The McCullough Tarot is a lovely, poker-sized, self-published deck. The cards are borderless, flowing nicely into one another to create a story in a reading. The card stock feels good to me: it doesn’t have the warp to it that some self-published decks do, and it shuffles very smoothly both hand-over-hand and in a riffle. The only downside in terms of production values is that the cards are a little dark. Having had to re-edit and proof the Wings of Change Lenormand three times for just this issue, I understand how it can happen. Still, it’s a shame the creators weren’t able to rectify it. The cards are still beautiful, and brighter colours would make them even more so.
Turning to the cards themselves, we have a great example with the Tower. Split in two by a lightning bolt, the top part of the Tower is crashing down towards the ground. A single figure stands firm, silhouetted in the window. Though unable to do anything, they are not panicking. Flames lick at the Tower, and the whole sky is blood red. It’s an interesting take on the card, reminding us how sometimes we still insist on our old beliefs and ways of doing things, even when our situation has radically changed. And the sky is beautifully dramatic, though duller comparing the card to the scanned image.
The Courts are also very expressive, as can be seen in this Knight of Swords. One of the particularities of this deck is the masks worn. Another is that each suit seems set in a particular location: Japan for the Swords. So, we find a samurai in full battle arm our charging along a high, mountain path, sword raised. This Knight uses his wits and his sharp tongue aggressively, all while feeling quite defensive, unwilling to show any softness.
The Aces are all stunning, as the Ace of Pentacles clearly shows. I love this stained glass window with its flower pattern, built into a solid wall, with a garden blooming around it. To me, it highlights the solidity and security offered by the suit, but also its beauty and connection to spirit: the blessing that this physical life is!
To represent the Minors, I drew the Five of Pentacles. Again, we have a beautiful stained glass window, built into what looks like the same wall. This time, though, we have dead, black tree boughs around it, and two people who look troubled. An old man hobbling along with a walker or canes, and a younger figure looking apprehensively over her shoulder. The message of spiritual help being there is writ large in the window, and the sense of having someone by your side in hard times is also one I associate strongly with this card. Altogether, a clear and inspiring depiction.
As you can probably tell from this selection, this deck is definitely what I’d call plug’n’play: strongly linked to RWS tradition. Yet, it has enough variety for interest and for intuition to kick in. It also has the interesting masks, reminding us how often we hide parts of ourselves from others and even from ourself. A worthwhile, attractive deck.