The Deck of the Bastard Tarot: Review

The Deck of the Bastard 01 Card

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot is a self-published tarot deck by Seven Stars and you’re going to love it. You can purchase it through Etsy or at the proprietor’s website, Tarot by Seven. It’s a “bastardization” (her words, not mine) of several traditional decks– you’ve got Etteilla, Grande Jeu, Soprafino, Rider-Waite-Smith, and I swear I see Sola Busca influences in there, too. The design of the deck conveys a vintage feel, and I love that. Artwork wise, it’s a blending of many traditions, but you would read it the way you read RWS. This deck is fantastic to whip out during public readings, and is quite easy to read with for any RWS reader.

I’ve already decided that this deck has become one of my go-to “workhorse” tarot decks (terminology I’ve stolen from Jenna Matlin over at Queen of Wands Tarot). Really. It’s up there with the Golden Universal for professional reading decks. I don’t think this is an ideal deck for beginners on the RWS system, however, as it may get confusing at that stage of learning (even though the version with the keywords would make an excellent gift to a beginner), but intermediate and onward, you’re going to love reading with the Deck of the Bastard. I think it’s a great deck for pro readings.

The Deck of the Bastard 02 Packaging

So I’m going to start with the negatives, and admittedly, all my “negatives” are very, very superficial gripes. The packaging left a lot to be desired. It came in just its brown cardboard shipping box and inside the box, not one bit of packing material was included to cushion the deck, and then there was just this deck, plastic-wrapped. No card, no booklet, no box, no drawstring baggie, no invoice, nothing. So that kind of left me scratching my head a bit, especially after recent purchase experiences with other self-published deck creators, who included personalized notes, freebies, or at least a little white booklet that explains the deck’s heritage.

The Deck of the Bastard 03 Deck

The cards are 2.75″ x 4.75″ and have a Lo Scarabeo cardstock quality feel to it. They shuffle great in your hands and they fan out just beautifully. There’s no glossy laminate, and you know I love my matte finishes.

I just…don’t…like…the card backs. Now, that’s so personal and subjective, I get it. In fact I know many of you reading this are going to love the card backs. Me? No. I’m not feeling the spider at all and I’m not feeling the little fly that’s trapped in the web that the spider is about devour. On my tarot deck. And I’m not feeling the snakes everywhere, the edges that kind of look like they’re molding, though I suppose the dark hunter green background is okay.

The proprietor does allow you to customize your tarot backs for an additional $12, but the deck itself was already $68, so at the last minute I decided against the customized back. I regret my decision now. Although that’s also in part why this deck has become one of my workhorse professional reading decks. The whole spider motif won’t bother me when I’m reading for others, especially since I’m blind and can barely see the dying fly, so it’s all good. But as a personal deck, no.

Image Source: Tarot by Seven's Website (tarotbyseven.com)
Image Source: Tarot by Seven’s Website (tarotbyseven.com)

You can, however, order your deck captions customized, and that part is included in the price, which I thought was really cool. The deck comes with blank borders, titles only at the bottom, or titles and keywords.

I don’t know why I selected titles and keywords. I think the stingy-Asian in me took over and I thought, “I am getting more for my money” or something, I don’t know, but it was a stupid idea on my part. In retrospect, I would have much preferred either the blank borders or just the titles only.

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars - Majors, The Fool to Temperance
The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars – Majors, The Fool to Temperance

Okay, negative critiques over. Here is where I gush. I love this deck. I love its vibe, the Old World feel, and it reads just fantastically. Yes, you’re going to see a bit of an artistic discrepancy (obviously) between the Majors and Minors, especially when you get into the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery in the Minors, but that didn’t bother me.

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars - Majors, The Devil to The World, and Suit of Pentacles, up to Eight
The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars – Majors, The Devil to The World, and Suit of Pentacles, up to Eight

You get the best of many worlds. You get the benefit of the older trumps and you get the benefit of Waite and Smith’s easy to read imagery in the Minors. She changed up some of the coin faces in the pentacles for the suit of Pentacles and that was really cool. You’ll also note that the Majors follow the Rider-Waite-Smith numbering system, with Key 8 being Strength and Key 11 being Justice.

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars - Pentacles and Cups
The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars – Pentacles and Cups

I love the court cards she’s chosen in lieu of the RWS courts. Yet keeping the RWS for the pips was a really great idea, or at least those who read with the RWS system are going to think it was a really great idea. It also looks like she’s touched up some of the cards, like the sky in the Five of Cups you see above. I don’t think the original had those dark clouds, but her addition is nice.

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars - Cups and Swords
The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars – Cups and Swords

For me, the mixing of different time periods and different art styles worked. I read well with this deck and it’s very impressive looking to clients. I love the slight discolorations, which are intentional, to give it that vintage feel. Look at the Three of Swords, Five of Swords, or Seven of Swords. They look fantastic.

The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars - Sword Courts and Wands
The Deck of the Bastard Tarot by Seven Stars – Sword Courts and Wands

I ordered “Option 2,” the version with both titles and keywords. I don’t know why I did that. Again, I think I thought I was getting more for my money. I’m a dork. However, I do see the value of having the keywords. It turns this deck into a great one to gift to beginner tarot learners. The blank version would have also been nice. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to read with this deck. If you’re even somewhat proficient at tarot, you don’t need the titles or keywords. All the cards are easy to recognize.

Some of the keywords were intriguing to me and compelled me to look at the cards from a different perspective. The Page of Cups upright, for example, has the keyword “Synchronicity.” In reverse, you’ll “Emotional Imaturity” [sp, with the one “m”]. The Page of Swords reversed is “All talk no action.” I love that. The Seven of Swords upright is “Resourcefulness.” In reverse, it’s “Outsmarted.” The Ace of Cups upright is “Overwhelming Emotion.” In reverse, it’s “Repressed Emotions.” The Queen of Wands in reverse is “Shrinking Violet / Demanding.”

The Deck of the Bastard 10 Two Worlds

Interestingly, the deck comes with two different World cards. I prefer the one with the ouroboros and the man with the club at the center, but love that I get options.

The Deck of the Bastard 11 Reading

For what you get, I found the price tag a bit steep, and hope that the creator will find a more economical press to go with in the future for printing these cards and reduce the price. Again, you may like the card backs, but I just wasn’t feeling the design.

Overall, the Deck of the Bastard Tarot is amazing and I love these cards so much. Like I said. They’re officially one of my go-to workhorse reading decks now. The version with the keywords is a great beginner’s deck to gift to someone while the other two versions are going to be gratefully received by tarot practitioners of all levels. I think it’s a splendid deck for professionals to whip out and so I highly recommend. Seven Stars has done something quite wonderful here.

5 thoughts on “The Deck of the Bastard Tarot: Review

  1. Oh my! An awesome review of yet another deck to acquire! I like the artwork very much, but agree about the spider on the cardbacks (and not only just any spider, but one consuming a tormented dying fly). I would have to choose an optional cardback and imagine that’s indeed what merits (?) the higher cost of the deck, the option to personalize.

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  2. I have the Samhain flavored bastard deck. I like the idea but the cards are too dark — contrast not content — for my taste. So I don’t use it. This one looks reasonably light in contrast.

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  3. My review: I’ll start by saying I agree with everything in this review. I’ve had my eye on these and my bf surprised me with them literally today. I came home to a carboard box and a nice note. He happened to get them exactly as I would (w/ the original snake/spider back and all the titles/descriptions on the front).

    I really love them. This is what I wanted after watching the video and reading the reviews. I like the lettering and truth be told I had been resistant to embracing reverse meanings so I kind of like how these cards just present them to you.. like it or not. (That said.. I’m not sure I agree with all of her interpretations/ descriptions) but many I found spot on) They are fantastic to the touch. Nice quality card but light, thin and silky to shuffle at the same time.

    But now that I have them, they are so cool that I secretly want a second set.
    Knowing that I have options..I want more.. It would be great to have a more ‘authentic’ / purely aesthetic looking set (blank front or just titles, w/ a different back and maybe an interesting latin customization for the extra $12. I don’t know which site he used but I feel like when I was doing my research I noticed one site was quite a but higher in price so shop at will. Buy these!

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    1. Agree with everything you said, though I think you ended up liking the snake/spider card backs a lot more than I did! 🙂

      I actually stopped using this as a go-to workhorse deck, though I do still take it out and rifle with it from time to time. Let me know if you end up getting a second and what options you chose! 😀

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  4. A couple of years ago I realized that I just had to have this deck. Had to! I have purchased many things from Seven from both her regular website and her Etsy site, and been quite pleased with everything. Back to this deck, I ordered the deck with titles only and my own personal card back, which was well worth $12. Spiders and spider webs — nope. Anyway, I love the feel of the cards, the way they shuffle, the aged look. They are just the right place between dark and light to make readings easy, and feel slightly of another time. My only complaint is that I haven’t warmed up to the Court Cards, but that is just something I know I need to spend some time doing with intention. All in all, another fabulous deck from Tarot by Seven!

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