Spiral Tarot                                               Review by Michele Jackson

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The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon is a beautifully rendered deck that pays homage to the Rider-Waite (Waite-Smith) deck, while incorporating the artist's own vision of the cards. The cards measure 4 1/8" X 2 5/8". The Major Arcana have the traditional names with Strength numbered VIII and Justice numbered XI. The art is excellent and each Major Arcana scene has the element, Hebrew letter (Golden Dawn attributions), and astrological glyph worked into the scenes. There is also an image of the Tree of Life on each Major Arcana card. The card number is at the top of the scene, while the name is in a bottom border. The entire scene on each card is surrounded by a border rendered in shades of lavender. These symbols are easy to see, yet they do not detract from the artwork in each scene. Most of the Major Arcana scenes will be easily recognizable to those who are familiar with the Waite-Smith deck; however, there have been some changes made as well. For example the Hermit is a woman, the Wheel of Fortune shows the three Fates, and there is an angel at the Fool's shoulder. Many of the Major Arcana depict Gods and Goddesses or other mythological beings. The Hierophant is Chiron, the Hermit is Vesta, Death is Hecate and the Moon is Demeter, to name a few. When appropriate, the astrological glyph for the associated asteroid is also shown, as in the case of Chiron and Vesta. I found some of the symbolism puzzling, however. The Hierophant has the symbols for Sagittarius and Virgo, but not Taurus. Why?

The Minor Arcana are assigned to the Major Arcana figure of the same number and contain some aspect of the Major Arcana card's energy. For example the little booklet states: "The fives belong to the Hierophant; they each capture a situation where one must confront one's own truth." However, the interpretations for the fives are fairly traditional and do not necessarily bear out the quote. Most of the scenes rendered on the Minors are the artist's reinterpretation of Pamela Colman-Smith's work and are easily recognizable as such. The time period depicted seems to vary with some images appearing medieval and others much more modern (possibly 19th and 20th century). There is the occasional "ouch," such as the Yin-Yang symbol prominently and incongruously displayed on the two of cups. The Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight and Princess. Some interpretive changes have been made: "The Kings are extroverted and worldly, the Queens introverted and receptive. The Knights represent masculine action and the Princesses represent the seed of each suit." Again, the individual Court Card interpretations do not necessarily bear this out. The symbol for the element and an astrological sign are also included in each Court Card scene.

The little booklet that comes with this deck provides a brief description of the scene on each card, as well as a divinatory meaning. There are no reversed interpretations provided. It is about average as little booklets go. A separate book has been written for this deck, but it was not available at the time of this review. I look forward to seeing it, as there is a great deal of symbolism in this deck which I would like to see explained.

I recommend this deck for those who are familiar with the Waite-Smith deck and want something new. It could be an excellent vehicle for learning some of the esoteric correspondences, such as astrology and the Hebrew alphabet as they are on each Major Arcana card, but are not obtrusive. Those familiar with the Waite-Smith or one of its clones should be able to read with this deck right out of the box.

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

Spiral Tarot
ISBN: 1-57281-097-1
Published by US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford CT, 06902, (800) 544-2637, Fax: (203) 353-8400

See more cards from the Spiral Tarot Images Copyright 1997, U.S.Games Systems Inc.

This page is Copyright 1998 by Michele Jackson