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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: 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.


Review of Elemental Tarot
Summary: This eclectic, unique deck explores the world through the four basic energies of earth, fire, water, and air. The art creates a pleasantly chaotic feeling as it shows how these energies interact, creating our reality. Using this deck is a ...
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Review of Fire Tarot
Summary The Fire Tarot is a fascinating study of a single element through seventy-eight different lenses. How does fire express itself in myth, in our spiritual lives and sacred moments, in our emotions, and in the world around us? This ...
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Review of Legend: The Arthurian Tarot
Summary: If you are a collector, either of fine artwork or of Tarot decks, this is an excellent addition. If you are fascinated by the Arthurian myths but don’t know too much about them, this deck, combined with the book included in the set, ...
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Review of 2012: Tarot of Ascension
Summary: This deck is created to examine the next step in human spiritual evolution that many expect to occur in 2012. The card meanings are extremely positive but balanced by a dark color palette, challenging symbolic compositions, and a ...
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The Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn Review
Summary: The Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn is an evocative and provocative deck exploring a new vision of tarot that is fresh and exciting while remaining consistent with the Golden Dawn tradition. This deck would be suitable for someone with ...
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The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot Review
Summary: Although the book that comes with the deck clearly illustrates how to do divinations, this deck is clearly pretty distant from most Tarot decks. However, it will be of extreme interest to ceremonial magicians, especial aficionados of the ...
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Review of The Heart Tarot
Summary: Just like the dizzy, head-over-heels feeling of falling in love, The Heart Tarot turns your eyes and mind topsy-turvy as you delve into the beautiful, mysterious, confusing, and enchanting world of human relationships. Bright colors and ...
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Review of The Book of Shadows Tarot, volume 1: As Above
Summary The Book of Shadows Tarot is the first deck in a two deck set. Each deck is designed to work on its own as well as in tandem with its partner deck. This volume, As Above, is a unique deck using the structure of Tarot to explore the beliefs ...
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African American Tarot Review
Summary: Although actually more focused on African myth and lore rather than African American contributions to civilization, this deck is a wonderful introduction to both explorations as well as being close enough to the RWS tradition as to be ...
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Review of Bach Flower Inspirational Cards
Summary: The gentle and wise guidance of the flowers, as Bach unveiled them, are here to help us find balance and enhance well-being. This charming and beautiful deck can be used as an inspiring oracle deck to find answers to troubling questions or ...
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Review of Shining Angels Tarot
Summary: Let the comforting presence of the angels surround you. As you shuffle and deal out these round cards, you will find power and wisdom and guidance from loving beings who have existed from before the beginning of time, freed from the pages ...
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While most people are probably familiar with legendary creatures such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, and Jersey Devil, there is a myriad of weird beasts that are less known, but equally as elusive. What is surprising is that there are accounts of modern encounters with these enigmatic monsters on record, indicating that there... read this article
Four Powerful Ways to Live a Joyful Life Today
A Tarot Built for Magick: Modern Spellcaster's Tarot
Exercise: How to Feel Good
Investigating Haunted Bridges
Bodies of the Gods

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