Review by Solandia
Once Upon a Time...
Fortuna, the Goddess of Fortune and Luck held a grand masqued ball in her villa among the stars, inviting many mysterious guests from the far corners of many different worlds. But like many occasions held by the fickle Lady of Fortune, Time moved fluidly through the endless night, until a moment.. no more than an illusion, but a very powerful one… was determined to usher in an entirely new era.
That moment chosen to break the barriers of the eternal Now was the stroke of Midnight.
Robyn Tisch Hollister is a professional Tarot reader with twenty years experience, a costumer, a mask-maker, and a puppeteer. She combined her skills and her love of Mardi Gras and Carnival to create the Tarot of the Midnight Masquerade, a themed fantasy deck that takes place in a grand ball in the few hours before midnight. Intended to be a full 78-card deck eventually, this limited, hand-published edition has the major arcana, Aces, and a couple of bonus cards.
Along with the 22 Rider-Waite inspired major arcana, there are two extra majors - an alternate Wheel of Fortune card, and the Happy Squirrel card (inspired by an episode of The Simpsons), plus the four Aces. Included as well is a ‘Tarot of the Midnight Masquerade’ card that is illustrated with a masked Tarot reader, signed and numbered by Robyn, and another card explaining the theme of the deck.
All of the cards have been painted in bright, strong acrylics on press board and highlighted with metallics. The end product has a soft-focus look - not quite blurry but not crisp - which adds to the fantasy feel. Wonderfully, they are also borderless and so there’s no distracting frame around the imagery.
My own favourite cards are the Tower, with its bewigged courtier carrying a huge tiered wedding cake that is just starting to topple (the figurines from the top of the cake are falling through the air), and the Star. She is less innocent-looking than is traditional; instead a straight-backed Latin dancer with a huge brightly coloured feather head-dress, ruffled skirt and spangled bikini, and a parrot on her shoulder pours water from vessels in both hands. The Devil is also clever: a bat-winged, horned, red-masked, goateed but debonair man holds marionette strings in both hands and is controlling a costumed man and woman on the tiny stage below him.
The Tarot of the Midnight Masquerade comes in an appropriately luxurious set: a hand-painted wooden box with sliding lid. All 100 boxes in this edition have a unique painting of another guest: mine is of Lunare, the Lady of the Silvery Orb, who is painted (masked, of course) on the front with a jewel above her to represent the moon. On the reverse of the lid, her and her qualities of the Sister of the Cycles and the Royal Ambassador of the Moon are revealed.
Inside the box, the cards are wrapped in gold paper like a gift, tied with ribbon and sealed gently with wax. There is a rolled scroll, tied with a small elastic band that has a gold mask charm. The scroll is written as though it is an invitation, introducing you, by title, to the main characters to be at the ball – who are, of course, the Major Arcana.
An Invitation to a Grand Ball
The Air is heavily scented with Mystery,
And fairly crackles with festive anticipation
Guests begin to arrive to the Villa de Fortuna...
One by one they enter through the richly draped thresholds,
Past the masked sentries, the musicians gallery,
With secret smiles on their lips,
And each one is presented to the gathered assemblage
By the royal herald...
Everyone is introduced by title:
0 The Fool – Royal Jester to the Court of Risks, Merry Mountebank of the Journey Onward, Harbinger of the New Beginning, and the Courier of Faith Unknown.
17 The Star – The Bright Lady, Emissary of the Realm of Miracles, the Diplomat of Optimism, and faithful Agent of Hope, and the Inspired Reverance.
The Happy Squirrel – The Appointee of Saving and Planning, Delegate of Deceiving Appearances, Courier of Personal Reality Checks, and the Representative of Fluff and Teeth.
The Tarot of the Midnight Masquerade is a numbered collector’s edition and a work of art in its own right. I love the creativity of this deck, the attention to the detail in the cards themselves (every costume is different) and in the whole package - you feel like you’ve stepped into a dream-like ball of beautifully dressed elegance, magic, and seduction.
You can see Robyn’s minor arcana for the Tarot of the Midnight Masquerade as they are completed, on the Tarot Deck Creation board of the Aeclectic Tarot Forum.