A Baker’s 2 Dozen

I swore I would stop at 8. Because who needs more than 8?
Then I swore I’d stop at 12. But before I knew it, I was approaching 20. How did this happen?
Then I swore I’d stop at 24. Seriously, 24 is more than enough. One for every 2 weeks of the year and 4 weeks off for vacations.

But nooooo. “Something” happened and now there’s 26 of them.

My newest decks. Let me show you them.

Mini Tarot Book and Deck. Running Press, 1999.

Mini Nova Tarot Book and Deck. Dennis Fairchild & Julie Paschkis; Running Press, 1999.

The gift of a Tarot Nova: Miniature Edition is what started the most recent descent into madness. Seriously, when the word “cute” was invented, it was solely in preparation for the creation of this deck. Look at those wee little cards – no bigger than a penny! This deck’s biggest dimension is its height; 1″ due to the thickness of the card it is printed on. Naturally, it is impossible to shuffle, but it’s so frikkin’ adorable, I could just stare at those teeny cards all day ::squish::

Besides the unbearable cuteness of being, this is a great deck and book set. The colours are bright and stand out beautifully against the black backgrounds. Lots of purple and turquoise and bright green. The corners of the cards are colour-coded so you know exactly which suit you’re working with (purple for Majors); the font used is the smallest in the history of typography and the backs are gorgeous (and reversible)! Even the little box is beautifully designed, featuring the suit elements and other bits of greenery in the same theme as the card backs.

The book, written by Dennis Fairchild, is equally wonderful. It is delightfully mercenary :) For example, from the description of the Fool: “Kill others with kindness and let them suffer the consequences of their actions”

If you’re ever looking for a highly portable and fully functional deck with a attitude that far outweighs its diminutive size, this is the one to have, for sure.

Dark Grimoire Tarot. Lo Scarabeo, 2008.

Dark Grimoire Tarot. Giovanni Pelosini & Michele Penco; Lo Scarabeo, 2008.

True to its dark & mysterious origins, the Dark Grimoire Tarot does not like to be photographed! Don’t let appearances fool you though: for all the tentacles, this deck is quite fluffy.

As part of Lo Scarabeo’s Art Collection, it falls under the category of “concept” deck and the subject matter it draws from has made it something of a redheaded-stepchild. Personally, I’ve never read the Necronomicon. I tried, I really, really tried – but good Lord, those Victorian Gothic writers love to make mountains out of molehills! Too many words. Pretty much everything I know about the story comes from Lolthulhu and similar sources – bad goth! – so I can’t vouch for how faithfully the deck interprets the mythos.

The art for the deck is very cohesive, all done in fireside tones of deep purply-oranges and smoky browns. It’s warm and cool at the same time, like a night spent outdoors. There’s a fair bit of wind present and much use of reflected light. When Eris got this deck, she described it as having “the kind of color you’d only get from candle light cast on a piece of parchment.” That’s exactly the kind of cozy, late-night, everyone-else-is-asleep feeling the art has. The card borders are a dark slate blue and don’t intrude at all and the backs are a non-reversible, tentaculariffic portrait of Lovecraft.

The LWB includes an introduction to the Necronomicon and the concept of Tarot as a Book of Magic, as well as a pentagram-shaped spread. The Majors are described, sometimes with references from the Necronomicon, leaving interpretation completely up to the reader. The cards follow a loose RWS format, but there is plenty of room for stretching your imagination. Usually this would be frustrating, but I find that it leads to wonderfully creative readings in this case. The Minor suits are assigned suitably “dark” elements: Chalice are Dreams, Pentacles are Shadows, Wands are Lights and Swords are Demons. The pips are then summed up in a blanket one-sentence description. This is a bit more of a stretch when interpreting, but you can see an example here of what I’ve done with it.

I look forward to working with this one more extensively in the future (maybe if I stop buying and start reading?!) It seems like it would be particularly suited to readings done in Autumn and Winter.

Fantastical Creatures Tarot. U.S. Games Systems, 2007.

Fantastical Creatues Tarot. DJ Conway & Lisa Hunt; U.S. Games Systems, 2007.

I wasn’t initially drawn to the Fantastical Creatures Tarot, but the more I saw of it – and especially after I received and worked with the Animals Divine – the more enchanted I grew with Lisa’s art. Strength as a Japanese water dragon is the card that initially caught my attention and the infatuation spread from there.

The presentation of this set is fantastic! You get the deck – with Strength on the box yippee! – a comprehensive, 70-page LWB with a full card description including divinatory meaning and magickal use for each, 2 reference cards with key-words for the Majors and Minors and the stunning spreadsheet (which can be downloaded from the website here), all held together in a larger slide-pocket box. The cards are gloss laminated, but not overly shiny, and slick enough to shuffle easily and I think that U.S. Games did a wonderful job on both the production and packaging of this deck.

