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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Rider-Waite-Smith

DEFINITIONS

Rider-Waite-Smith:

Name for a popular deck of Tarot cards. It was designed by A. E. Waite, drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith, and originally published (in 1909) by Rider. It was based on the Tarot of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as well as some earlier decks, but is unique in that the Minor Arcana cards, for the first time, were given full symbolic imagery. This fully graphic design, combined with a book by Waite (in 1910) specifically for this deck (as opposed to Tarot decks in general) combined to make this a wildly popular deck.

The basic design has become a de facto modern standard. Many decks today copy this standard and only offer different artistic styles. Other decks are sometimes qualified by how much or how little they vary from this “standard.” For some time this deck was referred to as the “Rider-Waite” deck, ignoring the value and input of the artist. Although some people still use that description, Tarot authorities are now leaning toward the more accurate “Rider-Waite-Smith” name.




ARTICLES

Review of the Medieval Tarot
Summary: This deck is a unique blend of medieval artistic styles with modern sensibilities. Although following the Rider-Waite-Smith patterns, it features new symbolism and interpretations for the Minor Arcana that will either excite you or turn ...
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Review of the Tarot of Reflection
Summary: Like a fun house mirror that changes and reflects an image, Tarot of Reflection reveals aspects of the reality in which we live. It is like a shamanic journey that is a bit frightening but also fascinating and certainly life changing. ...
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The Tarot of Princesses Review
Summary If you have a penchant for Princesses, both real and literary, you’ll quickly bond with this unusual and lovely deck. Princesses, being, after all, human women, allow us to connect on a personal level with the power captured in each ...
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The Sacred Circle Tarot
Summary: The Sacred Circle Tarot features brilliant, realistic art and a totally Celtic Pagan orientation. Perfect for art collectors, Pagans, and people who already have experience with Tarot, its uniqueness is its high point and its challenge, as ...
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The Zodiac Tarot Review
Summary: A unique deck that can aid in understanding astrology basics and the correspondences between the Tarot cards and astrology as made by the Golden Dawn. Also great for psychologically oriented readings. Name of deck: Zodiac Tarot Publisher: ...
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The Dragons Tarot Review
Summary: A great deck for people who read the cards through memorization of their meanings. If you’re interested in dragons from around the world, this deck is more than worth the time put into studying the symbols (some of which are subtly hidden) ...
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Review of the Dark Grimoire Tarot
Summary: As dark and mysterious as the mythic world created by H. P. Lovecraft, The Dark Grimoire Tarot is strongly recommended for those mature enough and brave enough to examine their darker sides, and by coming to know and control those aspects ...
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The Robin Wood Tarot—A Review
Summary: A delightful delicacy in lively, stand-out color that modernizes the Rider-Waite-Smith deck in style while keeping most of the symbolism (including the medieval context) and making the characters’ personalities really apparent. This moves ...
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The Sensual Wicca TarotReview
Summary: A brilliant attempt to present the Tarot, Wicca, and the Wiccan aspects of sexuality that doesn’t quite succeed due to limitations of format and skill. Still, at times this deck soars above the limitations and is filled with brilliance and ...
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Review of the Tarot of Pagan Cats
Summary The Tarot of the Pagan Cats is a true RWS-style that cleverly interweaves magick and Tarot as experienced through the eyes of cats. Natural and easy to read, this deck will delight the beginner as well as the more experienced ...
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Review of the Tarot of the Elves
Summary: The Tarot of the Elves creates a new and different world. And yet, we humans still relate to the inhabitants of this fantasy realm. This innovative deck explores and conveys the archetypal meanings of the cards through story. McElroy spins ...
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Spring arrives, and it's that time for awakening to fresh ideas, new beginnings, and innovative growth. Inspiration for new ideas often comes through creative action. Once the ball starts rolling, it's easier to energize your ideas and plans for this next cycle. The elementals of the gemstone kingdom can help you through their vibration and color... read this article
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With her usual style and charm grounded in research and tarot knowledge, Sasha Graham, author of Tarot Diva, brings us her latest: 365 Tarot...

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