck incorporating modern technology or other elements of 21st century life into the deck, but I find that when a tarot deck advertises that it is specifically designed to modernize the traditional tarot images that usually means the deck is crap.

The Rohrig tarot however has a few strong points. To start, all of the card designs are fairly unique, and although there is some influence from past decks in both the design and the symbolism, there is a lot of originality too. Some of the cards look like they might have some very interesting ideas hidden deep within them and they very nearly trick me into studying them further.

The first problem with the deck is that several of the cards are just laughable. The Chariot, for instance, is a Formula-1 race car, and that’s not the worst card in the deck. The seven of swords, for instance, has what looks like an astronaut fighting a giant alien. Looking at a card or two in this deck you might start to think it could be a really deep and spiritual deck full of esoteric meaning, but then you come across one of these silly cards in the deck and you can’t help but start laughing.

As for the deep symbolism and spiritual meaning that appears to be on the not so silly cards, if you actually sit down and study those cards for a bit you’ll discover they’re more flash than substance. The symbolism of the deck is very limited, and the best symbolism in the deck is actually derived from other, better, tarot decks.

I’m going to have to not recommend this deck. It’s ultimately more flash than substance, and some of the card designs are too silly to be taken seriously. It makes me feel a little better about US Games censoring this deck, because at least they didn’t ruin a good deck. Still it doesn’t make me feel that much better about it.

Roots of Asia Tarot – As the name suggests, the Roots of Asia tarot incorporates a lot of Eastern imagery, symbolism, and ideas from Eastern religions. The deck is not entirely Asian though, and there are a lot of Western spiritual ideas incorporated into the cards too. The artwork is very detailed and uses soft colors and tones. The imagery on the cards meanwhile sort of blends together. The artwork has a unique style to it and the artwork looks great. The pips are fully illustrated.

The ideas and symbolisms on the card fit perfectly with the traditional tarot meanings. However several new Eastern based symbols (such as using a tiger to represent power) have been added to the cards, and almost all of the imagery used on the cards is original. Some of what’s been added to the deck isn’t even Eastern, a lot of the deck just consists of new ideas that fit the cards and new ways to express the traditional concepts. Even without it’s Asian theme, this would still be a great and original deck.

I honestly didn’t think this deck could be as good as it is. Looking at a sample of one card out of the deck, it seemed like it might be an okay deck. After I had looked at five cards though, I started to think this might be one of the best decks I’ve ever seen. After looking at all seventy-eight cards, it is. I highly recommend this tarot.

Royal Fez Moroccan Tarot – The Fez Moroccan Tarot was designed by Roland Berril, founder of MENSA, and drawn by Micheal Hobdell in the 1950s, although neither man lived long enough to see the deck published.

Berril believed that the tarot was created by 12th century secret societies that existed in Fez, Morocco (thus the deck name). Berril’s deck is an attempt to recreate this Moroccan tarot. He does this mostly through the background images which seem to represent the Moroccan landscape, and which are the only original part of the deck. The rest of the deck borrows extensively from the Rider-Waite tarot, because apparently Waite was a 12th century Morrocan in disguise or something.

The whole idea behind the Royal Fez Morrocan Tarot kind of makes you question the validity of the MENSA genius.

In any case, with the exception of the background images the entire deck is derivative of the Rider-Waite. The artwork itself is well drawn, but the deck makes limited use of color. Normally that would be a bad thing, but with this deck it adds some much needed charm to the cards.

The only real significance of this deck lies in the fact that it is one of only a few early twentieth century tarots. There isn’t anything contained in this deck that you won’t get from the Rider-Waite, and those original background images really aren’t special enough to warrant buying another Rider-Waite tarot deck. I’m going to have to recommend passing on this tarot and buying the much cheaper standard Rider-Waite tarot instead.

Rumi Tarot – This is a deck, by Nigel Jackson, based around the Sufi religion as interpreted by the Persian mystic Rumi. The deck is well drawn and each of the cards features what I believe to be a short spiritual quote from Rumi. The quotes are actually my favorite part of this deck as most contain quite a bit of deep spiritual wisdom within them.

Most of the original tarot imagery, and perhaps its meaning too, has been replaced by Sufi imagery in this deck. Unfortunately I’m not very familiar with the Sufi religion or the works of Rumi, so I can’t adequatly review this deck. All I can really comment on is the fact that the artwork looks nice.

Runic Tarot – The Runic Tarot was made by the same team that made the Elemental Tarot and the Moon Oracle and the same artist who worked on the Mystic Meg Tarot. The art style of this deck is very similar to the Elemental Tarot and the Mystic Meg Tarot, so if you’re a fan of those decks you’ll know what to expect. However this is the latest release of the four decks, and the artwork is better than previous efforts.

The deck only contains 76 cards, and it’s structured in a very different way from the tarot. 24 cards are assigned to trumps, and these associate with the 24 different runes of the elder futhark, however they have no relationship to the traditional Tarot trumps. The two equinoxes and two solstices are also each assigned the card. The remaining 48 cards are split into four suits, each suit representing one of the four seasons. As you can tell, this deck is very different from a standard tarot deck.

The cards are interesting. There’s definitely at least as much depth and symbolism contained in the cards as is found in the Elemental Tarot. Plus every aspect of the deck is completely original. If it were a tarot, I’d give this deck a recommendation. Unfortunately though it isn’t a tarot, it’s an original oracle system. As an oracle I’d rate this deck well, but as an tarot I can’t recommend it.

Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg – There are actually a small number of obscure tarots which were created in Russia, but that isn’t the case with this tarot despite its name. Although created by Russians, this tarot was first published in the United States by US Games. The deck does however use Russian style artwork which is why it’s sold as a Russian tarot.

I like Russian style artwork, but I didn’t like this deck’s artwork. Part of it is preference. I didn’t like the style the artist used for the figure drawing and especially the faces. However I also found the artwork to be uninspired. The artwork was well drawn, but I found the deck’s imagery to be plain and uninteresting. This isn’t a limitation of the style either. I’ve seen Russian artwork that was beautifully done and a joy to stare at. That isn’t the case with this deck though.

As for the spiritual value of the deck, the imagery and symbolism are all solid, and the deck makes a good reading deck. However the imagery and symbolism is also uninspired. The trumps all use standard tarot designs and symbolism. The minor arcana meanwhile borrows heavily from the Rider-Waite. Although the deck does have a few sparks of symbolic originality, these are minor and rare occurrences.

When a deck, such as this one, almost completely borrows every spiritual image from another well established deck, the deck has to be very good at the way in which it presents those images in order to be worth buying, or it has to have very strong and unique artwork in order to make it stand out. As already discussed, the artwork isn’t that great. Meanwhile spiritually the deck is only average. It has no major flaws and its a solid deck for readings, but there’s nothing special about it and its not inherently better for readings that other solid decks that I’ve given a low recommendation to.

Mainly due to the fact that the Russian style artwork may be of interest to some and because the deck can be used for readings I’m going to stay on the fence about recommending this deck.

Sacred Circle Tarot – This is a Pagan deck based on the sacred areas of Ireland. The deck was created using a combination photography and computer generated graphics. The people photographed for this deck are all wearing Renfair robes. I suppose this is to make them look old-timey. Every aspect of this deck’s artwork was poorly done. The photography of this deck looks worse than most amateur snapshots and for the most part the models have no idea how to pose in a way that looks natural or interesting. Most end up looking silly and stupid. The computer generated graphics meanwhile look like complete crap and are nowhere near the levels of better computer generated tarots, or even a lot of the free clipart that is available online. The photographs and computer generated graphics are combined together in a way that looks as if it was a simple cut and past job done with a free paint program, and often times the various elements don’t mesh together at all.

Spiritually it doesn’t seem as if the deck designer understood the tarot at all, or that they understood that the tarot was a spiritual tool, or that they even understood what the word symbolism meant. Most of the cards are just spiritually void with the meaning of the card being completely lost. Every so often the deck does manage to borrow traditional tarot imagery that has some symbolic meaning, but even then the deck designer often times manages to screw it up. For instance the deck manages to include the Magician’s four elemental tools, however these are included on the fifth trump, not the first. Even more perplexing is the fact that the first trump is the High Priest, which is one of the titles commonly used by the fifth trump in other decks, and the fifth trump meanwhile is the Druid, a title that seems better aligned with the Magician than the Hierophant. It should go without saying that I do not recommend this tarot.

Sacred Rose Tarot – The Sacred Rose Tarot was originally released as a twenty-two card trump deck in ’81, and later as a full deck in ’82. The deck is based off of the artwork of medieval stain glass windows and Byzantine icons. The deck features many roses, of course, and relies heavily on the symbolism of the different colors of the roses.

To start, the deck’s artwork looks beautiful, especially if you like the look of medieval stained glass. There’s a story about this deck being commissioned by US Games after Stuart Kaplan saw a business card illustrated by the deck designer and wanted to see what she could do with a tarot.

The deck was being designed by the late 70s (a fool card which was eventually rejected appears in Kaplan’s Encyclopedia of Tarot Vol. 1), and was first published in ’81, a few years before simply lifting the Waite design and redrawing it into a new style came into vogue, so the deck does feature original card designs and isn’t just the Rider-Waite design in stained glass.

I like that the designer did something new with the symbolism of the deck by incorporating the symbolism of the different colored roses into the tarot, even if I don’t have the little white book readily available so I can understand what those colors mean. Many of the cards in this deck, especially the trumps, more or less follow the traditional tarot designs with the inclusion of roses, so much of the traditional tarot symbolism remains intact.

I’ll admit that the first time I saw this tarot, as beautiful as it was, I thought the symbolism, with the exception of the traditional tarot symbolism and the roses, was weak, and I was about ready to write this off as an art deck. It wasn’t until about my third or fourth time looking through the deck that I started to realize just how wonderful and unique the symbolism was, and at the same time it remains true to the traditional interpretations of the cards.

For instance the two of cups represents the element of water in its purest form. Water deals with emotions and love and relationships, and so the two represents these things in their purest form: completely uninhibited, entirely in the moment, and as powerful, wild, and natural as they will ever be. The two of cups in the Sacred Rose Tarot show a man and woman side hugging, each holding a cup before them, and each cup overflowing with water, or under closer inspection probably roses that resemble water, that comes pouring out of the tops and is forming a huge puddle/pile at their feet.

The Eight of Cups shows a woman who looks unkempt and defeated hording her eight cups into a basket like a miser. The image is exactly the opposite of the Rider-Waite, which shows a man walking away from the eight cups, but the idea is exactly the same. In the Rider-Waite the man is leaving his emotions behind him and becoming stoic so he won’t be hurt. In the Sacred Rose Tarot the woman is hording her emotions, keeping them entirely to herself. Both decks are interpreting the card exactly the same. Both are referencing that emotional state many of us find ourselves in right after a relationship has ended where we don’t want to be involved with anyone else right away and we don’t want to open ourselves up to a relationship again and possibly get hurt.

The Strength card meanwhile shows the woman’s face in the mane of the lion, and it’s unclear where she ends and the lion begins. Meanwhile the infinity sign is above her head. I won’t go into a full explanation of the strength card, but I will say that this is one of the best interpretations of that card I’ve ever seen.

The symbolism and spiritual meaning of this deck is a bit subtle, but it’s definitely there. It seems almost as if the deck’s artwork is so beautiful that you have to expend some effort to see beyond it and find the deep spiritual value of this tarot. I highly recommend this deck.

Sante Fe Tarot – The Sante Fe Tarot is the Native American tarot deck I’ve been looking for. The deck’s artwork is designed in the style of pre-Columbian Navajo paintings. The designer studied Navajo mythology and symbolism and incorporated these ideas into the structure of a tarot. The designer’s intention was to create a tarot that would look like a pre-Columbian Navajo tarot would look like if such a thing existed.

This is not a commercialized reinterpretation of Native American beliefs, or a perversion of those beliefs designed to fit some modern political ideology, such as environmentalism. This is also not a fantasy depiction of Native Americans or a tarot that’s based around modern Native American culture. This tarot is based in actual Native American, specifically Navajo beliefs. I really want to recommend this tarot, but unfortunately my very limited knowledge of Navajo spirituality and mythology in no way qualifies me to give a fair assessment of the spiritual value of these cards.

All I can say is that there is a good deal of energy behind these cards, so they’ll probably prove very useful in spell work, and that this deck does not incorporate enough of the traditional tarot design to be useful to the experienced tarot reader who does not understand Navajo spirituality. To me though this is the truest and best Native American tarot published so far, and I do suggest that anyone who is interested in Native American tarots pick up this deck. I’m tempted to spend a few months studying Navajo spirituality just so I can review this deck, because I really think it deserves a recommendation.

Satanic Tarot – I wasn’t expecting much from this tarot, and it failed to deliver even that. To start with it’s a majors only deck, so I’m taking off a few points for it not being a complete deck. In order to make a majors only deck stand out the deck has to be really well done or very unique, and this deck fails in both regards.

The deck only uses two colors, red and black, and only a single shade of each color. The artwork meanwhile is amateurish and almost adequate for a tarot deck.

The deck design is borderline silly with choices like changing the Emperor to the Anti-Christ. There are ways to make dark tarots which explore darker, or even evil, aspects of spirituality. This deck however is not fails to be dark. Instead we get the Walmart branded fake badassary that shows up again and again in Satanic products. The actual spiritual value of this deck is nil. The few interesting spiritual symbolisms, like Cerberus on the Hermit card, were all taken from better decks. This tarot is not recommended.

The Secret Tarot – The artwork of this deck is the very detailed and realistic artwork that is common in Lo Scarabeo decks. Although the artwork in this deck is far more realistic and technical than you’ll fine in most non-Lo Scarabeo decks, this deck’s artwork isn’t up to the usual Lo Scarabeo standards. All of the cards also intentionally feature scenes that take place during the brightly lit night or at sunset, which results in a darker, dull tone that runs through out the entire deck with little variation.

I can deal with bad artwork if there’s a really good deck underneath it, and the artwork in the Secret Tarot is still far from being bad (although it is a bit boring and uninteresting). Unfortunately though there isn’t a great deck underneath the artwork here. All of the card designs are derivative of other decks, most notably the Rider-Waite, and they feature very little symbolism. The symbolism that is present is not only shallow, but it’s also lifted off of other decks, once again most notably the Rider-Waite.

The deck is a poor esoteric deck, and what little symbolism is contained within the cards is all derivative. The artwork is a bit above average, but it’s style is boring and uninteresting. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Sedona Vortex Tarot – I’ve actually been to Sedona, so I have some first hand experience with the place. The Vortexes are a real phenomena and the energy of the entire area is both very pleasant and very strong. However it’s also become a New Age tourist trap and Sedona is largely about making money off of the Vortexes. To be fair Sedona also has some nice hiking trails and campgrounds, and only 60% of visitors come for spiritual reasons, the rest being just normal campers.

The Sedona Vortex Tarot is really just another attempt by some opportunist to cash in on the Vortexes by removing some New Ager from their money. The tarot is done in a collage style, and looking at the cards I typically find myself struggling to make sense of it. Images just seem to be thrown together on the cards, and the images themselves have very little relation to the traditional card meanings or to Sedona. Most of the images though seem as if they might be the sort of thing that would spark some interest in a common New Ager.

I suspect that, like a lot of New Age tarots, the point of this tarot is meditation. And as all tarot enthusiasts know staring at random and insane images is the very best way to meditate. A large number of the cards seem to have no meaning at all, or meanings so obscure that they can’t possibly be read without some sort of guidebook. When I am able to start to make some sense out of a card, the meaning doesn’t seem to bare any relation to the card or to Sedona. I do not recommend this tarot.

Sensual Wicca Tarot – Okay this is a weird deck. I’m pretty sure a guy is having sex with a dolphin or is about to have sex with a dolphin on one of the cards.

Kidding aside (but that dolphin card is real, I swear) it’s an interesting deck, although I’ll admit I haven’t really studied it too in depth. The deck and the card designs are different, but there actually is some deep symbolism in some of the cards. I’ve never tried to do a reading or meditation or spellwork with this deck, but I think it might yield some interesting results.

I’m not going to say this is a great deck, but if you want something different and interesting, and you don’t mind loads of sex and nudity, this deck is worth picking up. I recommend this tarot.

Servents of the Light – This deck was designed by Traditional Witch Doloros Ashcroft-Nowicki in collaboration with tarot designer Elizabeth Gill, designer of the Gill tarot, who worked on the trumps and Anthony Clark, Designer of the Magickal Tarot, who worked on the minors. Gil’s trumps are much more detailed and well drawn than Clark’s minors which are not fully illustrated.

There is quite a bit of esoteric knowledge and symbolism in the card designs, especially in Gill’s trumps, although most of it is derivative. Clark’s court cards, although not as well drawn as Gill’s trumps, more often feature unique designs and symbolisms.

I’m told that there is a lot hidden within this deck and the only way to truly understand it is to be familiar with the Servants of the Light system. Since the Servants of the Light is a secret order, the only way to be familiar with the order’s teachings is to join it and take their correspondence course, which is above and beyond what I’m willing to do for a tarot review. From what I’ve seen of this tarot there is some unique symbolism and information, but not nearly enough to warrant the high price this tarot usually demands because of its collectability. I am giving this tarot a low recommendation, and that’s only if you can get a good deal on the price.

Shadow Tarot – The Shadow Tarot is a 22 card trump only tarot deck based on the qlippothic works of Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Grant. The artwork is interesting and is probably best described as post-impressionism or semi-abstract. As would be expected the imagery features dark, bold colors, yet it is nowhere near as dreary as most qlippothic or left hand path based deck.

My main issue with any deck centered around the qlippoth is that the qlippoth is already represented and expressed within the standard tarot design. Left hand path practitioners seem to have gotten this idea in their head that, because the tarot has kabalistic associations, it must only be associated with the Sepiroth, but this isn’t the case. Every card represents both its Sepirothic and Qlippothic associations.

The deck does have an interesting energy to it, and I would like to spend even more time, in the future, working with the deck in meditation. The energy isn’t very strong though. I don’t look at the cards and feel as if the energy is drawing me forward, like I do when I look at most really good tarots. Normally I could forgive a good deck for this, but with a Qlippothic theme, I would expect the deck to draw me into it. That should be its primary focus.

The energy also seems off to me. It’s not really qlippothic, and the deck doesn’t seem to have a clear connection to the qlippoth. Qlippothic energy is going to feel alien and contrary to just about anyone in this world, and the energy of this deck doesn’t feel very contrary or alien. On one hand I’m happy to see a left hand path deck that isn’t designed like a bad horror movie. On the other hand though, the nature of this deck isn’t entirely qlippothic.

It’s still an interesting deck and should provide some interesting meditations. The deck doesn’t really work well for anything else though, and it’s not as good for meditations as I had hoped. The fact that it’s only 22 cards also hurts this deck a bit. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Shadowscapes – This deck is beautiful. It is beyond beautiful. Half of the decks I see are beautiful. The artwork in this deck is extraordinary. There are only a handful of decks released that have comparable artwork. The style is not only well done, detailed, and elaborate, it’s unique.

On to the deck itself. The deck does not use traditional imagery or symbolism. Most of the imagery and symbolism in the deck is unique, and I’m giving the deck a lot of extra points for that. Due to the distracting beauty of the artwork and the atypical symbolism it’s very easy to look at this deck and think that it doesn’t have any esoteric symbolism or spiritual meaning. However if a person can pull themselves away from the card and actually study it for a while they’ll notice that there is a lot of spiritual meaning contained in these cards, more than you’d expect at a glance.

Instead of using old symbolism the designer has figured out what she believes to be the meaning of the cards and reinterpreted those meanings with new imagery. The designer’s interpretation of the card is usually correct, although there are some instances where I do not agree her. My one big complaint is that with several cards the interpretation, although correct, seems a bit shallow. It seems as if the designer, although they understood the card, didn’t have a very deep understanding of it.

Don’t take my criticism to mean that this is a bad deck though. The designer has a deep understanding of many of the cards, and many of the cards interpret the ideas in interesting and enlightening ways. My disappointment with this deck is due entirely to the fact that the artwork is so good I want the rest of this deck to be perfect, because I want this to be a perfect tarot. I wouldn’t be nearly so tough on this tarot if I wasn’t so taken with the deck.

I recommend this tarot. Even without the artwork it still has enough esoteric value and originality for me to recommend it. I like this deck so much that I really wish I could highly recommend it, but I can’t bump the deck up that high just because of the artwork no matter how phenomenal it might be.

Shaman Tarot – This is another Lo Scarabeo art deck with a deceptive name. This deck depicts Shaman from different cultures. Like most Lo Scarabeo art decks the artwork is detailed and well drawn, and like most of Lo Scarabeo art decks, the artwork is based more in fantasy than actual practice, and the deck itself is far removed from even the basic tarot design. The deck has nothing to offer spiritually or magically, and so I don’t recommend this tarot.

Sharman-Caselli Tarot – This is sold as a beginner’s tarot and included in a boxed set with the book “The Beginner’s Guide to Tarot”. Most of the cards outright copy the Rider-Waite, and the cards that don’t, like the Devil card, are inferior to the Rider-Waite design and fail to add anything new to the tarot. Even the cards that are faithful to the Rider-Waite design seem to miss the point, and the artwork, although more detailed than the Rider-Waite, is also uglier. All in all this is nothing more than an uninspired Rider-Waite clone. I do not recommend buying this deck. Spend an extra $5 and buy a real Rider-Waite deck instead.

Sheridan-Douglas Tarot – The Sheridan-Douglas Tarot is one of the most underrated esoteric tarot decks on the market. The deck was first published in the early 70s but wasn’t very successful. A second edition was later printed in Poland, but I know very little about this edition. After going out of print, this tarot started developing more and more interest among tarot enthusiasts. This led to it finally being republished after being out of print for over three decades in North America.

The artwork on the deck is fairly simple and the colors are bold and without shading. The imagery is minimalistic although it does still contain quite a bit of depth. The trumps follow the traditional trump designs fairly closely. The pip cards are fully illustrated and the minor arcana is really where this deck starts to get really good.

The minor arcana use almost completely original and unique designs. With the exception of a few of cards that are similar to the Rider-Waite designs, the images and symbolism were not borrowed from earlier decks that featured fully illustrated pips. Although these images are simple and have a limited amount of symbolism, what they do have often times has a lot of depth and it always follows the traditional interpretations of the cards.

This tarot is also good for energy work, meditation, and spell work. Despite the simplistic images, there is a great deal of energy and power behind these cards, making them ideal for these purposes.

This is not a deck that is without faults. The simplistic artwork makes it really easy to find faults in this deck. However as an esoteric tool the deck is correct and follows esoteric meanings. More importantly though the deck has a surprising amount of energy behind it and works really well for any type of energy work or spellwork, which to me makes this deck an almost invaluable tool. I highly recommend this deck.

Shiawase Wo Yobu Ai no Tarot Uranai – This is a 22-card trump only Japanese tarot. The artwork is well drawn in a style that is typical of Waite influenced decks, although the colors are more vibrant than usual. Spiritually the deck design is very similar to the Waite trumps, probably the only unique aspect of both the design and artwork being the card backgrounds which are filled with patterns and symbols and each of which contains one or more large circles. Ultimately the deck doesn’t have much to offer that isn’t already available in the Rider-Waite, and the fact that it’s a trump only deck further limits its magical use. Still the design is solid, it’s interesting to see the Waite design artistically reinterpreted into this deck, and the backgrounds do provide something new and interesting, so I’m going to give this deck a few extra points and be on the fence about recommending it.

Shining Angels Tarot – This is a round tarot deck. I do not like round tarot decks. Making a tarot deck round makes good tarot decks not so good, and it makes crappy tarot decks even worse. This particular tarot deck is themed around angels, which is another tarot design choice that usually does not end well.

The Trumps follow the standard tarot design, except angels have been plastered all over them. I don’t mean they do what theme decks typically do, replacing the human figures with angels, I mean the cards just follow the standard imagery but also include an angel. The Hermit is no longer in the dark, he’s come out of a cave to find an angel in the brightly lit sky. The moon on the Moon card is now also being watched by an angel. The Tower is being destroyed by an Angel. Despite the fact that this deck uses standard trump imagery, very little of the esoteric knowledge of the trumps ends up in this deck. What does make it through is often times ruined by the inclusion of an angel where it doesn’t belong. The angels meanwhile add nothing to the deck. They contain no spiritual or esoteric meaning and don’t seem to be expressing any kind of idea, beyond the fact that the designer felt the need to put angels on every card to fit the theme of the deck.

The lesser arcana doesn’t fare much better, except it doesn’t have the benefit of standard imagery to borrow. Many of the cards now end up nonsensical depictions of angels. The ace of cups is a cup being held by an angel. In the Rider-Waite you’ll remember the hand of god held up the aces. This works because they’re associated with Kether, the highest aspect of the known universe and the place of true divinity. It doesn’t work if an angel holds up the cup because, even if they are a servant of god or considered holy, they’re still an imperfect creation of god, something associated with a lower sphere, and not the complete divine perfection that is expressed in Kether. The Five of Pentacles meanwhile just shows an angel in a pentagram. As far as I can tell, that image means absolutely nothing.

Even without the circular cards this is a pretty bad deck. The circular cards aren’t helping this deck, but due to my already low review of the deck based just on the imagery, they aren’t really hurting it either. I do not recommend this tarot.

Shining Tribe Tarot – Three different editions of this deck by comic book writer and tarot designer Rachal Pollock exist. The original deck was called the Shining Woman Tarot. Later a revised edition was released as the Shining Tribe Tarot. Finally a high quality signed limited edition was released.

This tarot deck uses brightly colored yet simple and amateurish drawings. The imagery is really bad, and not in the sense that it’s ugly, but in the sense that the artist lacked the ability to draw well enough to express themselves in pictures. This is one of the few published decks where I feel as if my ability to comprehend the card designs is limited due to the artist’s lack of basic artistic ability.

For example the Death card features, among other things, a skeleton which is Death. Now I only assume that this is the Death skeleton because the card is the 13th trump and says Death on it. If you just showed me the picture I probably would have guessed that it was a robot or a rocket ship. If you’re wondering how something could be either a robot or a rocket ship, the artwork is that bad. Death has what I initially thought was a rocket drawn on him. After looking at it a second time I now think it is a fish. There’s also a flaming butterfly, or phoenix, or stealth bomber on his chest. Phoenix makes the most sense given the context, but it doesn’t look much like a phoenix. There are a few cards that are a little bit better in this deck, but those cards are better due to simpler imagery, not because of better artwork.

I may not be able to comprehend the artwork on most of this deck, but based on the cards I can sort of comprehend, I don’t think I’m missing much. For example the lovers has a river with two trees above it that are in front of two hills or mountains. In the sky two red people, one with wings, are hugging or kissing or something. My initial thought was Cupid and Psyche, but the wings are on what I think is the girl. I could be completely wrong about which ones the girl though. There are embers or crosses or something falling off the two in the sky, and there are giant worms or something crawling on the mountain. Needless to say, it’s not a very good design and even if it were drawn by a professional artist it still wouldn’t say much.

I don’t recommend this deck.

Shinpi no Tarot Uranai: Big Arukana Tarot – This is a 22 Card trump only deck from Japan. Most of the cards feature solid white backgrounds and the same shade of white is used extensively in coloring the imagery. In fact a good deal of the deck’s imagery seems as if it’s black and white with colored artwork liberally added to the cards. The contrast between the black and white and color imagery on the cards produces an interesting effect, admittedly it’s the most interesting part of this deck. The images themselves are minimalistic and plain and, beyond the color effect, are mostly boring. The symbolism in the deck is all standard symbolism and lacks depth. The deck is also a trump only tarot so its magical uses are limited. I do not recommend this tarot.

Sigon Cartomanzia 184 Tarot – This deck was first released in 1912 as the Il Destino Svelato Dal Tarocco. It was later rereleased several times by cardmaker Modanio as the Cartomanzia 184 (I know for certain that the deck was rereleased in 1942 and 2000, but I’m unsure of any other editions), and once by US Games as the Cagliostro Tarot. The trumps are based off of the Papus-Goulinat design, although it dismisses the Marseilles woodblock inspired art style of these cards and gives the deck an Egyptian motiff. The pip cards are not fully illustrated and use both the Italian and French suits. The court cards are double-sided mirror images, a style which is much more common in playing card decks.

Despite the change in art style and the Egyptian theme, the cards still manage to incorporate most of the imagery of the Papus-Goulinat cards. The deck however seems to be designed more for cartomancy, and even game playing, than any other esoteric use. The deck is mostly interesting for its historical value and its Papus-Goulinat inspired imagery. I’m on the fence about recommending this deck, but I do suggest looking at it if you’re into cartomancy as I’m sure at least a few cartomancers will feel drawn to this deck.

-Cartomanzia 184 – This is the Modanio edition of the deck. I’m not sure how many editions were printed, but I’ve heard that there are some slight changes to the artwork between editions. The divinatory meanings of these cards are in Italian, although I do believe Modanio also printed at least one English edition of this deck. If you’re going to get this deck, this is the edition I recommend getting.

-Cagliostro Tarot – This is the US Games edition of the deck distributed in North America. This edition is notorious for containing translation errors. This is the most readily available edition of the deck, at least in the United States, but it’s unfortunately not as good as the Cartomanzia 184.

-Il Destino Svelato Dal Tarocco – This is the original 1912 edition printed by Modanio.

Silenus Tarot – This is a tarot based in Greek mythology. The tarot features cartoonish art work and fully illustrated pips. Each of the cards illustrates a different Greek myth.

Although I’m usually able to identify the myths, the imagery seems nonsensical when compared to the traditional meaning and symbolism of the card. The Four of Coins for instance is Polythemus eating the sailors. The Four of Swords is Achilles not fighting at Troy. The Wheel of Fortune is Oedipus solving the riddle of the Sphinx, I suppose because there is a sphinx on the traditional Wheel of Fortune image, but the story still isn’t related to the card in any way.

A few of the cards almost make sense, such as Pandora opening the box being the Tower, or Silenus being the Fool, but even then the stories barely fit the cards.

All in all I’m going to have to classify this as an art deck. Although it uses Greek mythology, it isn’t in any way adapted to the tarot meanings or concepts, it just puts 78 different pictures referencing different myths into a deck of cards. Due to the cartoonish artwork on the cards, I don’t think most people will find them too useful for spiritual work that involves the Greek gods either. On the plus side though the artwork is clear and I found the myths on most of the cards to be easily identifiable. I do not recommend this tarot.

Sol Invictus: The God Tarot – This is supposedly a Pagan tarot, although it features deities from many different Pantheons, not just the European pantheons. The deck is meant as a response to the feminine bend to modern Paganism which often times dismisses or reduces anything masculine, and so the deck is themed entirely around the gods and the masculine aspect of the divine.

Not being Pagan, I don’t really care about the deck’s message. It’s not something that’s particularly important to me. I will agree that there are a lot of Pagan Goddess tarots and non-tarot decks out there which completely dismisses anything masculine. However I think the solution is a balanced tarot and not what this deck does, which is going to the opposite extreme and dismissing anything feminine.

On to the cards themselves. The gods which are chosen for each of the cards fit with only the shallowest interpretations of the cards, and it seems to me as if the deck designer has a very limited understanding of tarot. Some of the choices also point towards the designer having a very limited understanding of spirituality in general. For instance the five of coins depicts Lucifer having just been thrown to heaven on to Earth. Considering the shallowest general interpretations of the five of coins, what this card is telling me is that there is nothing spiritual about the physical world or Earthly endeavors, and that true spirituality lies beyond the physical world. Your opinion on the matter may differ from mine, but I find that to be the product of a very limited spiritual understanding, and the standard tarot does agree with me on this point. The inclusion of the suit of coins in the tarot is a statement that spirituality is in everything, including all aspects of the physical world, and this exact lesson is actually imprinted into the Ace of Pentacles in the Rider-Waite deck.

Then there are some parts of this deck that are really awful. For instance, I love Shakespeare and think he’s a great poet and playwright, but unlike the deck designer I don’t consider him to be a god. He was just a man who happened to excel at his professions (he was also a successful business man).

The artwork to this deck is decidedly adequate. There’s nothing special about it, but it’s good enough for a tarot deck, each of the cards seems more or less distinct while the deck follows a consistent style, and a few of the cards actually do look interesting at a glance. The artwork would do fine with a strong or even adequate tarot. However here the mediocre artwork is the deck’s strongest point. I’m going to have to not recommend this deck.

Sola-Bosca Tarot – Sold as the Ancient Enlightened Tarot, the Sola-Busca tarot was created in the 1490s and is the oldest complete 78 card tarot in existence. The deck was an obscure luxury deck and historical oddity that didn’t have much influence on the historical tarot decks that followed it. The deck is actually the first deck to have fully illustrated pips, something that wouldn’t become commonplace until the 20th century.

The deck probably would have remained an obscure tarot deck, except that Waite borrowed extensively from this deck for his Rider-Waite tarot, with some card designs, like the three of swords, being lifted straight off of this deck.

Today interest in this deck is largely due to its ties to the Rider-Waite deck. This gives the deck some historical significance, although it still lacks spiritual significance. The deck is now out of print, but it had a fairly long print run and second hand copies are readily available. Unless you’re a big fan of the Rider-Waite and all things Rider-Waite associated, or you’re a huge fan of historical decks, this deck is probably one you’ll want to pass on. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Sorcerers Tarot – I remember reading something about this deck, I can’t remember what, that got me really excited about it when it was first announced. For some reason I was led to believe there was something spiritual about this deck. There isn’t. It’s an art deck without any spiritual or magical value. This tarot is not recommended.

Spiral Tarot – This is actually a very well drawn and beautiful looking deck, especially in regards to the trump cards, which the deck claims are based off of Celtic mythology. Despite the theme of Celtic mythology, it doesn’t seem to me to be a Pagan deck. The trumps are all completely original and feature various Celtic gods. The minor arcana meanwhile vary between being completely original and being very derivative of the Rider-Waite.

The cards are full of symbolism and deep spiritual meaning, but often times I feel as if the designer completely misunderstood the card, or didn’t comprehend its deeper meaning. The Hierophant card, for instance, shows a man (or maybe a god, I suck at Celtic mythology) commanding the power of the sky and creating a rainbow. This seems to be more inline with the Magician card than anything else, and in no way does it depict the Hierophant as being a servant to deities or other higher powers through which his own power is granted and which allows him to make servants of those beneath him.

The Fool meanwhile is shown being taught mystical knowledge by an angel or fairy or something, which to me seems to imply that the fool has been misinterpreted here as an ignorant person at the beginning of their journey who is going to learn as time passes instead of being the idea of void and nothingness and the height of spirituality, being at once both nothing and everything.

Even the Rider-Waite derived cards seem to be misunderstood. The Three of Wands for instance shows a finely dressed woman. The original Rider-Waite had a man in makeshift rags. It was supposed to express the idea of desire in contrast to the idea of desire as it is expressed in the Two of Wands. The man in the Two of Wands is a purity of desire. Desire is what fulfills him. His ambitions and passions are not driven by the end result and the eventual accumulation of wealth, but rather their pursuit is the end that he seeks. He sees the journey as his destination. The man in the Three of Wands meanwhile wants, and to him his passion is directed towards the ultimate reward of his endeavors and not towards what he is doing. This whole idea is ruined by the fact that the woman in the Three of Wands is nicely dressed, and not obviously longing for something more.

Due to the artwork and the heavy use of spiritual symbolism I really want to recommend this deck, but unfortunately there are just too many flaws in the deck’s interpretation of the cards and it doesn’t seem to me like the designer understands the tarot very well. I do not recommend this deck.

The Spirit of Flowers Tarot – This is another Laura Taun Tarot. Taun is a prolific designer for Lo Scarabeo who makes totally spiritually devoid art decks which Lo Scarabeo then tries to sell as metaphysical decks. She is responsible for such atrocities as the Witchy Tarot, The Native American Tarot, and the Tarot of Sexual Magic, none of which have fared too well in my reviews. To be honest, I’m getting tired of reviewing her crap tarots.

This time the tarot is themed around the spirits of flowers. Like all Lo Scarabeo art decks, this features high quality and highly detailed artwork. However the flowers have no esoteric association to the cards they’re placed on, there is no esoteric or spiritual knowledge of any kind contained within this deck, this deck does not offer any kind of spiritual insight, and it’s completely useless as a magical tool. I do not recommend this tarot.

Spirit Tarot – This tarot has four different creators. Designer Kris Dorea combined the artwork of two different artist to create the trump cards, and used pictures taken out of a photographers portfolio for the minor arcana. The trump cards look like they were specifically designed for a tarot. However the photographs used for the minor arcana don’t look like they were specifically intended for a tarot deck, and this portion of the deck looks like a found deck.

The trumps are all beautifully drawn, and they start to make an okay deck. The minor arcana, in addition to looking awful, lacks any consistency with the style of the trump cards. It seems as if two completely different decks were just jammed together. It makes no sense why these competent artists, who were available to do the trump cards, weren’t commissioned to do the entire deck.

Spiritually, the trump cards are okay. There is some spiritual symbolism present in these cards, and there are even some good original ideas. The problem is there isn’t enough. What’s being expressed on most of the cards is fairly standard and shallow. The trump cards are simply adequate, however they could’ve still belonged to a good deck if they were followed up by a really strong minor arcana.

Unfortunately though the minor arcana is horrible. It’s a found deck made up of various photographs taken from a single photographers portfolio. It’s very rare that any of these photographs tie into the meaning of the card. Even when they sometimes do, the photographs weren’t designed to tie into the cards, so the spiritual ideas being expressed are, at best, going to be shallow and accidental.

The deck just has too many problems for me to recommend it. Its biggest problem though is that it lacks consistency between the trump cards and the minor arcana. At a minimum, tarot decks need to be consistent in their style and artwork. That’s the thing that makes it a deck of cards rather than just a collection of different cards.

St Martin’s Celtic Tarot – The deck actually contains very little Celtic spirituality. Instead the deck dresses up the tarot with Celtic themed imagery, which is where it gets its title from. For the most part the cards follow the traditional tarot meanings and concepts with an odd bit of Celtic mythology thrown in here and there, such as renaming the Hierophant the Druid. The artwork is well drawn and bright yet very soft. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

The deck has some very interesting imagery. One that stood out for me was the Five of Pentacles. The Five of Pentacles usually represents physical or financial conflict or problems which arise externally, and in this deck it’s depicted with a chest that has been robbed. I don’t know why no other tarot designer has made this connection between external financial troubles and a robbery because it seems obvious and fits perfectly. Not only that, but the chest is a strong and supposedly secure object meant to safeguard money, much like a modern day safe. Normally it would be representative of the Four of Coins being secure, and stable, and with no opposition or external problems. Seeing the chest knocked over and broken into shows the transition from the Four, which is secure and stable and exists without threat, to the Five, which is conflict and opposition applied to the Four in an attempt to destroy or change it.

Some of the symbolism in this deck though, like the artwork, is very soft and subtle. When I first saw the High Priestess card I saw a robed woman standing. Technically this works, but it’s a pretty boring card without much to it. However when I studied it more I realized she was standing in a doorway, and beyond the doorway was the night and the moon. To start, the Moon is the planet associated with the High Priestess card. The high priestess is one of the two personifications of femininity, the other being the Empress, and it is the first and purest of these two personifications. The application of her power is represented by the Strength card, and this power in a broader sense is represented by the Moon card. The moon card represents that which is hidden, particularly spiritual secrets and the sacred mysteries. The Kabalistic path of the high priestess connects the middle triad to the first triad, and the High Priestess is often seen as a connection between one world and another, between the physical and the spiritual. She is that which pierces the veil and exists in both worlds at once, and she is the passageway to the other side. That’s why it’s so significant that in this deck the High Priestess is standing in the doorway. She is at the passageway between the well lit and safe area on one side of the wall, and the unknown of the night and everything else that lies outside, including the moon and everything that is implied by that planet and its tarot card.

The deck’s artwork is good, there are some interesting and unique design choices, the deck has some depth to it, and for the most part the cards follow the traditional tarot meanings and concepts. The only major flaw in the deck is that it is sometimes boring. The cards which aren’t interesting are still correct, but the imagery is usually commonplace and uninspired. The art style meanwhile is very calm and peaceful, which doesn’t help to make the deck any more exciting. I’m still recommending the deck though because it’s a well designed and solid deck with some interesting cards and good artwork.

Stairs of Gold Tarot – This deck is also known as the Tavagoline Tarot, and was released in a gold edged limited edition and a regular unlimited edition. The deck features large elaborate borders which contain various common tarot associations. The deck’s artwork looks fantastic although the pip cards are not fully illustrated.

The trumps more or less follow the traditional tarot design, although there are some minor esoteric changes to the designs that make this deck worthwhile, such as the transparent cloth hung over the face of the high priestess. Unfortunately though I’m on the fence about recommending this deck. Outside of its artistic beauty it really doesn’t offer enough to warrant buying it instead of other, better, esoteric decks, and it’s really the artistic beauty of the deck that’s stopping me from not recommending the deck outright.

The deck’s biggest problem is really just the bad timing of its release. If it had been released a few years earlier it would have been one of only a handful of published esoteric decks, and I would’ve given it more merit because of that, and it would also be more collectible for that reason. Meanwhile if it had been released just a few years later it would have had to compete with a lot of stronger decks, and so the deck probably would have had to of been much more varied and unique, or at the very least had fully illustrated pips, in order to be competitive. Unfortunately it was released during that small window of time where it didn’t need to do as much to compete with other decks on the market, and yet isn’t old enough to be valuable simply by virtue of existing.

Starter Tarot – This is a badly drawn and highly derivative tarot with little spiritual significance or symbolism that also contains short descriptions of the meanings of each card to aid in memorization. The deck is marketed for tarot beginners.

If you want a good starter tarot deck, get the Rider-Waite or the Crowley Thoth deck. Both of these are excellent tarot decks for beginners. They’re also beautifully drawn and just plain excellent tarot decks, and both decks are also used by a wide variety of experienced tarot readers and magicians. They’re decks that will remain as valuable a tool to you twenty years into the future as they are when you first start learning tarot.

First off, as with any description of a tarot card meaning that encompasses at most only a few short sentences, the description is going to be very limited and incomplete. Secondly memorization is not the best way to learn the tarot. It’s incredibly difficult to memorize that much information and very few people succeed at doing it before they get completely bored with the process. Even if you do manage to memorize the information, you’ll still only have a very limited understanding of the cards and you still won’t be able to really study or work with them. If you want to learn the tarot, the best and easiest way to do it is to develop an understanding of the cards and where their meanings come from.

Stella Tarot – The Stella Tarot was originally published as a 22-card trump only tarot in Japan. Later a full 78 card version was released internationally by Swiss publisher AG Muller with a minor arcana which matched the style and quality of the trumps. The artwork on this deck is beautiful and it’s the deck’s main selling point.

The tarot trumps more or less follow the standard tarot design, although there are some small touches of originality here and there, such as the Lovers having butterfly wings. In traditional Japanese folklore butterflies are thought to be the souls of both the living and the dead. The minor arcana is almost entirely derivative, and like most derivative decks I sometimes feel as if the designer has missed the point of the imagery they borrowed. For instance the four of cups is similar to the Rider-Waite with a man looking at three cups on the ground and ignoring a fourth offered by a heavenly hand. In this deck though the three cups on the ground are knocked over and the man seems unhappy. The card seems to imply that the man will never be happy with anything that’s offered to him no matter how good it is. In contrast the original Rider-Waite card had the man sitting peacefully and the cups on the ground upright. The concept was that there may be better things being offered to the man, in this instance the cup from the heavens, but the man is too busy being content with what he already has, the three earthly cups, to even realize that he could have something much better.

Normally I’d be on the fence with a deck like this, because despite some originality it’s still largely derivative and there are some errors in the symbolism. However since this deck has some of the nicest artwork I’ve ever seen, plus the fact that it’s still a solid, if unoriginal, spiritual tarot, I’m going to push it up a bit and give this deck a low recommendation.

The Stone Tarot – Contrary to what I first thought, the Stone Tarot is not a tarot about different kinds of stones. The title refers to its designer, Allison Stone. The artwork is crudely drawn and uses a dark blue background. Although the artwork isn’t very good, it’s good enough and unique enough that a few people may find it charming, although I doubt most will. Each of the pip cards do have a design on them, however it’s too minimalistic for me to describe them as fully illustrated.

There’s nothing wrong with the card designs, but at the same time there’s nothing really original about them either. The trumps follow a standard design and incorporate the all of the most common symbols for the cards. Most of the trumps follow a variation of the standard Waite design. The few that do deviate some, like Death, use designs found in lots of other decks. The pip designs are even more simplistic, but they still manage to use fairly common design schemes. The court cards are the only designs that show any originality, and even these don’t show very much originality.

There’s nothing wrong with this deck. The artwork is just adequate, but it’s adequate. The symbolism is correct, and it works. A person shouldn’t have any trouble using this deck for esoteric purposes. The problem is there’s nothing new or original about this deck. It’s just another tarot, and it offers nothing new or interesting to the deck design. I can’t see any reason to own this deck when there a lot of other really good decks on the market. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Sun and Moon Tarot – This has to be one of the most cutesy tarots I’ve ever seen. The tarot uses artwork which is styled after what I can only describe as classy children’s book illustrations. And it’s not nearly as weird and traumatic when the images show people dry humping. No one gets naked in this deck, so I assume they’re dry humping in those images. I guess you could assume I just have a dirty mind, but look at the seven and ten of cups and tell me those people aren’t having sex with their clothes on! Even the box cover uses the two of cups which has two people in the lotus position! As you’ve probably guessed the deck does feature fully illustrated pips. Also something I didn’t notice right away (because I’m stupid) is that the wands and cups take place at night and the swords and coins take place during the day. I think it would have been more symbolically appropriate if the wands and swords were the daytime suits, but its not a huge complaint.

A lot of people have been unfairly comparing this deck to the Crowley Thoth deck. The deck does sometimes borrow ideas and a little bit of symbolism from the Crowley Thoth deck, including going so far as to label the 20th trump The Aeon-Judgement, but it’s far from just being a clone deck with a different art style. In fact the deck is just as happy to take from other decks, although it does so a bit more sparingly, such as the Ten of Swords which is obviously inspired by the Rider-Waite.

That isn’t to say that this deck is entirely derivative either. Although several of the cards have been influenced by other decks, most of them have some unique ideas and symbolism in the imagery, and the imagery for a lot of the cards is completely new. My favorite card in this deck is the seven of cups which shows two people dry humping in the middle of the ocean as cups sink into the water around them. The seven of cups represents over-indulgences, especially extreme over indulgences, in sex, love, relationships, and emotions in general. The element represented by the suit is water, which is the element of sex, love, relationships, and emotions. Here the cups are not just overflowing with water, but they’ve been cast into the ocean which is the most amount of water that cannot fit into these cups that can be found in one place, and they’re sinking because of it (referencing the negative effect of the seven of cups due to the imbalance). Meanwhile the couple dry humping in the middle of the ocean ties everything together.

No doubt the atypical art style of this deck will turn some people off, but even more people will probably find themselves drawn to this deck because of it. The deck features quite a bit of esoteric symbolism and spiritual meaning, and some of it is even unique. I recommend buying this deck.

