The Textured Tarot by Lisa McCloughlin
Reviewed by Fran
I feel I need to start out with a confession – I bought this deck on a whim based on one card. I was surfing the Internet looking at Tarot decks (as you do) and an image of the Queen of Pentacles jumped out and caught my eye – she is the spitting image of a good friend of mine. When I looked more closely at the deck I was interested, but not immediately enthralled as I realised it was a collage deck and I’m not a huge fan of collage art. However, I decided to treat myself as the Queen of Pentacles had called out to me so strongly. And I am very glad I did.
This deck is independently published by UK based artist Lisa McCloughlin, and can be bought through her Etsy shop. She follows the RWS system in terms of card meanings, but finds her own interpretation of the imagery. The cards are standard tarot sized, matte, and the cardstock is thick. This means the deck feels substantial and high quality, but it does make it a little hard to riffle shuffle. I’ve taken to splitting the deck into thirds to shuffle to make it more manageable.
The pattern on the backs of the card is technically not the same in reverse, but you can detect the slight difference in pattern only if you look really hard. The deck comes packaged in a lovely hard box with a black and white ‘little white book’. Although succinct, the little white book does contain a range of key phrases and key words which provide great jumping-off points for interpretations. A complete beginner might struggle a little if this is their only resource for learning card meanings, but I think the meanings given are more than sufficient for a more experienced reader to get a sense of the meanings Lisa intended.
The overall feel of the artwork is feminine and light, and the pastel palette has a spring-like feel to it. That’s not to say that these cards don’t have depth though. One of the things I’m really enjoying about this deck is the layers to the imagery. At first glance some of the cards can seem a little simplistic, however they deserve a closer look as there are often underlying details waiting to be picked out during a reading.
The four suits do have colours associated with them but, due the pastel nature of the deck, the difference in colours doesn’t always stand out. Most of the minors are illustrated, but the suit of wands does have a ‘pippish’ feel to it – this suit certainly has fewer people in it than the other three.
The major arcana follow the structure of the RWS tarot with Strength at 8 and Justice at 11. There are two minor changes to the naming, card 13 – named Death in the RWS deck – is unnamed and only numbered in the Textured Tarot; and card 20 – usually named Judgement – has been renamed as Realization. The imagery in the majors is quite gentle, even for the cards that are seen as more challenging such as Death, The Devil and The Tower. This makes the deck ideal for readings for those who are put off by graphic dark imagery. That’s not to say these cards are not impactful though – they still convey the standard meanings – they just aren’t particularly dark in their imagery and energy.
One of the stand-out features of this deck for me, alongside its readability, is its diversity. The cards encompass a range of body types, ages, ethnicities, gender expression, and disability. This is most apparent in the court cards and the major arcana, where some traditional assumptions are challenged. More decks are coming onto the tarot scene now which encompass diversity, but I think this is the first deck I’ve come across that embraces so many different types of diversity.
Overall, this is a deck that I have been very pleasantly surprised by. I find the Textured Tarot easy to read with, the artwork gives clear meanings within the RWS tradition but also contains subtleties which the intuition can pick up and run with.
The diversity portrayed within the deck is very welcome, and the overall energy of the deck is up-beat and supportive.
The Textured Tarot would be great as a general deck, especially for those who enjoy its gentler nature and subtle imagery, and would also be an excellent deck to turn to for meditative and introspective readings.