A Life Sketches a Tarot is an interesting blend, illustrating the symbolic tradition of the Rider-Waite in a more Thoth-related style. The 78-card deck is intended for meditation and prayer, and is available from Gamecrafter.
“A Life Sketches A Tarot” is a 78 card deck formatted along traditional guidelines – traditional titles are used for the Major Arcana, with Justice at VIII and Strength at XI. The suits are entitled Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with the Court Cards titled Page, Knight, Queen, and King.
This is an artist’s journey through his own spirituality. There is a small, 15 page LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies the deck. The first few pages of the book present an elegant version of a creation story. It starts “Once upon a time”, with a God and a great void. In the end there is the Fool, beginning his journey n the art that is life.
The LWB is text only, listing meditative meanings, positive aspects and negative aspects (also listed for some cards as reversed aspects) for each of the Major Arcana cards. From the book:
Meditative meaning: I must awaken from strongly held beliefs, perceptions, attitudes. And behaviors, to release myself from bondage and feel the inspiration, freedom, reality of this necessary experience that from very destruction comes creation.
Upright aspects: sudden change, revelation, falling down, releasing
Reverse aspects: peace, serenity, victory, control
At the end of the Major Arcana section Seagroves notes that “These are but notes of each card’s meanings. To find the truth of each meaning one must search from within. Such is the way of life.”
The four suits are presented with the Elemental association, and a chart of associations for each of the numbered and Court cards. The associations for Wands are Fire/Inspiration/Signs, for Cups Water/Emotion/Signs, for Swords Air/Thought/Signs, for Pentacles Earth/Material Body/Signs.
The cards themselves are 3” by 5”, of quality card stock. The backs show a black and white tile floor, with an image of a two black and white Fools dancing upon it. The backs are reversible.
One very interesting thing about this deck is that the Minor Arcana came with paired Kings, Queens. Knights, Pages, and each of the pips were all together, rather than sorted by suit, which made comparison of specific cards across suits very easy. .
The Major Arcana card faces show a ¼” black border, with a thin gold inner border. The card number for the Major Arcana is centered at the top in white Roman numerals. The card title is across the bottom in white lettering. Each image appears as if in a picture frame.
For the most part, the imagery is traditional Rider-Waite-Smith, The High Priestess is shown reclining, rather than seated, the Emperor is shown with a black bird flying in the background, Temperance shows an Angel with wings, the Lovers shows a nude male and female embracing, with an apple hanging from a tree outside their window. The Wheel of Fortune shows a wheel filled with Hebrew symbols and astrological signs. Strength shows a figure facing a red lion, which has the figure eight symbol on its forehead. Death shows a figure facing a corridor of alternating black and white frames, each smaller than the last. The Devil shows a male figure facing away from the reader. The Sun shows the image of Vitruvian Man.
The Aces have the title and suit written in white across the bottom of the card. The Pips (numbered cards) show the number centered at the top, in Roman numerals. The images all appear against a scroll-like parchment background, with the Ace of Wands and the Ace of being held by a hand.
The Court cards show a ¼” black border, with the title and suit in white lettering across the bottom of the card, with the symbols for the element and signs across the top. The Pages of Wands, Swords, and Cups face towards the right hand side of the card, while the Page of Cups face to the left hand side. The Pages in this deck are interesting, as the are presented with a Mardi Gras type mask floating above the body, rather than a head. The Knights show a silhouette of a horse’s head, with the Wands and Swords facing to the left hand side of the card, and the Cups and Pentacles facing to the right hand side of the card. The Queen of Wands faces forward, while the Queen of Quips and the Queen of Pentacles face towards the left hand side of the card, and the Queen of Swords to the right hand side of the card. The King of Wands faces to the left hand side of the card, while the King of Cups, the King of Swords and the King of Pentacles all face forward. All of the Kings show mature men, with the exception of a young looking King of Cups.
The pips are not exactly Marseilles style, but they do use minimal imagery. The images are on a scroll like, parchment background. Some of the borders are done in white, some are done in black. Some of the imagery has intense coloring, some is black and white.
I appreciated the subtle use of esoteric symbols, as well as the use of elemental and astrological symbols. This is a deck that can be used for meditation and ritual, as well as for normal reading purposes. The one thing that I would have liked to have seen was a more extensive LWB, especially with a bit of background into the deck.
© Bonnie Cehovet