T: the New Tarot – I’m going to throw out any objectivity I have and just say that this deck is really fucking awesome and it needs to be reprinted. I don’t have a copy of this deck, but I’ve seen a copy before, and I so desperately want one. I’m not the only one either. Right now copies on Amazon are selling for close to two hundred dollars.

To start, this deck was first published in 1969. Through out the 20th century, tarot decks were becoming more and more popular as a magical and divinatory tool. However for most of the century, esoteric decks were not commonplace. Most magicians were using decks that were designed for card playing or as novelty decks, or they were using crude hand drawn decks they made themselves. Esoteric tarot decks were being published through out the century, however prior to the 1960s there were only a handful of published esoteric decks, such as the Knapp-Hall and Rider-Waite, but even these had small print runs and limited availability.

Esoteric tarot decks didn’t really start to pick up popularity until the late 60s. To put things into perspective, the two most popular tarot decks from the earlier half of the 20th century are the Crowley-Thoth and the Rider-Waite. 1969, the year T: The New Tarot was published, is also the same year that the Crowley-Thoth tarot was first published as a deck, and the standard version of the Rider Waite deck still had not been officially released within North America. People who wanted to use these popular tarots generally made liberal use of the power of photocopy machines creating black and white decks from the pictures inside of Crowley’s Book of Thoth and Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

Although tarot popularity had a steady rise through out the seventies, it didn’t start to become really popular until the early eighties. This is when we start to see a huge influx of commercial decks being published in the west and when we start seeing the first Japanese decks being published. And it wouldn’t be long before advances in printing technology started to make smaller print runs and indie publications more and more feasible.

Because of this and unlike today there was only a small number of decks actually published in the 70s, and there was an even smaller number published in the 60s. T: The New Tarot was one of these decks, and simply being a deck that was first published in the sixties makes it special.

However the story of how this deck came to be designed makes it even more special. This is not just another deck that was put together by some Ceremonial Magician or tarot scholar. The deck was designed by a medium, and she, along with a small group of others who she worked with, channeled all of the cards from a single entity over many different sessions using a combination of automatic writing and a spirit board. Yes, this is an actual channeled deck!

Stories about the deck are cool, but it doesn’t really describe the actual deck design. The artwork was all painted by a medium, not an actual artist, so as you would expect it is not up to the same quality as decks that have been created by a professional artist working in tandem with a deck designer. Despite not being of professional quality, the artwork is still more than adequate for a tarot deck, and the cards are far from ugly. The artist definitely had some artistic talent, even if it wasn’t honed to a professional level.

The cards themselves are full of spiritual symbolisms and deep spiritual knowledge.

The designers (or rather their channel) recreated the entire tarot almost from scratch. Every single card in the deck has been almost completely redesigned, and the deck is hardly ever derivative of other tarot decks. Despite this though the deck is still full of strong spiritual symbolism and deep spiritual knowledge (Unfortunately, not owning this deck, I have not had the opportunity to study this deck in depth, so I can’t go into too much detail about the actual symbolism and knowledge of the cards). This in turn creates a deck that is not only very useful as a magical tool in every regard, but also a deck that is new and wholly unique and unlike anything else out there. I highly recommend this tarot.

Tantra Tarot – The tantra tarot reprints spiritual Indian artwork on to the tarot. The pip cards are not fully illustrated and feature some of the most boring and plain pip designs I’ve ever seen in a tarot. Bycicle playing cards have better designs for the number cards. Considering the fact that this deck is made up entirely of public domain artwork one would assume that the designer would at least spend enough time on the deck to find artwork for every card.

Of course the artwork looks beautiful (well not the pip cards), but since the artwork is unoriginal the one nice thing I have to say about this deck is really a criticism of Indian artwork. If you like this artwork, I suggest you spend the $50 this deck costs on a nice full color book of Eastern or Indian art instead. Most of these books have taken the time to collect more than just 38 images for that price too.

Normally I would refrain from reviewing a deck like this because I’m not familiar enough with Hinduism to give a Hindi based deck a fair review. I have studied Hinduism a bit though and I’m more than qualified to fairly review this deck. Like most stolen art decks, the images of this deck are chosen because in some small way they fit the card title and for no other reason. For instance the chariot is a man having sex with a woman while they are carried on top of a group of couples having sex, the entire orgy resembling a man riding a horse. This imagery has nothing to do with the meaning or symbolism of the chariot and barely has anything to do with the card’s title. The orgy doesn’t even resemble a chariot, it just resembles a horse. I don’t recommend this deck.

i Tarocchi della Luna – This is a 44 card trump only tarot. The tarot features two copies of every card, one which shows the positive aspect of the card, and one which shows its negative aspect. The artwork on the cards is simple and amateurish.

Looking at this deck I’ve always got the impression that this is a Kabalistic deck which tries to show both the standard designs of the card which correspond to the Sepiroth and an alternate version which corresponds to the Qlippoth so they can be compared. There’s a major flaw in that reasoning though. The standard tarot designs incorporate both the Sepriothic and Qlippothic meanings into the design. The designer of this deck hasn’t split the cards into two halves, instead he’s assumed that the standard design only refers to the tree of life and tries to put a negative spin on it to make its counterpart associative with the Qlippoth. This is also a rather immature and basic view of the Qlippoth which fails to explore it any kind of deep or meaningful way.

The deck may have some interesting ideas, but due to a seriously flawed design and bed artwork I don’t recommend this deck

Tarocco di Besancon – The Tarocco di Besancon is a Il Menghello reproduction of an 18th century Besancon pattern tarot. The Besancon pattern is a regional deviation of the Marseilles design, the most noticeable difference being the Pope and Popess being substituted with Juno and Jupiter. The deck was released in a limited edition of 1100 copies.

As expected, the reproduction and printing is up to the normal high Il Menghello standards. However this isn’t a deck whose artwork I personally enjoy, and I actually far prefer the better Marseilles pattern and Della Rocca style tarots to this. However that’s more a matter of taste, and the real point of this deck is its historical significance. As a magical or divinatory tool it can be made to work, but I don’t see it working as well as a Marseilles pattern tarot would. I do not recommend this tarot..

il Tarocco di Luce – This is a 22 card trump only tarot printed in a limited edition of 1000 decks. The deck’s art style is unique. The clothing is mostly black and is decorated with a complex assortment of lines, spirals, and circles. The background meanwhile is simple, bright and vibrant. The faces, meanwhile, are solid white and blank. The way the different elements of the deck contrast works and the deck looks nice.

Unfortunately though the deck is lacking esoterically. There’s very little, if any, esoteric symbolism present on the cards. The imagery meanwhile implies things which are completely unrelated to the meaning of the cards, or in the worst cases are completely contrary to the traditional meaning. For instance the Emperor is made to look like he is suffering from boredom, an emotion that contradicts the traditional meaning of the Emperor.

The deck is best described as a cute deck. No doubt certain people will be drawn to the artwork of this deck. As a magical tool though the deck fails, so I can’t recommend this tarot.

Tarocco Ligure Piemontese – Two editions of this reproduction were released, a 1979 limited edition and a superior 1984 limited edition. The deck a reproduction of a late 19th century woodblock tarot deck, and the design is very similar to the Marseilles pattern. Although it lacks the historical occult significance of the Marseilles, this deck can easily be used for almost any magical operation that a Marseilles deck is used for. However the deck doesn’t offer anything over the large selection of Marseilles decks on the market, many of which have advantages over this deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarochi Ermetici – The Tarochi Ermetici, which translates to the Hermetic Tarot, is a 22 card trump only tarot based off of the Oswald Wirth trumps. The cards use a very detailed and realistic modern style as opposed to Wirth’s style which was derivative of the older woodblock printed decks. The deck is published by Lo Scarabeo, though the deck does not look like other Lo Scarabeo art decks, or even follow the standard Lo Scarabeo art deck format with borders that feature the card titles in several different languages.

The deck’s artist, Toppi, completely changes the art style but manages to retain every small detail of Wirth’s cards. Anything that is depicted in the Wirth trumps can be found in these cards (and I spent quite some time comparing the cards to prove this). For the most part Toppi doesn’t add anything to the cards either, but there are some minor exceptions, such as rocks on the Hermit card and Death being cloaked. None of Toppi’s few additions ever modify the meaning or symbolism of the card though.

Magically this deck is as useful and insightful as the actual Wirth trumps, which means that the trump design is good but the cards are of limited use due to the fact that it’s an incomplete deck. If you like the Wirth trumps or want to work with them but also want a deck that is more stylized, or if you’re looking for a second copy that’s different than what you already have, definitely pick up this deck if you can find a copy. I recommend this tarot.

Tarot 2000 Pagan – This is another attempt to Paganize the tarot, this time for the new millennium. Despite the 2000 in the title the deck does not feature any modern technology, fashions, or scenes and is in a lot of ways a rather traditional tarot deck. The deck is hand painted and looks nice although I don’t personally care much for the artist’s specific style. The pip cards are not fully illustrated but feature elaborate designs that match the quality of the other cards in the deck.

To start, I’m taking off a lot of points for not having fully illustrated pips. Not only is this a modern tarot, but it advertises itself as a hyper-modern tarot. Modern tarot design includes fully illustrated pips, and decks that do not have fully illustrated pips are rarely competitive. Unless if there is a good reason for omitting them, every modern tarot needs to have fully illustrated pips, and I don’t see any reason why this tarot is improved by not having them.

Despite the deck’s title most of the card images are not Pagan (or modern) but standard medieval style tarot imagery. Some of the Christian imagery has been removed from the cards (including renaming the Hierophant and High Priestess Juno and Jupiter, which is actually a common regional variation in historical decks), but this is generally replaced with more generic imagery and not imagery that is specifically Pagan.

In this deck the Star shows a woman emptying her pots into a river. The Sun shows a couple looking up at the sun. This is all common Tarot imagery. The problem is nothing new or original is added to any of these cards, and even what is being expressed in the imagery is shallow and lacks depth. Even the esoterically-limited historical Marseilles pattern version of this imagery has a lot of fine esoteric details that are lost in this deck’s expression.

To give an example of one of the new cards, the Lovers card shows a large dark haired woman wearing a tiara looking over a naked couple sitting on the ground. The woman is blonde and also wearing a tiara and holding the man who is laying in her arms. A snake is wrapped around their legs and the woman is holding a flower. The moon is in the sky and the couple are outdoors near a small pond. I really don’t know what any of this means. Maybe it relates to some kind of Pagan ritual or mythology I’m not familiar enough to make the connection to, but I doubt it. I can’t even tell what’s going on with the naked couple. He could be hurt and she’s holding him up, or he could be kissing her upper chest in foreplay, but they’re in a rather weird position for him to be doing that. The serpent would generally represent knowledge, but that makes little sense here and I sort of doubt it since this deck dismisses Judeo-Christian imagery. Perhaps the snake is symbolic of the man’s penis.

As a more positive example though, I actually really liked the Juno card, which is this deck’s counterpart to the High Priestess. The woman’s bottom, from the waste down, is translucent, implying a connection to the spirit world. Meanwhile she’s holding a bow and behind her is a White Stag. In Celtic mythology the White Stag is connected to the underworld, and in Arthurian legend hunting the White Stag (which is what it seems this woman is doing) represents mankind’s spiritual quest.

Unfortunately the Juno card alone is not enough to redeem this entire deck. For the most part the deck is derivative, shallow, at times nonsensical, and it doesn’t feature fully illustrated pips. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot Affirmations Deck – Apparently no one at US Games has ever heard of the term over-saturation. This is another instance of US Games pasting the Rider-Waite imagery on something to try to sell people yet another copy of this deck. This time they use the Universal Waite versions of the cards, so they aren’t even giving you the good Rider-Waite images.

This time the images are paired up with affirmations. The affirmations sort of fit the most basic divinatory meanings of the cards, but keep in mind that the deck is meant to be positive and uplifting, and so that is the tone of the affirmations. The affirmations themselves are rather shallow and are more concerned with being good affirmations then fitting with the tarot images. I would describe them more as loosely inspired by the cards they’re attached to than anything else. Unfortunately this means that they don’t really add to the understanding of the card, or sometimes even relate to it very well, making them useless as a tool to better understand the tarot. I don’t recommend this tarot.

The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex – This deck just takes various old public domain images that depict sex and places them on different cards. Usually there isn’t much relation between the card and the image, but sometimes there is some small reference to the card. For instance on the Wheel of Fortune card, a man is holding a woman’s legs up in the air with her feet over his head while he enters her, and meanwhile she is holding herself up on a wheel on the ground. Notice how there’s a wheel in the Wheel of Fortune card? Yeah, that’s about as relatable as the images get. All in all it’s a collage deck filled with public domain sexual images and the imagery has nothing to do with the cards. Only buy this deck if you’re really turned on by really old porn. I don’t recommend this tarot.

Tarot Archetypowy – In Poland even the photo-collage tarots turn out to be more interesting and unique than one would expect. I don’t really have much more to say about the artwork. I think the term photo-collage pretty much describes is. I guess I could say the images tend to be soft yet colorful.

Like many photo-collage tarots this deck puts together a bunch of images with the expectation that they should be meditated on. Sometimes it seems like these images are randomly thrown together and they make little sense, which is par for the course with these types of tarots. However where the Tarot Archetypowy stands out is that more often than not, the cards do kind of make sense, which makes me think maybe these other cards have a meaning behind them too and I’m just not getting it because I’m approaching the tarot differently than the deck’s designer.

The five of wands, which showed a picture of four people carrying staves kneeling on the ground while a fifth with a staff flew out of a tower above, seemed like nonsense to me at first. But the more I thought about the card, the more the card started to make sense to me. The fives represent an outside source of some sort which causes conflict, and the wands, among other things, represent raw power. Here the outside source is the fifth person who has become so powerful they’ve mastered flight while everyone else is stuck on the ground. Where as usually this conflict of power, if it is expressed in the Five of Wands, is shown as a conflict of force against force, here the conflict is brought about by someone who has simply executed power better than everyone else. This is something that exists outside of what should be for those on the ground, and it is about to completely shatter their perception of power and what a person is truly capable of. It’s a very interesting and unique take on the card, and one that is also a bit more peaceful and pacifistic than what is normally shown.

Am I reaching for a meaning to apply to the random nonsense of the Five of Wands here? Perhaps, but I doubt it. There are several other cards, such as the Magus, that although they may incorporate some new ideas in the design the traditional meanings and the expression of those meanings are largely retained. This deck just seems to be one of the better photo-collage decks available. The deck is recommended, although as a matter of personal taste I hate the photo-collage art style.

Tarot Arista – This deck features black and white Marseilles style designs with divinatory meanings of the cards printed on the top and bottom in French. Not speaking French I can’t really review the validity of the divinatory meanings of these cards.

I’ve stated my opinions about decks with divinatory meanings printed on the cards in several other reviews, so I don’t see a need to go into too much detail here. But I will once again reiterate that if you want to really read the tarot you need to actually learn the tarot, and that memorization is a very limited and difficult way to learn tarot, and finally that if you just want a fun divinatory game to play buy a more magical looking tarot deck and print out a copy of the card meanings on your computer, you’ll have more fun that way.

The artwork in this deck, in addition to being in black and white, is inferior to the historical reproduction and reconstruction Marseilles decks currently on the market, and any of those decks would be a better purchase then this one. As you can guess, I don’t recommend buying this deck.

Tarot Balbi – The Tarot Babli was published in Spain in 1976 being one of the few Esoteric tarots published in the 1970s. The art style is a bit traditional, but where this deck really stands out is its use of color. The cards have bright and vibrant colors in varied shades which are offset by other plainer color choices (such as the skin tones which are all just a basic white). The end result is a deck that is unusually bright and colorful yet not at all distracting. The pips are not fully illustrated but they do feature elaborate and colorful designs, so much so that this deck still works well when used to read for other people.

As for the design, it’s far better than what you’d expect from a 70s deck, and considering the good artwork and unusual use of color I’m surprised this deck has become so obscure. There’s nothing special or unique about the designs, they all use standard tarot designs and symbolism,

but the interpretations are correct and the artwork used to express them looks beautiful. I’ve also found that this deck has a little bit more energy behind it than is usually found in an esoteric tarot.

It’s a solid nice looking deck that works well for most spiritual purposes. I’m also giving it a few points because it was first published in an era when there were far fewer tarots and far less market competition. I recommend this tarot.

Tarot de Acuario – This a 78 card Mexican deck released in 1971, and although it contains a lot of spiritual symbolism it is hardly a tarot deck. The first twenty-two cards in the deck are based off of the tarot trumps, and although they do at times make some radical deviations, they are at least relatable to the corresponding trump card. The rest of the deck though is simply numbered 23-78 without any suits or court cards. Although the deck contains a lot of esoteric symbolism and spiritual expression the cards and deck structure are not really close enough to the tarot to consider this deck a tarot. Even the first twenty-two cards, which are relatable to the trumps, feature card designs and interpretations that are far removed from what is usually seen in tarot. Although an interesting deck, I’m going to not recommend it because it is not really a tarot.

Tarot de Pumariega – This tarot follows the traditional tarot imagery and design found on the Marseilles pattern, although it uses an abstract art style which is best described as a bit crazy and wild. I would describe this tarot as being to the Marseilles tarot what the Looney Tunes are to Disney films.

Despite the art style the deck follows the traditional Marseilles imagery and design, and so it can be used for the same spiritual uses that a normal Marseilles pattern tarot can be used for. The only spiritual difference between the two decks is that this deck lacks the occultic historical significance of an historical Marseilles tarot.

Although it can be used spiritually, this tarot does not add anything spiritual or esoteric to the traditional tarot design, and it is not going to prove as useful as tarots specifically designed for esoteric and magical use. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Tarot d’argolance – This is a 22 Card trump only tarot published in 1983. The deck’s artwork is nothing spectacular, but it is better than a lot of other tarots. It also uses solid black backgrounds, which makes the cards appear darker and helps the deck stand out. The card designs and imagery used through out the deck is fairly typical, as is the esoteric symbolism used through out most of the deck. It’s not a bad deck, but there’s nothing really original about it. Were it made a few years earlier, I might let this slide, but by 1983 there were already a good number of original tarots on the market. The deck is further limited by being only 22 cards. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot der Eingeweihten – This is a 22 card trump only Egyptian style tarot published in 1949. The deck uses only four colors, black, white, blue and red, and the artwork is rather simple and crude.

The deck design is somewhat atypical for Egyptian style decks, and there is a lot of interesting symbolism on the cards. Very little of the symbolism is original or unique to this deck, but with the limited availability of tarots in 1949 this wasn’t a real issue. Unlike most Egyptian decks, this one is actually a descent esoteric deck, so I’m giving it points for that. Unfortunately though it’s a trump only deck, so its magical uses are limited. There are just too many issues for me to give them all a free pass because of the 1949 publication date. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Tarot des Mages – The Tarot des Mages is a 22 card trump only deck printed in a limited edition of 3000 copies, 500 of which were signed, numbered, and gold-edged. The cards have a large white border that takes up about a quarter of the card and which contains additional information about the card written in French. The artwork is drawn well enough and fairly detailed, but blandly colored. Personally I found the art style to be off-putting, but that’s mostly a matter of taste and no doubt some will have no issue at all with the style. The imagery is very sexualized and full of nudity.

The deck is themed in Ceremonial Magic and related disciplines, such as Kabalism and Hermeticism. However the cards use the Kabalistic correspondences of Levi, which places the Fool as the 21st trump instead of the 1st trump. This means the deck’s associations are different from almost every other tarot deck that uses Kabalistic associations.

The deck has quite a bit of original imagery and original symbolism, but I find that sometimes the ideas being expressed by the cards are unoriginal and uninspired. The Strength card for instance depicts a naked woman sitting on top of a lion and holding its mouth open. That’s a standard design seen in a lot of other decks. Meanwhile imposing the tree of life over the Magician, who here represents the first path typically represented by the Fool, is original for the year the deck was published, but I don’t find it particularly interesting.

However there are some truly inspired original elements too. For instance in the Magician card described above, what is outside the tree of life is colored a solid black to represent the nothingness that exists there. The magician meanwhile, is also black, which both symbolizes the card’s connection to Ain and the association of the Fool, here the magician, meaning nothingness.

It’s also interesting to see how some of the symbolism is changed to adept to the different paths. A lot of times it creates a sort of hybrid card where the traditional imagery and meaning is combined with the traditional imagery and meaning of the preceding card. You see this in the Tower card, for instance, which has elements that are usually found within the Devil card, such as a naked man and woman falling from separate sides of the tower, and the tower being phallic in nature and piercing the heavens (compare that to Crowley’s Devil imagery).

Sometimes though I am left feeling as if this deck is just trying to fit the associations into the imagery rather than express anything with it. It’s not a huge flaw, although it does somewhat limit the usefulness of the deck, but at the same time it makes it stronger in other areas like certain kinds of spellwork. The main issue the deck has is that it’s a trump only tarot. It’s not as huge of an issue here, because the deck is still a good deck, but it limits the deck. Considering the deck has several other lesser flaws that must also be dealt with, I’m giving it a low recommendation.

Le Tarot des Templiers – This is a French tarot deck supposedly based on the Knights Templar. I say supposedly since the deck doesn’t actually deal with the real Knight Templar of the 14th century, but rather the various legends of the Knights Templar that were developed in the 17th century and later. The deck doesn’t just deal with the Knights Templar either. It also incorporates forms of medieval mysticism, like Kabalism, and other figures of Western European Christian folklore, such as Pope Joan.

The art work is very well done, but it does sometimes seem a bit bland. The tarot uses a typical art style, and although the art work is well done there is nothing really special about it. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

The deck does contain a lot of esoteric symbolism, unfortunately though most of it is extremely obscure. For instance the Magician card features three Greek columns, and unless you have some knowledge of Greek architecture, particularly how it relates to columns, you can’t begin to understand the full meaning of these three columns (that they’re related to the Kabalistic columns should be obvious). Although I don’t usually read the books for these decks, I did read some of the excerpts which were translated by Mark Filipes. His translation shows how the designer also meant that these three columns represent the three aspects of Templar as Knight, Priest, and Poet. Even with an understanding of Kabalah and Greek architecture, there is nothing about this card that would imply that. Likewise the designer gives a very detailed description of what the Sun and Moon mean on this card. The problem is the Sun and the Moon, as symbols, don’t have nearly as much meaning as what the designer has given them here, and there’s nothing else about the card that would imply this deeper meaning.

I don’t normally even look at the books in regards to these reviews, because I see the books as inconsequential. This deck though is a situation where, regardless of how knowledgeable you may be about tarot or any other subject, you need the book to understand the meaning of the cards, and that’s an unacceptable situation. Without the book to explain it, most of the symbolism and meaning on the cards are nonsensical. The deck is further hindered by not having fully illustrated pips, something that every new deck needs to be competitive in today’s market. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot du Roy Nissanka – This is a tarot themed around the myths of the Sri Lankan king Nissanka. The tarot is beautifully drawn in a more traditional style that seems to be based off of the old woodblock printed decks, although with better artwork. As per its traditional design the pips are not fully illustrated.

The deck may be of some limited use because it at least follows the traditional tarot structure, but even with that being the case there have been some very significant changes to the individual card designs to make them fit this tarot’s theme, and much of their symbolism and meaning has been lost. The designer of this tarot, meanwhile, seems to be artistically motivated, not spiritually, and there is no significant spiritual meaning or symbolism added to the cards, outside of the mythology it uses. This deck should really be classified as an art deck and not a spiritual tarot, and as an art deck I really enjoy this deck. However as a spiritual tarot I do not recommend it.

Tarot Egipcio Adivinatorio – This is an Egyptian style tarot published in Spain. Like several Egyptian style tarots this tarot doesn’t use suits or court cards and instead just numbers the minor arcana 23-78. The fact that the deck doesn’t follow the traditional tarot structure makes it of limited use as a tarot.

I actually find the artwork in this deck to be a bit more detailed, colorful, and better than most Egyptian style tarots. The deck also features some of the strongest esoteric symbolism that I’ve seen in an Egyptian style tarot. Still I’m not a big fan of the style, and I don’t find this deck to be particularly useful or spiritually meaningful overall, a fact that is made worse by its lack of suits and court cards. I do not recommend this tarot.

Le Tarot Egyptien d’Esmeralda – This deck was designed by French psychic Esmeralda, and being designed by a psychic is never a good sign of the deck’s quality. The deck uses Egyptian imagery, but it isn’t an Egyptian style deck. The artwork is designed to look like 3-D Egyptian stone carvings. The pip cards are not fully illustrated.

Boring is a word that sums this deck up pretty well. The art style is original for a tarot, and at first it looks as if it may be an interesting deck. However the individual pictures tend to be simplistic and lack detail, and many of the cards look very similar. The design suffers from the same problem. Although it may technically be correct, it offers very little symbolism or meaning and no originality. Meanwhile the pip cards, even for not being fully illustrated, are incredibly plain and boring and their is no actual purpose to the placement of the suit sings on the cards. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot Ideographique de Kebek – This is a 22 card trump only deck. The design is reminiscent of the old French woodblock designs, particularly the Marseilles pattern. However the art style is entirely unique using simple geometric shapes and a limited number of colors. That isn’t to say the artwork is simple though. It’s a very unique and complex design done by a professional artist. The deck’s actual style is completely unique, even if it does look as if it was derived from the Marseilles pattern.

The deck does contain a lot of esoteric symbolism. Unfortunately most of this symbolism is the standard trump symbols seen in almost every other deck. There really isn’t much in the deck, spiritually speaking, which is original. Meanwhile it does seem as if the deck’s art style, although well done, is restrictive and limits the ability of the deck to fully express itself metaphysically. It’s not a bad deck, and I even want to recommend it, but then I also have to remember that it’s only 22 cards, and that too will hinder its magical usefulness. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

De Tarot in de Herstelde Orde – This deck reorders the trumps and adds two new trump cards to bring the total number of cards to 80, all in an attempt to ‘fix’ the tarot and bring it back to its original historical form. Yes, it’s one of those decks.

The designers believe that the original tarot deck consisted of 80 cards, and that two of these cards have been lost, but a remnant has survived in the two blank cards often included with tarot decks. I guess it never occurred to them that these blank cards might have something to do with the limitations of geometry and how it applies to mass printing techniques. Basically if you try to fit 78 equal sized rectangles into a rectangular sheet of paper, you’ll end up with two rectangles left over. The original and proto tarot decks, where the standard 78 card deck was developed, didn’t concern themselves with this limitation because they were hand painted and not mass produced.

It’s also important to note that the historical tarot is not a spiritual deck. The historical tarot was used for cartomancy, but this is true of all the various types of playing card decks in Europe. The primary use and purpose of the historical tarot was as a playing card deck, and prior to that as a work of art. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the deck was adapted for spiritual use and was developed as a spiritual tool by the French. As one can assume, these French occultists used the standard 78 card French and Italian decks. So, except in regards to forgettable abnormalities such as this, the spiritual tarot has always been 78 cards.

The designers also note that by changing the deck size from 78 cards to 80 the deck is now compatible with a wide number of spiritual systems it was not compatible with before, and use this as proof that the 80 card deck is the correct size. The problem is these other systems were represented in the 78 card deck. The 78 card deck encompasses the entirety of the universe and so any true spiritual system is represented within it. Even a false spiritual system is going to be represented in it somewhere. The problem is a 78 card deck won’t exactly fit into every system where each thing can be associated with its own card. The tarot and these other various spiritual systems are really just arbitrary systems of organization and completely human inventions developed as a method to organize and relate our spiritual knowledge and understanding. The actual numbers become meaningless when the human developed spiritual systems are removed. The systems meanwhile were developed by men and women from different cultures and parts of the world who had no connection or knowledge of each other. So of course these systems will not be one hundred percent compatible in their method of organization.

Regardless, the idea that the tarot can now be used with a one on one card association with these other systems is interesting to me. I don’t know if something like that should still be classified as a tarot deck, but it could still be a cool spiritual deck. In order to do that though you’d have to redesign the entire deck from scratch with these associations in mind. The 78 cards of the tarot already encompass everything in the universe. In order to add two new cards, whatever those cards encompass need to be taken out of the 78 cards that already exist.

This isn’t as easy as it would seem. The basic idea most people have is that if you have eighty of something you need to fit into 78 cards, you double up a couple of things. In this model you need to remove associations from just two cards, and put them into the two new cards. It’s not that simple though, because for the most part the tarot was not developed to fit these systems that work best with eighty cards, and neither were the systems that the tarot does utilize. So the association you want for one of your new cards may be spread across several different cards. In fact it may be spread across all 78 cards. Not only that, but the other 78 associations probably don’t associate up one for one with the 78 existent cards. All, or at least almost all, of the 80 associations are most likely spread across multiple cards. Of course you may find some odd situations too. For instance five of those associations may be shoved into a single card, and the other 75 are spread across the remaining 77 cards. In order to figure any of that out you need to be really familiar with the spiritual system and the tarot and take some time studying how it relates to each of the cards.

Keeping all that in mind, for this deck to work it needs to be completely new and original and a complete redesign of the tarot. This deck, however, except for the inclusion of the two new cards is just a Rider-Waite clone. I don’t mean that it is heavily influenced by the Rider-Waite, like the Aquarian Tarot or Robin Wood tarots for example, either. I mean that most of the cards are just redrawings of the Rider-Waite tarot using a slightly different art style. There are some very slight deviations in the cards. Like the sun is close to the horizon in the Fool card instead of in the center of the sky, and the man and woman have switched sides in the Lovers card. These are very minor differences though, and unless you really look at the cards you probably wouldn’t notice them.

If it was just these minor differences the deck might actually be interesting to me in that regard (but probably not). However because of the inclusion of two new cards, specifically included to allow the deck a card for card association with various systems, the deck itself needed a complete and radical redesign to make that work, and the fact that the Fool card now takes place at 5 PM instead of Noon isn’t what I mean by complete and radical redesign. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot Lenormand – The Lenormand is a type of deck consisting of 36 cards and designed specifically for cartomancy. The deck was first developed in the 19th century and was named after the French fortune teller Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand, although it was not developed by her. Instead the deck was named to honor her following her death.

The Tarot Lenormand is a standard 78 card tarot deck that attempts to recreate Lenormand images from several different decks. These images are not reproductions of historical Lenormand images, but rather new drawings following the style and design of the images on Lenormand decks. I really don’t know enough about the Lenormand divinatory system to know if the designer successfully found or even attempted to find associations between the tarot cards and the Lenormand images, but I seriously doubt an attempt was even made. I suspect that this deck is meant to be an art deck that celebrates the artwork of the Lenormand.

It’s difficult to say if this deck captures the art style of the Lenormand. There are actually quite a few different Lenormand decks out there, and much like tarot decks they feature vastly different art styles. However when compared to actual Lenormand decks this tarot seems off to me. The images have a touch of the very detailed and realistic drawings that are common in Lo Scarabeo art decks, and that style doesn’t fit well with the traditional Lenormand images.

If you want to study the Lenormand divinatory system or just appreciate the cards for their artistic beauty, then buy a real Lenromand deck. Although not as popular as the tarot, the system still has a following today and several good and beautiful decks are available. With Lenormand decks still on the market, there really isn’t a good reason to buy this tarot.

Tarot Lukumi – I unfortunately do not have this deck to fully look at and study. The deck is based on Santeria and incorporates the ideas of the Santeria religion into the tarot. I only have a very basic understanding of Santeria practices, so I don’t feel as if I can really give this deck a fair assessment. With certain cards I can maybe make out some remnants of the traditional tarot meaning, but with other cards I don’t see any real connection to their counterpart within the traditional tarot. Still looking at the cards I feel as if I’m missing a whole lot of what the cards are trying to say because I don’t know the aspects of Santeria being referenced in the cards, and without being able to fully understand the cards I can’t say for sure if the designs remain true to the meanings and associations of the original tarot or not, or even if the designs have any actual meaning at all.

I can’t really review this deck, but there is one problem that I’ve noticed. The deck doesn’t just incorporate elements of Santeria into the design, it’s entirely centered around Santeria. It’s not enough to just know the tarot real well and hope to use that as a guide to learn about Santeria through this deck. Instead the deck requires you to have at least some knowledge of Santeria in order to understand it at all.

Tarot Magow – The title translates to Tarot of the Magi. This is a Polish tarot originally released by a Polish publisher only in Poland. The deck was later picked up by international Spanish publisher Fournier, but once again it was only released in Poland. A lot of collectors look at Poland as a country that, in recent decades, has produced a lot of interesting and unique tarot designs. Among the Polish tarots the Tarot Magow is the most sought after. It is the holy grail of Polish tarots which have not seen an international release.

Although the color choices are bold (and unshaded), this tarot’s artwork is fairly simple both in regards to the design and the color choice. The qaulity of the artwork is poor, but it’s adequate for this tarot, especially considering the simple designs. The pips are not fully illustrated.

What attracts a lot of people to this tarot is the fact that it contains esoteric symbolism and spiritual knowledge. Yes this tarot does have esoteric symbolism. A lot of it is derivative, but some of it is unique, and it also features some unique card designs. However there’s nothing very special about the esoteric symbolism in this tarot. There was nothing in this tarot that really excited me, and there definitely wasn’t anything that made up for the poor quality art or not having fully illustrated pips.

The reason why this tarot has never seen international release, despite being sought after by collectors, is because it’s not a very strong or competitive tarot. If this tarot lived up to the hype, a major publisher would have picked it up and released it internationally by now. At the very least Fournier would have. Not many people are going to be interested in this deck due to the simple poor quality artwork and the pips not being fully illustrated. The esoteric and spiritual value of this deck, although it exists, is at best average for an esoteric tarot and is definitely not enough to carry this deck all by itself.

Due to having some spiritual value and some unique symbolism I’m going to stay on the fence with this deck. If it ever gets a larger release and becomes more widely available I may consider bumping it up to a low recommendation.

Tarot Namur – The tarot Namur is a trump only tarot. With the exception of the Wheel of Fortune card, the cards pretty much follow the typical tarot design, although there are a few original touches to be found here and there throughout the deck. The symbolisms and ideas are also fairly typical and the deck doesn’t really offer anything that isn’t seen in a lot of other decks. Where this deck really shines though is the artwork which is just absolutely beautiful. This is one of the best looking renditions of the tarot trumps I’ve ever seen, and I really wish this was a full deck.

If this were a full deck it would be easy to recommend just on the strength of the artwork alone. However being an incomplete deck it’s of limited magical use, and this use is limited further by the lack of originality in the symbolism. It’s also out of print and may be difficult to find. As much as I love these cards I’m going to have to reluctantly not recommend this deck, but I do suggest looking at some samples of the cards before deciding to pass on this deck.

Tarot Numerologico – This tarot follows the Marseilles pattern but adds larger borders which contain astrological and numerological associations for the cards. The Marseilles design used in this deck is poorly drawn and the colors used are meant to be bright and vibrant. The end result is a Marseilles pattern deck that looks hideous. The tarot also goes for consistency over traditional associations and insists on associating each card with both a zodiac sign and planet, even the court and trump cards which usually don’t have these associations.

Ultimately this deck is just an ugly Marseilles styled tarot with some incorrect associations thrown into the borders. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of a Moon Garden – The artwork in this tarot is bright, very busy, and everything about it seems like it was designed to appeal to preteen girls. Needless to say I really like the way this tarot looks, and that’s why my friends make fun of me so much. The deck features fully illustrated pips.

As for the actual design and symbolism, my opinion on that isn’t as positive. I’m not a huge fan of these super-busy decks. Not only do I find that having so much imagery on the cards is often overwhelming when you try to work with or study the cards, but I also find that designers who make decks like that tend to put a lot of emphasis on including as much information and as many associations as possible instead of concentrating on giving more depth and meaning to the imagery.

The best I was hoping for with a deck like this was that there would be a lot of information at least contained within the imagery, but a lot of the imagery that is shoved into these cards is meaningless. Most of the garden plants aren’t really associative with the card in any way (although the Ace of Cups does feature lilies and the Sun has Sunflowers). Sometimes though the central object of the card doesn’t have much meaning, such as a Merry-Go-Round being used for the Wheel of Fortune. Most of the correct symbolism seems to have been taken from other decks, and it seems as if the only reason that symbolism was taken for the cards is because it looked like something that would appeal to a twelve year old girl.

As much as I love the art style of this deck, because I am secretly a preteen girl trapped in a grown man’s body, the deck has very little spiritual value and what it does have is derivative of other, better tarot decks. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of Ceremonial Magick – This is a tarot deck which was designed by Lon Milo Duquette. Duquette is an occult author and currently holds some high position within the OTO.

I don’t agree with a lot of Duquette’s work and ideas, and I used to be very critical of the man. Then I found out a lot of other people really disliked Duquette too, and a lot of them were very mean about it. Then I started talking to fans of his who had met him, and they had stories of other people picking on Duquette and doing really horrible things to him. As much as I didn’t like him, what I heard about the way he was being treated was really sad. Now I just feel sorry for him and it’s very hard for me to be critical of him. All I ever want to do is pat him on the back and tell him that at least he tried, and that’s all that really matters.

As I said I don’t much care for Duquette’s spiritual views or many of his theories on magick, so obviously I’m not going to be too impressed with a deck that expresses Duquette’s spiritual views. Like all of the tarots in this list though I am going to try to keep an open mind and judge this deck on how well it expresses his views and how well it incorporates them into the tarot, along with how useful this tarot is magically, and not the actual views themselves.

The artwork in this deck is pretty low quality and amateurish. Although Duquette is more than capable of copying the lines in a simple diagram this deck makes it clear that he is in no way a professional artist. The trump images were actually redrawn in black and white by a professional artist, David P. Wilson, for the book “Sex Magic, Tantra, and Tarot” by Hyatt and Duquette, and those images show how much better Duquette’s deck would have looked if he had hired a professional artist to draw it in the first place. If Duquette ever does rerelease this tarot, which he may because things like this have a tendency to get popular when they go out of print, I really hope he goes with colorized versions of Wilson’s artwork rather than his own.

There isn’t any real difference between Duquette’s images and Wilson’s though since the imagery is always exactly the same, and that’s really where this deck starts to fail. The images in Duquette’s tarot are all very simple and don’t even leave much room for symbolism or depth. The cards do not use borders, but the bottom fifth of the card is dedicated to associated words and magical symbols. In most of the cards over half of the space that is left is just a plain colored background, the full image taking up less than half the space on the card. Duquette had more than enough room to add more details to the cards without making them seem full or busy. It’s unclear whether he chose not to do these because he didn’t have anything else to say about the card or because he lacked the artistic ability to make a more expressive and detailed drawing.

The Lust card for instance shows a naked woman riding a giant serpent with a lion’s head. Obviously the card is derivative of the Lust card in the Crowley Thoth Tarot, but comparing the two Crowley’s Lust card has far more imagery, symbolism, meaning, and depth than Duquette’s, so much so that I don’t have the space within this review to completely analyze Crowley’s card.

It’s hard to say whether or not the pip cards in this deck are fully illustrated. They don’t look fully illustrated, but it could be argued that this is due to Duquette’s limited and minimalistic art style, and relative to the other images in this deck they are fully illustrated.

Even putting aside my disagreements with Duquette’s magical theory, I still find this tarot deck to be badly drawn, shallow, and of very limited spiritual value. Even considering Duquette’s Ceremonial Magick theme, there are much better Ceremonial Magic decks on the market, such as Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, the Rider-Waite Tarot, and Regardie’s Golden Dawn Tarot. I do not recommend this deck.

Tarot of Dreams – This is artist Marchetti’s second tarot, his first being the Gilded Tarot, and this is the best computer generated tarot on the market, and the only one with art worth looking at besides the Gilded tarot, and this is entirely due to Marchetti’s skill. I go into some detail about Marchetti and my views on computer generated tarots in my review of the Gilded Tarot, so I’m not going to repeat myself here.

In every way this tarot is superior to Marchetti’s Gilded Tarot. As good as the Gilded Tarot’s artwork was, the Tarot of Dreams features better artwork. There’s also a bit more spiritual depth to the cards, and this time it isn’t all derivative of the Rider-Waite.

Unfortunately though the Gilded Tarot didn’t have much spiritual depth, and a bit more than that still isn’t very much spiritual depth. Although the deck may have some spiritual expression, it seems as if it were designed by someone who, at least spiritually, doesn’t understand the tarot very well. For instance the Hierophant has been changed to Faith, a title which really doesn’t describe that card at all or have any real connection to the deeper meaning of that card. The deck isn’t really a spiritual tarot, and it definitely isn’t esoteric or magical, it just sometimes expresses the designer’s views on spirituality. Like the Gilded Tarot this isn’t much more than an art deck, and so I am not recommending this deck. If you are a big fan of the Gilded tarot though, you definitely need to pick this deck up.

The Tarot of Frown Strong – The Tarot of Frown Strong is a trump only tarot that was first published in 1978 and created by the Emin Group, now known as the Template Society, and was centered around the teachings of the group. I don’t really know anything about the Emin Group, so I can’t comment on that aspect of the deck. I also don’t have the deck, but I’ve seen it before.

The design of the cards and the actual imagery is largely atypical, although almost all of the cards do contain some aspects of traditional tarots. The trumps are definitely interesting, unfortunately not owning the deck I haven’t really had an opportunity to study them, and I also suspect that in order to truly understand the trumps I’d probably need a better understanding of the Emin Group. Being only a trump deck it’s of limited use for divination and spellwork. The deck is also out of print and highly sought after, so as interesting as it may be, I suspect most practitioners would rather invest the time and money needed to find and buy one of these decks into getting a much more useful complete seventy-eight card tarot. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of Metamorphosis – The tarot of Metamorphosis is a Lo Scarabeo Tarot themed around the idea of metamorphosis. It’s far more interesting than a lot of the ideas that Lo Scarabeo has. The tarot features very detailed and well drawn art work, pretty much what one would expect from a Lo Scarabeo deck. Lo Scarabeo also advertises this as a Metaphysical Tarot.

The first thing that caught my eye about this deck was the literary references. Lots of the cards, perhaps all, reference famous literary works.

The deck has a lot of artistic merit, and in the course of expressing ideas artistically it may sometimes express spiritual ideas or deal with spiritual topics. However spiritually themed artwork is different than artwork which is esoteric, conveys magical knowledge, or can be used as a spiritual and magical tool. Although great as a work of art, this tarot doesn’t fare very well for that purpose. The deck advertises itself as encompassing the energy of change, and being a tarot deck designed for changing things up in your life. However I don’t find this tarot to have any more energy than a typical Lo Scarabeo art deck, and I don’t find it to have any special powers when used in ritual.

It’s a great deck with some deep meaning that I recommend for people who are interested in art decks or the tarot in general, however it doesn’t work very well as a spiritual tool. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of Reflections – This is one of the Lo Scarabeo “metaphysical” decks. The theme of this deck is reflections, and people being reflected, which if you ask me is kind of a lame theme and I think it’s a sign that the folks at Lo Scarabeo have used up every good tarot theme and are now scraping the bottom of the barrel. The artwork is high quality and very detailed, which is expected of Lo Scarabeo decks.

There isn’t any esoteric knowledge contained within the cards and the images rarely fit with the traditional meanings and interpretations. I believe this deck has been advertised as being a “psychological” tarot, and that may be the case. I really don’t care much for the tarot psychology theories and I have no real desire to study them in any great detail. It may be a psychological deck, or it may just be another art deck. Either way it lacks spiritual value, so I’m not recommending it.

Tarot of Sexual Magic – Despite the name, this is just an art deck with some racy pictures devoid of any spirituality. Like playboy, the pictures are puriant and the bodies are nice, but ultimately its uninteresting and unsexy. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Animal Lords – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck themed around animorphic animals. The artwork is high quality and highly detailed, as per usual Lo Scarabeo standards. Lo Scarabeo has been advertising this as a metaphysical tarot. Why, I’m not sure.

The deck is pretty much just cards with animorphs on them. There may be a tiny bit of esoteric information taken from other decks, such as the fact that the wolf-animorph Empress is seen with a couple of cubs, but its always common tarot symbolism and no doubt due to adapting the images of preexisting tarots, and not due to any sort of conscious effort on the part of the designer. The deck has no spiritual value. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the 78 Doors – This is an art deck by Lo Scarabeo themed around the idea of doors. Each card features some sort of door. If you think that in recent years Lo Scarabeo has become desperate for tarot deck themes they haven’t already used, I’m thinking the same thing. The deck’s artwork is high quality and very detailed. The designer was previously the artist on the Gay Tarot, and his ability has only improved since that deck.

Lo Scarabeo advertises this deck as a metaphysical tarot. The imagery on some of the cards was enough to intrigue me, especially the Death card. The card shows an old man in a black cloak with an hourglass sitting on a coffin in a cemetery, the doorway being the entryway to the cemetery behind him. I took the card to imply that death itself is a doorway into something new, and based on that, and a few other cards, I hoped the deck might be spiritual, or at least offer some unique insight if it wasn’t.

A few of the card designs are interesting. They’re not esoteric or spiritual, but they are interesting. As I already said I liked the death card. I also really liked the Devil card which has a couple evoking a demon, presumably Satan. Although there are some nice cards, I had trouble connecting with the ideas expressed in many of the cards. Even when taken just as an art deck, there are enough problem cards to make me want to pass on this deck. Meanwhile esoterically the deck is almost completely valueless. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Angels – This is an angel themed Lo Scarabeo art deck. The artwork, although better than many tarots, falls below the normal standard of Lo Scarabeo art decks. The deck does not contain any esoteric meaning or symbolism or spiritual insight. The depictions of angels on the cards are fantasy and in no way related to actual angels. This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck, albeit one that lacks the high quality artwork usually seen in Lo Scarabeo decks. This deck is only included because Lo Scarabeo advertises it as a metaphysical deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Crone – This tarot was originally in a limited edition of 100 copies, and then released in a second non-limited edition. The artwork is amatuerish although it is more than adequate for this deck. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

Several of the trump cards have been renamed. The Hanged Man is now Sacrafice which is common. Judgment is now Calling, in references to being called to your spiritual path, which really makes no sense. I guess in some ways completely changing or coming into your spiritual self would be represented by the 20th trump, but focusing on that one aspect of it to the exclusion of everything else is a very limited expression of the card. The Lovers card has been changed to the Crossroads, which makes no sense at all. Some decks do change this card to Choice, and I’m guessing Crossroads is based on the same idea. The whole Choice idea comes from a rather shallow interpretation of the classic design of the card where it is interpreted as the man having to, or getting to, decide between the two women that are on either side of him. It’s an idea that doesn’t really fit with the majority of Lovers card designs, and one that doesn’t fit with the more in depth interpretations of the card.

From there the deck just gets worse. The court cards are now Beast, Witch, Grandmother, and Shadow, which doesn’t make much sense given the attributions and meanings of those cards. The imagery meanwhile usually features one to three simple objects which are usually related to the title of the card and lack any spiritual depth. For instance the Two of Swords is reflection and the card shows a cloaked person looking into a mirror. The Beast of Swords is the Crow and the card shows a crow flying through the air. You don’t really need any illustrations in this deck because they’re completely summed up by the one word titles.

