The Maroon Tarot is of a world of unearthly tarot illustrations filled with light and space. A visually stunning, digital fantasy deck from a Polish artistic team, it's now out as a full 78-card deck. A free companion book is also available.
Review of the Full 78 Card Edition
In 2007 (out of Poland) came the self-published, Majors only “Maroon Tarot”, by Maja Zaworska and Tomasz Maronski. A gorgeous, ephemeral digital fantasy themed deck, there was an intention at the time to eventually publish a full 78 card version. That time has come! The full version is now available, along with an extra card (ala the Happy Squirrel in Kat Black’s “Touchstone Tarot”, or the Artist in Monika Clio Sakki’s “Sakki Sakki Tarot”) entitled the Reader. There is no LWB that comes with this deck, but there is a companion book due out later this year (The Maroon Tarot Companion), written by Chris Frost.
The cards follow a traditional theme, with traditional titles (Strength at VIII and Justice at XI). The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins. The Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight and Page.
The box that the cards come in is traditional, opening from the top. The cards are approximately 2 3/8” by 4 3/8”, of good quality card stock, with a semi-matt oil lack on both sides. The overall coloring is dark maroon, with reddish-gold highlights. The back shows a ¼” dark border, with a lighter, reddish-gold pattern surrounding a darker egg shape in the center of the card. In playing with the cards (which I am wont to do!), I found that by fanning them out (which some readers do, as part of choosing the cards to be read), a fantastic pattern of color bands forms. Okay – I may be easily amused, but try it – the effect produced is amazing!
The Major Arcana show the card name in gold lettering, in Polish, on the top left hand side of the card. On the top right hand side, in gold, are glyphs for the Hebrew letter and astrological sign/planet associated with the card. There are also elemental associations shown for The Fool, The Hanged Man, Judgment and The World. Under this, in the middle of the top of the card, is the Roman numeral assigned to the card. On the bottom of the card, in gold lettering, is the card title in English.
There is a reddish-gold “picture frame” type border surrounding the card graphic. The colors used are muted and largely dark, with lighter colored accents in blue, reddish-gold and a silver-white. The artwork is done in digital format, with a fantasy theme. Amongst my favorite cards are the Fool (shown facing the reader, holding aluminous butterfly on his right hand), the High Priestess (which shows a female figure in a futuristic setting, looking up a luminous figures in the sky), the Empress (which shows a young female figure, dressed in white, standing on a balcony, facing the left hand side of the card, looking out), and the Emperor (which shows a male figure in white robes, standing on a balcony, facing the right hand side of the card and looking out).
We cannot forget the Hermit! In this deck, we see a white robed, white bearded figure standing in a mist, facing the left hand side of the card. He carries a staf over his right shoulder, with a lit lamp hanging from the end of it.
The pips (numbered cards) show the card number and suit name in gold, in Polish, on the top left hand side of the card. The card number and suit are written across the bottom of the card, in English, in gold lettering. The Court Cards show the title and suit in gold lettering, in Polish, on the top left hand side of the card. The title and suit are written in English, in gold lettering, across the bottom of the card.
Some things will be noticed as the reader works with the cards. In some cards the figures will appear to be a normal size (compared to their surrounding), while in other cards they appear to be much smaller (i.e. the Magician, the High Priestess, the Lovers, the Chariot, and Judgment). The “Maroon Tarot” creates a fantasy world of its own, where all of this seems “normal”. All of the figures represent power of one sort or another. Another very interesting aspect of this deck is that while the overall color tone is dark, on each card there is a literal point of light to catch the eye!
