Author: Kat Black
Artist: Kat Black
This review is for the mass market version of the “Touchstone Tarot” – the full 78 card deck plus the additional “Happy Squirrel” and artist cards, accompanied by a 197 page companion book. I want to take a moment here to thank Kunati for being willing to allow a Limited Edition version of this deck to be published before the mass market version came out. (The Limited Edition version was published by Leisa ReFalo of The Tarot Connection.) This was very gracious – and I am sure that there are many people like myself that ”had to” have both versions!
This is a very elegant deck – gilt edged, and presented in a sturdy cigar-style box. This is Kat Black’s second deck – her first deck being the stunning “Golden Tarot”. It is a digital collage deck, composed of works from European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The tagline for this deck is “78 friends that you hold in your hand”. It is definitely a user friendly deck, but it goes beyond that. The figures in this deck look straight out at the reader – straight into their soul. When you read with them, it is as if you are having a conversation with a good friend over a cup of coffee (or tea).
The cards are 3 ½” by 5”, of sturdy, good quality card stock. The backs have a brown and tan floral pattern that is a bit “busy”, and could be just a tad distracting. The card faces show a ¼” brown border, with the card name and number at the bottom, against a gold background. The structure of the deck is traditional, using traditional titles for the Major Arcana, suit titles of Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins, and Court titles of King, Queen, Knight and Page. Traditional imagery is used throughout the deck.
The coloring in this deck is very soft, yet detailed. You can feel the question in the dog’s mind as he gazes up at the Fool. The Magician carries the wisdom of the owl that sits over his left shoulder, peering down at him. The Empress is in a state of grace with the flowers in her hand, and on her head. The Emperor is very determined, and takes his responsibilities seriously.
The Hermit walks with his animal allies, while Judgement shows a woman in dark clothing, hands held in prayer, with an angel playing a trumpet in the background, and mountains behind her.
The Aces in this deck are quite interesting, as they show winged angels along with the suit icon. I found myself fascinated by the card backgrounds – the globe sitting behind the figure in the Two of Coins, the books on the shelf behind the figure in the Six of Coins, the scholar looking up from his work in the Ten of Coins, and the draperies behind the figures in the Three of Cups.
The family in the Ten of Cups is shown against green fields, while a tiger stands with the figure in the Ace of Swords. The Six of Swords shows a male figure rowing a female figure, holding a baby in her arms. The costumes are rich and elegant, conveying a sense of good living.
The companion book carries mini-reviews of the “Touchstone Tarot”, done by “That Dan Guy” (Dan Pelletier) and myself. At the end of the book are sample readings contributed by members of the Aeclectic Tarot forum (myself included). The spread used was the Love Knot Spread – a signature spread developed by Kat Black for this deck.
In her dedication, Mary Greer notes the excellent job that Kat Black did in incorporating historical portraits and backgrounds into easily recognizable Tarot scenes. Greer notes that the personalities of the characters in this deck dominate each card. I have to agree – the energy is palpable. Note: Study the faces closely, and you will find people from the Tarot community looking back at you.
The foreword was written by a very special person – the Secret Benefactor that made this deck possible in the first place. Aside from being the Patron of this deck, I was impressed with her very quiet note in passing on the use of Tarot in business and investment decisions.
In her introduction, Kat Black talks about the wonderful feeling of being able to share her deck in progress with her benefactor – with someone who had, well, not a vested interest, but certainly a strong personal interest in the deck. Kat intended this book to be a companion to her deck, to give the reader insights into “this” deck, and to share the background for each of the cards.
I loved the fact that Kat included an FAQ section at the beginning of the book. There are so many half-truths, or quasi-truths in the Tarot world, that it is refreshing to see them put to rest. Amongst the questions discussed are: “Should a deck be a gift?”, “Should you let other people touch your cards?” and “Is it wrong to read cards for a third party?” Very good background information here!
The spreads presented include a One Card spread, Three Card spreads, the traditional Celtic Cross spread, and the Love Knot spread, a spread that was specifically designed for this deck by Kat.
The cards are presented with a black and white scan, a short discussion of the card, upright and reversed meanings, and a listing of the painting sources (remember – this is a collage deck!). There is one card that is unique to this deck (much as the Artist card is to the Sakki Sakki Tarot), and that is the Happy Squirrel. The card originated in an episode of the Simpson’s, and was never intended to be left in the deck for reading purposes. However, as Kat noted, many of us do leave this lovely, light-hearted card in the deck when we do readings. To me, if it comes up, it is a special gift to the Seeker.
I love working with the Limited Edition version of this deck, and know that the same magickal feeling will carry over into this stunning edition. May we all carry a little of the energy of the Happy Squirrel away with us!
© April 2009