The Bright Idea Deck – Tarot Review

Three Trump cards from the Bright Idea Deck - Passage, Shadow, and Demolition.

I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative approaches to Tarot, so when I started hearing about The Bright Idea Deck I was intrigued. The more I heard the more I liked, and eventually I got it into my hot little hands.

Interestingly, this deck makes absolutely no claim to be a Tarot deck. That’s deliberate. It is a Tarot deck, but it’s marketed as a creativity and brainstorming tool in the Self Help/Business section.

That’s kind of fitting. Like any other Tarot deck, it can be used for divination, but it’s specifically designed to jump-start creativity and foster insight, especially in corporate settings. Suggestions in the book include using them for novel plotting and character development, marketing campaigns, party and event planning, and career navigation.

I was skeptical at first, but after working with them a bit I have to admit I kind of love them. They just have to be used within their intended design.

The Deck

The “bright idea” of this deck was realized by reconsidering and then redesigning everything about a traditional Tarot deck.

I’ve got to give major props for out-of-the-box thinking. What Mark McElroy came up with is recognizably Tarot, yet utterly unique and in line with his vision.

Some of that out-of-the-box thinking?

  1. The backs of the cards are standard reversible, but the borders on the face side of the cards are color-coded. Majors are purple, and the Minors are bordered in their associated color. I didn’t realize just how helpful that would be until I started looking for specific cards, or culling out the Majors for dedicated uses. The color-coding just jumps out. This isn’t the first deck in history to use this technique, but it’s not all that common either. After using it with this deck I kind of wish it was.

    Three cards from the Bright Idea Deck are showcased here, the two "helper" cards and the reversible back image. The rest of the deck is fanned out below, and the accompanying book's spine can be seen above.

    The deck comes with 78 face cards and two “helper” cards with black borders (the back image is in the center). The one on the left shows basic suit associations and the one on the right shows the way the pip cards are streamlined.

  2. Almost all occult anything has been stripped out. There are symbols scattered throughout the art, especially astrological ones, but honestly having them in the art is kind of gilding the lily. The keyword and the art together make reading these cards dead easy even without symbolic help.

    Blue 1 (the Ace of Cups) from the Bright Idea Deck.

    Let’s take this card, Blue 1 (equivalent to Ace of Cups). The astrological signs for Scorpio and Cancer are behind his head, but we don’t need them to interpret this card. The keyword is Motivation, and that’s what this card asks. What is your motivation? Rewards or praise? Avoiding punishment? Or simply swimming around your comfort zone and not making waves?

  3. The Majors have been significantly overhauled. If you know what you’re looking at they still retain their traditional roots, but every single one of them has been renamed and approached from a less esoteric (and less off-putting for newbies) angle.

    Three Trump cards from the Bright Idea Deck - Passage, Shadow, and Demolition.

    Here we see the three cards that most often disturb people new to Tarot: Passage (Death), Shadow (The Devil), and Demolition (The Tower). I personally adore Shadow – what a cool (yet creepy) interpretation of this card!

  4. The pips have been overhauled, too, and streamlined as steps in a process. I’ve seen other decks approach the pips as stages in a story, but I’ve never seen a deck make everything as consistent between suits as this one does.

    Yellow 9 and Yellow 10 from the Bright Idea Deck.

    Here we have Yellow 9 and Yellow 10. In Yellow 9 we see that the product is finished and is ready to go. We’ve accomplished our goal. Yellow 10 shows us what happens when we refuse to let it go and move on – we obsess over minutiae while neglecting research and development for the next project.

  5. The Court cards, y’all. We need to talk about those! Ranks and hierarchies were completely ditched. They’re called Approach cards here, and each shows an approach that can be taken to a situation. This might be my very favorite aspect of the whole deck, especially for newcomers to Tarot. It makes the Court much easier to understand! Again, it’s not a unique-to-this-deck approach, but it’s utilized here to amazing effect.

