If you are looking for a deck in the Rider-Waite-Colman mold, but want something that will encourage a more intuitive reading of the cards, the The Linestrider Tarot is a great option. It’s a deck you can reach for the next time you are looking to introduce a friend to the tarot, or for readings at a daytime party. It’s as beautiful as it is approachable, with a distinct artistic style that is deceptively simple and deeply felt.
This is a self-published indie deck, and got a big push from a successful Indiegogo campaign that ended on May 15, 2015. Now that the campaign is over, you can purchase directly from the artist’s website. Her name is Siolo Thompson and she’s from Seattle, WA. It’s clear that while she is a well-trained fine artist, she also is a tarot enthusiast.
UPDATE! I heard from the artist, and she’s all out of decks. But! Llewellyn will be publishing a version soon.
The cards are standard size with rounded corners and a nice, not-too-slippery cardstock. They shuffle easily, but are not super-sturdy so don’t go bending them a lot. The backs have a reversible purple-on-purple floral design. The cards themselves are not reversible, borderless with the titles at the bottom of each image.
The images live up to the artist’s promise that she was striding or straddling the line, “drawing inspiration from (the) edge while still moving forward on the Fool’s journey.” Some of the cards have humans depicted on them, some have animals. All are done in a light, airy-feeling sketch with watercolors splashed across them.
One of the interesting things about the deck is that some pips have a design that runs straight to the edge of the card. More often than not these are the cups cards, and watercolor of the smoke/water/mist seems to be running off the card itself. At first I thought that this might have meant the deck was not fully conceived in advance, but after reading with it a few times I see that it is a genuine effort to represent the nature of that card. These odd cards can provide a great starting point for a reading where they pop up.
While there are oddities and surprises, this is a traditional deck with traditional imagery. The Seven of Swords, Devil, Chariot, Two of Pentacles, Moon, Two of Swords and all the Sixes hold no surprises. Fine examples of the cards, to be sure, but very similar to other decks.
The most successful cards are the Knights, Kings, and 10s. The Knight of Cups is a layered image of a man and fish, and the Knight of Swords is a splash of blood on a Greco-Roman relief. The four are all circular in some way, either with a circle as the predominate shape, or a circle created with absent space. The Kings are great as well – two are human faces, and two are animals.
The Hermit is also a favorite. A bear with a lamp around its neck is covered in flowers, and blends into a skull on a warm orange background. I was delighted when my thank you note from the artist was on the back of a postcard with this image. I’ll likely frame it, it’s so pretty.
This brings me to my one major complaint about the cards. The imagery is lovely, and while it looks simple at first glance there are layers and layers here. I only wish every card had been postcard sized to help the reader access the detail. I know that is asking a lot for a self-published deck as a bigger size would cost way more money. It’s a lot like the Shadowscapes deck in this regard – with images this lovely and complex, you hate to have to squint to see everything.
The booklet that comes along with the deck is simple, 8 ½ by 11 pages stapled in the middle and the artist already has sent out a notification about an error. That said, I like the blurbs about each deck and really like the fact that the artist didn’t just do corresponding astrological signs and numbers but herbs. It’s a project unto itself to explore this, and I am grateful for the inspiration.
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most perfect deck ever, I rate this a solid 3.5. The imagery is straightforward at first glance so it works as a public deck for client readings but the imagery is successfully layered so it works as a private deck for personal exploration as well. That’s a high bar for a traditional deck. Well done, Ms. Thompson. I’ll be interested to see your next project!