The deck is badly drawn, it’s spiritually and symbolically lacking, the imagery is very limited, and the designer doesn’t seem to have a firm understanding of the tarot. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Druids – Despite what might be assumed from the name, this is just another Lo Scarabeo art deck, this time themed around Celtic druids, Celtic life, and fantasy. The cards have no spiritual value and the design bears little relation to the standard tarot. The artwork is well drawn and highly detailed, as one would expect from a Lo Scarabeo art deck, although the style is at times comical and cartoonish. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Dream Enchantress – The Dream Enchantress tarot was created by Marco Nizzoli, designer of the Secret Tarot, a tarot I wasn’t very impressed with. Nizzoli’s artwork has imporved and this deck looks much better than his previous effort. The deck is features very the detailed and high quality artwork that is typical of Lo Scarabeo art decks.

Nizzoli set out to create a feminist tarot that focuses on various women and the energies or inspiration associated with them or something. I don’t really care for feminist tarots, and I find myself caring even less when they’re created by men. At least if he were a woman I might be able to buy the fact that this deck is an expression of what it’s like to be a woman, physically or spiritually. As it is I think this tarot is an expression of the fact that someone in marketing realized that a big segment of the tarot market is made up of women and that a significant number of them may be interested in decks that celebrate womanhood.

The deck has very little in common with traditional tarot imagery, symbolism, meanings, or ideas. Most of the images just seem like random images of women, or female creatures, showing off their inner-woman strength. The artwork is in no way deep or spiritual. Not being a woman I can’t say how inspirational this deck might be to women, something which I think is advertised as one of its strongest qualities, but I have doubts most women will find this deck inspirational. Looking through the cards it doesn’t even seem to manage empty sentimentality, so I doubt it could do something as difficult as inspiration. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Four Elements – The artwork in this tarot is described as tribal and primal, which to me makes it look a lot like abstract art. When I first saw this tarot, although it looked pretty and shiny, I was not very impressed with it. I found that the abstract design made it almost unworkable and difficult to study. Initially I was set to write this deck off as an art deck.

Then I started to really look at the cards and noticed all of the esoteric symbolism contained within them. Not only are the card designs correct, as per the traditional meaning, meaningful, and often insightful, but the card designs are all completely new as is most of the symbolism.

For instance the High Priestess contains an abstractly drawn naked woman. She is sitting in the lotus position, which makes sense considering everything this card represents, and there are palm trees behind her, a common symbol on the High Priestess card. These are all concepts that work in regards to the card, but it isn’t a very unique design and it doesn’t express very much. When I initially looked at the High Priestess card, this is all I saw.

About my third time looking at this card though I started to notice a bunch of other little things contained within the card. The focus point of the card, the area of the artwork draws a person to, is in between the priestess’s crossed legs where you see what I’m almost certain represents her vagina. You might think that I’m just drawn there because I’m a man and its a vagina, and normally I’d agree but in this instance it’s just a couple of abstract lines and not nearly detailed enough to pique my sexual interest. The vagina represents the entry way into the sacred mysteries, it is the doorway through which we leave the physical world and enter into the spiritual world, all of which are things that are expressed by the High Priestess card.

Looking at the card even more I realized that the high priestess is sitting in a triangle, or rather a pyramid, which connects to a bright light in the sky. In Ancient Egyptian culture the pyramid was a structure that connected the physical world to the heavens or the spiritual world. This once again references the High Priestess card being the connection between the physical and the spiritual, and also as the connection between the middle triad and the first triad.

Of course there are other symbols I haven’t even begun to talk about on the card, such as the fact that the High Priestess is sitting on a moon or that she has a third eye. Due to the abstract nature of this deck, I’m sure there are also other symbols that I still haven’t seen in this card. And I have the same experience with each of the other trump cards when I sit down to study them.

Like most tarot decks, the pip cards are not as detailed and intense as the trumps. However I’ve still found quite a bit of symbolism contained within the pip cards and I’m not complaining about their design.

This is a wonderful and beautiful deck that is largely original in both its art style and its card design and symbolism. My only complaint about this deck is that the art style may make it a bit difficult to work with the deck and identify what is being portrayed in the imagery. However the deck is well worth the time and effort. I recommend this tarot.

Tarots of the Golden Dawn – Despite the name, this is a Lo Scarabeo art deck which features different Fae creatures. It is a fantasy deck and has no connection to actual Fae, Fae lore, or Fae spirituality. The deck has nothing to do with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or the Golden Dawn pattern, and I don’t understand why Lo Scarabeo would chose this name when they must know that it has a very specific meaning to most tarot enthusiasts. The only thing I can figure is that they’re trying to sell the deck through false advertising. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the III Millennium – I picked this deck up at a Llewellyn online clearance sale for three dollars. I don’t think it’s worth three dollars. In fact I think its publisher Lo Scarabeo should pay me three dollars for having to study it long enough to review it.

To start, the court cards are in full color. The rest of the cards are drawn and shaded with blue ink. The lesser arcana also feature small full color pictures of the Zoni Marseilles reproduction which is also published by Lo Scarabeo, although these are absent from the trumps. These small versions of the Zoni Marseilles are essential since it’s the only way to tell which card is which. Other than the trumps, there are no titles on the cards and they contain no visual reference to their suit. Many of the pips feature bar codes and the court cards all have URLs printed on them, although I’m not curious enough to find out if there is any meaning to these or if they’re just nonsense. If you look closely at the pip cards you’ll notice that certain cards can be put together to form larger images. Once again my curiosity was not fully peaked enough to make me further explore this aspect of the deck.

According to the box, this deck is the designers attempt to question whether humanity can fully understand the transformations of this age and if man can live with the conflict between technology and spirituality. That pretty much explains the deck to me.

If you don’t understand what that means then let me translate. This deck is an art project by a person with an immature mind who is trying to sound profound and artistic. This is a person that has not yet come to grips with the idea that technology is not something new but something very old, that technology and spirituality are not mutually exclusive but that technology, like everything, is spiritual in nature, and a person that has not yet figured out that the world is not now in a tailspin descent, but that in every way it is slowly improving generation by generation just like it always has.

Unless if you like the angsty works of college art majors who have not yet gained enough life experience to think critically, stay away from this deck, even if it is only three dollars.

Tarot of the Old Path – The Tarot of the Old Path is another Wiccan slash Pagan tarot. The deck draws upon the rich culture and history of Wicca, but it is the romanticized and mythological idea of Wicca, not actual Wicca or its actual history. Ideas like Wicca being based on an old religion and not a 1950s offshoot of Ceremonial Magic or that Traditional Witchcraft was practiced by the upper class and members of the aristocracy instead of being entirely limited to the lower classes form the foundation of this tarot. Thankfully though this is my biggest complaint about the deck.

The artwork is vibrant, detailed, a bit soft, and well drawn. It’s more than adequate and although I’m not a huge fan of the artwork of this deck it’s both professional and far from ugly. The deck has fully illustrated pips.

There is a lot of originality in the card design and symbolism and the deck makes some pretty bold changes to the cards at time, such as renaming the Chariot card Mastery, in order to fit the Wiccan theme, but amazingly all of the new designs and changes fit perfectly with the traditional interpretations of the cards. Usually decks like this that make such radical changes to fit a popular theme just end up showing the designers’ ignorance about tarot, but with this deck it shows how deep the designer’s understanding of tarot is through their ability to reinterpret the cards with new ideas and symbolism.

For instance the Magician card features a man holding a sword who looks like some sort of Shaman casting runes near Stonehenge with a unicorn behind him. A chalice is near him, as is a fire which a Coyote spirit jumps out of. The sword and chalice are the traditional magician’s elemental tools of air and water. Although this magician doesn’t have a wand and pentacle, he does have the actual fire to represent fire, and he’s wearing animal skins and horns which represent Earth. The Coyote is a trickster god and also represents intelligence and illusion or deception. The unicorn is a mythical beast which represents strength, untameability, and purity, but it also lies behind him implying a loss of innocence and purity. Unicorns are also a masculine symbol. That single horn is definitely phallic. Not only is this a new design with some new ideas, but they all fit perfectly with the traditional depiction, meaning, and interpretation of the Magician card.

The deck also managed to sidestep a major pitfall with Pagan tarots. Many Pagan tarots try to misappropriate the masculine forces portrayed in the tarot and make them feminine, or they try to impress gender neutrality upon the tarot and end up unbalancing or completely removing the masculine and feminine aspects. This deck however remains true to the traditional and balanced portrayal of masculine and feminine forces within the tarot and the universe.

You don’t need to be Wiccan or have any understanding of Wicca to understand or enjoy this deck. There is a clarity in the new symbolism and designs that transcend the Wiccan theme, and anyone with a firm grasp of tarot should be able to understand the designer’s reinterpretations of the cards. This isn’t my favorite Pagan tarot, that would be the Tarot of the Witches, but this tarot comes in a close second. I highly recommend it.

Tarot of the Origins – Okay, this is a new idea. Initially when I saw the word tribal in this deck’s description I thought it dealt with Native American spirituality. It doesn’t deal with that though, it deals with a much older spirituality. Older than Paganism, Greek spirituality, and even older than Egyptian spirituality and Shintoism. This deck deals with the spirituality of cavemen. Maybe this is going to be the next big thing in the magical community. Once getting in touch with your roots through Paganism becomes too faddish, maybe some people will start trying to get in touch with their even earlier roots through Cavemanism.

To start, the prehistoric era was, by definition, before recorded history. We have no first hand accounts of what was going on back then, and as for spirituality, culture, and even the day to day life of these early people all we have is pure speculation based on the small amount of evidence they have left behind, such as their bones and tools. There is really no accuracy or legitimacy for the spirituality, or even anything else, contained in a deck like this. The fact is we have no idea what was really going on back then or what sorts of spiritual practices they had.

Fortunately though that isn’t a big issue with this deck. The deck was published by Lo Scarabeo, and like most Lo Scarabeo decks this is an art deck, one that often times gets confused as being spiritual until someone finally sits down and looks at it. As you would expect from Lo Scarabeo the artwork is very good, but it’s even very good by Lo Scarabeo art deck standards, although the theme really isn’t a very interesting one for an art deck. The deck doesn’t have any actual spiritual value and I don’t recommend buying it.

Tarot of the New Vision – This tarot takes the Rider-Waite design and style and redraws each of the cards, but from behind the original picture, thus exposing new details which couldn’t be seen in the original cards.

Why is there a monkey behind the Magician? Why are people cheering in front of the Hanged Man? Why are naked people bathing underneath the ace of cups? Why is there a demon in the nine of swords? Because this deck is crap, that’s why.

I don’t see why people feel the need to add to the Rider-Waite. At least with a new colorization or something like the Universal Waite though the original drawings are kept intact. With this deck we don’t even get the Rider-Waite drawings. Instead we get some crappy, nonsensical variation of them.

If you happen to own a tarot company and want to capitalize on the popularity of the public domain Rider-Waite images, here’s an idea. Many fans are upset with the changes US Games made to the standard edition over a decade ago, and so far no tarot company has tried to publish a new standard edition of the cards. A well researched redrawn version of the deck would easily sell. Invest in that instead of stupid crap like this. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Northern Shadows – Based on Celtic and Norse mythology, this tarot was designed by the creators of the Tarot of the Old Path, one of my favorite tarots. Because of how much I liked the Tarot of the Old Path I was very excited to see that the same team had designed a second tarot, but I was also anxious because I had doubts that they would be able to make a second tarot as good as their first. I was also concerned about the theme of this tarot, Celtic and Norse mythology, being very similar to the theme of their last tarot, Paganism. My fear was that either they would recycle a lot of the material from their first tarot, in which case this tarot would be very derivative of their earlier work, or that having expended their best material on their first tarot there would be very little good material left for this tarot.

I’m not too familiar with Celtic mythology, and even my knowledge of Norse mythology, though much better, is still limited, and that made this tarot somewhat difficult to work with. It was hard for me to tell what was being expressed in many of the cards because I’m not very familiar with the myths that were being referenced. This is in contrast to the Tarot of the Old Path, which I felt managed to clearly express itself regardless of a person’s knowledge of Paganism.

Even with my limited understanding of the mythology though, it’s clear that the designers still have a very intimate knowledge of the tarot. A lot of the design and symbolism in the deck is unique, and contrary to my fears the designers have found more than enough material to fill this deck with without reusing very much of the material included in their first deck.

Despite having a limited understanding of this deck I still like it a lot. So much so that I’m tempted to actually buy and read the accompanying book for this tarot in order to learn which myths are being expressed within it. It’s not as good as the Tarot of the Old Path, but taken on its own it’s a very good tarot. I’m taking off a few points because the deck is difficult to fully understand if you’re not familiar with Northern European mythology, but I still recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Saints – This tarot deck was created by prolific tarot designer Robert Place, better known for his Alchemical Tarot. As you can guess, the deck is based in Christian mythology and spirituality with a particular emphasis put on the Catholic saints. The deck’s artwork is drawn in the same style as Place’s Alchemical and Angel tarots. The pips are almost fully illustrated. The majority of the cards feature a standard pip design, but small part of the card, usually underneath this design, feature an illustrated scene. It’s very similar to what Place did with his Buddha tarot.

I wasn’t very thrilled when I first heard about this deck. I have no issue with Christianity, and I have no problem with the Christian mythology and symbolism which is inherent in the standard tarot design. At the same time though I’m not Christian and I don’t have any interest in a deck that is Christian-centric, especially in exclusion to other non-Christian concepts that are present in the standard tarot design. When I finally saw this deck though I really liked it, and that was due to Place’s intimate knowledge of the esoteric tarot and his awesome deck design.

The Ace of Cups is my favorite card in the deck, and this is also the card that sold me on the deck. It shows a lamb bleeding into a cup. This is a reference to the blood of Christ and holy communion, and in this card it’s being compared to the height of divine love.

The designs on the other pip cards seem to have just as much depth. The Five of Cups depicts an angel (either Raphael or Michael I assume) forcing Adam and Eve out of Eden. The fives all represent conflict. They are a representation of something no longer being alone but being part of the universe, a universe which will present opposition. The fours meanwhile represent perfection through singularity or naiveness. The transition from the four to the five is a transition from having perfection and strength due to a lack of opposition to having opposition that seeks to destroy that which was perfect and strong in the four. The cups meanwhile represent love, emotions, and relationships among other things. In this deck the five of cups shows Adam and Eve being removed from the perfect love of god and being cast into the uncaring world of opposition and conflict that exists outside of Paradise.

The trump and court cards are done just as well as the pips, although each of these cards features a different saint that is somehow connected to the card. Initially I thought the saints were just vicariously chosen for the different cards, but as I researched the lives and mythology of the different saints I found that the life stories of these saints were intimately tied into the traditional meanings of the tarot cards they were placed on.

For instance Saint Barbara, who I didn’t know about until I saw her on this deck, is the saint assigned to the Tower card. Barbara was locked away in a tower by her father, and initially this seems to be the reason why she was chosen for the tower card, which is a very superficial reason. However if you read further into the story of Saint Barbara you see that her father also had her tortured for her conversion to Christianity, but this proved to be ineffective since her wounds healed every night. Then torches used to burn her started going out when they were brought near her. This is the folly of trying to act against God’s will and trying to prove that you are greater than the will of God, the same folly which is implied in the story of the tower of Babel which is referenced in the standard tarot design of the card. Finally Barbara’s father killed her by beheading her, however God then struck him with lightning and killed him. Lightning is also present in the standard design of the Tower card where it is the divine will of God striking the tower and seeking retribution, vengeance, and justice against those who defied Him.

This is one of my favorite decks, and it has a lot of esoteric value for tarot enthusiasts regardless of their actual religious beliefs, and it’s because absent this tarot’s religious theme, it’s still a very well designed tarot. Plus, like all good religiously themed tarots, this deck incorporates new spiritual ideas into the traditional concepts of the cards instead of trying to just replace what’s in the card with different spiritual imagery. I highly recommend this deck.

Tarot of the Secret Forest – This is yet another Fae deck, and it’s made by Lo Scarabeo who has already made like a gajillion fae themed tarots. This deck features much darker tones than is usually seen in fae decks, and the artwork is beautiful. The art style is not the normal Lo Scarabeo style, and the cards even lack the typical Lo Scarabeo multi-language border. The cards do not have backs and instead print black and white versions of the images on the reverse side.

There isn’t any esoteric or spiritual value in this deck, nor does it contain any information related to actual fae or fae lore, and I only included this deck because Lo Scarabeo advertises it as a metaphysical tarot. It is however an atypical and very beautifully drawn fae deck. If you’re a collector of fairy items or fae decks this deck is going to be a must have. I do not recommend this deck.

Tarot of the Sephiroth – This is a quote from the advertisment on the designer’s website – “In the past, the crucial connection between Tarot and the Qabalah has often been obscured or ignored.” I can only assume that this person has been in a coma since 1782.

Starting in the late 18th century French occultists started making connections between the tarot and the Kabalah. Two early adopters were Court de Geblin and Etteilla, and they’re resposnible for a great deal of the early theories on the esoteric tarot. These ideas were adopted by most major French occultists who worked with the tarot, including Falconnier, Levi, Papus, and Wirth, right up until the modern day. The same theories were later adopted by British Ceremonial Magicians who brought the ideas over to North America, along with South America and most of Europe. Major influential early 20th century decks like the Rider-Waite, the Crowley Thoth, and the Golden Dawn tarot all rely on Kabalistic associations. These ideas have now even found their way to Asia and have been seen in Asian tarots as early as the 1970s. Even tarots that no longer associate themselves with Ceremonial Magic often times still use the Kabalistic associations because of they’re influenced by earlier decks and ideas.

The connection between Kabalah and tarot has never been obscured or ignored. It’s been talked about, theorized upon, and has been the basis for almost every good spiritual tarot ever since the two were first connected together in the late 18th century.

On to my actual review of this tarot, the artwork is well drawn and highly detailed. However the pip cards are not fully illustrated, but the designs are a bit elaborate. No doubt the designer would claim that the pips are unillustrated in order for the deck to conform to earlier Kabalah associative decks, but I would argue that two early adopters of fully illustrated pips, Waite and Crowley, created beautiful Kabalah associated decks using fully illustrated pips. As I’ve stated in other reviews, modern decks that do not have fully illustrated pips are not going to be competitive in today’s market, and decks should not be released without fully illustrated pips unless there’s a good reason for it.

As for the trumps, they look as if they’re full of esoteric symbolism, but for the most part they’re just really busy and the little symbolism they do contain is obvious and shallow, sometimes to the point of being laughable. For instance the High Priestess is passing through a ring that has the words Knowledge and Daath written on it. Yes I know its technically correct, but I’ve never before seen a deck like this that has no concept of subtelty or of the idea that symbolism means things are supposed to be symbolic.

It’s also worth pointing out that a lot of the meaning of the High Priestess card is lost if its seen as just the path between Tiperath and Kether. In fact part of the purposes of the tarot is that it’s supposed to teach you a lot about the different paths and spheres, something that is very complicated and abstract, and what they are by applying them to the symbolism, imagery and meaning of the tarot cards which are easier to understand. This deck takes that concept and does it ass-backwards. The point of this deck is to teach us the tarot through its association with the Kabalah. Its like learning how to ride a real bike so that you know how to ride one with training wheels.

I’m guessing most people who use this tarot, much like the designer, don’t yet have a firm grasp of the Kabalah, but that doesn’t really matter because the deck doesn’t have much to teach about the Kabalah or the tarot anyways. At its best all this deck does is try to teach the Kabalistic associations of the cards. If that sounds appealing to you, go online and download a blank diagram of the tree of life. Print out a lot of copies. Once a day, or even once a week, sit down with a diagram and write the associations into it. Do this again and again and you’ll learn the associations and save yourself $20. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery – This is Robert Place’s newest tarot deck, and so far it is a work in progress which Place is currently selling piecemealed. Right now the trumps are completed, and any of these can be ordered as high quality large sized prints suitable for framing for $25 dollars each, or as even larger, higher quality prints for $100 each. Place is also selling a large sized annotated version of the trumps with six additional cards for $50.

Place is a seasoned tarot designer responsible for the Alchemical Tarot and several other decks. The work he’s already completed on the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery looks amazing, the deck being specifically designed for contemplation and magical use. However I’m going to refrain from reviewing this tarot until I see the complete deck. If you’d like to see what the deck looks like so far, Place currently has large high quality scans of all 22 trumps on his website.

Tarot of the Southwest Sacred Tribes – The Tarot of the Soutwest Sacred Tribes is based around the spirituality of Native American tribes in the American Southwest, specifically the Apache, Pueblo, Rio Grande Pueblo, and Navajo nations. The deck’s artwork uses bright and vibrant water colors and the pip cards are fully illustrated. There is a lot of originality in the card design, but the deck is still very derivative of the Rider-Waite deck.

Unfortunately I’m going to have to pass on reviewing this deck. I do not know enough about the history and spiritual beliefs of these Native American tribes to give this tarot deck a fair review.

Tarot of the Spirit – This is another “meditational” tarot. In this instance that seems to mean that a good deal of the traditional meaning and symbolism of the cards is ignored in favor of the designer’s interpretation of what they should mean. The best example I can give of this is the Lover’s card, which among other things shows a naked woman comforting a naked man. It depicts lovers and compassion and comfort and the bond they show very well (thanks largely to the awesome artwork on the card), but in the tarot the Lover’s card is a card of strength, not weakness, which encompasses the idea of man as god, or alternatively as man being as powerful as or even more powerful than God.

The artwork on the deck though is phenomenal (which is rare for a meditational deck). I absolutely love the way this deck looks, and I would love to see this artwork in a better designed deck. The deck is spiritual, the designer just doesn’t seem to have a very firm grasp of the tarot, and I’m almost ready to recommend this deck based just on that and the beautiful artwork. I’m going to have to remain on the fence with this deck, but do note that the artwork is what’s pushing it away from not being recommended at all.

Tarot of the Spirit World – This is a ghost themed Lo Scarabeo art deck. The art is high quality, very detailed, and typical of Lo Scarabeo art decks. Each card depicts a scene involving a ghost or spirit. The cards follow the traditional tarot design only in the loosest sense, and there is no esoteric meaning or knowledge contained within the cards. The portrayal of ghosts and spirits is pure fantasy and has no relation to actual ghosts and spirits. This is just another Lo Scarabeo fantasy art deck. I only include this deck because Lo Scarabeo advertises it as a Metaphysical deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Sweet Twilight – This is an Lo Scarabeo art deck. The imagery and theme of this deck is hard to describe. It’s a sort of otherworldly fantasy deck. The artwork is up to Lo Scarabeo’s usual high quality standards, although the style is atypical of Lo Scarabeo decks. The artwork has an almost cartoonish quality to it. Artistically it’s an interesting deck, but it lacks any spiritual or esoteric meaning and is not magically useful. I only included this deck because Lo Scarabeo advertises it as a metaphysical tarot. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot of the Witches Deck – This is sometimes sold as the 007 tarot. It was created for the James Bond movie Live and Let Die. In Bond movies things like espionage, intelligence agencies, fist fights, and car chases, in other words the kinds of stuff that James Bond is all about, are done in a very cheesy and unrealistic manner. So it’s of no surprise that something far removed from James Bond, like tarot, receives no better treatment in the movies.

Some people actually really like this deck, though it’s not for any spiritual reason. They like the deck because they’re fans of the artwork of Fergus Hall. At a glance the artwork looks cheesy and cartoony and shallow, and it is cheesy and cartoony, but it’s definitely not shallow. If you take a moment and actually study some of the cards the artwork turns out to be very deep and beautiful. But it has nothing to do with spirituality.

The deck is best described as an art deck, and the best reason to buy this deck is for the beautiful artwork on the cards. The deck’s also a piece of James Bond fan memorabilia, and so it will no doubt be valuable to die-hard James Bond fans. It’s devoid of any spirituality though, and so as a spiritual tarot I don’t recommend this deck.

The Tarot of Transformation – This is a New Age tarot, and I’m assuming it’s supposed to help you transform spiritually or something along those lines. The deck’s artwork is really blue. I’d guess that about eighty percent of the deck is colored some shade of blue. The quality of the artwork is descent. It’s nothing spectacular, but it isn’t that bad, and it isn’t particularly ugly. The art style might have really limited the designer’s ability to fully express themselves in a better deck, but with this deck it isn’t an issue. The pip cards are fully illustrated.

Most of the cards contain original imagery, and there are even a few interesting ideas incorporated into some of the cards. The Chariot, for instance, has “Agent of Change” written on it, which is a good and rather interesting interpretation of the card. However for the most part the deck is just a silly New Age deck bereft any real spiritual meaning. The Fool card has “Innocence or Ignorance” written on it, and the imagery on the card doesn’t follow any traditional meaning, and seems to be nonsensical. The Moon meanwhile says, “Peace in the Darkness.”

I really gave up on this deck though once I reached the Judgement card. Considering the traditional meanings, this is the one card that should probably be the focal point of any deck themed in transformation. This card really needed to be extraordinary and unique, and if this card fails, there’s no reason to expect anything worthwhile from the rest of the deck. However the deck, not realizing that judgement refers to the end times spoken of in the bible, completely misses the transformative point of the judgement card, and instead sees it as being about judging others or oneself. The card is here renamed Compassion, and it says “Transcending Judgement” on the card, in order to make it more positive.

The deck does contain a few interesting elements, although I’m almost certain these found their way into the deck by accident. The designers seem to have no understanding of the tarot, and like the worst aspects of the New Age movement, the deck is really about making an inferior product to cash in on someone else’s genuine search for spirituality. Still there are some interesting elements, so I’m remaining on the fence with this deck.

Tarot of Transition – This is an Egyptian style tarot in the vain of the Falconnier-Wegener trumps. Each of the trump cards features a different Egyptian god and the pip cards are not fully illustrated. The deck is in color, but the colors are rather bland through out.

I don’t really have much to say about this deck because it isn’t much of a deck. Being designed in the early 80s it really doesn’t have any historical significance. The artwork is not only ugly, but also very simple and bland. There isn’t really any symbolism or spiritual meaning contained in any of the cards. The trump cards do feature pictures of Egyptian gods, but not only are these ugly depictions, it seems almost as if the god for each card was chosen at random as there really isn’t much of a connection to be made between a particular god and the card they’re attached to. All and all it’s an entirely useless and ugly tarot deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

The Tarot of Trees – This is a tarot which features trees in all of the cards, and in place of the human characters which are usually present. The deck is well drawn in soft water colors. The pips are fully illustrated.

I was hoping that this deck would have some spiritual significance, especially since some esoteric symbolism did seem to be present in the deck, such as the Hermit card tree having a lantern hanging from it. However any esoteric symbolism in the cards is simply a byproduct of modeling the cards after more traditional tarot decks. When the deck does completely redesign a card the image is usually nonsensical and unrelated to the meaning of the card. For instance the card Judgment shows a small tree beginning to grow from an acorn buried in the ground as a storm rages on around it. I have no idea what that image has to do with the Judgment card.

This is nothing more than a novelty deck featuring trees, which although novel isn’t a very exciting theme for a novelty deck. Since there is no spiritual value to this deck I recommend not buying it.

Tarot of White Cats – I don’t like the idea of cat tarots, or any magically associated cat items. People in the Pagan community, and to a lesser extent the larger magical community, are often stereotypically seen as lonely cat people. It’s because there are a lot of lonely cat people in the community, and a lot of the people in the community who are about promoting their spirituality, coming out of the broom closet, and even getting in people’s faces with their spirituality also try to advertise the fact that they are lonely cat people. I’m serious about this too. I think every Pagan I’ve ever seen who has put up a promotional picture of themselves has cats in the picture. Not to mention all of their cat t-shirts, and bumperstickers, and knick-knacks.

I really want to come out against this cat-people Pagan stereotype, but it’s really hard to say bad things about this deck because the cats are so damn cute. The one on the sun card that’s riding the toy is just… I have to resist my urge to adore kitties and give an objective review of this deck.

The deck features usually standard tarot designs or Rider-Waite tarot designs which now feature cats in place of the human figures. The deck may have retained some esoteric meaning from the decks it borrowed the basic designs from, but clearly no attempt was made to preserve these meanings and any spiritual use or meaning this deck may have is unintentional and accidental. I do not recommend this tarot. But the kitties are cute.

Tarot of Wicca – No, I don’t have this deck. This Japanese deck is probably the first Wiccan tarot deck. It became popular after being included in the Encyclopedia of Tarot and received subsequent reprintings. Oddly enough, despite the fact that there was a demand for it in the United States years ago, no Western tarot company bothered to acquire the rights and reprint the cards.

The actual deck is rather simplistic in its design and symbolism and the artwork is adequate, but nothing special. It’s a highly sought after deck, which drives up its price, but the deck itself isn’t very good. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot Pastor – This is an early seventies tarot which is derivative of the Marseilles pattern. The art style is best described as Marseilles based however using modern printing technologies and with a slightly cartoonish quality to it. Unlike most other decks which have tried to update the Marseilles pattern imagery with modern printing techniques, this deck isn’t ugly, and many will probably find the artwork charming. The pip cards are not fully illustrated and also use the traditional French suits as opposed to the Italian suits.

The deck design closely follows the Marseilles pattern, but the deck is obviously geared towards esoteric use. Normally the lack of originality in the design would be a huge issue, however it’s more forgivable with this deck due to its age. In the early seventies there weren’t many tarot decks available, and this would be a somewhat unique take on the Marseilles design. Unfortunately though it hasn’t aged very well considering the large amount of original cards with fully illustrated pips available. The main draw of the deck today is its artwork, which although pleasant is far from spectacular. As a magical tool though it completely fails to compete with modern decks. I’m staying on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Tarot Polski – As the name suggests, this is a Polish tarot, although the cards do feature English and French titles beneath the Polish titles. The artwork is done in a highly detailed and very realistic style, and is very similar to the art style typically employed in Lo Scarabeo art decks. The pips are not fully illustrated.

Unlike the Lo Scarabeo decks, this deck does contain a lot of esoteric meaning. The deck designer obviously understood the standard associations and symbols of the tarot and made a conscious effort to incorporate them into the deck. Unfortunately though, that’s all that was incorporated into the deck. All of the symbols are the standard symbols and nothing new has been added to the deck.

Without the artwork, this is just another boring tarot deck that doesn’t add anything new to the medium. It’s also very hard for me to get exited about the deck’s artwork, because the style has already been done to death by Lo Scarabeo. Thirty years ago this would’ve been a great tarot, but today it’s just another tarot. The the lack of fully illustrated pips further hurts the deck, and it makes it a lot easier for me to not recommend it. Even with derivative pips I may have given it a low recommendation, but as it is I’m on the fence about recommending this deck. It’s not a bad deck and there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing special about it either.

Tarot Prosty i Skuteczny – This is a Polish tarot which uses a very ugly Marseilles style design. The tarot uses large borders and has divinatory meanings printed on the top and bottom of the cards in Polish, much like US Games’ Quick and Easy Tarot.

Since I don’t speak Polish I can’t judge the divinatory meanings, but I’m pretty sure they’re limited and fail to fully explain the card. I’ve reviewed several English decks like this and I’ve stated several times already why I don’t like decks that print the divinatory meanings, so I won’t repeat myself here.

Absent the divinatory meanings this is a poorly drawn, ugly Marseilles style tarot. It wouldn’t be worth getting on its own because it looks horrible and there are a lot of good looking Marseilles tarots available. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot ReVISIONed – The Tarot ReVISIONed is a black and white trump only tarot deck. The deck is unfortunately only available as a book. The pictures are all very detailed and heavily shaded. In fact they are so detailed I doubt they would do well as smaller sized cards, and the heavy shading would make it difficult to tell the cards apart on sight.

The imagery on the cards is largely original and it incorporates a lot of new ideas into the design. Unfortunately though the deck places a lot of emphasis on the astrological associations of the cards. In fact this seems to be by far the most important aspect of every card, with the three cards that don’t have astrological associations being assigned Uranis, Neptune, and Pluto. This is a rather limited interpretation of the cards that doesn’t take into account all of the other associations and meanings of the trumps. With all of the other problems inherent in this decks design, it really doesn’t need this additional problem.

This really isn’t a bad deck. In fact if it were in color and sold as a deck with 72 cards, I would probably give it at least a low recommendation. However there are just too many problems with the decks current format that make it almost unusable for any kind of esoteric purpose. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tarot Swietlistej Drogi – I have no idea how to pronounce this tarot’s name. This is one of those Polish decks that are all the rage right now. If you don’t know, for about the last decade Poland has been making some really great decks. The Polish decks have been very experimental with their artwork, and unlike the art decks of say, Italy, the Polish art decks often times have deeper esoteric meanings. In fact the Poles have also been a bit experimental with their symbolism and design. Even though Poland doesn’t always make the very best esoteric tarots, a large number of their decks are experimental and different from anything else on the market. Over the past few years tarot Western enthusiasts started to take note of all of the interesting decks that have been released in Poland, and the country is quickly becoming known as the best producer of interesting and unique tarots.

The cards all feature solid black backgrounds which in most cases takes up about half or more of the card space. The imagery is all soft and light and drawn on the heavy black backgrounds with what looks like colored pencil, and also drawn in a very minimalistic style. This may make the deck sound as if it doesn’t have much to offer artistically, but that’s only because it’s beyond me to adequately describe what this deck looks like. Although it doesn’t sound like it by the description, the light colors and minimilistic imagery against the black background has a strong effect when seen, which is why so many people have felt drawn to this deck at a glance.

What really matters with a deck though is the card design, and in that regard this deck runs the spectrum from okay to spectacular. Several of the trump cards, like the Magician and the Chariot, use standard designs. There is nothing really new or interesting to them, and not even much depth to them, but they work okay because they use a standard tarot design. Meanwhile trumps like the High Priestess and the Wheel of Fortune add entirely new elements into the design, like having the High Priestess making an energy connection between the ground and the heavens. Although these new elements may be obvious and less than subtle, they’re still unique and work well with the cards. Where the deck become spectacular though is with the minor arcana cards. Each of these cards contain completely new and usually very interesting imagery.

The deck falls just short of getting a very high recommendation, mainly due to some of the trump cards having a standard design without much depth. I very nearly made an exception for this deck due to the artwork, but considering how high the standards are for a very high recommendation it seems wrong to let this deck push itself up there with artwork. Due to its solid design, unique symbolism, and spectacular minor arcana the deck I still recommend the deck, and that’s even before I take into account the awesome and unique art design.

Tarot Terapia Slowem – This is a Polish tarot, and its title translates to Instant Therapy Tarot. The deck was designed for introspection and for psychological and spiritual healing. The deck’s artwork is very soft, but still usually drawn. Likewise the colors used are soft yet bright. The deck is far from being the best looking tarot I’ve ever seen, but most of the cards look nice. A few of the cards don’t look that great, but the artwork is still adequate and managed to fully express the tarot. The deck is 80 cards, which initially concerned me, but it turns out the deck just included alternate versions for two of the trumps. The pips are fully illustrated.

When I first heard about this deck, I thought it was just going to be another one of those crappy psychological introspection decks. When I finally saw the deck though I was completely blown away, and this is one of those decks that reaffirms the idea that anything the Poles do with tarot turns out awesome.

The deck is full of esoteric symbolism and contains a nice mix of traditional symbolism and original symbolism. All of the imagery fits with the traditional meanings of the cards, and deck designer obviously understood the tarot and its symbolism on a spiritual level. This is completely unheard of for this type of tarot, which advertises itself as being for introspection and therapy. It also makes it very easy to employ the deck for divination, meditation, and even spell work.

The only complaint I have about this deck is that the titles are only in Polish, and the imagery sometimes makes it hard to tell which card is which. This is a very easy to fix though if you’re willing to spend a little bit of time on Google translate. Other than that though the deck is great and I recommend it.

Tarot: The Kingdom Within – The tarot is done in a somewhat unique art style. It’s a very amateurish style, and although it doesn’t look computer generated, it looks as if a computer was extensively used to help improve the images. I’ve noticed that the sample cards that I found online, although they don’t look that great, are actually the very best cards in the deck. The artwork on the typical cards are of a much lower quality. The artwork isn’t so bad that it hurts the deck’s ability to express itself. In fact the artwork is actually fairly detailed. However the artwork is bad enough to make the deck look putrid.

What really drew me to this deck initially was that the cards had largely unique designs that were full of spiritually symbolic details. I didn’t take much time to look into those details though. I noticed that the meanings written on the pip cards seemed more or less correct, and I noticed some traditional symbolism mixed in, and assumed the tarot designer had some understanding of the tarot. Once I started to look at the symbols though, I started to notice they were nonsensical.

For instance Ho Poi is on the Wheel of Fortune card sitting in the middle of the wheel. Why he’s there I don’t know. I considered that maybe the designer wrongly believed that Ho Poi was Buddha, but the image still doesn’t make sense even if that is the case. The Ten of Pentacles meanwhile depicts what I think is supposed to be baby Jesus being visited by the three Magi, except Jesus looks to be more like seven years old in the image. I didn’t even bother to try to figure out the meaning of Jesus’ age, I still can’t figure out why Jesus is on the card. I’m also fairly certain that the pirate on the hanged man card (why is there a pirate there?) is supposed to be Captain Jack Sparrow.

I’ve completely given up trying to make sense of this thing. It’s the sort of deck that looks legitimate enough to fool you into buying it, but once you start to look at it you realize it’s just random images thrown together without any kind of reason. This tarot is not recommended.

Tarot Universal Dali – This is the tarot deck which was created by the artist Salvador Dali. US Games sells the tarot for about $100, although there was a cheaper version also produced by US Games in a limited edition.

As you can guess, the cards are absolutely beautiful, probably some of the finest tarot card drawings ever made. As a purely artistic work, this is probably the greatest tarot ever made.

But I don’t really care for the symbolism of the cards, and find that they don’t lend themselves well to divination or spell work. Ultimately it’s an art deck, a really good one, but pretty much useless for spiritual work. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tell Me Tarot – This deck combines simplified childlike artwork with card interpretations written on the cards so that anyone can use the tarot.

I don’t have anything against the art style. It’s not very mystical, but I like cutesy things like the Tell Me Tarot cards and I would probably like the art style more if it was put into a good deck. It’s also worth noting that although I don’t mind the art style, I find the actual quality of the artwork to be a little bit substandard, not a lot, especially taking into account the style, but a little bit.

The deck really falls apart with the tarot designs. The deck features simplified designs, and by simplified they have removed any symbolism or spiritual meaning from the cards. In fact this deck should get some sort of no-prize, because it is the only time I’ve ever seen tarot cards which manage to include some reference to the traditional designs without retaining any of the symbolism or meaning of those designs.

The interpretations printed on the cards are another issue. At their best they’re very shallow and extremely limited interpretations of the cards. Other times though the interpretations seem to have nothing to do with the actual card meaning. For instance Judgment’s interpretation is, “Judgment = Awakening(+). Time to wake up and fulfill your deepest dreams and desires. You will find successful solutions.” I don’t understand what the hell that has to do with Judgment.

The sun sign astrology readings you can get out of the newspaper are more accurate and based on stronger theories than readings done with this deck. If you want to read the tarot, my advice is that you take the time to actually learn and understand the tarot. It’s really not as difficult as it initially seems, but yes it probably will take several years of study and practice. If you just want something to use as a fun novelty, I suggest getting a list of card interpretations and buying a tarot that looks magical, because a lot of the fun of reading the tarot in that way is that it looks like you’re using a mystical and arcane deck.

Templar Tarot – The Templar Tarot was released in two editions. The first edition was simply titled the Templar Tarot, and contained 79 cards. The second edition was renamed Templar Tarot: The Journey and added an additional 22 cards to the deck, for a total of 101 cards. The tarot is based on the Knights Templar and Christian Mysticism.

The artwork is bright, colorful, psychedelic, and looks like something that was pulled off of an album cover. The artwork is well done, and as an artistic deck it’s interesting and looks good, and it has an original style to it. The cards are borderless and the pip cards are fully illustrated.

The cards are meant to have a deeper spiritual meaning, but the traditional meanings and symbols of the tarot have all been abandoned. Originally the deck added one extra card, called the Magic Flute. Later an additional 22 cards were added to the deck, which along with the Magic Flute are meant to make up a second Major Arcana. Note it’s not meant to replace or act as an alternative to the original Major Arcana, it’s meant to be used in tandem with it.

At this point the deck isn’t even worth looking at as a tarot. There are certain conventions of the tarot medium, the most important being its structure. If a person wants to design the tarot deck, they need to stay within the normal boundaries of the tarot, because that’s the medium they’ve chosen to work with. This tarot deck is like publishing a novel with a built in television, because the author felt the book needed moving visual elements in order to fully express themselves on the page. Once you’ve crossed certain boundaries, you’re no longer working within the medium.

This could’ve been a spiritual deck, and I wouldn’t be so critical of it. Taken as a tarot deck though, it’s not a tarot deck. It doesn’t share a common medium with other tarots, and so there’s no way I can give it a fair review relative to those tarots. I do not recommend this deck.

Thomson-Leng Tarot – I don’t have this deck, but it looks beautiful. It was published in 1935 and given away to readers of the women’s magazine My Weekly. The deck is in color and features fully illustrated pips and is one of the few early published esoteric tarot decks from the first half of the 20th century.

I recommend this tarot based on its merits alone, although due to its age and the fact that it was never reprinted the deck can be difficult to find and expensive to buy. Tarot collectors are still going to be very interested in this deck, but as a spiritual deck there are a lot of better decks out there that are currently being published and can be ordered from Amazon for less than $25. Non-collectors will probably be happier and better off spending their money on a cheaper tarot.

Thorson’s Celtic Tarot – These cards are drawn in a very beautiful and elaborate style similar to some Medieval artwork I’ve seen. I really don’t know enough about art history and the different styles to elaborate further on this deck, but the deck is beautiful. The deck does not feature fully illustrated pips, but the pips still look as good as the rest of the deck.

Most of the cards more or less follow the standard tarot design, although some effort is made to Celtify the imagery, usually in regard to the clothing worn. There are a few minor changes to the standard designs though, such as the man in the Chariot holding lightning in his hand.

Like any deck that more or less follows the standard tarot design, this deck has some limited esoteric and magical use. However this deck is ultimately an art deck, not a spiritual deck, but it is a very beautiful and unique art deck and I suggest anyone interested in such thing at least check this deck out. However as a spiritual tool I do not recommend buying this deck.

Transformational Tarot – This is a college tarot that uses mostly public domain artwork. Two editions of this deck have been released, the first by Ink Well Publishing in a limited edition of 3000 copies and the second by US Games. Significant changes were made to the US Games edition.

-Inkwell Edition – It’s very hard for me to give a high rating to a found tarot, and collage tarots that use public domain artwork usually turn out being very poorly done. However this was one of the first collage tarots ever made, done without the aid of photoshop, and the designer was an expressive art therapist well versed in collage techniques. This wasn’t something slapped together by someone with no artistic ability over the course of a weekend. A lot of time and work went into this tarot, and it shows in the final product.

The designer also has a good understanding of tarot symbolism, and this is what really starts to set the deck far apart from other collage tarots. Not only is the imagery and symbolism on the cards usually original (it sort of has to be because of the found artwork element), but often times the ideas being expressed are deep, complex, and wholly original while still retaining the traditional meaning and associations of the card.

One of my favorite cards is the seven of spades. The card depicts, among other things, a skeleton dressed as a police officer pointing a gun with a peace sign on his hat. Initially I thought the designer was attributing fire to spades, and that the card was simply a depiction of police violence. That’s an original attribution of the card, but not one I really care for and not deep enough to really make me interested in the deck. Actually though the card does depict spades as air, and in that case the card, at least as I originally interpreted it, doesn’t make sense.

However the idea does start to make sense when you look at the concept of “To Serve and Protect” being corrupted, through over-analyzation, to unrestricted violence. The peace sign is on the police officer because, in his mind, he is keeping the peace, even though he is now using violence to do so. He’s a skeleton because the entire institution has decayed. The word pigs graffitied behind him on the wall just shows that he is no longer serving the public, he’s become their enemy. This interpretation of the card is so much deeper than my initial interpretation, and it hasn’t even touched upon some of the elements of the image yet.

The use of both contemporary and classical artwork sometimes makes the deck seem like it lacks visual consistency, and initially I was going to be critical of this. The more I look through and use this deck though, the less I care about it. As a whole the deck still works, and it’s not that huge of an issue once you get used to it. I was also tempted to mark the deck down for being a collage deck, but this is the very best collage deck out there, and what every collage deck should aspire to be. My only real issue is with a few cards whose imagery doesn’t work as well as it should. It’s not a huge deal, and it doesn’t break the deck, but it’s enough to stop me from giving this a high recommendation. I recommend this tarot.

-U.S. Games Edition – The deck’s initial run eventually became so popular and sought after, that about a decade later US Games decided to reprint this deck with a much larger print run. Normally that would be a great thing, but unfortunately US Games seems unable to stop itself from making changes to good tarots. Much like the Yeager and Rohrig tarots, this deck had to be changed to meet US Games’ standards. Unfortunately though the changes here were much more significant and had nothing to do with nudity.

The first noticeable difference is that the borders have been changed on the cards. The astrological associations have been removed from the new borders, and the pip cards now feature the standard Italian suits instead of the French suits of the original. This isn’t really a big deal and it doesn’t affect the deck all that much. The cards have also been made larger, which is a good thing.

Unfortunately though the imagery has been changed on almost every card. Sometimes the changes are minor. So minor that you probably won’t notice the differences until you put cards from the two editions side by side. Other changes though are a bit more significant, and in some cases entirely new imagery is used and the card is completely different from the original version. Most of the contemporary elements were removed, and on the positive side, the deck now looks more consistent. However this consistency comes at the cost of losing much of its unique style. It’s a real shame that US Games doesn’t just reprint these great decks they acquire, but instead makes major changes in an effort to make them more saleable. I do not recommend this tarot.

Tree of Life Tarot – The tree of life tarot is a 78 card deck. Each card features the title of the card and a diagram showing its Kabalistic associations, including its tree of life associations. There are no images on the cards beyond these associations, nor are there any non-Kabalistic associations. The deck is in color, but color use is very limited and Kabalah associative.

The Tree of Life Tarot is really a set of flash cards to help you learn the Kabalistic associations of the tarot, which is strange because one of the uses of the tarot is that it is a guide to help you learn about Kabalah. The diagrams are all simple, but the associations are correct.

The deck is out of print and can be expensive. I recommend not bothering with this deck because it isn’t a real tarot, it’s a set of flash cards. If you learn better through flash cards, it might be more useful to you, but keep in mind that all of the diagrams are fairly simple, and you could easily draw them yourself on a set of note cards, and you’ll learn a lot more drawing the diagrams than just looking at them. In fact when I was first learning tarot and Kabalah I drew lots of diagrams, although on paper not note cards, and it proved an excellent learning exercise.

Universal Goddess Tarot – This is a Lo Scarabeo art deck featuring various goddesses from different pantheons. This deck is a standard art deck and isn’t useful at all as an esoteric tarot. However it could be used as a deck of goddess cards for divine communion, to place on altars, or otherwise work with these goddesses. Whether or not it can be used like that really depends on how much you personally like the artwork and how well you feel it depicts the various goddesses. I don’t really care for the artwork so the deck isn’t very useful to me, but this is largely a matter of personal taste. I’m on the fence about recommending this tarot.