    The four Approach cards of the Red suit.

    The Red Approach cards.

The cards themselves are a bit stiff out of the box, but they’re perfectly shuffleable. They feel sturdy and aren’t too slippery to work with.

The horizontal tuck box everything comes in is flimsy, though, and honestly kind of useless once the plastic’s peeled off. There’s a bigger-than-the-deck well the shrink-wrapped cards are dropped into, an empty white cardboard insert that takes up space (although not enough space to keep the cards from banging around), and the book just sits on top of everything. It’s one of the least appealing packaging jobs I’ve ever seen for this kind of set. I’d suggest acquiring a sturdier box or bag for the cards at the same time you purchase the deck because you’ll need it immediately.

The full-size softback book is fantastic, though, which makes up for the shoddy packaging. It offers ways to use Tarot I’d never considered.

Speaking of which…

Using the Deck

The deck itself is innovative. The book continues the theme. It’s hard to find truly fresh takes on Tarot these days, but this provides a whole new toolkit to play with.

The first section lays out the deck and offers some usage suggestions/exercises. I’m used to seeing some unique spreads in these kinds of books, but the Bright Idea Deck goes beyond that to offer truly unique approaches.

One of my favorites is called “What Would the Trumps Do?”. The book compares the Trump cards to 22 wise advisors, each with their own powerful perspectives and tried-and-true strategies to bring to a problem. Regardless of the issue, the book says, it can be brought to the Trumps for insight and advice.

Three cards from the Bright Idea Deck.

Three Majors from The Bright Idea Deck. Here we see this deck’s interpretation of the Magician, the Star, and Justice.

Pull out all the Major Arcana cards, put them in order, turn on a recorder, and then ask “What would Freedom (the Fool) do?” while thinking about your situation. Spend no more than 30 seconds on it and spit out the first idea or approach the card suggests. Then move on, asking “What would Capability (the Magician) do?” and consider that card. If you draw a blank keep moving. Progress this way through all of the Majors. Twenty minutes later, when you’ve finished the exercise, you’ve got 22 new approaches to your situation. Not all of them will be doable or advisable, but there should be a few that at least hint at a new direction. I certainly get some interesting insight using this technique!

After that section, each card gets 2 scant pages of explanation (with no pictures, so keep the deck close as you go through it). There are a collection of keywords, then 5 open-ended questions to encourage the reader to make their own connections with the cards, and then a brief story-type thing about each card to explain the meanings of specific artistic elements. The author states at the beginning, though, that you should feel free to ignore what doesn’t work for you. That fosters intuition from the get-go. Journaling is highly recommended with this deck!

Personally, I don’t find these to be cards for deep spiritual exploration (although I do occasionally use them for #CardaDay pulls). I also don’t like them for Tarot-based spellwork or altar meditations. If you prioritize those uses I’d suggest looking elsewhere. However, the Bright Idea Deck shines for more mundane introspection and really does encourage brainstorming. I also find the emphasis on process to be incredibly helpful – this is the deck I turn to for project kick-starts. The removal of traditional Tarot imagery makes them palatable for those who shy away from excessive “woo-woo stuff”, but it can also limit more esoteric interpretations.

Many of the qualities that make these cards fresh and unique also make them especially suited for Tarot beginners. If this deck appeals then, by all means, pick it up! You’ll have to order it because it’s out of print, but there are lots available online. However, please do realize that this is not a standard deck. If you plan to start here and eventually move on to other decks, know that the transition might be more jarring than if you’d started with something a little more traditional. That’s by no means stated to dissuade you, but it is something to keep in mind.

On a totally personal note, there are a few blonde guys in suits, like in the Capability card, that remind me entirely too much of Melon Mussolini. I find that to be hella distracting when I read. Now that this review is done I plan to go through the deck with a Sharpie and change the blondes into brunettes. It’s my deck. I can do that.

Available here for about $15.

Gilded Tarot – Tarot Review

I clearly remember when I found the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti.

I was surfing the internet and listening to Mark Knopfler’s Shangri-La when I stumbled across some Tarot pictures that blew me away. I was absolutely captivated by the fantasy-meets-steampunk vibe of the deck. I found all the pictures available, getting more and more excited, and within about 30 minutes I blew off my college-student budget and ordered it. I had to have it.

The week of ramen afterward was worth it.

The Deck

This is a review of that original deck, so I can’t speak to the card stock quality of the newer ones. The one I have, though, is my absolute favorite deck for shuffling. (Note: I bridge shuffle every Tarot deck I have and get frustrated if I can’t. So there’s that.)

It’s also been over 10 years of heavy use since I first opened the box. The edges are a bit worn, and the original box is toast (I use a bag now), but the cards still shuffle better than any other deck I have

And the art! The art is exquisite. Seriously breath-taking. Here, look:

Six Major Arcana cards from the Gilded Tarot.

Six Major Arcana cards from the Gilded Tarot. The High Priestess and the Hierophant are my favorites.

See the light? These cards seem to glow from within. How cool is that? The colors are vibrant and vivid, the cards themselves are lush, and the textures (check out the Empress’s dress!) are fantastic. He used real faces for the figures too, which gives them realistic expressions and life-like proportions. What’s not to love?

Marchetti digitally drew every card. It’s obviously based on traditional Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, making it easy for RWS people to pick it up, but the art has Marchetti’s own unique and visionary flair. The Gilded ditches the standard medieval backgrounds in favor of a more cosmic setting, including stars, planets, and the occasional comet. I find that especially fitting for the Majors, as they reflect a universal theme, but it works for the Minors too.

Using the Deck

I find this to be an unusually responsive deck. Some readers are turned off by the Gilded’s combination of mysticism and technology, but I find that a plus. We live in a technological world – why shouldn’t our cards reflect that? I don’t want every card to look like a circuit board or anything, but I find the fantasy/steampunk feel here awesome. (I also do cybermancy, though, so take that as you will.)

This is actually a fine deck for beginners. It’s RWS inspired, but it doesn’t have the dense Golden Dawn symbolism of the original RWS. What symbolism it does have is easily understood by modern readers, too.

Don’t take that to mean this deck is stripped down, though. I’ve been reading for 20+ years and still enjoy using this deck. I use it with clients, too. There’s nothing stripped down about it.

If you’re just starting out and are drawn to this deck, by all means, grab it! The publisher even made it easy for you and released it as a kit. It’s called The Easy Tarot and packages the Gilded Tarot deck with a Tarot 101 book.

Don’t need the intro book? The Gilded Tarot is also available here with a much more basic companion book. I wouldn’t bother with it, though – the kit has the exact same deck and is about $8 cheaper on Amazon.

Golden Tarot – Tarot Review

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.

The Cards

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.

patina

On the left is a brand new Golden Tarot, and on the right is my own well-loved deck. I personally prefer the worn look on mine and think it enhances the feel of the cards.

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:

magician

The Magician from the Golden Tarot.

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.

golden-majors

A selection of Major Arcana cards from the Golden Tarot.

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.

Available here.

Tarot Style Families

There are literally thousands of Tarot decks in print and more are created every single day. Some are faithful reproductions of old decks, some offer variations that stick very close to original source decks, and some challenge traditional structure or imagery or both.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, Tarot decks can be loosely sorted into what I call “style families”. These families group cards based on card pattern or design, and sorting cards this way is surprisingly helpful.

For starters, knowing the styles we like (and don’t) can help us quickly zero in on the decks we’re actually interested in. With so many decks on the market, this can be a huge time-saver!

Furthermore, decks within the same style tend to read like others in that style (with the exception of decks with new approaches, discussed below). One TdM deck reads like another, RWS decks read the same, etc. Sure details can differ from one deck to the next, but the general gist of things is present. If we see a new or interesting deck in a style we’re already comfy with, we know the new one will be stylistically comfy too. Switching between styles can be an adjustment, however, and knowing that in advance helps us avoid confusion and disappointment.

