Basic Tarotbasic.jpg (22662 bytes) - Review by Michele Jackson

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In some ways, the name "Basic Tarot" is appropriate. The images in this deck have been  stripped down to the basics. The Magician shows a man's face, and a table with the elemental symbols; The High Priestess - "A woman in religious garb." The Minors are pips, often rendered in just a few brush strokes. But the talent displayed by this artist is quite impressive. He is able to convey a lot of information using just the basics. The art seems to be a mixture of charcoal drawings, pastels, pen and ink, paint and collage, all possibly created by means of computer. The cards are larger than average at 5 1/2" X 3 3/4". The background of each card looks like painted, handmade paper, done in shades of browns and extending to the edge of the card. The central scene is superimposed onto this brown background. The card number is in the upper right corner for the Major Arcana. The number and the suit symbol appear in the same place on the Minors. The card name appears in German in the lower left of the card. It has been printed in white lettering in both German and  English in the lower right border. The art is excellent. The deck has a dreamlike quality that evokes a feeling of drama and mystery.

The Major Arcana have the traditional names except for card 14 - Mixture (Temperance). Justice is 8 and Strength is 11. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins and the court consists of Page, Knight, Queen and King. One minor irritant is that all of the Pages show the same image differentiated only by the suit symbol. This is not the case with the other court cards. They do have a similar style: Kings are line drawings, Queens are large faces, and Knights are faces in profile. Still, each is a different image. I would take a guess that the photo shown on the Pages is that of the artist, but the little booklet does not verify this for me. The Minor Arcana are pips, but the symbols, colors and backgrounds are done in such a way as to be helpful in evoking the feeling of the card. Wands feature red, Cups - Green, Swords - blue and Coins - brown. I think the artist uses these colors for the elements because we see them used in the suit symbols of the court cards as well. Kings feature red suit symbols, Queens - green, Knights - blue and Pages brown.

The little booklet that comes with this deck is larger than most and more detailed. It starts by sharing a bit of the author's philosophy on Tarot. It then provides the meanings of several symbols seen in tarot decks, such as the pentagram, the cross, and the ankh. A brief introduction to Kabbalah and the Tree of Life is next. This is followed by the card meanings for the Major Arcana. Each Major Arcana meaning begins with a brief description of the card and a short keyword or phrase. A short card meaning consisting of several sentences follows. The Minor Arcana card meanings are based on the Tree of Life, as are the Court Cards. No spreads are given.

I recommend this deck for those who are looking for a beautiful but simply rendered deck. It might also be useful as an introduction to Kabbalah and Tarot since the simple card meanings describe the Kabbalistic underpinnings. The art reminds me a bit of David's Tarot, even though this deck is done using different media, and in color. Even the backs are well done.

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Basic Tarot
ISBN: 3-905219-27-1
Distributed by US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford, CT 06902, (800)544-2637, Fax (203)353-8431

Excerpts

1. The Magician

A man sits with a table in front of him, with things lying on it.

"Here I am, and I want"

The Magician, a human being in its male manifestation enters the world and says "I want." He stands right at the beginning with his dynamic energy and his willpower, ready to act. His tools lie in front of him; all he has to do is pick them up. We already know these tools; they are objects that symbolize the four elements - the wand for Fire, the cup for Water, the sword for Air and the coin for Earth. These four elements show us the elemental powers that are available to us in each case. They are anchored in us and in the world around us.

The first five cards of the Greater Arcana concern the human being as such in its pure, primordial form. In order to express this fundamental nature of humanity these cards are done in primary colors - red, blue and yellow, which gives them a clear, unambiguous character.

Five of Cups

Here the Sephirah Gevurah is expressed through the element of Water. Gevurah is a power that sustains the form of things as well as keeping them going with assertiveness and the drive to overcome. The cups are situated in the midst of a very strong current which seems to drag everything downward. The cups let themselves be carried along buy this stream but they do not go under or collapse; they remain upright and retain their shape.

Images and text Copyright 1997 AGM AGMuller

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Review Copyright 1998  Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes