A Very Tarot Christmas for Me!
My tarot wish list is almost always completely out of control, and I do buy decks pretty frequently. I like to have two-three that I'm learning and a plethora of faves to pick from for clients or myself. This Christmas I definitely got my "learning" shelf stocked up but some of them won't take me long, and the ones I'm most excited about are the harder ones, so I'm diving right in. Here's my snapshot reviews of the ones I've received this holiday season.
Cosmos Tarot and Oracle Deck
Overall inspiration and connection: Excellent. The queerplatonic partner and I went to the art exhibit here in Minneapolis and we were overwhelmed by the care put into every single art piece that comprises this deck. I was also fascinated by the concept of combining astrology, myth, and tarot to this extent. Most decks include all of these elements, but this is a totally different, beautiful beast that focuses more on the myth and cosmos. I have a deep abiding love for collaborative decks on top of that, and while some people won't like the lack of cohesion, my queer, art-loving brain loves it. The diversity of the different cards means my brain doesn't lull while I'm reading or try to make connections between cards where there aren't any.
Artwork: Stunning. It's 100 different brilliant artists and the variety of styles means there's something for everyone--with the exception, as aforementioned, of people who need their decks to be flawlessly cohesive.
Card Quality: Fine, so far; It's not a deck I held in my hands and thought "YES, BEST CARD QUALITY EVER," but it's better than even some of my decks that I use all the time. Nice and glossy, and though thin (which my arthritis loves because it shuffles better), they seem durable enough.
Queering Potential: Like the possibilities of the cosmos, the queering potential is endless. There's a few things in this deck that are gendered and the super traditional Empress isn't my favorite, but most of the cards are vague enough concepts or ideas or easy enough to alter genders and identities. Fascinatingly, there's called "Binary System" that could actually be wildly helpful in navigating through some of my client's identity questions, and more than enough cards that navigate outside of this binary to guide me the other way if they don't fall within the binary. The creators of this deck did a great job making sure myths were well-rounded and include some LGBTQQIAP+ oriented stories.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: Ease of learning is a no-go on this one. I don't hold this against decks and prefer my decks to step outside the norm, so this isn't a slam, but if someone came to me and said "I really want to start learning tarot. What's a great starter deck?" I can't recommend this one. However, the guidebook is GREAT. It tells you about the astrological or cosmic entity being represented, the myth behind that entity, and how it ties into a reading. It is a totally different, made-up-for-this-deck school of tarot, and sometimes I hate that, but I really love what this deck does. If someone came to me and said "I want to learn tarot. I just want one deck I can connect to and bond with," this deck would be on that list.
Other Kudos or Complaints: The biggest problem I'm having with this one is a conflict between the way I learn and how this deck should be learned. I have several tips and tricks for learning, none of which work here. My preference is to combine what the deck says about the card with my understanding of it, but some of these are so drastically different. The cards do have keywords on them, which will be helpful for some, but hinders my learning style. This is more of a note than a complaint, but I know a lot of people learn similarly, and wanted to be honest about this. Even so, this is one of my very favorite decks, and is absolutely worth the challenge.
The Vertigo Tarot
Overall inspiration and connection: Great. This is definitely a "not for everybody: deck, but I'm a huge geek and Vertigo comics fan, so this has been on my list for a long while. It keeps going in and out of print, so I was so stoked and grateful the queerplatonic partner nabbed it for me when we saw a used copy. I connect with it really well, because most of the artists or writers involved are personal inspirations for me, but this isn't a deck for those not as into them or who just don't know much about the source material.
Artwork: For comic fans this is a beautiful interpretation of scenes and characters you love. For everyone else, it's a delightfully twisted and dark deck.
Card Quality: Not great, unfortunately. Someone who also collects decks to use told me at one point she couldn't use this one a lot, and I have to concur. Will absolutely use it for myself and geeky clients, but there's already some cracks and bends in it. They do shuffle well though!
Queering Potential: Adequate. There are some already queer or implied queer characters in the deck, and a lot of the stories and interpretations work well for how I already queer decks. Vertigo does have many more really great queer characters I would've liked to see show up, but I can definitely still work with this.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: Ease of learning is great! It fits very well into most common schools of tarot. If you learn super image based, this one gets a little tricky. The guidebook is a little weird. They formatted it needlessly artistically but it basically does it's job and you can look up interpretations you can't figure out super easily.
(Anticipated) The Next World Tarot
I obviously don't have this yet. The Kickstarter just ended. I am so, ridiculously beyond excited for it though. For those who don't know, this is a Michelle Tea, Cristy C. Road team up that is described as a "queer punk" deck, and at first glance is full of nothing but WTFs. I could not be more ready for my kickstarted copy to show up. Obviously this review will likely change drastically, but hopefully by then I'll be writing regular reviews and get super in depth.
Overall inspiration and connection: I'm so desperate to get this deck in my hands. I want to cry with wanting it right meow, if that tells you anything.
Artwork: "Queer punk", full of femmes. I'm drooling over every single picture they've released already.
Card Quality: This is the one thing I'm nervous about. Kickstarted or indie decks in the past have been really hit or miss. I don't expect them all to be The Fountain Tarot (SO smooth! So good!), but I also don't want another Prisma Visions card stock--so thick, doesn't shuffle well, some of the gloss started peeling, etc. (The PV is a super phenomenal deck though otherwise!)
Queering Potential: My job is done here.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: It looks pretty straightforward for a queer deck, but we'll see! I'm pumped about it regardless, whether it's easy breezy or a challenge.
Other Kudos or Complaints:
The Hobbit Tarot (Not Pictured)
Overall inspiration and connection: I mostly wanted this deck for geek cred and as a deck collector, but was pleasantly surprised by the connection I felt once it was in my hands. Not my strongest or most in tune deck, but definitely a pleasant surprise.
Artwork: Adorable in a way I don't hate. I don't do a lot of novelty decks unless I'm super into the thing, which I am in this case. This is a very sweet deck based on original artwork and concepts from Tolkien's book The Hobbit.
Card Quality: Good--if you've bought a mass market deck in the past 20 years, you know what to expect.
Queering Potential: It's tricky, but not impossible. In some ways a deck featuring mostly male characters lends itself to this easier, but it's a lot of twisting Tolkien's original character concepts. However, this deck is much more "epic quest" based and much less other people based, so it can be applied to any major quest or search.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: By far the easiest deck I got this season to learn, and the deck is one of the small paper-only ones with really straightforward interpretations. It's not necessary to know about the tarot or The Hobbit to pick this up, and if you know about one or both it's really easy to combine what you know about each in your brain.
Other Kudos or Complaints: Any problems I have with this deck are problems I have with either Tolkien or original school of tarot concepts, so.
So Those were the decks other people got me this season (so far), and they are pretty great overall. In 2016 I should be receiving my Slow Holler tarot deck (!!!!!), and reviews moving forward will be one at a time and more in depth. I'm so excited to have this blog and have you all reading.
Share your favorite decks you got this year and how you feel about them, and until next time,