The Xultan (Mayan) Tarot Deck

The Xultan Tarot deck, by Peter Balin, was published in 1976. It is based on Mayan art and culture and incorporates Mayan myths into the traditional Tarot Structure. The deck has the standard 78 cards, 22 Majors, 16 Court Cards and 56 Minors. Many of the Majors have been changed. specifically:

The suits are Staffs (Wands), Swords, Cups and Jades (Pentacles). The Court cards are Lord, Lady, Servants and Warriors. The art is good, consisting of simple line drawings, combined with intricate detail work. Done in the Mayan style, the people have the sloping foreheads that the upper class Mayans found attractive. The colors are excellent and the scenes go to the edge of the cards without a border. The Major Arcana do not have the names of the cards written on them and the different style coupled with the changes made, makes some of the cards rather difficult to recognize. They do have the Mayan number for the card at the bottom, but again, you will have to familiarize yourself with the system. There are lots of feathers, birds, animals skins and skulls. When laid out in sequence, the Major Arcana join to form a complete scene. The artist had very little knowledge of Tarot at the time the deck was drawn, and the result is a deck that is unique in many respects. There is a book written specifically for this deck called Flight of the Feathered Serpent. It discusses the Mayan culture and a wide range of other topics, not always specifically related to Tarot, but thought provoking nonetheless. You will find the book mentioned in the bibliography of many of the Tarot books that followed. The little booklet that comes with the deck is a fold out sheet with writing so small it is difficult to read without a good magnifying glass. Short interpretations are provided and one spread.

I recommend this deck for those interested in the Mayan culture, for collectors and for those who want to work with a radically different type of Tarot deck. See the Xultan Tarot

Xultan Tarot by Peter Balin
Available from US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St, Stamford CT, 06902, (800)544-2637, Fax (203)353-8431

This page is Copyright 1997 by Michele Jackson