I loved the Court Cards – they carry very special energy int his deck. In the suit of Coins, the King and Queen are both seated, facing the reader (with the Queen looking to the right hand side of the card), while the Knight and Page are both standing. In the suit of Wands, the King is seated, facing the left hand side of the card, while the Queen is standing, facing the reader, but looking to the right hand side of the card. The Knight and Page are both standing, looking to the right hand side of the card. In the suit of Cups, the King and Queen are shown in large blue shells, with the king standing, a staff in his left hand and his right hand holding a cup up to the sky. The Queen is seated, facing the reader. The Knight is standing, leading his horse, with his back to the reader. The page is standing, facing a cup on the right hand side of the card. The King of Swords is seated, facing forward. The Queen of Swords is seated, facing the right hand side of the card. The Page is standing, facing he right hand side of the card, while the Knight is seated on a horse, facing the right hand side of the card.
I find this deck very easy to work with, and adore the extra card (The Reader), who appears as a dark silhouette wearing a juggler type hat. This deck could be used for readings, in journeying or visualization, or as a focus for meditation. Because of the fantasy nature of the imagery, doors open to new levels of understanding. (For me they did … I feel they will for others also.)
This is an independently published deck, and can be purchased through their website. Please be very careful where you purchase this deck. It has been pirated by individuals in the Ukraine, and is being sold by them. The quality of these cards is poor, and should not be associated with the true deck. Please check the site for details.
© Bonnie Cehovet
The Maroon Tarot made a splash in the tarot world for its otherworldly fantasy imagery, when it was released in a 22 card edition in 2007. For the next two years fans waited with bated breath to find out whether there would ever be a full edition, or if they’d have to be content with the majors-only edition.
They were finally able to draw breath when publisher and conceptual creator Maja Zaworowska announced in 2009 that the full edition was on its way. Maja’s dream, brought to life by Polish artist Tomasz Maronski, is now printed and finally available in an edition of 500 copies, the full versions has 79 tarot cards (the standard 22 majors and 56 minor cards, plus an un-numbered card of a jester in silhouette, titled ‘the reader’).
The incredibly atmospheric artwork on these cards reminds me of the fantasy posters and artwork that were popular in the mid-nineties –- but better. Tomasz’s art conjures up wizards and sorcerers, cities of giants, a world of half-lit caverns inhabited by dragons, of elven barges, of knights and long-haired maidens. (Golum, well-known from the Lord of the Rings books and movies, makes an appearance in the Five of Swords.)
There are so many stunning cards it’s hard to pick out a few favourites. I like the interpretation of the Six of Wands – a bare-chested man stands exultantly holding two staves at the top of a mountain, bathed in light. In the Ace of Wands, a hand emerging from dawn-lit clouds, holds a sprouting stave over a still dark valley. In Temperance, an orange hummingbird hovers, motionless, poised to feed from a single stemmed, open pink flower. It’s a beautiful image of equilibrium.
There’s a Rider-Waite flavour to some of the cards, recognisable especially in the Nine and Ten of Cups and the Queen of Swords. Elsewhere the cards take a unique Maroon Tarot turn in their imagery, but manage to convey the feeling of the archetype of the card without having to slavishly stick to the traditional symbolism. There are also some interesting interpretations of individual cards. In Strength, a clenched fist merges with a tower-like building, standing over a small town. It’s an image of overt strength, even force, rather than the Rider-Waite picture of gentle control. The Page of Swords is refreshingly literal: there is a young man guiding a guide filled with shields and weapons – an actual page of swords! In the Wheel of Fortune: a tiny, almost insignificant man stands in front of a huge, multi-story round, spoked window.
Onto the physical detail of the cards. The cards are 7 x 12cm - a comfortable size to shuffle and hold in the hand, but still big enough to see image details - and are laminated to a high gloss, and cut with rounded corners. The backs are reversible, with a sinewy wood-grained edging and oval around a central golden sphere (it is a different back to the original majors-only edition). The box looks very similar in style to the cards but has been matte laminated.
There’s no booklet or companion leaflet packaged with the cards, so the imagery and symbolism of the cards are up to the reader to interpret. The cards have prominent titles in Polish at the top left of the cards, and English titles at the base, so it’s not absolutely necessary to rely entirely on the symbolism to identify the card.
