Renaissance Fair Tarot by Morwenna Morasch
Review by Diane Wilkes

One of the best Yule gifts I received came after the holidays. My friend Morwenna surprised me with a Majors-Only deck she created based on one of her interests--a Renaissance Fair Tarot.

This photographic deck is clearly a labor of love, created from images from various Renaissance Faire events that the deck creator attended. It's very unique and thought-provoking, even for someone like me who has never gone to a Renaissance Faire.

Some cards seemed particularly powerful. The Fool is wise and genial...and no callow youth, but an older individual who clearly has managed to hold onto his sense of childlike wonder. The Emperor, in his mail headdress, reminds us of the warrior aspect signified by the Emperor's astrological association of Aries. The Hierophant has been renamed "Teacher," and is a perfect shaman, complete with a wreath of green leaves on his long dark tresses and a natural, but hypnotic, stare.

The Lovers' most distinctive feature (besides their Renaissance attire) is the happy smile imprinted on both the man and woman, who hold hands and are standing close enough to be joined at the hip, yet each is also clearly an individual. In Trump VII, the charioteer's red feather headdress ripples through the air like a triumphant banner. 

Strength, numbered XI, is one of the more interesting cards. At first glance, I couldn't tell if the figure in front of the gypsy woman on horseback was a young boy or a young girl. The way the sun hits the gypsy's lap could have sunlight or a blonde ponytail. I asked the deck creator about it and she told me the story that inspired it:

"I was at a very small fair on a remote little castle. They had a procession of maybe 100 participants, and part of it was an Oriental-inspired group. The camel very obviously wasn't used to a crowd in a closed courtyard, and was nervous. The belly dancer on the camel's back still made moves and jingled her cymbals. And in the middle of it all, the teenage boy who held the tethers stopped and posed for me with this incredibly calm and confident look in his eyes. He was so sure that he could keep a jittery camel and a cymbal-playing belly dancer in check... and he did!"

The Wheel is a decorated, spoked, wagon-wheel reminiscent of a gypsy bardo. A very powerful card is the skull in armor as Death; the timelessness of the image reminds us, even in 2006, that war kills. A head-dressed woman sews a red cloth of some kind in Temperance, illustrating the patience and care required to put on a large enterprise like a Renaissance Faire. The Tower has been renamed "The Shatterer" and shows a knight bent on destruction wielding a sword with the radiance of a light saber. The Star's silvery headdress and face paint illuminates the uniqueness of a card ruled by Aquarius. Judgment has been renamed "The Calling" and shows a man blowing a shofar-like horn.

One of the things I love about this deck is its small size; the cards are approximately 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. The card backs are reversible and in a geometrical pattern in two hues of blue.

While it is a very limited edition (only 12 made), the artist may expand it to a full deck in the next year. I hope she does! In the meantime, I am going to enjoy having my own miniature Renaissance Faire to play with and gaze upon.

  Yes No
78 cards   X
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI   X
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana   X
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Wands, Chalices, Swords, Pentacles) N/A  
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions Rods--Air; Swords--Fire N/A  
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard (approx 2.5" x 3.5")                                         X
Larger than standard                         


Images 2005 Morwenna Morasch
Review and page 2006 Diane Wilkes