I Am One Tarot
Review by K. Frank Jensen
Back in 1968, John Starr Cooke and Rosalind Sharp published an unusual tarot deck called "The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age". The creative process that led to the construction of the deck was a series of ouija-board readings carried out by a group of John Starr Cooke and friends with the purpose of deciding how a "tarot" ideally should look like. The notes from the ouija-board readings became so detailed that they could be used as directions for designing the deck and a concept for using it called "The Royal Maze".
One detail was an unusual name for each of the major cards, the card equivalent to "The Fool", for example, being called "The Nameless One"; "The Lovers" being "The Unity" and "Strength" being "The Victorious One". Also the suitmarks were differently named as Serpents, Pears, Blades and Stones. The deck came in several print run in the late 1960's and early 70's. John Starr Cooke died in 1976 and in 1992 his son and daughter-in-law made available a set called "The Word of One" (which was also the title used for the transcript of the ouija-board notes). The "Word of One" was a package holding a reprint of the 78 cards of "The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age" plus two major arcana tarot decks created by John: "The Atlantean Tarot" and "The Gypsy Medieval Tarot".
Recently, a new tarot deck was published by a Los Angeles based company called "Saint-Art". This new 78 card deck is called the "I Am One" tarot. The artist and author is given as Maya Britan. One remarkable detail is that this new deck uses the same unusual card titles for the majors and the same suitmarks as "The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age". I can't recall having seen these titles and suitmarks used anywhere else in any of the hundreds of tarot decks published after 1970, except for the 1992 reprint. A closer look and comparison reveal that Ms. Britan's deck is actually a redrawing of John Starr Cooke and Rosalind Sharp's "The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age". Ms. Britan does not tell how she was inspired to create this deck, neither does she mention John Starr Cooke's name in the three-language booklet (looks like Ms. Britan is aiming for an international market) that comes with the deck. On the contrary, she states in the booklet that "...The I Am One" tarot deck is a game of cards based on ancient school of "Tarot" that was last used in Egypt during the late 18th dynasty..." Britan goes on in the same nonsense style, claiming that " ...the Egyptian school of Tarot later was adopted by the Hebrews and their leader Moses, who was a "Royal Master of Tarot..."(!).
Ms. Britan could come up with the explanation, that the same entity that approached John Starr Cooke and his friends via the ouija-board and gave them the inspiration for "The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age" has also approached her with the details. Then I can only wonder why that entity has entirely lost his (her?) sense of artistic quality during the 35 years that had passed? Ms. Britan's pompous illustrations are, in my opinion, very inferior to John Starr Cooke and Rosalind Sharp's simply designed original deck. You can see some sample cards from both decks here.
If you want a copy of this inferior imitation, which I consider it to be, you can find it here. It comes with 78+2 cards, cardboard box, layout sheet, booklet in English, Spanish and French. ISBN 0-943832-33-0. The real thing, "The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age", which I consider being one of the important tarot decks of the 1960's, is from time to time offered on eBay, currently for prices around US$50.
You can read another review of this deck here.
K. Frank Jensen was the founder and editor of Manteia, a now-defunct tarot magazine. For his significant contributions to the tarot community, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Tarot Society at this year's World Tarot Congress. He has one of the greatest tarot collections in the world.
Review © 2002 K. Frank Jensen 2002
Images © Three Kings Productions
Page © 2002 Diane Wilkes