Lately my go-to reading deck has been the Golden Thread Tarot by Tina Gong, published by the Labryinthos Academy. Although as of this writing the deck has been sold out (giving you a sense of how in demand it has been!), if I were you, I’d write to the deck creator directly and see if you can get on a pre-order list for the second print run.
In Taoist cosmology, the Huang Tao (黃道), or Golden Path (has also been translated as Yellow Path), designates the path of the sun, representing the solar calendar. For harmony and prosperity, one should time significant life events (such as weddings, business grand openings, funerals, etc.) to the Golden Path. The Golden Path also represents the space-time continuum. Whether Gong was cognizant of it or not, the Golden Thread Tarot pays homage to the Golden Path, which is particularly poignant, given that the tarot deck as Gong has created it is purposed for divination and insight into one’s Golden Path. As modern and fresh as the Golden Thread Tarot is, it connects to a very ancient, very traditional cosmological and metaphysical principle.
Gong began the deck as an illustration project, though it evolved into both the physical deck you see pictured here and a companion mobile app. You can learn more about the app here on her website. I often say that I use tarot like a lantern, holding it up to shine through the darkness and gain you greater visibility for what is around you, so you have a clearer sense of your own path. The Golden Thread Tarot turns out to be a perfect manifestation of that concept. The opaque black background the images are set against represent the proverbial darkness and the gold line drawings illustrating the key symbols of the Rider-Waite-Smith inspired tarot imagery represent that light shining through our darkness, giving us Sight.
I also love how Gong describes the concept as inspired by the night sky and “the archetype of a single string that connected all things within the universe, threading images in a murky unknown.” Each card feels like a Jungian archetype from the collective unconscious.
The card backs, pictured above to the right (box it comes in is to the left) are non-reversible, featuring a power cross within the pupil of what I construe as a representation of the third eye, set in front of symbols for the four elements, or four suits of the Minor Arcana. The line drawings here have a metallic sheen and are gold-gilded, as is the box.
The box itself is an incredible work of art. There is a grimoire-esque feel to it. It’s a two-piece cardboard box that’s sturdy, with a beautiful matte finish.
The interior line drawing is just as beautiful, with minimalist references to the “golden thread.” I actually wish the card back design for the deck was the art featured in the top right half of the box, which would make it reversible.
The imagery on the deck is Rider-Waite-Smith based, and you’ll note Key 8 is Strength and Key 11 is Justice, consistent with the RWS system. I love The Hermit card. The Justice card is one of my favorite depictions of that Key and I appreciate the more balanced representation for The Tower. You still get the meaning of cataclysm, but there is still the assurance that the Divine is watching and there is a greater purpose to be served from the seeker’s suffering.
If you’re familiar with the RWS system, that these cards read fluidly. There is no learning curve involved. I love the minimalism, the subtlety, and also the remarkable way the imagery of these cards parallel premonition. How many of us See through Sight is reflected in the aesthetics of Golden Thread.
Above you’ll see sample cards from the suit of Wands and suit of Cups. All the Wands cards depicted are easy-to-recognize derivatives of the RWS system, but with unique interpretative value. I love the scarab and Zoroastrian vibes of the Ten of Wands. The efficacy of defense is stronger in this Nine of Wands compared to the classic RWS Nine of Wands. Same with the Seven of Wands, come to think of it, with that shield in place of the figure wielding the single wand against the odds. I see from the artist a stronger sense of defense, protection, and shielding.
Throughout the deck, the illustrations are exquisite. I love how all the Cups cards in the first row above are depicted. I’ll mention this, though– when reading the cards in spreads and I pull the Five of Cups (pictured above, bottom row, left-most card), if I don’t look carefully, for some reason I automatically assume a court card. Doh.
Many of the illustrations stay true to the iconic symbolism in the RWS, such as the Two of Swords and Three of Swords, pictured above. Speaking of spreads, I adore how the cards look when you set them out on a table. They are just stunning to look at. They capture the mood and spirit of divination with a perspicacity that few modern tarot decks achieve.
The Golden Thread Tarot is a readable RWS-based deck that any professional tarot reader will want to use to impress their clientele and yet is a powerful personal deck for introspection. Deck collectors will without a doubt want to get their hands on a copy of Golden Thread. Every time I pull these cards out to read for somebody, the first thing they utter is, “Wow!”
The gold gilding on the cards can be a bit fragile, however. You’ll want to handle your deck with care. Thus, while I typically let clients handle and shuffle the cards for in-person readings, if reading with the Golden Thread Tarot, I won’t. =) This deck is just too precious to me.
For more information about the deck and its accompanying mobile app, check out goldenthreadtarot.com. The deck was available on Etsy, though if you don’t take my word for how remarkable this deck is, check out the amazing reviews there. Finally, be sure to “Like” the Facebook page, here.