Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Category: Tarot Deck Review

Universal Waite Tarot Deck

This entry is part of 2 in the series Tarot Deck Reviews


CONTRIBUTER(S): Original drawings by Pamela Colman Smith under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite; Recolored by Mary Hanson-Roberts; conceived by Stuart R. Kaplan

PUBLISHED BY: U.S. Games, Inc.

AVAILABILITY: Universal Waite on Also on the US Games, Inc. site.

ABOUT THE DECK: This is a newer version of the classic Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck that has been recolored by another artist. The deck comes with two insert cards, one with the name of the deck with pertinent information about its designers and publisher, and one advertising a nonfiction book about Pamela Colman Smith.

GUIDEBOOK: The guide book is more of a booklet. It fits with the deck, which came in a tuck box.

CARDSTOCK: The cards are thin and very flexible. It’s a little difficult to shuffle these in my preferred manner because their flexibility makes them springy so they tend to fly about a lot. However, they do very well with overhand shuffling due to their glossy smooth surface. In measurement, the cards are standard tarot sized.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS DECK: I previously bought the Original Rider Waite Tarot Pack on Amazon, and those cards never really resonated with me. This deck does. The colors are bright and this makes the imagery clear. I also like the fact that the backs of the cards are done in a design which makes it impossible to tell which cards are upside down, as I’m also learning to read reversals; I’m not inclined to flip the cards over so they’re all oriented the same way.

Universal Waite Tarot Cards, Fronts and Back

WHAT I DISLIKED ABOUT THIS DECK: I wish it had a book instead of a booklet—I feel this version of the deck should be showcased as a good alternative to the original RWS deck.

CLOSING REMARKS: I resisted getting a RWS deck for years because the examples I’d seen I didn’t like the art of. I didn’t realize until recently, it was the coloring of the cards that turned me off of them so much. This deck makes the cards much more accessible to me. The imagery is beautiful with Mary Hanson-Roberts’s choices of colors. I would recommend this particular version of the RWS deck for anyone who wants to learn about the original symbolism in the deck.

The Bottanical Deck

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Tarot Deck Reviews
Bottanical Deck Box
Bottanical Deck Box

WHERE PURCHASED: I backed this particular deck on Kickstarter a few months ago, and received it this past Friday, on the 23rd of August.

CONTRIBUTER(S): Jessica Bott

PUBLISHED BY: Jessica Bott

AVAILABILITY: It will shortly become available on Jessica Bott’s site. She also has an Instagram.

ABOUT THE DECK: This deck is a plant-themed tarot and oracle deck consisting of 22 Major Arcana cards represented by Trees; 4 suits of Minor Arcana cards represented by, variously, Flowers (Cups), Crops (Pentacles), Spices (Wands), and Cacti (Swords); 60 Oracle Cards divided into five suits represented by, variously, Poisons, Herbs, Medicines, Mushrooms, and Carnivorous; and 2 single cards, The Unknown – Seedpod, and the Ace of Tea. And, yes, Bottanical was spelled that way deliberately by the deck’s creator, using her last name of Bott.

GUIDEBOOK: This deck comes with a guidebook particular to the deck. The cards are listed by their names or nicknames (also on their cards), along with their scientific names, keywords, and factoids about the plants depicted.

CARDSTOCK: It feels thick enough that I continually check the cards to make sure two aren’t sticking together. A little stiff, but flexible enough for me to use my preferred shuffling method without too much difficulty. Picking these cards up from a flat surface is a little easier than with other decks I have, and I don’t feel like I’m abusing the edges if I have to employ my fingernails to do so.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS DECK: I find the deck absolutely beautiful; even organisms which I wouldn’t normally find attractive have been depicted in such a way that I can see the beauty they possess. The colors are vibrant and varied—this is not a monochrome or black & white deck by any means (see images below). The cards have a matte finish which isn’t coarse at all, and the finish actually aids me in my preferred method of shuffling.

Sharp Contrast Bottanical Deck Cards
Three Random Cards from the Bottanical Deck

WHAT I DISLIKED ABOUT THIS DECK: The design of the labels at the bottoms of the cards means they don’t always lend themselves to easy reading. My first experience with this deck, in going through the guide book to match the cards to their listings therein, was complicated by it being night time and my living room, where I viewed the cards, being lit by a fluorescent light. This poor lighting and the poor contrast (see images below), made some of the plants’ names and other designations somewhat difficult to read. Personally, I would not use this deck in a dimly-lit room or a place where the ambient light isn’t bright enough to make all the colors in the cards pop.

Poor Contrast Bottanical Deck Cards
Three Cards from the Bottanical Deck

CLOSING REMARKS: While I feel the white background of the cards’ labels could be made more opaque for easier reading, I love this deck. The Bottanical Deck is unique and colorful, and I’m sure will be fun to read with, whether or not I use the extra oracle cards that came with it.

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