LongMoment Tarot Deck by Greg Hoose
Review by Lee A. Bursten

Here is another Tarot deck by the author/artist Greg Hoose, whose previous deck was the Fae Tarot.  In this deck, Hoose selects Chinese Sumi art as his theme, a discipline which he has studied and practiced for several years.  Like the earlier deck, the images are all created digitally. 

The Majors have titles which presumably refer to Chinese folklore, followed by the standard Tarot title, such as Rain Fairy (Fortune) or Underwater Garden (Death/Night).  Sometimes these titles in parentheses refer to the corresponding card in the Fae Tarot.  The deck is accompanied by a small booklet which gives a verse of poetry and very short upright and reversed divinatory meanings for each card. 

Like the earlier deck, the cards are colorful and attractive.  But unlike the Fae Tarot, this deck is done in a variety of styles.  Some cards are presented in landscape orientation.  Some cards, like the Storm Genie (Emperor), seem comparable to present-day Asian popular art or animation, while others, like the Seven of Pentangles, are done in traditional styles.  Some of the people shown on the Majors look rather elfin, with pointed ears. 

The Fae Tarot was notable for its slightly out-of-focus appearance, but the lines in LongMoment are much sharper, which contrasts well with the soft colors. 

I was particularly intrigued by some of the Majors which seem to offer different perspectives on the familiar archetypes, for example The Hive (Hierophant), or Ceramic House (The World).  The LWB’s text for The Hive points to a recurring problem I had with this deck, which is that for many of the cards neither the poetry nor the divinatory meanings seem to have much to do with the cards’ image.  For The Hive, the text says “In this Union of our Souls/ In the Magic that we behold/ We see each other and no one else.”  The divinatory meanings are, for upright, “Marriage,” and for reversed, “Society.”  Perhaps there are links between the image and the particular folktales which the image refers to, but I feel as if I’m not being given enough information to figure out the connections. 

Ceramic House (The World), however, is one example where the text does indeed seem connected to the image and, in a way, to standard Tarot symbology, and is quite evocative:  “Magic spaces, quiet and smooth, ancient High definition so smooth, so smooth what life could be there?  In infinite light?  Only touch the surface clean and bright/ And your Soul cries out to the night and pulls us to the space within.”  The upright meaning is “Path to Success” and the reversed is “Inertia.” 

Some of the Majors are seemingly unrelated to their standard Tarot counterparts.  For example, card number 12, ordinarily The Hanged Man, has become The Performer (Inspiration), with divinatory meanings of “Wisdom” (upright) and “Selfishness” (reversed).  It’s certainly a pretty card, though. 

In the Fae Tarot, Hoose avoided any negative image in the Minors.  In this deck, however, we see a frightening apparition (a green-skinned fairy) for Illness Fey (The Tower), with a divinatory meaning of “Misery.” 

Some cards, like The Square (The Star), I can’t make heads or tails of.  An object is pictured which is unfamiliar to me, the poetry is obscure (“Lost in distance, knowledge lingers/ that which once was our servant is now our Lord”), and the divinatory meanings, once again, seem unrelated to either the image or standard Tarot (“Loss” for upright,  “Arrogance” for reversed). 

For the Minor Arcana, Cups are represented by people, Swords by animals, Wands by plants, and “Pentangles” (the author’s preferred spelling for Pentacles) by scenes.  Although the art on the Minors is particularly attractive, often showing simple scenes, such as a grasshopper on one card or a flower on another, these cards are very puzzling to me.  The numbers seem to have been assigned to the cards at random and are not reflected in the scene.  Even a card which is subtitled “Five Trees,” and which actually shows five trees, is assigned to the Two of Wands, rather than the Five.  The divinatory meanings for the Minors are sometimes directly or indirectly related to the picture, but all too often the connection between image and meaning remains mysterious.  For example, in the Five of Cups, a man is shown gardening.  The divinatory meanings are “Bitterness with the Sweet” for upright, and “Close accord” for reversed.  The poetry in this case doesn’t help me: “As an artist of the earth/ each stroke that doth apply/ each furrow a challenge./ And were the seed but a mean particle of space but for the hidden life!” 

Other Minors, though, do make much more sense to me, such as the Seven of Pentagles, which shows a waterfall.  The text says, “Water falling! How can we climb back upon its slippery slopes?  Such is the purity of weight that draws us down an keeps us close upon ground!  But for some that pinnacle star – ‘tis attainable, attainable.”  Divinatory meaning: “Strife for success,” reversed: “Monetary anxiety.”  Many of the reversed meanings in this deck are opaque to me; I have no idea where “monetary anxiety” comes from. 

Overall, while I admire much of the art on these cards, I can’t say that I consider it a complete success as a Tarot deck.  Unlike the Fae Tarot, which mostly adhered to the standard Tarot structure in concepts and meanings, the LongMoment deck goes its own way, and without some further information from the author to help us understand why those cards which are departures from standard symbology have been assigned their LongMoment meanings, it becomes mostly a bunch of pretty pictures together with some puzzling words. 

As in his previous deck, the packaging is superlative.  The deck comes wrapped in a shiny red wrapper and nestled inside a unique box, made of thin strips of balsa wood woven together, and tied with a red ribbon.  A signature card is included, along with a card with a short paragraph about meditating with the cards.  The cards are well-printed, laminated on both sides, and the corners well-rounded. 

Fae Tarot Deck by Greg Hoose
GreyGoose Arts ,
Fairfield, IA
e-mail:  gwhoose@yahoo.com
Available at the author’s website

Lee A. Bursten has been studying Tarot off and on for about 20 years. He enjoys reading about Tarot and searching for the "Perfect Deck," which is always just around the corner but out of reach. 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 © 2002 Lee Bursten
Page © 2002 Diane Wilkes