"BOTTOM OF THE DECK" Results
an informal survey of opinions, submitted by members of
the online tarot world, describing the worst tarot packs
they have purchased, used, or examined.
February 2, 1997
Total number of survey entries received: 31
 
Thanks to all the tarot enthusiasts who participated. My
thanks also to Michele Jackson for filling in some authors
and for building a Web site that provided me with useful
resources.
I've included most of the commentary that accompanied
survey entries. Only a few participants asked not to have
their comments published. Phrasing inside parentheses is
from the individual participants. Bracketed comments are
from your Editor.
Decks are listed by alpha. The title is followed by the
author, designer, or creative team. The numeral represents
the number of times the deck was mentioned in lists
submitted by survey participants.
The Top Five Or Six Loathsome Decks are listed at the end.
 
All "GIMMICK" TAROTS (you name it, this person hates it)
1
 
ALL "LOVE" or "LOVERS" TAROTS (same person hates all
these, too) 1
 
AQUARIAN TAROT, by David Palladini 2
A. All such "flavor of the month" decks are variations on
the theme that what's suddenly socially acceptable
REQUIRES a new deck (interpretation). Yuck!
 
ART NOUVEAU, by Matt Myers 2
A. Way too "sweet and cute"
 
BARBARA WALKER TAROT, by, er, Barbar Walker 1
A. Once I started looking into her research, I saw that
both the research and the deck based on it was so bad and
so biased that I refused to use it and I no longer own the
deck.
 
CONNOLLY TAROT, by Peter Paul Connolly 1
A. This one, also, is way too "sweet and cute"
 
DALI UNIVERSAL TAROT, by Salvador Dali 1
A. Horribly ugly.
 
DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON, by Ffiona Morgan 2
A. Not EVERYONE is a lesbian (thank the godess!)
B. I found the book totally offensive. It's things like this
that have forced me to stop defining myself as feminist.
Every possible opportunity taken to be anti-male and anti-
heterosexual, not to mention that horrible tokenistic six of
pentacles.
 
DRAGON TAROT, by Peter Pracownik and Terry
Donaldson 2
 
FANTASY SHOWCASE, various artists, coordinated by
Bruce Pelz (see Michele Jackson's Web site for a link) 1
A. You ask 78 'fantasy' artists to draw one card each.
What a mishmash! It's probably as PoMo [postmodern] as it
gets. A total disregard (almost) for tarot symbolism, coupled
with inconsistent and sometimes really ugly artwork?
 
GOLDEN DAWN, by Robert Wang and Israel Regardie 1
A. How such magical adepts could have such a poor
sense of asthetics is beyond me. Kick 'em in the binah.
 
HAINDL, by Hermann Haindl 2
A. Didn't like the colors, too many eyes in the pictures
(thought the artist was severely depressed or paranoid).
B. Looks like it was painted with mud.
 
HANSON-ROBERTS, by Mary Hanson-Roberts 4
A. Not really *that* bad, it's the Cotton-Candy Tarot.
B. So cute I can't stand it.
C. If dolls played with tarot cards, this would be the deck
they'd use.
D. I dislike all Rider-Waite clones, but this one has
particularly lame cutesy artwork.
 
HARRIS/CROWLEY THOTH, by Frieda Harris and Aleister
Crowley 8
A. Don't like the border, don't like the fact that the
*meanings* are written there -- some people have a
problem when they see some of the *negative* terms, (their
opinion, not mine). I saw a deck where someone had
trimmed the border, and liked it much better -- will do that to
mine when I have the time and feel *precise* enough to not
hack it.
B. I can't stand the vibes on this one - very negative!
C. I always get weird feelings when I try to do readings
with this deck.
D. I can read it, but it makes me feel like I've had too
much espresso, perhaps with very bad LSD thrown in...
E. I have always thought (these cards) were quite
beautiful, but I got the most horribly menacing readings from
that deck! It is hands down my least favorite deck!
F. I keep coming back to it, then getting discouraged
because of its dark and complicated Nature ... the usual
complaints.
G. It's the explosive character of the imagery in Thoth I
don't like. Especially in the Minor Arcana. Bold and vivid
colours, in many cards a striking imagery, but on the whole -
it's simply isn't my cup of (Yogi) tea at all.
 
HEINZ FOODS (promotional novelty deck) 1
A. The number one crappiest, craziest idea for a tarot's
got to go the the HEINZ people for their HEINZ tarot. Pass
the ketchup please, and please pass on this one.
 
HERBAL TAROT, by Micael Tierra and Candice Cantin 1
A. If one were to use it fully as designed, one would be
practicing herbal medicine without a license (often without
good safeties built in). I also object to the use of laxative
herbs without warning and for its calls for "spiritual cascara.
 
ISIS TAROT, by Ishbel (?) (Couldn't definitely find this one.
Might be IBIS, by Josef Machynka?) 1
 
LONDA, by, er, Londa 1
A. Anorexic Goth Elves with blue skin. All style, no
substance.
 
MARSEILLES, [traditional, many variants available] 1
A. Ugly! Cheap! Non-communicative!
 
MEDIEVAL SCAPINI, by Luigi Scapini 1
A. Overpriced, to say the least!
 
MERLIN TAROT, by Miranda Gray 1
A. Very flat vibes.
 
MORGAN-GREER, by Bill F. Geer and Lloyd Morgan 1
 
MOTHERPEACE. By Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble 3
A. It doesn't do a darn thing for me visually- the washed
out colouring makes me feel that way when I look at them. I
don't even like people to give me a reading with them, much
less use them myself. I don't like the symbolism or the
artwork.
B. This must be the worst artwork ever devoted to a tarot.
C. Another art issue. Don't like the colors, don't like the
*art*, don't like what some of the cards imply by the artwork.
 
