Summary: Catching the flavor of 17th and 18th century Indian art, this deck blends its explicit sexual images into the Tarot model. A collection of such art is rare and valuable, making this a wonderful collectors deck. Experienced Tarot users may find specific and unique times to read with this deck.
Review: It's only fair to start this review by stating that this deck is filled with very explicit illustrations of couples involved in sexual relations. If that alone is a "deal breaker," you have no reason to continue with this review.
The original book, the Kama Sutra, is actually what might be called a rule book for marriage rather than a spiritual masterpiece as some people think. It is composed of seven sections, and only one is famous. It includes numerous legalistic and dogmatic concepts on how to have sexual relations, some of which require a great deal of physical strength and agility. It also describes 64 types of sexual acts.
Next, let's look at the art in this deck. As described in the deck attributes below, the Art School Vijai & Ram of Rajastan have done an absolutely magnificent job of producing sexually explicit modern art in the style and character of of 17th and 18th century Indian art (heavily influenced by Mughal-style art) often found in published editions of the Kama Sutra. You’ll instantly recognize the style.
Now let’s get a bit more specific (explicit?). According to Madan’s included Little White Booklet (LWB), they thought of using the 64 different images of sexual relations, but this was impossible to relate to 78 cards. So they did their best. The Major Arcana has images of sexuality with symbolism from the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck. The fool shows a couple standing and copulating near a cliff with a small dog at their feet. The Magician shows a standing couple having sex with the tools of the magician positioned around them. The Empress shows a couple sitting in a complex sexual position. On the ground near the chair is a shield and a crown. Justice shows a couple sort of seated and having intercourse. They’re both blindfolded with a sword in the foreground and balance scales in the background.
The LWB discusses the Kama Sutra, the Tarot, and the combination found here. Then it presents one reading with two layouts. The spread for men is a straight vertical line. The spread for women to use is a circle. Both use six cards and the meaning of the positions are identical. The only reason for the different shape, then, is to link it with the gender of the person giving the reading (or perhaps for the client).
For interpreting the cards, the author suggest that you should "study each card, experience its energy and subtle message first-hand, and draw your own conclusions as to the message the card has for you," however he provides proposed meanings of the cards which are coherent with the RWS interpretations. Also included are concepts for each of the suits: Wands represent the theme of desire and creation, Cups stress the importance of the "passive aspect of sexuality," Swords emphasize the "aggressive aspect of sexuality," and Coins suggest "the flat, passive expanse of the earth element."
You are advised to make the reading a "sensual experience" with dim lights, candles burning, incense, etc. "You are encouraged to use this deck naked, symbolizing your purity and vulnerability."
This deck is unique and very usable. It’s also a great deck for collectors. For special situations, experienced readers will find this deck valuable.
Deck Attributes Name of deck: Kamasutra Tarot Publisher: Lo Scarabeo ISBN: 9780738710044 Creator's name: A. R. Madan Artist’s names: Art School Vijai & Ram of Rajastan Name of accompanying booklet: Kamasutra Tarot Number of pages of booklet: 64 (14 in English) Author of booklet: A. R. Madan Available in a boxed kit?: Yes. The kit includes the deck and a 148-page, full-sized book. Magical Uses: Some may use this for sex magick Reading Uses: Love, romance, and for some people, general readings. Ethnic Focus: India under the Mughal Empire Artistic Style: Sexually explicit modern art created in the style and character of of 17th and 18th century Indian art (heavily influenced by Mughal-style art) often found in published editions of the Kama Sutra. Theme: Sexual exploration of the Kama Sutra Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: In name, if not in image. Does it have extra cards? If yes, what are they?: No. Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: No Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits? If yes, what are they?: Swords, Coins, Wands, Chalices. Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards?: No Why was deck created?: It was commissioned to combine "the erotic intelligence of the world’s best-known work on the art of love making with the structure and mysticism of the Tarot." Book suggestions for Tarot beginners and this deck:Tarot for Beginners by P. Scott Hollander, any edition of the Kama Sutra, or Sexual Secrets by Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger. Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck:Tarot & Magic and Modern Sex Magick by Donald Michael Kraig, any edition of the Kama Sutra, and Sexual Secrets by Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger. Alternative decks you might like:Erotic Tarot of Milo Manara, Sensual Wicca Tarot, Decameron Tarot.
While Llewellyn's Classic Tarot has my name on the cover, I did not so much design this project as direct it. Llewellyn wanted a deck that was designed to be faithful to the traditional tarot images, symbols, and meanings recognizable to most modern tarot readers and students. Creating a faithful yet new expression of timeless tarot imagery is... read this article