Deck Review – The Faulkner Tarot – The First Modern Photographic Tarot Deck

Modern Tarot decks seem to be rare to come by. They are modern in the sense that the images are contemporary to our day and age. Most tarot decks often show images, which are otherworldly, of a difference time and place. There are some decks which reflect a more relatable world, our own.


The Faulkner Tarot is one of those decks. Using black & white photographs, creator Rhiannon Faulkner has put together a unique tarot deck. The goal of Rhiannon with this deck is to change people’s views on tarot. Frightening images have been changed and down to earth pictures of daily life are used instead.


In this review I will critic the images for good and bad.  I have selected cards from the deck, which stand out for their ability to resonate with traditional images or meanings be. I have also selected cards, which I felt could have been done “better” in a different manner.


The deck features picture of the creator, Rhiannon herself and her family/friends. It is important to state that this deck was created in dedication to Rhiannon’s late husband. 10% of profits from the sales of this deck go towards charity. Because the images used are personal images from Rhiannon this decks has realness to it that some may like or dislike. I like it because you are able to connect to the human story, to human emotions, thoughts and experiences.


What I like In The Majors


In the Major Arcana I selected four cards, which I felt were, are good twist on the symbolism and meaning of the traditional.  The Wheel, The Hanged Man, Death and Devil.


The Wheel – The image here appears it is the London Eye, which is I like as representing The Wheel. A symbol of cycle, turning, ups and downs. The perspective of the image is great to. You are looking up instead of straight at it. It gives a sense of largeness, something above you that is bigger than you. Which is the impress The Wheel of Fortune should give you. The feeling of being on top of a large fieriest wheel is different for all, some love it, and some fear it. The power of the Wheel is just the same.


The Hanged Man – Here we see an image of a clock on the wall. The time is almost a quarter to five. The Hanged man symbolizes suspension, pause and waiting. Waiting is a matter of patience and time. When we stare at a clock waiting for time to pass we can feel like we are suspending in time that is still. The time is nearing five o’clock the traditional quitting time for a typical “9 to 5” job. In my experience it is always the last few minutes, which are the longest and more tortuous.  I see this card and feel a sense of something reaching closer but needing to be patient for it. You need to wait. However the notion of “sacrifice”, a traditional meaning associated with The Hanged Man is lost in this image.  Unless you consider that when you are at work, you sacrifice your personal time for something in return, a paycheck.


Death – In this card we have a image were the perspective sets us inside a dark room with a door half way open showing a hallway with light and another door on the other side of the wall. This simple image is deep with meaning. The dark room could be representing life; it is dark because death is dark. We die to this world and leave it. However Death in this deck is being portrayed as a transitioning card.  We have a hallway, which has light in it, which serves as a symbol for the light at the end of the tunnel motif. The hallway is a vehicle of transportation; we are able to move on from this life to the next via the hallway to which we reach another door. The doors are symbols for gateways, portals from one aspect, chapter, stage or life to another. A lot of symbolizing here in such a simplistic photo!


Devil – This card shows a image of a man hidden behind tree branches.  This can be two things; someone else hidden away in the distance or it could be you hiding from something, the truth perhaps? The man is hidden away in the shadows, a symbol of ignorance, denial and fear. This could be another person whom is mysterious and you are drawn to. The Devil is traditional a card of attachment, addictions and blockages. This card is able to express these ideas without having to resort to normal tarot images of The Devil which is the goal of the deck, change people’s perception of tarot and cards like The Devil. My personal response when I see this card is I get a feeling of ill intentions and fixation. Just looking at the eye of the man in the card gives me chills. I feel that he has ill intentions and is fixated on someone or something. He is stalker material for sure.


What I disliked in the Majors.



I am not crazed for The Moon and The Sun in this deck.  It is bare, minimal and lacking much symbolism other than the whole dark vs light aspect.  What I would have liked to have seen in The Moon card as possibility is have Rhiannon walking a dog at night with the full moon above. Or maybe a photo from inside the house of a window with curtains with the moon in the window. For The Sun I would have liked to see a child smelling sun flowers with the sun glowing behind their head.



For the Minors I have selected one card which I like and one card I dislike.  For the suit of Cups, I like the 6 of Cups, which shows Rhiannon in front of a wall of framed photos touching them. Nostalgia is screaming loud and clear in this card. The typical image used is of children in a garden , but this image Rhiannon used expresses the idea of nostalgia better. Photos equal memories of the past. The like majority of the images used in the Cups, however only selecting one card I picked the 6 of Cups because it breaks traditional imagery but still keeping the meaning.  What I did not like was the 10 of Cups. Here we see a wedding picture of Rhiannon and her husband. Now I love the photo but I feel it is better suited for the 4 of Wands which I and many other reader associate with weddings. Weddings symbolize beginnings and numerologically ten is a number or endings and completion. Though the photo is great, it does not fit what I see the 10 of Cups as.


In the suit of Wands I had to show the 2 of Wands through the 10 of Wands because in this we have the images set in the same room, telling a story. Progressing from one event to another. Showing a possible day in the office. Working, dealing making, relaxing, stress, accomplishments, overtime, good news, pressure and burdens. Now I do like how we see a story develop in these cards, using the same setting and person in each card makes the suit of wands not very much in scenery, people, ideas and possibilities. I will say that each card expresses the card it is mean to represent excellently, it is relatable to anyone who works in a office. It however feels static because we are limited to just this one person in the images.  Out of these cards I like the 4 of Wands, the feet on the desk show us he is relaxing, taking a break from work. There is not one card which stands out as one I dislike overtly which I would want to comment on.


In the suit of Swords, I like the 3 of Swords which shows a woman sadden sitting alone on a chair. She holds herself, holding back her grief, head sorted by her hand. This card depicts the 3 of Swords well. What I disliked was the 7 of Swords. Now I do like the inventiveness and creative of using the superstition of walking under a ladder as bad luck I would have liked to see something more related to the traditional symbol of a thief. There are some many modern ways this could be depictured, like a burglar stealing something from inside a house.


With the suit of Pentacles I love many of the cards with the images that were used. So to pic one for a example which I liked was hard. I did in the end pic the 5 of Pentacles; it shows a man with his pockets turned inside out, clearly showing he is broke. There was only one card in this suit I did not like, that was the 2 of Pentacles. I don’t like this image because for me it feels like a 5 of Pentacles as well. We see a man at an ATM and it appears he can’t get money out. The 2 of Pentacles is often a card of juggling jobs or different life aspects. Rhiannon depicts the 2 of Pentacles as a card of financial troubles, which it is traditionally not. A modern image of the 2 of Pentacles could be showing an adult attending night classes (after work) or having Rhiannon writing inside a day planner which many things written inside, to do lists, meetings, errands and the like.


Overall The Faulkner Tarot is a deck which I have equal likes and dislikes. I like that it is modern, reflecting our modern life, which images we can relate with from our lives. The images even though they are modern are able to provoke insight by connecting to traditional meanings even if the images depart from normal symbols. Rhiannon did break away from tradition which some card like the 7 of Swords and 2 of Pentacles. But that is artist freedom which she is trying to express something possible different from tradition and that is not bad. When we break from tradition we push tarot to new limits. A few quick words on the cardstock, the cards are standard size; they fit perfectly in my hands. They have a very smooth matte feel to them, which I like, unlike the plastic feeling like in other decks. The cardstock is slightly thin, not thick but I would say durable  They shuffle just fine as well. It is a quality made deck.


There is a companion book that comes with the deck, written by Rhiannon herself.  Reading the book will allow you to get inside her mind and under the images used and what their intended meanings are.




The recipient of Tarosophist of the Year 2011, Angelo Nasios is a rising voice in the tarot community. Angelo is known for his popular YouTube channel in which he produces educational tarot videos. Tarot: Unlocking the Arcana, Angelo’s first book will be released by Schiffer Publishing.

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