The Hush Tarot by Jeremy Hush
Publisher: U.S. Games (15 Feb. 2020) RRP: £24.00 ISBN: 978-1572819993
There is no arguing that the Hush Tarot is a visually attractive deck. The detailed and mysterious imagery of the cards is what first piqued my interest. However, it took me some time to fully engage with the deck and this is mostly due to the non-traditional elements found within.
Modelled largely on the Rider-Waite system as far as card names and deck structure goes, beyond that a lot of the familiar and well-known imagery and symbolism of Tarot is lost in the personal journeying of the artist.
In his introduction to the deck, Jeremy Hush states how it has been inspired by his ever-changing personal life and his affinity to animals. Though he assures us that anyone can access and use the deck, forging their own personal journeys of transformation, it is perhaps difficult initially to engage with depictions that are not wholly your own.
Hush is a designer, painter and woodworker, based in Philadelphia USA, who specialises in the Gilded Age techniques. He is the curator and renovator at Convent Gallery and his creative careers spans from graphic design in the underground world of punk and metal bands to global fine art exhibitions.
The deck comes in the familiar rigid box style with a small booklet. The cards themselves are of regular card stock and size and the images are full colour and highly detailed, with a thin border to each card, with title, number and symbols at the top and bottom.
A personal gripe is that some of the finer detailing has suffered in being scaled down and some cards can seem unnecessarily blurry. This is no reflection on the artist of the deck, rather the quality of the printing by US Games. I also was not keen on the design of the card back, which has a totally different energy from the nature-based imagery of the cards themselves. And though each card is full colour, they are by no means vibrant and intense, rather the faded, and sometimes murky, shades of watercolour washes.
Of the entire deck, my favourite cards are the Moon and the Sun; these cards are simple yet complementary, each depicting a raven and the celestial sphere which contains an all-seeing eye. Their simplicity stands out amongst the rest of the deck, where some cards can seem crowded and as the creator puts it “they appear lost in the weeds”.
Whilst the deck adheres to the familiar structure of the RW Major and Minor Arcana, the suit of Wands more accurately depicts spears and not all the minor cards contain images of the symbolic tool, where others do. For example, the Ace of Cups has no cup, and the Ten of Cups only has 1 cup.
The mix and match of human and animal representation, leads to some very intriguing visuals but I did find I often could not rely on my established knowledge, because often the imagery was totally different.
Despite some of the contrary images, Hush largely attributes traditional meanings to the cards in the accompanying booklet, both for upright and reversed placements.
There is a rough 50/50 split between cards depicting animals and those depicting human figures. However, these do not run in any sequence or alternation, and makes me wonder if each image was painted with a card in mind, or if cards were applied to paintings after the fact.
As such I feel newcomers to Tarot, who might be attracted to the deck visually (as I was) may struggle to understand how the deck works.
However, fans of decks such as the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Forest of Enchantment Tarot or Animal Totem Tarot as well as those with a liking of the Fae and Other, will likely find a familiarity here with the addition of a Victorian-esque mystique that could potentially yield great results in readings.
I used the deck to read for myself, using the four card, “Self Binding Influence” spread Jeremy gives in the booklet. Despite my initial misgivings, the interpretation of the cards did yield relevant information when taking the card meaning direct from the author.
Visually stunning and a fresh alternative to regular rehashes of established decks, I feel that the Hush Tarot would suit experienced readers who wish to challenge their skills and intuition in interpreting the complex and deep images as well as general art lovers and Tarot collectors. It is definitely one of those decks that you will either connect with or you won’t; I feel it would be hard to persevere or force yourself to make this deck work for you.
Reviewed by Ken Payne