It’s time to choose another deck! Since I’m a bit late this week and since I’ll be at my mother’s next weekend, my week will run from Sunday to Sunday/Monday this time.
This is what the random number generator offers:
- Light and Shadow Tarot by Brian Williams and Michael Gopford
- Shining Tribe Tarot by Rachel Pollack
- International Icon Tarot by Robin Ator
Since I’ll be travelling, the Shining Tribe Tarot is out, due to its massive companion book. The Light and Shadow Tarot looks great but may need more time and attention than I’ll be able to give it next week. Therefore, the International Icon Tarot it is. (You may remember it from this post.)
I think I first came across this deck when I was going through Aeclectic Tarot‘s massive review archives in search for the deck to reconnect me with tarot after a break of 10+ years. The International Icon wasn’t that deck, though (the honor went to the World Spirit Tarot). The next thing I remember is reading about some AT members with huge tarot collections who used this deck for a year-long period of reading with one deck only (the idea became known as the “One Deck Wonder”). Even later, I finally bought my copy from another AT member.
When I received it, I was surprised at how big the cards seemed. Don’t get me wrong, they’re comfortable to handle as they are, but since there isn’t much detail in the images, I somehow expected the cards to be smaller. I still think that making them the size of, say, the Vanessa Tarot or some other smallish deck would be perfect.
I love the range and use of color in the International Icon Tarot. I can imagine relying a lot on the moods of the colors in my readings with the deck. I also appreciate the lack of gender or race markers (Western culture is still present, but a lot less than in the RWS deck this is based on). The most pronounced gender cues are in the cards that feature both men and women, in the Queens, and a small handful of other cards. Come to think of it, I may just do another analysis of gender representation with this deck – its supposed neutrality seems like an interesting angle to start from.
Some extra love is of course reserved for the Happy Squirrel card (about which you can read everything you ever wanted to know here and here), which was included as a reference to Matt Groening’s The Simpsons (you can see a storyboard of the episode here). I love squirrels, and I love Lisa Simpson, and I love having a serious tarot deck that references The Simpsons.
Should I decide to let my family know of my interest in tarot while I’m visiting, the International Icon is probably the single most non-threatening deck there is. Could be interesting to see what my nephew and niece think of it, too. But I’m not sure I’ll feel like opening that particular can of worms this time, although it is about time I told my family (I don’t expect any huge drama, because none of my closest relatives is actually religious, but rather a skepticism that could make me feel even more unlike them, which isn’t necessarily something I want to emphasize too much). We’ll see.
Let’s get back for a moment to the idea of making a tarot deck that looks like the people from the restroom doors got together with some other airport signage. It seems there has been at least one other attempt to do so. However, International Icon Tarot creator Robin Ator initially used shapes cut from paper for his images (and later realized the deck digitally), whereas John Coulthart has limited himself to using (nearly) nothing but “international symbol pictograms or dingbat sets” in his work.