This could very well be the single cutest tarot deck in existence.
The title "African Tarot" is probably quite offputting to many people: are the art and descriptions specifically meant for Black people? Not at all. I am a black woman in Washington state and have showed this deck to countless white friends who have found it adorable. Its booklet displays meanings that seem pretty much standard to Rider-Waite system. Indeed, I've seen this deck defined as a "Rider-Waite clone".
The suits are also traditional: Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles. However, in the artwork the Swords are depicted as spears, the Cups as gourds and the Pentacles as golden discs. It is a very colorful (mainly primary colors, even), happy little deck, even though the people rarely give more than a vague Mona Lisa-type smile, if that. They have dark skin and dredlocks, but that's about where any cultural departure ends.
The artwork, however, was the clincher for me. There are a lot of "whimsical" decks out there with "childlike" art, but so help me, the art on the African Tarot is something I'd be *proud* to display on my 'fridge. It's childlike, but also of good quality and seems very secure in itself, a rarity in many homegrown "whimsical" decks.
The cards are approximately 3" x 2.5" and covered with what I assume is a standard, slick coating. This makes them easy to shuffle, but I have a habit of dropping some cards if I'm just going through them while holding them in my hands. The design on the back is as charming as each individual card design -- two spotted tortoises in the sun, reversed from each other so you can see either of them upright as long as you're holding the card lengthwise. According to the South African author, the Shangaan culture considers the tortoise a symbol of "the slow coming of justice". Appropriate, no?
The deck comes in a brown, corregated cardboard container, which, after a few years of ownership, still seems quite sturdy. Both sides of the box are decorated with the same cardstock as the deck, with hints of the art style and relevant information printed on them. It gives the box a very environmental feel that goes with the deck very well.
The authors have subtitled the deck "Journey Into the Self." It is meant to be a lighter deck, and a loved deck. For me, it is. Very much loved, in fact. However, don't let the "lighter" aspect fool you. One of the spookiest tarot experiences I've ever had, involving a lost -- and later recovered -- card and some odd correspondences, happened involving this deck. It's not a *fluff* tarot. I would consider it more of a powerful specialty deck.
—Ashe Monday, Aeclectic Tarot
I have previously used the Rider-Waite deck and found it to be rather "stuffy" for my tastes. I purchased the African Tarot deck at the recommendation of others and love it. I have already used it several times - it has wonderful pictures and I get a great feel from the images and explanations on the cards. You will not be disappointed!
—“Book Fiend”, Amazon Customer
This has got to be the cutest deck ever! It is a Rider-Waite variation and has been created mainly for beginners. Colorful, light-hearted and whimsical, this deck is really small (2.5 - 3 inches) and looks like it has been drawn by children. There is no real traditional African art on these cards, but there is the flair of an African village in all scenes, and the faces of the people are black. If you like light-hearted and fun decks, this will probably become a favorite for you.
– Katerina, U.K. Amazon customer
A lot of people may be put off by the idea of an "African Tarot Deck," thinking that it must involve voodoo, arcane tribal symbolism, or just be for black people. Well, I'm a black woman who has shown this deck to white friends -- this deck is completely accessible.
The "African Tarot: Journey into the Self" is a teeny little deck based on Rider-Waite symbology. It also looks like it was drawn by a child with talent -- the sort of art that you'd *want* to put on your fridge. The people are brown and have kinky hair, and they live in an African village -- after that, and a few liberties with the suit cards -- it's a standard deck.
The suits, by the way, are traditionally named. However, the art shows Swords as spears, Cups as gourds and Pentacles as coins or disks. The art is rich and perhaps a tad dark for some, perhaps it's best not to read this one in low light -- but then, it's far from a gothic deck. The back design is equally darling -- two colorful tortoises in the sun, reversed from each other so you can see one of them upright as long as you're holding the card lengthwise. According to the South African author, the Shangaan culture considers this animal a symbol of "the slow coming of justice" -- appropraite enough considering its country of origin.
I even find the package a total keeper: a brown, corrugated cardboard box with descriptive cards glued to the back and front. A rubberband to keep the box closed and you could probably drop this deck into your backpack and only have the box take damage. However, the box is so cute, why would you want to?
The little booklet inside confirms the image that this is a feel-good deck -- many of the interpretations are positive or at least encouraging of growth. So, while this isn't an all-occasion deck, I certainly think it's worth a look!
—R. Byrd, Amazon custome