ill21.jpg (7826 bytes)The Mini Illuminated Tarot Deck

This deck, by artist Carol Herzer, is a remake of the Waite deck. This deck has been available from the artist for several years and was in fact the first handmade deck I acquired. Although it has been on my site for some time in the Rare Deck section, I have not previously reviewed it. The artist has recently released a mini-version, so I felt that this was a good time to review it.

The cards measure 2 3/4" X 1 3/4". The art is excellent. Herzer took Pamela Colman-Smiths designs and redrew them with finer lines. She also embellished them with various types of light effects - hence the name "Illuminated." The colors used are best described as "jewel-toned." Bold reds and blues abound as well as deep pastels and beautifully painted rainbow effects. Some changes have been made to the names of the Major Arcana although the basic imagery is the same as Pamela Colman-Smith's:

5. The Hierophant - The Initiate
9. The Hermit - The Guide
12. The Hanged Man - The Unconscious
13. Death - Transformation
15. The Devil - Illusion
20. Judgment - Awakening
21. The World - The Universe

Justice is 11 and Strength is eight. The court cards do not have the traditional titles. Instead they have been assigned to the elements and the signs of the zodiac:

King of Wands - Aries King of Pentacles - Taurus King of Swords - Gemini King of Cups - Cancer
Queen of Wands - Leo Queen of Pentacles - Virgo Queen of Swords - Libra Queen of Cups - Scorpio
Knight of Wands - Fire Knight of Pentacles - Earth Knight of Swords - Air Knight of Cups - Water
Page of Wands - Sagittarius Page of Pentacles - Capricorn Page of Swords - Aquarius Page of Cups - Pisces

These assignments are different from the Golden Dawn assignments in that they do not use decanates and they assign zodiac signs to the Pages, and not the Knights. Some of the artistic effects Herzer included are rather interesting. For example, the Sun in her version of the Fool is black and the skies are dark blue and turbulent. Per the artist, the black sun represents " ...infinity, the unseen potential." You can see the energy flowing from the Magician's left hand into the ground. The Empress is seated against a starry sky. The Hermit's staff glows. The Dancer in the Universe is surrounded by multi-colored mists and wears a rainbow colored sash. Flames seem to emanate from the blades in the Two of Swords. The skies are used to good advantage to lend mood to the cards. The jagged clouds in the Seven of Swords, the highlights around the wreath in the Six of Wands and the wave-like clouds in the Queen of Cups are examples. The backs are plain white. The card names and numbers are in the bottom border. The lamination process used results in a flexible card with no excess laminate borders. Although the deck is a bit thick in relation to its size, it shuffles easily. There is no little booklet for this deck.

Despite the differences, those familiar with the Waite deck will feel right at home. I recommend this deck for anyone who uses the Waite deck who would like to try something a bit different. The cards are small enough to carry around with you everywhere. They come in a silk drawstring bag and the title card is signed and dated by the artist. This is the most inexpensive handmade deck I know of, at $25.00 for the mini. Larger sizes are also available - 2 5/8" X 4" for $50.00 and 3 1/2" X 5 1/4" for $80.00.  Posters of individual cards can be ordered as well.

See more cards from the Mini Iluminated Tarot Deck

You can order the deck via the artist's website or by email.

This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson