I was a little disappointed with the Kinetic Tarot (The Game Crafter, 2014) when I first opened it. Partly because of the inconsistancy of the Minors: some are semi-illustrated, rather than having a human element or touch to them that I was expecting, and which others have. Also, a number of the images are somewhat challenging – the Hanged Man as a woman who looks like she is masturbating is a prime example!
Nor is she the only surprisingly sexual image. The High Priestess looks sultry as she turns her face towards us, eyes closed, over her naked back. This is not a card I associate with sensuality or physicality, though I guess you could see it as embodying mystery in some way. The Death card shows a busty woman stripping off her scanty top, leaving only a red thong in place. And the Judgement card looks like nothing more than a woman having sex on her knees, her head pressed to the floor.
While there are definitely a number of cards that I don’t feel particularly comfortable with, the deck has certainly has its good points. The semi-illustrated nature of some of the minors is not a negative in itself, it was merely a surprise, a challenge to my expectations, as were some of the other images. And having assumptions challenged is a good thing, I remind myself, a way to keep our brains young and our minds more open 🙂
Some people who watched my unboxing video, for instance, objected to this Magician card. Why have a woman who looks almost naked (though I think she is wearing a unitard, but who can say), holding some of the Magician’s tools between her legs? And she doesn’t look particularly motivated or focused: she does not seem to be manifesting anything other than a willingness to gaze out of her window at the sunny landscape outside. Perhaps, though, this is that moment of reflection that will give her the clarity to know what it is she “wills”…
The Court cards also have some foibles. Three of the Knights actually show couples, excluding only the lonely Knight of Swords (who doesn’t look driven or idealistic, or anything much besides tired). The Page of Wands holds a wand up with energy streaming from it, almost as though she were setting light to the sky. And the Page of Cups wears a suit and tie as he tenderly kisses a woman’s hand. A bit more Knight of Cups, to my mind, but at least it feels appropriate to the Cups he represents. The Page of Pentacles, on the other hand, is only distinguished by the green background and the fact that there is a pentacle floating in front of her face – without that, you wouldn’t be able to guess who she was. And the Page of Swords is even worse – the striated purple background is the only clue to his suit, other that the words “Page of Swords” in one corner of the black border!
The Queens, at least, all hold their suit emblem, and their backgrounds and poses feel fairly appropriate. Of the Kings, however, only the King of Cups holds a cup. The other three are fairly interchangeable, and I don’t think I’d have been able to guess which was which without the titles (and getting to know the background most likely to appear in each suit). I say most likely, as there is at least one Swords card and one Wands card with a blue background, so even these colour attributions are not consistent throughout the deck. The Wands are particularly divergent in that regard, varying from an almost bilious green/yellow, through yellow and mustard, to brown.
The Aces all show a naked female figure with a suit emblem. The Ace of Cups is perhaps the raunchiest, with a woman’s naked, nipple-less body shown front on, only the large cup between her thighs protecting anything of her dignity. This Ace of Cups has a big bangle on her wrist, a sign of the material wealth she aspires to with the Pentacle that seems within her reach. The Ace of Wands, on the other hand, just shows a hand holding a wand, which points back towards her head, almost as though she’s using it like a toothpick…
As for the Minors, there are several I really like. For instance, the Five of Swords who belligerently gives us the finger makes me laugh. I’m not so sure about the woman on the Nine of Pentacles smoking a cigar, but hey, at least she’s got an independent attitude. The Six of Cups shows a woman on a swing, which has a nicely carefree air. And the Eight of Cups shows the cups in the foreground, and the sole of a person’s foot as they walk away, which feels very evocative and kinetic. However, I find it disappointing that a full third of the minors (12 out of 36, not counting the Aces) contain no human figures. They are instead reminiscent of the Wild Unknown Tarot (2012).
It’s not that I object to the art style – I adore the Wild Unknown Tarot – it’s more the fact of the inconsistency between these two kinds of Minor. And especially because the Kinetic Tarot is supposed to be about movement, and being tacticle. Some of those pips not only lack a human, they really lack movement. The Nine of Wands is a case in point, with nine wands lined up in a row on a striated brown background.
I have scanned two of these very different kind of Minors here to show what I mean. I rather like the Eight of Swords, with its constricting corset suggesting the strictures that we may also lay on our minds and thoughts. After all, the very reason why we might choose to wear a corset are about wanting to fit with a particular idea or ideal. On the other hand, the Five of Wands is a nicely done example of the semi-illustrated pip. It works reasonably well, with a sense of movement between what might be battling wands (though they could just be falling). However, the blue background is confusing, and these two cards really feel like they come from different decks.
Overall, this deck feels as though the creator had some really great ideas for some cards, but didn’t feel very inspired by some of the others. Perhaps it will be rejigged at some later point to bring a greater feeling of consistency to the deck, but I won’t hold my breath.