"Golden Tarot is a compilation of collages from artwork of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Poignant images of gentle beauty and human frailty came from a time of violence, pestilence, and oppression. These images speak to me of a truth that is timeless, and hope that flowers even in the darkest conditions. It is my hope that they speak to you as well." --Kat Black
For the most part, I've not been drawn to traditional Tarot decks, especially those fashioned after the Rider-Waite. Rather, I tend to go for the funky, the symbolic, and the high tech. One of the reasons for my preference is because modern life seems so far removed from the period in which traditional Tarot was created.
So I wasn't sure what to expect from Kat Black's Golden Tarot. I knew nothing about the deck, other than people were giving it high praise. When I opened the sturdy box with the lid that comes off the top, I was intrigued that therein was a deck with gilded edges. Remmeber your Grandmother's Bible? The one who's pages shined so brightly when closed? This luxurious deck has that same gilt edging. The cards follow traditional Tarot, with 78 cards total. The Minor Arcana is fully illustrated like the Majors. The images are printed on heavy card stock with a matte golden border. The back is a tapestry of subdued shades of camel and rust. You can't tell from the backs if a card is upright or reversed.
The most unusual aspect of The Golden Tarot is that deck creator Kat Black has digitally collaged images from various lesser-known paintings from a period she calls International Gothic. This period of time, 1200-1500 A.D., evolved into the Renaissance. She deliberately avoided using art by well-known artists such as da Vinci and Michelangelo, and most of the paintings used for the deck are hanging in European churches. (A sight that most of us will never see!)
The collaged images are so seamless, that I didn't know I was looking at a digitally collaged deck until I read the 200-page booklet included in the package. I even showed my artist husband and he never suspected the digitiization either! The images on the cards are truly breathtaking. I feel like I'm looking at a masterpiece with each and every one. I'm sure that Ms. Black intends this deck to actually be read not just admired as an art deck, but they're so gorgeous I was reluctant to read with them for quite some time! Happily, I did begin to read with The Golden Tarot, mostly for myself, and I've found the readings to be gently insightful. The images are very non-threatening, but that doesn't mean the messages they convey won't be incisive!
The high-quality booklet not only contains the standard meanings for the images (upright and reversed), but also Appendices that list every part that was digitally collaged and the painting that it came from.
The Hermit is one of the cards that I look at first when checking out a new deck, and its rendering in The Golden Tarot resonated deeply with me: it's a picture of a gray-bearded St. Francis of Assisi standing in a darkened forest. A deer is at his side, he's holding a lantern that gives off little light, and a gray cat is chasing a quail. The man's body and deer, the lantern, the forest, the head, quail, and cat all come from different sources. As I mentioned, you cannot tell that this picture is collaged! An amazing technological feat indeed.
Kat Black mentions that this version of the The Golden Tarot took 1,500 hours to produce. This deck was originally web-only, but fans of her work urged her to create an actual deck. Tarot enthusiasts and deck collectors alike will be much richer for having Black's breath-taking creation in hand.