Universal Tarot – This is Lo Scarabeo’s version of the Rider-Waite (US Games has trademarked just about every combination of Rider, Waite, and Smith imaginable). The deck has actually been completely redrawn in a much nicer and more detailed style, although all of the pictures conform to the general layout of the Rider-Waite cards.

I don’t like the new, nicer art style. There are some people who consider the Rider-Waite artwork done by Smith to be ugly and have been trying to get it fixed for years. I actually like the Rider-Waite artwork though. I like it a lot more than this artwork too, that although technically nicer and more detailed also seems more plain and boring. I never felt the Rider-Waite was broken in any way, so there’s no need to fix it.

As for the cards in this deck, as far as I can tell they follow the Rider-Waite design perfectly. Every detail contained in the Rider-Waite image is contained in the new image, and nothing is added to the cards.

I do not recommend this deck. Buy a real Rider-Waite deck instead.

Universal Waite Tarot – This is actually the first tarot deck I ever bought. I also believe this tarot was the first tarot to use the word Universal in its title, and with it came the golden rule for every deck with Universal in its title. Any tarot deck that has Universal in the title is crap. The deck was designed by Mary Hanson-Roberts, who also designed the highly Rider-Waite derivative Hanson-Roberts tarot and the Whimsical Tarot.

The deck itself takes the Rider-Waite and updates it with better coloring and shading and adding new details to the pictures. The original line drawings are kept intact and nothing is taken out of the artwork, so it’s sort of like Rider-Waite+

It’s also sort of like what happened to Star Wars in the 90s. Star Wars was a great film, just like the Rider-Waite is a great tarot. Then in the 90s Lucas started adding crap to Star Wars, pretty much whatever he could fit in there. So now there’s more storm troopers, and spaceships, and aliens, and even an extra blaster shot in the Cantina scene. There’s definitely more, but in the end the final product is made worse for it. That pretty much describes the Universal Waite. These things also cost as much as a standard Rider-Waite, which is the better purchase. I do not recommend this tarot.

Universal Wirth Tarot – Oh Lo Scarebo, why do I keep buying your crap. This actually isn’t that bad of a deck, although it isn’t that good of a deck either. The deck doesn’t add to Wirth’s trumps, as one would assume, but instead it claims to be a tarot deck based on Wirth’s published work concerning the tarot. The deck has pretty good artwork and the pips are fully illustrated, which is strange because I’m pretty sure Wirth, and everyone else during his time, were working with decks that did not have fully illustrated pips.

The trump cards are completely redrawn and done in an entirely different art style, but otherwise actually do follow Wirth’s trumps. As for the other fifty-six cards, I can’t really say how well they follow Wirth since English translations of his books are hard to get if they even exist. To be fair though, although the pips are fully illustrated, most of them also retain the older designs that Wirth would’ve probably been working with.

I don’t hate this deck as much as I thought I would have when I bought it (that statement right there should tell me I have a problem). After seeing the deck, more than anything I’m just disappointed in it. It seems like it had a lot of potential, and that the designer had some good ideas, and I would’ve liked to have seen what could’ve been done with the deck if it wasn’t constrained to just Wirth’s works.

Wirth was definitely one of the great and influential tarot theorists. The fact that this tarot designer took all of Wirth’s ideas and theories and incorporated them into the deck is great and I’m glad that’s in the deck. I would’ve liked to have seen the designer take the deck further though and incorporate all of his own ideas and understandings into the deck too alongside Wirth’s. If the deck would have done that, I think it would’ve turned out to be a really good deck. Instead I feel like this deck is a marketing creation that’s trying to sell itself through an association with Wirth.

If you can’t tell, I’m on the fence about recommending this one. It’s interesting, but there are far better tarots out there.

Unmei Tarot – This is a Japanese 22 card trump only Tarot done in a highly detailed style that is almost photorealism, or possibly it was done with real photographs and some sort of enhancement to make it look somewhat like it was painted (I honestly don’t know how to tell the difference). The artwork looks beautiful. The little bit of esoteric symbolism that exists is derivative of other decks or, as is the case with the pocket watch on the Death card, transparent and cliched. Spiritually the deck doesn’t offer anything over better tarots, and its further limited by being a trump only deck. I do not recommend this tarot.

US Games Native American Tarot – In theory a good Native American tarot is possible. Paganism is almost as far removed from tarot as Native American spirituality is, and yet there are some really good Pagan tarot decks out there. This however isn’t a very good Native American deck.

To begin with, this deck doesn’t really deal with Native American spirituality, it deals with Native American life and culture. This includes the spiritual and religious practices of Native Americans, but not Native American spirituality. This deck would be the equivalent of a Wiccan tarot that didn’t deal with Wiccan beliefs, but instead showed Wiccans dancing in a circle and going to Ren Fair.

The deck doesn’t include much traditional tarot symbolism either, only what remains in the few elements of the tarot that weren’t completely changed in this deck. More than anything the deck just seems to shove elements of Native American culture into the tarot wherever and as often as it can. The end result is really more of a Native American themed art deck than anything else. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about Native American culture to comment on how accurate this deck is in that regard. The artwork is drawn well and adequate for a normal tarot, but not interesting enough to carry an art deck in my opinion. I do not recommend this tarot deck.

Vacchetta Tarot – The Vacchetta tarot is a black and white tarot published by artist Giovanni Vacchetta in 1893. The deck does not feature fully illustrated pips, however the pip design is elaborate and would almost be considered fully illustrated. Vachetta was an artist, not an occultist, and although his deck is filled with deep artistic symbolism, it is not spiritual in nature. His deck was designed as a work of art, not as a magical tool. Still the deck design follows the standard tarot and although there are major variations many elements of the traditional tarot patterns do appear in the individual cards, allowing the deck to be used for cartomancy and magical work like most other historical tarots, although it is no where near as good as later tarots designed specifically for magical purposes. The artwork though is amazing and this is probably the best looking deck of the 19th century. It’s highly recommended as both an art deck and as an historic deck, although due to its limited use the deck is not recommended as a spiritual tarot.

-Edizioni del Solleone i Naibi di Giovanni Vacchetta – This is a 1976 historical reproduction of the original black and white designs which was released in a limited edition. So far this is the only black and white reproduction of the cards.

-il Meneghello i Naibi di Giovanni Vacchetta – This is il Meneghello’s recoloring of the cards which was released in 2001 in a limited edition of 1500 decks. The deck was recolored by il Meneghello’s founder Osvaldo Menegazzi, a prolific designer of tarot art decks and my favorite tarot artists. As a historical deck, I’d much prefer an original black and white reproduction, but if this deck had to be recolored I’d prefer it be my Menegazzi. Although the deck may have lost some of its historical value, but admittedly not much, it gained far more in artistic value by becoming one of Menegazzi’s decks. Yes, I am a Menegazzi fanboy, so keep that in mind when reading this review.

-Tarot of the Master – This is the Lo Scarabeo recoloring of the Vacchetta tarot. This tarot is of especial significance to Lo Scarabeo since Vacchetta was from Turin, Italy, which is now home to Lo Scarabeo’s publishing house. The Lo Scarabeo edition has been recolored by Michela Gaudenzi and features far more detail and shading then the il Meneghello edition. Of course this edition is going to be inferior to Menegazzi’s coloring of the cards, but taken on its own its a beautiful deck which has been beautifully colored. This is the only in print edition of the Vacchetta tarot.

Vampire Tarot – If you don’t know, the deck’s designer Robert Place is a prolific tarot designer who started out illustrating the Angel Tarot. His Alchemical Tarot was an underrated deck that didn’t sell too well until after it went out of print and word of mouth about how good it was finally started to get around. Demand for the deck became so high that Place was able to self-publish a corrected version of the tarot. He also worked on the Tarot of the Saints, which is a great Christian themed tarot, and the Buddha Tarot. He’s currently working on the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery and so far his progress looks good.

The Vampire Tarot was released in 2009 during the height of the most recent vampire craze which was fueled by major media franchises like Twilight and True Blood. Normally I would have very low expectations for a deck like this, except this deck was designed by Robert Place. Yes I figured he was trying to cash in on the vampire craze, but Place is still a great tarot designer with a deep and intimate knowledge of the cards. So even though I completely lost interest in vampires since Angel was canceled (no franchize is ever going to top Buffy), I was still expecting this to be a very interesting and spiritual take on vampires.

Initially I was wondering what Place would do with the vampire idea. He could focus on the current vampire spiritual movement. Or he could base the tarot deck around vampire mythologies. He could even make a deck which tied vampires in pop-culture to the spiritual ideas in the tarot. Or he might just take the idea of the vampire and incorporate that into the classic design of the tarot.

Place attempts to incorporate the classic idea of the vampire, along with elements of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel and various adaptations of it, into the design of the tarot. The artwork is in Place’s usual style, except it’s a bit darker and more gothic, which is expected considering the theme. The pip cards are fully illustrated and, in a design choice that seems a little over the top, the suits have been replaced with stakes, holy water, knives, and garlic flowers.

Some of the cards work very well with the traditional concepts behind the cards. For instance the High Priestess is Mina Harker. In the original Dracula novel Mina was caught in the middle between being human and being a vampire. She was also, near the end of the novel, the link between the human protagonists and Dracula. In the novel she connects what is mundane and human with the vampire, which is the spiritual aspect of this deck’s theme. This fits perfectly with the High Priestess, which connects the physical world to the spiritual world. Meanwhile the Temperance card shows vampires eating cow blood. I believe this was partially chosen because they are exhibiting temperance, they aren’t killing humans. But Temperance in the tarot refers to a Temperance on Death, the card it follows. Temperance is sometimes called Creativity or Art, and it is a card of Creativity because it is the card of procreation, which is how Death is tempered and a true ending of life is never achieved. This also makes Temperance a card of cycles and never ending. When a vampire feeds it allows them to continue on even though they are dead, and so the vampires feeding on cow’s blood are tempering death by stopping themselves from completely dying.

Other cards though just seem nonsensical to me. The three brides are the Empress. The Sun shows a vampire’s hair starting on fire as the Sun rises. I’m not sure what these things have to do with these cards.

I very much recommend reading the original Dracula novel before attempting to understand this deck since a lot of the cards reference that book. Beyond that the deck has some very interesting cards that have done a very good job of incorporating the theme into the traditional tarot design, especially considering the fact that this deck is based on a non-spiritual pop-culture theme. However the deck does have some big issues, namely that some of the designs do not fit well with the cards and make the deck look like a spiritually devoid art deck. Ultimately I’m on the fence about recommending this deck. It’s a must have for fans of vampires, Dracula, and Robert Place, but everyone else will probably want to pass on this one.

Vandenborre Bacchus Tarot – I think I bought this deck because the pictures were pretty and I got a good deal on it. The deck was published by Carti Mundi as the Tarot Flamand de 1780, and distributed by US Games in the United States as the Vandenborre Bacchus Tarot.

The deck is a reproduction of a 1780s Marseilles variation known as the Cartes de Suisses that was published by Brussels card maker FI Vandenborre. I should stress the variation part of that description as the cards don’t look much like the cards from the traditional Marseilles pattern.

I like this deck. I think it’s nice to look at and it’s different enough from the Marseilles variations to warrant buying it, but the deck may be hard to find now that its gone out of print. Since it has such little spiritual or historical value, most people probably aren’t going to consider it worth hunting for. I do not recommend this tarot.

Via tarot – This deck is usually described as being a reworking of the ideas in Crowley’s Thoth tarot (as opposed to a reworking of the Rider-Waite like most decks). Glancing at the deck it’s clearly been influenced by Crowley’s tarot. However the deck isn’t a straight copy of Crowley’s tarot, nor does it attempt to reinterpret all of Crowley’s ideas or simply add to what Crowley created.

All of the cards in the deck have completely new and unique designs. Comparing any of the individual cards to their counterpart in the Thoth tarot it’s clear that yes, the card was influenced by Crowley, but also that the Via tarot cards are entirely new designs with different symbolisms and often times they express completely new ideas not seen in Crowley’s Thoth.

For anyone who prefers Crowley’s tarot over the Rider-Waite, I’d say that this is a must buy tarot. For everyone else, this is still a good esoteric tarot that’s worth buying with a lot of meaning behind the cards. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a rip-off of Crowley, because it’s far more than that, and far less a rip-off of Crowley than many great decks are a rip-off of Waite. I recommend this tarot.

The Visconti-Sforza Tarot – This is a 15th century tarot drawn by Italian artist Bonifacio Bembo for the Visconti family to commemorate a wedding between the Visconti and Sforza families. Along with Bembo’s other tarot for the Visconti family, the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot, this is one of the two oldest surviving tarot decks, although it’s unknown which was drawn first. Originally there were 78 cards in this tarot, although four cards have been lost.

Much like the Cary-Yale Visconti, the Visconti-Sforza is an art deck, although it does follow the traditional tarot design fairly closely. Once again though the deck will be mostly of interest to collectors of historical reproductions and will be of limited use as a magical tool. As a spiritual tarot, I do not recommend this deck.

-Visconti-Sforza Pierpont Morgan Tarocchi – This is the US Games reproduction of the Visconti-Sforza taort. The four missing cards are replaced by four new cards drawn by Luigi Scapini who also replaced the missing cards in the US Games edition of the Cary-Yale Visconti tarot. Unlike the Lo Scarabeo edition, this is a reproduction of the original cards and not a reconstruction of the deck, which makes this deck more relevant to historical collectors. Meanwhile Scapini is an amazing artist, and the four new cards by Scapini, at least in my opinion, makes this deck superior to the other reproductions.

-The Visconti Tarot (Gold Foil Edition) – There are two editions of this deck, the original 1997 release and the later rerelease which is still in print. I don’t have both editions to compare, so I’m not sure if there is any difference between the two.

This is Lo Scarabeo’s reconstruction of the Visconti-Sforza tarot. Unlike the other editions of the tarot, this is a reconstruction, so the artwork on the cards has been cleaned up and repaired, and additionally gold-foil stamped highlights have been added to the cards. Artist A. A. Atanassov created four new cards to replace the missing cards in the deck. This deck looks much better than the other editions, but it lacks the historical accuracy of the reproductions. This deck is a better choice for someone who just wants to enjoy the beauty of the Visconti-Sforza tarot, but any other edition is going to be better for collectors of historical decks.

-Tarot of Visconti Grand Trumps – This is an oversized trump only version of the Lo Scarabeo edition of the Visconti-Sforza tarot.

-Visconti Tarot – Miniature Edition – This is a miniature version of the Lo Scarabeo edition of the Visconti-Sforza tarot. This version lacks the gold-foil stamping of the larger editions.

-i Tarocchi Visconti Sforza – This is the il Meneghello reproduction of the Visconti-Sforza tarot. Two limited editions of 1,000 copies each have been released. The first edition was released in 1996 and featured larger cards than the later 2002 edition. The four missing cards were replaced with new cards drawn by Giovanni Scarsato. Like any il Meneghello release, this reproduction is of excellent quality.

-i Tarocchi del Visconti (Monumenta Longobardica Edition) – This is a 1970s reproduction of the Visconti-Sforza tarot. The deck came with a leather bookshelf case.

-i Tarocchi dei Visconti (Dal Negro Edition) – This is the Dal Negro reproduction of the Visconti-Sforza tarot. The four missing cards have been replaced by new cards drawn by Antonio Cicognara.

Vision Quest Tarot – The vision quest tarot is a deck themed around Native American spirituality, specifically the idea of a vision quest. The deck is beautifully drawn with realistic artwork that is both soft and colorful.

My first gripe about this deck is that 19, in Roman numerals, is XIX, or possibly XVIIII if you’re using an antiquated addition only system. It is not IXX as it is written in this deck. I know it’s not a huge problem, but not using the standard XIX designation for 19 is just sloppy and shows a general lack of quality either in the deck design or production of the deck.

I don’t know much about Native American spirituality or vision quests. I do however know enough to know that this deck is not really themed around Native American spirituality or vision quests (which, BTW, are something young boys do, not old people looking for spirituality as part of their mid-life crisis). The deck is themed around the New Age adaptation of Native American spirituality. However I don’t have any personal issue with the New Age adaptation of Native American spirituality, so I’m not taking any points away from the deck for that, especially since the deck’s title clearly advertises it as being New Age.

Despite the Native American theme, most of the cards actually follow the traditional meanings of the cards. Some of the cards may seem to have new interpretations, like the Seven of Earth being titled depletion or the Nine of Wands being titled inner strength, but these new interpretations still fit with the traditional meanings of the of the cards.

Where this deck starts to suffer is with the imagery, and more importantly the symbolism of the imagery. There just isn’t very much there. For example the Seven of Earth, depletion, shows a dying plant in a barren land with a blackbird on top of it and some mountains in the background. There isn’t anything else to the imagery of this card. The imagery fits the card meaning of depletion, in fact it obviously fits the card meaning of depletion, but there isn’t any other symbolism, or even symbolism that ties into and extrapolates on the concept of depletion, present in the card. The imagery can be completely removed from the card and the card wouldn’t lose any meaning. This same problem is present in a lot of the cards in this deck. The symbolism is shallow, and the imagery is designed to specifically express, and only express, the title of the card.

There are, however, a few card designs that are interesting, although even then I do find the cards limited. The Ten of Water, fulfillment, for instance shows a woman holding pottery on her head in a lake or pond looking up at several waterfalls and a rainbow overhead. Water is representative of emotions and love and relationships, and in this instance we have a woman halfway submerged in water which is all around her, which is flowing to her through the waterfalls, and she sees a rainbow which is generally a symbol of peace and an end to troubles. I like the card design, and unlike a lot of the cards in this deck it’s a bit more subtle in its meaning, but I still find the design to be very limited and not saying much.

Ultimately I’m going to have to recommend not buying this deck due entirely to the lack of depth in the imagery. I was however very close to being on the fence about recommending this deck, and that was due to the deck having a few good cards with interesting, albeit limited, designs.

The Vision Tarot – This is the self published 22 card trump only deck by Dirk Gillabel distributed through the Soul Guidance website and not the much more popular art deck by Tim Thompson published by US Games. This tarot deck uses computer generated art, which I don’t like, but the computer generated art in this deck is not as bad as it could be. Still the artwork is amateurish and no where near as good as the best computer generated tarots.

The trumps in this deck have been completely redesigned. I don’t mean that the imagery is new, I mean that the trumps are entirely new. The seventh trump is now Poverty, the ninth Fear, and the tenth trump is Illusion. Some of the trumps very loosely fit their old titles, such as the thirteenth trump being Transformation, or the fact that the imagery of the first trump, Creator, features what looks like a wizard on the card.

Since this is a trump only deck I can’t judge, as a whole, how well the deck follows the tarot structure. Taking only the trumps into account though the deck is not very tarot like and I wouldn’t classify it as a tarot. Reviewing this a different kind of spiritual deck, and not a tarot, the cards seem to incorporate a science-fiction or fantasy motif into the cards, which seems to be the extent of the spirituality of these cards. There is no esoteric knowledge or spiritual insight incorporated into any of these images. I do not recommend this tarot.

Voyager Tarot – The Voyager Tarot is a New Age tarot which uses photographic collages for its artwork. I really wasn’t expecting much out of this tarot, because those kinds of tarots almost never turn out very good. The Voyager Tarot, however, is an exception. This deck comes in two editions. The first edition is now out of print, and the second edition is noticeably smaller in size.

The first thing I noticed, looking through the trumps, is that the deck is a bit schizophrenic. Many of the cards have quite a few images, and all of these images fit the meanings of the card. However the images don’t ever fit together very well and there is no real cohesion with the individual cards. It’s really hard to rate this deck, because it’s weakest point is its lack of cohesion. But that’s also the best part of the deck, and the thing that makes it unique and worthwhile. Without the schizophrenic collages, the deck is just another boring photo-collage deck.

The cards in the minor arcana, meanwhile, are much more cohesive. The minor arcana, however, are hit or miss. Some of the cards have really interesting designs and ideas. Other cards though are just plain and boring and don’t really say much.

The deck is unique and useful enough that I want to rate it highly, unfortunately though it seems as if the deck is just short of being a good deck. If a the deck were improved a bit, it would be a great tarot. The trump cards really feel as if they could be a little bit better. Not that any major changes need to be made, but most of the cards feel as if they could be tweaked a bit. Meanwhile even though the majority of the pip cards are interesting, there are too many in the deck that just aren’t. I’m giving the first edition of this deck a low recommendation because of some interesting and unique aspects and because it isn’t so flawed as to be unusable. I do not recommend the second edition because I don’t like the smaller size, and with a deck as detailed as this one, the larger sized cards are really needed.

Weiser Universal Tarot – The Weister Universal Tarot is a 74 card tarot deck created by designer Maxwell Miller with a strong emphasis on comparative religion and religous diversity. The artwork is well done and the style is a bit unique, but personally I find it a bit boring.

What I’m going to have to talk about first is the size of this deck. Miller reduced the size of the deck by combining the Page and Knight cards together into the Knave card, thus removing four court cards. Miller’s main motivation for doing this was so that he would have exactly twelve court cards. That way they could each be assigned a single zodiac sign.

To start, there are already twelve cards in the tarot, trump cards, which are each assigned a unique zodiac sign. Assigning specific signs to the court cards is repetitive. Secondly twelve of the sixteen court cards already do have zodiac attributions. Each of the court cards, except for the princesses, are assigned to the last third of one zodiac sign and the first two thirds of the next zodiac sign. So before Miller took away four cards, twelve of the court cards already had zodiac attributions. Also taking away four court cards to make a perfect twelve to fit the zodiac also ignores the fact that the Aces are both court and pip cards. There never were sixteen court cards, there were twenty, and with Miller’s subtraction he still has sixteen, not twelve like he intended. Finally these court cards had other meanings attached to them, specifically the aspects of the elements. You can’t just take four of these away (or the stuff you’re taking out of the other court cards to make them associative with a single zodiac sign) and still have a complete tarot. In order to have a complete tarot everything taken out of the court cards needs to be put somewhere else.

The only way to do this is to redesign the entire tarot deck from scratch, at which point what you end up with isn’t really going to be a tarot deck anymore, it’s going to be some new kind of spiritual deck. That’s why it’s usually not going to be worth the work involved to screw with the number of cards in the tarot, because once you do that you end up having to redesign the whole thing from scratch so that everything fits into the new number of cards without repetition.

So the first thing I’m going to look at before anything else is if this deck is completely redesigned. If the deck is not completely redesigned to fit 74 cards it’s incomplete, in which case it’s at best of limited use and I’m not going to recommend it. To end the suspense it’s not completely redesigned. In fact some of the cards are fairly derivative.

Looking through the cards I also have to wonder if the designer has any real understanding of the tarot at all. Some of the cards, although spiritual, seem to completely miss the point of the card and have no real meaning. The Hierophant for example is a smiling Christian priest with a tambourine, some sort of lute, some books, and a staff with a snake carved into it. Anyone have any idea what that means besides the fact that a Christian priest is a Hierophant?

Like I explained earlier the deck is incomplete. Not only is it missing four court cards, but it’s also missing aspects of the remaining twelve court cards. There’s also a major imbalance in the deck because now each of the zodiac signs have been repetitively assigned twice. I could maybe still be on the fence about this deck if it had some interesting card designs or ideas, but it doesn’t. The card design ranges from derivative to nonsensical. I don’t recommend buying this deck.

Westgate Press Gothic Tarot – The Gothic Tarot is a 22 Card trump only tarot deck produced by Author Leilah Wendell. The deck’s artwork is made up of photographs taken of graves at different cemeteries. Normally I’d completely dismiss a deck like this, but I found Wendell’s books and philosophy to be original and interesting, so I was hoping this deck would prove to be just as impressive.

