Tarot Feature: Illuminated Tarot by Carol Herzer

(cross-posted at Sketch by Sketch)

Carol Herzer’s Illuminated Tarot is my first Tarot Feature, a series highlighting my favorite Tarot (or Tarot-like) decks that I’ve seen online. (They are basically my Tarot wishlist!)

Ms. Herzer’s deck has the same line art as the ‘standard’ Rider-Waite-Smith deck (RWS), but her use of the early-Renaissance mische technique of painting sets her decks apart. For the original set of paintings, she used many thin layers of paint to create a jewel-like luminosity to the colors. For the printed decks, Herzer hand-paints the iridescent colors before she sends each one out to be laminated.

The origin of Herzer’s deck is interesting. She says she had a vivid dream in the 1960s in which she saw the tarot cards as paintings. Over the next twenty years, she painted many esoteric subjects and even created her own tarot deck, Astrotaro, but was left wanting to paint more. Eventually she came into possession of some black-and-white line art of the RWS deck, and with this as her basis, she painted the Illuminated Tarot.

She chose to paint the RWS deck because the drawings by Pamela Coleman Smith had “so much more potential in them, as real paintings” than what printers have produced so far.

Herzer painted the initial version from 1987 to 1989 and has improved upon it since then, even expanding into a few more color palettes like “Elemental Visions”, which emphasizes the elemental associations of the suits.

If you’re interested in purchasing a deck, you have to go a little old-school by emailing her first and then sending her money directly via PayPal – the process is described on the Illuminated Tarot Decks page. You can also choose the pattern you want on the back of your deck, as well as the size (very nice for a person with small hands, like me!).

You can read some reviews at Tarot Elements and Aeclectic Tarot.

If anyone orders a deck from Ms. Herzer, post about it on your platform of choice and tweet me @ridleythefool about it!