Tarot of The Cloisters                                                             Review by Michele Jackson
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This deck is basically a Waite-Smith with a twist. The deck is round and the art is done in
what is supposed to be a stained glass effect. Pamela Colman-Smith’s imagery was
redrawn in the round and lines were drawn all through it. Most of the lines which are
supposed to create the stained glass effect were done by bisecting the circle at intervals
and then drawing additional lines in the resulting pie-slices. Most of the lines are thin,
with an occasional thick one thrown in presumably to enhance the stained glass effect.
The effect is more that of a shattered mirror where the pieces haven’t yet fallen out. I find
the look ragged, sharp and disconcerting. Much of the symbolism of Colman-Smith’s
work, especially her use of color, has been sacrificed to this effect. It is a poor trade off in
my opinion. Color-wise it is an endless stream of sky-blue backgrounds, relieved only by a
few lavender backgrounds and the occasional yellow or brown background Aside from the
lines and background colors, the art is fair, though it would be somewhat bland without
the lines running through it. If you can read with the Waite-Smith deck, you will be able to
read with this one as well if the lines don’t distract you. The Majors are the same as
Waite-Smith as are the Court Cards. The suits are called Staves, Vessels, Swords and
Pentacles. The backs are a horrendous hodgepodge of swirling purples, pinks and
lavenders around a central multi-colored stained glass circle. The booklet that comes with
the deck provides three spreads: the Astrological, the Celtic Cross and a Relationship
spread. There is some scanty advice on reading and the interpretations provided have to be
among the worst I have ever seen in such a booklet. There is a short sentence describing
the card, which basically tells you nothing, for example: The winged angel of Temperance
holds a silver and gold chalice in her hands. And???? The Divinatory Meaning provided for Temperance - A waiting period. The ability to adapt. While some find this deck pretty, I think the stained glass effect could have been done much better and I don’t know why the
deck is round. The artist does not enlighten us in this regard. Aside from the novelty
aspects afforded by the shape and the broken, er, I mean, stained glass effect, this deck has
little to offer.

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Tarot of the Cloisters
ISBN: 0-88079-665-0
Publisher: US Games, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford CT 06902, (800)54402637


Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson