Before the Steam Summer Sale sweeps me away, I thought I’d do a quick review of a recently released deck even though I still have quite the backlog. The Linestrider Tarot originally appeared on Indiegogo, but although I love the art, Indiegogo isn’t my favourite crowdfunding platform and I didn’t have the money because I’d committed to a couple projects on Kickstarter (including the upcoming Spirit Cats deck, which I backed despite being allergic to cats). When I heard that Llewellyn was releasing a mass market edition, I decided to wait than spend at least twice as much buying it from the artist. This review is for the mass market edition, obviously.
The Linestrider Tarot is by Siolo Thompson. The cards are the typical size for Llewellyn decks and borderless, with the same thin cardstock as the Green Witch Tarot. The backs are a mirrored inkblot design in pale blue and gray. The deck comes with a full companion book which includes instructions for generic three card and five card spreads. The lack of custom spreads might disappoint some readers, but she also talks about some interesting reading techniques that she picked up on her travels. My favourite one is “exalting the aces” where the aces are seen as influencing the entire reading, but these techniques are optional. The entry for each card includes keywords, a section on the artwork and meaning, and corresponding numbers, birthdays, and plants. Notably, both major and minor arcana have at least a page of information on them (usually the minors get less page space dedicated to them). Another helpful aspect to the companion book (especially for newcomers) is that it gives you tips as to how to interpret cards in relation to other cards (so, for instance, the High Priestess being surrounded by cups cards).
I can say with confidence that the Linestrider Tarot is one of the prettiest decks in my collection. This deck has a very watery feel, the images don’t so much move as flow. The images are mostly black and white with splashes of colour. For the most part, the images incorporate RWS symbolism, although there are a few interesting interpretations. The Nine of Cups depicts “the cat that got the canary” and the explanation explains that there’s a certain smugness to this card as well as a feeling of satisfaction. The images also include many animals as prominent figures in the cards as well as humans and plants. It’s a very nature-based deck that is not explicitly marketed as nature-based. The artist draws from a variety of sources for inspiration. I was surprised and delighted to find that the knight on the Five of Swords was inspired by the Heide Knights from Dark Souls 2. I never thought I’d find a Dark Souls reference in any of my tarot decks.
I have been using this deck to predict what will happen during Critical Role (which is a great webseries about a bunch of nerdy ass voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons) and so far it’s been pretty straightforward and accurate. The deck often addresses themes of change, transformation, and personal growth, and does so in a gentle (but firm) way.
The issues I have with the deck are small in comparison, but I would have liked to have seen the plant correspondences elaborated on, especially since the same plant can have a variety of different correspondences. Sometimes the plant imagery isn’t explained at all, as is the case with the High Priestess, who clearly has pomegranates around her neck even though it isn’t mentioned in the write up or the correspondences. Some of the astrological correspondences might also be off (the one I noticed was that she assigns Scorpio to the World when that card is usually assigned to Saturn) astrology isn’t my thing so I don’t care as much, but if it’s important to you I’d recommend double-checking the correspondences in the book. Perhaps most baffling to me is the sexualized Page of Pentacles, who is demurely sitting and examining an apple. Unusually, there’s no commentary on why the artist chose to depict this particular page in this way.
The Linestrider Tarot is a beautiful deck which stays faithful enough to the RWS system that I think it would make a good deck for beginners, but perhaps not their very first deck. The companion book is one of the more thorough companion books I’ve read, and is full of insights from the artist that still leaves room for your own interpretations. This deck gets a definite recommendation from me, especially if you like nature-based symbolism but don’t like when nature-based decks assume that you must be Wiccan.