Review: Smith-Waite Borderless Tarot

Review: Smith-Waite Borderless Tarot

Smith-Waite Tarot TemperanceBy now, everybody is familiar with the images in the Rider-Smith-Waite Tarot. After all, they’re the images that cemented the symbolism of tarot, and virtually every other deck since has used those cards as a basis for its own images. But no matter how well you know the Rider-Smith-Waite (RSW) Tarot, you’ll see them in a whole new light in the new Smith-Waite Borderless Tarot from US Games.

For this deck, US Games has sought to depict the images as accurately to Pamela Colman Smith’s original work as possible. It might seem hyperbolic to call the end result “transcendent”, but that’s really what we have here. The artwork here is pristine and clear, avoiding the overly-mimeographed quality that can sometimes come from the standard RSW. There is almost no color bleed here, the lines and text are cleaner, and the overall color palette is warmer and more muted. The images possess a timeless quality while also having a kind of charming antiquity. The cards could easily be used as a prop for a high-budget period film right out the box.

Smith-Waite Tarot BackOne of the nicest elements of the deck is the card backs. Instead of the harsh, crisscrossing lines of the standard RSW deck, the Smith-Waite has a rich green back with a white rose in the center. Astute observers will note that it’s the same white rose from the flag on the Death card. In the corners of the back are Smith’s signature, giving the deck a distinct ownership. Waite may have told Smith what to illustrate, but this deck is more hers than his.

But no matter how beautiful the cards are, what’s important is how it reads, and the Smith-Waite reads beautifully. Even for those of us who don’t necessarily connect with the RSW, this deck reads very easily, having an accessible and open kind of energy. The lack of borders also helps to bring the artwork front and center, emphasizing the composition and structure of the symbols on each card. The one drawback to reading with the deck is the cardstock. While sturdy and fine, the cards are rather thick and slick right out of the box. You may need to do some extra shuffling to loosen them up and read on a good, velvet mat to make sure the cards don’t slide around.

Smith-Waite Tarot DuetOne of the deck’s most interesting features is the addition of four cards depicting other artwork by Smith. Several of these were included as postcards in US Games’ previously-released Smith-Waite Commemorative box set. The Little White Book inside the deck does not assign a divinatory meaning to any of the cards, and they are not given a number or place in the deck itself. However, there’s no reason that they can’t be incorporated into the deck for readings. Each of the cards’ art was inspired by a corresponding piece of music or theatre from sources as diverse as Schumann, Stravinsky, and George William Russell. Like the rest of the cards in the deck, these four pieces have multiple layers of meaning that can be explored. The meaning of each card is therefore left up to the reader, giving an extra personal edge to any readings done with them.

Smith-Waite Tarot King of PentaclesThe Smith-Waite deck is, frankly, a gorgeous addition to any tarot enthusiast’s library. While it may initially seem to be just another variation on the most common and popular deck of all time, it is in reality its own thing. Softer, but somehow more resonant than the original, and equal parts nostalgia and reinvention, it’s a great deck for beginners and veterans alike.

Which Witchy Tarot is Right for You?

Which Witchy Tarot is Right for You?

By Susan Lynx

Wicca and witchcraft are popular subjects for tarot decks, and there are several available here at the Eye of Horus. Three decks in particular have special appeal for folks who are interested in Wicca or other neo-Pagan paths. All of them include very good books, not just a “little white booklet”, and each of them have very distinct styles of art and commentary. We have open demo decks for each in the shop you can see all the cards in each deck and compare.

The Witches’ Tarot by Ellen Dugan, Art by Mark Evans
Ellen Dugan is the author of several books on witchcraft, and this deck reflects her emphasis on personal empowerment. The art is photo-realistic but still has a mystical flavor. The faces are well-chosen for the various cards and beautifully rendered. The book includes spreads such as the Triple Goddess layout, and even features spells using the cards.

My favorite card is The Moon, showing Hecate with her wolves. Eye of Horus did a full review of the deck when it first came out. (In fact, Ellen Dugan had her launch Party at Eye of Horus. Click here to read that article

 

The Green Witch Tarot by Ann Moura, Art by Kiri Østergaard Leonard
Ann Moura has done a great job remaking the Major Arcana for people who wish to deepen their personal relationship to nature, the elements, and Earth magic. At the same time the images are compatible with general Rider-Waite-Smith concepts. Every borderless card includes a plant and animal symbol, and each one is explained in the book, so it is a great way to expand your knowledge. Kiri Østergaard Leonard’s art is soft-edged and luminous yet captures plenty of detail. I appreciate that several of the images are racially diverse.

My favorite card is The Lovers, named here The Lady and The Lord.

The Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake, Art by Elisabeth Alba
Deborah Blake has authored several books on witchcraft, and she is known for her down-to-earth style and wit. The colors of The Everyday Witch Tarot are vivid and lively but not garish. The cards display the familiar symbols of witch’s hat, broom, cauldron and cat familiar in scenes ranging from medieval to modern. Some images are purposely androgynous, which I appreciate. The book goes beyond traditional meanings of the cards in a section called “Things to Consider” with questions and suggestions for applying each card to your life.

I couldn’t pick a single favorite card, because I like The Moon and The Tower so much. They reflect power and humor at the same time. Read Jane’s First Impressions of the Every Day Witch Tarot here>

Susan Lynx is available for tarot readings at the Eye of Horus. Schedule your appointment with Susan today through our website!

Witches Tarot Deck by Ellen Dugan – Inside the Box

Witches Tarot Deck by Ellen Dugan – Inside the Box

Back of the Witches Tarot Cards - Triple moon in stars

Witches Tarot Back

Review by Jane R Hansen

How do you make a Tarot Deck for Witches: No, not the pointy-hat halloween kind of witches, but Wiccans and others who practice the Craft of the Wise?  Well, I suppose it’s like stirring a good spell. You bring everything you know to the table and select just the right ingredients to get the job done, and you work with nature, make room for the magick, and create a clear image to manifest. This seems to be what Ellen Dugan has done in her Witches Tarot, as she worked with award-winning illustrator Mark Evans to take the traditional symbols of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and brought in a supporting cast of plant, animal and otherworld folk. She also renamed four of the major arcana cards with slightly different names. But more on that later in this review.

Her companion guide spells it all out in detail. You can definitely read with the deck right out of the box, if you are adept with the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) type deck. The renamed Major Arcana make sense, and the rest of the art is mostly a variation on the “standard” art of the RWS deck.

Queen of Wands with cat on lap from Witches Tarot Deck

Queen of Wands

Flora and Fauna

For you herbalists and gardeners out there, pay attention to the plants in the cards. Ellen put some serious thought into the meanings… she isn’t known as “The Garden Witch” for nothing, you know. The Monkshood in the Ten of Swords. Not only is the plant poisonous, but in the language of flowers, monkshood says a foe is near.  This gives double weight to heed the warning of the card to pay attention to your instincts and keep your back to the wall! Throughout Witches Tarot, the flowers and plants have meaning and they are explained in the companion book.

Seven of Cups Witches Tarot Deck

Seven of Cups

What is a witch without her familiar? For you cat-lovers, our favorite familiars do show up in expected and unexpected places.  The Queen of wands has a friend on her lap, but the seven of cups also has a the kitty in a cup. Awe, isn’t that cute! But you’ll also find our feline friends on the High Priestess, Page of Wands, Two of Wands and the Three of pentacles. That’s not even counting the Lion in strength or on the World Card.

But wait, there’s more! Yes, as you wander through the world of Witches Tarot you’ll see a rabbit, stags, ravens, an eagle, hawks, lions, horses, an ibis, wolves, a dolphin, butterflies, dragonflies, a white hind and I’m sure there’s more I didn’t spot when compiling this listing. Best of all, with everything that’s in there, it never seems out of place. [Read more…]