|The Alchemical Tarot|
on the Throne!
This is the 4th Edition of this deck and it has been funded via an Indigogo campaign.
We've got four families - Staffs, Swords, Vessels and Coins; nice and traditional.
Each family member sports their name and also the elemental glyph associated with that suit. The first thing that you will notice about the courts in the Alchemical Tarot is that the Pages have been replaced with the rank of Lady and the second thing is that the King is not a figure but a creature.
Let's take a closer look ...
|Suit of Staffs|
Each member of our Staff family stands in a progressively dry landscape, which is perfect because they are identified with the element of Fire (the glyph for fire is at the top of each card).
The Lady of Staffs reminds me of the Page of Wands in the RWS - they adopt the same kind of pose with their Wands. In the Alchemical, all the Wands are ablaze.
The Knight of Staffs, on the other hand, is in a fairly relaxed attitude which is NOT what we associate with him in the RWS.
The Queen faces us, a burning sceptre in one hand and her flaming wand in the other. She is barefoot and bare-boobed.
The King is a red dragon ... which is probably a very alchemically thing, but I find him being the only creature in the suit a bit distracting. There will be a reason for it, but I don't know what it is because the deck doesn't come with any kind of LWB. Which is a pity.
|The suit of Swords|
Moving on to the Swords family, we can see that the Lady of Swords plays a lute. This might strike you as odd, but the Sola Busca Tarot has the Page of Swords playing a lute too, so a nice nod backwards to this important and ancient deck.
The Knight of Swords is the only Knight depicted with his face obscured and the only one involved in any kind of fighting. None of the Knights are on horseback. I am reliably informed that this is a Wyvern and not the red dragon of the King of Staffs.
The Queen of Swords looks very much like the Queen of Staffs, same barefoot and balanced pose - sword in each hand. Curiously, a red wing and a green wing. Again, something that a LWB might have clarified for me.
The King is an eagle. Or a lethal-looking chicken. Let's go with the eagle. The other Swords are depicted amongst clouds, but the King has no background at all.
The glyph for Air shows us that the suit of Swords is associated with this particular element.
|The suit of Coins|
The Knight of Coins holds a mace, not a sword and his suit symbol is on a great shield that he rests on the ground before him. He too stands amidst rich greenery, with a castle in the background - perhaps his home.
The Queen of Coins is naked as the day she was born and her pose links her to the Queen of Vessels (without the fish tail of course). She cradles and gazes at a cornucopia, whilst holding a small unicursal pentagram in her right hand. Again the vegetation around her is lush and there are more buildings in the background - she is closer to home than the Knight.
The King is a crowned lion. I'm sorry, but I can only think of Aslan when I see this chap. A great paw rests on a golden disk which contains the image of a lion rampant. Or self portrait.
So, what do I think of the deck?
It's a fully illustrated deck that gives you a choice of Lovers cards (one more risque than the other!) with enough similarities throughout the deck to the RWS to ensure that even a beginner reader could use it.
Strength is at XI and Justice is at VIII - the traditional, pre-Golden Dawn positioning.
There are some images that could do with clarification - for example, the 5 of Staffs is a hand with the five fingers burning; the Hanged Man is not the relaxed beatific saint but a struggling figure strung up by one leg. These image choices could all be easily explained in a LWB. But there is none included with the deck, which is a pity.
There IS a large companion book, but it is purchased separately.
It's a beautiful deck and I love the muted antique colour-palette throughout. It's a dream to shuffle and to use and, even with a limited knowledge of alchemy - it reads beautifully. I just wish that an LWB had been included.
I'd love to hear what you think of the Alchemical Tarot :)
Edit: Thanks to Moti for this information. You can download the LWB at this link: