Here’s a treat for word-smiths and language-lovers. I had been eyeing the Type Tarot for review for a while and J Artis, designer, was happy to let my wish come true. Together with his close friend Tiffany Craig, he worked on this Tarot and I am really curious if they delivered just a novelty or also a useful deck.
The Type Tarot is packed in a too big black tuck box with the logo and print on it. Not that sturdy, and after a few days I already saw the white of the paper coming through. The cards and booklet – not in order by the way – weren’t sealed, so you could take them out immediately. And due to the roomy box also easily. Both positive and negative: sometimes getting a deck out or put them back in can be frustrating, but you’d never want this box at the bottom of your collection pile; hello crushed carton. According to the designers there’s a limited set of box sizes and card textures to choose from at TGC, meaning it definitely wasn’t a conscious choice on their part. So, letting it go…
The Type Tarot started off ‘as an idle doodle on a napkin’ and got published with the intention to help those who need a fresh way to read. While a picture can say more than a thousand words I can definitely agree with the makers of the deck that ‘sometimes a few dozen words say more than any image could capture’. The love for typography and tarot came together in the Type Tarot and Artis and Craig hope they created something easy to begin with. Well, let’s find out shall we!?
The LWB (black in this case) is hardly worth mentioning (well, they rarely are). The designers concluded that a true companion book wasn’t necessary, so the booklet just shows a few well-known spreads. It would have been cool if they had built on the concept with typographic spreads maybe, but I agree that you can read this deck without the need for a guide. The quality of the cards themselves is okay. I have seen thinner and they felt comfortable in my hands while shuffling.
My deck is from the end of 2015 and still has the Type Tarot logo printed on all the backs, but I have been told that decks coming out in 2016 won’t have this anymore. Good! “Yes, I’d love the logo or URL of the deck big on the back of my cards” said no tarot reader ever…
All the minor arcana and courts have a white background and the words printed on them in a sort of tag cloud form. Colors that are used are black, red, blue, green and brown tints. Depending on the suit some colors get more emphasis than others and every Minor has a grey symbol behind the words, which gives them something extra. All the Majors have a colored background and are supported by one or two other colors.
I was surprised to see that there is no system to the color choices. Neither with the suits, nor with the Majors. Sometimes when tarot deck makers use colors for suits, the wands become red, the cups blue and so fort. In this case no typical color-coding. The Pentacles are mainly black, Cups have green tints and the swords are made up of reds, where the wands get black and dark green. You eventually will be able to see the lack, or abundance, of certain suits from the colors (or the font, ever suit has their own), but not by something you’re used to. The same goes for the majors where only the Devil and Death – similar cool color-choice by the way – seems to be very fitting: Blood red with black.
And, as you might have seen from the images already: no borders (can we get a round of applause?).
Obviously words are the main key here and that means that all the cards are full of them; big, smaller, smallest, biggest. I truly like the concept, but there are some issues. Like I said, it is full of words, but some are hardly legible, unless you do your readings under the microscope (hey, I am not judging!). I am not sure if these tiny words would still be picked up by your brain, but so far I have not seen proof of that.
The choice of some bigger words seems a bit arbitrary too. When text like ONE, TWO (and not on numerological similar cards), ALSO, UNDER, THEIR, ETC or HERE and COME are used in the biggest font I wonder what the meaning is. And some keywords are definitely not in my tarocabulary, but I am willing to take full blame for that.
So, am I royally disappointed in this deck overall? No, no, don’t get me wrong. I still think this deck has a place, but I am just stating the things that could be improved if they wanted to. I think the concept is worth exploring. I did a couple of readings with them and honestly had difficulty processing in the beginning. But after a while I started to use *several words* per card and then it came alive for me. But perhaps not in a way that the designers originally intended to.
It is a nice addition for those who are reading on a day to day basis and want to train some different brain muscles. It works a bit like an oracular sentence or those (f.e. i-Ching book of Changes) books with wisdom where you open up a page and see a word or sentence giving you an answer.
For me the Type Tarot is not a tarot in the sense that we know it. I am not even sure how much, for a more advanced reader, it adds to a reading to know that you’ve just drawn the Four of Wands and the Nine of Pentacles. If you read those specific cards from your knowledge, you’ll miss the effect of the words. So…I think this deck is one of a kind, it is some sort of hybrid. It uses the system of tarot, but reads more like an oracle. And reversed didn’t work with this deck (my days of trying to read upside down text are over).
I think that if you are the type of reader that prefers oracles or bibliomancy and you’d like to dip your toe in the tarot-pool without wanting to ever study something more than this: excellent. Buy it for sure! If you’re a collector with a Humanities/language Major…ah, you probably bought it ages ago ;-).
If you’re actually a beginner and in the long run you’d want to be able to work with other decks in the RWS or Thoth or TDM system: ehm…Use the Type Tarot together with another deck and learn like you have training wheels on. Oh, as an afterthought: I do think that if you are in the Bible belt or deal with clients who are afraid of certain cards or judge certain symbolism this is an excellent deck to try out. It does not suger-coat, it doesn’t delete cards, but it does look totally harmless.
Some blow-ups from the Ten of Wands and the Six of Pentacles. That way you can see the keywords up close.
For someone already intermediate or advanced, working with a word-tarot is a completely new experience. For me it worked limiting on the intuition front. I think that has to do with the fact I am not just a word-smith, but found out over the course of this review I also rely heavily on symbolism. It won’t be my go-to deck, but I definitely did some cool readings with it and I can imagine it is one of those decks that grows on you.
All-in-all I say The Type tarot is cool. Is it a novelty deck: yes. Is it *just* a novelty deck? No, it is just not for beginners. Not as I see it. For collectors it is a great addition to their tarot-nook or excel doc (hey, I am definitely not the only one doing that!), for readers it could be a welcome break or perhaps a step towards oracles/Lenormand.
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