The Tabula Mundi Tarot is a Thoth-inspired deck that harmonizes mythology, world religions, historic references, alchemy, the Kabbalah, Thelema, and astrology. It is, as the deck creator M. M. Meleen puts it, the creator’s magnum opus.
I cannot convey to you how much I love this deck. To me, the Tabula Mundi Tarot supersedes the Thoth. It will take me an untold number of years to unpack just a modicum of what this deck can offer a practitioner. In fact, that is why this particular deck review write-up comes so late. I’ve had this deck on my reading desk for almost a year now.
The premise of the deck is a visionary journey, by the Fool, through a wormhole in the fabric of space-time, a journey where the Fool experiences visions of various “pictures of the world,” or tabula mundi. Here, I’ll be reviewing both the deck and the companion book, Book M: Liber Mundi.
The card back design is reversible and features the “Abrahadabra” incantation from Crowley’s Book of the Law. Meleen had noted that this deck is a magnum opus, or Great Work, and here on the card backs we have that incantation in reference to a Great Work, both describing the deck and perhaps… describing what you, the practitioner will be doing with the deck. The center is an octagram with symbolic imagery for the four suits.
Meleen explains that the card back design is a “glyph of the concept that Kether is in Malkuth. . . . Malkuth is the Kingdom and Kether is the Crown. We peer down through the Crown of Kether at the four ritual implements, as a reminder of the four powers of the Sphinx: To Will, To Love, To Know, and To Keep Silent. In their unification, we connect to SPirit, and the power To Go, the meaning of the name of God.”
The above is from the little white booklet (LWB) that comes with the deck. I love the metaphor of tarot divination as a journey through a wormhole. I fear at this point I am not educated enough to give the most informed review of the deck because of the depth the Tabula Mundi goes, and had really wanted to carve out an intense long weekend at the very least to concentrate on studying the deck and book set prior to reviewing it, but sadly haven’t had that kind of time, so just bear that in mind.
This LWB is remarkably comprehensive. I love the hand-crafted touch of it being bound by ribbon. Meleen’s knowledge, research, and expression are awe-inspiring and intimidating. If the substantive qualities aren’t enough, the superficial qualities are met, too. This is one of the most beautifully packaged and presented tarot deck sets I’ve come across.
I’d also say if you’re interested in learning the Thoth Tarot, the book and literature I’d get to learn the Thoth would actually be Meleen’s book for the Tabula Mundi.
Book M is one of my favorite tarot books now. The organization, details, depth, breadth, and scope of this companion guidebook is what every deck creator ought to strive for. That being said, you’ll get more mileage out of the book and deck if you have some foundational knowledge of the Kabbalah, Thelemic principles, and Western astrology.
Check out that first line of the Preface: “The Fool of Tabula Mundi, rather than about to step off of a cliff or through a portal, is poised to step into a wormhole in the fabric of space-time. This sets the tone for the entire deck.”
I love the personal touches in the book. I love all the insights into the artist and deck creator’s point of view. Meleen gives correspondences, short summer profiles, long descriptions, symbolic interpretations, keywords, and deck comparisons for each card entry. It’s incredible how much thought has gone into this deck.
I forgot to take photographs of other key features in the book. For instance, there are reference tables setting for the cards that correspond with the zodiac signs. For example: the Cards of Aries are The Emperor, Two of Wands, Three of Wands, Four of Wands, Queen of Wands, and Prince of Disks. The Cards of Libra are Adjustment (Justice), Two of Swords, Three of Swords, Four of Swords, Queen of Swords, and the Prince of Cups.
There are also reference tables for the cards of the planets. Cards of Saturn include The Universe, Seven of Disks, Five of Wands, Three of Swords, Ten of Wands, and Eight of Cups. Meleen covers the spokes of the zodiac wheel by modality and how it relates to the tarot deck. If you’re interested in deepening your understanding of the Thoth tarot system, integrating Thelemic principles into your tarot craft, or just want to see for yourself what I would consider the gold standard for writing a companion guidebook to a tarot deck, you have to check out Book M: Liber Mundi. Learn more about the book and how to order it here.
Now let’s talk about the deck. Okay, for those familiar with my deck reviews, you know my custom is to feature the cards in consecutive order by suits. When I get a new deck, the first thing I do is take a photograph of the Majors and Minors, and then the Suits in the order they arrived in. However, I lost those photos for the Tabula Mundi, so when I finally got around to writing up a deck review, I had no photos. I had to retake them, but by then, the deck had been in frequent use, so everything is out of order.
Psst.. love the I Ching reference in the Two of Disks, “Change.” You see depicted on either side of the hourglass Hexagram 1 to Hexagram 64.
The LWB does a great job describing each card, so even if you don’t invest in the book, you do still get a decent operation manual. For example, for The Universe card, or The Great One of the Night of Time, you get the planetary, elemental, and Kabbalistic correspondences. Then you get a notable quote that expresses the card’s ethos. Here, we have one from Martin Buber, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
The card description here for The Universe describes the imagery and its implications. Here, The Fool entered the wormhole and has now exited the tube torus onto the other side. We see the four powers of the Sphinx and the four Watchers for the four directions.
The Seven of Swords, to give an example from the Minors, is the Lord of Futility and again we get the astrological correspondences and also Trump correlations. Here, the Seven of Swords correlates with The Star and The Priestess. Pictured here is a blood moon eclipse and the augury to “be more clever, if you can.”
You see Eastern metaphysical and mystical influences here as well. In the Four of Swords, at the center point is the Crossed Vajra, or Vishva-Vajra, which is a tool symbolic of divine empowerment, divine stability, and in Eastern occultism, when inscribed on the bottom of your seat or where you stand during ceremony, inspires the practitioner’s empowerment.
Meleen’s art style reminds me a bit of Godfrey Dowson’s style in The Hermetic Tarot. There’s a Neo-Surrealist visionary science fiction and mythological art style with a subtle undertone of gothic that comes through in Meleen’s work, more classical than contemporary.
I’m trying hard to find an aspect of this deck to criticize negatively about, but I can’t. It hits on everything I want in a tarot deck. You know how in literary circles you might call an author a writer’s writer? The Tabula Mundi is what I would consider a tarot reader’s tarot reader’s tarot deck, meaning if I, a tarot reader, went for a tarot reading from a fellow tarot reader, this would be the deck I hope that tarot reader whips out for me.
I will say that I wouldn’t recommend this tarot deck to a complete beginner. It would probably be overwhelming. You’ll get so much more out of Tabula Mundi if you master tarot fundamentals first, and maybe even basic astrology and the Kabbalah, and then tackle this deck. Oh man– ::getting sidetracked::— look at that Fool card above. What an incredible fool and even an incredible choice of perspective Meleen opted for in depicting the scene–peering down from above and getting that empathic gulp in your throat as you wonder with trepidation what’s waiting for you at the other end of that wormhole.
You know what I don’t understand? Why isn’t M. M. Meleen a bigger name in tarot? Why do I feel like only this small sub-set of the tarot community know of Tabula Mundi or even talk about it? From checking out these cards and skimming sample pages of the companion book, you’d think Meleen would be a huge tarot superstar. (As far as I am considered, Meleen is a huge tarot superstar. And I’m an avid fan.)
You have to check this deck and book set out and get your own copy of Tabula Mundi before it goes out of print. Buy your copy of the deck here. Read more about the deck as written by its creator here. At the time of this posting, the full deck set, Tabula Mundi Colores Arcus 78, is $50.00. As a cheap-ass who resists spending too much on tarot decks despite being a tarot junkie, I am telling you that this deck is totally worth its price.