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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 the Tarot of Mermaids
Summary: The Tarot of Mermaids is an enchanting Rider-Waite-Smith-style deck that can easily be used out of the box for anyone familiar with that system. It is also much more than that, inviting journeys into the murky depths of the waters of our ...
Relevance:  20 % 20%

Review of the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight
Summary: The Tarot of the Sweet Twilight is a unique and beautiful place where kindnesses are more poignant and pains evoke tenderness. Opposites blend and dance highlighting the beauty in the darker aspects of life and showcasing joy tinged with ...
Relevance:  8 % 8%

Review of the Visconti Tarots
Summary: An amazing and beautiful recreation of one of the oldest and most complete Tarot decks extant. Suitable for any reading for which you might use a Rider-Waite-Smith-based deck, it’s also ideal for working in costume, at renaissance fairs, ...
Relevance:  7 % 7%

Review of The Labyrinth Tarot Deck
Summary The Labyrinth Tarot takes the reader on a journey, as all labyrinths do. The theme is subtle, woven symbolically throughout the deck by way of evocative imagery, astrological symbols, Hebrew letters, and other symbols. While the feel is ...
Relevance:  7 % 7%

Review of the Tarot of Jane Austen
Summary: The Tarot of Jane Austen beautifully blends Tarot and the beloved characters and stories of Jane Austen’s classic novels. The marriage of this theme with Tarot is elegantly mastered without feeling forced or contrived. Within these cards, ...
Relevance:  7 % 7%

Review of the Tarot of the Angels
Summary: Based on the Rider-Waite-Smith, this deck provides an interesting addition to the familiar images. Angels, representing guidance from the Divine or your own higher self, show up in the cards. Discover how you can better interact with or ...
Relevance:  5 % 5%

The Lo Scarabeo Tarot Review
Summary:A unique and masterful blending of three of the most important Tarot decks, with beautiful and symbolic art. Highly valuable and usable by new and experienced Tarot workers. Name of deck: Lo Scarabeo Tarot Publisher: Lo Scarabeo ISBN: ...
Relevance:  5 % 5%

Review of the Anne Stokes Gothic Tarot
Summary The stylish art of Anne Stokes brings this deck to life…or death, if you go by the number of undead and other fantastical creatures! This attractive, Marseilles-style deck gives traditional Tarot a gothic twist by associating the ...
Relevance:  5 % 5%

Review of the Michelangelo Tarot Deck
Summary The Michelangelo Tarot makes spectacular use of Michelangelo's techniques and body of work to create a stunning deck faithful to the Rider-Waite-Smith model. It is a beautiful and readable deck for anyone who loves the works of this ...
Relevance:  5 % 5%

Review of the Egyptian Tarot
Summary: A unique and beautiful simulation of ancient Egyptian art combining traditional Tarot concepts and the mysticism of Egypt as described by Jean Baptiste Pitois ("Paul Christian") in his fantastic and romanticized book, The History and ...
Relevance:  5 % 5%

A few years ago, my youngest son was arguing with his friend about the age of Honey, our wild golden retriever. His friend insisted that Honey was five, because the dog had been alive that many years. Said Gabe, "Sometimes Honey is really one, like when he chews our shoes; sometimes he's 89, like when he pretends he's too old to listen when you... read this article
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