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Simplicity can be deceptive, and such is the case with the Sun and Moon Tarot. This new tarot deck, created by illustrator Vanessa Decort, has its roots in the Thoth Tarot, but her imagination blooms in fresh and unique deck.

This is quite an unusual Thoth-inspired deck. Where Thoth-clone artists attempt to wrap the esoteric attributions into complex, multi-layered drawings, Decort takes the opposite approach by composing her designs with only the most crucial components. A background in children’s book illustrations has given this artist a keen grip on the necessities of story-telling with art, and her technique translates well into the tarot idiom. A surprising amount of thought and emotion rises into the mind when the cards are closely scrutinized.

The human characters on the cards are children of all races and colors, usually alone and free of facial features. Everything is conveyed through poses and props. The garments are plain and modern, like cargo pants and t-shirts, and contemporary hairstyles include dreadlocks and cornrows. The images of children at play give the deck a light-hearted ambience while allowing the divinatory meanings to shine through as the children cleverly enact each card’s theme.

The settings are plain and uncluttered. Closer examination shows the careful use of graded tones and painted textures that convey a sense of life and movement. For examples, in the Six of Pentacles, a woman catches six coins in the skirt of her dress. A field of green represents the earth, and a background of gold tone represents the sky. The esoteric triangular symbol for earth floats near the top of the card. All this seems quite uncomplicated! But the card exudes a sense of richness, joy in receiving, timely good fortune, and prosperity – all divinatory meanings of the card.

The pip card suits are coordinated with background color themes. Sword cards have a pale blue background with white clouds. Cups have a deep blue background over teal-colored water, usually with a moon and/or a white lotus, and have a gentle sense of romance that infuses the Two of Cups. Wands are placed in a ruddy desert under a grey-black night sky, sometimes with flecks of starlight. The red and gold of the occasional bonfire heightens the vitality of the rising flames. Pentacles are framed in fields of gold and green. All pip and Court cards have the esoteric elemental triangles at the top of the image. The King of Swords almost floats across the landscape on a white charger, and he appears to be following the flight of three black birds.

The Trump cards are moderately more complex and extend the multi-cultural imagery with Asian symbolism. The World card features a character in a Dancing Shiva posture surrounded by the traditional circle of flames. The artist also wrote the LWB, which states “The cosmic dancer has united the female and male principles, along with all other opposites. Through his dance movements he balances cosmic forces for a holistic approach to live.” The dancer is balanced on a small child, which is “the undeveloped self that may be holding us back.” Trump cards include the Hebrew letter associated with the card but no zodiacal glyphs. In some cases the zodiacal symbolism is incorporated in the rendering, as are Libra’s scales in the Justice card (#8).

Animals that appear on various cards look like happy stuffed animals. The Wheel card, as on the Wheel in the Thoth Tarot, hosts a sphinx, a crocodile and a monkey, but on this card, the monkey looks like a sock puppet. The rotating wheels are interconnected gears with intermeshed grooves. When one wheel turns, they all start spinning - a subtle but very clever symbolic device. The Hierophant, Chariot and Prince of Pentacles all feature pink-snouted moo cows.

Don’t let the adorability factor fool you – this is a deep deck and excellent for readings. I’d highly recommend this deck for readers who work in public venues, as none of the cards are in the least bit scary or intimidating. It’s a good deck for meditation because of the lack of clutter, one of those cases where less-is-more. The colors are warm and delightful. This well-planned, superbly-executed, lighthearted tarot deck is the easiest-to-digest Thoth clones I’ve ever seen.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

 

Author/Artist: Vanessa Decort

US Games Systems, Inc. 2010.

Boxed 78-card tarot deck and book, $18.00.

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