With graphic-novel inspired art and simple images, the Dreaming Way Tarot deck will appeal immediately to new tarot readers. The deck is very, very pretty. As you glance through the images you can’t help but like the fresh, light, and slightly edgy quality to many of the cards. Unfortunately, the deck is not easy to read with. The images are lovely, but not as flexible as one would imagine. While it’s clear this is a RWS-based deck, the images are only loosely related to that system. Often, it feels much was lost in translation.
The deck is the work of artist Kwon Shina, an artist known for graphic novels. It’s a collaboration between the artist and Rome Choi, who did a great deal of research and dreamwork for the deck. The size and cardstock are nice and make for an easy shuffle. The backs of the cards are a beautiful abstract sea-glass green design, and look reversible at first glance but in reality have a slight inconsistency that means you can read all upright if you wanted. A nice detail.
Some of these cards are flat-out stunning. I’m tempted to frame a few they are just so lovely. See the photo at the top of the post for my favorites – almost all majors as it happens. The Wheel of Fortune and Death cards in particular caught my eye as I was debating my purchase, and were the tipping point for me. The idea of young girls as the personification of these archetypes is brilliant.
It should be noted that the artist has created many people in this deck who are androgynous at first glance. I always appreciate it when a deck plays with gender. I only wish they weren’t all thin, pale androgynous people…
If all the cards were as powerful as my favorites, this would be a stunning deck. Unfortunately, some images don’t look like there was any effort or thought behind them. The Aces are flat. The Pages bother me at a deep level as they seem like models holding props they are so one-dimensional. Some cards just don’t make a ton of sense.
Lastly, I learned an important lesson from this deck. Consistency matters. I continued to be confused by the clothing. I’m fine with a strange style for a deck, but after reading with this deck for a week I found I spent more time squinting at the images to see just what someone was wearing than reading the cards. Some people are wearing very modern clothes. Some look like they live in feudal Europe. It was distracting. I kept wondering if it meant something that the girl in The Moon card was wearing glasses and funky tights. In the end, it was not a stylistic choice that added to the meaning of the card.
By now it’s clear that my one-card readings with this deck were lackluster at best. It was a week of mixed messages and garbled images. Not helpful at all. So, don’t try to do daily readings with The Dreaming Way.
What was successful? The larger, weekly readings. These cards are confusing, and slightly incoherent. But oddly they lend themselves nicely to a large reading where you can then play with the movement and story of the cards. The individual meaning of the card fades away and you are able to see how cards relate to each other much more easily than in other decks. If this is your reading style, great. But if it’s not, be forewarned.
I have to give this deck a 1.5 on the ratings scale. (5 being the most perfect deck ever and a 1 signaling that it’s a waste of time and money.) If you are actively seeking a deck that will be appropriate with teens, this might be a winner. If you are very interested in a deck that you can tell long stories with, this could be the one. Beyond that, well, the inconsistencies are likely to annoy you. A very pretty deck, the Dreaming Way is not flexible enough to serve many functions for many people and that makes it a deck I regret purchasing.