My Favorite Tarot Decks - Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone ♥♥♥
Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone of Toronto Canada is a glorious and involving deck that combines the tarot with fine art, fine literature and some of the finest minds of any age. The premise of this deck is the use of famous paintings that seem to convey the messages of the various tarot cards. This is a natural expression by Ms. Livingstone who is a longtime teacher of art and literature as well as a tarotologist. Paintings by Renoir, Klimt, Cezanne, Da Vinci, van Gogh and Gauguin as well as dozens of other masters populate the 3.5x5" deck. Each painting is titled and attributed in fine print just beneath it. The title of each card, The Empress, Three of Swords, Knight of Pentacles for instance is written boldly on the top.
But Ms. Livingstone does not stop there. She goes out on a limb by placing below each painting a quote by a famous personage that supports the meaning of the card as well.
The skill of pulling together one inspiring deck from so many sources is like that of the conductor of a 78 piece orchestra who pulls one enchanting performance from every single chair. In coalescing the art and thoughts of the ages into a tarot deck, Ms. Livingstone take a huge gamble. But in her capable hands, Art of Life Tarot does not fail to deliver.
Other decks, often those for beginners, attempt to explain the meaning of a card by printing a meaning, either a word or a phrase or even an entire paragraph, on the card itself. Though logical in its intent, the tarot decries this sort of tight definition for its members. Singular card definitions or translations cannot cover the many subtleties possible in card meaning. The descriptors become stifling and often destroy a card's flexibility in a reading.
Ms. Livingstone's included quotes do not constrain. Somehow, their profound tones gently suggest a card's meaning, rather than compel it. They are subtle enough to be the card's conclusion or to be a springboard for further thought. As they come from minds as diverse as Louisa May Alcott, Shao Lin, Voltaire, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and the Ojibway of North America, the Art of Life Tarot truly feels like it draws from the world experience of the universal Everyman.
For beauty, this deck is unsurpassed. How can the likes of Cezanne, Cassat and Raphael be surpassed? As for originality, the combination of art, philosophy and literature in the name of tarot has never been done before. But for this deck to also deliver on out-of-the-box usability is astounding. The keen pairing of painting with meaning makes this deck accessible to tarot practitioners of all skill levels. Even without the ready Rider Waite symbolism, this deck is as immediately useful to beginners as it is to masters. Amazing.
We are only pleased that a woman with such a broad view of the most sublime human expressions is also a tarotologist. Lucky us.