After Tarot | Review

19 November 2016

After TarotWhat if The Fool falls of that dangerous cliff, or the man in the 9 of Wands is given a helping hand? Maybe we’ve all asked these questions once, but they are now more relevant thanks to Lo Scarabeo’s latest release. Giula F. Massaglia’s newest creation, the After Tarot, shows us what happens next in an altered vision of Pamela Colman-Smith’s famous scenes.

I am reviewing the cards-only deck in tuck-box, but soon there will be a sturdy kit with companion available.
The tuck-box is a normal Lo Scarabeo type. Outside is a picture from the deck, and inside you have the cards wrapped in plastic, along with a small, multi-language ‘little white book’.

To my hands the card stock seemed a little thicker than expected, but this could just be my imagination seeing as I was working with a rather flimsy deck beforehand. Anyway, the cards are on matte stock that is easy to shuffle so there is nothing in particular to say about the quality. Most of us know what a Lo Scarabeo deck is like 😉

Perspective-tarot
The After Tarot falls in a similar category as The Tarot of the New Vision or the Vice-Versa Tarot which is due for release in 2017. Another deck that comes to mind is Jon Carraher and Angelo Nassios’ Inner Journey Tarot. To put it simply, the After Tarot is traditional tarot, but from a different perspective. In this case: set in the future. It is as though you’ve fast-forwarded the original Waite-Smith Tarot.

 

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As an example, what did happen to the Fool who, being deaf to the warnings of his dog, continued to walk towards the edge of the cliff? In the After Tarot we find out: he’s dangling from the cliff, face above the ravine! In some cases the alterations aren’t huge. Maybe a character’s posture has slightly changed, or an animal or person has been added; changing the usual card-meaning in the process. A ram now sits at the Emperor’s feet and the Charioteer appears to rely on his iPhone for directions. Has our hero lost his way? Does the Emperor now have a cute pet? According to the LWB, the reader is encouraged to think beyond linear time. Giving only brief descriptions of each card, the After Tarot’s booklet – written by Corinne Kenner – won’t give too much away. If you want detailed explanations, the kit with its large companion book may be a better choice.

Confronting
It looks like a serious tarot deck, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Having said that, it shows us the ‘after’ in a logical and carefully thought-out way. In life we make progress in baby-steps – often we can’t manage anything bigger. Our next step in life is usually a small one, and in most cases, that is exactly what the After Tarot shows you. Changes may seem small, but we must remember that we can only fast-forward our lives a tiny bit at a time.

 

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Despite some predictable changes, there are some that certainly challenged my thinking. These unexpectedly showed me a new point of view that led to a new understanding. The Moon was one of those cards ­– I particularly liked the fact you could see a person walking through those columns- giving it a storytelling reference. Some other images are now very confronting. I expect many people won’t like the new take on the Devil which shows the chained couple in the throes of fornication. The 9 of Swords shows what could happen if you succumb to fear. Usually, we as tarot readers warn our sitters about this, but with this example, the card shows how it might end. These new insights makes the After Tarot a potent tool that could be seen as an upgrade of sorts: ‘Waite-Smith version 2.0’ anybody?

Sweet release
It was a genius move to depict the near future of familiar scenes. If you know the Waite-Smith deck then you will see those traditional foundations in the After Tarot, but you will see new clues that add layers to established meanings. Looking at the Queen of Swords, balancing a butterfly on her weapon, radically alters the usual meaning of the card. Similarly, the character in the 10 of Wands has dropped his wands, sat down and is now holding just one of them – the burden has eased. In the 8 of Swords, the trapped woman is being freed – sweet release!

 

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Actually most of my favorite ‘next steps’ are found in the Minors. The Minors in any tarot deck focus on mundane life instead of the bigger issues and archetypes of the Majors, so I wonder if was it a deliberate artistic choice to put in such strong hints? Either way, there are plenty of cards I really like because they’ve been given some extra variety.

Waite-Smith lookalike
I do wonder if Lo Scarabeo intended for this and the Waite-Smith Tarot to be used together. I don’t know, but they are an ideal combination for fortune-telling and personal growth readings. Writers in particular will never have to ponder, “what happens next?” because this ‘future’ deck shows them! Obviously the After Tarot doesn’t need the original Waite-Smith Tarot to work, but they do seem to be made for each other. Like a 3D photo, the same scene viewed from two viewpoints will give you a new image rich with depth and texture.

 

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Honestly – it does look like the Waite-Smith Tarot. The borders, colors, the colored strip for the card titles are very similar. The only obvious difference is the reversible flowery pattern on the back of the cards. Despite each card looking so familiar, they are different enough that the After Tarot can’t be called lazy copies. Borrowing the style of a well-loved deck will always be a risk, especially when done in such a subtle way.

Brother in arms
I did some simple readings with this deck including a weekly Celtic Cross forecast, a number of general advice readings, and of course a deck interview: What to expect from this deck?
-5 of Pentacles, 9 of Wands, Ace of Swords – This deck is going to be my brother in arms to show me new ideas whenever I need to see them.

What does this deck want you to know about it?
-10 of Swords, 3 of Pentacles, 10 of Pentacles – When times seem especially tough, this deck will help me follow a good plan which will result in security and safety.

 

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Conclusion
Because the After Tarot leans so heavily on Colman-Smith’s art, it is important to have a good knowledge of her deck to fully appreciate the After Tarot without getting confused. This is why I feel the After Tarot deck may be best suited to experienced readers. If you’re familiar with the Waite-Smith Tarot, the After Tarot is a simple transition. I didn’t need the little white book.

I’m only getting to know this deck, but what I can say is despite my initial impressions, it is actually a very useful deck. Because there are similar decks I thought this would feel like a fad or a gimmick. Also: it was -at first – a little too Waite-Smith looking. Now it to be a bona fide working deck with a welcome perspective. Who knows what unexpected viewpoints it’ll give you.

After Tarot KitNB. The deck is currently difficult to obtain and the kit isn’t out yet. If you don’t mind pre-ordering, your delivery could be just in time for Christmas if you order via Bookdepository
If you would rather wait for Amazon, the After Tarot will be available there in the beginning of 2017.
Nb2. This picture on the left shows the kit. It also gives you a better idea of the borders of the After Tarot, since once again my scanner refused to picture those properly in most cards.

 

Author or artist Publisher Publication
Massaglia & Alligo, Kenner Lo Scarabeo December 2016
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Wrap Up

After Tarot

  • 7.7/10
    Art work
  • 7/10
    Cardstock
  • 8/10
    Symbolism
  • 8/10
    Readability
  • 6/10
    Added Materials

Pros

  • Companion not necessary if WCS is well-known
  • Interesting and well-executed concept
  • Decent working deck

Cons

  • Better suited for advanced readers
  • Little info over possibilities, thoughts behind deck
  • Might look like a fad or copy to some