Deck Interview: Prismatic Tarot

It’s time for another deck interview! It’s been a hell of a month, followed by a few hectic weeks that are finally winding down, so I thought it was high time to post something, and I don’t have the wherewithal to finish some of the longer-term projects and deeper posts I want to post. It’s the newest deck in my stable, so it’s the last of my tarot decks to be interviewed (I still have oracle deck interviews to post and a LeNormand deck to interview). I think I’ve come to a saturation point with tarot decks, possibly with decks in general—I pre-ordered an oracle deck and some friends have decks coming out., so I’ll get to an over-saturation point before too long. It wouldn’t be a problem since decks are relatively inexpensive, but I’m feeling a bit disconnected from some of the decks that don’t call to me as much as others because I have enough secondary decks to relegate a few to tertiary deck status.

This deck certainly offers something different and modern with its comic art visuals full of glistening muscles that even a superhero could appreciate. And there’s a lot of flesh, including nipples, vaginas, and dicks (a bunch of dicks actually since there are more men than women in this deck), so it’s not for everyone. As the interview points out, there are some trade-offs with this modern take on the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Unsurprisingly, it threw out a lot of Wands.

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INTERVIEWING THE PRISMATIC TAROT

Tell me about yourself. 6 of Wands.

What are your strengths? Queen of Wands.

And your limitations? The Hierophant.

What are you here to teach me? 2 of Wands (reversed).

How can I work with you most effectively? 6 of Swords.

Where is our partnership headed? Death (reversed).

I see this interview as helping to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of this deck in some more immediate ways than my interviews with other decks. These interviews often trigger and reinforce my own first impressions and assumptions about the deck based on either a) having seen cards from it or b) having read about the deck. (I wouldn’t buy a deck blindly.) But I think that this interview fell into some more extremes than in other decks, and to me that’s in line with its visual approach. The comic art style draws on thick boundaries and sharp delineations and strong colors; there’s very little muddling or shades of grey.

To start with, we have the 6 of Wands, which makes me see the ways in which the Prismatic Tarot could be a bit in love with itself. It’s a sexy deck, and it uses sexy (and often nude) bodies to bring attention to itself. I have nothing against that or I wouldn’t have bought the deck, but it’s worth admitting that on the surface. That I picked the 6 of Wands for the first card makes me think that the deck is owning its love of the surface without denying that it can go deeper.

As for its strengths and weaknesses, the deck is fierce like the horned and proudly naked Queen of Wands in that position. It’s out there and bold and sexy and it doesn’t try to hide that or soften it for people who can’t accept or appreciate that aspect of it. It can be easy to remain on the surface, but I think there are some new things to learn. For example, it does not have all of the deep history of some other tarot decks that stick closer to traditional (i.e., Golden Dawn) correspondences. The Hierophant in the Limitations position is literally and figuratively an example of that. The Hierophant is established religious traditions and education, but we see him here in the Limitations position as a kind of blinded vampire. Whether the creator thinks of the Papal tradition as a form of the undead, I can’t say, but the emphasis of the papal cross is especially odd in contrast to the strange visual of the old, blood-tinged man is odd. When we get to other cards, like the Queen and King of Cups, you see some of the imprecision of associations: both court cards are tied explicitly to Pisces (either by esoteric symbol or constellation), while neither of the other two court cards touch upon the other water signs. It’s great to break away from tradition, but there can be something lost in translation. in the case of the two back-to-back references to Pisces, it feels like a sign that there isn’t a clear system to replace or improve upon the old structure. (What can I say? I like logic and structures.)

For the fourth question, I took a more direct approach than other. I asked the fourth card what it was here to teach me rather than what I could learn from it. It’s a more assertive deck, so I went with a more assertive and potentially demanding question than normal. Despite my desire for directness, it gave me the reversed 2 of Wands. There’s an opportunity with this deck (as with several others) to leave behind a lot of the intensive planning and mastery that goes into my interpretations of more traditional decks. The 2 is a card of comfortably laying claim to explored lands, and here the deck seems to be saying that it will teach me to just be with the cards in the moment, without worrying about the future. That then ties back to the limitation as seen through the Hierophant, and then it also ties to the fifth card, the 6 of Swords, which is about leaving old thoughts behind. That becomes the basic assumption for how we will work best together: leave behind the traditions and that which you think you know and experience the fierce intensity freshly each time. And I have looked at the art for new clues each time I’ve drawn a card, even for just a quick little reading. It’s a handy reminder to do with all decks, but this one seems to just require it for a real connection.

Interestingly enough, the last card (the prediction about how the relationship with the deck will end) is Death reversed. To me that suggests that there may not be so much that will change from this initial reading over time. It’s not as though there is a slow relationship to nurture and build upon: like the stark lines of the comic art style, there are clear modes of working together and expectations I should have of this deck. There’s no point in trying to wade deeply into the cards because whatever is beneath the surface can be revealed through instantaneous impressions. Or something like that. It could always mean that the deck will be lost and/or forgotten about at some point in the not-too-distant future. I’d much prefer a deck that just reads really quickly.

The cards pictured here are from the Prismatic Tarot (formerly the Illuminated Tarot), which is an independently created deck available through WingysArt’s Etsy store.