Some decks don’t get the face time they deserve, in my humb… – oh, who are we kidding? – opinion. Here’s my quick pick for today:
The Rocambol(e) Tarot is a Russian (or Ukrainian?) deck created by Sergey de Rocambole and Anna Nikolaeva, published in 2003. The artwork is done in a style meant to mimic Toltec magic art and the most obvious comparison is to Lego labyrinths :D It also has a lot in common with hens’ teeth, unfortunately. According to Tarotpedia, the deck has 89 cards, the extra cards coming from the presence of 4 Fools (one for each element) and 6 Courts (male and female Knights and Pages).
I was reminded of this deck when speaking about my “Tetris moments”. The geometric artwork is extremely attractive to both my eye and my mind and the colour choice is very close to my favourite combination. Just push that burgundy a little more to the purple side… The Minors are non-scenic and populated with all sorts of blocky little creatures: snakes, ducks, tortoises, eagles and whatsits. The Knights are simply gorgeous and each rides their own special “steed”.
There’s also no use denying that this deck is trippy. Triiiiiiiiiiippy. I have a feeling any spread done with it would be like falling upwards down the rabbit hole, hanging backwards off a merry-go-round for several hours and then getting vomited up by a unicorn. In other words, if I ever find myself in the presence of ayahuasca properly administered and monitored, this is the deck I want to have in my pocket. And if that never happens, I want it in my pocket anyway!
This next one is a very unusual choice for me, both for its theme and its presentation, but I can’t deny the deep emotive quality of The Counterculture Tarot, nor the wonderful photography used to illustrate it. Sub-titled as “a photo journey through the Sixties”, this deck very successfully marries cultural, political and musical turning points of the Sixties with the traditional tarot structure.
The card index provides a quick summary and overview of the deck and it is clear from just this how inspired and well-executed this deck idea is. Delving further into each of the cards, you are presented with quotes from people who were there (and can’t remember Woodstock ;)) and a full page detailing the card’s meaning and significance in relation to this watershed decade. Each card is a history lesson unto itself; even the story behind the creation of the deck is fascinating.
William Cook Haigwood – the deck’s creator – was a journalist and student during the Sixties and the photographs used in the deck are all old news photos taken by him. Photo decks normally leave me cold. They lack depth and humanity, but this one is the exact opposite. I don’t know if it’s because the photographs are all done in black and white – arguably more “real” than colour, to me at least – or because they aren’t posed, but nothing feels forced. There is some nudity in the deck – there couldn’t not be – but it, too, fits within the deck aesthetics.
Though I’ve never been accused of being anything close to a flower child, this deck is a must-have. I think it would give very powerful readings and an education, to boot!
“AURA-SOMA® works with your spiritual and emotional well being. The coloured oils (Equilibrium), pomanders, quintessences, colour essences and other colour related products of AURA-SOMA® help you to bring your being into a state of equilibrium… They are glittering, dual coloured combinations containing the energies of colour, plants and crystals.”
The cards were developed by Mike Booth & Pamela Matthews and include a full extra set of 22 Majors (“Return Journey”, as opposed to “Outward Journey”) and 5 Archangel cards, making for 105 cards in total. The set comes with a book that explains the correspondences between the Equilibrium bottles and the cards, but even without these correspondences, the artwork is close enough to traditional tarot to be very readable, with a healthy helping of Kabbalah thrown in.
The artwork retains its original painted feel – which I really enjoy – and the colours used are bright throughout, without being garish. Minors are slightly unconventional and not quite scenic; more “moody”, though most incorporate humans in some way. The suit of Swords and the Ace of Cups are named for various Ascended Masters and Bodhisattvas, though I can’t find any information as to why only these cards are given special treatment. To get an idea for how the older version of the deck works, visit Students-of-Tarot for a free online reading.
From the pictures available, it seems like a mystical deck with a very friendly vibe to it. I really like the idea of the double Majors and would love to know more about how that works. Add the lovely artwork and this one is firmly on my wishlist (which is starting to bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Creosote).
Join me in the madness, won’t you?