|The Bosch Tarot is like no other deck I’ve ever seen. In fact, the only deck even remotely comparable (and it too is highly individual!) is perhaps the Deviant Moon Tarot which conjures up another equally bizarre world, one of chilling, mechanistic industrial cityscapes, deserted cemeteries and disused mental asylums. By contrast, the strangely fantastical world of the Bosch Tarot is more vibrantly coloured and more varied: there are recognisably human individuals, hybrid part-human creatures as well as an array of non-earthly beings often quite monstrous in their appearance. Inspired by the paintings of fifteenth century Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch, Atanas Atanassov has certainly captured something of the mood and flavour of Bosch’s world, and of its often tortured or strangely distracted inhabitants.|
With the exception of a very serene-looking Empress (pictured above) and a very attentive male with again a serene-looking female in The Lover card, and a thoughtful-looking Hermit, none of the human figures in any of these cards looks particularly happy, and many look decidedly miserable. But they are, of course, all inhabitants of a world in which the existence of Heaven and Hell was an accepted fact of life.
The cards throughout the deck are bordered in black and all are stunning in their detail. Granted all responses are subjective, for me, this is a deck which – in having such amazingly complex and powerful imagery in the cards of the Minor Arcana – is strongest where so many other decks fail. This is far from being a traditional deck and some would probably feel that the artwork has wandered too far from what might be considered to be the core meanings of the cards. But I’d question just how fixed those core meanings are anyway, and their origins. Decks such as the Lenormand Tarot, for example, which have not evolved from the Waite-Coleman Smith lineage, also have many cards whose imagery is markedly different from that established by the Waite-Coleman Smith deck.
In some cards, what might be called this core meaning is still strongly present, although this is not always immediately evident; in others, the cards seem to be suggesting something very different. If this deck appeals to you, the only way to ascertain the meanings would be to work with it yourself, either through meditations on individual cards or by placing these cards next to the ones drawn in a reading you are doing with a deck you are more familiar with; and see what further insights each of the Bosch Tarot cards has to offer. For me, their uniqueness combined with the richness of the detail they offer strengthens the chances of them supporting intuitive readings.
The backs of the cards are extremely attractive and, for those who like to use reversals, are fully reversible. The design features, in miniature in sepia tones, 6 cards from the Minor Arcana, two rows of three cards; then the same 6 cards reversed: the 2 of Swords, the 8, 7 (pictured above) and 4 of Pentacles, and the 7 and 3 of Wands. If the images of this deck shown here appeal to you, this is a deck that can be guaranteed to provide you with many fresh ways of looking at most – if not all – of the cards in the deck.