While the Maroon Tarot is a stunning tarot deck, due to the lack of a booklet and the original interpretation of many cards it’s best suited to those who are familiar with different tarot decks and don’t mind getting to grips with a unique but beautiful deck. For there are plenty of pretty decks on the market, but few with the jaw-dropping, breath-taking beauty of the Maroon Tarot.
The "Maroon Tarot" is an independently published, majors only deck from Poland. It is a fantasy based deck, bearing traditional card titles, done in digital art format. There is one extra card, entitled the Reader (similar to the Artist card in the "Sakki Sakki Tarot"). The idea behind this deck goes back a decade, even thought the first cards did not come into being until December of 2006. There is an interesting note on the site that the Minor Arcana should be finished mid-2008, and that those who have already purchased the Major Arcana will receive a 25% discount on the cards.
The name of the deck comes from the color of the border (and, perhaps not so incidentally, a takeoff on the name of the artist. The coloring is dark and intense. The cards come in a lovely velvet bag, whose color blends beautiful with that of the cards. I was very impressed (and deeply touched) to see that a small card was attached to the bag, with the words "Thank You" on it, along with a smiley face. I intend to leave the card on the bag. :) The cards are not shrink wrapped, but they do have a solid band around them, and were enclosed in loose plastic. The shipping envelope protected the cards, so that they would arrive at any destination in good shape.
There is no LWB (Little White Book) with this deck. However, there is a site (www.kartytarota.pl) with background information on the deck, and several sections that are still in development: information on the cards themselves, Tarot history, and Tarot spreads.
The cards themselves are 7 cm by 12 cm (approximately 2 3/4" by 4 5/8"), and of good quality, sturdy card stock. On the site it notes that the cards are UV lack on both sides. I have no clue what this means, but the cards are glossy and gorgeous!
The back of the cards shows a dark maroon colored graphic, framing what looks like a doorknob in the center of the card. The deck name appears across the bottom of the cards. The front of the cards shows the same dark, ornate border, appearing rather as a picture frame for the scene inside.
At the top of the card is the card title in large, bold, gold colored letters, in Polish, on the left hand side of the card. (Note: The card titles are the traditional Tarot titles, with Strength as VIII and Justice as XI.) On the right hand side is the Hebrew letter for the card, and its Astrological, Planetary and Elemental association. The card number, in Roman numerals, is shown centered at the top of the scene. Centered on the bottom of the card, in small script, is the card title in English.
Within each scene there is a focus of light. For the Fool, the focus of light is the delicate butterfly that has landed on his hand (note: in this deck, the Fool faces the reader). For the High Priestess, the light appears as lightening between buildings that are acting as the traditional Tarot pillars. The Empress is a stunning card, showing a youthful female figure standing in a parapet, looking out to the left hand side of the card. Her white dress and her crown are luminous. The Emperor stands on a similar parapet, looking out to the left hand side of the card, with the parapet and the flowing ends of his robe, as well as his crown, being luminous.
The Chariot shows some type of fantasy creature, with a figure in a flowing red robe standing in its mouth. The light is behind the head of the creature. The Hermit stands in a luminous white mist, wearing a white, hooded robe, facing the left hand side of the card. His lamp is held over his left shoulder, so that it is behind him.
The Wheel of Fortune shows a luminous blue light in the center of the wheel. The Hanged Man literally hangs in a luminous, cave like atmosphere! Temperance is one of my favorite cards, showing a green background with a tree and grass, with a long stemmed red flower on the left hand side of the picture, with a small red bird drinking nectar from it. The light here comes from the back of the scene.
The Star shows a luminous star shining at what appears to be the end of a row of buildings. I love the card of Strength, which shows a hand, in the form of a fist, rising up from what appears to be a castle. The right hand side of the hand and the bottom lift hand side of the castle are illuminated (along with three windows in the castle). The World shows an illuminated globe at the end of a body of water, with cliffs rising on either side.