MYTHIC, by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene 2
A. By far is the crappiest deck/book I have had the
misfortune of owning. The book fell apart, the cards are thin,
and the [reading diagram] cloth was a joke. With a little effort
they could have made it worth using.
B. It is a shame that after taking the time to create a deck
and write a book they skimped on quality.
 
NATIVE AMERICAN, by Megda and J.A. Gonzalez 1
A. Disappointing. It is a nice deck for reading, but I think
it could have been so much better.
 
NEW ORLEANS VOODOO, by Louis Martinie and Sallie
Ann Glassman 1
A. Are the Orishas offended yet?
 
NEW GOLDEN DAWN, by Sandra Tabitha Cicero 1
 
NEW PALLADINI, by David Palladini 1
 
OSHO-ZEN, by Ma Deva Padma 1
 
POETS' TAROT, by Jesse Cougar 1
A. The artwork isn't so bad but the poems are dreadful,
and I think it's a truly stupid idea not having a back [design]
at all.
 
POMO TAROT, by Brian Williams 4
A. While the art is not that bad, in my limited experience
this deck simply doesn't work. My readings with this have
always been atrocious. Moreover, I get a "look how clever I
am" feeling from the creators of this. And...it's just plain
snobbish!!
B. I'd be ashamed to use this in a reading, except of
course for a two year old. PoMo OhNo.
 
ROBIN WOOD, by, er, Robin Wood 3
A. That Wheel of Fortune card has got to go. Puh-lease.
It looks like a 1965 ad for Barbie.
B. Reminds me of 70s Marvel Comics superheroes, and
hence, boring "cartoony" art. Furthermore, the great majority
of the cards look like she just ripped-off the Rider Waite
images.
C. Insulting lack of regard for human anatomy, especially
genetalia.
 
SMITH/WAITE (all popular variations of the
seminal Rider deck including Universal, Golden, Giant, and
Albano) 7
A. I find it so intensely ugly I could never use it. I
especially hate the colours.
B. I get no feeling from it, it's classic their medieval
origins, and I always know a "newbie" reader when they
swear by it.
 
TAROT OF THE CAT PEOPLE, by Karen Kuykendall 3
A. My pussy rips this one to shreads and uses it for kitty
litter.
B. It works beautifully on readings for others, but in
personal readings only gives me dismal, dire messages that
are extremely irrelevant to the matter at hand.
 
TAROT OF A MOON GARDEN, by Karen Marie Sweikhardt
4
A. Wizards and Unicorns and Bubbles, Oh My! Even
gooeyer than the Hanson-Roberts tarot deck.
B. Only scorn.
C. Too fluffy-bunny-white-light for my tastes
 
TAROT OF THE CLOISTERS, by Michelle Leavitt 3
 
TAROT OF THE OLD PATH, by Sylvia Gainsford and
Howard Rodway 1
A. This deck's minor arcana weirds me out. I love the
majors and aces and absolutely hate the rest. So ugly and
lacking in profundity. Can't believe they're done by the
same person.
 
TAROT OF THE WITCHES, by Fergus Hall (007 film) 7
A. My ABSOLUTE LEAST favorite deck.
B. The artwork sucks and I always get vague readings
from it.
C. Every figure on it is deformed. The first versions even
had 007 on the back to show they were designed for a
James Bone [sic] movie.
D. Artwork makes my skin crawl.
E. As art, it's odd. As a tool it is sadly lacking.
 
THELEMIC, [I could not find a definitive source but Michele
Jackson looked it up: "Per Kaplan, it was done in
1977 by an unknown artist and published in 1977 by
Baphomet Press."] 1
A. The Major Arcana as black & white prints. Supposed
to be an improvement and re-interpretation (at least for
some cards) of the Thoth deck by a guy whose drawing
skills are definitely not above kindergarten level. A riot!!
 
UNICORN TAROT, by Liz Hilton and Suzanne Star 3
A. I've collected unicorns since long before they
became popular, and I wouldn't add this deck to my
collection.
B. Pointless.
 
WILLIAM BLAKE TAROT, by Ed Buryn 1
A. I can understand the idea and thoughts behind it but
it differs too much from my own, quite strong, ideas about
the arts.
 
WITCHES TAROT, by Ellen Cannon Reed and Martin
Cannon 6
A. The artwork is atrocious, not to mention a lot of trendy
"witchy-poo" stuff. On the other hand, I get good readings
from this ... so go figure.
B. The art is just too freaky for me and I don't like Wands
as Air and Swords as Fire.
C. There's no explanation of the spheres (cabbalah???)
[sic], and *way* too many body builders and bimbos. The
Ace and 10 of swords, Strength and the 2 of pentacles are
particularly heinous. Marvel Comics might do better!
D. Artwork makes my skin crawl. I can't relate to her
ideas about kaballah either.
 
Listed in order of Perceived Loathsomeness
 
The Winner:
HARRIS/CROWLEY THOTH, by Frieda Harris and Aleister
Crowley with 8 votes
 
Tied for Second Place:
TAROT OF THE WITCHES, by Fergus Hall with 7 votes
SMITH/WAITE with 7 votes
 
Third Place:
WITCHES TAROT, by Ellen Cannon Reed and Martin
Cannon with 6 votes
 
Tied for Fourth Place:
HANSON-ROBERTS, by Mary Hanson-Roberts with 4 votes
POMO TAROT, by Brian Williams with 4 votes
TAROT OF A MOON GARDEN, by Karen Marie Sweikhardt
with 4 votes
 
 
>>> End of document <<<
David Bogie
tarot enthusiast and stampmaker
Boise ID


This page is Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson