The Cosmic Slumber Tarot is a new deck from Liminal 11, the same company that produced the charming Modern Witch Tarot. Deck creator Tillie Walden has made a winsome RWS-style Tarot deck, and the production quality on this deck is out of this world. When I opened up the tin, I was absolutely floored by how much stuff comes with this deck, and how high quality it all is. In addition to the deck itself (which has silvered edges; I’m a sucker for silvered edges), there’s a hardcover LWB, a small triptych with images from three of the Minor Arcana, a bag to keep the deck in, a reading cloth, and a certificate of authenticity. There’s also a bonus companion booklet that shows the original sketch designs of each of the Major Arcana. (Nota bene: This is the special edition of the deck, which is released in a limited run of a little over a thousand copies. Presumably non-special editions will not come with all the bells and whistles.)
The cards themselves are absolutely gorgeous. They’re sturdy, boldly colored, and have a high-gloss finish that makes them an absolute joy to read. There can be no question about it, Liminal 11 has firmly established itself as one of the most impressive publishers of Tarot decks on the market today. As for the imagery in the deck, the Major Arcana are largely based on the RWS system, but there are a couple of cards that stand out for their uniqueness. These cards have the key elements of the RWS, but are presented in a new way that catches the eye and affords a great deal of complexity and detail. I’m particularly fascinated by the Lovers card:
The Minor Arcana are somewhere between RWS and unillustrated pips. The cards do depict scenes with figures in action, connected in some way to the meaning of each card, but these images are fairly simple and stripped-down. There’s not a whole lot of detail or background imagery. On the one hand, this lets the central figures shine: There’s nothing to distract from the core of the card, as can happen sometimes in decks with messy, overcomplicated imagery. On the other hand, the simplicity of the Minors may make this deck a bit more difficult to read with, particularly for inexperienced readers or those who are accustomed to relying on RWS-style imagery.
Each suit in the Minors has its own general color scheme: Torches (Wands) are full of indigos and purples, Cups have blues and yellows, Swords are pink, red, and orange, and Pentacles have various shades of green and yellow. This provides a tidy sense of thematic unity to each suit. Some of the card imagery deviates from the common RWS depictions (as in the Three of Pentacles further down in this post), which may require a certain level of adjustment for habituated RWS readers, but for the most part the scenes in the cards are clear, direct, and easy to understand.
While the figures in the deck are predominantly white, there is some amount of racial diversity, as with the Empress and the Ten of Wands. Personally, I would have liked to see more, but even a little bit of representation is above the current industry standard.
Walden’s cards have a light, ethereal quality to them. Looking through these images, there’s a feeling of divine play, or perhaps of dreaming—reminiscent of the deck’s title. I get the sense that when the universe sleeps, these are the things it dreams about.* That’s a difficult quality to capture in a Tarot deck, but Walden has done it quite well. The imagery here is delicate, haunting, and timeless. Each card is a window into a scene that feels like it is somehow eternally present, frozen in time; we don’t know where these figures come from or where they are going, because there is a sense that they fundamentally, inescapably belong to the one moment we see them in.
The deck also comes with two added cards, labelled “The Morning” and “The Night.” The LWB describes them as follows:
The Morning greets you with dim light. This card reflects the chance to start over, the chance to rise into the day a little bit stronger than yesterday. Use the energy of the morning for beginnings—a new project, a new conversation, a new feeling.
The Night comes when you need it most. It is the place for you to sink into and escape. The long day is coming to an end, but the night allow you to extend it, to draw the time out. While everyone else sleeps you will work. Use the night to its fullest. The moon slows down the clock for you so you may have the time you need to face the problems ahead.
I was floored by the sheer quality of this deck. While the Minors were ultimately a bit simplistic for my taste, overall the deck is beautifully done. It’s a colorful, creative, inspired homage to Tarot symbolism and the universal reach of the cards. I think this would largely be a friendly beginner’s deck, but it need not only be; I’m sure that experienced readers will also find value in exploring these cards. This is another win from Liminal 11, and a triumphant work from Walden.
*Having written this line, I now see that something almost identical to this sentence is used as a promotional tagline for the deck. I didn’t know that before I wrote the bulk of this review, which tells you that the deck really is aptly named.
Note: I received a copy of this deck from the publisher in return for an honest review. All the opinions expressed here are my own.