A Review of the Prisma Visions Tarot

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.

Prisma Visions Tarot

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,
future combined.

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.

Prisma Visions card edges

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.

Prisma Visions Major Arcana

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.

Prisma Visions Major Arcana (2)

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.

Prisma Visions Minor Arcana

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:

Prisma Visions Chalices

And from the Pentacles:

Prisma Visions Pentacles

Swords:

Prisma Visions Swords

And, finally, Wands:

Prisma Visions 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”.

Prisma Visions 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.

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8 thoughts on “A Review of the Prisma Visions Tarot

  1. Excellent review & beautiful photos! I received the Prisma Visions deck as a gift this summer, and I love it. When I saw the Judgment card online, I knew it had to be mine. Despite all its whimsy, I’ve found it to be a very straight forward, practical deck. I’m still not sure how I want to read the Strawberries card though; it feels kind of like the 1-up in video games. I’d be interested to know how you end up connecting to it.

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  2. Thanks for this great review! I’ve appreciated all the reviews that you’ve been doing lately. I’ve been on the fence about this deck for a long time because while it’s so amazingly beautiful I’m not sure if it offers something that can’t be gotten with the RWS deck. (I feel the same way about the Fountain Tarot, too–although Nov. 27th-30th they are having BOGO sale so I may jump for it.) Lately I’ve been drawn to decks that really do their own thing, like the William Blake Tarot, and when I see most decks I go, “Eh…it’s pretty but do I really need it?” I think I will stay on the fence for now, but this review gave me the most in-depth look I’ve had at the Prisma Visions so far.

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    1. Glad you liked the review! I definitely understand what you mean about the deck not offering much more than a straight RWS clone. Truth be told, the decks I like most tend to be strict members of the RWS tradition, if with innovative artwork. I add other types of deck (TdM, Thoth, “dark” decks) to my collection because I think it’s important to have the diversity, but in terms of card meanings and symbolism, the decks I love the most always end up being very, very close to the RWS. Consequently, so do the decks I review.

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  3. Lovely review and a lovely deck. You mentioned not knowing of other decks that allow you to put cards together into a picture. I can think of three, maybe four that allow you to do that in different ways. Tarot of the III Millennium (Iassen Ghiuselev); Fairy Lights Tarot (Lucia Mattioli); The Xultun Mayan Tarot (Peter Balin); and (I think) the Grail Tarot (Matthews).

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  4. This is absolutely the most beautiful deck I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately is the shipping way too much, ($21) but if I ever see them anywhere else I’d definitely buy them without any hesitation. Amazing artwork.

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