You with either love or hate the Deviant Moon Tarot. With complex, dark imagery, it will appeal to you if you are looking for a deck that is visually arresting. Sometimes, however, image is everything. In many cases in this deck the image is initially shocking and disturbing, but does not lead to a deeper understanding of the cards. It is, in short, the perfect deck for an accomplished reader looking for a spooky deck for reading at Halloween gigs, but not ideal for the serious tarot student.
A labor of love, the Deviant Moon was created by artist and tarot student Patrick Valenza. While I don’t agree with the way he interpreted many of the cards, it’s obvious he has an understanding of the tarot and has made a deck that does not stray too far from the traditional symbolism. The deck is dark. It takes place in a world of dirty cities and mental asylums. The images are there to shock you, and they do.
I can see that if you are someone who lives in a world that’s a bit Gothic, and you normally hate all the sticky-sweet images of most tarot cards, that this would really appeal. The cards have an edge to them. The deck does not pretend that we live in a nice world, and truth be told we don’t. In the modern world we live in places that are dirty, and we live with people who suffer as the people on the cards do. While it’s not to my taste, it is refreshing to see a deck that is so honest.
I have the older edition, with white borders and tan behind the card titles. There is a new edition without borders, and black backgrounds. It appears to be a bit more saturated with color as a result and is much more attractive.
It’s those borders and labels that I have the hardest time with, to be honest. I wish more of the cards had titles. Over and over again I found I struggled to figure out which card I was looking at as the images on the minor arcana are so lush and full. Many cards tell a lovely story, but in doing so fill the card so completely you need an extra moment to think “are they holding swords? wands? is that sword he’s holding mean it’s a sword card or is it just a weapon?” I like knowing which card is in front of me in a flash, and the Deviant Moon takes time.
Some of the most successful cards in the deck are the minors. Once you get past the odd faces and deformed bodies, the characters are doing typical tarot-card things. In many cases, the minors are lovely little story illustrations. You can pull one card and get a whole lot from it.
I wish the majors were as detailed, but over and over the major cards are among the most obvious, simple, and expected. There is one person on the card, and it’s hard to tell if their outfit or what they are holding is part of the costume of this strange world, or significant to the reading.
My biggest complaint about the deck is also about a trump. I’m really annoyed that the Death card is not labeled. At first glance it looks like another minor card, but it’s not. Only when I was searching through the deck to find it did I realize this. At first I thought it was missing. Then I looked for all the cards it could be. Only then did I see the card as Trump #13. It was infuriating. Why did the artist do this?
It’s sad to say, but after using this deck for a week around Halloween, I’ve come to a conclusion that I don’t even want to use it around Halloween and will be giving it away. It’s not for me, but someone else will be delighted to have it. It seems to be unfair to give it a rating under these circumstances. (On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most perfect deck ever.) My 1.5 is certainly going to be someone else’s 5. Whoever that ends up being, I wish them all the best.