Today’s post is more of a long, rambling kind of question rather than tips or ideas. Â It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. As an acquiring editor, it is part of my job to think of these things. Also, sometimes when I’m at conferences or on panels, I get asked about this. Also, as a deck designer, I get either critiqued or praised for this. What is “this”? Let me tell you.
The Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck revolutionized tarot for many reasons. And, in the US, it is the most popular deck, selling who knows how many copies a year. Additionally, most teachers use it for classes and in most workshops I attend at conferences, the RWS is the “common language” amongst readers.
But tarot readers want more than one deck. So publishers publish them. And here’s what happens:
If a deck follows the imagery of the RWS deck in the cards, the deck is said by some to be nothing but a clone, as if following in that tradition is a bad thing.
If a deck tries to create a new way of expressing the cards that is different from the RWS, some people say “oh, it is more of an oracle than tarot” or “that card doesn’t look like the Moon to me.”
Now we know that no deck is going to please all readers, so it’s not a problem of “how to make everyone happy.” It’s really just a question: is tarot going to evolve and change, as it always has over the centuries of its existence or has the RWS really nailed it and we should quit trying to reinvent the wheel?
I am really curious to hear your opinions. I confess that I’m a RWS girl and have a hard time imagining something else. That is why doing the Book of Shadows, vol. 1: As Above was such a challenge. I was asked to think outside the RWS box. I’m glad I did it and hope that I continue to flex my creative muscles, because it is good to get outside my comfort zone, right? So tell, me, what do you think is the future of tarot?