I wanted to review this tarot deck much sooner, but the minute I thought of confirming my review copy with Lo Scarabeo it turned out Tarot Apokalypsis, the kit, had already been sold out and I had to wait for new stock to arrive in Italy. It’s a testament to the popularity of tarot power couple Kim Huggens & Erik C Dunne. And the reason why this article is long overdue. Was it worth the wait? Let’s find out!
Tarot Apokalypsis comes in one of those Lo Scarabeo luxurious packages. Where Tarot Illuminati, its predecessor, was stored in a magnetic lid box, this one has a sturdy big sleeve, completely adorned in the colors and embellishments of Tarot Apokalypsis. You could call this package the bling-bling of tarot. It’s fiery red with yellow swirls, a golden ‘jewelry’ band with gemstones and the picture of ‘The All-Gifted’ extra card on top. The sleeve holds two seperate parts. You can slide out a tray with the cards and next to it is the full color, hardcover companion (more about that book later, since it practically deserves its own article!).
Stock & spiritual
Let’s go to the cards first. One the deck first came out there was a lot to do about the card stock online. ‘It was not as good’. Back when, I was content about the Illuminati stock (I had one of the earlier kits which supposedly had better stock), apart from the sticky gold sides. It was thicker than the average mass-market stock and held up perfectly in an overhand or bridge shuffle. I could however sympathize with the fact some people didn’t like the lack of flexibility. Erik himself set the record straight. The Tarot Apokalypsis has the same stock and same size. Also: it has the same rounded corners and borders (as in none, other than the black part for the name. Yay!). No golden edges this time. However, the cards have a glossy coating now, which – apparently – makes them feel/look thinner. While probably not appreciated by everyone, the glossy finishing is extremely suitable for its art. A bridge or overhand shuffle will make sure you can use it for ages.
Now onto something that is a little more important to base your decision on. The actual art! Tarot Apokalypsis is completely embedded in mythology and ‘cults’. Fair warning: that’s one of my interests, so that makes this deck immediately more attractive to me. Greek mythology has been fair game for quite some time in tarot decks. Tabula Mundi integrated some Norse, where the Lewellyn & Arthurian Tarot focused on the Celts. And then there are some self published decks that cover Native American or Asian traditions. A deck that combines all of those and much more is a first.
Bold, bolder, boldest
Tarot Apokalypsis goes further where Tarot Illuminati left off. It has definitely become a deck that you won’t overlook in a (web)store. If you are a traditional deck lover this type of art most likely won’t appeal to you. Nor will it if you prefer clean and ‘tranquil’ imagery. In line with Dunne’s artistic style it’s one of the bolder tarot decks out there. If you liked the luxurious explosion in Illuminati, you will be much more likely to appreciate the 2.0 version.
The back of the Tarot Apokalypsis cards have a similar design as the box, but with even more golden embellishments. They can easily be used reversible. But what it is all really about, are the fronts. Eric C Dunne used coloring like he’s handing you rainbow after rainbow. No card goes without. I can honestly say there’s no-one who designs in a similar way. You know immediately you’re looking at a Dunne. I think that also means you’re a fan or you’re not – although I must say I prefer the softer and cleaner images of the Tarot Illuminati.
The Tarot Apokalypsis has an amazing amount of details: in landscapes, clothing, people etc. I don’t know if there is a technical or graphical term for the technique he has used, but it is like every image is layered and consists of several parts. The background, the people in it, sometimes even the accessories are all separate pieces coming into one card. Computer generated, drawings, photographs all make up the elements of one art piece. Even more so than his first deck there is an exceptional richness to it. For me it is just a bit too overwhelming and at times that messed with readings. I just didn’t know where to look and had to fall back on what I know. That influenced my grades, but I know this is subjective (up to a point). Not everyone has issues with a very busy deck. Besides, I can totally imagine people going crazy for the Tarot Apokalypsis in a very good way.
I do have a few favorites though. The court cards in this deck are amazing and especially the Princesses are stand-outs. And then there are several very original or beautiful takes on cards. The Moon, The King of Swords, the Ace of Pentacles, the Emperor, almost all the 3’s (my 3 of Wands is in Russian, so I still have to ask a new card), the 8 and 4 of Swords…those are amongst my top cards for this deck.
Systematically, the Tarot Apokalypsis follows the Waite-Smith. But Eric and Kim have used their inspiration from mythology and several spiritual traditions all over the world in such a way that this deck definitely isn’t a clone. I think it will be too difficult for a beginner, but it is definitely suitable for someone who has a good basis in tarot to make out certain symbolism in the cards. Because the theme is so diverse, you will also encounter several images that offer something new. And that’s where the book comes in.
I can say, without a doubt, this is the most amazing companion book I have ever seen. Not only is it 452 pages thick, but it is completely full-color and has a hardcover. In the companion for the Tarot Illuminati Kim Huggins already showed her poetic way of writing. With every card there was a beautiful monologue and after that she included ways to interpret. In the companion for Tarot Apokalypsis you get even more. You get the poetic monologues, but longer this time. After that a complete background on the specific card, the suit, the inspiration, the history and myths. Because Tarot Apokalypsis encompasses practically all cultures, religions and old cults this is worth years of research, written in very approachable way. Of course the companion isn’t void of a meanings paragraph either. With every card you’ll find a section called Revelation where you can find ways to interpret this card in a reading while using the symbology of those spiritual traditions. Reversed options are included.
Every card, whether they are major Arcana or minor, gets several pages. In the beginning of the book Huggens offers examples on how to read the deck or tarot in general. The Tarot Apokalypsis companion isn’t just a companion. It is like a full tarot book which tips on reading, spreads and footnotes for further studying. In the tips on reading the cards it truly shows that Kim Huggins has been a decades long reader and that she is used to teaching. There were extremely useful tips in that book, also on numerology and elemental reading. I can only say that this is a remarkable companion and I think is a must-have if you were about to buy the deck. It is the combination of both deck and book that makes Tarot Apokalypsis a winner.
All -in-all Tarot Apokalypsis is a special deck. It is completely overwhelming color-wise and art-wise. For some that is too much, but I am also sure that this bold choice of design and the extravaganza will attract a large audience in the ‘tarot community as a whole’. The companion by Huggens is exceptional. It might even deserve its own article, but since I am reviewing the kit here…let’s not.
This tarot has not ‘won’ from the Tarot Illuminati when it comes to my own personal choice, but it is defintely in a league of its own. It is obviously a deck that took a lot of work (which shows), that is well researched and – lately a hot topic under tarot readers – has basically every skin-color, religion/tradition and culture in it. Dunne & Huggens are a tarot power couple for a reason and I think they’ll stay that way with the Tarot Apokalypsis.
|Author or artist||Publisher||Publication|
|Erik C Dunne & Kim Huggens||Lo Scarabeo||August 2016|