Iconic Tarot Decks
The History, Symbolism
and Design of Over 50 Decks
by Sarah Bartlett
Publisher: White Lion Publishing
Publication Date: 4/20/2021
Iconic Tarot Decks: The History, Symbolism and Design of Over 50 Decks by Sarah Bartlett is due for release on April 20, 2021. It will be published by White Lion Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group, 100 Cummings Center, Suite 265-D, Beverly, MA 01915. Because this book will not publish until next month, I am reviewing a pre-release digital copy of only the meat of the book, without introductions, explanations, or bibliographies. The published version will be a 7.6 inch by 9.5 inch hardback, with 224 pages.
My digital review copy begins with Chapter 1, Influential Decks, which focuses on decks that have been the most influential in the author’s opinion in Tarot history. The first deck discussed in this chapter is the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, one of the earliest hand-painted decks, an amazing start to an amazing book. Each page describing the history, background, culture, artists, and symbolism of this deck also includes color images of the cards, enabling the reader to read the story of the deck and look at card images at the same time. Also included in this section is the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, along with lots of useful background information about the culture behind the cards as well as information on the symbolism within individual images.
Chapter 2 covers Beginner’s Divination Decks. With the same setup as Chapter 1, here we find wonderful examples of Tarot decks using imagery full of traditional symbolism that is presented in a less-traditional manner. My own first-ever Tarot deck, The Morgan Greer Tarot, is included in this chapter. Whether drawn to the ArtDeco of The Aquarian Tarot, the fantasy interpretation in the Crystal Visions Tarot, or the digital collage of The Golden Tarot, readers of all levels will surely find something interesting here. Chapter 3 is titled Art and Collectors’ Decks. Here is a chapter in which I could easily lose myself. Some of the decks described and explained here are familiar to me, such as The Wild Unknown Tarot and The Deviant Moon Tarot, and others present fascinating new interpretations of Tarot symbolism. How could we not be drawn to Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights, The Golden Tarot of the Renaissance, or The Golden Tarot of Klimt?
Chapter 4 covers Esoteric and Occult Decks. If you are looking to delve more deeply into the occult symbolism of the Tarot, the decks presented here will tantalize you. The English Magic Tarot, described in this chapter, is one of my favorites. The Hermetic Tarot, a black and white deck filled with hermetic and alchemical symbolism, is another. Chapter 5 covers Contemporary Decks. Here we find the artistically unique decks and the many themed decks available that cover fantasy, fairytales, heroes and horrors, gothic decks and goddess decks, as well as the animals we love and the food we eat or grow. My digital review copy ends here with a Conclusion written by the author.
This is not a how-to-read-the-Tarot book. There are no keyword lists, upright and reversed meanings, or sample spreads to be found. Instead, we dive into the world of Tarot imagery in all its fascinating forms and manifestations. We learn about chosen symbols and what they represent, the culture surrounding beloved decks, and some new possibilities to explore. We learn the story behind each deck, and the intentions behind the images and card meanings so lovingly created by mystics and artists of the past and the present.
Iconic Tarot Decks is like stepping into a candy store or bakery, without the calories. This book would grace any Tarot enthusiast’s library, and it would make a wonderful gift for the Tarot enthusiast in your life. I highly recommend Iconic Tarot Decks to anyone interested in the art and the mystery of the Tarot.
Sarah Bartlett, holding a Diploma in Psychological Astrology, practices and teaches tarot, magic, astrology, and other esoteric arts. She is the author of internationally acclaimed books such as The Tarot Bible, The Little Bool of Practical Magic, and National Geographic’s Guide to Supernational Places. She is also a contributing astrologer to Cosmopolitan, She, The London Evening Standard and BBC Radio.
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.