This deck is so beautiful, I think I might die.
Before I dive into the review, a shout-out to the magnificent and magnanimous Benebell Wen, who gifted me a copy of the Fountain Tarot that the entire Tarot community has been raving about (and with good reason) of late. This deck is breathtaking. It arrived in the mail last week, but I haven’t let myself open it until today, because I had real-world things that needed to be done. But boy, was it worth the wait. Thank you so much for the gift, Benebell!
For those of you who don’t know of it, the Fountain Tarot is an independently published 79-card deck from Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl, and artist Andi Todaro. Check out their website here. The deck comes in a sturdy box with a magnetically sealing lid (always a plus) and is accompanied by a 110-page LWB.
“You are the voice and the breath of universes”, reads the inside cover of the box, and indeed, that idea seems to be what this deck is all about: the connection between the individual and the universe, the small and the large, the temporal and the eternal. The LWB notes:
Humans have always attempted to manifest their highest spiritual selves through art, writing, relationships, music, and other means. The Fountain Tarot mixes classic symbolism with contemporary art, melding the past and present to express the divine.
The Fountain Tarot lives and breathes the universal and unnameable force of which everything and nothing are a part. It reflects an infinite consciousness beyond the cycles of birth and death, beginnings and endings. It is a return to the “oneness” of which we all sense that we are, and a removal of separateness.
Ultimately, the Fountain Tarot exists to make a difference in people’s lives–in your life. We hope you find insight, beauty, and endless joy in this deck for years to come.
Oh, I will. I will find all three. I’m sure of it.
Augh, but this deck is just so incredible, I don’t know where to begin! Let’s start with the basic, technical stuff. The cards have a nice matte finish (although they look glossy in my pictures because I couldn’t figure out a way to avoid the glare from poorly placed lights in the room). Individual cards are a bit flimsy for my taste, but the deck itself is actually quite hefty. There’s also a lovely silver leaf on the edges of the cards, adding to the overall class of the deck. Cards do tend to stick together due to the finish on them, which might pose a problem in shuffling, but aside from that the quality of the deck is excellent. Certainly better than some in my collection.
The suits in this deck are Coins, Cups, Swords, and Wands. The Coins are generally painted in bright greens, and the Wands are in warmer yellows and reds. Aside from that, though, the general color scheme of the deck seems to be one of muted blues. This deck definitely has a very somber, quiet tone to it.
My favorite thing about this deck is the incorporation of geometrical details into the artwork. In some of the Minors, entire cards are just constructed of geometrical shapes. Elsewhere, even on cards that feature human characters, geometry plays such an important role in the construction of the images.
Part of why I like this is purely aesthetic. It’s a beautiful expression of form, and the way that shapes are used in this deck is just so creative I want to die. But sometimes, the geometry is not merely a matter of beauty, and can directly relate to a card’s meaning. Take, for example, the cubes in the Emperor (which is without a doubt my single favorite card in this deck). I just find the physical structure of this image so perfectly reflective of the power that the Emperor embodies.
The geometric motifs might be a bit too much for some readers, especially in the Minor Arcana. Some of the images from the Minors are so abstract and geometric that they feel more like TdM pips than traditional RWS Tarot images. (Interestingly enough, Justice is Key 8 and Strength is Key 11 in this deck, suggesting that there really is a strong TdM connection.) For me, it’s not a problem, and I love the cards all the more for their abstraction, but a beginner trying to read from card images might struggle with this deck.
However, the flipside of that is that some of the cards in this deck are stunning reinterpretations of traditional RWS imagery. The Six of Swords is just breathtaking, and is probably my favorite card after the Emperor. And just look at that Nine of Swords.
I also find the Court Cards inspiring. I don’t have much more to say on that point, but I’m going to put a picture of some of my favorites in below, because I really can’t get over how lovely this deck is.
One of the things that make the Fountain Tarot exceptional (and the deck’s namesake) is the addition of a twenty-third Major Arcana card, The Fountain. This card is unnumbered, like the Fool, and bears the lemniscate of infinity. It’s meant to stand independent of the rest of the Major Arcana, and is representative of the sense of global (and spiritual) interconnectedness that underlies the rest of this deck. Observe below.
I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to deck structure, and am often not a fan of additions, but in this case, I think it works. The extra card just fits so well with the flow of other cards in the deck and with the ontology that gave birth to the Fountain Tarot in the first place. It’ll take some practice to make reading this card comfortable, but hey, that’s an excuse for continuing education. And for other purists out there, if the presence of the additional card bothers you, you can always remove it. The rest of the deck will read just fine as a standard 78-card pack.
Normally, in a review like this, I would try to highlight some negative points or cards I dislike from the deck, but this time around, there really aren’t any. I am so deeply in love with this deck, and have no doubt it will become one of my top decks for personal use. If you find this kind of artwork at all appealing, I really do encourage you to head over to the Fountain Tarot website and support the creators of this amazing deck. And I’d like to thank Benebell Wen yet again for the gift of this deck. She is a wonderful person, and a brilliant Tarotist.
And did I mention how freaking pretty this deck is?