The Astrology Center of America, 207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272
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The Elemental Tarot Deck

by Caroline Smith & John Astrop

The Elemental Tarot Deck
Price: $19.95
Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 3.45 x 5.1 inches, or 88 x 130 mm.

Back of card: A fine, even pattern of tiny eagles, printed both as positives & negatives. In practice it looks like a traditional playing card back. Turquoise, I think, with a white border. Can be inverted.

Book included: Yes, 128 pages, 5.15 x 6.9 inches, or 13 x 17.6 cm, illustrated. The back cover of the book is 12 inches/31 cm long, it wraps around the cards themselves to form the packaging, which I thought a cheap & not very effective solution.

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin. Printed in Hong Kong.

Comments: On the back of the box it says, "Easy to comprehend symbols requiring no memorization." So many decks make this claim, or one similar. I suppose we all know what an "Anu" is (top row, second card from the left).

In this deck, there are red cards & light blue/green cards & green cards & lavender cards. The book identifies these as:

Blue cards are major arcanas
Red cards are Fire (eg, Wands)
Light blue/green cards are Air (eg, Swords)
Purple/lavender cards are Water (eg, Cups)
Green cards are Earth (eg, Pentacles)

Court cards are Daughter, Son, Mother & Father.

With only a handful of exceptions, all figures are shown nude, and most of them are frontally nude. Of course, with simple line drawings how shocking can that be?

Let's have fun with a couple of cards:

The Trickster (magician) is one of the few clothed figures in the deck. Normally he takes up the entire card, planted firmly & immovably in the middle of it. Here he is on a path, on a road that leads up the mountain & over the horizon. So he's here today, gone tomorrow. He's also not much of a magician. The road is borrowed from the Fool. The leg position is stolen from the Hanged Man. Those two "sprouty" things on the mountaintop look like radio antennas to me. While the path he's on veers eventually to the right (the path of goodness & all that), it looks to me as if he's merely a Nielsen ratings point, shifting forever between Channel 1 (left-handed & evil) and Channel 2 (righteous & nice, etc).

The 2 of Zephyr/Air (Swords). Here we see two naked figures, male & female, running warily away from each other. Well, not quite naked. They wear masks of anonymity. They run away from their physicality (nakedness), all the while hiding their true feelings. Behind them hovers the all-knowing eye, but this eye has seen enough. It is running away. Below them are two prone male figures who look as if they've been buried. Is this what the two are running away from, the consequences of some evil deed? What does the book say? Who cares! Aren't these cards supposed to be self-explanatory? And isn't this fun!

The Fool is a nice, sex-indeterminate fellow standing in a relaxed position in front of a massive tree. The tree is "borrowed" from the magician (trickster) as it represents the Emerald Tablet ("As above, so below", that stuff). It also represents permanence & stability through the seasons of life. The Fool is not going anywhere because, don't you know, he peeked ahead & saw what's coming & he's no fool.

There are the most awful slogans written on either side of the major arcana cards. Here are some:

The Fool: I am the unlearned, And they can learn from me.

The Trickster: I am knowledge & I am ignorance, I am falsehood & I am truth.

The Virgin: I am shame & I am boldness, I am shameless & I am ashamed.

The Empress: I am the whore & the holy one, I am the wife & the virgin. (Gee, is she the Virgin's big sister?)

The Pope: I am sinless, And the root of all sin derives from me. The card shows a man with his right hand upraised & his left lowered, which is borrowed from the Magician/trickster. In front of him, a man (naked, of course) falls headfirst, which is taken from the Tower.

February, 2006: Karen writes to say the "awful slogans" are taken from The Thunder, Perfect Mind, a gnostic poem found among the manuscripts at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt in 1945. Read the entire text. It seems to me to have been intended for ritualistic incantation.

The deck is brightly colored & the images are strong. You could have fun with this deck.

The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave

Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell. Except where noted, this entire site (AstroAmerica.com) & its contents are Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by William R. Roell. All rights reserved. Tarot card images are Copyright © by the copyright holder (generally the publisher).