After a massive drop in new tarot deck production after the 2008 crash, the tarot community is now inundated with new tarot decks through self-publishing options facilitated through crowd-funding or print-on-demand venues. While there are countless new re-imaginings of the Smith-Waite Tarot, some highly meritorious, truly original productions are a rarity.

The Sidewayz Tarot is a bona fide original and entirely outside-the-box! This 22-card Major Arcana deck turns the typical renderings on their head, or perhaps more appropriately, on their hands and sides. The artist put herself inside of each tarot archetype and rendered an image from their viewpoints, looking down and out. The viewer isn’t seeing what’s in the card, but rather what the card’s characters see when they look out toward the viewer. The borderless renderings are oriented sideways on the card faces, yet another innovation. It’s a very powerful new perspective and a great way for any tarotist (especially experienced ones who feel the need of some refreshment) to get reacquainted with the sometimes perplexing cards of the Major Arcana.

Sim Hermsen is a talented Canadian artist who loves bright colors, spirals, flowers, and happy critters, and this deck sparkles with those lively energies. Her first tarot deck was the inimitable Pearls of Wisdom Tarot, which (as far as I’m concerned) broke the glass ceiling when it comes to finding joy in the worst cards in the deck. Her second deck was the Sacred Feminine Oracle deck.

The Sidewayz Tarot is accompanied with texts written by Jade Storm. One booklet provides insights into each card, and the other booklet offers layouts and meanings for the runes and other symbols included on the cards. Jade’s card descriptions are a delight. They walk the reader through the card’s image details and meanings, and then conclude with a series of questions to ponder.

Connecting with one’s subconscious mind is never an easy task, and tarot imagery isn’t all that different from dream imagery. One of the first things a lucid dreamer does is look for her hands in the dream. Just as it takes a few days to understand the meaning of a dream, it took me a few days to fully grasp the meanings of the card or cards I had drawn from the deck. I experimented with The Sidewayz Tarot over several days and very much enjoyed the combination of card images and the booklet’s description and questions. A day or two of pondering on those questions resulted in a gradual accumulation of “ah-ha!” moments that were surprising and revealing.

The cards of the Major Arcana are by far the most perplexing and elusive to understand fully, and are truly only understood after study and deep reflection. Written descriptions and keywords are just a threshold to personally experiencing a card. The Sidewayz Tarot is a fantastic tool for this type of exercise because these renderings quite literally take the reader inside of the card. European and particularly Italian publishers have issued many Majors-only decks, but few have been produced in North America.

The deck is available on the artist’s website in three sizes with different packaging options: a mini-deck in a tin box, a poker-sized deck, and a jumbo tarot size deck. The deck can be obtained with or without the accompanying booklets, but these are recommended as a crucial accompaniment for a fuller understanding of these non-traditional images.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Creator: Roxi Sim Hermsen
2021, © RoxiArt
22-card Major Arcana deck with additional cards with rune meanings; box or tin, cloth bag, and booklets, depending on the package options.
Package options from $19.99 to $39.99, small-medium-large sizes decks with custom box or tin, with or without booklets.