Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Deck Review - Bonefire Tarot

 One of my most special pleasures is the self published tarot deck.  These come from the brave souls who were either rejected by mainstream publishers (often I don't know what the publishers were thinking, but tarot is an incredibly niche market even when it doesn't feel like it when the rest of you tarot-maniacs are running up my watched auctions and publishers run on a tighter budget than we might imagine), or more often, the artist wanted to see each detail come to life just as they saw in their dreams throughout the creation process.

Today's review is from one such self published deck, The Bonefire Tarot by Gabi West.  This colorful gem is loosely based on the Waite Smith system with its' own unique stylistic twist on traditional tattoo art.  The deck arrived in a handmade navy blue felt envelope style bag, with cord and a sweet heart wood detail accent.  It includes a handwritten LWB (Little White Book) by Gabi West entitled, "Bonefire Tarot - Plundering Space and Time for Truth and Meaning".  The LWB is a succinct set of keywords for each card as the artist envisioned them and a brief introduction to her artistic choices and views on art, symbolism, and tarot.  The decks ship from Australia, and unfortunately my first one went walkabout, but Gabi was quick to send me another, which arrived in good time and perfect condition.  I like to imagine that errant first deck made its' way to someone who needed it more than I did and is enriching their days with its' quirky voice.

The cards measure a chunky and squat 3 inches by 3.75 inches.  They feel good to hold.  The cardstock is some of my favorite ever, being thick and sturdy enough to handle rough treatment, but flexible and slippy enough to shuffle easily, with a matte finish light lamination.  The backs are a fully reversible black and white image featuring some bones on fire, which is of course the grey scale version of the title card, and the name of the deck.

There are 22 Major Arcana, who remain unnumbered, except for 13 in lieu of a title, and traditionally named, so they can be arranged in any fashion makes sense to the reader.  The suits consist of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins, with 14 cards in each.  The Court Cards are the familiar caste system of Page, Knight, Queen and King.
Bonefire Tarot
Some of the denizens of the deck are scantily clad, but nothing too scandalous.  There is no overt violence, and there should be very little to trigger sensitive individuals.  That being said, the imagery is somewhat surreal, which can be a disconcerting effect to gaze upon, and the dream landscape of the deck has an ethereal quality that leaves me slightly uncomfortable to look at.  By no means do I consider this to be a disadvantage, because I think it is good for us to be shaken up from time to time.  The images themselves are bright colors against a black background, and the very nature of the coloring can sometimes lend a darkness to the atmosphere of the deck.
Bonefire Tarot
I think intuitive readers will find many, many things to love about this deck, and it is also a good deck for people who like Waite Smith imagery with an edgy twist.  The cards are packed with symbolic images, and each time I pull one I find new things to focus on.  It is a collectors' dream and possesses an exceptional production value along with distinctive, cohesive art.  It is not the best deck for people who prefer a more straight forward approach to their readings, and while there is nothing offensive in the imagery, it is perhaps suited better to some audiences than others.
Bonefire Tarot
The Bonefire Tarot is a beautiful deck with a unique twist that reads like a literal dream.  The strange, and almost familiar but not quite landscape makes me feel like I am almost seeing something out of the corner of my eye, and it evokes a mysterious air that gives me insightful readings.  I am very happy to have this deck in my collection and I hope that you will take a moment to visit the website and consider all of the stunning images.

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