New Tarot decks sprout like mushrooms. You take a stroll in the Tarot Woods and behold, there are four new decks before you, to your right there are two, on the left, three. And you even stepped on one, darn. They’re everywhere.
I don’t expect ‘a miracle’ when I see a new deck. I already have a miracle deck, that’s my Waite-Smith right here. No, my standards are pretty low, I’d say. Just the Majors, fine by me. Unillustrated pips, sure. Back pattern that doesn’t go with reversals – not a problem. A deck that doesn’t follow any pre-existing philosophy, bring it on. See, I’m easy.
A new deck needs to be – for lack of a better word – intact. It needs to be whole, like an apple is whole. Not an apple that’s got a carrot sticking out. An example of this would be a deck which has a charming parade of Major Arcana figures only to confront a Minor Arcana figures from hell. If the whole deck looks like it’s from hell then there’s no problem (see, it’s intact). A small problem to me is if you can’t really distinguish the Majors from the Minors. Not a serious problem, but a problem. I don’t want 78 look-a-likes. Smelly cards – a problem, but one that doesn’t stop me from buying the deck if it’s otherwise good. You can always incense them inside out. Bad printing material – here’s a bigger problem. Big companies.. small expense.. make it smaller, lower the standards. "Tell the Chinese to use half the amount!" Sorry, until you go back to that standard card stock I’m not buying. Also, there are plenty of both old and new decks that deserve a bigger format. A good example of this is the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law; awesomely beautiful deck that needs to be appreciated in a Bigger format (another problem is the material of the current ed.). Going through the cards with a magnifying glass can be fun but it’s not very practical while doing readings.
When it comes to the actual anatomy of the deck, I’m a downright Nazi. If it doesn’t have 22 Majors then it’s not a Tarot deck. I might still buy it, read with it, love it, but it’s not a Tarot deck. Also, I do appreciate if the 22 Majors at least try to look like trump cards, iconographically speaking. No need to underline things but it’s always a good thing if you don’t have to guess what card it is you are holding. Before I end my Confessio I’ll say one more thing to any artist working on a deck, now or in the future: Do something original, please. We have enough of Waite-Smith clones, even Crowley-Harris-Thoth clones. Study the system, find out what’s out there, learn it by heart. Then go back and create magic.
Okay, here are some new decks (this is what I thought this post would really be about) that I’ve ordered recently or will order as soon as they are available, both Tarot and not – all of them created with magic, if you ask me: