If you have already worked with one or more of the aforementioned decks, or want one that is clearly different from those already reviewed, you may wish to consider the following. Each has unique advantages and, for beginners, drawbacks. Each of these essentially one-of-a-kind decks has a markedly smaller following than RWS decks or variations on RWS as a group, lacks the prestige of The Thoth Tarot, or has not yet withstood the test of time like the Tarot of Marseilles. Practically, this means that you usually have fewer resources – be they books, Websites, or well experienced users. Still, if you are adventuresome, you may wish to consider the decks next described.
The Cosmic Tribe Tarot (Destiny Books, ISBN 0892817003) by Stevee Postman, has stunning, frequently surrealistic, digital art. Although occasionally influenced by RWS decks and Thoth, it is clearly in its own class. The deck occasionally uses traditional esoteric symbols, but its strength lies in its inspired, cutting-edge art. Leaping flames, cool ocean depths, rolling clouds, and frequent jewel-like colors enliven the cards. The models, both male and female, are frequently nude (see illustration, left), which may or may not please some users. Included are three versions of the Lovers: one each of an embracing male-female, male-male, and female-female couple. Balance (which corresponds to the traditional Justice) is numbered VIII; and Strength is numbered XI. Temperance is re-named Art; and Judgment, Emergence. The court cards are Knight, Queen, Prince, and Princess. Cards measure approximately 3 x 5 inches. The deck comes with the full-sized companion book, also titled The Cosmic Tribe Tarot, by Eric Ganther. To view more cards from the deck, click here.
Illustration (above): Strength from The Cosmic Tribe Tarot (copyright © 1998 Postman). Click the image for a larger one.
The Gendron Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, ISBN 1572810653) by Melanie Gendron, comprises luminous, dream-like collages of photographs and paintings. The deck occasionally reflects RWS, but is clearly one-of-a-kind. The art is multi-ethnic and includes frequent references to American Indian culture. To a significant degree it is feminist; many cards, which traditionally depict men, feature women, including the Magus, which corresponds to the Magician (see illustration, right). Some users may or may not be comfortable with this. Natural settings and numerous exquisitely detailed animals appear frequently. The Devil is re-named the Deceiver; and Death, Transition. Following an expanded Golden Dawn system, Major Arcana have Hebrew letters and astrological symbols. The court cards are King, Queen, Prince, and Princess. Unfortunately, no companion book exists, but the booklet which comes with the deck is acceptable. To view more cards from the deck, click here.
Illustration (above): The Magus (corresponds to the Magician) from The Gendron Tarot (copyright © 1997 U.S. Games Systems). Click the image for a larger one.
The Medieval Scapini Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, ISBN 0880790318) by Luigi Scapini, frequently evokes (regardless its misleading title) the Italian Renaissance, including its art, architecture, and extravagant aristrocratic fashions. However, Scapini also deftly references modern culture and sensibilities. Among the decks reviewed on this page, it is probably the most conservative. Indeed, it occasionally references RWS decks; however, essentially it remains in a class by itself. Executed with artistic panache and frequent wit, the cards often quote from Renaissance art works, including the earliest extant Tarot deck, the Visconti-Sforza (see illustration, left). Some cards are so detailed that the user will probably resort to using a magnifying glass occasionally. The deck contains generous esoteric symbolism, both traditional and occasionally innovative. Justice is numbered VIII, and Force (which corresponds to Strength) is numbered XI. Cards measure approximately 2 5/16 x 4 3/16 inches. Unfortunately, no companion book exists, but the booklet which comes with the cards is acceptable. To view more cards from the deck, click here.
Illustration (above): Temperance from The Medieval Scapini Tarot (copyright © 1984 U.S. Games Systems). This card is based, in part, on The Visconti-Sforza Tarot (mid-15th century) attributed to Bonifacio Bembo. Click the image for a larger one.
Navigators Tarot of the Mystic Sea (U.S. Games Systems, ISBN 1572810122) by Julia A. Turk, is a complex, frequently surrealistic, deck that reflects her unique approach to Cabala and eclectic spirituality. It embraces Western Esotericism, Eastern religion and philosophy, and much more. The deck contains plenty of esoteric symbolism, both traditional and modern, and often depicts oceans, marine life, shorelines, and ships (see illustration, right). Cards frequently crackle with hot reds and oranges, or soothe with cool blues and forest greens. Turks figures are frequently androgenous, which may or may not please some users. Judgment is re-named Aeon; Temperance, Art; Justice, Destiny; and the Hanged Man, Suspension. In Turks system all Major Arcana, with the exception of the Fool, are re-numbered; however, no numbers appear on these cards. A keyword on each card summarizes, as best a single word possibly can, its meaning. Cards measure approximately 2 3/4 x 4 3/8 inches. Their backs are not reversible. If you elect to use this deck, Turks companion book, also titled Navigators Tarot of the Mystic Sea, is highly recommended. You may purchase the book alone (U.S. Games Systems, ISBN 1572810238) or bundled with the deck (U.S. Games Systems, ISBN 1572810297). To view more cards from the deck, click here.
Illustration (above): The Star from Navigators Tarot of the Mystic Sea (copyright © 1996 U.S. Games Systems). Click the image for a larger one.
To view cards side-by-side from the four decks discussed immediately above, click here. (This page makes comparison easy, but is graphics-intense; it may take a minute or two to download.)
The guide continues with organizations . . . click here.
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Copyright © 2002 James W. Revak. All rights reserved. (12/10/02).