This week’s deck, the Sweeney Tarot by Lee Bradford, available in poker and tarot sizes through the GameCrafter, has graphic novel style artwork and a really fun and funky take on the cards. In response to the unboxing video I posted last week, some people expressed their dislike of titles on cards. While I get that, it doesn’t personally bother me. And I find the titles Lee has chosen interesting and thought provoking. Perhaps especially for the Courts, on which more later.
Lee’s own comment regarding the titles is this: ‘I understand that the titles at the bottom are a little distracting for some, but their purpose is less to dictate the meaning of the card and more to use as a jumping board. I have memory problems and it was affecting my ability to learn Tarot effectively.”
One commenter said some of the patterns reminded her of Gallifreyan. Not being a big Dr Who fan (it scared the crap out of me as a kid), I had to Google that. Then, when I approached Lee, she said that yes, that was an inspiration for her: ‘Yes- that is Circular Gallifreyan, or at least it’s based off of it. At the time, I had developed a similar language to use in sigils. However, my notes on this are in a book, in a box, in another box, under a box, in another house that resides in another postal code and due to the aforementioned memory problems, I can’t remember a thing.’ 😀
So, let’s look at some of the cards. For the Majors, I drew Strength. This is an unusual take on the card, especially given the Chariot shows a big feline, a little confusing at first. Still, I like this depiction of a woman bearing the weight of the world. Or perhaps she is opening a new world of possibilities through her action – look at how the trees in the bit of sky below the line she is pulling down on are green and lush, compared to the barren swampiness of the land around her…
As I say, I rather like the titles on the Court cards. They add a different perspective, making me think about my own tried-and-true understandings of the cards. The Queen of Wands is a perfect example, with her title “The Witch”. A creative, fiery woman, but one who feels a responsibility to the people and planet around her 🙂
The Courts are interesting, too, because several of them are fairly gender ambiguous. And the Queen of Swords is most definitely a man, with bald head bent over a coffin. Which is somewhat at odds with the title of ‘The Widow’, given a man is a widower. Anyhow, for the most part I find the titles expressive and intriguing. For instance, the Knight of Swords is the Fighter, the Page of Swords the Diplomat, rather than the sneak or the spy 😉 The King of Cups shows a person of colour, of unclear gender, titled ‘The Reverend’, while the Queen of Cups tenderly kisses a child’s forehead as ‘The Guardian’. They certainly give you plenty to work with!
Moving on to the Aces, these do not go down the “suit emblem” route. Instead, they seek to express the sense of the card. In some ways this can be limiting. For instance, New Love is definitely one potential meaning for the Ace of Cups, beautifully illustrated by this tentative finger-holding. However, I do also like the often overflowing aspect of a cup with water pouring over its edge, which leads to interpretations around the source of love and its continually replenishing nature.
For the pips, I pulled the Eight of Swords, which some of you may remember is one of my “go-to” cards in deciding whether I love a deck. I have mixed feeling about it showing a male figure instead of the more common female, seeing as I associate so strongly to this card. On the other hand, that’s a good reminder that people can also feel trapped and powerless, no matter how privileged or in control they may seem on the outside. And the keyword, Bondage, does raise the question of our complicity in this lack of power.
I have to mention that there are slight edge defects on 21 of my cards. I’m posting four of the worst here, so people can see for themselves to assess whether or not it would bother them. In some cards it is so minor as to just be a pale line at the edge, whereas in a few others the odd border or edge is more apparent.
Lee was very upfront about this issue: ‘Some of the odd edges are my fault and I keep intending to fix it but the computer that the files are on crashed and its been kind of hard for me to get the energy to sit down and do it. So that one is on me. ‘
Personally, I’ve been really charmed by this deck. I like the artistic style a lot, and find the titles curious rather than obtrusive. The characters are really interesting, and I always enjoy a multi-cultural deck, living in a city that is very much so.