The Alchemical Tarot | Robert Place |4th Edition
|The Alchemical Tarot
on the Throne!
I’ve been coveting a Robert Place deck for a long time now and lo! because I’m a dozy mare and got my Alchemicals and my Sevenfolds all mixed up, I will shortly be the proud owner of both the decks and the book and poorer than a Church Mouse.
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|
|The suit of Swords|
|The suit of Coins|
Just as the Lady of Swords had her suit symbol above her, so the Lady of Coins can have her suit symbol in the coin-like lunar disk in the sky or in the purse around her waist. She is elaborately dressed and stands before lush vegetation. The focus of her gaze is the flowers in her hand.
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:
Inner Whispers · 15th August 2015 at 3:28 pm
Tee hee, the lethal-looking chicken made me lol. Very interesting to have the Kings be a creature – forces of nature.
Alison Cross · 1st September 2015 at 9:14 am
Yes, it's unusual to have just ONE of the court card suit so different from the others. Everyone else is recognisable in their role 🙂
Vivianne · 12th August 2015 at 11:59 am
I like the style; but a Lion as Pentacles when lions are Fire ? It's a wyvern because it has no wings ….the Lady of Vessels reminds me of Temperance or the Star. A deck for which a LWB is vital I think you may have mentioned this 😉 – and it seems pure laziness that one was not included.
Alison Cross · 12th August 2015 at 12:13 pm
Viv – I'm wondering whether the lion has some alchemical meaning? I seem to have bought a few decks recently where there is no LWB. In most cases one has to go to a website and download a pdf (and print it out) which is a bit of a bind, but does allow the deck's creator a lot more space to give information.
Alison · 13th August 2015 at 10:17 am
The lion is alchemical but he's usually green, representing the "raw green energy of nature". He's often shown devouring the sun so this could be linked to chlorophyll, or the prima materia that alchemists used. Am now going to search for possible meanings for the Red Lion (other than a pub name)…
Alison Cross · 14th August 2015 at 2:40 pm
Alison – the book arrived today (I ordered one as part of TABI's group order recently). Not had time to delve into it, but the section on the Alchemical deck itself looks really interesting 🙂
Ania · 12th August 2015 at 10:56 am
It doesn't really appeal to me, I'm afraid, though I love the lethal chicken and wonder what's with the Queen of Vessels triple lady beard look.
Alison Cross · 12th August 2015 at 10:57 am
You can never have too many lady beards, my friend 😀