Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The "Quest Tarot" is an absolutely
stunning deck - an opinion shared by others as indicated by
some very special words in the front of this book. From
"Once upon a time, in a land far
away, a gentle sleeper dreamed visions for you of raw
power and universal potentials. Use this deck to see
into alternate realities, access forces prior to
manifestation, and create change before it appears in the
tangible. This is a deck for explorers of magickal planes
Mary K. Greer - author of "Tarot For
Yourself" and Tarot Reversals
"Joseph Martin's "Quest
Tarot" images are vivid and exciting, a wonderful new
addition to Tarot possibilities. With inspiration from
ancient and modern Tarot spiritual traditions, they invite
us to journey with them into exciting new
Rachel Pollack - author of "78 Degrees Of Wisdom", "The
Forest Of Souls" and creator of "The Shining Tribe
All this before I really even opened the book (The
Compass Guide To The Quest Tarot) that accompanies the
deck! This deck began with a challenge - to create just
one card within one week. The challenge was well met.
The author is a very humble person, ready to credit
everyone along his path that mentored him, encouraged him
and supported him. The result is a wonderful Tarot
deck that is a most supportive tool in anyone's
The intent of this deck is to present the student with
a tool that will encourage their personal growth
while at the same time carrying the quality of fun.
Truly, when we can connect with the child within, when we
can learn to laugh at the most "serious" aspects of
our lives, we are well on the Fool's Journey.
very beginning of the book, Martin sets the tone for
all that is to follow. He gives the student a list of
what what is "necessary" for working with the Tarot:
the deck, a square of silk to wrap it in, a wooden or
granite box to keep the wrapped deck in, a Tarot cloth, a
wooden or granite topped table to read on and a sheet to
record your Quest Tarot readings on. Many will not
consider all of this necessary, and certainly how each
student deals with these aspects of tarot is up to them,
but it shows the level of respect and humbleness that
lives in the author. He offers us the highest - we will
take what we will, and leave the rest behind.
Martin takes the esoteric world that is traditionally
considered part of Tarot and presents it to us with great
depth. One of the first things that we see is a chart of
the astrological attributes for each of the cards. Not
just the name of the planet, but an short explanation
of how the energy of the planet presents itself in
One of the first features presented that
are unique to this deck is the yes/no feature. On the
court cards Martin has included the dagger symbols -
some in the dagger up (yes) position, some in the
dagger down (no) position, some with one dagger up and
one dagger down (the maybe position), some in the
dagger to the right (answer lies in the future) position,
some in the dagger to the left (answer lies in the
past) position. Depending on how the cards fall, the
answer can be yes, no, maybe, the answer lies in the
future or the answer lies in the past. From my point of
view, this gives more credibility to this spread that I
normally would give. There are more options and greater
depth to this type of reading.
Martin has chosen to use
the traditional seasonal nature of the Aces as a
device for determining timelines. On each Ace there is a
clock, indicating the proper months. For example, a clock
reading 12, 1 and 2 indicates the months of December,
January and February. Martin also gives an alternative
method for determining timing by using the cards and
numerology in a Celtic Cross spread.
Gemstones are another
esoteric system that is included in this deck. Martin
includes charts for gemstone associations for the months of
the year, for the astrological signs, for planets and
stars and for ayurvedic and mythological birthstones. He
also includes a description of each stone.
interesting inclusion are the Hebrew letters. Hebrew letters
are included on the cards, and there are short
descriptions of the energy of the letters so that they can be
read in conjunction with the cards.
presentation has been made for the I Ching and the Runes -
esoteric oracles that contain their own forms of
The Court Cards in this deck have many ways of
expressing them. To show the arising feminine aspect of our
current times, the Court Cards have been rearranged so
that the feminine is the primary aspect - instead of
King, Queen, Knight, Page we now have Mother (Queen),
Father (King), Daughter (Page) and Son (Knight). Martin
sees the Court Cards primarily as people within the
Seekers life. The Court Cards are coded across the top for
skin color (the small outside circles), eye color (the
large circles in the upper corners) and hair color (the
two smaller inside circles).
Several different types
of games that can be played with the Tarot are
included in this book. These can be done at a party, as
part of a class or seminar, with friends - wherever the
Tarot can be best used. "The Story Circle" is literally
a game in which cards are drawn at random, and a
story is told. "Who Am I" has people drawing cards and
having the rest of the group guess what card t hey are
holding by the clues that they give. There is even a Quest
version of poker and an interesting spelling game. All of
these are wonderful ways to become familiar with the
Tarot - a true gift from the author.
