A Collection of Tarot Decks

Postmodern Decks Beginning With A-B

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African Tarot. Marina Romito. 1995, 1997 US Games Systems. LWB by Marina Romito and Denese Palm - (South Africa) This deck is quite small, and extremely cheerful. The art is brightly colored with bold black outlines, and generally shows simplified RWS images, though often with South African elements rather than the generic Medieval ones of RWS.

African Tarot Page of Cups deck

Tarot of the Ages. Mario Garizio. 1988 US Games Systems. - This deck is built around the Qabalistic correspondences of the French tradition (Levi, Papus, et. al.) The Major Arcana are rather evocative Ancient Egyptians, and the Minor Arcana assigns a different culture to each suit: Africans to Batons, Aztecs to Cups, Vikings to Swords, and East Indians to Coins. The costuming is extremely skimpy - the uniform garb here is variations on loincloths. This tends to make the cultures a little difficult to tell apart, especially the Coins and Batons since they don't have snow or rainforest to provide the clue.

Tarot of the Ages Page of Cups deck

Alchemical Tarot. Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Robert M. Place. 1995 Thorsons. - Each major arcana picture is inspired by a specific Renaissance period alchemical image, and these images are all identified in the accompanying book. The artwork is harmonious - very crisp, clear and expert in its rendering of human form, and the coloration is pleasing.

Alchemical Tarot  Lady of Vessels deck

Ancestral Path Tarot. Julie Cuccia-Watts with handbook by Tracey Hoover. 1995 U.S. Games. - Multicultural. I like this deck a lot, and though it is not the emphasis of the deck, I really appreciate the feminine voice of the artist, and especially some of the perspectives that come to a woman after the initiation of motherhood. The suits are Japanese Swords, Egyptian Staves (Wands), British Cups and Native American Sacred Circles (Pentacles). The book is interesting too, and relates each suit of pips to a story line, recounting the tales taking the pips in reverse, from 10 to 1.

Ancestral Path Princess of Cups deck book

Arthurian Tarot. Caitlin and John Matthews and Miranda Gray (artist). 1990 Aquarian Press. - Theme: Matter of Britain. As Caitlin and John Matthews say in the book Hallowquest, "We have gone back to the proto-Celtic roots of the mythos, drawing upon deeper Otherworldly and timeless qualities to produce the cards of the Greater Powers; while the land of Britain itself has been our inspiration in creating the cards of the Lesser Powers." I love Miranda Gray's art, and find that the landscape pips make this a marvelous meditation deck. This has for some time been my official Samhain deck.

Arthurian Grail Maiden deck book

Artist's Inner Vision Tarot. Collaborative Project including 26 Artists coordinated by NoMonet. 1999 NoMonet Full Court Press. - The artists names are Arnell Ando, Mark Jetton, NoMonet, Keely Barham, Jill Jones, Sarah Ovenall, Julie Hagan Bloch, Dennis Jordan, Renee Pearson, Tracy Cutts, Sandy McCall, Cathleen Perkins, Debba, Amy McClure, Red Dog Scott, Becky Ericsen, Michelle Monet, Roslyn Stendahl, Rice Freeman-Zachery, Catherine Moore, Susan Renee Tomb, Alexandra Genetti,Teesha Moore, Barbara Wolfe, Connie Houser and Tracy Moore.

