Imagine you love a certain card system and basically having only just one or two decks to read with. Now, there are hundreds if not thousands of cartomancers doing that on purpose – but if you were one of them you would not be on a review site ;-). Anyway, if you are a Kipper reader that was your reality for over a hundred years (if you started eh…young). Original Kipper was THE deck and while some designers added new material in recent history, taste and usefulness made sure most Kipper lovers forcibly stayed with their Original Wahrsagekarten. The Card Geek’s Kipper Cards deck might just’ve changed history.
First, al little background (don’t want or need that: jump to paragraph 3). Kipper cards originate from Bavaria, Germany around 1870-1890. It has a few things in common with Gypsy Cards and Lenormand, but definitely works in a different way. For years and years there was little variety for any Kipper reader. You had the Original Kipper since the start, that pattern repeated in the style of Salish****, and in 1920 the Original was printed in a (mistake!) transposed way. Other than that nothing changed.
Why so many decks ‘failed’
The 90’s and the early 21st century saw two new decks being entered in the Kipper mix with Hildegard Leidung’s Leidung Kipper* and Regula Fiechter’s Mystical Kipper. The Mystical gained some favor (Leiding’s deck not so much), but too many adaptations resulted in a lot of Kipper readers remaining faithful to Original Kipper (or Salish). 2016 saw Kipper entering the international stage when popular designer Ciro Marchetti introduced his English titled Fin de Siecle deck. It was sold out in a jiffy, was reproduced by US Games, and many others tried to create their own Kippers, sadly in the misconception they were simply making a Lenormand 2.0**.
Even the enormous popularity of Kipper Fin de Siecle – I am still a fan, though ever since my training in the original way of Kipper I’ve failed to use it. It needs to be completely reinterpreted*** – could not change the fact that longtime Kipper readers, or those newly trained in the Bavarian way, wanting to use all the options Kipper has to offer, turned back to their Original packs again. As was the case with the Mystical Kipper, Fin de Siecle Kipper might have been a welcome change to the art, but certain changes to the contents made sure the Bavarian method could no longer be used a 100%. Directional reads and other visual clues were lost, so a lot of readers were still hoping for another new and fresh deck, but this time one honouring all the directional and visual cues. That waiting has definitely ended…unless you do not like the art of course.
Stock, size and cues
With the release of her English ‘How To Book’ The Card Geek, a.k.a Lenormand & Kipper teacher Toni Puhle, also hired German artist Sabine Lumpe to create a new Kipper deck. A deck with a modern 21st century take on the art while honouring ALL directional cues as per the Bavarian reading way (1890. She calls it the Bavarian Method).
The Card Geek’s Kipper is delivered in a fitted little tuck box with the same print as the book-cover: red with a mixture of card examples and a yellow coloured title. You won’t ever pick the wrong box out of your closet that is for sure. Since the companion is the large book I reviewed here (link), there is no LWB and the cards are exactly those tiny Original Kipper size the tuck box is especially small and thin. (Yay for our GT’s! ) If there ever was a deck to keep in your handbag or jeans/skirt pocket: this is the one! It could also be THE deck to lose amongst a stack of papers or other materials, but that’s just me 😉 (I do not do clean-desk policy).
THE MAKING OF KIPPER
The history of the Kipper deck will probably remind you of another 36-card system, the Lenormand. The first Kipper deck is said to have been created by one Susanne Kipper, a then famous fortune teller and card reader from Berlin who supposedly used Gypsy Cards and Lenormand in her hometown, but after a relocation to Bavaria was forced to create her own set of 36 cards. The conservative Bavarians had no love for traditional Gypsy methods or the deck of the Roma and Sinti. Use of the Gypsy cards would have been impossible. But considering the time of her move to Bavaria there was another issue: the political climate. Not only did she need to hide the Gypsy cards, Mme Le Normand’s namesake deck was also no longer in schwung after the Franco-Prussion war (France VS German states/Prussia) that ended in 1870. Everything that even reeked of France was looked down upon in the society where Susanne Kipper would’ve read the cards. Not being able to draw from her previous decks she supposedly created her own 36 card-set, with hints from her old decks and influenced by the zeitgeist of the newly unified German Empire and Bavarian architecture. While there was a Susanne Kipper with a great reputation as a cartomancer research has never shown her creating a deck or even if that deck is the same as what we now call Original Kipper. For all we know history repeated itself and just like with Lenormand some smart 19th century ‘marketeer’ used Susanne Kippers name to create interest in a new type of deck. That the cards definitely show architecture and other hints from that era and area is certainly true, so who knows. You might just be reading like Frau Kipper did…
Pocketing it will not only be easy because of the size, but you won’t have to be afraid that putting it in a tight jeans or shuffling it for eight Grand Tableaux in a row/a day will be damaging the cards anytime soon. ‘All hail the drool worthy stock’, Puhle chose linen. *Applause*. I am so happy this keeps happening more and more, even though I had not expected it with this Kipper deck for some reason. I’ve noticed that card stock can be a subjective topic, but I have never heard of someone not being happy with a premium linen deck. Shuffling is a dream and you can bet the stock will last you a very long time. If you consider the fact she had to hire an external designer, created a fitted tuck box AND printed on linen the deck price is even on the low side for a self-published one. With Kipper prices generally being on the lower side in cartomancy-land, that is certainly a good thing.
