A few years ago I set off to Baltimore from New Orleans to present at a conference. But I forgot my Tarot deck in Baton Rouge! Oh, noes! Obviously, I wasn’t able to just pop back home and grab it, but I couldn’t go without a deck either. I had several readings scheduled during my trip and wanted to meet my commitments.
When the reader needs a deck, the reader goes shopping.
I hit a little shop down in the Marigny and picked the best deck available out of a rather sad lot. I couldn’t open it to check it out or anything, and I was in a hurry, but the box looked sturdy and the art sounded interesting. So fine. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Lucky me, it was the Golden Tarot by Kat Black.
In keeping with the deck’s name the edges are all gilded in gold. The gold does make the cards stick together a bit at first, which can be frustrating. A little use takes care of that, though, and over time the edges acquire a lovely worn patina that’s totally in keeping with the theme of the deck.
Unlike the Mythic Tarot, what sets this deck apart is absolutely the art. It’s made to look like something from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The artist digitally blended different elements from existing art of that time period to create each composite image. It’s collage work, but done so skillfully it can be hard to tell. A large chunk of the companion book (about a third of it) lists all of her sources, too.
Take this card:
This is a collage of images from TEN DIFFERENT WORKS. They’re all listed in the companion book, too, so if you’re interested you can look up the art and see the material she worked with.
Seriously, the skill Black used to put this whole thing together is incredible.
Stylistically the artist blended her favorite elements from both RWS and Visconti-Sforza symbolic traditions. That’s why the Star above looks similar to an RWS Temperance – she’s blending traditions the same way she’s blending images. It’s easy enough to adjust to, though.
Aside from the deck itself, the set comes with a few extra cards (title card and the like) and a little 200-page bound companion book that tucks inside the box.
The box deserves a shout-out of its very own. Most decks end up getting after-market bags or boxes because the packaging they come with blows, but I’ve been using the original box for years now and it’s still solid. The top can slide off in a purse or backpack, but otherwise the super-thick walls on this box make it just about perfect.
Using the Cards
As a reader I find this to be a weird deck for me. I’m actually not personally fond of the art style. I can appreciate the work that went into it, and objectively it’s beautiful, but I don’t resonate with it at an aesthetic level at all. Doesn’t seem to matter, though – I read it incredibly well, and I specifically reach for this one when reading for other spirit-workers.
Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend the Golden Tarot for a beginner. Since Black blended two different style families for this deck the books on the market won’t exactly fit. The companion book is a fine intro to the deck itself but won’t do much on its own to teach Tarot to a novice, either. If you’re new to things I’d say look elsewhere while you get your feet wet and circle back to this one later.
If you’re an art person, though, and especially if you enjoy the artistic time period Black worked with, I’d highly recommend grabbing the Golden Tarot. It’s fancy-looking enough to use with clients, looks gorgeous by candlelight (a fab choice for altar meditations and Tarot spellwork!), and if you’re already familiar with Tarot it’s fairly easy to read with a few adjustments.