Apparently I’ve been giving Wendell too much credit though. The deck is actually worse than the description makes it sound. First off the deck is made up entirely of photographs taken of the artwork on different graves. The cards all have graphics that have been added with a computer, but these are minor, poorly drawn, and they don’t really fit with the photography. The photography meanwhile is not at all well done and is really amateur snapshot quality. The only thing this deck’s artwork has going for it is the art on the graves, which is somebody else’s artwork, and which is not even well depicted in these photographs.

There isn’t much spiritual depth in the cards. The little spiritual depth that is present comes from the poorly drawn images Wendell added to the photographs, and these images only further degrade the quality of the photographs and the grave’s artwork. I don’t feel much energy coming off the cards, and I don’t see them being useful for any magical purpose. I do not recommend this deck.

The Wheel of Change Tarot – The artwork in this tarot is a bit amateurish, but it isn’t necessarily bad. More than anything it seems as if the imagery is beyond the capabilities of the artist. This is a deck that really would have benefited from either having a professional artist brought on or by using simpler designs. The imagery uses soft colors and lacks clear lines, so none of the features on the cards really stand out and many of the cards start to look alike. I also don’t like the coloring of the text on many of the cards and find it hard to see against the background, although I’m colorblind so this may not be true of everyone.

The deck claims to be multicultural, drawing from different cultures and people. Like most diversity decks, this means the deck features people of different races and even different cultures but still more or less follows the traditional tarot design with the race and culture depicted on an individual card being not adding anything to the meaning or symbolism of the card. That makes the deck diverse without taking anything away from the deck, but I still think it’s a waste when the deck theme doesn’t add any new ideas or symbolism to a deck.

For the most part the trump cards use standard tarot symbolism and, to some extent, follow the traditional designs, although there are some nice little touches I like. For example the Magician has four arms, and each is holding up an elemental tool and on the Death card the sun is setting in the distance.

The minor arcana meanwhile sometimes follow a more traditional design, but other times deviate from the traditional design and that’s where this deck starts to fall apart. For instance the two of swords is a pair of scissors that was used to cut a paper snowflake. I suppose the snowflake could be an example of man using technology and crafts to create something that should only be found in nature, and the card then expresses the ingenuity of man and the power of his technology over the natural world, which would be a really awesome design for the two of swords if I thought my interpretation of it was true. I honestly think it’s just a random image. Plus if it were true, there are better and more obvious ways to express this thought than scissors that have cut a snowflake.

The eight of wands are a bunch of paint brushes that were used to paint a wheel. That one might actually be creativity constrained by a medium and I can believe that maybe the designer meant that one, in which case it’s actually a good card design. The six of swords however shows a deer that has been killed by arrows. Perhaps its man conquering nature from the perspective of a technophobe, but even if it is it doesn’t make much sense in terms of the card. I could go on, but the other cards are pretty much the same as these or, like the Ace of Cups, just follow a fairly standard design.

This isn’t an all together bad deck. The design has some interesting ideas and sometimes it almost seems like it’s very close to being a solid deck. The deck has some very serious flaws though and it suffers from the quality of its artwork. I’m going to be on the fence about recommending this deck.

Whimsical Tarot – This deck is really a novelty deck that is themed around fairy tales. However a lot of people have claimed that this deck contains a lot of symbolism and esoteric knowledge, much of it being derivative of the Rider-Waite tarot, it just uses fairy tales to express itself, and because of this can be used just like any other esoteric tarot deck, so I’m reviewing it here.

To begin with, this deck was designed by Mary Hanson-Roberts. She also designed the Hanson-Roberts tarot and the Universal Waite, and if I had paid more attention to the names of tarot designers when I first found this deck I never would have bought it. I’m fairly certain that Hanson-Roberts doesn’t actually know the first thing about tarot and she has, at best, only a very shallow understanding of its symbolism and deeper spiritual meaning. If she actually did understand tarot I assume she would’ve designed her own unique tarot by now instead of just copying or screwing around with Waite’s design.

And the deck is just what you’d expect from her. The tower card is the wolf blowing down the straw house. This doesn’t encompass any of the deeper meanings of the tower card, it’s just a fairy tale that involves a structure being destroyed, like on the tower card. Strength is Little Bo Peep looking for her sheep, and I have no idea what that has to do with Strength except for the fact that it’s a fairy tale with a woman and an animal, like the Strength card. This same pattern continues for every card in the deck.

This actually isn’t that bad of a novelty deck if you want a cute little tarot deck with a fairy tale theme. However the idea that there is any tarot symbolism or spiritual significance to this deck is absurd. I do not recommend this deck.

The Wise Woman’s Tarot – This tarot was designed by a Dianic Wiccan feminist who at least claims to be very active in the feminist movement (I’m not implying that she’s not, only that I have no idea about feminists, or Dianic Wiccans for that matter, and have no way of verifying anyone’s activeness). This tarot, as one would expect, is a feminist tarot and is pretty extreme in its views of feminism. Much of the masculine imagery of the tarot has either been completely removed or misappropriated as feminine. At the very least the deck will probably be looked poorly upon, and may even be offensive, to anyone who does not subscribe to a fairly extreme feminist philosophy.

Surprisingly though this tarot is not as bad as a lot of the feminist tarots on the market. After the nightmarish horror that is the Motherpeace tarot I’m more than ready to blindly hate any tarot that describes itself as feminist. However when I sat down and looked at these cards a lot of the designs were pretty good. It’s not a great tarot, some of the cards are derivative, and a little bit of the imagery is laughable, but there are some good cards in this deck. I would say that this is, by far, the best feminist tarot I’ve ever seen. I know that’s not saying much, but still it has to be worth something.

The artwork on the cards is nothing special, but it’s more than adequate for the deck.

What really hurts this tarot is, despite everything, it’s still a feminist tarot and it attempts to express an extreme feminist ideology and agenda which it intermixes into whatever spirituality it is trying to express resulting in a perverted spiritual perspective of the universe. Meanwhile the entire tarot is imbalanced because the masculine aspects have been mostly removed or misappropriated and the feminine aspects have been emphasized in their place. All in all I’m remaining on the fence with this tarot because of some interesting symbolism and card designs. I cannot rate this tarot any higher, no matter how good some aspects of it may be, simply due to the fact that it is broken at a very basic level.

The Witches Tarot – I’ve been pretty harsh on a lot of the Pagan tarots that I’ve reviewed, It’s not because I have anything against Paganism or that I don’t understand Pagan symbolism (I’ve studied Paganism, including Wicca, quite a bit), even though I’m not Pagan.. It’s not that I see anything wrong with including new spiritual ideas into the tarot either, in fact I think that’s a good idea. My problem with the Pagan tarots is that they’re usually not very good tarot decks. And then there’s the Witches Tarot. It’s a deck that’s been around for over twenty years, is in print, and is still largely obscure.

This deck is everything that every Pagan tarot should strive to be like. It does everything right and it’s one of the best tarots I’ve ever seen.

Despite the name this is not a Wiccan tarot. This is a Pagan tarot and I’ve found elements of various Pagan belief systems through out it. It uses a very realistic style of artwork with large figures and bold colors. The actual tone varies from card to card, but as a whole the deck has a much darker tone, both in its color and imagery, than most other tarot decks. This isn’t a bad thing though. It adds to its charm.

The large figures take up the majority of the image and often times leave little room for backgrounds and additional symbolism. The deck comes off as being a bit plain and simple and not as busy and full as most other tarots. However the deck is actually a fine example of less being more. The tarot uses what little is present in the image to maximum effect creating a very vivid and deep symbolism and meaning.

What I love about this deck is that it doesn’t just throw away things like the Christian and Kabalistic associations of the cards and then try to shove Pagan ideas and theology into every card. It instead keeps all of these old ideas and systems that are already a part of the tarot and then works to also incorporate Paganism into both the tarot and these other systems, and it does it in a very intelligent way.

One of the really cool things about this deck is you don’t have to be a Pagan or understand Paganism in order to appreciate and use this deck. First and foremost this is a tarot deck, and if you understand tarot you can understand this deck. This may make the deck seem not very Pagan at all and make it less desirable to a Pagan, but remember one of the primary uses of the tarot is to be used as a tool to teach spiritual concepts and ideas. A non-Pagan can use this tarot to teach themselves Pagan concepts and ideas and help them understand Paganism through their understanding of the tarot template. This is exactly how esoteric tarots have been traditionally used with other systems, like Ceremonial Magic and Kabalism. This tarot deck now does that for Paganism, which in my eyes makes it the most Pagan tarot I’ve ever seen.

Another thing I have to bring up is that the imagery on this deck is not very derivative. Although the tarot retains all of the old tarot ideas, it’s imagery is new and unique and a lot of the traditional images are reinterpreted without losing any of their original meaning, and the differences are not just due to the inclusion of Paganism.

What sold me on buying a copy of this deck was a sample of the Strength card. The card shows a smiling woman sitting naked in the woods and holding a leash which is attached to something that sort of looks like a tiger which is licking her sensually. There’s also a snake coming from near the tigers feet towards the woman. The imagery is completely different from the standard imagery of a woman holding a lion’s mouth shut, yet at the same time it has the same meaning and this card shows me that the designers must have had a very deep understanding of the meaning of this card to so exactly and perfectly reinterpret it in this new and unique way.

If I’ve left any doubt, this is one of those tarot decks that you need to buy, regardless of whether or not your Pagan. It’s sad that the Robin Wood tarot is so often promoted by people as being the tarot of Wicca and Paganism and meanwhile hardly anybody even knows, let alone talks about, the Witches Tarot. I highly recommend this tarot.

Witchy Tarot – This deck is published by Lo Scarabeo, and I don’t know how they’re marketing this deck in Europe, but their US distributor Llewellyn is pushing it as a Pagan deck that blends ancient Pagan practices into a modern context.

To start, broomsticks feature heavily in this deck. The chariot card now features a witch flying on a broomstick. Also one of the four suits is now broomsticks. I’m not sure which suit broomsticks replaces though. I would assume wands, but another suit is flames, so I don’t know.

Pointy hats also feature heavily in this deck. Black pointy hats are how all of these witches identify themselves as witches. Even the skyclad witch in the seven of broomsticks keeps her pointy hat on.

The witches are also all teenage girls with nice bodies that insist on wearing skimpy clothes.

The deck doesn’t feature anything that can be associated with actual Paganism. It doesn’t feature anything that’s related to any kind of actual magical practice, ancient or modern. It doesn’t feature anything that’s related to any real spirituality. It doesn’t even feature any tarot symbolism. The deck is just an art deck which uses a theme of pointy hat wearing, broomstick riding, teenage witches. It’s not a bad art deck, but Llewellyn shouldn’t be trying to push it as a Pagan tarot. I do not recommend this tarot.

Wizards Tarot – The Wizards tarot is one of those tarot decks which is so awful, not just in the design but also in the entire concept, that I don’t know where to begin the review. To start the artwork is computer generated, but it has at least been created by a competent graphic artist. Still the artwork is nothing special and nowhere near the high quality of Marchetti’s computer generated tarots.

The concept is really where the deck starts to turn into a pile of crap. This deck is not just designed to teach you how to read the tarot, but also to teach you how to master every aspect of magic. It’s like a school of magic. In fact that is its theme. The tarot showcases a school of magic which you are attending in order to learn magic with your professors and fellow students depicted on the cards. The school itself seems to be based on the idea of Hogwarts, but as you can imagine a deck like this isn’t going to be paying for a licensing fee from something like Harry Potter, so instead you get to attend the Hogswarts-esque University of Mandrake.

As bad as the concept may be, the card designs are even worse. Just about every card in this deck just goes to show how completely ignorant the deck’s designer is about the tarot. The Strength card for instance is about controlling and taking care of your pets, which completely misses the entire point of the Strength card. The Chariot card meanwhile is centered around astral travel. Here’s an important research tip to remember when designing a tarot, in ancient times chariots were important instruments of war.

The pip cards fare a little better with their imagery, but that’s only because the imagery largely rips off Waite, and the only parts of the pip cards that do work are the parts that were lifted from the Rider-Waite. I did look at the designer’s interpretations of the cards (and since I don’t usually do this with decks, out of fairness I’m not factoring it into the review), and although the stolen Waite imagery may be correct, again and again the designer has no idea what that imagery stands for.

Not only do I highly not recommend this deck, I think a lot of magicians are going to find this deck to be very offensive. If this were advertised as just being a playful art deck, most would just write it off as a poorly designed art deck. However Llewellyn is advertising this as a deck that is designed to teach magic and tarot. And this deck seems to be designed by someone who is not a practicing magician, or even an armchair magician, and who doesn’t have the first clue about anything having to do with magic or tarot. In fact it seems as if the designer’s entire exposure to magic or any kind of spirituality has been reading the Harry Potter series and then having looked through a Rider-Waite deck.

I have no problem with people who want to practice a brand spirituality based off of Harry Potter, but I don’t think those people make up a strong enough demographic to warrant a mass market tarot deck. This deck is published by a major tarot publisher and targeted at magicians in general, yet it was designed by someone who is not only obviously not a magician, but who also doesn’t even know anything about magic and didn’t bother to research it. This tarot deck is meant as a joke, and we’re the punchline. Llewellyn is trying to sell us a spiritual product while being completely transparent with the fact that they believe our spiritual beliefs are nothing but a bunch of crap they can make money off, and at the same time believing we’re too stupid and naive to realize this and will pay them for the Wizard’s tarot.

World Spirit Tarot – Originally this tarot was released as hand-colored linoleum block prints, and was later reprinted as a mass produced tarot deck by Lleweylln. As you can guess from the description, more than anything this deck was an artistic labor and the end result looks beautiful.

The real theme of this deck though is diversity, or maybe political correctness. The deck features people from all different races, ethnicities, cultures, time periods, ideologies, spiritualities, and both genders, and claims to do so without showing any bias. Diversity is a fine goal, but I don’t know how well it incorporates into a spiritual tarot.

Based on the tarot’s theme I expected a tarot that focused a lot on comparative religion and the New Age movement, but actually the diversity is just window dressing and this tarot incorporates a lot of the standard elements. The magician still has all four of his elemental tools. The Seven of Cups shows a man dreaming of various desires held in the cups, which is similar to the Rider-Waite design, except now the man is a Native American, and there’s a dog sleeping by him with a ball.

As a spiritual deck though, this deck doesn’t really work. At its best it’s derivative, but it’s not derivative enough. Any new ideas or imagery found in this deck just seem like something that has been thrown into the card and never something that actually relates to the card, or has even been incorporated into it. I guess the tarot’s more diverse now that the man in the Seven of Cups is a Native American, which is nice, but I don’t see any deeper spiritual meaning to him being Native American, and I have no clue what the hell the dog’s supposed to mean. Why does the woman sleeping in the Four of Swords have a crutch? Maybe just so handicapped people were included, but she doesn’t really look physically handicapped.

The new imagery makes no sense and the derivative imagery is too sparse to carry this deck. As an art deck it’s unique and beautiful, but as a spiritual tarot I don’t recommend buying it.

Xultun Tarot – First published in 1976, the Xultun tarot is an early attempt at an esoteric theme tarot being based on Mayan art and spirituality. The artwork is colorful and bright with fully illustrated pips, however the artwork used on the pip and court cards is of a substantially different style and of much lower quality than the artwork used on the trump cards. Normally the artwork of the minor arcana in this deck would be more than adequate for a tarot deck, but since the major arcana has been done in an entirely different, albeit higher quality, style the deck doesn’t flow together and it ends up feeling as if parts from two different decks have just been thrown together to make a complete 78 card tarot.

It’s hard for me to fairly judge the spiritual value of this deck since I’m not very familiar with Mayan spirituality. Some of the cards, like the Devil card for instance, seems like they just took the standard imagery and Mayanized it. Overall though the deck doesn’t seem to have much in terms of spiritual depth or symbolism, although this is difficult for me to accurately judge. I recommend not buying this deck.

Yeager Tarot – Two different versions of this tarot exist. The original version was published in 1975 in Germany and was simply titled ‘The Tarot’. The second version, which is still in print today, is the international version published by US Games as ‘The Yeager Tarot of Meditation’ and which censors a lot of the nudity on the cards.

I don’t understand why US Games feels the need to censor realistic nudity on the tarot cards it publishes. I don’t even believe there is a significant segment of the tarot community that insists on having family friendly decks, and even when US Games does censor the genitals, these decks still aren’t family friendly. There are professional readers who want less offensive decks, but there are already decks specifically designed for this purpose and US Games can easily commission more decks like these to fill additional market demands. They don’t need to go around censoring decks that have already been published. It’s not as if US Games is protecting their company image either. They distribute the Crowley Thoth Tarot, which is a big seller, and it’s far more sexually graphic than most other tarots on the market including just about anything else published by US Games.

In this instance the censorship hurts the deck quite a bit. The underwear in the deck doesn’t naturally fit the image and it seems to have just been slapped on. This has a jarring effect when looking at the image which is made even worse by the fact that this deck was specifically designed to be meditated on. In the case of the Lovers card, the imagery of the card is completely changed by the additional underwear. The original card depicted a naked man in the woods with a naked woman on one side of him and a clothed woman sitting on the other side of him. In the censored version of the card the man and woman have not been given underwear, but rather leaf shorts to cover their shame. The new image seems to be depicting Adam and Eve or some other couple that existed prior to the invention of clothes, something never implied by the original card which just showed people naked in a forest. This also means the clothed woman makes even less sense. If she has clothes, which means clothes have been invented, then why are the other two insisting on covering themselves with leaves instead of wearing regular underwear?

It’s sad that they censored this deck too. The itself has quite a bit of spiritual meaning, the artwork and imagery is interesting, and at times the concepts and symbolism are even unique. I find that the original images do have some meditational power behind them, but the censored cards don’t work so well, even when the meanings and symbolism in the card has remained intact, since the images have been altered in obvious ways which don’t seamlessly fit into the design of the cards. I recommend getting the original version of this deck, which sadly is out of print and was only released in Germany, but I’m on the fence about picking up the censored US Games version. Most of the positive aspects of this deck remain in the US Games version, but it’s still less than the original which I don’t think was a strong enough tarot to get by with any less. Plus I recommend boycotting this tarot so as not to support the censorship practices of US Games.

Yoga Tarot – Although I practice yoga exercises, I don’t feel as if I’m well versed enough in Hinduism to give this deck a fair review. I also don’t have the deck and have never seen a real copy, my only exposure being online samples. The cards look beautiful though, and I’d like to get a copy of this deck eventually.

Zerner-Farber Tarot – This deck was originally released as the Enchanted tarot. A later edition was released as the Zerner-Farber Tarot. Each of the cards were originally created as elaborate tapestries, which give the deck a unique look which is not seen in any other tarots. The deck’s artist, Amy Zerner, is an award winning artist of spiritually themed tapestries and professional designer of high end clothing. Her work on this tarot is absolutely gorgeous.

Esoterically the trump cards do contain some original elements, but for the most part the imagery is conservative and sticks to the traditional tarot symbolisms. I also found a few of the trump cards, such as the devil, to be esoterically weak, although none of the attributions given to any of the cards were incorrect.

The design of the minor arcana meanwhile is mostly unique and contains strong symbolism. In fact this deck’s minor arcana is one of the strongest on the market. The symbolism meanwhile is a bit transparent, but in this instance that isn’t a bad thing because it still manages to achieve a great deal of depth. If anything the transparency makes this deck easier for beginning readers to use and learn from, but it does so without sacrificing any of the meaning or significance of the cards. As a final note in this deck the suit of cups is changed to the French suit of hearts, but the traditional Italian suits are retained for the other three suits. This doesn’t have any effect on the deck though.

A few of the deck’s trump cards were weak, which I’m less forgiving of than weak minor arcana cards, and I really wish their were more original elements in the trump design. Both of these are very minor flaws though, and had the deck only suffered from one of these flaws it would have been very easy for me to give it a very high recommendation. I actually came very close to giving the deck a very high recommendation due to the boost it should get from the artwork, and if it was stuck between any two other ratings I would’ve pushed it up. Unfortunately though I have very high standards in regards to the top rating, and this deck just barely falls short of those standards. I recommend this tarot.

Zodiac Tarot – The Zodiac Tarot is based around the astrological associations of the tarot. Each card features the planets and zodiac signs that correspond to that card, except for the court cards which oddly enough only feature symbols of the associated elements (this is also true of the aces, but the aces don’t have astrological associations). Each of the cards depicts a scene from the 1940s based on the astrological associations.

Reading astrology may not be my strongest skill, but I understand the theory and can do some astrological readings. So let’s try a couple of random cards.

The first card I drew was the Two of Cups, which is the Moon in Cancer. The Moon is feminine and Cancer is a water sign which is feminine. The water signs deal with emotions, relationships, love, and sex, and Cancer is a Cardinal sign so it deals with things beginning and rising and building. The moon meanwhile deals with mysteries, the future, things that are hidden, ect. I understand that these concepts are far more complicated, but I’m trying to keep this short. The picture for the Two of Cups is a woman next to a motorhome. I’m trying to figure out how to combine that with Moon in Cancer. Maybe she uses the motorhome to go from town to town having casual sex with different men? Maybe the motorhome is symbolic of her vagina? These are the least craziest ideas I’ve come up with.

Second card is the Nine of Cups, Venus in Virgo. Venus is love, relationships, sex, and parenthood. Virgo is an Earth sign (deals with the physical world and material wealth) and mutable (deals with change and transition). And the picture is a woman standing in front of a garden outside of a house holding a chalice; there is a gazebo in the background. I’m not going to come up with anything better than motorhome vagina, so I’m not going to even try.

Third card is the Sun, represented by the sun. The picture is of a smiling infant on a bed crawling out from under a sheet. And I give up. I can’t make sense of this.

I have a suspicion that the pictures in this deck are in no way related to the astrological signs. I can’t find any connection between the picture in these cards and their astrological associations. It seems like a Lo Scarabeo art deck themed around the 1940s, which isn’t really a very exciting theme. This is pure speculation, but I think maybe the astrological aspect was added to the deck to spice it up a bit and make it more saleable. I don’t recommend this tarot.

Zolar’s New Astrological Tarot – Zolar’s Astrological Tarot is a 56 card deck released by various companies, including Parker Brothers and US Games. Three different editions were released in 1963, 1965, and 1983. The deck was based off of an earlier 32 card deck released in 1943 as Zolar’s Astrological Fortune Telling Horoscope Cards.

The ’65 edition of Zolar’s tarot was the first auction I ever won on Ebay. I think I paid about six dollars. I had bid on several items, including tarot decks, before this one, but I was always out bid at the last minute. Having finally won an auction I was really excited for about a week until my cards finally came in the mail. The moment I finished unwrapping the package my excitement instantly faded and I thought to myself, “Why the hell did I buy Zolar’s Astrological Tarot?”.

Despite the name, this deck is not a tarot deck. The name tarot is probably derived from the fact that it uses images from the Rider-Waite Tarot. All 78 images from the Rider-Waite are present on the 56 cards although the images are not in full color but are black and white with some red and green. In addition to the 78 Rider-Waite images there are also the 32 cards from Zolar’s Astrological Tarot. Each of the cards are double-sided, featuring both a card on the front and the back, which is how all of these images were able to fit into a 56 card deck. If you do the math 78 + 32 = 110 /2 = 55. Two of the cards are actually single sided, which brings the number up to 56, and I believe this is due to the fact that decks of cards need to be printed in multiples of eight. All 110 images have upright and reverse meanings.

This isn’t really a tarot deck, this is a fortune telling game. The deck is mainly of interest to Rider-Waite completionists who will buy any tarot deck that features the Rider-Waite images. As a spiritual tool its almost completely useless, or at the very least far superior to a standard Rider-Waite tarot deck. I do not recommend buying this tarot.

Comments are closed.