Aquarian Tarot

French version of Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini

Illustrated by: David Palladini

Published by: Morgan Press, Inc.

Distributed by: U.S. Game Systems

Year Published: 1970

ISBN: 0-913866-69-5

Type: Deck of 78 Cards

I will freely admit that this deck has a special place in my heart. Although I no longer use it, the Aquarian Tarot was my first Tarot deck. And, in my opinion, it was a rather good, if somewhat simplified, introduction to the Tarot. The deck is Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) inspired, using symbolism that you will find in that deck and it’s many derivatives. The Aquarian Tarot is a bit different in that it uses pseudo-medieval images with a 1970’s flair and a dash of art deco. For example, one of the cups in the Seven of Cups features a space helmet. Many the cards have a great deal of white space, and often focus on the upper shoulders and face of the figures. The colours are fairly muted, mostly earth tones with some splashes of pink, violet and light blue. The faces of figures are done in quite a different style, appearing like delicate line drawings, peeping out from their fully coloured hoods, helmets and hair.

As I mentioned above, the images in this deck are clearly inspired by the RWS deck, but with some significant changes. For example, the woman in the Nine of Swords appears to be weeping outside, instead of in her bed indoors; the World figure is female, instead of the traditional hermaphrodite; Strength shows an armoured man with a greyhound, bring to mind physical strength and not the spiritual strength that this card usually represents; Temperance shows some sort of owl woman, who’s purpose I can’t quite fathom; and the Star features a peacock. I don’t believe that this makes the cards impossible to use with the “standard” RWS-type meanings, only a little more difficult in a few cases.

As for the physical deck itself, it is of a good size. Neither overly large or too small, which is to say it is the standard U.S. Games System deck size. The cards are made of good, thick card stock, and well laminated. The cards shuffle nicely, once they are broken in a little bit. The titles of the Major Arcana are part of the illustrations that make up the cards, while the titles of the Minor Arcana are written in a fancy black script at the bottom of the card. My deck is approximately 15 years old, and while it shows many signs of wear, it is in over all good condition. A few cards are peelings and the edges are rough, but they have been well used and well loved.

The LWB (little white book) that comes in the package is actually a long, folded piece of paper. It’s title page claims to be an “Authentic interpretation of the medieval Tarot”, and I certainly beg to differ. That aside, it contains an introduction which dates the earliest Tarot deck to 1390 A.D., and gives a quick overview of Tarot symbolism. Each card is giving a quick meaning, upright and reversed, of about four lines total. The LWB then spends four pages on “The Ancient Celtic Method of Divination”, which is a bit of a silly title, and is really nothing more then yet another presentation of the Celtic Cross spread. It is a fairly good, though quick, overview of this often seen spread. And it also includes a method for picking a significator based on hair and eye colour.

Overall I would recommend this deck for beginners, or for collector’s who like 70’s or art deco type decks. It is very well done, if somewhat simple. There is no complicated esoteric symbolism, like Hebrew letters or Tree of Life spheres, to confuse the novice. Yet, there is still enough symbolism present to read intuitively, if that is your method.

There is a companion book available for this deck: Psychic Tarot by Craig Junjulas. You can read my review of it here.

Summary of Features

# of Cards: 78

Reversible Backs: No (pattern is slightly different)

Strength: 8

Justice: 11

Symbol Inspiration: RWS (Rider-Waite-Smith)

Suits: Wands – fire, Swords – air, Cups – water, Pentacles – earth

Size: approx. 12 cm x 7.5 cm (approx. 4.7″ x 3″)

Rating: 4 – excellent deck for beginners, contains RWS symbolism, but does not overpower