I had known about this deck for years, but didn’t own it. Then once at a public reading event, someone I read for told me about his first tarot deck. “It was the Sun and Moon Tarot,” he said, and was trying to describe the deck to me. I knew exactly which deck he was talking about.
“It’s got two lovers on a lotus blossom on the box cover, right? With a full moon? Bluish box?” I said. At the time, and this was years ago, the Sun and Moon Tarot was really popular, and everyone was talking about it. So of course I had heard of it, but just never gotten around to pulling the trigger to buy.
He lit up. “Yeah! That’s the one!”
Then synchronistically enough, a month later I was gifted this deck.
And I really do adore it to pieces.
The Sun and Moon Tarot by Vanessa Decort was published back in 2010 by U.S. Games. It is a Thoth-inspired deck with notable Rider-Waite-Smith influences. In Decort’s bio, she notes that the Thoth was her first tarot deck. The edition featured here in this blog post have white borders, but I’ve also seen a version with black borders, if that interests you.
The sacred geometric rose and solid black background featured on the card backs is perfect. I love the design. Cardstock quality for the version I purchased is decent. It’s got a matte finish, beautiful coloring, and feels sturdy to the shuffle. Below the photographs of the cards are hyperlinked, so click on them for an enlarged view.
I find the Sun Moon Tarot to be a beguiling mix of whimsical illustration and no-nonsense esoteric principles. Case in point, the six pointed star ourous bourus in Magician, the Om symbol and mantras in Key 9, and the Left Eye of Horus in The Tower, to name just a few.
This is one of the most well thought out decks I’ve come across. I love all the details. You can’t ask for a better workhorse deck. You’ll see a little Thoth and you’ll see a little Marseilles, with subtle Hindu, Zen Buddhist, and Taoist influences.
This post isn’t really a review of the deck, but just a quick walk-through of the cards. Recently I took a renewed interest in studying how various deck creators approach keywords on tarot decks, and I was reminded of the Sun and Moon Tarot from my deck collection. Here, the keywords only appear on the pips.
The stylistic consistency in the Minor suits gives it that Marseilles vibe to me, even though the pips are scenic. The compositions in the Minors focus on open space, whereas the compositions in the Majors felt more balanced. This might be an intentional artistic choice, but the result, from a tarot reader’s perspective, conveys a sense that the Minors are but an afterthought, compared to the attention to detail in the Majors.
In the Minors of this deck, each suit represents one of four realms of the human experience. A majority of Wands in a spread would indicate a matter of a spiritual nature; Cups is emotional; Swords is the rational sphere; and Pentacles is the material realm.
Each suit feels like the setting is the same place and time (i.e., ascendant hour). The skies look the same throughout all ten cards, the landscape looks like it’s from the same region, though above in the Cups, while the ascendant hour that each image depicts looks to be the same, the changing moon phases in a few of the cards (namely the Five of Seven) at least suggests those two cards depict a different day of the month.
The Sun and Moon Tarot is like a whimsical and sweetened version of the Thoth, while expressing what I’d interpret as the fourth dimension of our material world. Or… what if the Thoth deck was an illustrated children’s book– this is what it’d look like.
I’d recommend it as a workhorse deck because it’s functional for multi-purpose uses, can read well for most of the popular questions you’d get in a professional reading setting, and the art style is universally resonant. Nothing in the imagery is too difficult to look at, but at the same time, doesn’t sugarcoat and does address difficult topics head-on.
Decort is a multimedia graphic designer and the illustrator for several children’s books and book covers. Yet integrated with a contemporary commercial style is her personal interest in exploring fairytales, myth, fantasy, and spiritualism. What I love most about Decort’s work is the natural unaffected multi-ethnic style she achieves. Oftentimes when artists try to be multicultural, it comes across as trying too hard and can feel forced. Decort accomplishes integration effortlessly.
The court cards are Princess, Prince, Queen, and King, with the symbolism following the Thoth courts, i.e., the chariot motif in the Prince cards (RWS Knight equivalent; Thoth Prince) and the horses in the Kings (RWS King equivalent; Thoth Knight). Although the card design features pretty thick white borders, that didn’t bother me in the way it’s done here. The borders frame the artwork quite well.
I don’t know what medium Decort did the illustrations in, but it has a paper cut art aesthetic that I love. You’ll often hear tarot readers rave about the Sun and Moon Tarot and how well it reads. It really does. It also feels unique. I was trying to think of a few comparables to share with you– you know, that whole “if you like X and Y, then you’ll love Z” statements. But I can’t think of any decks that are on quite the same wavelength as Decort’s Sun and Moon Tarot. Can you?