The Elemental Tarot                                                                                  Review by Michele Jackson

This deck by artist Caroline Smith, is a reinterpretation of the traditional Tarot. The art is excellent with clean lines and vivid colors. The cards are 5 1/4" X 3 3/8". The Majors have been changed:

Each Major Arcana card has the name across the top, a one word interpretationon the bottom, and a short sentence along each side. The card's number is in the upper right hand corner and the astrological symbols assigned to the card are on the upper left had corner. The Majors are symbolized by an egg shape, which appears on the bottom of each card.

The Minor Arcana is where we see the most divergence from the traditional. The suits are named for the elements and are symbolized by a triangle for Fire, a square for Earth, a circle for Air and a cresent for Water. The following correspondances are given:

The court cards are Father, Mother, Son and Daughter. The assignments here differ from the traditional as well. Smith associated Daughters with Water, Sons with Fire, Mothers with Earth, and Fathers with Air. This deck relies heavily on Astrology and to a lesser degree, Numerology. A knowledge of these two systems is not essential to using this deck, but some familiarity with Astrology will enhance your understanding of Smith's interpretations. The assignments are not the standard Golden Dawn correspondances. Smith has assigned the planets, midheaven, ascendant and node in pairs on each card. Each Minor Arcana card has a one word title on the top, the name of a God or Goddess (from various cultures), at the bottom, the astrological symbols on the upper left, Egyptian symbols on the lower left side, and the card's number on the upper right corner. The suit symbol is on the bottom of the card. All of the cards have a double border in a color which indicates the suit.

This deck is currently available in limited numbers as a deck/book set. The book that accompanies the deck is small, but good. Smith's approach to Tarot is intuitive and symbolic. She feels that anyone can learn to read the cards based on the symbolism, rather than by memorizing 78 traditional meanings. Her system is simple and elegant, and as previously stated, if one has a basic knowledge of astrology, one can delve rather deeply into the interpretations. The book provides a description of each card, a short interpretation of the astrological glyphs, the identity of the God or Goddess associated with the card, and a short interpretation. There is a short section on how to read the cards, three spreads (the Celtic Cross, the Astrological and a new spread called The Elemental Spread), a quick key which has short interpretations for all the cards in one handy location, and finally a key to the symbols on the lower left side of each Minor Arcana card. The deck/book set is in a slip sleeve case with a plastic insert divided into a section for the cards, which are seperately boxed, and the book.

I would recommend this deck for those looking for a new approach to the Tarot. The cards are quite beautiful and Smith's system is rich, yet easy to learn. I would also recommend this deck to collectors, particularly as there are a limited number of decks available. The original printing was for 10,000 decks, which sold out rather quickly. You can still order a deluxe set signed by the artist, but supply is limited to 250. See the Elemental Tarot

Addendum: This deck has been reprinted.  You can read a review about the reprinted deck here.  

If you would like to purchase the reprint of this book/deck set, click here.

The Elemental Tarot
Caroline Smith


Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson