Blog, Decks, Reviews

Review: Archeon Tarot

Sample Images of the Archeon Tarot.

Deck by Timothy Lanz
Published by US Games Systems
ISBN 0 978-1-57281-488-2

The Archeon Tarot is a very personal deck. It contains the personal mythology and beliefs of visionary artist Timothy Lantz. The Archeon Tarot defines and explores Lantz’s symbolism and mythology in a very contemporary and graphic fashion. The card’s imagery is absolutely stunning. Lantz uses a digital canvas to create the cards and explore the very depths of his soul. Long before this tarot deck was even published, I had seen images of the cards on his website. And I was impressed with what I saw. The cards are a wonderful blend of dark, gothic, carnivale mixed with elements of the mystical and fantastic. But don’t let the darkness of the deck’s imagery fool you because within each card there is a strong sense of light and beauty. Each card’s image contains dazzling backgrounds and characters expressing realistic emotions; each layer thick with symbolism. Even the cards’ back include snippets of Lantz’s personal mythology and symbolism.

The little white book (LWB) that accompanies the deck helps guide the reader through Lantz’s world. It begins with a personal definition on his art. He defines the title of the deck, Archeon, as having a relationship with archeology, where “those who consult the Archeon Tarot sift through the layers of the cards, thus finding a way to harvest order and meaning from chaotic or seemingly unrelated events of life.” Which is a perfect description of what a tarot reader these days seeks to do. The LWB continues on to describe the cards, helping the reader peel away the mystery of these gorgeous cards. Lantz describes the Major arcana in detail beginning with quote that best fits the card’s mood. He goes on to describe the card’s imagery and offers suggestions for both upright and inverted meanings. All of which help to add and elaborate on the personal mythology and symbolism contained in the deck.

It’s hard to find any faults in this deck. I would have liked to see the minor arcana and court cards covered in detail just as much as the major arcana but this only begs for an expanded book to be written about this unique and creative deck. I strongly recommend this tarot deck for enthusiasts who admire the beauty of decks like the Vertigo Tarot or readers looking for a very modern interpretation of tarot. I know I am very much looking forward to working with The Archeon Tarot and exploring the personal mythology of Timothy Lantz and how it relates to my own life.

Blog, Decks, Reviews

Review: Dante Tarot

Images from the Dante Tarot

Artwork by Andrea Serio
Written by Giordano Berti
Published by Lo Scarabeo, distributed by Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN 0-73870177-7

I love The Dante Tarot for its bright vivid colors and how they contrast to the dark symbolism many of the cards represent. I have always been a fan of Dante’s Inferno and when this deck got published, I immediately ordered a copy. The imagery does not disappoint me at all. This deck offers a rather interesting and unique perspective into tarot and its meanings. However, the design of the deck being radically nontraditional in suite and meanings, does tend to make me think that this tarot deck is better for collectors than for doing readings. It’s certainly not for the faint at heart.

The Dante Tarot is a non-traditional 78 card deck. Black backgrounds with the title (and/or number) of the card appear on top of every card. In typical Lo Scarabeo style, the names of the cards are printed in 4 other languages below the central artwork. The design of the card’s backing appears like a chess board, with a castle one one side with a person writing and a landscape with a knight riding a dark horse on the other.

Andrea Serio painted the artwork and it’s her unique style that makes this deck noteworthy. Done in watercolor and pencil, Serio’s images are rather dreamy and does a good job of representing Dante’s ideals. Even the box the cards are kept in contains original artwork. However, I found it hard to associate many of the images on the cards to their meanings (traditional or otherwise) as the arcana switch between ideas and people throughout the entire deck. The Dante Tarot also comes with 2 variations of the King of Fire (Swords). One depicting an beast-like character while the other is more scenic in nature. The pamphlet that comes with the deck does not give any explanations as to why they did this.

The deck deviates from a standard deck with its minor arcana names. It replaces Swords with Fire, Coins (pentacles) with Clouds, Wands with Bricks and the Cups with Lights. The deck comes with a LWB; according to it, the symbolism was changed to conform more to the standards Dante wrote about in his works, mainly The Divine Comedy. The second way the Dante Tarot deviates from standard decks is in it’s interpretations. It does not follow the Rider-Waite and Crowley interpretations of the cards. For example, the Fool, normally represented by most decks as new beginnings and adventures now becomes “Need. Eccentric behavior, recklessness, and material or psychological problems”.

The card stock used to print the cards on is thicker and glossier than other decks. At first I thought this was a good thing making the deck appear as if it would last longer. However, this made shuffling the cards harder to do without damaging the darker edges of the cards. The LWB seems to be designed as a reference guide only and it does not go into great depth on each card’s imagery and meaning. This was a bit disappointing since The Dante Tarot seems different from other decks. However, there are two different layouts inside the booklet.

Because of the dramatic changes in the meanings and the inability to quickly “connect” with the cards, they make the deck almost unapproachable for me as a reader to utilize quickly as a divination deck. It would take a great deal of studying this deck and practicing readings using the methods the LWB describes for one to adequately use the Dante Tarot for divination. I do, however, love the imagery and believe that it would make a great companion to those studying Dante and his Divine Comedy.

Blog, Decks, Reviews

Review: The Fey Tarot

The Fey Tarot box and sample cards from Llewellyn

Artwork by Mara Aghem
Written by Riccardo Minetti
Published by Lo Scarabeo, distributed by Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN 0-7387-0280-3

The Fey Tarot distills the best of both worlds in tarot and the art of Japanese anime and recombines them into something new and exciting. Written by Riccardo Minetti, featuring the artwork of Mara Aghem, this deck is wonderful for both the young at heart and in age. The tarot presented here is lighthearted and kind, “bringing no shadows.” However, this lightness does not eliminate the darkness of traditional tarot decks; instead, The Fey Tarot subdues and twists the negative card meanings inwards. In doing so, this set becomes easily accessible and understood by children.

“The Fey Tarot is a deck full of life,” writes Riccardo Minetti, the author of the enclosed book. There cannot be anything closer to the truth. The bold colors of the cards contrast with the simplicity of the design, creating a uniquely magical and deftly detailed series of story-cards. Each whole card is alive; from the attention paid to the expression in each creature’s eyes to the way the fey’s world blends into the card. Using a combination of unique and bold color palettes, Mara Aghem brings the center focus of each card straight into the emotions the images evoke. Every creature’s face, every part of their actions, contains realistic emotions. Each card becomes a theater for the mind?s eye; where the fey perform on center stage teaching their lessons and showing their perspectives and views of the world and the meaning of life. The cards beg to be played with and explored.

The book is also a masterpiece. At 156 pages long, it delves deeper into the concepts and ideas that made this deck possible. It begins with the core foundations and beliefs of the artwork, going straight into designer Aghem’s mind showing how she developed the cards’ sketches and emotions. Then it introduces the mysterious history of the tarot, and how the fey are a perfect match for this divination tool. Lastly, the cards themselves are described in detail, Minetti adding layer upon layer of insight and meaning into the simple but intricate artwork. The book ends by showing 4 unique spreads to use the cards with, from simple 3 cards on up to complex 8 card designs.

The Fey Tarot is a great addition to tarot enthusiasts’ collections. This is the product of the first collaboration between Minetti and Aghem (hopefully not the last). This deck marks a new perspective on deck design for the new millennium. It also moves away from traditional meanings of the cards giving them a fresh and playful twist. I would also recommend this deck as a great way to introduce young children to the modern world of the tarot, as it presents a very accessible and non-threatening view of the tarot and its concepts.