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[personal profile] tarot_scholar
Fellow Tarot nerd and high school classmate [personal profile] starfrosting Kickstarted his own deck last year, and I was amped to get in on the ground floor. How often do you get to work with a deck whose creator you actually know? (Okay, maybe some of you get to do this all the time, but I don't.) Before I get to pictures and my own thoughts, I'll let [personal profile] starfrosting introduce the deck in his own words:

The HIDDEN LIGHT Tarot is an elemental, fey, Jewitchy, & subtly spellbinding Tarot deck.

The HIDDEN LIGHT embodies my approach to Tarot honed over 15 years: elemental, imaginative, and viscerally magical. Created through collage and my multi-media pen, ink, and paint work, the cards themselves enact the divinatory process of Tarot— taking what's there to assemble and discern rich meaning. My half-a-lifetime experience as both zinester and Tarot reader yields a deck whose zine-witch aesthetic hums with raw, lively, fey power. The cards resonate with rich, subtle magic.

The HIDDEN LIGHT Tarot draws from traditional decks in its structure but sheds their hierarchical and patriarchal inheritances in favor of queer and immanent perspectives. In keeping with my own magical and Jewish practice, the spiritual themes of the cards are articulated in earthy, cosmic imagery that conjures wider tides of contraction, expansion, concealment, and revelation.

This deck is a tool for intimate conversation with the seen and unseen dimensions of life: for divination, meditation, and magic.
First, the physicality of the deck itself: It's a self-published indie deck, but the quality overall is stunning. The colors absolutely pop and the lines are clear and sharp. The borders are only a couple of millimeters, so the vast majority of card real estate is taken up with imagery. I have no preference when it comes to matte versus glossy finishes, but if you do, this is a matte deck. I found that traditional riffle shuffling was a little tough going at first (maybe the cards were too stiff?) but after a few rounds it's much smoother. Otherwise this deck is a candidate for my Klondike shuffling method, to avoid bunching near the top of the deck. The backs, while not perfectly reversible, are an abstract image of what I assume are stars against a night sky, so reversed cards are not immediately apparent face-down.

The images themselves have a raw and modern feel to them, particularly the Major Arcana. A couple have been renamed ("The Devil" becoming "Bondage" and "Judgment" becoming "Redemption," with the resulting changes in imagery), and the vast majority have what most people would term "non-standard" imagery. (Much of this depends on your own definition of "standard," of course.) For me, the Major Arcana is where this deck really shines. I would like to specifically point to [personal profile] starfrosting's interpretation of The Hierophant and The Emperor, cards I generally viscerally dislike. I vibe much more with this imagery than the traditional Waite-Smith or Thoth symbolism.

Finally, there is a definitely nautical theme to the Major Arcana of this deck, which makes me kind of want an entire nautical Tarot???

The Minor Arcana is very pip-heavy; funny enough, the use of the pips and color remind me a lot of the Thoth deck, though I know from previous conversations with [personal profile] starfrosting that the Thoth is not one of his favorites. It could be the shared background in Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism that gives this deck a Thoth-y vibe, I'm not sure. That said, much of the Waite-Smith imagery is retained (3 of Swords, 10 of Cups, and 6 of Swords spring to mind). And, like the Major Arcana, much of the imagery and symbolism in this deck are new and wholly separate from either Thoth or Waite-Smith. (I'm not familiar enough with Marseiles to know if [personal profile] starfrosting drew from there as well.)

One aspect of this newness is the representation of Swords. While not renamed, they're represented by switchblade knives rather than traditional swords. [personal profile] starfrosting has also aligned the deck with the wands/air, swords/fire tradition (making it the first deck I've owned in that particular paradigm).

The courts likewise depart from traditional symbols and imagery, mostly featuring figures against a cosmic space background. This deck probably has my favorite Queen of Cups image: cheerful, mid-laugh, sparkling. This is how Drunk Me perceives myself. ;)

The card is much less sickly yellow in real life. Crappy lighting.

The KS is over now, but you can purchase The Hidden Light Tarot on Etsy if you like. I would recommend springing for the zine as well, as it functions as the deck's LWB (and is probably one of the cooler LWBs you'll come across).

I immediately sat down and did a "getting to know you" spread, but I've already gone on enough so I'll have to save that post for later. :)
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