A brilliant, colorful, modern deck with 3D sci-fi imagery that will appeal to futurists and people looking for "something different" while keeping close enough to the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition that Tarot traditionalists will find it comfortable. There is an amazing amount of information on each card that will allow experienced readers to develop interpretations of greater depth and help beginners to quickly get up to speed.
When you first see The Quest Tarot you're going to think, "Wow! The art is absolutely astounding." The deck is filled with 3D computer realism and surrealism. The colors are often quite intense (distinctly different from some of the more pastel visions of the cards). The lands of the background in The Fool appear to have been cut from the Grand Canyon. Pillars around The Magician seem to be transparent light that has been bound to keep it in place. Light springs from unknown sources on the glassy surface below The Empress. Translucent spirals ending in a yin-yang hang in the sky behind the brilliance of the Hierophant’s crown. A woman of molten silver rips open barriers between universes while she rides and controls a lion of liquid fire. The balance scales of Justice seem to come from a thousand years into a Daliesque future. The hanged man appears to be of glass. The figure of Death, rather than ambling from east to west, is almost frighteningly realistic, leaping off the card and coming right at you. The Tower is a futuristic cylinder being attacked by speeding meteors. The Moon is photorealistic while The Universe dispenses with the Waite-Smith symbolism, instead going with a photorealistic view of the Earth and a distant nebula. An extra card, The Multiverse, shows an expanding vision of amazing planets and unlimited possibilities. This deck is a welcome shock to the system.
The suit of Wands is filled with staves topped with energy-spewing crystals. Each card of the Cups features a different type of chalice. Similarly, each card of the Swords includes a different style of weapon, while the Stones (Pentacles) includes different stones ranging from giant boulders to perfect, light-reflecting spheres of refined metal.
The book begins with advice for how you should prepare to give a reading, from how to care for your cards and what surface to use when you lay out the card, to what to wear and how to purify the cards. This is a great start and beginners should commence with this part of the book. Unexpected, however, rather than going into a general introduction or an in-depth study of the Tarot, the book discusses…astrology? Yes. On the twos through tens, and on the Major Arcana are astrological symbols. With nothing but this information, and the definitions given in the book, you could give readings. However, you have to know the meanings of the astrological symbols. They are briefly given here. A good book on basic astrology will add greatly if you want to add astrological input to your Tarot readings.
Next the book goes into how to give yes/no readings. At the center of the top of the court cards are symbols indicating yes, no, maybe, and whether the answer is in the past or in the future. You get instructions on how to work with these cards to answer a yes/no question.
The book goes on with a section about…gemstones. There are images of gemstones around many of the cards. The associations of gems and specific cards are given later when each card is described. For example, the Tower is associated with garnets, ruby, bloodstone, and magnetite.
The book then goes into…Hebrew. Since the time of Eliphas Levi the Hebrew letters have been associated with the Major Arcana. When Paul Foster Case revealed this (it had been a Golden Dawn "secret") he was kicked out of that Order, and went on to form his own magical group, the Builders of the Adytum. Well, the secret is out, and Martin includes the appropriate Hebrew letter on each Major Arcana card.
This could be very valuable to a Tarot reader and it's good to have this information right on the card. Other books can give you greater depth on the meanings such as Regardie’s The Golden Dawn.
Next, the book goes into…the I Ching. Included are meanings of the hexagrams of the I Ching. The twos through tens for the Minor Arcana have hexagrams which may enhance your readings.
Often, the court cards represent people. You may wonder what these people look like. This deck resolves that issue. There are six circles of various sizes at the top of each court card that indicate eye color, hair color and skin color.
Next, the book goes into…the runes. Images of the runestones are shown in the upper right corner of each of the Major Arcana cards. To add the meanings of the runes to a reading you may consult this book, or get a more in-depth book (such as Peschel’s A Practical Guide to the Runes).
Next, the book goes into…English. Each card, near the bottom left, has either a tiny English letter or a sign indicating a "wild card." You can draw cards and use them to make up words to help in answering questions. It’s a clever idea. For example, you could use this to determine a person’s name.
And next, the book goes into…Tarot party games. Finally, the book gets into practical, usable information on working with the cards. Included are a three-card spread, the Celtic Cross spread, and an original Quest Tarot Spread. All of these are described in detail and include variations. The section on spreads is excellent.
Then the book goes into the meanings of each card. This material is precise and concise. As an order of study you might go to this section of the book after the introduction, followed by the spreads, and then examine the sections on astrology through English, with the part on party games left to the future.
The bottom line for this deck is simple: the art. It is simply fantastic and remarkable. The book only hints at its potential and will help direct you in your studies to fully appreciate the symbols and systems added to these cards.
The human figures in this deck appear to be of molten metal or glass. The characters are blank slates and you have to use your intuition to literally "flesh them out." This allows for the expansion of the intuition and not falling into any preset beliefs as to what the characters should look like or whom they might be.
If you are a collector or are fascinated with the amazing art, this deck is an absolute must. It could be an additional deck and one that will trigger you to study other spiritual system.
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Creator’s name: Joseph Earnest Martin
Name of accompanying book:The Compass Guide to the Quest Tarot
Number of pages of book: 312
Author of book: Joseph Earnest Martin
Brief biography of author(s): Joseph Ernest Martin (California) has been a professional Tarot reader for more than fifteen years. He is also a professional artist and art director, with more than sixty-three design awards.
Available in a boxed kit?: Yes. In the set are the deck, book, and a box to hold the deck.
Magical Uses: Astral projection, visualization training
Reading Uses: General readings, readings for the future
Artistic Style: Computer graphics with 3D and hints of Salvador Dali
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: It follows the RWS in name and some symbolism, but adds a lot of information and interprets some of the RWS concepts in new ways.
Does it have extra cards?: It has one extra card in the Major Arcana. It is called "The Multiverse" and, like The Fool, is numbered 0. Every card, beside its title, also has a one or two word meaning on it, and the meaning given on The Multiverse is "unbound." There is also a blank card for which the author includes several potential uses, including representing the reader.
Two of the Major Arcana cards have been renamed. Temperance is called "Alchemy" and Judgement is entitled "Aeon." The World, as in many decks (and harking back to the Golden Dawn tradition) is called "The Universe." In the court cards of the Minor Arcana, Martin has returned to the gender balanced tradition similar to that of the Golden Dawn deck. The RWS Page, Knight, Queen, King, becomes Daughter, Son, Mother, Father, a change that also indicates relationships. Also, the suit of Pentacles is renamed "Stones."
Why was deck created?: A personal desire on the part of the deck’s creator.