Tarot by Dorothy Krause; Text by Marina Dubois
Review by Diane Wilkes
It's hard to believe I am actually reviewing a real-time version of this deck--I have ogled it online for many years, never really believing that I'd be able to hold it in my hands (not to mention do real-time readings with it!). I can't remember when I first saw it on the Internet, but it was back in the days of Michele's Tarot Page--in fact, my first glimpse of the Millennium Tarot came from a link on Michele's site.
Be that as it may, the self-published Millennium Tarot has finally arrived and it is, in many ways, as glorious as I remember from my first online visits. It may not be called the Golden Tarot, but it could be--the backs are a design of gold leaf, the borders are of the same pattern, and even the little white booklet (LWB) has a glossy gold cover to match. But the gold doesn't stop there! There is gold in many of the images, from the gold background of the World (at top) to the golden suit of Swords to the tips of the Wands. It's a very shiny deck, and for those of us whom, like babies, are drawn to gleam, the Millennium is quite satisfying.
The Major Arcana is illustrated with collages that emphasize classical works of art. Sadly, unlike the Golden Tarot, the deck's LWB does not provide sources for the artwork. Also sadly, most of the images are smaller than the full length of the card. However, there is something more to these cards than their lush beauty--they sweep you into their profound world, a world of passion, drama, and poetry. The Magician isn't a trickster, but the living embodiment of "As above, so below." The Wheel depicts an angel poised gently atop the orb of the world, reminding us that there is a divine plan in even the most severe dips of fortune. The Devil is a beautiful youth--Narcissus, perhaps?--enrobed in the fiery red of passion. This card came up in a reading, reminding me beautifully but firmly of the dangers of passion in the service of ego. The card's beauty somewhat alleviated the pain of the message. The World (at top) is reminiscent of the Wheel--a promise that we can evolve into divine warriors if we so choose.
We can distinguish the suits of the Minor Arcana by their borders. Yes, I know I said they were gold, but the Minors have two borders. The inner border is gold, but the Wands have a mustard-colored outer border, Swords, a red one, and Pentacles, purple. The Cups' outer border is so similar to the Majors that I think if there is a difference, it is indistinguishable. At least, it is by me.
The Minor Arcana are pip cards and not particularly exciting or evocative, though the background of maps for the Wands and phases of the Moon for Cups is nicely done and makes for an attractive image. I am not quite sure what the Swords and Pentacles backgrounds are and, needless to say, this information is not included in the LWB. The cards are delineated with Roman Numerals, which is fitting for the style of the deck, but never works for me--I think of them as naturally attributed to the Major Arcana only. The Court Cards are illustrated with sculptures, which always strikes me as rather cold.
The LWB, which has a gold cover and is better constructed than the average LWB, is alternately rewarding and disappointing by turns. The rewards are in some of the connections and thoughts on the cards, particularly the Major Arcana. The disappointments come in the form of relating information about the specific symbols in the card images--the LWB doesn't. At all. A snake reels away from the Empress' neck. Why? Your conjecture is as good as mine--and both are better than the booklet's, which are non-existent. In Trump X, the author urges us to move to the center, but the card image shows someone sitting to one side of the Wheel.
The LWB is almost 100 pages, and the majority of it consists of definitions. We are provided Higher, Mundane, and Reversed Meanings for the Major Arcana and Mundane and Reversed Meanings for the Minors. Directions for reading the cards are also provided (go to a quiet place, use reversals), as well as detailed instructions for using the Celtic Cross, which is an excellent spread for novices, according to the LWB. Since I know of numerous budding readers who gave up on tarot after attempting this spread, I disagree. A four card Clarification Spread is also provided.
While I was disappointed in what the LWB did not contain (symbol-specific information, sources of the artwork used), I found myself enjoying the author's take on certain cards. She offers the question "Is that all there is?" as apropos for the reversed Hierophant, which I like and plan to use in my own readings as a possible interpretation--but then she also cites it for the Hanged Man. And the Two of Wands. I found this rather strange. Still, as LWBs go, this is one of my favorites, despite its flaws.
The deck is of standard size and has very sharp edges--it is purely rectangular and constructed of glossy paper. I see the backs as 78 identical portals to heaven--they look like golden doors to me. They are not-quite reversible--if one looks carefully, one can see differences but if you don't focus on them, you can fool yourself.
Two words that continually emerge when I think of this deck are "refined" and "elegant." Sadly, the oversized borders sometimes overpower the exquisite images, but laying out a spread with the Millennium Tarot has a somewhat special feel to it, like going out to the Ritz-Carlton for tea in the middle of the work week. There's all this gilt and beautiful artwork and you feel cosseted by the extravagant luxury of the images. When I laid out a three card spread, two of the cards were Majors and the reading was very on the money. However, if your reading is dominated by a lot of Minors, you might be less enchanted--when I pulled a card for this review, I received the dark and spartan Three of Swords. This seems an important caveat--if you don't like Minors that don't have evocative pictorials, you might not want to buy this deck.
On the other hand, the price is right for an independently-published deck, so I recommend this deck not only to collectors, but those who love fine art. It seems to me to be a deck to use when you want something indulgent and out-of-the-ordinary...but can't afford the time or cost of tea at the Ritz-Carlton.
You can see more images and order the deck here.
|Strength VIII, Justice XI||X|
|Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana||X|
|Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Discs)||X|
|Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions Rods--Air; Swords--Fire||X|
|Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")||X|
|Smaller than standard||X|
|Larger than standard||X|
Images © 2004 Viewpoint Studios
Review and page © 2004 Diane Wilkes