|My first impressions of this deck were favourable. It is undoubtedly a deck which has many visually appealing and highly spiritual cards. Sadly, the more Iíve tried working with it, the more Iíve found it to be wanting, and the more extraordinary Iíve found its serious shortcomings to be. And Iíve wondered just how a publisher such as AGMŁller Ė which has produced so many excellent decks Ė can have marketed a deck which despite its strengths is also beset with a range of problems, each of which is likely to seriously limit the deckís accessibility for many who might otherwise have happily used it.|
First, there is the grossly inadequate LWB, which I discussed in a separate review, only to later discover Ė when reviewing the LWB for the Magic Manga Tarot Ė that the LWBs for these two decks, except for their covers, were identical! Any LWB written in generalities so that it can be used to accompany two Ė and who knows how many other Ė completely different decks is never going to meet anybodyís needs. So, if the cards in this deck appeal to you, accept that your explorations will be unsupported by any written guidelines: that essentially you will be on your own. Since I was happy to work towards my own understanding of the cards, initially I wasnít too worried that the LWB was so useless Ė until I became aware of other deeper problems.
A high percentage of the Minor Arcana cards have minimal pictorial information. For those who can successfully read from an ordinary playing deck without any pictorial imagery, that wonít pose a problem; but for those who like to work with a deck whose imagery speaks to them, this will inevitably create a barrier which in all likelihood will inhibit intuitive readings. So minimal is the pictorial image on many cards that I find Iím consciously seeking to draw on images from other decks Iím more familiar with to make sense of the cards which, for me, involves a shift out of an intuitive space into a left-brain space.
Many of the Major Arcana cards have pictorial material that is in some way at odds with even the broadest understanding of the archetypes. For me, The Magician is one of several cards whose imagery Iíve failed to make any sense of; The High Priestess Ė particularly odd in a Womenís Tarot Ė has the most masculine looking face of any High Priestess I have seen in any deck; The Emperor appears to have a halo; Justice looks like The Fool masquerading in another guise! The Hermit appears to be perhaps a sibling of both The Fool and Justice. The spirituality of his face could seem highly appropriate if there were not so many other spiritual faces, so many Fool-cum-Justice-cum Hermits not just in the Major Arcana but throughout the deck! The predominant colouring and shading and the names on the cards may differentiate them, but what is essentially this same face appears again and again, in many quite different incarnations, as the 9 of Cups, as the Page of Cups, as the Queen of Cups, as the Knight of Pentacles, as the Ace of Wands, as the 2 of Wands, as the 2 of Swords, as the 9 of Swords and finally as the Queen of Swords, to name just some of its reappearances. Although more feminine, the face in the Ace of Cups is similar, as is the face in The Sun. For me, each time I come across this face, I find myself flipping into thinking mode, and basically asking myself just who it is Iím looking at.
And there are other faces that also appear more than once, such as the face in both the 9 of Pentacles and the Queen of Pentacles, to name just one more. Iíve basically given up on the idea of using this deck. In fact, itís one of the few decks that I own that Iíd happily sell or give away if I found someone who loved it! There are just too many cards in it whose meanings still evade me and just way too many spiritual faces, so many that, for me, they are ceasing to even look spiritual, and are looking more and more like nightmare images from a fantasy world I really donít want to visit ever again.