Yeager Tarot of Meditation

Written by  on December 18, 2015 

It’s interesting to see how some decades-old decks don’t seem dated at all, while others date themselves terribly. The Yeager Tarot of Meditation, while having some interesting and attractive cards, unfortunately falls into the latter category.
This deck was originally published in 1975 by the artist and Ken Hickenbottom under the title “The Tarot.” U.S. Games bought the rights and released a new edition of the deck in 1982. The U.S. Games edition is notorious for covering up the male nudity on many of the cards with various articles of clothing and leaves. However, the U.S. Games employee charged with finding the offending members apparently missed a few cards, such as Judgement and the Moon.
While the Morgan-Greer and Aquarian decks evoke a pop-art mode of ‘70s commercial art which is still palatable, the Yeager deck brings to mind other styles from the ‘70s which are not as fondly remembered, and sometimes borders on kitsch (defined in my American Heritage College Dictionary as “characterized by sentimental, often pretentious bad taste”.) Many of the cards look as if they ought to be rendered in black velour and ultraviolet ink (I hope some of my readers will be old enough to remember such pictures!). The orange and black borders and the typeface chosen for the titles don’t help matters much.
Yeager is a talented artist, though. He is excellent at natural backgrounds; his Hermit card has wonderful mountains. He’s also good at the human body. But, unlike the detailed bodies, his faces sometimes seem hastily executed. And many of the cards are strangely fuzzy, as if the camera which photographed the paintings were slightly out of focus. Yeager takes a cosmic perspective and for the most part the Majors seem well-thought-out.
I rather like the Death card, showing a nude woman with a scythe, hiding her face, while in the background a rainbow stretches against a gloomy sky. This card really evokes a mood, and is an original and interesting depiction of Death. I also rather like the Moon card, where the two dogs are replaced by two nude men.
I wish that Yeager had conceived his Minor Arcana differently. Some of the Court cards look like refugees from a poster for an all-male strip joint, especially the Pages, who mostly wear only headbands, briefs and boots. The Knights all wear only briefs, the Queens only skirts, and the Kings briefs and sandals. In another kitschy touch, the thrones of the Kings and Queens and the headbands of the Pages bear strange words which at first seem reminiscent of Enochian angels, but on close inspection it turns out they’re anagrams of explanatory phrases. (tarotpassages.com)

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