One-in-Ten Tarot by Shandra MacNeill
Review by Diane Wilkes

There's something awe-inspiring about a deck that is literally one of only ten decks in existence, if only because of its rarity. Shandra MacNeill's One-in-Ten Tarot is awe-inspiring for more reasons than its uncommonness, though.

First of all: the physical quality of the deck itself. It's hand-painted, on some kind of thick, shiny plastic, and trimmed in thick, gold-colored globs of gloppy paint. The backs are of red construction paper. This makes for a wonderful tactile experience as you meditate on each card. Additionally, each card seems like an individual piece of artwork, as well as part of a cohesive set.

Many of the images are quite evocative and innovative, though one or two are a bit too obscure for my tastes. The Fool is a powerful card. It is depicted as a woman climbing down from a mountain, carrying a sack filled with all the signs...speaking to the karmic choices of the unborn soul. I can't figure out the High Priestess at all, and the Empress looked so much like the Star card that I mistook it at first. The cards are not numbered, nor titled, but they do have the traditional Golden Dawn correspondences, and most cards are easily recognizable.

The Emperor is a mighty and mightily pagan image--he lounges in the curve of a mountain, naked and as much a part of nature as the mountains surrounding him. The Lovers shows two interconnected bodies, with shadow images that appear like murky auras they can't escape. Strength is a study in wonderfully burnished golden browns--one can not really distinguish between the woman and her powerful lion (see above).

Other favorites of mine are the Hermit, a card that radiates a powerful, if broken, light in deep darkness, and the high energy figure on the Temperance card, who mixes an ocean of fire with an ocean of water.  Both cards have a puissance that is only enhanced by the tangible quality of the cards.

But really, many of the cards are very powerful. The Devil is a somewhat ghoulish woman who smiles as bodies writhe near a fire in the darkness. Her size overpowers theirs, making a statement of diminishment and absolute power. The figure on the Star card pours unending showers of Aquarius-infused water upon herself, becoming completely enveloped in its nourishing liquid of self.

Not all of the cards are as arresting, as I stated earlier. The World and Sun seem banal in comparison with some of the more striking cards. Still, the One-in-Ten's total effect is quite impressive and I wish there were more than ten, so I could get one, too!

One problem with the deck is that it sticks together a lot, because of the physical nature of the construct. Usually, this is only a minor issue, but the cards can get damaged if you are not very careful with them.

Still, it's a lovely deck to work with and gives new meaning to the concept of tarot as affordable art. I recommend this deck highly to collectors, if they can track down a copy.

  Yes No
78 cards X  
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI N/A  
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana N/A  
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Disks)   N/A
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions   N/A
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard                                        X
Larger than standard (approx. 3" x 5")           X  
     

Images 2001 Shandra MacNeill
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes
On loan from the Brigit Horner Collection