Long time no see !
Work has taken most of my time lately. Well, I guess this is how life works. Anyway, here I am again, blogging tarot once again.
Today’s blog post is not about the Thoth Tarot but on tarot on a more general level. As I was writing a post for my main (French) blog on the Tarot of the Witches by Fergus Hall, I thought I’d talk a little about the perfect deck on here.
I often write (or film) tarot and oracle deck reviews and I often complain about how this deck’s cardboard is shitty or that deck’s cards are too sticky and won’t shuffle well. So what makes a “perfect” (or at least a good) deck ?
The deck it-self : system, illustrations, theme, symbols… etc
Tarot collectors, myself included, tend to overlook these characteristics when we review a deck. Mostly, I guess, because we assume that everybody understand the deck is a good one (that’s why we bought it in the first place): the system (Thoth, Marseille, RWS, or something completely unique to the author) is working, the artwork pleases us, the theme is in our interest range and so on.
However, this might be the most important part when deciding if a deck is a good one for you because this IS by essence the deck, not the cardboard or the presence or not of borders. For instance, I don’t like the crappy cardboard of the Wildwood Tarot, nor do I liked (I cropped them on mine) the wide, useless, white borders BUT I think this deck is great. Awesome ! The symbolism and the theme are my style. The illustrator is one of my favourite pagan artist and I appreciate deeply the work of the authors. In a nutshell, the deck is, in my humble opinion a very good one even if the item is crap.
If I had to pick a “perfect tarot” according to the system, theme or illustrations (useless to say that it is the hardest thing ever) I guess I’d go for either the Thoth, the Arthurian or the Druidcraft tarot (with the Wyldwood in the 4th place). But honestly, most of the decks I own I love (I just thought of the Mary-El and the Cheimonette, Merlin’s pants I love those too !). That is why I bought them in the first place.
Another deck I could consider being a “perfect” deck in a way, is the RWS. Mostly because it is a basic, a must-have. Easy to use and neutral enough, I always recommend it to beginners.
The item : cardboard quality, sharp printing, card size, borders…etc
This is what we (tarot reviewers) mostly
complain talk about when we review a deck : how it is made. Logically, if you researched a deck before buy it, you most likely like the system/pics/theme so you, I, focus on the things that disappoint us : cardboard quality, sharpness of the print, borders (presence or absence)… etc
To me there is not one perfect deck when it comes to that. For instance, I love big cards like the Druidcraft tarot or the Tarot Noir. Love, love them ! But if they’re great at home, they’re not handy on the go, nor to poker shuffle. In terms of cardboard quality, my favourite has to be the Arthurian Tarot (I own a French edition, slightly different from the original version). Sturdy, well laminated and with nice rounded corners. A dream even if it is not the most shuffleable (does this word even exist ?) deck.
The Tarot of the Witches (Fergus Hall, 1973) is, to my hands, the most comfortable to work with. The cards glide and shuffle well, especially when I do it the poker way. I could handle them 24/7.
Some cards’ quality however is nightmarish. I’ve already talked about the Wyldwood but I own a couple others whose cardboard is as crappy as this one. The Mystic Faery Tarot is one of them. I don’t know if it is unique to the French edition but the cards are way too thin and way too glossy !
The literature : companion, LWB …etc
Last but not least, I consider the literature available to be quite important. Is the little white book (LWB) well written ? Are they other companion books available ?
Many people grumble about how useless the LWB are, how they are empty shells … etc. I personally don’t really care that much. Yes, I do bitch about it and yes, when I come across a good LWB I feel like Christmas is coming up early but I don’t mind that much.
On the other hand, when the companion book in a set does not live up to what I expected, I really get upset. LWB have the excuse to be small objects, to be tucked in a box. Companions on the other hand are supposed to be more complete and not filled with a mix of general informations, Celtic Cross spreads and stuff for the author’s previous books. To me a good tarot set means a good tarot deck AND a good companion book.
My favourite are : the Druidcraft tarot companion (holy smoke I love this book !) and the Mary-El one. I also find the books regarding the Thoth Tarot most interesting and the book by Kaplan about the Tarot of the Witches too. It’s not marvellous and more of a booklet but for the size, I found it quite informative.
In the end, there is no such thing as a perfect tarot. First because every reader is different, with different expectations and also because as we grow, our focus on what makes a good deck may change, evolve, mutate. I haven’t found the perfect deck yet, I have collected many amazing pieces though !
Hope you liked this post and found it, at least a tiny bit informative.
Have a great week and keep shuffling !