One World Tarot by Crystal Love and Michael
Review by Diane Wilkes
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
As in the case of Tarot of the Sephiroth, this deck is badly in need of a companion book if it is going to prove to be of much use in the world. The deck is described as one which "incorporates modern design and esoteric symbolism as it celebrates the coming of the New Age." If so, this celebration is not one which I desire to attend. While it is conceivable that the deck designers have created the One World Tarot with a complex esoteric symbolism at its foundation, the cards themselves are, perhaps, the least visually exciting of any in my collection.
The computer-generated art is, for the most part, banal, and numbingly (and intentionally!) similar. If this is cohesion, I say, bring on the entropy. Three or four of the Majors are lovely, and I have scanned all of them to balance out this review, because I really don't like to come across as overly negative. To paraphrase Flip Wilson's Geraldine, "This deck made me do it."
Note how beautiful The Fool card is. However, if the title wasn't on the card, would you think it was The Fool...or The Star? I'd go with The Star; the actual Star card, unfortunately, resembles a pentacle with an extra point (the Solomonic Star, as it were).
Justice is another startlingly attractive card, but I haven't a clue what the symbolism involves. Still, you have to admit, you've never seen another Justice card that is remotely similar.
The LWB, alas, doesn't explain the card's symbolism; it merely states: "This card stands for prudence, discipline and caution, as well as ambition, planning and structure. May indicate someone calculating, conservative, constructive, and resourceful. Indicates a need for careful laying of foundations." The reversal isn't much different from the upright meaning, and gives no further insights: "Mean, cold, calculating. Indicates restrictions and limitations."
I don't see what that has to do with a) the traditional meanings for Justice and/or b) the imagery of this card. If anything, the creature on this card looks extremely flexible, not filled with any limitations. As someone just beginning to do Yoga, I'd like to be able to bend like the figure in this card...I know the real meaning of restrictions and limitations.
But I digress.
The last really striking image from this deck is that of the High Priestess. I love the Grace Jones feel to this card, as well as the inner chakra lights that radiate upward and outward.
But one card does not a deck make. The Emperor and Empress are well-matched in their triangular formation, but I don't get the palm tree symbolism (The Empress is on vacation in Florida, perhaps?) or the Yin-Yang symbol immersed in the triangle for the Emperor. The Yin-Yang symbol, sans triangle, is that of The Magician. I can only assume that the connection between the cards is well-articulated in the deck creators' minds--it doesn't appear on the printed page.
While it's always nice if the Emperor and Empress look "related," this is not mandatory, or even desirable in The Sun and Judgement, both of which are large round balls of light with rays emanating from them. The only difference is the colors. Strength (which is 11 in this deck--Justice is 8) shows an Eye of Horus against a pyramid--and the ubiquitous rays make their appearance as well. The Hanging Man follows, and is the same image--only reversed. Why? Only the BWB (which, as far as I know, isn't available) knows for sure--the LWB doesn't make any linkages between the two cards.
The Princess of Coins is damn cute, but she looks exactly the same as all the other princesses...only the background colors differ. Cute only goes so far. I should mention that all the court cards follow this pattern. That might be part of that "One World" message, but it lacks the diversity necessary to any "One World" considerations. While I appreciate that the four court-people are of different ethnic backgrounds, I still would prefer even more diversity.
The Minor Arcana are more of the same (literally as well as figuratively). They are pip cards with the same arrangements throughout the suits. The Batons are symbolized by yellow orbs with evenly-distributed petal-like shapes attached to them. They resemble the plastic smiley-faces that were the bane of aesthetically-minded people surviving the seventies. The symbol for the suit of Cups is a starfish. The Ace of Cups is nice, but when the starfish are regimented into Esther Williams-like alignments, the charm fades fast.
Swords are orbs filled with cloud formations. Coins are leaves, which I also find attractive in small doses. Ten cards in a row isn't a small dose, though. Still, there is something fitting in seeing a tree of life with actual leaves, as is shown in the Ten of Coins.
The main appeal of this deck, then, must derive from the touted astrological, numerological, esoteric and color symbolism. Each card is given an astrological correspondence, but only the Major Arcana are designated by the Hebrew letter that corresponds to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (and there is no explanation of these correspondences). The astrological correspondence on the Majors isn't the same as the Golden Dawn attributions. The reversible backs show a zodiac wheel like a spirograph against a starry sky. The four suits and the four elements are separated into decanates (though the author uses the term decantes) by sign and "numerological powers 1-9."
I'm an optimistic Sagittarian--we're the folks who, when delivered a pile of manure, start searching through it because "there has to be a pony in there somewhere." The pony here has yet to make himself known to me. Perhaps when a full-length book accompanying the One World Tarot is published, the grand schemata will be illuminated and I'll find the pony. But without it, this deck doesn't have much to offer to me.
I recommend this deck to people who prefer pip cards and who can understand the various schools and styles of symbolism used in this deck.
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
The One World Tarot
Crystal Love and Michael Hobbs
US Games Systems, Inc.
Art and quoted excerpts © 2000 Crystal Love and Michael Hobbs
Review and page © 2000 Diane Wilkes