The author of this blog did a bad, bad thing.
“I’ll go to Barnes & Noble,” he said to himself. “Just to buy one book,” he said. “I won’t even look at the ‘New Age’ section,” he said.
As it turned out, he lied. Because he did go to the New Age section, and there, sitting on the shelf, mocking him openly with their beauty, were two of the Tarot decks he’s been craving for a long, long time. The Deviant Moon Tarot by Rick Valenza and the Tarot of the Hidden Realm by Julia Jeffrey and Barbara Moore.
I’m sure that you, clever reader, know how this story ends. I am weak. I am covetous. And I am now a several dozen dollars poorer and two Tarot decks richer.
I’ll start off with a review of Deviant Moon, and then I’ll follow up with Hidden Realm. This is my first adventure in Tarot review writing, so bear with me and let me know if there’s anything I don’t do terribly well. It’s a learning experience for all of us.
The Deviant Moon Tarot is absolutely stunning, and even more so in person. I had seen pictures of this deck online a couple of years ago, and had been intrigued by it but also strangely put off. There’s a dark beauty to be had in these cards, for sure, but some of the card images I saw online didn’t seem haunting so much as, well, weird. Some of the more famous card images you see bandied around from this deck, such as the Hermit and Death, are cards that really don’t appeal to me, so for a while I wrote this deck off and didn’t even consider buying it. There are far too many decks out there and my resources are far too limited, so I didn’t think about buying a deck that I wasn’t completely in love with.
But something about the deck called to me. There’s something special about this deck, something really unique that tugs at me. I couldn’t stay away from it for long, and now that I’ve finally bought the deck, I’m so incredibly thrilled with my choice to do so. Yes, a couple of the cards are turn-offs, but there are also some beautiful ones. The Devil is probably my all-time favorite Devil card, from any Tarot deck. And many of the other cards are beautiful, not only in a “dark” way, but also in a whimsical, fantastical sense that makes me grin to look at.
Some details: this is not the borderless edition of the deck. I probably would have preferred the borderless (I can’t think of a single Tarot reader who doesn’t prefer to go without borders), but like I said, this was an impulse purchase, so there wasn’t a whole lot of forethought involved. And actually, surprised though I am to say it, the borders don’t bother me in the slightest. The card images are so evocative that I don’t really notice the white edges around everything, but maybe that’s just me.
The deck itself is largely sepia-toned, colored in various warm shades of brown and yellow with an occasional splash of red or blue. I like this–it gives the deck an earthy, grounded feel that contrasts with the absurdity of the images themselves, and it makes me feel like I could use this deck to address questions and concerns other than just the dark-and-twisted, even though Deviant Moon is generally categorized as a “dark” deck.
In addition to the white borders around the edges, each card has a smaller, colored border. Each suit of the Minor Arcana has its own color: Pentacles are black, Cups are blue, Wands are green, and Swords are red. The borders of the Major Arcana vary in color, coming in black, blue, green, red, and purple. The borders of the Majors don’t seem to be systematically assigned; at first, I thought they might be linked to the elemental qualities of each card, but that theory seems bust. For example, the Emperor (a fire card) has a blue border, which would align it with the suit of Cups.
The card stock in this deck is sturdy and seems like it’ll stand up to several years of shuffling. It’s not the best I’ve ever handled, but it’s certainly passable, and I have no complaints on that front.
The pack (or at least the one they sell at my local Barnes & Noble) comes with the deck, a Little White Book, and a spread mat for the “Lunatic Spread”, a ten-card spread of Valenza’s creation. The LWB is nothing special–it has two pages about the creation of the deck and the artist’s inspiration, and then the rest is just a one-to-two-sentence description of each card’s divinatory meanings, upright and reversed. Pretty basic, but with the beauty of the deck itself, I really don’t mind not having a detailed companion book. In my opinion, the cards speak for themselves.
All in all, this is a stunning, breathtaking deck, and having seen it in its entirety (and handled it myself) has completely allayed the fears and doubts I initially had about it. I know that this deck is quickly going to become a favorite of mine, and that I will be working with it for many years to come.