Artists Inner Vision Tarot Princess of Cups

Barbara Walker Tarot Deck. Barbara Walker. 1996 US Games
Major Arcana: returns to titles used before modern occult decks
Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles
Court: Princess, Prince, Queen and King
Scenic pips mostly readable with RWS-based interpretations
In the time of the feminist foremother decks, the study of Tarot history was still in its infancy. Although Dummett had published The Game of Tarot in 1980, it has only been in recent years that Tarot authors have become aware of its existence. In the 1980’s, the occultists’ origin myths involving Ancient Egypt, Fez, or the Gypsies were still being presented as fact in most Tarot books, and those of the feminist foremothers are no exception.
The Secrets of the Tarot: Origins, History, and Symbolism (1984) begins with the sentence, "Tarot cards were the ancestors of modern playing cards." Actually, the documentary evidence shows the reverse to be true, and many of the other facts stated with such authority in the book have suffered the same discrediting. The state of Tarot history, as a part of playing card history, has advanced tremendously in recent decades, and from a Tarot history perspective, Walker’s book has not stood the test of time. However, this is a very thought-provoking book if you read it as an argument for a new revision, rather than a statement of historical fact. One of the really intriguing ideas presented is a Tantric origin theory, including several meditative tableaux. She spins a fascinating web of cross-cultural mythological references.
The deck itself is powerful, uncluttered and unsentimental, with a spare color palette. Though the mythological exposition is radical, the gender roles are not. The Major Arcana seem to be modeled after the Marseilles, with some additional symbols drawn from multiple modern occult decks. Each court card is identified with a specific God, Goddess or Grail cycle figure. It is in the Minor Arcana that this deck is most innovative. I read the book twenty years ago when it came out, and several of her pip and court cards have remained with me since then, simply from seeing the color plates of the cards.

Barbara Walker Princess of Cups deck book

Barnes and Noble Tarot Deck. Jonathan Dee, illustrated by Shirley Barker. - Book and Deck for $9.98. This price would be the deck's main feature. Design wise, it can't decide whether to have scenic or Marseilles-style pips, so it has some of both, and sometimes a blend of a RWS landscape and Marseilles emblem arrangement. I like landscape pips for meditation, so this would be quite a selling point for me if this theme were followed through the whole deck, and if only the artist didn't use scenes on different cards than they originated. For instance, the 2 of Pentacles figure shows up as a Page, the 9 of Pentacles woman shows up as a Queen, and the garlanded rods of 4 of Wands show up on the 6 of Wands... these are just the ones that grabbed me immediately. Wands tend to be landscape pips, Pentacles show a distinct Thoth influence, and Cups and Swords are Marseilles influenced. It's quite an odd little deck, but nonetheless does has a certain charm. "JONATHAN DEE is a psychic, astrologer and mythologist who is a direct descendant of Dr John Dee, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. He broadcasts regularly on BBC radio and Talk Radio UK and his books include The Tarot (1997) and Chronicles of Ancient Egypt (1998)."

Barnes and Noble Page of Cups

William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination. Ed Buryn. 1995 Thorsons. - Buryn deserves credit for realizing how much Blake brings to Tarot and doing the work to build a deck from Blake's prodigious output. Most theme decks are not study decks - generally, study of the illustrated theme will not greatly improve one's understanding of deeper meanings in Tarot as a whole. This is one of the rare exceptions to that rule, simply because Blake is writing from the same sources used in the development of esoteric Tarot. ... While it is an admirable study deck, this is not an easy deck to simply use right out of the box. Without building great facility with Blakean imagery and mythology, I think it is difficult to use to give readings for others, as it is hard to refer these images to the more mundane concerns addressed in those readings. While the meanings implied by the illustrations chosen fit within the RWS divinatory tradition, I could not simply glance at a card and know which card I was looking at. (extracts from my full length review which appears at Tarot Passages.)

Blake Child of Music deck

Buckland Romani Tarot. Raymond Buckland, art by Lissanne Lake. 2001 Llewellyn. - The Rom are another interest of mine. The artwork is gorgeous, and I find it gives very straitforward readings, making it a deck I use more frequently than is usual of my cultural decks. Vegetarians may find the Hanged Man card, with its suggestion of rabbit stew, offensive.

Buckland Romani Page of Koros (Cups) deck


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Copyright © 1994-2001 Joan Schraith Cole.
Updated March 31, 2002
Some graphics from Ann-S-Thesia CD, Number 76 variant A
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