I have wanted this deck for a long, long time. When artist James R. Eads first came out with the black-and-white Light Visions Tarot, I wanted it so badly that I almost died. And when he came out with the full-color Prisma Visions Tarot, I knew that one day, it would be mine. Like Scarlett O’Hara clawing her way through the fields of the impoverished South looking for food, I screamed to the heavens: “As God is my witness, I will have this deck!”
Now, the day has come that I’ve finally made good on that oath. And boy, am I glad that I did.
This is a 79-card deck of excellent card stock. It comes in a sturdy box, and is accompanied by a 96-page LWB that (while not exceptional) details Eads’s personal interpretations of each of the cards and provides some basic spreads and background info on the deck. The inside lid of the box has a short poem printed on it, which I think is a great introduction to the Prisma Visions deck:
The fool believes he is
someone he is not
wading through waters
for something unsought.
The magician plays tricks
in the dark of the night
refracting the light
of all future sight.
A set of cards to
tease your mind,
revealing a past, present,
A bit of a pity that the LWB doesn’t include quatrains for the other 20 Major Arcana, as these two are quite good, but so be it.
The cards themselves have silvered edges (always a bonus with me) and a bit of a glossy finish, which some readers may dislike. As you can see in the Six of Chalices here, they are painted in a soft, impressionistic style, with broad brushstrokes and a lovely pastel color palette.
The cards of the Major Arcana (which constituted the original Light Visions deck) are just breathtaking. I especially love the way that this deck adopts more contemporary imagery–a car for the Chariot, a garden party for the Lovers. Eads doesn’t seem to feel the need (as many other Tarot artists do) to add fantastical or atavistic medieval elements to his deck in an effort to gain legitimacy. His images are simple, straightforward, and deeply meaningful. Check out the Devil in particular.
The Minor Arcana are named Chalices, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. One lovely feature of this deck is that each suit of the Minors is associated with a season. Chalices are autumn, Pentacles are summer, Swords are winter, and Wands are spring. This assignment is a bit counter-intuitive to me (I have my own thoughts on the relationship between the suits and seasons, which differ from tradition entirely), but it’s easy to keep track of because it’s so clearly represented in the artwork.
The other noteworthy thing about the Minors, and indeed, the biggest selling point for this deck, is that the cards of each suit can be put together to form a larger panoramic image. Unlike the Major Arcana, the Minors are borderless, and if you line up the cards of each suit from Ace to King, they form a linear tableau; the edges of one card blend into the edges of the next, forming a cohesive image. Behold:
And from the Pentacles:
And, finally, Wands:
This is a beautiful addition to the deck, and is something I haven’t seen in any other Tarot deck. Aside from the simple aesthetic value, I think it provides a framework for looking at the relationship between cards of the same suit in a reading. If the Nine and Page of Swords show up, but the Ten is missing, then the picture is incomplete. The bird has a head and a tail, but no body. Visually, this missing information could have a lot of impact on a reading, and I think there’s value to be found there.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the deck comes with an extra card, labelled “Strawberries”.
Here’s what the guidebook has to say about the Strawberries card:
Life bursts forth! Streaming out of strawberries, this seminal energy is present in many of the strongest, most active cards of the tarot deck. Jubilant and powerful, it flocks to any conduit that can manifest it. When you see its energy turn up in a read, know that some facet of your life is anointed right now–you are charged with the same raw power that split open the first atoms of the universe.
Many readers will opt to take the Strawberries out from their deck, as it is not a part of the original Arcana. The choice is yours to make.
For myself, I’m not sure whether I’ll read with Strawberries. I’ll probably keep it in for the first few personal readings, just to see how I like it. I am a bit of a traditionalist, but at the same time, I think that there’s something to be said for the coherence of the artist’s vision. So we’ll just have to see.
I cannot stress enough how much I love this deck. This might be the new favorite. I feel a bit bad about saying that, because to an extent all of my deck reviews are just me gushing over how much I love every deck I’ve purchased, but, well, I tend to purchase decks I know I’m going to love. The Prisma Visions Tarot is no exception.