Deck Review: The Stolen Child Tarot

Something I’ve never really understood about the tarot world (apart from swords being associated with air while flammable wands are associated with fire in defiance of all logic) is why anyone would want a majors-only deck. I understand that the majors represent archetypal forces that include the minors, and many find the majors useful for meditation and such, but I can’t help but think that you’re buying a fraction of a deck for the price of a full deck (I’m talking a full deck with fully illustrated minors, not pips).

So, yeah, The Stolen Child Tarot is the first majors-only deck to be added to my collection. The deck is the creation of Monica Knighton (who also illustrated the Tarot of the Dead and The Healing Tarot)  who was inspired by the Yeats poem of the same name, particularly this passage:

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

True to its name, there are many children in the deck, but another key feature is that there are no human-made objects in any of the cards. Justice is not represented by a woman with scales and a sword, but by an orderly colony of bees, the Magician is a gleeful child in a fox’s skin. Most of the cards feature children, some of whom take center stage in the action, others have more or less blended in with the environment.

The cards themselves are 3.5 by 4.75 inches, and the card stock is unlaminated heavy archival watercolor paper, quite flimsy, but I’ve held flimsier decks. The backs are non-reversible and have a checkerboard pattern with a diamond in the center with representations of the four elements: a salamander, a fish (looks like a koi fish), a bird (seagull) and a squirrel. The deck comes with two title cards and two cover cards and comes packaged in a portfolio, but you’ll want to have a bag handy to store them in. The majors themselves are also untitled and not numbered. The deck doesn’t come with a LWB but the artist offers a PDF guide for free download.

Generally speaking, I don’t see any particular card that I really dislike, and that’s quite the feat, considering that there’s usually That One Card that I wish didn’t exist in my otherwise perfect decks. The other thing I really like about this deck is that, even though the majors aren’t numbered, titled, or strictly speaking “traditional”, I can tell what each card is just by looking at it (although the High Priestess might be mistaken for the Empress at first glance).

Also, some of the images are downright adorable. I love how the Empress and Emperor cards are set up, with the Empress (a brown bear) looking to the right and the Emperor (a polar bear) looking to the left, and the children in the bear outfits are so SQUEE! I JUST WANT TO CUDDLE THEM! (If I didn’t run the risk of being mauled to death.) I absolutely adore the Strength card (this is a card I usually dislike in tarot decks for no particular reason) which shows a girl hiding behind a bison, one hand gently grasping his snout in a way that almost seems protective, and then there’s the Lovers, and the Hermit, and….

Yeah, this deck, it’s awesome, and unlike a bunch of other decks I own that have children in them, I didn’t find any of the children depicted in this deck creepy in any way.

I suppose now you want to see pictures, eh? Fine, here are some pictures:

The Empress
The Emperor
Strength
The Star – for variety’s sake

Seriously though, these images don’t compare to what the deck looks like in person.

The one sticking point I can see for a prospective buyer will be price. And I will admit that I did get this deck at a discount, and at $40, well, remember what I said about majors-only decks and pricing? Still, keep in mind that this is a limited edition (only 500 will be printed, my number, in case you’re wondering, is 486) and the artist has obviously put a lot of care into the product, but, yeah, kinda’ pricey, I get it.

Bottom line: The Stolen Child Tarot is a gorgeous deck and now I’m really sad that the Kickstarter for the full deck didn’t work out, because I think a full deck would be amazing, but if you have the cash to spare, are in the market for a majors-only deck and you really like nature-y decks, you really can’t go wrong with this one.

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