I love black and white decks and I love pen and ink illustration. So it is no surprise that the Wandering Moon Tarot by Australian artist and tarot reader Rachael Jean is right up my alley. This deck was gifted to me by the artist, whose art style I absolutely love.
By the way, you can’t tell from these photos, but the card back design is holographic, and when it catches the sunlight at just the right angle, it glitters! Super magical!
Working with solid outlines and pointillism while commanding white (or negative) space with finesse, Jean’s compositions are clean, always with strong focal points, and expressive. There are a couple of bonus cards in this deck, and The Wanderer, pictured above, is one of them.
Here, a “solitary traveler of the cosmos sits upon a planet’s surface, looking up and gazing at a crescent moon. This figure is surrounded by universal energy and cosmic love.” This card reminds you to stay grounded and present, appreciating the moment. Also, look at the chunkiness of that companion guidebook! It’s co-written by the artist Rachael Jean and Marion Kirk.
As tools, there are two types of tarot deck illustrations I like to make sure I have in my collection: the first is when each card illustration feels like a complete and comprehensive universe, and perhaps might be considered “busy” with all the detailing, and the second would be a deck like Wandering Moon, where each card’s illustration feels like anatomical parts of a sentence, or thought, the way signs and symbols would appear to you in a crystal ball.
And because of that minimalist aesthetic, with each card more likened to a glimpse into a crystal ball, Wandering Moon Tarot is fantastic for large multi-card spreads from the Celtic Cross to in-depth 15-card readings. With all that white space, this is one of those decks you could really customize with your own pen and ink additions, if you wanted to.
The guidebook says that the deck is RWS-based (albeit with the artist’s own take on the original RWS iconography), but here, it looks like Key 8 is intended to be Justice (though to be fair, the keys are unnumbered) while Key 11 is intended to be strength. These photos showcase the cards in the order they came out of the brand new box.
That Fool card– I love the depiction of someone willingly in freefall, with comet tails of stardust. Yes, this person is indeed being foolish, but oh, isn’t the foolishness beautiful and admirable?
The first card in the deck to have been conceived was Death. In the guidebook, a page is devoted the describing the art on each card. Death here features a human skull, “sunbleached and cracking.”
Here’s one who had witnessed many cycles in its time– all those memories and histories can be seen when you gaze at that skull. The only trails of life here are the glittering stars to signify the renewal of our stardust to create another beginning.
And Temperance is represented by the Middle Path. I love that!
The suit of Moons corresponds with the suit of Cups, so the Ace of Moons is the Ace of Cups. Even though on quick glance they look like maybe disks or the suit of Pentacles, I didn’t have much trouble associating moons with Cups because I associate moons with watery energy. So this works for me.
The suit of Stars corresponds with the suit of Pentacles. Stars corresponding with Pentacles, because of the shapes used here, works for me. By the way, I’m intrigued at how a number of pen and ink illustrators have focused heavily on drawing hands in tarot card images as of late.
The court cards– Page, Knight, Queen, and King– in this deck remain consistent with the minimalist aesthetic. All Pages feature the leafy vines; the Knights feature a feather; Queens have the marking of its suit’s elemental glyph; and the Kings are represented by a crown as the focal point.
Here’s the suit of Wands for the element Fire, featuring terminated point crystals. I love that interpretation for the Ten of Wands– both hands full, but you’re still carrying the load with grace. While most of the pips in this deck give you just enough familiar symbolism for the RWS reader to pick up on (like the sense of exploration in the Three of Wands, competition in the Five of Wands, or the bow and arrow in the Eight of Wands), other cards, more prominently in the earlier suit of Moons, feel Marseilles, where the art is more ornamental than narrative.
I think the suit of Swords might be my favorite in this deck. There’s a universality to the art here, and while Rachael Jean started the project wanting to create a more modern tarot deck, these illustrations are as timeless and classic as they are contemporary minimalist. The minor detail of going with handwritten card captions ties the whole deck together.
In terms of production value, this deck is more impressive in person, in your hands, than in these photos over an electronic device. The edging is silver semi-matte but somewhat holographic and does that shimmery rainbow thing that labradorite does– you know what I’m talking about? It’s iridiscent.
The Four of Swords in this deck was a stalker card in my many readings with the Wandering Moon. I particularly love the message in the way Jean has interpreted the card through the way pointillism is applied. There’s the darker more solidified outline of the silhouette figure, but then she spaces out the dots along the center meridian, suggestive of Inner Light.
“I am the card of rest,” reads the guidebook about the Four of Swords. “The time has come for you to take a break from all you have done.” Funny enough, Wandering Moon Tarot was created during the 2020 pandemic.
In totality, Jean’s Wandering Moon feels like modern alchemy, and an exquisite black and white deck to add to my sub-collection of black and white tarot decks.