Monday, 3 June 2013

AnnaK Tarot | Deck Review

Oh this is loooooovely!

Originally self-published in 2009, the AnnaK tarot has now been taken up by Llewellyn - thank goodness, because it's a charming little deck that deserves to be widely seen.

It arrives in a nice presentation box along with a chunky little accompanying book of 230 pages. Not every page of the 230 is filled with writing – some are blank (well, they are lined for you to write on)  and 78 of them are the card illustrations themselves. Each card is illustrated in B&W with the interpretations on the facing page, sometimes including a little tip from Anna. 

The deck measures 7cm x 11.5cm (3" x 4.5" in old money!) and is of thin – but beautifully slippy – card stock which ensures the deck shuffles like a dream from the start. 

With an her World tree motif on the back (see scan below), the cards can easily be used for reversals. Anna K touches on reversed meanings in her accompanying book, but they are not integral to her use of the deck.

Having the cards bordered in black really makes the colours of the deck really pop – golds contrast magnificently and dark cards are, erm, darker. 

As far as card names go, no great changes here – suits are Swords, Rods, Pentacles and Cups with the Majors as you would expect (note: Strength is XI and Justice is VIII)

The book also contains hints on how to read, as well as some of Anna's own insights into using Tarot - and some spreads for you to play with too, of course!

*rubs hands together*  Let's dive in!

The deck is based on the Rider Waite Smith and if you can read with the RWS, then you can read with the Anna K. It's not a simple clone though, there ARE cards that Anna has depicted in a different way to the RWS – the 2 of Swords for example (see above).

Despite this rooting in The Golden Dawn, Anna has pared back the occult symbolism. For example, there is no mention made of any astrological associations for the cards. However, the suits ARE accorded elemental associations (eg Rods are related to Fire) and the ranks of the courts are Page, Knight, Queen and King.  

Each Page is depicted as a very young person involved in recreational activity that one might associate with the suit.  For example, the Page of Swords is practising with his Sword (literally, striking at a straw man!) and the Page of Wands gazes longingly over the restraining wall of his compound. Anna says that the Pages are 'invitations to cultivate certain attitudes'.

The Knights are interesting because they are not on horses (or creatures of any kind!) Anna does provide sufficient symbolism that you can quite easily read what the Courts are about. Our Knight of Rods for example, is running (just as he would be on his horse) with a cloudy sky behind (perfectly fitting the Knight's blustery 'rush-in' attitude) with a banner in hand – a banner that obscures the perilous path that he is running along!

The Queens, like the Kings, are not depicted on thrones. Intriguingly, the Queens are all depicted outside, in nature – representing 'values or habits'. Conversely, the Kings are all depicted indoors (with the active King of Wands striding towards the outdoors!) and show outer life or actions.

'Well, this is all GREAT' you might be thinking, 'but whaddya REALLY think of the deck?'

Truthfully, I really like it. It's perfect for a beginner, freeing you from the confines of Golden Dawn inspired 'bolt ons' such as astrological associations and complex alchemical/hermetical symbolism which are often not needed in a Tarot reading.

Anna works from her imagination, the figures are not taken from life and while most of the illustrations are attractive (especially Death – he's totally smokin' hot btw!) her emphasis is on the card's character's emotion and expression, so if you like all your figures to be pretty and serene, this lively little collection might not be for you.

To find out more about the deck, visit Anna K's site:  This is the English language version site (Anna K is Austrian) 


  1. I have loved this deck from day one, and my 1st edition self-published version is all whitened on the edges and soft as butter. I'm so glad to see Llewellyn have done right by this deck, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys RWS.

  2. Yes, I can see the appeal :)

  3. I love my second edition self-published version, too :) There really are some stellar cards in this deck - the Eight of Swords being a personal favourite :) I love that quote from Anna K, that the Pages are 'invitations to cultivate certain attitudes' :D Really interesting, too, to have the Queens outside and the Kings inside...


Never mind what I think, what do YOU think? :-)

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