Wayne Rodney’s Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary tarot decks. If you want a case study for diverse representation in tarot art done well, look no further than Global Fusion.
Rodney is a Jamaican American painter and illustrator who runs a martial arts studio. As an artist his work is heavily influenced by Rosicrucian mysticism, values of cultural diversity, and what I found throughout the Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot– Taoist metaphysics.
In this deck, Rodney orders the Minors before the Majors. The Sticks correspond with Wands or Clubs, expressing the traits of creative will and intuition. Of the four temperaments, he connects it to the Sanguine. Gems, Pentacles or Diamonds, signify the Phlegmatic, of the sensory and the practical. Vessels, Cups or Hearts, correspond with Melancholy, with emotions and feeling. Blades, Swords or Spades, signify the Choleric temperament, of reason, logic, and thought.
You’ll note that the Aces are designated with the Greek Letter omega and using playing card symbolism to denote the suits.
Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and by marking the first card in the sequence of each Minor suit, the omega signifies continuity, as Ace comes before Two but supersedes the King. Moreover, Aces in the tarot symbolize “God’s grace, Divine Providence, enlightenment, inspiration, and the spark of infinite creativity that dwells within us all.” (from the Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot Guidebook)
While we follow the standard structure here in the Majors with the four suits representing the four elements introduced to us by ancient Greek philosophers, implied within is the fifth element Quintessence, also known as Aether or Akasha.
The Tens in tarot represent the physical materialization of the suit’s operation, after the divine intercession of the Ace. In the Ten of Sticks, for instance, you see the depiction of a celestial creature, the dragon, here as a spirit guide watching over the man bearing the fruits of his labor (noting the traditional Chinese coins as a feng shui talisman).
By the way take a look at the Knaves (Pages) in Rodney’s deck. The eight animals are represented in the four Knaves. In the Knave of Sticks, corresponding with Fire, upright you’ll see the dragon and in reverse, the mongoose. In the Knave of Gems (Pentacles), corresponding with Earth, upright you’ll see the bat and in reverse, the mole.
On the Knave of Vessels (Cups) you’ll find the koi as the guardian spirit of the figure upright, and the octopus corresponding with the figure in reverse.
By the way, what a smart design element! Because the page edges are color-blocked, you end up with the different sections of card entries tabulated by color. You can look at the color and easily turn to the right page.
The full-color guidebook that comes with the deck is kind of incredible. It pares away all the standard fluff you find in these sorts of guidebooks and utilizes the space to cover the speculative origins of the tarot, occult philosophy, historical origins of playing cards, and the many ways we’ve reconstructed and then standardized the tarot as we know it today.
Rodney pays clear tribute to the European Medieval and Renaissance iconography standardized in the tarot, while weaving in the speculative Egyptian, Persian, Indian, Chinese, and even primordial origins.
This deck, though, is also deeply personal to the artist, representative of the experience that Rodney is most familiar with– the multi-cultural melting pot of the island of Jamaica and what the heart of the tarot is about– cultural fusion.
The Knights feature the four animals of Chinese mythology– the vermilion bird depicted in the Knight of Sticks, the white tiger in the Knight of Gems, the black tortoise with the Knight of Cups, and the azure dragon with the Knight of Blades (suit of Swords). In the Knight of Blades you also see the visage of Shakti.
Rodney adds a really incredible note in the guidebook when talking about the four mythological creatures and why they’re connected to the tarot Knights: “The Si Xiang [four images of God, here represented by four celestial animal spirits] were chosen as an homage to the culture that I believe was instrumental in giving us the playing cards that we are all familiar with today.”
The placement of the Minor Arcana before the Majors is to express a magus’s initiatory journey, first introduced to the elemental world or Lesser Mysteries before advancing onto the world of archetypes and Greater Mysteries.
Loving the reference to poison magic in the Five of Sticks (Five of Wands) above. Pictured on this card are the five venomous creatures of traditional Taoist poison magic (referred to as Ku or Gu). Yet here, the five poisons also signify the antidote–of sometimes having to fight fire with fire.
Jean-Baptiste Pitois, writing under the pseudonym Paul Christian, is credited as the first to popularize the terms Major and Minor Arcana as associated with the tarot, drawing a connection to the initiatory rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which has continued to enamor occult tarotists today.
What’s most delightful about this deck is the cultural fusion. Take, for instance, the Two of Gems (Pentacles) featuring Ganesh behind one shoulder of the young man and Hestia behind the other.
And at every turn, take time to study the background and the detailing of each card, or you might miss the desert djinn featured on the Four of Gems, or the reference to Aten, the sun disk in the King of Gems, or the winged Pixiu in the Two of Vessels. The Pixu is a mythical creature of Chinese lore and an omen of blessings to come. Or the angel depicted in the top left corner of Key 21 based on the Book of Ezekiel.
The Queens represent the archetype of the Master in its respective subject areas corresponding to the suit. This is the embodiment of Wisdom. Whereas the Kings represent the archetype of the Elder or the Sage, and signify enlightenment.
I love Rodney’s interpretation for the Three of Blades, signifying the condition of our intellect unable to integrate with love, and thus we become lost in a world of conjecture, phobias, and paranoia. The Seven of Blades depicts a Shinobi warrior, and I really love that Rodney uses that term, Shinobi 忍び, which is perhaps more commonly recognized as Ninja 忍者.
Loving the feature of the crocodile in Rodney’s Fool card! Key 5: The Hierophant is represented by a crone giving candy to a child, expressive of tradition and dogma going astray.
There’s a lot I’m loving in the Magus card as well, where the figure is holding the blade of the four altar tools to signify the card’s association with Air. You can a pluralistic view of magic here with various cultural references and the Solomonic ritual setup in the backdrop.
This depiction of Key 11: Justice is one of my favorites. Pictured here is Ma’at weighing the heart of the dead against the feather of truth, witnessed by Anubis. When this card appears to you, the divine counsel being given is, “to thine own self be true.” Key 12: The Hanged Man expresses the message, “Let go and let God,” with a python representing Kundalini. In other words, “trust the process.”
Key 13 in the Global Fusion deck is The Nameless, signifying transformative power. In the background we see a phoenix rising. The serpent is Apophis, symbolic of trials. This card is about dealing with fear, and is titled The Nameless because often that which is most plaguing us remains nameless, and only when we name it, and know it, can we begin the process of conquering and healing.
Oh, and while the card titles are revealed in the guidebook, you’ll note how the cards themselves are titleless by design. This is to encourage the reader to rely on their own intuition and personal associations when engaging with these cards. These cards are intended to be read intuitively, as hinted at in the deck name.
Key 17: The Star illustrates an ancient wayfarer relying on the North Star, which guided the enslaved to freedom. The Star also represents our third eye and that which we follow to lead us to deliverance. Key 18 is titled Luna.
I love the quote Rodney includes in the card entry here: “The mystic swims in the same sea that the psychotic drowns in.” Guard your emotions and your sanity or abandon yourself to them. The Sun card has allusions to both Pan-African and Buddhist color symbolism and Key 20 is titled Revelation.
If I had to critique the deck, the printing is low saturation and low contrast, which can give the artwork a murky feel. It works for some of the cards where the tone is meant to be somber, but impression wise can feel overcast and cloudy. You’ll either love that about the deck or it’ll cause the readings to feel obscured. Plus, the level of detailing is so intricate that the low saturation causes the eyes to miss too many of them.
I think my camera auto-color corrects a bit so there appears to be more color contrast in these photos than what I see in person. Notwithstanding, it is the most minor of critiques. The cardstock shuffles and fans out smoothly across your reading desk and I love the sturdy box set it’s packaged in.
I rarely get to see my culture so artfully represented in tarot. And Rodney integrates it seamlessly into classical tarot iconography. The substance honors Rosicrucian and Hermetic philosophy while placing the tarot in the present day with contemporary sensibilities, such as the DJ as the charioteer in Key 7: The Chariot or the electric guitar pictured in Key 12: The Hanged Man.
A few days ago I read a post in a tarot Facebook group that griped about how none of the tarot decks on the market right now are doing diversity and representation well, and how so much of it is tokenism. I hope that person has the opportunity to check out the Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot, because these cards are stunning. Diversity and representation are done beautifully, in ways that are rich with meaning, poignant, and resonant.
This deck is well worth your investment to acquire. Absolutely outstanding.
I’m surprised to find the Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot unexplainably underrated in the online tarot community. Why isn’t it getting the buzz it very clearly deserves? It exemplifies the best of so many different worlds, bridging exoteric and esoteric, old world and new, accessible and obscure, spiritual yet practical, and checks so many boxes that the tarot community says they’re looking for. I love everything about Rodney’s work and cannot praise Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot enough. Definitely check it out!
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the deck and book set from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.
3 thoughts on “Global Fusion Intuitive Tarot by Wayne Rodney (US Games)”
Thank you for giving such an in depth, erudite review. Wishing you all the best Benebell Wen!
I’m a huge fan of your art! Can’t wait to see the incredible future work you do! ❤
This deck looks really imaginative and unique ! I love the art