There is also an
inclusion here of a "Blank" card. Martin encourages us to
make this Blank card a tool that encompasses who we are
as individuals. In essence, this card becomes "us" in
any reading. It can be used as a significator or as an
added card for personal readings. Additionally, the
Blank Card may also be used to create an energy that the
student feel that they want to add to the deck, much as
the "Master" card in the Osho Zen deck.
descriptions of the cards and their energies are presented in a
very coherent manner. One page is given to a black and
white scan of the card, along with a description of all
of the symbols included on the card. General
information is then given, along with upright and reversed
meanings for the cards.
The cards are 2 3/4 " by 4 1.2 ",
on good quality glossy card stock. The backs feature
a blue/green border, surrounding a darker blue
inset. In the middle of the card is a light blue eye,
that appears to be reflecting something. In the upper
right hand corner is a gold sun, in the lower right hand
corner is a gold quarter moon. In the upper left hand
corner we see a golden triangle, in the lower left hand
corner a golden square. Each Major Arcana card shows the
gemstone association, astrological symbol, gemstone
influences, card number, Hebrew letter and Rune symbol along
the top. Along the bottom we see The gemstone
associations, the Roman letter, and the name of the card. Each
Minor Arcana card shows, along the top, the gemstone
association, the astrological sign, the astrological planet,
the card number, gemstone influence and I Ching
hexagram. Along the bottom we see the gemstone association,
the Roman letter and the name of the card, with each
card bordered by a color identifying the suit.
so out of breath - there is depth, breadth and more
to this deck. It will take the Seeker as far as they
want to go, as fast as they want to go. While the cards
are a bit "busy", I recommend this system to all
students/Seekers, at all levels.
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.
Review by Solandia
Professional artist and tarot reader, Joseph Ernest Martin, has created a uniquely modern tarot set, designed to give direct answers to yes/no questions and spell out words, and still be suitable for more traditional tarot readings.
The art of the Quest Tarot, created by 3D modelling software, blends Rider-Waite-Smith, Thoth and the author's personal symbolism into a shimmering, dream-like, magical Tarot universe. Despite being fully computer-generated, there's little of the sterility found in some other computer-based decks, such as the One World Tarot.
All of the people in the cards are coloured in solid metallic or transparent hues and tones. The sex of the person is clear but their skin colour is not, as the author intended for this to be 'universal' tarot without these boundaries. With this in mind, the Lovers card has also been updated to encompass three sexual orientations, and the gender of the people on the card has been left deliberately ambiguous.
Suits are Cups, Wands, Swords and Stones (instead of Pentacles or Coins). The court cards don't exactly match the King/Queen/Knight/Page archetypes that are most familiar to us. Instead, they are named and based on Son, Daughter, Father, Mother archetypes. (The feminine cards also have the higher position in the card order for the first time.) The minor cards have similarities to the Thoth minor arcana, being decorated pips rather than full tarot scenes with people, a la Colman Smith.
Included in the Quest Tarot are two extra cards. The blank card is intended to represent the unknowable, but is also provided so you, the reader, can create a personal card for your deck. The second new card, titled the Multiverse, is a visual depiction of Martin's belief that there are multiple parallel universes and that we can switch between them at will.
All 80 cards have an elaborate border framing the central tarot scene, which holds the symbols and clues for using the cards to gain answers to direct divinatory questions. Outlined in gold, these borders show:
- Astrological sign and planet
- Rune or I Ching hexagram
- Gemstone influences and associations
- Hebrew letter (majors only)
- Hair and eye colours (court cards)
- Roman letter (all cards)
Using all of these associations is explained in the companion book, The Compass: Guide to the Quest Tarot. Joseph Martin's intent is to get the reader 'up and running' with this set as fast as possible, without overwhelming them with an entire history of the Qabalah, Astrology or I Ching. Martin does cover these and other basic tarot topics in the book, but briefly and with just enough detail.
In addition to the introductory info and the card pictures and meanings, The Compass has sections on using the cards for yes/no questions, a system for foretelling timelines, how to read physical characteristics and spelling out words with the cards, and even a few tarot party games. (Instructions for playing Tarot Poker seem a little unexpected in such a spiritual tarot book, but games are one of the oldest uses for tarot cards.) A three-card, ten-card and the eleven-card Quest Tarot spread are also included.
The Quest Tarot is a self-contained tarot set that succeeds admirably in its goal to get newcomers started with tarot as quickly as possible. Its novel approach to fortune telling and tarot imagery should hold interest the more experienced reader as well.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.