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A Deck With Sumptuous Textures, Masterful Artistry and Utter Originality

  • Sep 16, 2008
  • by
"While the physical deck has taken over three years to complete, from an inspirational standpoint, Deviant Moon Tarot has been at least thirty years in the making. It is not only a testament to my art, but a record of my life." - Patrick Valenza, from the LWB (Little White Book)

I've seen hundreds of Tarot decks over the years, and I can honestly say there is nothing on the market that rivals the sumptuous textures, masterful artistry and utter originality of the Deviant Moon Tarot.

For months now, several images of the Deviant Moon Tarot were posted to the web, capturing the imagination of Tarot enthusiasts worldwide. Many were clamoring for news, more card images and a definitive release date with an almost desperate excitement.

Tarot fans, rejoice! U.S. Games has now unleashed the highly anticipated Deviant Moon Tarot upon the world! And let me tell you, if the exquisite, highly-detailed online images whetted your appetite, the actual deck goes above and beyond expectation! (After my deck arrived in the mail, I was almost shaking trying to unwrap the cellophane.)

As Patrick revealed in my interview with him a few months ago, he created each image made by manipulating digital photographs taken of 18th century tombstones. He noted:

"I would explore cemeteries and abandoned buildings, taking many photos of textures or objects of interest to blend into my drawings. Rotted doors and windows became buildings and structures, while tombstones parts were fabricated into clothes, accessories, or even the citizens themselves. I like to think the photos contain some of the `spirit' found in the places I have visited, and that perhaps some of their energy will reflect in the cards I have made."

As you can tell, the Deviant Moon Tarot blows me away. One of the reasons is Patrick's ornate and captivating rendering of the Aces. In most Tarot decks, the Aces are relegated to a singular suit symbol with minimal artistry; however, in the Deviant Moon Tarot, the Aces are lavishly illustrated.

Replete with arresting beings with unusual bodies, moonlike faces combine with anatomy reptilian, humanoid, mechanic and alien. The King of Pentacles wears a crown of smoking black industrial chimneys while the King of Wands shepherds playful children with tree-like heads.

In the amusing Five of Cups, a nagging wife reams out her husband for presumably spilling three of the cups while her hen-pecked husband holds his ears against her shrillness. In the Five of Pentacles card, a milky three-fingered and toed creature with pendulous, pointed silver-tipped breasts creeps around a building housing a giant peering eye. (According to the LWB, she is a woman of ill repute).

The Deviant Moon expands on Rider-Waite imagery with a gloriously twisted perspective, reflecting common associations in dazzling patterns, striking colors, and surprising juxtapositions (e.g. a tree that bleeds red, a Page that has created himself out of spare parts and a sharp-dressed masked armless woman with a wheel for a left "foot"). The 9 of Cups, usually deemed the "Wish Card", aptly depicts a genie who's just emerged from a child's magic lamp.

Surprisingly illuminating, the 41-page LWB provides upright and reversed meanings as well as a brief commentary on each card (which is especially helpful for some of the puzzling depictions). Some of the meanings I hadn't heard before, such as the 5 of Wands indicating "conflict with neighbors", the 8 of Swords can pointing towards censorship and the 5 of Cups revealing marital strife.

The slick, glossy cards measure approximately 5 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches with a rather muted moon motif in earth tones comprising the reversible backings. This Premier Edition of the Deviant Moon Tarot also comes with a custom 17 x 20 inch spread sheet with Patrick's comprehensive 10-card Lunatic Spread.

I knew I'd love the deck when I got it, but I had reservations if such a bizarre yet stunning offering would "read" well. I'm pleased to report that not only is the Deviant Moon Tarot a solid reading deck, but also unexpectedly insightful. Even when I first began looking at the cards, phrases would pop into my head describing possible meanings for what I saw.

So despite the unusual characters populating the world of the Deviant Moon, they still speak messages relevant and purposeful to discerning individuals. This would make a great journaling deck, too, as well as one for comparative Tarot studies.

Art deck aficionados will want to have the Deviant Moon Tarot for their collection as well as those in the market for a decidedly offbeat deck. As reluctant as I am to say it, I don't think this deck will appeal to *everyone* nor would it necessarily be a good first deck for those wanting to devote themselves to studying the Tarot. However, the Deviant Moon Tarot contains amazing gifts for the beholder and the LWB is better than most for explaining card meanings.

Patrick Valenza's illustrations are so magnificently dramatic and unique that I hope U.S. Games comes out with a coffee book version of this deck, as well as an array of related giftware and art prints. I know that I'd definitely be in line for all things Deviant Moon!

(To see 16 images from this deck, visit the Reviews--Decks section at JanetBoyer.com)

Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book

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About the reviewer
Janet Boyer ()
Ranked #195
Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Amazon.com Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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Deviant Moon Tarot explores the dark side of the subconscious with haunting surreal imagery. Stylized moon-faced characters,created from manipulated photographs of 18th century tombstones are set against evocative backgrounds. Custom spread sheet and instruction booklet included.
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