Now, the art. You can probably see my raging lady-boner for Lisa Hunt’s art from wherever it is you happen to be :D The overall colour-scheme is blue and green, with golden pink-browns and filled with many small details that add to the card meanings, as well as just the feel of “reality”. There’s so much texture in these images that it is tempting to reach your hand into the scene and feel the bubbles on your skin, or the rough bark of a dead tree, or the moist, mossy undergrowth in the forest settings. The card base is a warm cream and an intricate vine-like border encloses the images themselves. The suit elements are denoted by a small picture at the top and the titles are on a scroll at the bottom. Titles could be smaller, IMO. Card backs have a reversible “medallion”, similar to the vine borders.

I think what makes this deck such a winner for me (similar story for the Animals Divine) is that it draws on mythology and folklore that is practically part of my DNA. This deck just makes sense to me. I read the LWB descriptions to gain insight as to why a certain creature or being was chosen for a particular card, but the rest is filled in by my imagination and information drawn from the vaults. It speaks my language, and that is an invaluable trait in a reading deck.

Deva Tarot - no. 1942. Piatnik, 1986.

Deva Tarot – no. 1942. Herta Drnec & Roberta Lanphere; Piatnik, 1986.

Oooh, now this is one that’s been on my wishlist since the early days of tarot obsess-much. I narrowly (by minutes) missed out on the Deva Tarot Deck on the trading forums a few months ago, but then landed up buying it from that person anyway. I guess it was just meant to be! (That’s what my official story is, should I ever be questioned on my acquisition.)

This is a honking big deck. 93 cards (1 extra suit – the Triax) and relatively thick cardstock (KG calls them “glorified beer coasters”, because she’s mean ;)) make for a deck that weighs in at 324g/11.5oz (or “nearly 1 pound”, much like the pound of butter that goes into most Austrian pastries…) and stands nearly 2″ high. I suspect this deck would do well at shot-put and giving you the massage of a lifetime. I have named her “Helga” for now and, like many sturdy girls, she has the heart of a prima ballerina.

It was the art and the concept of a 5th suit that drew me to this deck. I’ve always thought the art bordered on “ugly – for me – but now that I have it, I’ve softened that opinion. Besides which, I’ve found that it is particularly this kind of art that helps me to read deeper into the cards, rather than just float on the pretty surface. The slight roughness, edge of messiness, imperfection, is what I seem to need to separate myself from “out here” and get down into “there”. The colour palette is all over the place, but not distractingly so. It’s a different world; a world of light.

Pips are Thothy – but sufficiently reinterpreted to carry their own personality – and Courts follow the Prince, Princess, Queen and Knight format. It’s the extra suit – Triax – that’s the most interesting addition. This suit refers to spirit and creativity and the pips created for it are very interesting. Abstract, plastic shapes that remind me of neural networks are found alongside birds and leaves and all of it seems to have a definite story to tell. I’m really intrigued to see how this deck performs in creativity-themed spreads.

Card images are contained within a box-shaped border with rounded sides and I’ve read them described as “small” because of this. This is not true. The images are more than large enough and no details are missed. Additionally, the borders do not choke the images, but rather seem to merely frame a much larger scene that I can sense happening behind the “window”. There’s a definite sense of movement and life going on, regardless of whether you observe it or not.

The cards are matte, with deep brown (black) backs decorated with a gold 16-point star. They are very difficult to shuffle, both due to the card and deck thickness. I suggest a gentle swirling, while you contemplate life’s mysteries. The box is delighfully orange with the Queen of Wands on front and looks like a circus poster. Even with the LWB included, there is some extra room for movement (in case the deck gains a few extra cards along the way?) The LWB explains the concept behind the Deva and fully explores the extra suit and reason for including it. There is also a modified Celtic Cross spread. Card explanations include a description, upright and reversed meaning, both of which have a positive bent, in accordance with how the deck is meant to be used.

It’s such a nice surprise when something that has been lusted after lives up to expectation!

Tarot of the Old Path

Tarot of the Old Path. Howard Rodway & Sylvia Gainsford ; U.S. Games, 1990.

Thine eye do not betray thee: that is indeed a… ::cough cough COUGH:: Wiccan deck I invited into my home :D It was the Majors – I simply couldn’t resist them (the Chariot with its 4 elemental horses stole my heart)! So when I saw the Tarot Of The Old Path available for a steal… the usual story.

Despite the fact that this deck was designed by an 8-person strong team of witches, the deck isn’t overtly Wiccan, making it very accessible even to those who don’t follow that Path. If anything, I’d classify it as Pagan in spirit and execution. Sadly, my deck did not come with the LWB – I knew this prior to purchase – and I haven’t been able to find much information bout it online. This is a drawback only for the missing information about the plants included in the deck, especially the Minors. Even if I knew which plants they were, I could do the research… Well, keep searching.

The Majors are superbly magical with just enough otherness to make it interesting. The colours are om-nom-nommy… NOMMY! The original printing included silver highlights and you can still see where these would have been on this edition. The urge to grab a silver metallic pen and do a little editing is overwhelming. In fact, the urge to bling this deck out entirely is very, very strong. I have a tiny paintbrush and I’m seriously considering investing in a few of those tiny pots of paint used for scale models as a place to start, mainly because those pots come in a wide range of metallics. What then? Varnish? Spray sealant? Modge Podge? I don’t want to ruin them, but they assure me they’ll be fine.

Variations on RWS-style scenes are depicted in the Minors, which are people-heavy. What’s great about this – and the Courts – is that these are some of the loveliest people I’ve seen in a tarot deck yet: Aquiline noses, full, pouting lips and perfectly hooded eyes aplenty. It’s very old world European, from the faces to the costumes, and I think this makes it a good deck for someone wanting to explore this side of their heritage. Or if you’re simply a costume whore like I am you won’t be disappointed either! White space is used very effectively on all cards and the images are framed by a 3-sided border, tipped with trefoils and thorns. Even with all the people, there is a definite connection to the natural world, as befits the time-period it portrays.

My deck has been well-used, without suffering damage. Consequently, the cardstock is deliciously smooth, silken, even. The cards move over each other like well-acquainted lovers and they have a delicate, sweet smell, like the deck’s been stored with laundry and candy hearts. It came in a red plastic pocket with a snap-top; I’ve been told this is usually for index cards, but it fits the deck just right. Screw bags, my decks want index card cases!

One more thing: If this deck had a soundtrack, Corvus Corax would be it. Observe the neo-Gothic (as in Germanic tribes) madness, complete with hurdy-gurdies, hair horns and KISS-like armour –

Pearls of Wisdom Tarot

Pearls of Wisdom, 1st Edition. Caeli Fullbrite & Roxi Sim; 7th House, 2007.

The Pearls of Wisdom Tarot (link is to 2nd Edition; mine is 1st Ed.) is the newest in my collection and I can’t say much because I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The online scans reeled me in, but now that I have it, I’m somewhat disappointed. The colours are bright – which I adore – but they’re almost too bright, like someone was a little too enthusiastic with the magenta colour balance and then made some ill-advised contrast decisions. It’s… fevered. The lamination is overly glossy and almost sticky, with a heavy chemical smell that is quite unpleasant, even noxious. Reviews all rave about the LWB, but I find it lacking.

Like I said, more time is needed with this one before I pass final judgement. It has such potential; I don’t want to discount it on aesthetics.

And that’s it! For now. I’ve taken to avoiding the forums, knowing my weak self-control will ultimately succumb to new temptations. I’m sure curiosity will eventually win the battle and then there will be new treasures to share. Until then, time to do some readings!

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5 thoughts on “A Baker’s 2 Dozen

  1. Debra She Who Seeks says:

    I try VERY hard not to collect tarot decks because, really, where do you stop? But, having said that, I do have a few — eight tarot decks and one oracle deck. I just acquired Tarot of the Magical Forest (which I saw and admired here on your blog) primarily because I love those creepy, creepy eyes. And I just last week received in the mail my limited edition deck of the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert. For a few years now, I’ve followed her website/blog journey about the deck’s creation and it’s so wonderful to see it come to fruition!

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  2. Helen says:

    The mini Nova is really cute!

    I’m very controlled over buying decks and all in all I only own up to this moment 29 including tarot and oracle (most are tarot though). I love my Magical Forest and Alchemical Renewed and I was just gifted the Once Upon a time by Lisa Hunt, of which the artwork is lovely, but I’m not convinced of its reading quality, mainly because one needs to have a handle on all the fairy tales she has illustrated, some of which I have never heard of.

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  3. erishilton says:

    Holy love muffins! Where to begin?!!?! A veritable feast of tarot awesome…

    Trust me… 26 is just the tip of the stiletto. How many decks have I amassed? 69, dude! Aktshully I think it’s about 68, but whose counting? I still own more pairs of shoes than decks, so I still have room to grow.

    Tarot Nova Mini!! SQUEE! I have the big version… It’s packs a punch. Great little deck. Friendly towards the mundanish too.

    Deva Tarot… That one has been on my Lusty List for a while. The whole triax suit intimidates me, and makes me wonder if it might overwhelm. Still, I find the art rather engaging. It reminds me of an old school fortune teller’s sign.

    Pearls of Wisdom… I have this deck, and it was one of my biggest disappointments. The vibrant color! The frivolity! The whimsy! Sooooooooo Eris, right? Wrong. It’s so dense and busy that I find it cloying. The first rule of Design Club? WHITE SPACE. I wanted to like it, but I just don’t.

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