Deck Review

by Sheri Harshberger

The Vanessa Tarot is the latest Tarot deck created by Lynyrd Narciso, creator of the Les Adorables Tarot and the Tarot of the Lepidopteran People, which are available in limited editions. The Vanessa is published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. It is a small deck and comes packaged in a lovely and sturdy purple tin.

When I first saw the Vanessa Tarot, I immediately thought it was a girly, fluffy deck. The first card I saw was The Magician, which featured a woman in a kitchen holding a baking sheet filled with cookies in the shapes of a Cup, a Wand, a Sword and a Coin. Ah, no thanks.

But then I got the opportunity to hold the deck and look through the cards in person. Yes, there was an image of a woman making cookies, but there were also images of a carpenter, welder, bartender, scientist... the list goes on. Lynyrd has captured the contemporary "every woman" in his deck. The Eight of Wands depicts a blonde witch on a broomstick, evoking memories of Elisabeth Montgomery's Bewitched character, Samantha. The woman in the Emperor card reminds me of Madonna's Evita Peron. There are fun and happy cards in the deck, but there are also very dark cards. The Five of Coins is a very dark card, as is the Three of Swords. 

Lynyrd's treatment of the court cards is one of two really impressive things about this deck.  Each court card depicts an activity, situation or pose that takes all the guesswork out of what the individual court cards mean.  The Knight of Swords is speeding through the night on a motorcycle. The Knight of Wands is a carpenter with wood and tools in hand. The King of Swords is a woman dressed in a military uniform. The King of Cups is dressed in very French looking attire and holds a wine glass and bottle.

This deck is very readable right out of the tin as the cards resonate with activities and situations that are common and relevant today.  The card stock is sturdy but flexible and has a nice matte finish.  The deck seems thicker than normal because the card stock seems a bit thicker than a normal card, but it could also be the smaller size of the cards that makes it seem thicker.  The card images are framed with a white pinstriped border that does not detract from the illustration.  The backs of the cards are purple pinstripe with light blue five-pointed stars and reversible.

The second impressive thing about this deck is the little white book (LWB). It is one of the best I have ever seen.  It is 30 pages full of meanings, organized by card rank, i.e., the Aces of all suits together, the twos, etc.  It makes it easy to compare nuances between the images.  In reality, this deck is so readable that you really don't need to read the LWB to understand or glean meanings from the cards.  Lynyrd includes two methods to read with the cards. One he calls "Gazing into the Mirror" and involves pulling a card at the start of the day and reflecting on how what it shows relates to you and your day. The other method is called "The Triangle" and is a three card past-present-future spread.

The deck is inexpensive to buy, but high quality in content and construction.  I have one and I plan on getting more as gifts for friends.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a small, good quality, contemporary deck to use with girls of all ages, women... anyone... everyone.


Tarot Trivia Answers

1. "Boaz," meaning "with strength," and "Jachin," meaning "founded." The columns on the card are styled after the columns that stood on the porch of the Temple of King Solomon.

2. The Magician. This card was called The Juggler in early French decks.

3. Court de Gebelin. He made the suggestion in response to the controversy surrounding the idea of a female pope.

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