To call a tarot deck “different” is definitely vague. The Crystal Visions Tarot is different from many tarot decks I have come across.
The cards reflect Galasso’s fantasy style, so those who enjoy fantasy-themed decks will surely like this one. Most of the characters on the cards are women, which is a change from many more traditional tarot decks. Similar to the back, the cards are colored in mostly soft pinks and purples. Each card has a colored rectangle at the bottom with the name of the card, and the background color changes depending on the suit of the card, which is great for the reader.
The backs of the cards are simple yet complex, with pentacles in each corner and a circle in the center adorned with flowers. A chalice adorns the center of the long ends of the card. The entire back color is muted and soft, pleasing to the eye and drawing you in. The cards are shiny but not slippery.
From an imagery perspective, the deck has some similarities to standard RWS symbols, but it is far from a clone. The Fool in this deck walks off a cliff, but instead of a dog she is accompanied by a number of butterflies. The Page of Cups, for example, reminded me quite a bit of Narcissus in the “Mythic Tarot”. A woman, eyes closed, looks into a cup where a flower blooms as the stands in the middle of a pond covered with lily pads.
The artwork is beautiful, but will not be to everyone’s taste. Galasso’s attention to detail is impressive—the Ace of Cups is one of the most beautiful cards I have ever seen in a tarot deck, for example—but I found myself seeing the cards as all looking alike, and that took away from the experience for me a little bit.
One interesting fact is the many of the cards have some kind of reference to air—a dragonfly, fairy, butterfly, or other winged creature—which is something you don’t often see in tarot decks. I especially liked the Death card, which has Death holding a staff topped with an ankh and the inscription VITA MUTATUR NON MOLLITUR [Life is changed, not taken away] on a tomb. Butterflies reinforce the overall transformation feel of the card. It softened the card but rendered it neither foolish nor powerless, which is a fine line to walk.
I also liked the Seven of Cups very much. The dragon—whose head normally can be seen in one of the cups of this card—is the air creature that bears along a woman on its back, holding three cups in its talons. One of the cups has a prominent rainbow—which is one of the brightest splashes of color throughout the entire deck—while two others sit on the ground, adorned with butterflies. The final cup is being handed to the woman riding the dragon by a fairy.
This deck also features an additional card, bringing the total number of cards to 79. “The Unknown Card” is explained as an area of the reading which requires further examination—like a past event, for example—or that additional steps need to be taken to clarify the bigger picture. I’m not a big fan of extra cards in tarot decks, especially with vague descriptions, so likely I’d use the deck without this one.
While I’m not a fan of reading with fantasy decks generally speaking, I intend to give this one a try. I think my clients will like it, and I know I’ll enjoy reading with it, especially when I need a change from RWS clone decks and I’d like something soft yet powerful. I don’t know that I’d give it to a true tarot newbie, but it would be a much better choice than many other decks.
Review by John Marani
Artist: Jennifer Galasso
US Games Systems, Inc.
Originally printed in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2011 issue