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Victorian Romantic Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $13.36

ProductID: alt1207

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About this item
  • The Victorian Romantic Tarot is based on original engravings from 19th century artists, perfectly collaged to create fully-
  • illustrated, Rider-Waite-based Tarot scenes. It's available for order in gold and standard editions.

Name Victorian Romantic Tarot
Creators Alex Ukolov, Karen Mahony
Publisher agic Realist Press 2006
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Rider-Waite-Smith
Minor Arcana Style RWS-Based Scenes
The Fool is 0
Strength is 11
Justice is 8
Card Size 3.07 x 5.04 in. = 7.80cm x 12.80cm
Card Language English
Card Back Reversible

the companion book to the ictorian Flower Oracle designed by the formidable team who are the Magic Realist Press, namely Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov. These two have now brought out this new Tarot deck, their fifth, which I come to purely as a reader. I have had no input into this project-but I would have been immensely proud if I had.

This is a Tarot deck in the Rider-Waite tradition, and as far a from being a clone as is possible. It contains the usual 78 cards, of which 22 are Major Arcana and 56 are Minor Arcana, the latter divided up into the suits of Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. But the Major Arcana are not actually numbered, so it's entirely up to you whether you perceive Strength and Justice as 8 and 11 respectively or the other way round. The Major Arcana have the usual names.

Each card is printed on good-quality cardstock, neither flimsy nor rigid, and has an intricately-designed back which could be used in a reading that involves reversals. The colour printing can only be described as exceptional ; there is nothing gaudy or harsh on the eyes but the colours are too vibrant to be described as muted. The whole range of colour is used, my own favourites being the superb turquoise (Ace of Cups, The Chariot, The Star), and the fresh leafy green (The Empress, The World). As author of the companion book to the Victorian Flower Oracle, I am pleased but not surprised to see beautiful flowers on many of the cards, the roses tumbling out of the huge basket on The World card, for starters.

And what of the artwork ? Many Victorian passions and obsessions are here. There is medievalism , one example being The Lovers, who are Dante and Beatrice. There is also orientalism, the love of the exotic, especailly anything Egyptian; the Emperor is an Egyptian pharoah. The Classical world appears on several cards; my favourite of these is the Eight of Wands, a marvellously dynamic image of Hercules racing the Ceryneian Deer. And no self-respecting Victorian deck could be without its nymphs and fairies; this one has quite a few. The Judgement card is most unusual in this respect, showing not an angel with a trumpet but Oberon and Titania with their diminutive cohorts. Then there are a great number of genre pictures depicting, among other things, children, circuses, a tragedy at sea, the pathos of the poor. There are dramatic scenes and tranquil scenes, historical scenes and domestic ones. There is sorrow and drama, playfulness and humour.

As Karen points out, the depiction of women throughout the deck varies enormously. There is the elegant Queen of Wands and the woman in the Ace of Cups who is really a fae. There are several women from the poor sections of society, some eeking out a living as best they can and some doing rather better than that-the whiteface on The Fool card, for example, and the circus troupe on the Four of Wands. There is a Russian princess and there is a lion-trainer. In short, any stereotyped picture we have of Victorian women is challenged ; there aren't many prim and proper ladies here and there is only one passive woman, the slave-girl in the Eight of Swords, included because her passivity is essential to the card's meaning.

At this point, I'd like to focus on some specific cards. Whilst deriving inspiration from Rider-Waite, the creators of this deck have not been slavish to that tradition. The Magician is very old, a venerable-looking man with a long white beard. We read that he is Faust, the seventeenth-century magician reputed to have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for magical skill. The Hierophant is one of the few Hierophants I am able to relate to ; gone is the stern Pope-figure, and instead we see an Islamic teacher, pupils at his feet. We are presented with a sombre, hardworking environment that is very much at ease with itself, watched over by a clearly benevolent man. One of the decks' most powerful cards, appropriately, is Strength. We are used to the image of woman with lion but here is a woman surrounded by both lions and lionesses ! The woman is a lion-trainer : brave, skilled, totally calm. Tellingly, she is not subduing the beasts, nor is she being intimidated by them. She is working with them in a spirit of total respect and, consequently, reaping the rewards. The image works as a striking piece of art-adapted from an engraving that shows Daniel in the Lions' Den-and it works as Tarot. This marriage of Victorian art and Tarot meaning is one of the strongest aspects of this deck. Though there are many very attractive images, and some pretty ones ( such as Six of Cups showing young children entranced by the first snowfall of winter), no image is just here as eye-candy.

I hope it has become obvious that these cards are a joy to read with, containing enough that is traditional whilst offering images that are well-chosen, deep and multi-layered. There are several spreads given in the companion book ; I found "Looking Back, Looking Forward" particularly insightful. But I've also found meditating with these cards to be an interesting and rewarding experience. As artwork, they provide much enjoyment and are deepening my love of , and appreciation for, Victorian things in general. And I can see all sorts of opportunities here for creative writing-selecting a card at random, for example, and then running with the image as image, not worrying too much about the usual interpretation and possibly diverging from it in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Another creative exercise would be to select five or six, say, cards, line them up and then just launch into a narrative. This could be either written or spoken ; I sense the latter could be particularly effective with a group of children.

Could a beginner use this deck ? I think so. It's traditional enough to give a grounding in Tarot, specifically Rider-Waite, while being much more aesthetically pleasing (no offence to Pamela Coleman-Smith). I suspect the many Victoriana freaks out there would snap this up, Tarot knowledge or not. Note : For lovers of Limited Editions, there is a Gold version, still available at the time of writing (late October 2006). The images are the same, except that there is an extra Lovers card-more physical and obviously erotic than the Dante and Beatrice- and the gold has been added very subtly, not in the form of gold foil but in the form of gold ink. In short, an edition best appreciated by candlelight. Whilst the Standard Victorian Romantic can be purchased in many places, the Gold Edition is only available from Karen and Alex's studio in Prague.

Combine shipping is possible.

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