A Linestrider Tarot Review!
My tastes can run pretty exclusively queer, feminist, and indie so when I noticed a new deck at the metaphysical store where I have a (wonderful) steady gig that didn't fit into that at all, I was extra enchanted by it for the sheer fact that I normally pass a lot of decks like that by. I kept coming back and playing with the demo, even doing a couple of personal readings with it. Finally I broke down, bought it, and brought it home. I'm officially grounded from buying decks, having also bought the new version of the Wild Unknown this month, but I feel genuinely blessed to have this deck in my life.
The deck is Siolo Thompson's Linestrider Tarot, and Thompson's mission was to add her own touch to a classic divination system. The deck's most important feature and why I think it called out so loudly to me was because the accompanying box and book confirm that part of the artist's "own touch" is adding whimsy to a divination system that goes deep to bring you to a place of healing and intuition. Tarot can get very heavy and very real, so adding a whimsical touch to remind us that whimsy exists is really inspired. I talk a lot about my PTSD and the fact that fun, lightness (as opposed to heaviness), and humor are crucial to my day to day existence. I'm a huge stand-up fan, and bubbles are on my "basic needs" tier when I'm stocking up my house, but I also work hard towards my goals and my own healing and recovery. This deck almost seems tailor-made for me--but I ran a discount using my new decks for private clients throughout July and it quickly became a favorite of my clients' as well.
I've already talked about overall inspiration and connection to this deck, so I'll dive right into how that manifests in the Artwork.Thompson created a deck that is deeply inspired by more traditional decks, but very successfully reinvents those images. The pictures seem simple--animals and people alike have firmer, darker lines creating their shape and watercolor to fill it out. Many of the images include a basic splash of watercolor for interest and mood. It's absolutely beautiful, and pictures never do it justice. It's definitely one I recommend getting in your hands. It is truly lovely, and the promise to stay true to tarot's depth while also bringing in some silliness and joy comes through in nearly every spread I've laid out. The card quality is not my favorite, and that does bring me down slightly. This is certainly not Thompson's fault and even though it's gotten pretty heavy use since I got it, nothing has cracked or worn down, and it's become more pleasant to touch as it's gotten shuffled more. They are a little stiff and just not as smooth or seamless as I had hoped.
The Queerness Quotient is really interesting in this deck. I want to be clear that I in no way think decks have to be queer, though I do think in 2016 they should be inclusive overall and a little more progressive in terms of gender roles. In the negative, the Linestrider does stick pretty rigidly to men as knights and kings, women as queens and pages as well as the presumptions that can accompany the Majors. However, Thompson (very likely not accidentally) uses a lot of animals in the deck, including in cards of romantic love or where a lot of gendered assumptions about relationships would normally be. Additionally, there are a few human characters that don't have a clear gender for us to make assumptions about, and that's done really well and in completely appropriate positions. Most of my Queering the Tarot work is using decks like this that someone might love or be really drawn to for personal reasons but that some cards may be hard to relate to on first glance. If you're good at thinking outside of the box or familiar with any of Queering the Tarot, this deck is relatively easy to work with.
Overally inclusivity however is slightly lacking. It's easy for me to believe that not all of the humans are intended to default to being white (it's a lot of lines and shadows that intentionally don't seem detailed or finished), but many going into a deck will assume that characters not explicitly POC are not. Decks shouldn't fall into the #tarotsowhite gap in 2016, but I do think that this blow is softened by the fact that many of the humans are just suggestions of humans and many of the cards are just animals. I definitely think that is this deck's weak spot.
Guidebook and Ease of Learning is stellar. This is probably the best deck for total beginner's that I've picked up in awhile, and definitely the best deck for intermediate to advanced readers who don't want to put a ton of effort into learning a new deck that I've picked up in a really long time. The animal symbolism is fun to read into, but knowing a ton isn't necessary as Thompson doesn't necessarily stick to that. The accompanying book is really easy to read, and Thompson doesn't unnecessarily throw you for a loop, though it is really fun to see her spin and interpretation of the cards she did get more creative with. While the cards seem really simple they do each of a few other details thrown in for symbolism and that's really fun to play with and add layers to your current understanding.
I am still very taken with this deck. I absolutely love it, and next month it is getting added to my general repertoire for sure. If you're looking for something different but not difficult to learn, this is a really solid option. The use of color and simple symbols is so smart and often so fun. I can't say enough good things about it, so I'll cut off here. It's produced by Llewellyn, so it should be really easy to find. They even have it on Amazon, but I can't suggest going to your local metaphysical shop or a private bookstore instead enough.
Until next time, Blessed Be.