The English Magic Tarot – a Review

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I really wanted to like this deck.

I usually do reviews on decks that I absolutely adore. I was initially excited reading about this deck before it came out. It sounded right up my alley. This deck is centered around its title English Magic – primary the occult revival of the nineteenth century and the Golden Dawn.  It has a lot of potential and I see what the creators were trying to achieve, but I think they fell short.

This deck was created by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley and Andy Letcher published by Weiser. It comes in a box with a 149 page guidebook. The box itself looks good on my book shelf. It is sturdy and of good quality. I also like the guide book. It actually has some good card interpretations which can be used outside of this deck. I enjoyed flipping through and reading their take on each card. You can tell that they did put a lot of thought into this deck.

What I do not like are the cards themselves.

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I hate the backs of these cards. I just think they are ugly. They are not totally reversible due to the colors of the cards under the hands. I was really hoping this deck would have something more abstract that went in line with the theme. I think the image is a very odd choice and off putting. The card stock is flimsy, they easily bend. If your a heavy shuffler these will definitely wear over time. It doesn’t feel very high quality. The cards are just very thin.

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Each suite is color coded with a very large border. I think the borders are too intrusive. I also favor borderless decks though. The large borders take away the details of the wonderful artwork. I do like the style of artwork in this deck. Its very whimsical and has a cartoonish feel. Interestingly, the Major Arcana does not have borders. For me this is my favorite part of the deck. I really love the Majors. I just really wish the entire deck looked like they do. I think I’ll end up taking out the Majors and using them on their own. There are interesting little phrases and words written on each card in different magical alphabets consisting of Runic, Enochian, Hebrew. I am not familiar enough with the runic alphabet to be able to read these messages without looking at some reference material. I have enjoyed deciphering the hidden images and phrases. They add a nice little depth of meaning to each card. Due to the color coding of the minors and the adherence to the Rider-Waite tradition this could be a good deck for a beginner. The meanings are easily accessible to those of a less advanced degree.

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Overall I don’t see this as a deck I’ll be reaching a lot for. I haven’t done very many readings with it because I just can’t get into the energy of the deck. I have it on my shelf as mostly a collectors item. I would love to hear if you have a differing opinion. There are some great things about this deck, I just feel like some of the artistic choices really hinder it from all that it could be.

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