Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot deck

Written by  on November 30, 2015 

The Classic Tarot follows the Rider Waite Smith very closely. Not every detail is reproduced in the same way (such as the pomegranate tree on the veil behind the High Priestess) but anyone familiar with the original Waite deck would have little problem transferring their knowledge to this one. Some cards are a little different to those in the original.
In the 7 of Swords a man is shown climbing away from the scene of a crime. In her accompanying book, Barbara Moore presents a twist, asking whether this is an act of theft or rescue. She suggests that the conclusion drawn is down to the perspective of the individuals involved. Having spoken to my own students about how no card is wholly negative or wholly positive, I like this way of looking at the card. You may remember this advertisement from The Guardian newspaper in the 1980s. Barbara’s prompt reminds me of how limited our view can often be and this has helped me to see the 7 of Swords in a different way. Could he be climbing back up to the tent to return the swords?
The colouring in this set is one of its strong points. Being borderless, it allows the images to flow more easily together in readings. In one pair (The Empress and The Emperor), the two images practically join up to make one. There is a comic book style to Eugene Smith’s art, which is possibly why it reminds me of illustrations within a children’s story book. Most of the characters in the cards are active, which gives this deck a lively personality. I find this boosts a reading, as oppose to when designers pose people awkwardly in melodramatic freeze-frames. As an example, it is easier to explain The Hermit’s journey when he is shown putting one foot in front of the other, rather than standing at the peak of a mountain, doing nothing.
I would not say that this is my preferred style of art but Smith receives full-marks for consistency. My biggest peeve with tarot decks is a recognisable difference in artistic style between the Major and Minor Arcana. In this deck, every card has been given the same amount of effort and is consistent in style. I hardly use my Fenestra Tarot because of the more ornate major cards and found the difference between the style of faces in The Illuminati disappointing. If I were to find fault, I’d say that many of the faces in these cards look too similar for them to have their own identity. As an example, the Queens all look extremely alike. The majority of characters have very strong jaw-lines, which results in the majority of females appearing masculine. (tiferettarot.wordpress.com)

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