Sakki-Sakki Tarot by Sakki
Review by Diane Wilkes

The first words that came to mind when I started looking at the Sakki-Sakki Tarot were frivolous and whimsical. But the more I looked at this deck--and the little white booklet (LWB)--the more I embraced it. The subtitle of this deck is "for the artist in each of us" and it really is geared in that direction.

The Sakki-Sakki Tarot is a riot of colors and shapes, each card bursting with electricity and personality. The cards are busier than a college campus McDonald's--and have a youthful exuberance to match. The textures are swirly and delicious--like images a wayward child of Picini might have created. The creamy matte coloring of the cards doesn't tone down their wild effect, but simply deepens it, enriches it.

The Empress (at top) is one of the most attractive cards in the Sakki-Sakki. Her unruly tresses contain an entire village, her body untold new worlds. She evokes Banzhaf's model of the Empress as a lush and unregimented creatrix in a bright and powerful way. The other Major I think most beautiful is the World: a woman gracefully  carries a large globe behind her back. The best thing about this card is there's a sailboat floating on the edge of the globe, at harmony with the winds of change that whistle in the background.

Some of the cards are less effective, particularly the ones that express serenity or harmony. Temperance is a  discordant concatenation of colors--I like a dynamic version of this archetype at least as much as the next person, but this one feels like a fork stuck in a toaster. The Star isn't much better: a naked woman with a kewpie doll pucker reaches up to a sun-like star--it's not as jarring as Trump XIV, but it evokes the jazz age of Thoroughly Modern Millie--and jangling razzmatazz does not typify this calm and gentle archetype.

On the other hand, the "scary" cards are not remotely intimidating, making this a perfect deck for children. A cartoon character instead of a skeleton occupies the center of the Death card--a cartoon riding a cartoon dog with spectacles. The bowlegged Devil is much less horrifying than George W. Bush--and a better dancer, besides. The denizens of this Devil's domain seem to be having a Hell of a time--and I mean that in the best sense of the word.  The Tower looks like something you'd find at Chuck E. Cheese, where the worst that can happen is you lose all your tokens and eat ice cream.

The Sakki-Sakki is absolutely a Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) variant, remaining truer to that composition than many other so-called "RWS clones" if one ignores the fact that many of the Minor Arcana cards are peopled with headless figures. A  bit disconcerting but children will not find it so troubling, I don't think. I thought it was a gimmick, but not an offensive one--until I tried reading with this deck. While I could easily do so, I had to import my knowledge of each card from previous decks; despite the riot of swirling colors, there is a dearth of symbolism in the cards and, with no facial expressions to riff off of, the Sakki-Sakki images seem devoid of meaning. (They did look gorgeous all together in a spread, though!)

Take the Nine of Rods, for example. If one had no foreknowledge of this card, one would think simply that a mannequin was placed among some oddly-colored wands. Is the mannequin looking over her shoulder in fear, or simply modeling the fall line? The colors don't express paranoia nor courage, and since all the cards are busy, one can't attribute that adjective to every meaning.

I find the Minors that are peopled with headed characters tend to be much more effective. The dark-skinned individual in the Ten of Rods may look cheerful, but carries "the black man's burden" along with the sticks. The woman on the Five of Cups, with her large eyes and stark white skin, is the embodiment of sorrowful regret. We can tell that the man in the Seven of Swords is carrying off ill-gotten booty because of his shifting eyes and sneaky expression.

Some of the Minors that are headless are effective too, precisely because of their physical state. The white noise aura over the bed in the Nine of Swords makes you think that the reason there's no one in the card is because there's "no there there."  The Four of Coins' individual is all about the physical, with a blocked heart (two coins cover it). I have mixed feelings about the headless cards--I think they force you to look at the images in a fresh light, which is good...but they also are less evocative precisely because there is no facial expression for the reader to interpret.

The excellent LWB makes me wonder if perhaps Sakki (the deck creator) is better at expressing herself in words than the visual arts. The LWB is particularly appropriate for artists--despite (or perhaps because of) its almost relentlessly positive message. The Devil allows us to get in touch with our shadow, the Tower allows us to establish a new order, etc. However, some of the Swords are given their grisly due: the Nine of Swords..., the Three of Swords...

The deck includes a 79th card, "The Artist." It consists of an empty black stage, reminiscent of a blank computer screen (where have I seen that before?), but is surrounded by a burst of colors.  It can be used as a significator. In the unique "Artist's Path Spread," it serves as a reminder to the querent that he/she is an artist who needs to accept both gifts and responsibilities. The card can also be used in general readings, but the reader has the choice of including it or not.

One thing I like about independently published decks is that they often "feel" different from standard ones. I love the creamy feel and look of the matte images, but I wish the card edges weren't so nubbly and rough. The reversible backs show Spring Green flowers set against a Yellow Green backing (for those who remember those Crayola colors)--and one suspects they would glow if seen under a black light. The packaging of the deck is unique--the box is cleverly folded. Unfortunately, one of my side panels is ripped, so the box doesn't stay closed. The presentation is professional and artistic--just what you'd expect from a professional artist with a creative mind.

This is a great deck to use for questions of a creative nature, as well as children, for the reasons cited earlier. It's reasonably priced for a would-be collector who is short on cash, and is also--dare I say it?--fun! It's not the thing for a Ceremonial Magician, perhaps, but I recommend it to those who are looking for something different.

Click here to see a sample reading with this deck.

You can read an interview with the deck creator here.

You can see more cards and purchase the deck directly from the artist here.

  Yes No
78 cards X  
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI X  
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana X  
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Disks) X  
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions X  
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Slightly smaller than standard
 (approx.  2 1/2" x 4 1/2")                                         
Larger than standard                                                X

Images 2004 Monicka Clio Sakki
Review and page 2004 Diane Wilkes