Deck Review – The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot

Today I have a new deck to share called, “The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot” by David Fontana and published by Watkins Publishing.

 

 

I was super intrigued by this deck because its author, David Fontana, is a psychologist. As someone who tends to approach the tarot from the perspective to it being a tool of the subconscious I liked this idea. The thought of a psychologist putting together a deck from his perspective sounded like a great fit!

This version is actually a republishing of a previous version of the deck. Originally published in 2008 as The Truth Seeker’s Tarot, I gathered from reviews that it was a deck that people either loved or hated. There didn’t seem to be a lot of lukewarm thoughts on this deck. Naturally that left me even more intrigued.

 

About The Author

David Fontana was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Cardiff and a visiting professor at two other universities. He had an interest in parapsychology, taking up an interest in meditation, spirit activity, electronic voice phenomena {EVP} and other similar areas of study. From 1995 to 1998 he was president of the Society for Psychical Research.

Fontana passed away in 2010 but left behind a body of work that includes a number of books on meditation, dream interpretation, symbolism, Buddhism, and zen living. He also authored book called The Essential Guide to the Tarot. I had all but forgotten about this book until I received this tarot deck in the mail. When I opened it the images seemed a bit familiar and when I looked for his past works I found this book among them. I ran off and found the book on my shelf, and sure enough, the then Truth Seeker’s Tarot was the deck used throughout the book.

 

The Current Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot

The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot doesn’t seem to change much from the original deck other than to lose some of the details like gold leafing that was apparently found on the Truth Seeker’s Deck. This version comes in a nice hard shell draw box with the full 78 card deck and a small 80 page guide book.

 

 

The Guidebook

The book, being only 80 pages, doesn’t contain a lot of information. The major arcana cards get a bit of description but the minor arcana cards are given less attention. These cards are grouped together by number, meaning all the Aces are together on two pages, all the Twos are together on two pages of the book, and so on. The court cards get a similar treatment with all the Kings together, all the Queens together, etc.

The first thing that you’ll notice when you look in the book is the lack of any keywords for beginners. There is also little in the way of information about what the cards “mean,” so to speak and nothing about reversals. This, I believe, is because Fontana approached this deck from the perspective of wanting the person using them to be triggered psychologically by the images and symbols themselves rather than a set of specific meanings.

Where he does give interpretations of the cards he focus on the image itself and what it means within the major arcana while the minor arcana he focused more on what that specific card’s number represents. While he does give brief “this is what these cards traditionally mean” information it’s quick. The focus remains heavily on the number of the card, it’s symbolic history, and a little information that would be akin to meanings found in numerology.

 

The Cards

The deck itself is lovely. It has nice thick card stock but it’s still pliable enough to give a riffle or casino shuffle. The cards are glossy which I love because it tends to keep the cards from scuffing too much though a lot of shuffles. The backs of the cards are orange with a bit of a stipple design that’s reversible making using reversed cards easy.

Then we get to the fronts the cards. The artwork is a little cartoonish buy it’s beautiful in terms of bright bold colors. The major arcana follows the common Rider Waite imagery for the most part with a few cards changed up a bit but not dramatically so. The Hierophant, rather than talking to two tonsured monks, he’s apparently preaching to three commoners. The sensuality of the Empress is completely removed and she sits on a throne with a shield, scepter, and crown looking much more like the female counterpart to the Emperor than she traditionally does. The High Priestess loses a lot of her traditional magickal elements and looks more like Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones reading a book than anything else.

 

 

Then we get to the minor arcana. This is where I start to truly take issue with this deck, but I’ll admit that this is totally personal preference. The minor arcana cards are not illustrated. This is very much the early Marseill-style approach where the Two of Swords literally is an image of two swords. Quite honestly, as an intuitive reader with a dominant clairvoyant sense, this doesn’t speak to me at all. While the images are pretty they don’t mean anything to me right off.

This is also where the book I mentioned earlier, The Essential Guide to the Tarot, plays a funny role. In that book the images specific to this deck’s image is explained. In that book he says about the Two of Swords:

“The two swords of this card signify companionship, the beginnings of a group of warriors who might one day become an army. This design shows an open landscape, full of possibilities.”

While it’s not a dissertation on the design it gives a bit more insight than what is in the book that comes with the deck which says:

“Two of Swords represents the potential for conflict…of physical forces…”

That said, the minor arcana cards take the element of each suit and really work with that symbolism heavily. The cards are predominantly colored in the color of the suit – Pentacles are green for earth, Wands are red for fire, Swords are yellow for air, and Cups are blue for water. Each of the images are also well rooted in scenes appropriate to that image. For instance all the Cups cards are featured in, near, or next to a water source.

 

 

The Court Cards are fairly typical however in this deck the Pages are represented as Princesses and Knights as Princes; not uncommon at all but just a change from the Rider Waite. Also, for some unexplained reason, all the Princesses have their boobs out. I believe that from a psychological or symbolic standpoint this could represent the young and naive energy of these cards, but I have no real clue because it’s not explained. In his other book, Fontana explains that the Princesses represent the energy of the body and a bit of provocative nature, which could lend to their appearance. I have no problem with it, I just thought it was odd at first glance.

 

 

 

What Do I Think…?

In the end, I found the deck nice but not one I would likely grab for often. The lack of illustration for the minor arcana is a bit of a turnoff for me personally. That said, the deck itself is vibrant, bright, and a dream deck for those who are into the use of symbols and numbers. This definitely wouldn’t recommend this deck for beginners, but those who want to try a different approach to reading might enjoy it. To me the deck has a very definitive feel, like the cards aren’t meant to be intuitive but more along the lines of traditional meanings and associations.

The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot is currently available on Amazon. It retails for $19.95, however at the time of this review the Amazon price is listed as $11.39.

 

FTC Disclosure: I received this book and deck for free from Watkins Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment and opinion of the product. 

 

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  • Cyndi
    May 24, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you so much for this review!! I have been considering buying this deck. I value your opinion and tend to like the same type of decks as you. This is a very detailed and informative review. I am especially pleased to hear that this deck has such a strong connection to numerology and psychological effects of imagery. Both, important to me. I am glad you showed a few cards as well. I don’t usually like this type of “cartoon” images. And thank you for including the fact that it is not gilded anymore 😔. I really like decks with foil edges. This is an awesome review and I am glad you did it. You have helped me make my decision.