Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The Pirate Tarot is a 78 card, pirate themed deck using the traditional foundation of 78 cards 22 Major Arcana (Strength VIII, Justice XI) , 40 Pips (numbered cards) and 12 Court Cards. The traditional Major Arcana titles are used, with the following exceptions: The Chirurgeon (The Magician), The Figurehead (The High Priestess), The Bosun (The Hierophant), The Winds (Wheel of Fortune), and The Plank (Judgment). The four suits are Pistols, Cups, Swords and Coins. The Court Card titles are Captain (King), Lady Captain (Queen), First Mate (Knight) and Cabin Boy (Page).
The deck comes in a box that opens on the top, from the back. At the top on the back side is a 1 high section with a cutout in the middle, so that the cards can be hung in a store environment for viewing. This presents a problem for storage, but the section can be cut off without affecting the box itself.
There is no companion book or Little White Book (LWB) accompanying the deck. There is an extra card that gives a few facts about the deck (such as the fact that the deck came about when the authors were looking for a deck that could be engraved on wood. In the spring of 2006 the 22 Major Arcana cards were engraved onto Cherry wood, and originally sold through the authors company Dragonfire Laser Crafts. The entire deck is presented (for the first time) through Schiffer Books. Wooden copies are available through the authors website www.dragonfire-games.com.
There is an insert that comes with the deck that presents two spreads the Three-Card Spread and the traditional Celtic Cross Spread, along with instructions for the trick-taking game of Tarrochi.
The artwork on the deck is line drawing, with great attention to detail. An effort has been made to follow traditional Tarot imagery (translated into the Pirate theme). There is a true sense of fun with this deck that makes it very easy to work with.
The cards are approximately 3 5/8 by 5 Ό, of good quality, glossy card stock. The backs are light brown (wood colored), with a 1/8 dark brown border inset Ό from the outside edge of the card. The middle of the card features reversible pirate skull and crossbones.
The card faces show a 1/8 white border on the top, bottom and right hand side. On the left hand side there is a 1 white border, with the word Pirate running from the bottom to the top of the card, in large, light brown lettering. The imagery on the cards is dark brown lines on a lighter brown background. At the bottom of the image is the card title (for the Major Arcana), the title and suit (for the Court Cards), or the card number (for the Pips). Underneath the card image for all of the cards, in small, dark brown lettering, are keywords.
Some of my favorite cards are:
The Sun (keywords Contentment, Clarity, Confidence) The imagery here is that of the sun and clouds in the background, with a very pleased cat in the foreground, holding a pirate banner in his right paw, with his left paw on a fish (the scene is on the deck of the ship).
Temperance (keywords Synthesis, Harmony, Moderation) The imager here is that of a pirate, shown standing on the shore by a tree, water in the background and the sun setting, pouring liquid from a cup in his left hand to one in his right hand. On his head is a jug, with the symbol of a upward triangle within a square on it.
Strength (keywords Courage, Fortitude, Patience) The image here is that of a young girl, at the wheel of the ship during a storm with wind, rain and lightening surrounding her. (I do like this card, but it does veer off to the side of physical strength over the traditional sense of internal choice.)
Six of Swords (keywords Endurance, Mourning, Journeying) This is an interesting card. It shows the traditional figure in a boat, looking down as the boat crosses the water but there is no one piloting the boat.
Ten of Coins (keywords Affluence, Reflection, Retirement) The image her is that of a pirate, sitting at a table, smoking his pipe. His right hand is on the map in front of him (there are several maps on the table, along with a caliper).
Justice (keywords Balance, Consequences, Responsibility) The image here is of a female figure, standing, with the scales in her right hand and a hangmans noose in her left hand. Hanging betweent he two pillars behind her we see a banner with a skull in the center, what appears to be a staight bone under it, a heart to the left and a knife, pointed down, to the right.
Some of the keywords are used on more than one card, but I feel that if they are taken into consideration with the overall energy of each card that this is not a distraction.
This deck would be of interest to collectors, or to those with an interest in the pirate theme in general. The artwork is beautifully done, which makes this deck one that is fun to work with. It can be readily used by all levels of readers, but would more than likely not work for ritual or ceremonial purposes.
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.