Fyodor Pavlov has gifted us with one of the most beautiful and classical tarot decks I've seen. These works are hand-painted in watercolor and ink, expressive of multicultural motifs, queer sexuality, and occultism.
Pavlov tells stories contextualizing queer identity in a Romantic style that reimagines a society—and a history—liberated from suppression.
The Fyodor Pavlov Tarot took five years to bring to life, and memorializes a great depth of research into history and culture.
You see a lot of inspiration from Parisian Art Nouveau and Japanese printmaking, a Pre-Raphaelite Nazarene redux for the 21st century, and yet mastering a timeless aesthetic. I love the color coding in the four Minor Arcana suits.
U.S. Games Systems has produced a top quality deck with unique design elements, such as the tented arch in the box lid and the hardcover guidebook. Magical, functional (a readable RWS deck), and perfect as a go-to workhorse deck.
—Benebell Wen, Tarot Author & Reviewer at benebellwen.com
I have been reading for over 25 years, and this is now my standard deck. Pavlov's work shows an intense understanding of the historical development of the standard symbology, with a radical inclusion of human experience not previously seen in tarot. Furthermore, the inclusion of more marginal people is not "random," but adheres to the storytelling of tarot itself. An image of a returning hero has assistive devices for disability. An image about the strength of family shows two women and their family in a spirit of teamwork and gentle love. These deep knowledges of human experience across all spectra of life make this deck one of the most potent and beautiful that exists, and I can recommend no deck more. Additionally, the printing is buttery smooth. Card edges slip easily against each other. The printing is durable against scuffing and scratching. The box is attractive, though I think I preferred the red of the original Kickstarter run.
—Sata Prescott, tarot reader for over 25 years
I have so much to say in this review that I hope my thoughts come out organized! First, I have been reading a long time and have clearly defined my likes and dislikes when it comes to tarot decks. That’s the subjective part. If you love the beautiful and slightly ribald art reminiscent of Edwardian and Victorian times, you will LOVE this deck. I LOVE this deck. The art is familiar, beautiful and in some cards, haunting. As much as I truly want to purchase and enjoy many of the amazing and more inclusive decks that are, happily, available today they are often too modern or too comic book style for my taste. This is as it should be because the newest and future generations of readers ARE more modern.
But I know there are tons like myself, who love classic art AND who want to see the cards represent what life and families look like in real life. And this deck does that seamlessly.
Now we get to the more personal part of my review. As I flipped through these beautiful cards, I actually cried. Because it’s as if this artist knows me and my family, and the people closest to me, and drew them into this incredible deck. My daughter and her trans husband. My gay son. The boy (now all grown up) like another son to me who, while in America can live his life free to be himself, but when in his mother country has to live a lie that is killing his soul more every day.
But here is the kicker…I also see my oldest son and his wife. I see my youngest daughter. I see myself (albeit 30 years ago lol). There is absolutely not one thing forced here. This is not a deck that you pick up for a specific person in your life to make them feel seen. This is a deck that you pick up to read for anyone at all. You pick it up because it’s so beautiful and it fits ALL of life. I’ve never seen a deck do this so seamlessly and perfectly. I will tell you that if I had to hesitate to use this deck for someone I was doing a reading for, then I would have to hesitate about having an association with them, period. Someone who would object or be unhappy with anything they may see within these brilliant renderings would find no space with me and mine. The Only exception to that would perhaps be someone sensitive to nudity of any type, as there is a fair bit here…all gorgeously done. So yes, I feel like this deck was a gift…and I will treasure it. Thank you Fyodor Pavlov.
Now for the mundane details! When I first saw the pre order up for this deck, it was new to me. I had not seen the Kickstarter for an indie version. I initially thought…whoa! That’s a bit pricy for a mass market offering. I started watching reviews and was just blown away. I needed this deck. But almost 50.00?. If I was going to spend that much I figured I may as well spend a bit more to find and buy the indie. The indie has gold foiled stars on the back. It’s printed on lovely linen finish stock. Who knows what we would get with a mass market?? Well, I will tell you what we get! We get a beautiful box, a hardcover book even nicer that the indie, which has no photos of the cards. This book has a small color photo of each card, and is printed on a smooth and lovely paper. But the Most Important thing, the cards, are also right on par with the indie. A thin and flexible linen like stock that shuffles like a dream straight out of the box. Gold gilt edges that do not stick at all. Not one card even hinted at sticking to another. More than worth the price because there is nothing here that isn’t as good as the indie. It’s worth every penny. Lastly, the deck follows the RWS very closely. It reads easily.
In my opinion this deck is an absolute must have treasure.
—Jennifer Pollitt, Amazon customer
Beautiful quality cards and guide book - imagery is exquisite!
—Natalie K., USGS customer
The cards are printed very beautifully, I'm shocked that none of the pictures seem to remotely do them justice. They have gold foil on the back and even on the edges that will reflect perfectly when the cards are held straight together. I'll be sure to update if they wear away quick, I gave them a day of use and they seem to hold up well. But I had to give this a review because if this product doesnt get the attention it deserves I'll be a lil upset to be honest.
The book is amazing, instead of just giving a loose description, the artist decided to go in depth into the decisions made for the art on every card. I'm in love with this because typical readings are avaliable all over the place and this gives a more intimate look into what this deck specifically has to offer and where its roots are. I'm not someone who reads just a whole lot but unlike any of my other tarot decks, the book has been just genuinely nice to read in and of itself and its really nice to hear about the journey of the creation of this deck.
This deck also clearly has a lot of intimate awareness of gender which I'm personally a big fan of. I relate very heavily to a lot of the cards, being trans myself.
This will for sure be my go-to tarot deck for probably the rest of time. I will likely be purchasing a second copy down the line in case a card gets bent or lost.
—Finn, USGS customer
This is an absolutely beautiful deck that not only has great artistic value, but also represents the symbolism and meaning of the cards in great depth. The author purposefully changes certain card genders, including non-binary characters, making an effort to include as many queer elements as possible while maintaining the canonical meaning of the cards. Pavlov bases his deck on the typical Rider-Waite-Smith illustrations, honoring Pamela Colman Smith’s contributions and references her illustrations throughout the guidebook. A perfect deck for anyone who loves Tarot. The card stock is strong but malleable making it a pleasure to work with. The linen texture of the cards avoids card sticking together, giving a matte finish which enhances the cards’ overall quality. The back of the cards has gold foiling on the stars and can be used for reading reversals. I absolutely love this deck and it is definitely on the top of my favorites!
—The Intuition Wizard
The Fyodor Pavlov deck is one of the few modern tarot decks I've come across that lived up to all of the hype. It's such an awesome deck. The Lovers card is one of the best versions of that card that I've ever seen.