It’s always fun when deck designers find their way to my mailbox. I don’t have time to cruise KS, IG, DeviantArt, Pinterest and FB for new tarots or Lenormands (etc) on a regular basis and this way I definitely don’t miss out on tarot decks that have…well, quite the premise! Dear tarot peeps, meet the sparkly, magic Gypsy Tarot…promising to *liberate* you!
The Gypsy tarot is the creation of Bev & Dustin (a.k.a Starman), a tarot-team called Eye Psychics. They’re currently working on making a full deck and asked me to check and review their first cards. Gladly. So in a way I am doing a partial review here already, based on concept and art. The actual review will come around Autumn 2018, when the deck is expected to be released (and a deck with my name on it is in the works!).
Fantasy & no theme
Because I am on my way to Greece in a few hours I had to forego on the promised demo deck and worked with the digital version of the cards (stock is going to be similar to the Paulina Tarot, if that tells you something).
The style is very ‘Disney-pretty’ and obviously fantasy. I can imagine this being a deck that speaks to both adults and teenagers – perhaps even children. The art is digital – not made by the computer, but like drawn by the artist and then digitally rendered – and very colorful. This tarot deck will sparkle right of the reading table, as so many in this style tend to do.
Within the tarot imagery multiple cultural and mythological references have been made, so you won’t have one theme within the Major Arcana (and rest of the deck), but a multitude of thematic ‘winks’, if you will. Where our High Priestess is modelled after an Egyptian Goddess, The Fool is a cute looking Ganesha (making me think a little of Dumbo…hereby disclosing my age). The Emperor is a fierce horned dude, whereas The Devil is a voluptuous sexy seductress, who seems to have jumped straight from the pages of a sassy comic book.
Yeah, it is definitely modern and within its art-form very slick. That won’t make it a deck for everyone, but those who do love this type of art will most likely go crazy for it. Despite this mix of personalities and even a clear cut visual of different ‘hands’ within the deck, it is however not a mix-up. There is definitely an overall similar look & feel to the deck, creating a net to hold the whole family of Gypsy Tarot personalities together. That makes all the difference. I personally tend to have some ‘flow-issues’ with decks that are obviously made by several different artists with their own specific style. Those usually end up in the collector’s pile – or worse – and that is exactly what Starman and Bev do *not* want.
They’ve introduced their Gypsy Tarot as a deck that is supposed to ‘liberate and educate’. On top of that they want a whole lot of other things. Like giving hommage to the Waite-Smith – which is obvious when you see the cards – while still attracting a modern audience (hence the digital art maybe?) AND also appeal to those readers with a more esoteric background looking for something unique. Ambitious, right?
The interview part…
Which is why I typed a bunch of questions and asked to Explain! (am I the only one hearing a Dalek asking that rather rudely? Yes, thought so).
So, here’s what I got back:
What do you mean by to liberate and educate?
We mean to uplift and inspire, to release our audience from limited and oppressive beliefs and thinking, and to grant them greater awareness of self and the world. Tarot is a gift that naturally does this and the Eye Psychics’ Gypsy Tarot is inspired to help people engage and transform as they join in the journey of magic.
You said you mean to create a new audience. Why? How?
We believe that the modern audience of today is hungry for magic, for feeling, and for essence, or an essential experience of magic.
The Gypsy Tarot is an easy portal into the experience of magic, the feeling of magic, the consciousness of magic, the reverence of magic and of course the art form of magic, as the Gypsies within this deck are both active diviners and practitioners or craftspeople of magic.
Our style is attractive to all generations who are lovers of fantasy, folklore, myth and who are searching for an immersion in an enchanted and liberating world.
The Gypsy Tarot is a perfect deck for those first being introduced to tarot as it offers an easy-to-learn system of advancing skill, understanding and connection with the uplifting and empowering powers of the tarot and the Gypsies within this deck.
Why the name Gypsy Tarot? What inspired you?
With the intention of producing a figurehead personality for Eye Psychics, the Gypsy Tarot was inspired by the production of the character Prophecy who soon became the very first card produced in the deck. This inspired the movement of the entire deck.
Each card has been produced in the spirit of this same inspiration, in that they are forming before us as representative of the spirit of each of the cards. While being true to the traditional card names each personality also has their own name. The guidebook will explore the details, the story, the message and the wisdom of each.
In what way do you deviate from RWS/WCS?
For the Minors we are taking the most creative license in to order bring balance to the deck. The personalities are so strong, and the faces are so prominent with the Majors, the Aces and the Court cards, that we know symbolism would be the balance for the synergy of the whole, as well as bring an entirely new depth of storytelling to the reading process.
You say you have culture/mythology/ritual in the Gypsy Tarot. How does this appear?
For us it is about whom enters our magic circle – as in a personality appears much in the same way that Prophecy appeared and the deck was inspired. The deck is creating itself! In this way we feel the cultures, mythology and rituals are choosing us or are teaching us! Some personalities like baby Ganesha / The Fool are culturally timeless and others like Infinity/ Ace of Souls/Spirit are brand new to the template.
The Aces are, while very nice, slightly confusing since a person is used in the depiction and at first I thought I was looking at a court card. With both of the cards having a 1 underneath the picture it was clear I could throw that idea out of the window. But now I am very curious what the court cards will look like.
I’ll be honest. The answers in the Q&A didn’t give me all the clarity that I needed and I still don’t see the difference in why this deck would educate and liberate as compared to any other tarot deck. Maybe that is what the guide will show and that one wasn’t finished obviously. Not everyone is able to explain a vision and showing it is usually stronger. Which is why I posted all pictures given to me. It is a sneak peek after all!
Looking at the imagery I think there will definitely be an audience for the Gypsy Tarot. It is a deck that seems to be very approachable and easy to work with, even if you don’t know much about the people and myths depicted.
There are some cards a little on the bland side (sorry artists), mostly because I miss expression in the faces or dynamics in the body language, but others are pretty strong due to details or exactly that expression. My favorites are the ‘come hither’ Devil, the Santa Muerte vibe of the XIII, and the cute-ay The Fool (that rat!). I also like the personalized Aces even if I will have to get used to that concept (but that 1P is looking mighty fine!). I am not bothered by the art-divide between the cards, since there seems to be a connection between them -no, not the border. Speaking of which… it is widely known I do not like borders, and this one is quite present, but at least these will have an elemental (literally) function.
The title of the deck and its premise made me expect something else. Something completely different than what I am seeing now. I am willing to take 100% blame for that faulty expectation, but it does make me all the more curious about the end results. Especially with the idea of education and liberation I am definitely eager to get a hold of some rather large companion, explaining the personalities and symbols at first and showing me a new way of reading tarot and doing shadow work.
Based on what I am seeing *now* I think esoteric readers won’t be into this new tarot, even if they work with elemental dignities and are eager to get to know a 5th (Ether). But I do see some handy things for beginners, like the color-coding, the obvious link to Waite-Smith without *being* obvious. So, I guess a younger audience and for sure a modern Waite-Smith reading one might be hungry for more.
If you want to know more about the Gypsy Tarot and play with baby Ganesha in the future:
Check out the Eye Psychic Gypsy Tarot website and in a week or so there will be a Facebook page too. A Kickstarter campaign is in the making.
Expected release: Autumn 2018. Expect a review sometime after.