The Artistís Inner Vision Tarot - Review by Lee Bursten

Iím more excited by this deck than Iíve been for just about any other deck Iíve seen. What really strikes me about this deck is not that itís a collaborative effort (26 artists produced three cards each), but the degree to which it attains the stated goals of "each card telling its story visually to help make the card meanings clearer to the novice, as well as to be beautiful pieces of artwork."

The artists involved in the project have really gone out of their way to not only vividly and dynamically illustrate the cardsí meanings, but to also find layers and depths of meaning that are usually absent in other decks. Examples include the Six of Wands (by Tracy Cutts), showing a determined-looking woman holding a torch aloft as she runs through a dark, depressing landscape; the Six of Cups (by RicŽ Freeman-Zachery), showing, among other things, a photograph of a child pasted into an elementary-school exercise book; the Ten of Cups (by Connie Houser), showing, besides a happy family, a farmer toiling in the fields, symbolizing the hard work needed to sustain relationships; and Justice (by Connie Houser), showing a woman clasping the scales to her bosom under a moon obscured by clouds, because Justice, according to the accompanying book by project coordinator NoMonet, "is often obscured by clouded emotions."

I find the variety of styles and approaches to be quite refreshing, and it prevents me from getting bored as I do with so many other decks (which is probably a reflection of my own short attention span rather than faults in the decks themselves). Some of the cards are complex collages somewhat resembling Voyager in style (like the aforementioned Ten of Cups and Six of Cups). Some cards are quite simple, like the Seven of Cups (by Keely Barham), a beautiful card constructed of fabric, showing seven differently-colored cups glowing against a background of dark hills; or the admirably simple Hierophant (by Becky Ericsen), containing a face, a hand raised in blessing, and two acolytes. The addition of a third eye on the face is a masterful touch.

Sometimes the artist tries to illustrate the intended meaning as straightforwardly as possible, for example in the Lovers (by Michele Monet), where a young man (a real lover type) reaches a hand out while three women watch from windows behind him, illustrating choice. In other cards, the artist seems to be going for a particular mood rather than illustrating an action or situation, such as the Six of Coins (by Teesha Moore), a closeup of a compassionate face with large eyes. The six coins seem to be falling from her eyes like tears. I found this a very affecting and effective illustration of giving and sharing.

As in Voyager, the symbolism used in this deck is direct, psychological and artistic, rather than esoteric. There are very few if any references to the Cabala, astrology, or the Golden Dawn (other than the Golden Dawn derivation of the Minor Arcana meanings), or specific cultural influences. Unlike Voyager, however, there is a playfulness and a lightness of touch which is very welcome.

When looked at strictly from the standpoint of artistry, this deck stands head and shoulders above most other decks. Many of the images, for example Teesha Mooreís Empress or Tracy Mooreís Hermit, are so strong and delightful to look at that they have quickly established themselves in my mind as the most compelling versions of these cards that Iíve ever seen.

However, I do think of this as an art deck. The effort that has been made to vividly illustrate the intended meanings, as well as the enthusiasm and sense of life inherent in every card, make it an ideal deck to read with. I guarantee that if you purchase this deck, you will have a very enjoyable journey of discovery ahead of you as you get to know each of the cards.

NoMonet is to be commended for doing such an admirable job in shepherding the project to such a successful completion, and for writing the accompanying 170-page trade-paperback-sized book. The book, approached from the standpoint of a basic beginnerís text, is thoughtfully written. I thought the addition of a film character for each card was a nice touch. I must say, NoMonet must spend a lot of time at the movies!

My only caveat concerns the section of each card description which deals with the cardís negative characteristics. These usually include the cardís qualities taken to an overdone or negative extreme, but at the same time include as well interpretations that indicate the absence or opposite of the cardís qualities. It seems to me these contradictory approaches make sense only if reversals are used. The author obviously wants to leave the decision up to the reader as to whether or not to read with reversals. However, if one is not using reversals, then it would seem that the negative qualities of an upright card should only encompass the positive qualities taken to a negative extreme, and not the absence or opposite of those qualities.

Although there is no bibliography included, it seems to me the author has been influenced by Juliet Sharman-Burke (The Mythic Tarot) and Rachel Pollack (78 Degrees of Wisdom).

The deck and book are very professionally produced. Although it is somewhat expensive ($42.00 including shipping and handling), I think itís worth every penny. Congratulations to all the artists involved for an excellent job.


The Artistís Inner Vision Tarot

Illustrated by Arnell Ando, Keely Barham, Julie Hagan Bloch, Tracy Cutts, Debba, Becky Ericsen, RicŽ Freeman-Zachery, Alexandra Genetti, Connie Houser, Mark Jetton, Jill Jones, Dennis Jordan, Sandy McCall, Amy McClure, Michele Monet, Catherine Moore, Teesha Moore, Tracy Moore, NoMonet, Sarah Ovenall, Renee Pearson, Cathleen Perkins, Red Dog Scott, Roslyn Stendahl, Susan Renee Tomb and Barbara Wolfe

Text written by NoMonet

NoMonet Full Court Press

P.O. Box 222

Newbury Park, California 91320

ISBN 0-9676804-0-9

Lee A. Bursten is a court reporter in his real life. He much prefers his unreal life, where he reads about Tarot and switches favorite decks at an alarming rate. He is very grateful to Michele and Diane for posting his reviews, and especially to his significant other, Larry Katz, for his superhuman patience.



Review Copyright © 2000 Lee Bursten
Page Copyright © 2000 Diane Wilkes