The William Blake Tarot - Review by Michele Jackson

The full name of this deck is The William Blake Deck of the Creative Imagination and the deck was designed to be a tool for personal creativity. The beautiful artwork, evocative card titles and scattered verse on some cards can definitely put one in a creative mood. This deck consists of the original art of William Blake. The images are collages of Blake reproductions and the colors are faithful to the originals, though some black and white engravings have been colored by the creator of this deck. One of the foremost religious artists of his time, Blake’s work is exquisite. Blake was primarily an engraver and his work is very detailed. The colors are soft and muted for the most part, but every now and then, a card with brilliant pastels is encountered. There are just enough of these lighter cards to keep the deck from being somber, but not so many that the deck appears “cute”. The Major Arcana cards have the card number and title on the bottom. The Minors have the number and suit name centered on the bottom of the card, with the suit symbols on the bottom corners. The symbol on the right is the glyph for the suit, while the symbol on the left is a shorthand symbol for use when writing in longhand. A one word interpretation is centered on the top of each Minor card. There is a space provided at the bottom of each Minor card which can be used to write your personal interpretation as well. Each suit has a different border and the cards in the suit of poetry each contain some of Blake’s poetry or verse. There have been several changes to the traditional Tarot structure. The suits have all been renamed, as have most of the Majors. The Court cards have also been renamed. Specifically:

  • Suit Name
  • Blakean Element
  • Symbol
Traditional Correspondence Waite-Smith Element
  • Painting
  • Water
  • An artist's palette
  • Pentacles
  • Earth
  • Science
  • Air
  • A Compass
  • Swords
  • Air
  • Music
  • Fire
  • A Lyre
  • Cups
  • Water
  • Poetry
  • Earth
  • A Scroll
  • Wands
  • Fire
Major Arcana
00 Eternity IV Reason IX Imagination XIV Forgiveness XIX Sun
0 Innocence V Religion X Whirlwind XV Error XX Liberty
I Magic VI Knowledge XI Energy XVI Lightening XXI Union
II Mystery VII Experience XII Reversal XVII Stars  
III Nature VIII Assessment XIII Transformation XVIII Moon  

Court Cards

The book is one of the best I have seen in a set so far. It begins with a brief biography of Blake, explaining his belief system and how it has been incorporated into this deck. Detailed descriptions of the Majors follow. These descriptions contrast and compare the Blake Major Arcana with the traditional Majors. A List of interpretive keywords for each card is supplied as well. The descriptions of the Minors are also quite full and detailed. The book advises that it is not necessary to memorize the meanings of each of the cards, rather one can begin by “...relating directly and personally to the images.” It does advise that reading the card descriptions and using the accompanying charts will “...greatly increase the range of ideas and responses available to you.” I personally recommend you read the book. A list of recommended books on Blake, Tarot and creativity is provided in an appendix. The remainder of the book is a short text on reading the cards, with spreads and suggestions for using them. Well written, this book is good enough to be sold as a stand alone item. Many of the ideas presented here could be adapted to other decks as well.

The William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination
By Ed Buryn
ISBN 0-06-251316-8
You can see the William Blake Tarot at T.A.R.O.T.

Review Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes