Review by

John Marani CPTR

Reviewed by: John Marani, CPTR

The Steele Wizard Tarot is an 88-card tarot deck that took me by surprise, because while it can be considered a “standard” Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) derivative deck in many respects, it has several important features that make it stand out from the pack.

The beautiful, hand-drawn images contain a lot of the RWS imagery, with just enough variation to keep things interesting for the reader.  Many of the images have been reduced down so they are expressed more simply, but that fact doesn’t seem to take away from the power of the artwork. The major arcana have a Roman numeral at the top in the center and their title centered across the bottom, with a gorgeous rainbow crystal framing the image on the left and right. The minors have no numbers but each has the card title across the bottom in the same place as the majors, with the image bordered by a simple intertwined loop pattern of black and white. 

The card backs are entirely black and only adorned with two copies of the symbol on the front of the sturdy box that form the packaging, a black and white filigree drawing of two dragons intertwined. The card stock seems sturdy, yet flexible enough to allow for decent shuffling; however, the designer and illustrator of the deck, Pamela Steele, provides specific recommendations for mixing them.

One of the most interesting features of this tarot deck is the addition of ten additional cards over the standard 78. Six of these are in the major arcana and are numbered 22-27 respectively after the World: the Weaver, the Universe, Truth, Soul Twins, Evolution, and I AM. But if you feel that the 22 standard major arcana don't express the breadth of meaning that you require, or even for a change of pace if your readings seem to be always going in one direction (translation: stuck in a rut), then this deck will really push you outside your comfort zone.

The other four additional cards are Maidens, bringing the tarot court in this deck to five per suit. The Maidens are joined by the standard RWS court: the King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The new court cards fill a need, especially when it comes to identifying people that come up in readings. According to Steele, the Knight represents young women, the Knights young men, and the Pages messengers and children.  I really like the extra balance of feminine energy in the court that the Maidens provide.

The book that comes with the deck is more robust than many that I have seen. It provides some insight into the additional cards, but it would take some time for me to adjust my thinking. It was a challenge for me to understand these new major arcana cards and how they were used, simply because I use 78-card decks almost exclusively. I would have preferred some additional guidance on them, especially in the context of an actual reading. However, it was refreshing to see a Code of Ethics in the book, as well as several useful tarot spreads.

This deck is perfect for those readers looking for something exceptionally rare but prefer to work with standard RWS imagery.  It is also a unique addition to anyone’s tarot deck collection.

 

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