For the past number of years, psychologists have been embracing tarot decks, not as divinatory guides, but as psychological ones; tarot decks are seen by many psychologists and social workers as a way to provide insight into subconscious motivations, an easy way to provide necessary interventions with less resistance, and a way to get at an individual’s unique symbolic system that can then provide a road into assisting anyone with daily living and even tough choices. In other words, the medical establishment is releasing the formalism of, for example, what the Fool traditionally means, and looking at what it means to you in your reading, and what it can tell you about yourself. It can even be used as a source for prompts and exercises by writers and other creative types. Tarot has thereby become a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth for just about anyone.
One of the loveliest new decks out of Lo Scarabeo lately is the Golden Tarot of Klimt. It’s interesting to me that I would not previously have considered myself much of a Klimt fan; I recognized his importance to Fin-de-SiÃ¨cle art, without finding the unabashed eroticism and Art Deco modernism to my personal taste. However, this tarot deck has made me into a believer, and if you think about it, anything that can open someone eyes about art is a good (and all too rare) thing. What’s particularly interesting to me is that the gold ink and the presentation shows the Japanese influence on Klimt quite clearly.
The aesthetics of the deck are high. The individual paintings are not merely touched with gold ink, but lavished with it, and yet the deck avoids being gaudy or cheap-looking. The gold manages to highlight and support Klimt’s art without trying to upstage, degrade, or obscure itâ€”a nice trick. The cards do not avoid nudity, but nor do they take the obvious and tiresome road of highlighting it for the mere sake of being shocking or titillating; like the artist’s work, sometimes there’s a breast, and sometimes there isn’t.
Of course what matters even more than what a deck looks like is how well it reads. The paintings have been augmented in some cases with images to make the card appropriate for a various suit. As such, a reader will have no trouble recognizing which Minor card they are viewing. The Majors are all identified at the top center, so the learning curve is certainly manageable. Much of Klimt’s personal symbolism is hermetic in feel and content, making this a good deck for those who like this more “masculine” approach, but perhaps weaker for those who prefer more nature-based or “feminine” imagery. Either way, if the deck appeals to you, run with it, and it’ll work in the short or long run.
The accompanying booklet has the usual information, including a very nicely done look at his art and its influence on the art world. There are also the usual potted, brief “meanings” for each card in the Major and Minor Acanae. Most of Lo Scarabeo’s decks include a reading specifically for that deck; in this case, we get “the circle of faults and virtues,” which is a rather general spread that provides a look at the querent’s current situation, and then job and emotional situation. Something more geared towards art and/or creativity would have been nice. The booklet also includes the same information in Italian, French, Spanish, and German, which, if you think about it, is a fun way to brush up on your college required foreign languages.
Basically, if you’re looking for a new deck to read with, or just an attractive one to add to your collection, then the Golden Tarot of Klimt is an excellent choice. If you are a student of art or even just Victorian history, then you’ll want to look at this one, too, and you might surprise yourself with how much you love it. It is a treat for the eyes and a rather unique take on what makes a deck. Besides, at $24.95 retail (less than $16 on Amazon) for the deck alone, you’d be hard-pressed to find something so lovely in any other format. Incidentally, the Deluxe edition of the deck comes with a more detailed instruction book and a bag for the cards.