Disclaimer: I received a copy of this deck from Weiser Books in exchange for a review. Bonus for all US mailing address readers, Weiser gave me a special 33% off discount code JYMI which you can use on the whole site! This link expires 01/JAN/2020.
The Alchemical Visions Tarot
By Arthur Taussig, PhD.
Published by: Weiser Books
When people think of tarot decks, they think of hand-sized cards with pictures on them which are used to divine fortunes or give advice. Not all decks are created equal and The Alchemical Visions Tarot is unique in its design. This is an oversized deck. At 5” by 7” it’s one of the bigger sized decks I’ve held. Which leaves me to the notion its creator, Arthur Taussig, PhD., crafted this deck for a specific purpose of reflection, self discovery, and deep dives into the study of alchemy and other occult sciences.
This deck is 10 years in the making. Taussig spent a lot of time studying alchemy, Kabbalah, archetypes, and psychology to bring this deck to life. He even did his own deep dive into tarot studies with the Marseilles tarot and the Rider Waite Smith deck where he would spend many days in close comparison studies with each system. All of this study led him to carefully craft The Alchemical Visions Tarot. His goal for this deck was “to respect the past, summon the mystical powers within the cards, and yet be a deck that would visually speak to the modern Traveler on the path of individuation.” And I think he hit his mark.
In a recent discussion on Tarot Visions, Rose Red, Benebell Wen, and myself spoke about the idea of an everyday tarot versus the occult tarot. For me, The Alchemical Visions Tarot is a perfect example of an occult deck. The oversized cards feature a unique combination of intricate imagery: black and white backgrounds which brightly colored figures are placed in the forefront. This combination of styles lends itself well to a deep-dive study of the occult practices it contains, and the idea of using a deck to understand one’s self better. An occult deck has thicker card stock, is oversized so it can stand up or be placed somewhere for reflection and study, and makes the reader think about connections relating back to themselves and various metaphysical studies. While the every day reading deck is smaller, fit in the hand, has card stock which is easy to shuffle, and can be interpreted intuitively.
I am not sure I could read with this deck for every day use. And that is fine with me. For this deck, like Wen’s Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, and many other occult tarot decks which come before them, is a great study deck. One you will want to savor the imagery slowly and you uncover the intricate details and symbolism contained within each card. This is a deck which will change your outlook of tarot and the world you live in once you work with it. The deck itself comes with a 182 page companion book. The book contains a short introduction to Taussig’s work, and the practices he taught himself to create the deck. Then each card is explained in detail with meanings and occult lore. The book does not include spreads, which also lends in to the idea that this tarot is meant for self-study.
The box is also a nice touch. It is made of a sturdy, thick cardboard and closes with magnets. Weiser Books crafted a lovely presentation with both cardstock and box, and The Alchemical Visions Tarot will last a long time. The printing for the book is not set in a standard book size. The typeset is small, so it may be harder to read. I would love to know if Weiser offers a pdf version of the book for the vision impaired.
Bottom Line: If you want to go deep in a deck study then The Alchemical Visions Tarot is perfect for you. This deck has a wonderful archaic feel in that it reflects medieval alchemical paintings, combined with modern day lore. The oversized cards allow for a better view of all the minute details.