Coming Soon: An RWS Keywords and Reversals Deck from U.S. Games


Sometimes happenings confirm to me that prayers are answered and the universe is looking out for me. A little while ago, I put together a Rider-Waite-Smith keywords and reversals deck, three versions, (original blog post here) and granted all files out to the public domain and made it available to everyone for free download.

It included a Read-Me document that explained exactly how you could fully customize the deck files for yourself, from selecting your own card back design while still giving you dozens of free card back design options, and even how to edit and change the keywords to reflect ones you like. I also explained that folks could do as they will with the digital files I made.


While I received many thanks and good wishes, I received an even greater torrent of messages from people kind of expecting free customer service to go along with the free deck files. It was nuts and utterly outweighed and outnumbered the thank yous.

What do I do? If I ignore them and don’t answer their messages, I’d feel like a terrible snob. If I answer all of them one by one, I would not have time for anything else in my regular life. People were asking the whole range of questions, from questions that were already answered in the Read-Me document to questions about the keywords and how they would have opted for this and that keywords instead of the ones I picked or they would ask me to provide a rationale and explain why I chose the keywords I chose. I got questions asking what I thought were the best ways to use the deck, or where to print them, how to print them, logistics, how to design a card back, which card back design was my favorite… Wow. Really? I was inundated with people wanting me to hand-hold them.

I went to sleep one night thinking that cliché thought of “gee, no good deed goes unpunished.” I hate dealing with sales and customer service and by giving the deck files out for free, I had opened up an unforeseen can of worms. I had figured folks would understand they’re on their own. I guess not. Suddenly, I was being treated like a deck creator even though I am not one, don’t identify as one, and don’t want to be one.

And yet I really liked the idea of the keywords and cut-splice card images for reading reversals. I wanted it to be made available to the public but– admittedly– I didn’t want to deal with the public…


The next morning, my prayer was answered in the funniest of ways. U.S. Games reached out to me and told me they’re admirers of what I have been doing and contributing to the tarot world. They want to work with me! Mr. Stuart Kaplan himself, by the way, is amazing, kind, wonderful, and a lovely soul. I was over the moon that he not only knew about Holistic Tarot, but had generous praise for my work.

Anyway, they want to buy a license to my keywords to create the deck concept I had come up with, but of course, do it in their much more professional and expert way than the amateur thing I had put out. Wow! Yeah, that’d be so neat!

I explained that I had granted all of my work to the public domain already, so technically they could go ahead and create the same exact keywords and reversals deck without needing to ask for my permission, and I would be totally okay with that, no license or anything needed. I had made it free so that anyone could. Yet they insisted on working with me anyway and getting it licensed. They wanted my backing and name behind the keywords. Well. Cool! I’m totally in! We chatted and a letter of interest was sent to me within a few hours.

I’m happy to announce to all of you who liked that deck concept that a much nicer one– a professionally done up one, not my rinky-dink one– will be produced by U.S. Games with my keywords. Furthermore, they’ve hired me to help write a little white booklet (LWB) to go along with this deck. But now, instead of my makeshift graphic design work on the deck images, you get the benefit of professional artists and graphic designers at U.S. Games. It’s a win-win for everybody all around.

You all know the amazing quality work U.S. Games puts out, so now there will be no more worrying about which cardstock you should use, or which card  back design I personally like the most and would recommend you use (true story–I got emails asking that), or how to print, and there won’t be the typos or alignment errors that were in my amateur deck (thank you to all those who were attentive enough to point these errors out to me). U.S. Games saved my day by taking on all the fuss that I wasn’t prepared or equipped to handle on my own.


This is an exciting collaboration project and I’m glad that the keywords-reversals study deck is getting produced by a veteran deck publisher like U.S. Games, who you know I love because I’ve been doing tons of reviews of their decks over the years.

This is not only going to be an incredible deck for beginner students or those who want to study the RWS system, but it’s also going to be a great go-to deck for those who aren’t necessarily in the tarot world but want to dabble with tarot to help them navigate some of life’s questions. My foot in the mainstream professional world and also in the mainstream creative community tells me this sort of deck is going to be just the deck a lot of people have been wanting– it’s tarot, yet also incorporates keywords as part of the divination to trigger your intuition, so it’s also part oracle.

