I have waited years for the Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner and John Blumen, and I was breathless with anticipation when I got the shipping notice for it. This was easily my most anticipated deck in a year full of great ones. You can explore the Wizards Tarot more fully here on the website.
This deck is computer generated images, CGI, and done in the traditional style of 22 Major Arcana with 56 Minor Arcana divided into four suits, which are Wands for fire, Cups for water, Swords for Air, Pentacles for earth, nothing surprising there. The backdrop is a school for magical arts, a wizarding school, if you will, and the tagline for the deck is "Welcome to Mandrake Academy, where you are the student and tarot is the teacher." The Major Arcana are stunning and original, truly adding a new flavor to the archetypes of tarot. Chiron, the ever suffering centaur from Greek mythology, strikes me as a particularly brilliant choice for taking the place of the more traditional Hierophant in this deck. Many Waite Smith derived decks have a harsh and cold looking man of God to represent him, but I feel much more comfortable approaching Chiron for the wisdom of the cosmos than a stuffy ol’ bishop. Another amazing choice is Odin as The Hanged Man, surrounded by runes and ravens. These images make me want to delve deep into the myths that surround them, and the book is very obliging, giving a great start to any student. Traditionally “difficult” cards, like Death, here renamed Transfiguration, the Devil, The Dark Lord here, and the Tower, are all rendered powerfully, but without scary images. They are not needed to make the point.
The Minor Arcana are heavily Waite Smith based, which is great for those new to tarot, as so many decks today are based on that deck. Generally, I urge my students to go to the source, and learn on a Waite Smith deck, but some people really do not get on with the art, and since tarot is all about images, enjoying the art is key to learning. The art of the Minors varies, from as stunning as the Majors, to at times being slightly stiff and awkward. I feel this is common is CGI decks, and in readings has not proved problematic. The court cards are represented by elemental beings - fiery, salamander/humanoid beings for Wands, merfolk for the watery Cups, fae for airy Swords, and gnomes for the earthy suit of Pentacles. I take personal issue with my significator card, the Queen of Pentacles, not being as traditionally beautiful as I would like to see myself, but that is personal preference only, and I am growing fond of her other charms. I find the court cards to be very expressive, which is helpful when trying to read these cards that generally represent people or facets of personality; just what they are expressing does not always jive with what I thought I knew about them, and that is okay. It’s good to stretch and grow and see things from new perspectives.
The book is one of the best I have ever read on tarot, and being that I have read hundreds, I think that is high praise. I prefer my students refrain from reading any books as they learn to read tarot, but the given meanings are concise and to the point. The real gem of this companion book, in my opinion, are the extra tidbits of information, mythos and magic, rune lore and astrology, that accompany each Major Arcana. The Minors are written about with affirmations, as well, and the spreads in this book are amazing. I want to try them all, all at once! The book is written in clear language, is well researched, and is one I would purchase on its’ own were it not a companion book. It’s that good!
My readings with the deck have been accurate and flowing. The previously mentioned awkwardness of some of the Minors did not seem as evident when laying cards down side by side as it did when assessing the cards individually. I would read for anyone with this deck, although there is no denying The Moon is sensual and lovely, and the Queen of Cups is a mermaid in traditional mermaid garb, which is to say nothing but shimmery scales, so those who are opposed to the suggestion of the female breast might take issue with those cards. Personally, I would prefer my children to see pictures of nudity, of which there is none overt in this deck, than pictures of violence. Many of the professors of this school are beautiful, and I do not take issue with that. If I had the power to make myself look however I chose, I would appear physically beautiful as well.
There has been a lot of online chatter about this deck, and people seem to either really love or hate the possible correlation to the world of Harry Potter. I would just like to say that while using this deck, there is a feel of the Harry Potter world, but I think describing that world as a wizarding school world would be more apt. J.K. Rowling was not the first writer to take on the idea of a school for learning magic, nor will she be the last. It wasn’t a unique idea for her, nor for the creators of this deck, but their take on it is what makes it special, in both cases.
Physically, the deck and book comes packaged in a flimsy box that fell apart before I even opened it. The glue seems to be bad, and Amazon shipped it poorly packaged, so the box was smashed as well. This disappointed me, as a collector, but I also have a copy that came from Tarot Garden, in perfect condition. The inner box is basically useless, being extremely flimsy and far too large for the cards. I hope Llewellyn will get with the program soon and at least give us decent packaging for its’ decks. They can look to Lo Scarabeo, who they distribute for in the US, for good ideas of snug fitting boxes and box sets with cunning spaces for the deck, or even better, Schiffer, with their sturdy boxes. The cards are backed and bordered with cobalt blue and gold scrollwork, and I think you would be able to tell if they are reversed or not, if that matters to you. The titles are unobtrusive, and the Majors are left unnumbered for those who like to order them in a particular way. The cardstock is satiny, not heavily laminated, and shuffles beautifully. The cards are what I would term a “typical” tarot size, about 4.5” x 2.75”, and they fit nicely in my average sized hand.
I think this deck would be good for beginners to tarot who enjoy the world of Harry Potter, and I feel like people who enjoy CGI of all reading levels would like this deck, for the most part. More experienced readers who want to add more astrology, runes, myth, and magic lore to their readings will benefit greatly from the companion book, no matter what deck they may use. What keeps this deck from being 5 stars, for me, is that I would have preferred interpretations of the Minor Arcana to have headed in a new direction in tarot, being based on but not exact replicas of the decks that have come before, and I feel the Majors demonstrated that the creators were fully capable of doing that. Overall, I find this to be an enjoyable, easy to read deck that will grace my shelves forever, and I, as ever, I find Corrine Kenner’s writing to be succinct, knowledgeable, and relevant. Thank you!
The Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner and John Blumen is published by Llewellyn Books, and has a dedicated website, as well as being available wherever books are sold, including Amazon.