In recent times I've been drawn away from the energy of tarot into angel and oracle readings, but the tarot remains a useful tool for many. Even darker themed decks can be beneficial for getting to know oneself, in turn heightening perception and intuition. For me, this all started with the Archeon Tarot by Timothy Lantz.

This was the first tarot deck I purchased and undoubtedly remains a favourite. The imagery on the cards is hauntingly beautiful, like an ancient manor house steeped in dark history; only by entering will you uncover its secrets.

That’s very much how I felt upon delving into this deck for the first time, and The High Priestess is a perfect choice for the cover of the box. Being the most spiritual of the cards, she’s shown gazing down into a glowing orb of secret knowledge, and the blue hues to her flesh make her appear otherworldly – alien, even. I have always been a visual reader, and the unusual artwork of The Archeon Tarot really digs into the imagination, forcing you to connect with your deepest emotions.

It was Lantz’s intention to create layers of meaning in the card’s symbolism, and on first impression the gloomy colouring might put people off due to the ‘negative’ vibe it creates. Both the Three and Ten of Cups have a dark simplicity to them, despite their celebratory meanings. Traditionally painted with rainbows and happy families, in this deck the Ten of Cups portrays a lone woman reaching towards a stack of cups, with nothing but a skeletal-looking tree in the background and a crow soaring overhead. In the Three of Cups we have another lady huddled up on the ground, her only companion being a little bird cupped in her hand. In both of these cards the moon is present, indicating a night-time theme.

I think a less intuitive person might struggle with this deck; as a newbie I too found them confusing at first, but they were so striking to me that I couldn’t stop looking at them and my creativity soon began to flow. A lot of the characters in these cards appear sombre, their nudity demonstrating the vulnerability of human nature, but this helped me to connect with them almost as if they were real people. Like they were speaking to me, sharing their thoughts and feelings so in turn I was able to tap into mine. There’s raw emotion in their facial expressions and body language that is perhaps lost in more traditional tarot decks.

The Ace of Cups has an orange-brown background, yet this causes the silver goblet to pop from the card, emphasising its beauty and purity and the shiny newness that it stands for. The floating heads or masks in the background remind us too of the spiritual nature of the card. The Star is also set against a dark, midnight-blue background, but the contrasting moon illuminates the form of a woman, as if the card’s messages of peace and hope are reflected in the radiance of her body. Lastly, I have to mention The Magician – portrayed as a young man devoid of the usual tools and gadgets that we see scattered around his workbench. This is the card that initially drew me to the deck, admittedly due to the sheer attractiveness of this man! Everything about him oozes confidence, and the globe behind him suggests that he has the whole world in his hands.

Onto the artist and creator of The Archeon Tarot, Timothy Lantz describes his love of symbolism in the handbook, and the random shapes, letters and words that crop up on the cards does give them a ‘thrown together’ sort of feel; but this is purposeful in the fact that it forces us to look beyond the surface and get to the true meaning of the cards. The Three of Pentacles, for example, shows floating spheres above a derelict archway, so again Lantz forces us to use our imaginations – is the structure actually the crumbled remains of something, or is it in the process of being built?

The suits of wands and swords in this deck both speak for themselves, with the colours, symbols, shapes and characters capturing the essence of the cards perfectly. There are also many references to mythology, as well as other cultures and time periods, in the varying symbolism. The Ace of Wands and The Chariot both have Ancient Egyptian themes, which is convenient for me seeing as I have an interest in that era of history – sometimes I wonder if this deck actually chose me!

Overall, I would say that the usefulness of this deck largely depends on the personality of an individual and whether or not they can look beyond the nudity and glum undertones. While it may not be the best deck to learn with, once you’re familiar with the divinatory meanings of the cards I feel this deck can take your subconscious to levels you never knew existed. As for the handling of the cards, they are printed onto laminate card and do tend to slide around while shuffling, but this seems to bring them to life even more. They also come with a border, thus shrinking the imagery rather than using the entire card’s surface, but this doesn’t detract from the realism or attractiveness of them.

Review first published on Aeclectic


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