Deviant Moon Tarot
Deviant Moon Tarot is the beautifully-made hardback companion book to the very popular Deviant Moon Tarot. It's an in-depth and behind the scenes look at the creative process of the deck, as well as all of the cards.
By Patrick Valenza
Book - 340 pages - Published by US Games
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The Deviant Moon Tarot companion book is hard cover (yes!), full color (yes!), solid, quality paper stock (yes!), with an absolutely amazing cover! Amazing art – that is a given with Valenza, combined with an equally amazing presentation of the art. I do not know that much about art presentation, so I queried Lynn Sparrow from U.S. Games Systems, Inc. about the process. She gave me the following description, one that was given to her by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Creative Director Paula Palmer (who designed the book!): “The cover has a matte finish with a crackle spot varnish for texture. The title and some of the art elements have foil stamping and the main image is debossed into the cover.” You have to see and feel this cover to truly appreciate it. Kudos to Mr. Valenza and Ms. Palmer!
The front and back inside pages are made to look like advertisements from the 1920’s – with a twist! The reader is invited to attend “The Social Event of the Year” (which is advertised as a night of debauchery!), to purchase scalp fertilizer for balding hair, to purchase “Elegant Urns for After the Burn” (this under funeral supplies!), to “Say Goodbye to a Healthy Body” (Madam Morte’s Mercury Cream), and more! It is fascinating to read each one of these ads! The flip side of life, as it were.
A lovely extra is card 49 (The Beast), which is included with the book. There is a separate card that includes a short paragraph about the Beast, along with upright and reversed meanings. Please note: The extra card is included only if the book is ordered directly from the author. It is not included if purchased anywhere else.
In the Deviant Tarot Valenza is well known for presenting wonderfully unique interpretations of the Tarot, using symbolism inspired by childhood dreams and visions. In his companion book, Valenza takes us behind the scenes of the Deviant Moon (which I have to admit took some getting used to for me when it first came out), to share where his creative inspiration came from, and to explain the artistic techniques that went into creating this deck.
In his preface, Valenza talks about the challenge of writing a companion book. He knew that he was up to the challenge, but did not realize how long it was going to take to finish the project. I love that he chose to work in the middle of the night, because that was when it was quiet. I am definitely a late night person myself. For Valenza, this book chronicles a personal journey with the Tarot that was at least thirty years in the making (beginning in his childhood), and was a true growth experience.
Valenza talks about his journey with the Tarot, which began in the mid-1970’s, when he was nine years old. He picked up his first deck at a local mall with his parents (not on their first trip, however – he had to be persistent!). This deck, however, had to be exchanged, as it was in French! The deck that he exchanged it for was a less ornate Tarot Classic deck. What a great gift for an actively intuitive child with imagination! Love the pics that Valenza shared of himself as a child. When an artist/author shares the background of their work, for me the work takes on a deep, “otherworldly” quality.
The original 13 cards for the Deviant Moon Tarot were created when Valenza was between the ages of 15 and 18. The card dimensions were based on the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, with a light coat of metallic gold paint being applied to the background of each image to create an ethereal glow. The cards had arched, Gothic borders, with the border color chosen to intuitively to compliment the color scheme of the painting. The character stylization was influenced by ancient Greek art.
When Valenza restarted the creation of the Deviant Moon in 2004 he switched from painting to digital photos. The rest is history! I absolutely love that amongst his photographic sources were cemeteries, where he took a tiny sample of dirt from the gateways each time he visited them (leaving a generous gift for the gatekeeper in return), asylums, parks, and historic sites. A bit scary? Valenza does talk about confronting his nightmares – and never having them return again!
Many of the images in this deck came to Valenza fully in a flash of insight, or in a lucid dream. Two write about the images in the cards, he had to go back and examine them again in order to discern their meanings.
Each card of the Major Arcana is presented with a full page, color photo, a short discussion of the energy of the card, upright and reversed meanings, and a bit about his journey in creating the card. Also included are more full page, full color photos, as well as smaller photos.
The section on the Minor Arcana begins with an explanation of the border colors (Swords – Red, Cups – Blue, Wands – Green, and Pentacles – Black), and the fact that the Minor Arcana were not conceived in Valenza’s youth, but in his adult years. Each card is presented with a full page, full color photo, a short discussion of the energy of the card, upright and reversed meanings, and a bit about the process of how the card was created. Full page, full color photos and sketches are included, as well as smaller photos.
I cannot say enough about what a joy this book is! Incredible quality, along with incredible depth. It will remain within reach at all times, as a resource, and not shelved! Filled with full color art on each page, U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has outdone itself in creating a quality product to showcase a quality product. If you don’t have the deck yet – go buy it! Then, of course, you need this incredible companion book to go with it! You could spend hours on the images alone, and even more hours on the how and why of this deck. Well worth your effort!
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.