Fabio Listrani’s Night Sun Tarot is one of those decks I couldn’t wait to get my little hands on. I would consider this an esoteric tarot deck. On the Majors, you have the astrological, elemental, and Hebrew letter correspondences in the card corners. In the Minors, you have the elementals and decanates. I usually have to hand-write these onto my working decks, but here on the Night Sun, the work is done for you, and done beautifully.
There is a strong Modern Age comic book art style to the Night Sun Tarot, with digitally rendered illustrations. Fabio Listrani, the brainchild behind this exquisite deck, is an Italian artist and graphic designer whose work tends toward the science fiction/fantasy genres of art. He seamlessly blends Eastern and Western esoteric symbolism and cultural references, and updates esoteric tarot for the 21st century with this very original, insightful, and groundbreaking new deck.
The card backs are non-reversible and accompanying the little white booklet (LWB) also seems to suggest that no reversals are observed. Totally cool with me. This deck is so detailed, visual, and ornate, that I’m sure reversals would be maddening to read anyway. So I read this deck without reversals.
In the Majors, you’ll see clear influence from the Rider-Waite-Smith, but also the Thoth, and even farther back to the Continental or European traditions pre-dating the English esoteric decks (for example, you see that Marseille influence in Key 6: The Lovers). Here in the Night Sun, Key 8 is Justice, corresponding with Libra, and Key 11 is Strength, corresponding with Leo. The planetary, zodiacal, and elemental correspondences in the Majors and Minors follow Golden Dawn attributions
I love the added detail of the talismanic seal behind the magician in Key I. The juxtaposition of the open palm and closed fist in the magician expresses metaphysical duality, the right hand path versus the left hand path, benevolence versus malevolence in our energetic workings, creation and destruction, receiving and exerting. It is, overall, one of the coolest Magician cards. There is also something powerful about many of the figures being masked or faceless.
The one card I didn’t like was The Empress. She looks cartoony to me for some reason, which by itself is fine, except it seemed out of place in the context of the other cards. In just the slightest way, The Empress card seems to be rendered in a different artistic style from the rest of the deck. Also, instead of showing fertility through the belly, which many contemporary decks do, depicting a pregnant Empress, we are seeing fertility through her two plump boobies. I admit not being a fan of big boobies in tarot decks. Probably some subconscious complex I have going on given my personal lack thereof. Whatever.
If you study closely, faded away in the background of many cards, especially in the Majors, are seals you might find in ceremonial magic. Overall, heavy influences from ceremonial magic traditions. That would suggest to me many additional, optional uses and applications for this deck beyond cartomancy.
You’ll also see Crowley’s and Thelemic influences in this deck, such as the heptagram in Key 17: The Star in place of the RWS eight-pointed Star of Inanna. Key 12: The Hanged Man doesn’t depict a halo, but rather a caged head with a triangle behind it, both the glyph for Water, which is the elemental correspondence of the card, but perhaps also to symbolize a humanity that is often missing or subdued in traditional renderings of The Hanged Man. I am also very intrigued by the depiction of Death as a nude pregnant woman. The demonic figure lording over the chained lovers in Key 15: The Devil is also a woman. Hmm. Also, lots of full frontal C-cup nudity going on in this deck. There is also a bit of a steampunk vibe in Key 10: The Wheel of Fortune, isn’t there?
Not pictured is The World card. Sorry, though I do believe a snapshot of it is floating about on the Internets. It depicts Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and transformations. An interesting choice for Key 21.
I love, love, love the bold coloring of the Minors. The backdrop for all cards from the suit of Wands is a bold, brilliant red, evoking Fire. You’ll see this evocative coloring in the other suits as well, blue for Cups, evoking Water; yellow for Swords, evoking Air; and green for Pentacles, evoking Earth.
Many of the card illustrations express the deck creator’s own interpretation. For example, the Four of Cups evokes the same essence as the classic meaning of the tarot Four of Cups, though here we have original imagery that certainly gives me a sense of empathic unease for the woman in that card. The Five of Cups here is also unique. An interesting deviation: in the Eight of Cups here, a woman seems burdened by balls and chains, and a scale weighing the burdens, and she looks downward, melancholic, whereas let’s compare that with the RWS Eight of Cups, of a figure ascending upward to higher ground, and the burden of the past eight carefully stacked chalices being left behind, a burden lifted, rather than what we see here in the Night Sun Eight of Cups.
I love the Three of Swords here, because it gave me pause and made me rethink what I thought the Three of Swords meant. Again, the dualism, the dark and light figures, each holding an equally weighted sword, and the third piercing a human heart– ideological conflicts between the dark and light. In the Seven of Swords, an ominous and threatening card to look at if you ask me, all blades are pointing at the seeker. It’s an engaging and interactive illustration.
The suit of Pentacles reminds me of Chinese coins, though instead of the square cut-out in the center, you have a pentagon. On that note, there’s a lot of sacred geometry going on in the symbolism and imagery of this deck as well, which I didn’t get too much into in this review.
Like with the other suits, it’s the detailing in the artwork that inspires by awe. I love that you’re not getting a clone of any classic deck and instead, get a synthesis of many preexisting traditions merged creatively and innovatively into breathtaking esoteric art.
In the courts, the elemental affinities align with the Papus per The Tarot of the Bohemians, e.g., the Page of Cups is Water over Earth. The courts follow standard titles: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. It’s easy to tell which suit each court card is from, mainly by the huge elemental glyphs in each illustration.
The little white booklet (LWB) is pretty standard for Lo Scarabeo decks, though it does offer a cool, original spread to work with.
If you’re wondering about the metaphysical correspondences, by the way, they’re in the LWB, though if you’re looking specifically for in-depth explanations of the correspondences, then you’ll have to look elsewhere. Again, I’ve never been a big stickler over the LWBs. In fact, I very much like this one: concise and yet has a surprising wealth of content as you can see from the above page sampling.
The spread, a diagram depicted in an earlier photo of the LWB, is the Trident of Shiva spread where the Majors and Minors are handled separately, a lot like the divination techniques espoused in well-known late 19th century esoteric tarot texts. Here, 3 cards are drawn from the Majors and 2 cards from the Minors. The Minors are drawn to develop the themes expressed by the Majors.
I am so glad to have the Night Sun Tarot in my collection. I admit it may not be for everyone, though. The imagery is darker and tailored more for adult readers. In other reviews of the deck I read, along with the publisher’s deck description, the Night Sun Tarot is said to be influenced by both Western and Eastern esoteric thought, though I confess not really seeing much of the Eastern. I don’t know if I’m just blind or if this is like when I took my [Chinese/Taiwanese] Mom to P.F. Chang’s and she praised how delicious the American food was. When I told her the crab rangoons she was popping were considered Chinese cuisine, she scratched her head. I’m not sure if this is like the P.F. Chang’s incident or if, again, I am just not seeing it? Oh! Wait! The yoga poses! That’s right. *nods tentatively* All right. I think I get it. ::secretly and stubbornly still thinking P.F. Chang’s…::
It’s my personal opinion that the Night Sun Tarot is a bit too “niche” and genre specific for general professional tarot readings. However, it’s an invaluable study deck for learning more esoteric-oriented tarot divination. There really was no doubt in my mind that I wanted this deck in my personal collection and I am so thrilled to now have it. The artwork is graphic novel style but not to the point where it’d be distracting on a tarot deck. Plus, I love the balance of that artistic style here with the occult symbolism. This is one well-executed deck that raises a great deal of occult power, if you work with it with that intention. I really dig the intense vibes of the Night Sun Tarot and find that as a divination tool, it crosses worlds rather fluidly, and so if you’re one who works with mediumship, channeling, or anything that turns sharply into the woo, I’m betting you’ll have a lot of fun working with this deck.