Blue Moon Tarot (2004 Edition) by Julie Cuccia Watts
Review by Sally Anne Stephen

Good news for Tarot collectors and enthusiasts - The Blue Moon Tarot is once again available for purchase!  For quite awhile since the original edition was first made available by the artist in 2000, this deck has been on many people’s wish list.  Julie Cuccia-Watts received regular inquiries about purchasing the deck and decided to have the deck reprinted.  As a result, more Tarot readers and collectors will have a chance to discover the wonderful depth of these magnificent images for themselves.  The original booklet that Julie provided with the deck has also been expanded with additional insight and detail of the concept for the cards by the artist and author.  It is printed on 8.5”x11” glossy paper, folded and stapled to half size with shiny coverstock on the outside featuring a indigo tonal image of the Blue Moon card on the cover.  The descriptions of each card also include a small black and white image for reference. 

You can read a review of the original deck and also a review of the TARO Ancient Wheel of Wisdom notecards elsewhere on this site. What follows is more of a comparison of the two editions than it is a review.  After four years of using it, this deck has become a sacred tool for me and I couldn’t begin to write an objective review of it. 

I purchased my Blue Moon deck in August of 2000.  I remember opening the cards and being overwhelmed by their passionate energy.  Let me tell you, the thrill is *not* gone.  Although I was lucky enough to get the first edition before it became “Rare” and “HTF” (hard to find...not to mention next to impossible), when Julie announced the preorder for her new edition I jumped right in line.  My original deck is rather fragile even though I never hesitated to use it whenever I felt the need to consult with the cards.  Julie had printed this edition herself on a laser printer and hand cut and glued them to a sturdy cardstock.  In a note enclosed with the deck and booklet, she recommended laminating them for “a long card life”, but I could never bring myself to suffocate these evocative images in a plastic shroud.  So every now and then, a corner would pop up and I’d carefully tack it down by spraying some mounting adhesive to a thin plastic knife, transferring it to the wayward corner and pressing it flat with a heavy book for awhile.  The things we do for love! 

But the new 2004 deck is printed by a commercial printer and are in no danger of popping their corners.  I must admit, I felt a twinge of disappointment that the cards were not only smaller (3.25”x4.5” vs. 3.75”x5” of the original deck), but the cardstock is thinner and I personally liked the substantial ‘art card’ feel of the handmade deck.  The more I looked and compared the images, the more I saw what assets the new deck has to offer. 

For one thing the corners are rounded which gives the deck a more useable feel. While the cardstock is thinner, it’s more flexible and really quite sturdy, though you probably wouldn’t want to bend and shuffle the deck as rigorously as you could with Julie’s Ancestral Path Tarot which was published and printed by US Games.   

What really POPS with this edition (because we know it’s not the corners!) is the color and light.  The printer Julie chose did a wonderful job of bringing her original artwork to life.  As I continue to look at each card from both decks side by side, I see new elements rise to the surface of the new cards.  Being a visually oriented person, this thrills me to no end!

I’ve picked three cards from the deck to compare for you here, the first is the Chariot. The difference in this card caught my eye immediately without even looking at the two cards together.  The sky is brighter and the bridge of light spans the card with incandescent beauty.  You see more detail of the rocky plateau, with better definition of the foliage in the foreground as well as the subtle mist which hides behind the card title.  But the thing that I love most is the sharpness of the Moon traveling across the sky through it’s various phases.  In the original printing these Moons were rather fuzzy and the smaller crescents were nearly lost in the clouds - but the new version is as if I cleaned the smudges from my glasses and joined Carly Simon in singing “I Can See Clearly Now” gives new strength and resonance to the interpretation of this card.

Speaking of Strength, what an awesome image of power this card brings to the table!  The new card again glows with a more focused light.  Look at that wonderful burst by the lioness’ head.  You can now see that the man is holding this energy, perhaps even channeling it from his leonine counterpart.  The lighting across is body is also softer and more lifelike.  The celestial lemniscate seen on the original card is no longer visible, but the background of evening sky undulates with shadows and stars and a soft glow of light peeks out from behind this curtain like the first flicker of morning before the sun turns up the volume to a new day.

Finally, for this comparative look, we have Justice.  The main difference between the two printings here is the central image, the Goddess Maat.  There is little change to the background, although the black pillar on the left is cropped out a bit more in the new deck, the brightness of the starkly lit background is perhaps a bit softer and the detail in the feathers of her wings is quite similar.  But her skin is much more vibrant as it casts its many tones through the light and shadow.  Not that she was in need of an ‘Extreme Makeover’ by any means, but now she literally shines in all of her glory.  Not only for this card, but the new printing of the Blue Moon Tarot really does these cards Justice!

While Julie Cuccia-Watts has had 1000 copies of the deck printed, I wouldn’t put off purchasing them if you are thinking of adding them to your collection.  The price is $50, which includes First Class postage in a securely packed mailing box.  They are signed and numbered by the artist and besides being a collectible Tarot deck, they are a beautiful and powerful tool for reading or meditation.  I sincerely recommend them to anyone who would like to enrich their spiritual connection to the Wheel of the Year through the artist’s thoughtful and expressive painting.

You may purchase The Blue Moon Tarot directly from Julie‘s website. Also, check out the Maat Tarot, which Julie completed painting shortly after the second edition of the Blue Moon was printed.

The Blue Moon Tarot by Julie Cuccia Watts
ISBN: 0-9755510-0-0

Sally Anne Stephen has been captivated by the tarot throughout the past decade, although a serious student and novice collector for only the past few years. She has participated in four collaborative decks and has recently finished a Major Arcana deck of her own.  Sally Anne helps moderate the Comparative Tarot e-list and in her spare time gathers up favorite links to post on her website, Moonarcana.

Images © 2000, 2004 Julie Cuccia Watts
Review © 2004 Sally Anne Stephen
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes