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Deck Review – The Haindl Tarot Part 1
by Liz Christy
Editor's Note from Michael Santangelo: This is the first part of a two-part review of one of my favorite Tarot decks. The deck's images are stunning and evocative. This part of the review describes the basic design of the deck and the Minor Arcana, excluding court cards.
First printed in Germany in 1988 and later by US Games Systems in 1990, the Haindl Tarot is truly a unique deck where ancient wisdom and modern thought meet. The Haindl tarot has been a popular deck for many years and is even printed in several languages throughout the world. I had been very curious about this deck and, after seeing scans of it, I knew right away I wanted to review it.
The deck itself is comprised of 78 cards measuring 2.75" x 5", a standard LWB (little white book) and the cards have a light lamination, just right and they shuffle like a dream. This deck's imagery is strikingly beautiful and so richly done it's almost as if Haindl painted the images from the very earth herself.
There are companion books written for this deck, an original two volume set by Rachel Pollack, one for the Major Arcana and one for the Minor Arcana including the Court cards, which was later revised in 2002; and another book written for this deck, also by Rachel Pollack, called Haindl Tarot: A Reader’s Handbook. I highly recommend obtaining the set or the reader’s handbook as it explains in great detail the rich symbolism found in this deck.
The 22 breathtakingly beautiful Major Arcana cards each has a Hebrew letter, a planetary or zodiac sign, as well as a rune incorporated into the artwork that gives each card layers upon layers of meaning that seamlessly blend together to form a magnificent tapestry. It is very easy to look at a card once and go back later to find something new that you hadn't noticed before. Around the border is a colored line representing the element to which the card is associated.
The Minor Arcana, Ace through Ten, are a unique blend of beautiful artwork and traditional suit meanings. Included is an I Ching hexagram on each card, and the cards are also bordered with a corresponding colored line representing the element. The I Ching hexagram serves to set a wider view of each card including social conditions, nature, and what might be called "the mood of the cosmos." These hexagrams extend what the card has to say, sometimes balancing ideas that can become too extreme.
The four suits are organized with Wands (Fire) representing East, Cups (Water) representing the North, Swords (Air) representing the South and Stones (Earth) representing the West. Haindl's vision for this order was taken from the Native American concepts that saw the four directions as carrying special qualities, such as the dawn for the East, sunset for the West, cold for the North and warmth for the South, associating them with the seasons, particular colors, and healing properties.
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About the Author
Making her home in Battle Ground, Washington, Liz Christy is a mother of five, an eclectic pagan, and a tarot enthusiast. Her hobbies include gardening and making herbal teas, as well as reading voraciously and explaining the art of tarot using everyday examples.
She has written articles for the Portland edition of Examiner.com called Portland Paganism Examiner and the Portland Ornamental Horticulture as well as reviewing tarot and oracle decks from US Games Systems and Schiffer Books. Her website is LizziesLogic.blogspot.com.