l&s2.jpg (28939 bytes)The Light and Shadow Tarot
Review by Michele Jackson

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

This deck was previously released as the Contrast Tarot in a limited edition of 120 decks. It has now been mass published and at $16.95 for the deck and a small book, it is a steal. The art in this deck is truly amazing. It was done in linoleum block prints. In this method, the artist takes the linoleum block (though they are not always made of linoleum), draws the picture on the block and carves it out using tools. The trick is that you have to do it in negative. You carve away all the parts you want to be white and leave the parts you want to show as black. You then roll an ink roller over the block and use it to print. It sounds primitive and because of the amount of painstaking work required, many linoleum block prints tend to be rather simple scenes. These cards are intricate and detailed. I suppose you could also color your prints after you roll them onto paper, but the artist chose not to and I am glad he did. The contrast between black and white is quite attractive and eye catching. I can only wonder at the amount of time it must have taken to carve such a beautiful 78 card deck.

Both the majors and minor have scenes, and for the most part the artist relied on his understanding of the cards in rendering his drawings. The cards are large: 4 1/4" X 5 1/2". Some of the cards are suggestive of their counterparts from other decks. For example, the 8 of Pentacles looks like Crowley's and the 10 of Swords is similar to Pamela Coleman Smith's. The Majors are based on the traditional, but the art makes them truly Goepferd's own vision. He has added some symbolism and changed some, but not so much that you can not recognize the card in most cases. The Majors have the traditional names and the Court Cards are Queen, King, Princess and Prince. The suits are traditional as well. The art is somewhat stylized and it may not appeal to everyone, but I think it is one of the most beautiful decks in my collection. Some of the cards are Rated R (nudity and sexually suggestive, but no full frontal nudity). This deck is traditional enough to be read with, but beautiful enough to purchase for its artistic value alone.

l&sbk.jpg (24261 bytes)The book written for this deck is good. It was written by Brian Williams, artist of the PoMo and Renaissance Tarot decks, and author of the Renaissance Tarot deck book. Williams was a friend of Goepferd's and endeavored to explain his vision of the cards whenever possible. He does a pretty good job. Although small in size, the book is 194 pages long. Williams gives a description of each card , and an interpretation. There is also a small poem for each card, though they were not written by Goepferd or Williams.The only spread is the Celtic Cross. There is an introduction that explains the process used to create the deck and a short biography of the artist. The book comes with the deck in a two piece box.

Michael Goepferd, the artist who created this deck, passed away this year. I had the privilege of talking to him on the telephone before he became too ill and I have his permission to use his original Contrast Tarot on my page. I do not have the new publisher's permission to use their deck, but they are identical, so you can see the deck on my Contrast Tarot. I recommend this deck for collectors, art lovers and anyone interested in owning a beautifully executed, readable deck.

See more cards from the Light and Shadow Tarot Deck

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

The Light and Shadow Tarot
Publisher: Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont
ISBN: 0-89281-503-5

Excerpt

18. THE MOON

I am
Moon Goddess
waxing and waning
light in the darkness
My changes pull at the soul
 

A smiling crescent moon shines above an empty bed on the Moon card. The towers on either side protect the bed, the home of sleep, as the Priestess' towers guard her. They also recall the proud building of the Tower card, raised against the sky by human pride. The towers look out towards approaching dangers, toward the future. On either side of the bed stand a wild wolf and a domestic dog. Humanity encompasses them both; we are both tame and wild. We too are domesticated but still, at heart, as wild as wolves. A path winds down through the center of the scene, even over the bed itself. This is the path of unconsciousness and dream. The Moon, an embodiment of the eternal feminine, reigns over the period of sleep and dream. The bed stands both in water and on land; its legs rest on little islands from which water ripples in rings. Water, as we have seen is the vital power of possibilities and represents the depth of the subconscious. From the mystery of the waters rises a lobster, aquatic creature of nightmares. Dreaming opens the deepest, most hidden parts of ourselves. We live through much, and relive the joys and troubles of waking life. There is the nourishing, regenerating aspect of dream, and always the potential for night terrors.

Meaning

The Moon presides over the kingdom of peaceful sleep and restless nightmares. From the fount of the watery star flow dreams, illusions, chimeras, visions. She is mistress of fertility, creativity, and the subconscious as well as the instigator of lunacy and nocturnal fears. As the night fills half of time, and the dark sustains half the weight of the universe, so the Moon takes its place as the guardian of half of the world soul. Nightmares, as disturbing as they can be, still serve us well. The soul grapples with its fears in the anxious images of troubled sleep, and it draws strength from the struggle.

The Light and Shadow Tarot, pg. 56 - 58.

You can read a tribute to the author of the companion book for this deck, Brian Williams, here.



  • This page is Copyright 1997 by Michele Jackson