The Llewellyn Tarot: A Classic, Versatile RWS Deck

LlewellynTarot_0BoxSet

I’m always looking for RWS-based tarot decks that I can recommend for beginners who aren’t visually ready for the original RWS, and I’ve found one: the Llewellyn Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson and published by Llewellyn Worldwide. This deck has climbed up to my top five recommended beginner tarot decks or, heck, anyone interested in the Wales and Welsh culture of the Middle Ages.

LlewellynTarot_2DeckandBook

The deck comes with a really comprehensive 5″ x 8″ guidebook that does a good job introducing tarot to the beginner but also has so much traditional Welsh folklore and mythology that I found it to be an incredible read, and should be equally enlightening to any seasoned tarotist. The cards themselves are 3.125″ x 4.5″, with thick borders all around. I’ve seen many tarot readers trim their copy of this deck and I’ve got to say, it looks a lot better trimmed.

LlewellynTarot_3CardsCloseup

The soft watercolor paintings by Ferguson (of the Arthurian Tarot fame) transport the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery to medieval Wales, bringing to life Celtic legends, deities, and mythic figures. Although it is a distinctly different style from Kris Waldherr‘s art, something about Ferguson’s work here reminded me of the Goddess Tarot.

Continue reading “The Llewellyn Tarot: A Classic, Versatile RWS Deck”

XIII Tarot by Nekro: Deck Review

XIII Tarot - 01 Box Cover

The XIII Tarot by Nekro, published in 2014 by Fournier/Lo Scarabeo (and distributed in North America by Llewellyn) is a Gothic-inspired art deck with ornamental detailing, intense, evocative emotion, and a macabre motif. The art is in grayscale, with select sections of each card digitally enhanced a brilliant red.

The audience for the XIII Tarot deck is going to be aficionados of dark/gothic tarot decks, though without illustrated pips, it’s going to be better suited for Marseille readers.

XIII Tarot - Unillustrated Pips

Many of the reviews for the deck that I read on Amazon complain about the non-illustrated pips, but that didn’t bother me. You just have to know what you’re getting, as a deck buyer. In the context of Nekro’s highly detailed artwork, I like the non-illustrated pips. Illustrated pips, given Nekro’s highly detailed art work, along with the already highly detailed Majors might have been overkill.

Notice how the Majors stand out in a reading spread with the XIII Tarot.
Notice how the Majors stand out in a reading spread with the XIII Tarot.

When the cards are set out in spreads, the images on the Majors step forward beautifully, the Courts speak to us in their respective voices, and the pips provide supplemental information. For me, the deck reads quite well, but I see how visual-spatial-right-brained readers are going to prefer the illustrated pips that you might find in other Gothic decks like the Dark Grimoire Tarot by Michele Penco also by Lo Scarabeo, or the Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Alex Ukolov and Karen Mahony, which sadly, is now out of print (I believe).

Continue reading “XIII Tarot by Nekro: Deck Review”

Golden Tarot of Klimt: Deck Review

Klimt Tarot 01 Deck Box

One year in high school I had a spiral bound day planner I bought at a museum gift shop that featured Klimt’s artwork. I carried Klimt around with me everywhere that year and afterward, cut out the full-color prints that appeared in the day planner, framed and placed them around my room. An art poster print of “The Kiss” was hung up in my bedroom through my adolescence and young adulthood. Currently in the halls of my day job office hangs a really nice framed print of “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” [Also, tell me it isn’t just me– is there or isn’t there something very Nine of Pentacles about that painting.]

Klimt Tarot 19 Card Backs Closeup

Like many artists of his time (Pamela Colman Smith included), Klimt was influenced by Japanese block art. Klimt’s art is bold, sensual, deeply ornate yet symbolic, and iconic of the Art Nouveau and Symbolist Art movements, with mystical tendencies. His art was controversial for its time. Klimt would have been about 50 years old around the time Waite and Smith created their tarot deck.

Klimt Tarot 04 Box and LWB

The Klimt Tarot or Golden Tarot of Klimt by Lo Scarabeo and Llewellyn is one of the most well-done collector’s art deck I’ve seen. There on the box cover you see one of Klimt’s iconic paintings, “Judith I.” The cards are 2.5″ x 4.6″, which fits comfortably in my hands and the smooth texture on the cardstock renders the deck very easy to shuffle and fan for reading purposes. There isn’t much to the Little White Booklet (LWB), as the text in there is short and sweet, and in those few pages, is packed with 6 language translations.

Klimt Tarot 02 Box Side View

On the side of the box pictured above, the top image is from one of my favorite paintings by Klimt, “Medicine (Hygieia),” which so perfectly appears on The Magician card in the deck. While more and more decks are moving to China for printing and manufacturing, these decks are still made in Italy. The box and packaging is finished beautifully and is part of what renders this deck such a rewarding collector’s item. It was first published in 2005 and the brainchild of the Bulgarian-born Atanas Antchev Atanassov. Continue reading “Golden Tarot of Klimt: Deck Review”

The Witches Tarot: Deck Interview (and Review)

Witches Tarot 01

I totally swiped this deck interview idea from Kate at Daily Tarot Girl. Read her blog post about it here. I was gifted the Witches Tarot, a deck created by Ellen Dugan and illustrated by Mark Evans. It’s a Rider-Waite-Smith based deck with photographic digital art that is a near seamless blending of realism and fantasy.

The cards are 2.75″ x 4.60″, a typical size for tarot, though perhaps a smidge smaller, which means they shuffle great in my hands, fan out just beautifully across a tabletop, and are very easy to work with. It’s published by Llewellyn and has a pretty standard Llewellyn/Lo Scarabeo cardstock quality. For an RWS tarot practitioner who likes modern digital art, the Witches Tarot would make an incredible workhorse reading deck.

Witches Tarot 03

The cardbacks are so pretty. There’s a galactic vibe to it and at the center, the triple goddess symbol, with the waxing crescent, full moon, and waning crescent moon. The backs are not reversible, however, as one edge is reddish and the other bluish. I’ve opted not to read with reversals when using this deck.

Now, without further ado, let’s interview the Witches Tarot with Kate’s suggested questions.

BENEBELL: What is your main mission or message in this world?

Witches Tarot Interview Q1

WITCHES TAROT [WT]: Page of Swords

The page is represented by a tall, thin teenage boy on a green plain. He wears a talisman with a hawk around his neck. This card, per the Companion guidebook is about thinking quickly and active decisively. However, use wit, not brute force. Per the traditional attribution of the card, that of messages, the hawk symbolizes messages. What an appropriate card to respond to the question with! In the Witches Tarot deck is embedded Ellen Dugan’s message, a message about her belief systems, her traditions and how she has integrated those traditions with the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, and a quick and natural wit about the deck’s style that will attract its followers.

Continue reading “The Witches Tarot: Deck Interview (and Review)”