I began my journey into Tarot with a traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck, you all know the one, the one with the infamous checked card back. It was sooooo traditional that it was from, like, the 70’s–it didn’t have a glossy finish. It felt like paper and didn’t have the dreaded copyright information on the card face. But when I moved out, I did the ‘right thing’ and gave the deck back to my mother and bought my own, new Rider-Waite-Smith (still with the checked back). Unfortunately, this meant having those glossy finished cards. I don’t like that plastic-y, glossy feel. I’ve been working with, and trying to learn those cards in some capacity on and off again for about a decade. The images are so complex, and there is just so much in them that I have constantly found it difficult to get all of the image associations packed into those cards. The images almost feel like helpful hints or cheat codes to help me decipher the cards. But my approach, it always felt a bit too academic–a bit too forced. I wasn’t connecting with the cards, but I was learning.
At some point on this path, I picked up the Justice League Tarot, and let me tell you, I cannot connect with the images to save my life. I cannot actually use this deck and do my best to make it somewhat useful. I can’t do card readings with this thing, I just can’t. I use it to provide a different perspective on cards I’ve already read. I carry the cards from this deck around as bookmarks all day because they don’t mean that much to me, so I don’t worry about ruining them or tainting them with bad energy. I use them every day. But goodness knows I don’t feel them at all. It doesn’t feel like the characters on these cards were carefully selected because they could represent the card meaning well, but because they needed someone from the DC universe to be the card. After reading reviews of the deck, I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t just me that struggles with this deck. It is in fact, a piss-poor tarot deck. It is great as a DC collectible art piece, and useless as a tarot deck. I think DC would have been better off making an oracle deck. That way they could start with art and figure out meanings later.
Within the past week, the most organic thing happened. I was about to leave my local game store (huge nerd here, why do you think I picked up the Justice League Tarot in the first place?) when the employee working said some joking comment as I was headed for the door. I turned around to say something equally playful back when I spotted it–it was sitting on the top center of their new-item display and it was even facing me. It was the Wild Unknown Tarot. I know this turns out to be a pretty popular deck, but before this deck, I had never explored the online tarot community. I didn’t know. I just say this deck and I saw Strength on the front and I connected and immediately bought it. This deck is amazing for me because the often simplistic images leave me more room to feel out the card meaning. I’m not relying on all tons and tons of helpful cheats in the Rider-Waite, I am interpreting Krans’ art. It is an amazing experience. I know more about tarot card meanings than I thought I did–I find myself able to understand them in a way which is consistent with some of what might be found in traditional interpretations. And this deck is less glossy and more paper-y. It is wonderful. I’ve been carrying it everywhere with me, safe in a little tarot bag. This deck is just amazing for me; the organic connection and kismet that led me here feels right. But I find myself missing my Rider-Waite.
I don’t want to go back to my original love just yet, I really want to get to know all the cards in the Wild Unknown and see where I’m at then. Maybe I’ll go back to my precious Rider then, or maybe I’ll be entirely enamored with this deck, or maybe I’ll be trying a new one. Regardless, I sometimes feel back for constantly using the same deck on this blog, but that is just the journey I am on. That is the path I must walk.
Links to the above mentioned decks:
Rider-Waite-Smith (I should note: there are several versions of this deck, this is the link to the checked card back version that I have and have worked with)