Deck Interview: Antique Anatomy Tarot
There’s a bit of a creepy factor to these cards that the deck wants to make sure I understand, as though there’s a sarcastic or darkly comedic attitude through which we can easily connect. It’s true that I enjoy a good (or bad) crime novel and all the gruesome-yet-aesthetically-pleasing things that someone with at least a little Scorpio in their charts would love. And I have some rather dominant Capricorn and Saturnian energy, so dark humor and I are good friends. As with the Tarot del Fuego or Tattoo Tarot, I don’t think this deck will be for everyone or potentially even most people. But it is a beautiful deck for Scorpio season and the arrival of Halloween, which isn’t too far off.
I don't normally look at the little white book before completing my deck interview, but my curiosity was piqued by all the Blades in this reading, and it made me wonder if the intellect behind the cards was trying to come through. It turned out that I didn't need the little white book to read in the cards what I read in them, but there was a lot of useful information in it. I shouldn't even call it an LWB because it's neither little nor white. It has some useful tarot overview, as well as several systems for interpretation. It does not, however, have a clear explanation of the flowers on the cards (at least not that I saw on my skim), and that was sort of what I was hoping to find in there. (I'm fascinated by the language of flowers but also really lazy when it comes to studying them.) Nevertheless, there's some other good stuff in there. But since it didn't really affect my reading, that's enough about the guide book. Let's cut to the cards.
I designed a new deck interview spread, so it seems only fitting that I star to use that for my own deck interviews, tarot and oracle decks alike.
INTERVIEWING THE ANTIQUE ANATOMY TAROT
What major lesson are you here to help me learn? Queen of Blades
Through which divine energy can we best communicate? Queen of Coins
In what area can you aide me to help others? Knight of Blades (reversed)
In what area could your guidance be easily misunderstood? 5 of Coins (reversed)
What can I do to keep our communication clear? King of Blades
How can I use your guidance for the highest good? 5 of Blades
How will I know when we’re ready for a new lesson? 10 of Coins
As I said, there are a lot of Blades in here, and a pair of Queens and pair of 5s. And there are several Coins. In fact it's all Coins or Blades, and it's more than half court cards. (And in case you're wondering, I did shuffle. And not only did I shuffle, but I also cut the deck before each question since I was skeptical about my shuffling with such fine cards in a new deck.) To me the combination of snarky swords and earthy coins with lots of court cards means that this deck has a lot of personality. It'll be interesting to tap into that, and I think the Queen of Coins who crowns the reading is certainly offering some sensuality and self-centeredness that could be a lot of fun to explore. I can think of an old fictional character of mine who probably drew from that muse. She was a hoot—and a bitch—and she was great.
It's interesting that this deck benefits from connecting through the Queen of Coins when the lesson is her counterpart, the Queen of Blades. There's an incisiveness to her and willingness to make hard decisions with a clear mind that contrasts with the indirect methods of the Queen of Coins. But this combination tells me that I can develop that insightful approach through the cards—that clarity of thought—by going in with the honesty and willingness to grow that is embodied by the Queen of Coins. Input and output do not need to be the same. There's an internal transformation that happens to transmute the lessons.
It's no surprise then that the reversed Knight of Blades appears in the slot of opportunities to aid others. The clear thinking and open-and-honest nature of the Queens are useful antidotes to the frenetic thinking and rushed (unthinking) action represented by the Knight. Sometimes all that the reversed Knight needs is a grounding influence, and both Queens offer that through their receptive, watery nature. From a stable platform, clear decisions are often quite easy. It's getting to that point of stability that can be challenging.
Contrary-wise, the deck probably would be a poor choice for health-related issues. That's something I don't usually deal with anyway, but it's pretty surprising that a deck with "anatomy" in the title. Still, the presence of the skeletons and elixirs would likely lead the querent and me down paths that weren't intended. Evocative imagery can be very useful, but the themes of cards can sometimes limit their utility by including deck-wide motifs, such as eyes and fire in the Tarot del Fuego. Surprisingly, it may not be as good at spiritual matters either. I don't mean in a general sense; after all, it's a tarot deck, so it's drawing on spirituality. But for specific questions about Spirit, there might be insufficient meat on the bones of the cards, as it were.
I'm wondering if it's the attitude of the voice in this deck, the sort of sarcasm and biting intelligence that really isn't a good fit for those feeling vulnerable. With that in mind, it might be better to say that this deck would not be a good communications medium for those who are feeling like victims in life, regardless of question. Indeed the King of Blades is a bit more of a gentle figure than the Queen of Blades, a freewheeling Aquarius type more willing to think about anything than the judgmental Queen, who has appointments to keep and petitioners to counsel. In some ways the King of Blades offers that acceptance of the Queen of Coins, but it's through an opposite mode of openness to out-there ideas rather than being open to where a querent his at a given moment ini time and space.
Much like an explicitly Marseille style deck, I expect that I will lean on this deck more for simple, direct answers that don't draw on a lot of detail for interpretation. That's not to say that there isn't plenty in the cards to interpret, but it could be that the details are not always relevant for the way that I use them. I might get distracted by the flowers and try to include that extraneous information.
As for using the cards for the highest good, the 5 of Blades makes me think that the focus on helping clarify decision-making may be limited in effect. So while the decision-making is important, it's also important to help the querent work through the competing factors in their mind and figure out how to make the best sense of competing ambitions. On a purely financial level, a tarot reader might want the repeat business of people who consistently need guidance and thus need the tarot reader, but since I approach tarot from a coaching and teaching perspective, I get excited when my clients come to realize that they have many of their own answers, when they've reached the point where they don't need a full tarot reading from me except on those special or rare occasions.
I look forward to the lessons that this deck can teach me, even if the cards are best used in a slightly different way than I might otherwise use them. I like that they have an edge that isn't for everyone, and I like that they want to make the client and me do our work without relying so heavily on the cards. I don't know how long it will take to learn the lesson that these cards first have to teach me, but I see in the 10 of Coins a physical ending, as though a card might tear or bend significantly, and that's when I'll know we're ready for a new kind of conversation.
The cards pictured here are from—surprise!—the Antique Anatomy Tarot, created by Claire Goodchild © 2019. Published by Abrams Books. All rights reserved.