I am not necessarily a fan of fantasy Tarot decks, but I am attracted to this one! I look forward to seeing what is done with the Minor Arcana. I also look forward to seeing the site fleshed out so that we get some idea of what the author intended for this deck. Bravo to independent publishers!
© Bonnie Cehovet
On occasion, a Tarotist anticipates and enjoys the experience of an immediate, viable connection with a new deck. This was the case when I received my copy of the Maroon Tarot. I don’t make strong connections with decks very often, but I sensed and hoped I would when I saw this deck online because the images on screen seemed to glow and reach out to me. Although the digital images represent the deck well, it was no comparison once I got in my hands. I was elated.
The Maroon Tarot is a major’s only, digital art, fantasy deck created and published in Poland. It is painted by Tomasz Maronski and the idea, production and copyright credits belong to Educatio (aka Maja). The name, Maroon Tarot, comes from the development of the cards borders and the coincidence the artist name, Maronski, is similar to the name of the color maroon in English. Incidentally, I found the idea of naming the deck after a color interesting in regards to its association with the psychological aspect of color symbolism. The color maroon is symbolic of courage and strength. This deck has a great deal of profundity and reflects these characteristics accordingly. It’s a digital imagery deck with a dark, solemn appeal which reflects a bright, warm ray of light in each card. The UV lack coating on the cards enhances the quality and seems to make the cards take on a radiant glow. The unusual borders enhance the cards with a window effect which almost looks like you are peering into another dimension.
The deck is good quality cardstock, 68 mm W x 115 mm H. The deck comes in a velvet bag with nice little band around the cards. On the website, the bag looks bright red, but it is actually maroon. It’s well protected in plastic, but not shrink wrapped.
Each card has the title in English and Polish, which makes it unusually interesting and fun to learn the polish translation of the major arcane names. The cards have corresponding symbols on the top right, which is nice for quick reference when exploring correspondence and dignities.
This deck has a great deal of depth and emotional appeal. It’s a serious deck, with a unique allure because several of the characters of the major arcane have their backs turned in the card. I found the Death card to be unusual because the Reaper is sitting alone in a stormy field. The Fool is by far the most exceptional card of the deck. The Fool’s connection with the butterfly is significant because butterflies represent the keeper of secrets and indicate change, joy and light. It evokes the concept of content reflection. The most beautiful card of the deck is Temperance which shows a humming bird delicately balancing itself in the air while drawing nectar from a flower which is a distinctive representation of the concept of balance. There is an additional card called The Reader which is a silhouette of a jester sitting in dim light. It is the only card without the signature glow. I believe this card would be useful for a Tarotist to Tarotist reading exchange. It could be used as the significator for a reading designed to help a Tarotist explore their role as a Reader.
I will confess, I am not an avid fan of digitally created decks, but I take exception to this one because it doesn’t over focus on the personalities of the majors, rather it peers into the environment. I experienced success when reading with this deck. The cards flowed well and invoked my intuitive spirit quite intensely. The reading was accurate and the cards did force focus on the deeper meaning of the querents matter. Unfortunately, no companion book is offered with the deck and the card description page on the website is still in development. I don’t find this significantly hindering because each card speaks out for itself very clearly and leaves much to the imagination. The deck is not fully complete. The pips and courts are scheduled to be published in 2008. Again, not a major issue because the majors only version is a strong deck in itself. I hope they maintain the contemplative theme of the majors throughout the pips and courts.
I recommend this deck to beginner, intermediate and advance Tarotist but warn it does carry a strong aura and somber intensity. It is not a deck for the light of heart, nor is it a deck for basic study of Tarot unless a companion book becomes available. If you like computer generated decks like the Gilded Tarot and Tarot Deck of Athennium, you’ll definitely like this one. Even if digital imagery is not your taste, this is still one to love considering its unique qualities and origin. We don’t see to many decks coming out of Poland, so this fact alone makes it a treat.