In describing the Fountain Tarot (self-published, 2015) the first thing that presents itself is the packaging. The box is sturdy, with a magnetic lock, and sparkly, holographic-style lettering. This matches the luxurious feel of the silver edges on the cards, and the nice little companion booklet that lifts out with the aid of a silver ribbon. The booklet gives a full page to each card, both Majors and Minors. It also contains a few simple spreads: variants on the three card spread, a Fountain Tarot five card spread, and the Celtic Cross. Altogether, the deck screams quality, and this is echoed in the accomplished paintings that have become tarot cards.
That being said, there is a cold, hard edge to this deck which puts me off just a little. It has a masculine feel, from the preponderance of male images on the cards, to the angular lines of the geometric designs found on most of the cards, to the light, yet somehow muted and cool, colour palette.
This isn’t so apparent in the Empress, though it would be a poor artist indeed who made this nurturing, feminine card feel angular. Even so, there is a coolness, even here, with the predominant blues and purples of the card.
A woman stands in a lily pool, illuminated from behind by an almost harsh white light streaming from a pale purple sky. Her feet are in the water, and the pink cloak or blanket she wears dips in the pool, too. This is the warmest part of the card, a pink material decorated with red and yellow images or patterns: what looks like a wheel with stars, and maybe a teepee below it. Her hair is golden brown, and she looks at us over one partially turned shoulder. And while her hair is a warm golden colour, her clothes beneath the cloak echo the blues of the pool and plants around her.
Despite the coolness, I like her. She speaks to me of feminine wisdom, more than abundance. She also knows about nurturing, wrapped in her cosy cloak. Though brief, the descriptions in the companion booklet always tie the images in to their traditional energy. For example, the Empress’ description begins: ‘Standing in her lush, fertile garden, the Empress invites you to water your new creation with love and patience.’
Moving on to the Courts, we have the King of Cups. I was quite surprised by my reaction to this card, a little shocked by having someone wearing glasses. Of course, there are other decks where people wear spectacles. There’s a funky dude in shades in the World Spirit Tarot (OOP), and at least one person in glasses in the Gaian Tarot (self-published, 201o). Yet, the latter deck is very realistic, the people are real people, large and small, of all kinds of ethnicity. The Fountain Tarot, with its angular geometric patterns, is rather Caucasian, young and slim for the most part, and so the glasses came as a surprise.
On reflection, though, I quite like the symbolism. The King of Cups feels his way through situations, being comfortable sitting with emotion, rather than seeing and analysing everything. Sometimes a little myopia can be a help rather than a hindrance!
The Aces bring the angular geometry of the deck to the fore, as you can see in the Ace of Wands. However, this crystalline wand with its yellow background feels almost sword-like. While there is plenty of energy here, it feels rather sharp, and not very warm. This is a sense I get more generally with the Wands, once again showing up my own prejudices and preferences.
From the Minors, I drew the Five of Pentacles. I notice the cold, harsh, perfect lines of the stone of the church behind them, an angularness even in the face of the circularity of the Coins’ suit emblem. Still, the golden light pouring from the window behind them does add a touch of brightness, if not much warmth, to this grey and dismal card.
This deck is of a very high quality, in both artwork, packaging and companion book. The images add interesting touches to traditional symbolism, and the geometric shapes are fascinating, though not explained in the booklet. In my readings with it this week, both here and on instagram, I have found it to offer new perspectives, while still being easy to read. It is a deck that is sure to make an impact in the tarot world, and one I find intriguing, even if also cold.