There are five general style families altogether*, plus related-but-not-Tarot Oracle Cards. Let’s check them out!

Visconti-Sforza 

This style of Tarot dates back to the mid-1500s, when Tarot cards were still emerging from the cards used to play a game called Trionfi (“triumphs”, another word for “trumps”). About 15 decks – none complete – have survived. They were commissioned by Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, and later by his successor (and son-in-law) Francesco Sforza, hence their name.

Fit for a Duke, these cards were meticulously crafted with precious materials. Members of the family are depicted in the cards, too, like little portraits. They are wonderful for collectors and inspirational for artists, who either use them as a jumping-off point for their own work in other styles or create compatible cards to get a full deck. We can thank these early Visconti-Sforza decks for ideas like the visual style and card numbering, both of which are important to the Tarot we use today.

v-s-cards

Here we have examples from, in order: the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot, the Visconti-Sforza Restored Tarot, and the Visconti-Sforza Pierpont Morgan Tarot.

Tarot de Marseilles

The Tarot de Marseilles (TdM) style first appeared in the Conver deck, published in 1760. The Conver deck underlies all subsequent TdM decks. They’re the dominant card style in France, and after a version was published in 1969 with a booklet in English more American readers began discovering them too.

ancient-tarot-of-marseilles1

The Ancient Tarot of Marseilles is a faithful reproduction of the Conver deck of 1760. I personally can’t look at the colors very long without blinking spots out of my eyes, but it’s hard to get more authentic!

You may have noticed that the “pip” cards (1 through 10 of each suit of the Minor Arcana) in the above deck don’t depict full scenes. That’s one of the traits that sets this style apart from others. Like the playing cards from which they came, TdM pip cards feature a geometric arrangement of whatever symbol is used for the suit.

The images in TdM decks as a whole tend to be simpler than other styles because the originals were printed with woodblocks. Modern TdM decks still reflect that. For instance, even cards with scenes (Majors and Court cards) rarely have backgrounds. The sky is simply left blank.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a purity of purpose to a TdM deck that other styles are hard-pressed to match. They’re especially useful for those who rely more on numeric, astrological, and elemental correspondences when interpreting Tarot. Those of us distracted by overly ornamental artwork, or overwhelmed by the symbolism grafted onto the cards by later styles, might very well find these cards a welcome change too. However, if you rely more on lush imagery for interpretation these decks might not work for you.

le-tarot-noir

Cards from Le Tarot Noir, my current Tarot deck crush. Here we can clearly see the heritage of the original Conver deck, but the colors have been muted from the original garish hues and the lines are much more finely drawn. There’s also an almost melancholy whimsy here I find gorgeously compelling.

Rider-Waite-Smith

In 1909 AE Waite commissioned Pamela Colman-Smith to do the art for a Tarot deck later published by the Rider Company. It was the very first Tarot to use fully-realized scenes for the pip cards and quickly became the American standard. Often labeled as Rider-Waite decks, many Tarot enthusiasts honor Colman-Smith’s contribution by naming her too.

The original RWS deck is available in several sizes and coloring styles: the Commemorative, the Original, the Radiant, etc. Beyond that, this is such a popular deck that the market is flooded with “RWS clones” and “RWS-inspired” decks. Clones redraw and/or recolor the original art but otherwise exactly copy it (thank you copyright interruptions!), while inspired decks use much of the same symbology but put their own spin on the actual art.

rws-cards

Here we have a string of RWS clones. They are from, in order: the Rider-Waite Tarot, the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot, the 8-Bit Tarot, the Golden Tarot, and the International Icon Tarot.

rws-insp-cards

These RWS inspired cards have a lot more variation, but their heritage is obvious. They are, in order, from the Gilded Tarot, the Fenestra Tarot, the Hanson-Roberts Tarot, the Sacred Isle Tarot, the Tarot of the White Cats, and the Wizards Tarot.

