It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a deck review. Probably because the new year hit and with it came a reminder of my budget. And then just as that painful memory was starting to fade, tax season came, and, well, no one likes to be reminded how little money they have.
But my birthday was not too long ago (Sun 23′ Aries, for anyone who wants the specifics), and I figured, “What the hell? Let’s get a new deck.” So I picked up the Night Sun Tarot–and I do not regret the choice.
Let’s start with the technical stuff. This is a Lo Scarabeo deck, which means the card stock is nothing exceptional, but it’s not awful, either. The card backs have an intriguing design, but it’s non-reversible, which may bother some people.
The artwork is all computer-generated. This deck is full of bright, bright colors, and the backgrounds of the card images often feature sigils from ceremonial magick (or at least, sigils that look like they come therefrom). The magic circle behind the Magician has the name ABRAHADABRA inscribed around it, and the Magician himself has tattoos in Greek along his forearms, which are presumably also sacred names, although I have difficulty making out the letters. There’s a lot of sacred geometry going on in the background of this deck, as well as a lot of Latin. The circumference of the Wheel of Fortune reads CONTRARIA SUNT COMPLEMENTA. I don’t actually speak Latin, but it doesn’t actually take a genius to figure out that this means something along the lines of “opposites are complementary”.**
The art can be intriguing, but the human figures in this computer-generated style can also seem a bit… Wrong. Cartoonish, I guess, but that’s not quite the right word. Like the really bad 3D modelling software they used to use for computer games back in the year 2000. You can’t see it as well in the picture above, although these were some of the more stilted-looking Major Arcana (among the ones that didn’t have nudity***). But the figures often look like weirdly posed mannequins.
(Although once again, check out the sigils behind each of these figures. Damn, but that’s cool. I think my favorite part of this deck is the background.)
The Major Arcana in this deck are pretty clearly Thoth-inspired, but the Minors do a good job of blending Thoth and RWS symbolism. Sometimes, the Minors are pips; other times, they feature humans. Each suit of the Minor Arcana has its own color scheme: blue for Cups, green for Pentacles, red for Wands, and yellow for Swords. The upper corners of each card also have handy indicators to show the card’s relevant elemental and/or astrological correspondences, which would be useful for intermediate readers looking to delve more into esoteric Tarot.
There are also a few persistent themes in each of the Minor suits. The Pentacles, for example, have very strong bull imagery–both in the literal bull on the Ten and in the horns featured on all of the humans elsewhere in the deck. Similarly, the Wands feature lions and the Swords feature eagles. There’s probably some relevant symbolism there with the creatures of the four Gospels, for those of you who are caught up with catechism.
I really, really love the imagery in the Eight of Wands. For those of you who can’t see terribly well because I’m bad at taking pictures, this card shows a woman walking up out of a dark pit on a spiral staircase made of wands. And it’s just stunning.
The Court cards in this deck are hit-and-miss. They have beautiful imagery, and the kind of sucker-punch color palette that makes me go weak at the knees, but once again, this deck just doesn’t do a great job of making humans look like humans. My four favorite Court cards are below:
As is perhaps most clearly evidenced above, this deck really cares about elemental symbolism, even going so far as to stick a giant elemental sign over the Courts’ heads so that there’s no possible way you can forget where they belong. This, along with all of the other esoteric symbolism hidden in this deck, makes for a rich symbolic trove. The Night Sun would be an excellent study deck for people looking to move more into the world of Golden Dawn esoterica, Thelema, or ceremonial magick.
All in all, I’m thoroughly pleased with this deck, although the waxy look of the humans is a major turn-off for me. Plus, it staves off my urge to berate myself for having a deck collection that leans too heavily towards the RWS, as this is very clearly a Thoth-inspired deck. It’s definitely not for beginners, nor for more intuitive readers who don’t give a crap about all the esoteric stuff, but if you’re willing to slave over the Book of Thoth for months on end, I think this deck will prove quite rewarding.
*This could be the case. Or the central figure could be presiding over the wedding of the man and woman (although in that case, I’m not entirely sure why there’s an angel). But the banner above them reads ELECTIO NIONE DISSOLUTIO. And once again, although I don’t speak Latin, the root electio has to do with choice.
**According to Wikipedia, this is actually the motto of Niels Bohr’s personal crest. The more you know!
***Oh, yeah. I should probably also mention that there’s a fair amount of nudity in this deck. Nothing gratuitous, nor even particularly sexual, but if the occasional nipple- or genital-sighting puts you off, this is not the deck for you.