mt.jpg (17043 bytes)Melissa Townsend's Tarot

This deck was originally issued in 1994 as the El Teddy Tarot. At that time, it was a limited edition deck packaged in a silk bag. The 1999 version has the same images, only they are mass produced and issued in a box with a rather hefty booklet. The cards measure 2 11/16" X 4 7/8". The card stock is rather stiff and cardboard-like in feel. I think that they would bend rather easily. They shuffle, but with some difficulty. The images appear to be drawn with ink and colored pencils. The art is rather primitive and sometimes looks as though it was drawn by a child. This is probably attributable to the fact that the originals were drawn rather quickly on the backs of business cards. The images themselves are often adult - there is some blood, violence, sex and graphic (though symbolic) nudity. The images sometimes look as if there were different artists at work. People are sometimes depicted as plain, human shaped blobs, with little detail other than a simple face, such as would be drawn by a five year old. Other people are drawn with quite a bit of detail. The images are quite colorful and the artist has a penchant for putting halos around people and objects. The card numbers and names are written in cursive and appear to be real handwriting, vice a font. Overall, the effect is rather charming.

The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins. The court consists of King, Queen, Prince and Princess. Strength is VIII and Justice is XI. The backs are reversible, but some are cut slightly off center leaving a white border on the top. The card number is in a top border and the name or suit is in a bottom border. The card borders themselves appear rather wide. It looks as though the old bluish-white border from the original printing of the deck was set within a new bright-white border. We see the influence of the Waite deck in several cards: the canopy in the Four of Wands; the stance in the Seven of Wands; and the heavy burden in the Ten of Wands, to name just a few. We also see the influence of the Thoth deck in some of the meanings for the Minor Arcana. There is also a lot of originality in this deck. The Kings come to mind immediately - they are shown in modern settings with things like computers, podiums with microphones, and martinis. The Major Arcana have the traditional names except for Judgment, which is called The Angel. There are two extra cards provided - one black and one white. These two cards "...represent the fundamental issue of duality that occurs frequently in images of tarot...The black card is the abyss, a complete descent into darkness...the termination of death, the hunger of the devil...chaos, the void, and blindness are all represented by this card...The white card symbolizes an open door, the beginning, spiritual awareness, hope, life,...and light."

As previously mentioned, the booklet that comes with this deck is quite robust. It measures 4" X 5" and is in excess of 100 pages. Background information about how the deck came to be created and about the artist herself is provided, in addition to the background information about tarot. This is followed by instructions for the Celtic Cross Spread. The remainder of the book is devoted to card meanings. Upright and reversed meanings are provided. Each meaning has three sections. What it Means seems to be a short description of the deck creator's personal take on the card. About the Card goes into some detail about what the card represents. In this section,  for the Majors, we find information about associated myths and archetypes, in addition to advice on interpreting the card in a reading.  In the Minors, we are pretty much just given advice on interpreting the card. These two sections seem to be the creator's personal views. Traditional Meanings provides a less personal and more traditional set of meanings. There is some mixing and overlap between the sections - we find traditional meanings and/or advice in What it Means. The same sections are provided for both upright and reversed cards and they go into the same amount of detail.

I recommend this deck for those interested in trying something new. The images are different enough to be interesting, but not so far out that one has to learn a completely new system. The art style makes the deck seem casual, laid back, and approachable, yet there is some depth in the images and in the booklet if you wanted to use Ms. Townsend's meanings. The deck comes in a two piece box with the card laid in two side by side piles with no divider between them. This made them a bit difficult to get out of the box, but this deck would probably be more comfortable wrapped in a bandana or in a cotton bag.

See more cards from Melissa Townsend's Tarot Deck

Melissa Townsend's Tarot Deck
Available from: Melissa Townsend, 51 Bond St #5, New York, N.Y., 10012-2405


Six of Cups

What it means: You will experience profound pleasure today, perhaps tinged with a bit of nostalgia.

About the Card: All the sixes in the tarot deck represent a kind of peak experience. Here, we have a peak emotional experience. However, this peak emotional experience is not a grand passion. It's the more comfortable and familiar companionship of those who've known and loved you for a long time, and the deep pleasure that such connections bring. Often, the card shows children playing, indicating the kind of untainted pleasure that we associate with childhood. It's interesting that the peak emotional experience is presented by the tarot in such childlike terms. It's a tribute to the purity and innocence of the emotions, as well as that kind of surreal beauty that memory brings to any emotional experience.

Traditional Meanings: Pleasure; happiness. Simple, even childlike, but completely comfortable and supportive. Pure joy. Usually refers to the measure of a relationship that has endured a lot in which there is knowledge of the other over time and troubles. Dear friends. Lifelong friendships, love. The deepening of old ties.

Six of Cups - Reversed

What it Means: Loved ones will disappoint you today, but it may be because you are longing for a time that's past, wallowing in your nostalgic recollections.

About the Card: The Six of Cups reversed is a little moody and childish. Most often when it appears in a reading, it indicates that longtime friends or lovers disappoint. There is a feeling of flatness, emptiness in personal relationships. Like all of the Minor Arcana cards, this can be just one day - a single "off" experience, unless you let it become more, or unless other cards or forces around you indicate otherwise. The key with the Six of Cups reversed is not to let yourself wallow in memories of what you use to have, comparing that with what you think you have right now. Pay attention to the present. That's all you have.

Traditional Meanings: Empty pleasures. Childishness. overly nostalgic. Lost in the past. Longtime friendships of lovers disappoint one. A flat or distant feeling in important relationships.

Images Copyright 1994 Melissa Townsend

Text Copyright Melissa Townsend



This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson