Tarot Illuminati | Review

6 November 2015
Tarot Illuminati Empress

The Empress, Tarot illuminati

I felt a bit disheartened when I first read about the ominous title Tarot Illuminati. While I had heard whispers it was going to be an amazing deck, that title unfortunately brought about such ‘conspiracy theorist’ connotations I was afraid this would actually solidify thoughts that tarot readers are a vague, untrustworthy kind with scary tools to boot. Until the postman actually arrived with the package and I forgot all about secret organizations. I won’t say it is ‘the deck to rule them all’, but it definitely belongs in the ‘my precious’ collection.

With digital artwork it is always either a miss or a hit, well if you ask me at least. Some digital art looks so fake I can only see that when using cards, others have such a unique concept or use of computerized material that it turns out amazing. Again that word and I think it is fitting. I think the title is still a risk, due to the bad connotation, but after hearing the explanation of the title “the light that shines from within the cards” or the cards “illuminate the path to self-discovery” I can agree Tarot Illuminati has a certain ‘light’.

Show-stopper
But in another way this deck certainly can’t be taken as light. I don’t think I have ever seen a deck that luxurious, rich, colorful and full of details. Artist Erik C. Dunne used different ethnicities and continents to portray the four different suits. Swords are definitely Caucasian, pentacles Asian for example. It is something that isn’t done often and when it comes to the use of vibrant colors and vivid illustrations I think the kit sets a new standard.

Tarot Illuminati 5 of wands Tarot Illuminati High Priestess Tarot Illuminati Prince (Knight) of Swords
Actually, turning back to the thought that readers are a vague bunch in sceptic eyes, this deck has been a ‘show-stopper’ for me on many an occasion. The unsuspecting skeptical or fearful visitor who stumbles upon my shelves immediately gets a handful of ‘Illuminati’. I have yet to meet the first one who, even when they still don’t want a reading, doesn’t agree with the fact it is totally understandable us readers need and want loads and loads of such great artwork in our collection. Vagueness forgotten.

illuminati-10532Superb quality
For most readers card stock is a thing. It is a thing to get frustrated or disappointed over. In the case of the Tarot Illuminati it is a thing to get moderately excited about. The deck is printed on better card stock than we’re used to from Lo Scarabeo ( I heard some people experience differences, but mine is pretty sturdy, only not very flexible) and is borderless as well. This deck with borders would have been too much anyway (imho most decks should go borderless ;-)). The only thing I am not a huge fan of is the fact the cards have gold edges. It looks very pretty and it fits with the artwork, but some of the cards stick together because of it and I get ‘a touch of Midas’ after handling them.

There’s more to be happy about when it comes to the quality. The box it comes in is very nice. Super sturdy with a magnetic closing and little ‘nest’ to put your cards in. The Little White Book, or LWB, that comes with this kit is on glossy paper and full color. The fact that it is written by Kim Huggens makes it all the more enjoyable. There’s an extra companion available, but this LWB is  -IMHO – already a lot better than the random little white booklets with 2 sentence-meanings that are usually provided with tarot decks. The publisher gets points for that too. So, that brings me to my very important question: the price is just moderately higher than most other decks and they usually come in crappy white cardboard boxes or on flimsy stock. So, why can’t all publishers do it like this, always? Perhaps it is a profit thing. Who knows if Erik C Dunne is dependent on the soup kitchen at the moment, but I would for sure like to know why all decks don’t display this great quality (added materials isn’t a core review point for nothing and it can bring a deck score down. People care!).

Queen of Pentacles in Tarot IlluminatiShortcomings
So, is it all perfect? No, I do have a few shortcomings to mention. Some of the images, and then I mean in particular the faces and hands, are out of proportion. Either they’re rather grotesque or strangely small. That takes away a bit from the otherwise beautiful drawings and emphasizes, perhaps, that it was digitalized. Also, the excessive amount of details makes it a difficult deck for some to read with, especially if they read purely intuitive. That’s the only reason I have lowered Readability. If you want simple and prefer a clear and direct view of all the symbolism in one look, this is definitely not the deck for you. It took me some time to get used to the cards before I could read with it. For a quick spread I would not reach for this deck, but I love them for deeper career readings. When you do take this bundle of 78 little art pieces out you’re guaranteed some pretty enlightening answers. I guess there indeed is something to that name, then…

Author or artist Publisher Publication
Eric Dunne & Kim Huggens Lo Scarabeo May 2013
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Wrap Up

Tarot Illuminati kit

  • 8.7/10
    Artwork
  • 8/10
    Card stock
  • 8/10
    Symbolism
  • 7.5/10
    Readability
  • 8.5/10
    Added materials

Array

  • Full color booklet
  • Good card stock
  • Very vivid imagery
  • Adds to RWS
  • High quality

Array

  • Golden edges stuck
  • Some art disproportional
  • Not very intuitive
  • Too busy for some