Art & style
We had the ‘feel’, how is the look? Puhle chose an unexpected type of art. She has been working with Carrie Paris for a Kipper remake of her Siren’s Song Lenormand, but The Card Geek’s Kipper is truly a different cup of tea. When I say a 21st century take I really mean it. The Card Geek’s Kipper is reminiscent of a graphic novel where the people look like avatars that some companies can have for their personnel (or you for your Facebook profile pic). `Everyone in the deck is dressed quite casual and on the whole seem very young (in their early twenties). Not that I was expecting elderly couples, but it is definitely a distinctive vibe. And quite possibly a vibe and style that won’t be liked by everyone. Another thing that jumps out: there is an enormous amount of different tints in the art. The back of the cards show an abstract pattern with pink, purple, turquoise, white, darker blue and greens. These colours come back in the art. Every card has a small white border as is common with Kippers and around the image is a coloured line, fitting with the overall picture and dominant colour within.
It is obvious the designer is both young and a girl, and she used a style that is nowadays seen in magazines and all around us. Living Room has a grey corner sofa with fresh green accents, House is completely pink, the Military Person isn’t in uniform, but doing cosplay (I assume), people wear jeans, sneakers or carry a cellphone and even the more formal attire worn in the deck and the building cards either have a vibrant touch or simply look more ‘now’. It is quite feminine overall and a particular style that certainly has not been seen in the 36-card variety before. The irony here: someone who reads in the traditional way and who is – I know – a huge fan of the 1890 Original Kipper just released the most modern, literal counterpart of the deck there could be.
While I don’t mind modern at all, the take on the deck isn’t typically my personal style. I think it is cute, but my eyes aren’t popping from their sockets. Luckily I am just one person and I am sure there will be people doing a little dance because of the art. It is modern and fresh; thus interesting to a larger demographic than this gal…
What’s more: while even with Kipper (and Lenormand) the art is important to make a connection, personal taste is just slightly less essential than with a system like tarot. That is where the readability of this deck comes in. I connected just fine with The Card Geek’s Kipper. All because of two very critical things:
First off. The deck is obviously made by someone who loves Kipper. Someone who – first and foremost – knows Kipper to the core. Puhle instructed her designer to a T. All directional cues are there, even if the images are completely different from 1890/1920. I do not need to think about how to adapt and can simply use the techniques I was taught (since I still do not consider myself advanced in this system, being able to easily read the visual cues to help me know which technique to use is a relief). If you want the Bavarian Reading Method and consistency: you got it in The Card Geek’s Kipper.
Imagery: huge plus, few question marks
The second important part of this deck is the fact the imagery, modern as it is, is very easy to read. Drawings are simple and to the point and even though I do love my historical decks: the images of The Card Geek’s Kipper are (just like the Fin de Siecle deck before it) a helluva lot more logical and easier to grasp in a second than the ones the Original Kipper provides.
I think only the Illness card took quite a step back in that regard. It reminds me more of a card like Sorrow and the alternate meaning of (Short) Illness – okay I’ll say it: sex! It means sexy time, nooky, doing the nasty, physical romance, friends with benefits….This will score hugely now in Google – can’t be seen at all in this new card. Unless that sex is really, really bad…
I also have a few issues with Court Official (the official could’ve looked less like a businessman), His Thoughts (a little too gloomy), Military Person (only the player part comes across, but the conservative/man in uniform not so much) and High Honours (she looks like a bride being left at the altar). Other than that everything is really clear, easy to pick up on and several of the cards are a huge improvement on other Kipper decks.
All in all I believe this deck will be bought by many a Kipper lover, even the ones who are less fond of pastel-type tints or the comic book style. I keep picking it up when I want to do a Kipper reading and I have all the originals and both Mystical & Fin de Siecle. Which says a lot I think. The card stock is a huge plus to begin with, but what’s more: there’s finally a deck that combines the best of both worlds. A deck that can be put in the 21st century art-wise, has imagery that is much easier to work with for newbies (and more advanced alike) and on top of that includes all the necessary visual cues, directional reads and other items for the Bavarian, traditional reading way.
Toni Puhle, the teach behind The Card Geek, basically offered book and deck as a package deal, but they can just as easy be bought separately. The book works with all other Kipper decks and the beauty of this deck is that if you have a fair knowledge of Kipper techniques you can start throwing Grand Tableaux right this second. And the shuffling will be awesome…
Deck: Amazon US
Book: Amazon US
Deck Amazon UK
If deck isn’t available through Amazon try the shop on The Card Geek’s own website
* Review Leiding Wahrsagekarten
** Of course you are welcome to do so. I am not the Kipper police and the cards do speak clearly in a multitude of ways. Kipper can even be read as a regular oracle and works fantastic that way in conjunction with tarot. But why would you want to read a Kipper deck as a Lenormand deck? That means denying yourself an awesome opportunity to learn a new system. Lenormand and Kipper might seem similar because they have 36 cards and houses and Grand Tableaux, but they are definitely not. Especially now that I’ve been trained by someone who was educated by a long line of Bavarians I can say without a doubt they are very, very different systems. Lenormand shows symbols for you to interpret, Kipper has a more direct imagery in most cases. Both are unique, both have their own techniques: mirroring/knighting/corner reads/adding numbers/adjective+noun versus movement cards/eye to eye/(in)auspicious placement/directional cues/each card is AND AND (meaning that you will get more info with the same amount of cards in Kipper). By letting them be their own thing you will be able to apply them to different topics and querents (imho Kipper is more direct than Lenormand and due to the many people cards and cards focused on the home ideally suited for romantic relationship readings and other interpersonal relationships, or things ‘close to home’). Yes, learning that whole new system will require extra study, but what else is new, being a card reader?
*** If you follow the Bavarian Method all Kipper decks seen as “correct” are the ones that use the same amount of people, the same image combinations and same directionals as those in the 1890 example. Mystical Kipper usually follows the 1920 transposed images when it comes to where people look towards, but they still miss a lot of extra visual cues, so improvise! Like I said: I am a fan of the Fin die Siecle deck due to its art and the fact Marchetti honoured all the original meanings and even clarified upon them by making clearer images. So, if you do not like the older deck, or even the one reviewed here, do not despair. Buy it! 1. You can either throw out the whole traditional/original way of Kipper reading when reading with that deck and use the examples in the companion – it will work perfectly that way and both Fortune Bucholtz and Susanne Zitzl created some fairly interesting spreads. They applied a more modern variety of Kipper. 2. Use the traditional method anyway. For a beginner in the traditional methods it will be hard, but it is not impossible. It just means that if you want to start reading directional cues, auspicious and inauspicious placement, the movement/stop cards etc you will have to re-interpret the deck completely. Basically force it to work like that when you can and in other cases simply drop the option that is normally available. When to drop? Connector cards have 2 people. Not 2 people? So, then it isn’t a connector card. Is there an animal, maybe use that to ‘connect’. Person looking towards you? Use body language or other items on the card to use what is inauspicious and when people look eye to eye. Is there no extra item in a cause & effect card (like theft) pointing towards what is cause and what is effect? Use other possibilities in the imagery like a painting on the wall or something on the floor. The most difficult will be the movement cards. Journey and Fatality are important movement cards that influence several cards around it and have different answers as a result if you do not apply this well. Best way in the beginning, is to use a marking (with post-it f.e.) or redefine ‘the rules’ according to the art. Say you have Fin de Siecle and will have to redefine Journey in the GT. Journey is normally read with a diagonal line towards the right and one above (1890) or diagonal line towards the left, one above (1920) (you can do something similar with Fatality). In the Fin de Siecle the train is a little too straight to see which diagonal to use, but it does seem to travel to the left. Looking at the picture and where the person is standing it would seem most logical to re-create the movement in a diagonal line to the left and one *below* instead of up and to the right. You could do this for all the cards that deviate. Where you simply miss visual clues to interpret and can’t adapt, drop the function of the card. It means less layers in your GT, but you could still read it as close to ‘normal’ if you want to use the original methods.
**** Most cards in the Salish are correctly cued, have all the connector cards and visual cues, according to the 1890 deck. For some strange reason 2 of the ladies look in the wrong direction and the Military Person misses the sword. As a result you need to mentally note the Reiches Madchen/Gute Dame have to look the *other way* and in the GT the Military Person stops the reading in that row.