Now, it’s mostly, and primarily, their project, since I want them to take the lead on this. I am not a deck creator and don’t want to get into deck creating. I am not the one in charge. They’re licensing my selection of keywords and in addition, I’ve been hired to help them write a little white booklet to go along with the deck, so my involvement is only on the verbal-writing side, which is exactly what I want. Everything else will be in the good hands of their creative design experts and tarot deck professionals.


For me, this is in so many ways a dream come true. My idea and concept stays alive in the universe and gets improved upon and polished by an incredible publisher. I don’t have to handle any of the nitty gritty that I really dislike handling (and out of nowhere got swamped with handling when I released the free version, which had me at my wit’s end). All the parts of deck creating that I know nothing about and stink at doing myself is now going to get handled by experts. It’s incredible. I’m about to get religious and announce my faith in higher powers.

Stay tuned. You’ll be hearing more about this cool deck from U.S. Games and me. So those of you who want the RWS keywords and reversals study deck, it’s coming!

30 thoughts on “Coming Soon: An RWS Keywords and Reversals Deck from U.S. Games

  1. Pingback: Waite-Smith Tarot Keywords Study Deck – benebell wen

  2. Any idea about a release date for these cards! I suppose there’s time needed to create the LWB, etc. I’ll see if there’s a waiting list. Thank you so very much for all your generous gifts to metaphysics!


  3. Congratulations! I saw the original post and was really impressed by your generosity–but you’re right, no good deed goes unpunished. I’m looking forward to buying a copy when it comes out (and am getting your Tao of Craft book delivered today too, which I’m hugely excited about).


  4. Bummer my computer was down so I couldn’t download the zip before you disabled it (I’m a graphic designer I understood you didn’t want to be pestered). Oh I’m fully up with supporting the creators and would have bought the mass published version (because I thought you intended to commercially publish as well). But I have students who cant afford even a us games published deck (they are not cheap) and came back today today after getting computer fixed to down load the zip (I would have formatted and ripped them myself for my students). oh well I guess its back to perusing yard sales and goodwill for cheap used decks… THANK YOU BTW for the public domain intention, I always appreciate great gifts and I’m sorry so many were too lazy to read the instructions (not too smart either as it takes more energy to pester busy people that to do it yourself…) Oh yes and Stuart Kaplan is a very nice man (I’ve run across him in other online tarot venues) most of the Tarot community are very approachable and kind.


  5. Barb

    Oh my dear! What wonderful news! Happy for you and proud of you. It’s such a shame your generosity was not received as well as one would hope. Walking through this kind of fire certainly did prepare the way for great things. Looking forward to the deck! I appreciate the care that US Games is taking. This speaks volumes. Thank you for sharing.


  6. Weezee

    Hello, Benebell Wen,
    It is just awesome to hear about the Keyword Reversals Study Deck!! I am going to buy both decks!! Can’t wait to pre-order them. Also, I just wanted to apologize to you because I was one of the people who asked you the crazy making questions about the deck. It wasn’t meant to do that at all. I just so admire your work and the way you traverse Eastern and Western philosophies in your life, your books and even your website. I had thought by asking the questions about the deck, it would help create the deck I made become as close to an original version from you as possible. It is pretty exciting to open a new deck, new book etc. and see the fonts, the paper, the colors and all which combine to make that author’s voice come alive. Thank you again for your work!


  7. Ash

    Oh Ok, sorry for my earlier comment, I understand what is going on.

    It really too bad the the projet is abandonned. This deck is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and really unique. Not cool to tease us with those lovely picture when you can’t find it anywhere ^^ .. If U.S Games don’t creat the deck (It’s been 3 years wihtout update) and if you dont want to put the link back just deleate the article, so that the people who want to buy it dont waist there time searching everywere (which I did).
    I understand that you don’t want to face people problem with the download version, but dont creat fake hopes, just tell us what is going on even if it’s bad news, or just deleate the article…
    Ver good job though. Hope someone someday will take this idea and make it real. I worth a good price. ( I am a collector of tarot deck).
    Nice day !


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