RWS decks are by far the dominant style in the US. When most of us think “Tarot deck” it’s an RWS deck we picture. Because of that, learning to read Tarot with one is fairly standard. Many Tarot teachers and Tarot books recommend starting with one, too. I have to disagree. In my opinion RWS decks usually (but not always) add more complications to the process of learning Tarot than necessary. That can be a stumbling block for those new to it.

There are more accessible approaches. I suggest beginners start with one of these other decks, get comfortable with Tarot basics, and then tackle one of the many gorgeous RWS decks available. In my experience, learning Tarot is less frustrating and overwhelming when we can ease into it a bit.

Thoth 

Lady Frieda Harris painted the original Thoth deck according to directions from Aleister Crowley, who called them The Book of Thoth and wrote a companion book for them. Some of the cards were painted as many as eight times over the course of five years! A limited edition was published in 1944 and the deck was published for a wider audience in 1969.

Since then artists have created their own intensely layered artworks based on the Thoth framework, leading to the birth of this style family. This is the third most common style, behind the RWS and the TdM.

Decks in this style are a radical departure from TdM and RWS decks. The original Thoth deck incorporated elements from many different philosophies and magickal traditions, ranging from  Kabbalah and I Ching to Western magick and Egyptian mysticism. It also debuted a new way to number and name the cards, changed established associations and correspondences, completely overhauled the Court cards, etc. Decks based on the Thoth deck use the same unified-magpie approach but come at it from areas Crowley didn’t, giving a wide variety of expressions to the core ideas.

thoth

Several examples of Thoth decks. They are from, in order: the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot, the Haindl Tarot, the Kingdom Within Tarot, the Magickal Tarot, and the Via Tarot.

Using a Thoth deck well requires familiarity with Crowley’s work and a lot of study. In the hands of a skilled reader, though, they can be extraordinary. These are absolutely not beginner cards.

New Approaches

This style family includes all of the new, different, and unique decks on the market that can’t be easily lumped in with the other style families.

A definite product of its time, The New Tarot was channeled by Ouija board and published in 1969. It was the first modern deck to break from the more established style families. The Mountain Dream Tarot by Bea Nettles came out in 1975 and was the first deck based on photographs. The following year we got the first deck based on a non-Western culture (The Xultun Tarot), and in 1981 the first round deck (The Motherpeace Tarot) came out. The Motherpeace Tarot was also the first feminist-based deck to find widespread distribution. As artists and readers experiment and push the limits of what Tarot can be, more and more decks join this style family.

New Approaches decks can vary from the other style families by taking singular artistic approaches, using nonstandard symbol sets, including a few additional cards, going with different names and/or orders for the cards, etc. Most use a combination of the above.

pm-and-experimental

See what I mean about variety? SO. MANY. OPTIONS! In the first row, we have, in order: the New Tarot, The Mountain Dream Tarot, the Xultun Tarot, the Motherpeace Tarot, the Darkana Tarot, and the Voyager Tarot. In the second row, we have, in order: Tarot in the Land of Mysterium, the Goddess Tarot, the Australian Animal Tarot, the Dante Tarot, the Dreampower Tarot, and the Merlin Tarot.

Oracle Cards

This category includes all the other cards used for divination and/or self-exploration that aren’t Tarot. That doesn’t mean they can’t complement Tarot – Lenormand cards are gaining a following among Tarot readers, for instance – but they are completely different systems.

In addition to the aforementioned Lenormand cards, this category includes Minchiate cards, angel oracle decks, animal wisdom cards, affirmation decks, and playing cards used for divination, among others.

Tarot decks contain 78 cards spread across 5 suits – one for the Major Arcana and four in the Minor Arcana. The four Minor Arcana suits include four Court cards each. Names and orders may change, meanings may be tweaked, but all of these elements are present in a Tarot deck.

Oracle cards are way more free form. They can have any number of cards, follow any rules they like, and create their own structure as they go. The art can range from incredibly simple to ornate, and many include quotations.

oracle-cards

Oracle cards. Here we have a card from the 45-card Archangel Oracle, a card from the 44-card Rumi Oracle, and a card from the 80-card Archetype Cards.

Some are simpler than Tarot, but others (like the 97-card Minchiate cards) are more complex. While most are packaged with the only book you’ll need to understand them, information on others can be scant. Make sure you have the info you need to get started before investing in one of these.

*There are other types of Tarot decks, specifically historical ones, that I didn’t cover here because they’re not widely referred to or used. If you’d like to learn more about these other styles check out Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Tarot: A Comprehensive Guide.

The Mythic Tarot – Tarot Review

As many of you know I’ve been hard at work on my new and unique Tarot deck. Add in the fact that I’m now advertising my reading services and I’ve been breathing Tarot. Because of that, I thought it would be wonderful to present some of my Tarot favorites and go into a bit about why I like them. Even if you don’t read Tarot, the symbolism is fabulous and the art is gorgeous.

Yes, this will be a series. 🙂 Bring on the Tarot reviews!

To kick things off I thought I would start with my favorite deck for beginners. And it’s not the Rider-Waite!

The Cards

The Mythic Tarot was first published in 1986 and has gone on to become a classic. There are now two versions, though. The Mythic Tarot is the original, and the New Mythic Tarot has redrawn the art while keeping the meanings and associations. The art of the original is kinda meh – I’m not a fan of this style, and even within the style the figures are very stiff-looking – but I loathe the art of the New Mythic Tarot. Loathe it. It’s a personal preference, and I’m sure there are a ton of people who prefer the new one, but there ya go.

The Eight of Swords from the Mythic Tarot is displayed next to the Eight of Swords from the New Mythic Tarot.

The Eight of Swords. The original Mythic Tarot is on the left, and the New Mythic Tarot is on the right. And I have to ask – what the hell, y’all?

Either way the art’s not the reason I recommend the Mythic to beginners. It’s the structure that sets this deck apart.

Every card of the Major Arcana is based on a story or figure from Greek mythology, and most of us are at least a little familiar with that without trying. That gives us a little familiarity right from the start.

Additionally, the image on the card isn’t meant to be symbolic solely on its own, it’s meant to evoke underlying mythic associations in the reader. How nifty is that? Not only does it lend scope to the reading, it makes the meanings of the cards MUCH easier to remember.

majors

The Lovers depicts the Judgment of Paris, The Star shows Pandora opening the box, and The High Priestess encapsulates Persephone’s story.

The Minors (1-10) are set up in a similar fashion, but each suit is a story. Every card reveals the next stage of the narrative in a linear fashion. The story of Eros and Psyche, from meeting through struggles to happily-ever-after, makes up the Cups. We learn about Daedalus the Artisan and get to see how success and failure manifest throughout his life in the Pentacles. Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece is depicted in the Wands.  Orestes and the curse on his family are explored through the Swords, and I really appreciate how this deck doesn’t try to downplay the conflicts of this suit or the story.

Through this story-based technique the memorization required for 40 cards is handily reduced to four stories, prompted by the pictures on each card but not limited by them. I love that, and it helped me move from book-reliant reader to intuitive reader.

The Court cards are my least favorite part of this deck, but for me that’s pretty par for the course. (I don’t tend to like Court cards. *shrug*) Each figure is associated with their own story, and while they’re harder to remember than the Majors they still serve the purpose.

Using the Cards

If you’re an experienced reader the booklet that comes with the deck should be fine. You’ll need it, though, because while these are very close to standard Rider-Waite meanings they’re not exact. If you’re new to Tarot in general I’d recommend picking up The Mythic Tarot Workbook with the deck. It offers exercises for getting more in touch with the stories and symbology of the cards, giving a much firmer foundation to start with.

Available here.