The Thelema Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015) has gleaned quite a number of fans already. Unsurprising, when you think that it’s a very beautiful photocollage deck based on the RWS, with lovely colours and a rather magical feel to it. Certainly, Lo Scarabeo must have thought it was something a bit special, too, as they have given it their new premium packaging: thick, glossy card stock; a colour companion booklet with a decent amount of text for each card; and a sturdy box with a lift-off top.
However, all is not totally sweetness and light. Perhaps due to the different card stock, there seem to have been some issues with the corner rounding. My copy seems particularly bad. On some cards, the top left corner is entirely unrounded, while on others it is marginally snipped, straight-edged. The bottom right corners are also only partially rounded or straight-snipped, though they aren’t as bad. Bizarrely, the other two corners are perfect on every card. Anyhow, I’m not the only one to have had issues with the corner rounding. On the other hand, I find that these particular corners don’t affect the shuffling, in the way that perhaps the top right corner, or certainly all the corners, would. The deck still shuffles fairly easily, though the thicker cardstock means I can’t easily shuffle the whole stack hand-over-hand.
On to the cards, and isn’t this a yummy Devil? The two naked figures behind him are on their knees, arms raised in supplication, to his inverted pentacle. The Devil himself stands bare chested, his long, dark hair falling forward to shade his face, and with two cruel-looking implements in his hands. The usual ideas of servitude to our shadow, addiction, and overblown sexuality are certainly easy to read from this.
The Knight of Swords looks somewhat less gung-ho than his RWS counterpart. The butterflies flitting around him add to this ambience, as does the fact that though he seems to be cantering forward, he remains upright, rather than leaning forward as though his very will could make things move faster, faster! I like the way he charges through a misty/cloudy landscape, yet his sword gleams mirror-like. Mental clarity cutting through uncertainty, though he may sometimes be a little too certain of himself and his ideas. He is unwilling to admit that life is made up of shades of many colours, rather than being just black and white.
The Aces are fairly traditional, as can be seen in this Ace of Wands. The background is rather different from the RWS, as is the fiery, crystal topped wand, with no leaves in sight. Yet the sense of energy, the potential for action and power, remain. The red light outside the cave, and the orange light around the wand itself, overshadow the castle in the background, yet its magnificence hints at what can be achieved with dynamism and drive.
As for the Minors, they are also fairly standard RWS fare. The costumes are medieval romantic, and there are lots of glowering skies, as in this Ten of Swords. There is still a quite magical feel to them, something about the use of light and colour, such as the way those swords jabbing down into the woman’s back are bathed in light from above. These oppressive ideas or communications will have their upside, too, leading her to decide enough is enough and change the way she thinks.
Overall, this set has much to recommend it, though if you don’t like photo collage decks, this one is unlikely to change your mind. And if you get a copy with dodgy corners, you can always use a corner rounder on them… 🙂