I keep starting and deleting this review because I want it to be as perfect as this deck is. I’ve finally decided that’s impossible, so I’m just going to do the best I can.
This deck is comprised of 78 hand-colored linocuts by Emi Brady.
When I received this deck, this is what I got.
I just checked and the first edition, at least, comes with everything here. I want to talk about the box for a minute because it is stunning. It’s laser-engraved with a symbol of each suit on each side of it, and the deck’s title on the top. It has this magnetic closure that sort of snaps the lid into place once it’s slid on. The inside of the box has foam padding and a soft fabric that keeps the deck nice and cozy inside. The guidebook fits in perfectly right on top of the deck.
Now: the guidebook. The guidebook is written by Rachel Pollack. This is a good-sized guidebook with the perfect non-rambly introduction. Each card has one spread of pages devoted to it. It has what the artist has said about the card, and then what the author has to say about it. These contain information about the animals and plants depicted on the card as well as possible interpretations.
There are some black and white illustrations throughout the guidebook as well. This book is well written, well made, and punches you in the face with the word “quality” as soon as you lift it from the box.
Okay, we’re to the cards! I normally don’t have much to say about cardstock, but I do about this cardstock. Look at this:
Alright, so a picture can’t capture how it really looks, but they’re edged in a pale matte gold. In fact, the entire cards are matte, giving them a soft feeling. They’re kind of like petting a big, fat leaf from a large plant. You know the kind. (Sorry, that’s the best explanation I have.) The cards are thick, but not too firm to shuffle, and their size is exactly what you’d expect from a tarot deck.
The theme of this deck is something I’ve been looking for for years: plants and animals that I can actually run into living in North America. The landscapes look like where I live, the plants are familiar, and I’ve run into quite a few of these animals. I can’t tell you how much this deck FEELS like the land. (I’m also lucky because I live in Colorado where Emi Brady also lives.)
The Brady Tarot is, at its heart, a nature deck. It’s not just cute animals (although there is no shortage of those), it also very clearly contains the cruelty of nature. Here are two horrifying and two not horrifying cards:
The nature of Nature is both giving and taking, and this deck has it all.
The suits in this deck are Roots (Pentacles or Earth), Feathers (Wands or Fire), Arrows (Swords or Air), and Horns (Cups or Water).
Pictured are the aces. Each card also has a keyword on it.
Here are some of the majors that I fucking love. Each card has so much going on in it, you can look at it and see something you didn’t notice before pretty much every time. Look at that fucking Wheel of Fortune. Look at that Magician. LOOK AT THAT HIGH PRIESTESS. Goddamn.
I always like to see the Sun, Moon, and Death cards from a deck. This is one of my very favorite depictions of the Sun card.
One of my favorite things about this deck is how the cards make nods to one another. Take The World, for example.
The crow from The Magician and the owl from The High Priestess are there. A lot of times, seeing an animal appear on more than one card signifies a similar thread between them. This shit was so well planned out, I’m going to be making new connections for years. Not to mention, look at those colors! It manages to be vibrant without being gaudy.
Seriously, look at this artwork. Like LOOK look.
No, look at it again. This wolfy Empress is nursing her babies in a clearing that is bursting with life. Two hares (fertility symbols) are nearby, feasting on the wild berries that grow uninhibited under the Empress’ rule. In the background, old trees grow thick, and a deer is paused at the edge. The Empress wolf could eat the deer, but doesn’t need to at the moment. She knows she will have what she needs when she needs it, because she creates it. THIS BITCH IS THE WELLSPRING FROM WHENCE THE STREAM THAT NOURISHES THE DEER AND THE FOREST COME. See, now I’m yelling. But it’s love-yelling.
Where can you get this absolutely amazing deck? Right here.