I pre-ordered The Wizards Tarot back in December 2010 with great anticipation, this deck does not disappoint. The Wizard Tarot is the intellectual creation of respected tarot author Corrine Kenner and is manifested by artist John J. Blumen.
The Wizard Tarot is a magic themed tarot deck where witchcraft and wizardry is the focus. Set in the mythical world of Mandrake Academy a magical school where you are a new student learning the ways of magic. Each of the Major Arcana cards is your new professors, teaching each their own magic subject. The Minor Arcana are fellow students. Each of the four suits represents four schools of magic. Which are, fire magic, water magic, air magic and earth magic. The Court cards are renamed as the Royal Families. Each Royal Family depicts elemental creatures associated with the suit.
The design of the deck is great, the backs have this nice golden like swirls, lines and stars that is unique. My only problem is they are not reversible so if you use reversals you will know which cards are reversed. The pattern on the back carries over into the boards around the card images which is really nice and ties the whole deck in nicely. The titles are spelled out in a clear font that is not overpowering or distracting. They are written on golden banners at the bottom. All cards are spelled out and are not numbered. Reordering the deck might be a hassle if you have a forgetful memory and forget the order of the Majors.
The card stock is typical. It is thin but thankfully not overly flimsy. They are printed by Llewellyn Worldwide. They are easy to hold and shuffle in my hands. If you have little itty bitty hands then you might have a problem, you should be fine if you have “average” sized hands. The cards a smooth and slick, shuffling is easy but you need to shuffle with attention so they don’t slide out of your hands. I can bridge shuffle without much trouble, again watch to make sure they don’t go flying. I do prefer thicker & firmer card stock with all my decks, decks with thin card stock in my experience warp out of shape and the edges get damaged. Thicker stock lasts longer. A few cards in the set I ordered seem to be out of shape with the rest of the deck.
The artwork is top notch digital illustrations. The art is clear, well defined and not cheap looking at all. There are plenty of details to give the images a whole and completed feeling that does not leave you wanting more. Faces of the people are life like and not plastic looking like in The Pictorial Key Tarot. The colors are strong and bold. The reds and blues are just perfect I love them very much, it stands out.
This deck is based on the Rider Waite Smith tradition. Strength is placed before Justice. The Royal Families follow the tradition of Page, Knight, Queen and King. Most of the originality can be found in the Majors where many of the titles are renamed. The Fool is now The Initiate. Death is now Transfiguration. Temperance is now The Alchemist. The Devil is now The Dark Lord. The rest of the Majors retain the traditional titles.
Creative freedom runs wild in the Majors; images of many of the Majors are unique and original while still holding a sense of familiarity. The Initiate (Fool) depicts the start of a young students journey into Mandrake Academy. We lose the normal Fool walking off a cliff. Instead we have our student in a forest, dressed in white and a cute rabbit instead of a dog which is a nice change. The Magician is one of my favorite cards in the deck, it is what I expect The Magician to look like plus enough unique to make it fresh. A well-dressed (I love the robes) magician stands in front of a large open window with his hand raised above holding a wand with one hand pointing down. We lose the table; tables get in the way in my opinion so good move! Around the magician floats a sword, pentacle and cup. The wand is held in his hand so we do not have an extra wand in the air. To the left and right are white candles. To his feet is the magic circle with flowers sprouting. The Hanged man goes in a new direction than other decks; this Hanged Man is not hanging. He is sitting. But the best part of this card is to the top left there is a portrait that has a reversed image of the card inside of it, which then in itself has a portrait that is upright. Continuing inward like a never ending tunnel. This great detail retains the traditional feeling of being upside down and changed perspectives. The World is another Major that is very unique and goes in another direction than other decks. We have a woman known as the Queen of the Witches, she was once a student but now has completed her training at Mandrake Academy. She appears in front of an open book with a 3-D image of Mandrake Academy appearing over the book.
The Minors stay close to Rider Waite tradition. There is nothing new to learn or try to decode which I like. I would prefer the Majors to be more unique than the Minors and that is what is done in the Wizards Tarot. The Five of Swords stood out to me the most; I did not get the feeling of “open dishonor” or someone who cheats to win like as most decks show. Instead it gives me the feeling of someone having to clean up the mess of others, maybe covering their tracks. There still is a sense of “no winners” and feeling defeated but minus that grinning bastard in the Rider Waite.
The images are child safe, there is no nudity but The Moon card does depict a sexy looking Lunar Goddess but how do you expect a Lunar Goddess to dress? The Tower does not show explosions or people falling to the ground. The Dark Lord (Devil) is not demonic looking, people are not chained but instead are some ugly looking toads. All is safe here.
It has been a new trend to include the zodiac symbols within the cards to give you a clue as to which zodiac sign is at work within each card. As handy as this might be, I’m not a huge fan of this new trend. It feels like subliminal astrological advertisements, which may sound odd but some of you might understand what I mean. Along with the zodiac signs, Hebrew letters and Runes are includes in the cards. To which I have no problems with.
The companion book for the Wizards Tarot is great and is a must have if you get this deck. It is as unique as the deck. It explains the mythos of the Wizards Tarot world, the academy, detailed explanations of the cards symbols and meanings. The book explains what professor each of the Majors are. A few examples, The Magician is the professor of basic magic. The High Priestess is the professor of divination. The Dark Lord is the professor of the dark arts. What is most special is that each Major Arcana card has with it its own spread. For example, Transfiguration (Death) has a detailed 11 card past life spread. The Sun card includes a chart of the Sabbats, their dates, sun sign and degree along with their significance. In the Minors you are offered a Magic Charm which is offers a suggested way to focus on the cards energy to manifest it into your life. This is great if you want to use them for visualization and spell-casting. For example the Magic Charm for the 2 of Cups is “Focus on the two of cups when you want to begin a new relationship or add new life to an existing relationship”. The Royal Families do not have Magic Charms, they only have descriptions.
Overall this is a fantastic tarot deck that is a must own. It is highly unique while staying within the boundaries of tradition. It is easy to read, exciting to use, learn and explore. The companion book is one you will actually use, most companion books don’t have enough to make me want to use them, this book however does. The material in it is a great resource.