“The Revelations Tarot was conceived in the midst of a journey of self-discovery… The start of a new millennium triggered a need to uncover and understand the self, and I turned to the language of the Tarot to uncover my own mysteries. However, the various decks that were available on the market…failed to connect with my inner being. I grew weary of my journey to try to find that one special deck with which I could conduct my own readings, and decided to venture on a sister journey to create one of my own.” –Zach Wong
Sensuous curvilinear strokes, striking art nouveau-style images, and vibrant luminescent stained-glass surroundings enliven every card in the Revelations Tarot. Layers of symbolism, illuminated color, and intricate shading combine with intriguing reversible images that allow for interpretation no matter which way the card is laid.
Although based on the Rider-Waite and its traditional renderings, Zach Wong’s sophisticated, reversible artwork and innovative design distinguishes Revelations Tarot from other R-W clones.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this deck, I want to convey that it’s obvious to me that Wong hasn’t created a deck “just for the heck of it” or because he’s an able artist who wanted a challenge. Born from intense personal excavation, his use and interpretation of symbol reveals depth of spirit and breadth of mind. In my opinion, this kind of self-reflection is what separates a shallow deck from a great reading deck, especially when the Tarot is used for personal awareness.
The Major Arcana
What sets the Trumps apart from the Minors is the fractured mask that each character wears. Wong explains that the masks are “merely a representation of a ‘human’ relation, similar to that of the mythical gods who stand in human form amongst us to ease our comprehension of the messages they deliver.” Considering the nature of the Greater Mysteries, this makes complete sense. The gods and goddesses govern the nature of archetypal patterns, so the lessons they teach us are “nothing personal”, after all.
The Minor Arcana
Although the Minors lack consistent color schemes, other conspicuous hallmarks announce the four suits and their elemental correspondences: the Cups feature merpeople, indicating emotion and freedom of movement; the Wands feature magicians, warriors, and sages as they create or fight with the element of fire; the Pentacles feature metallic humanoids consistent with the earthly, material realm; and Swords feature serious-minded warriors who employ fierce logic.
The Aces are especially exquisite, and the Court cards follow Page, Knight, Queen, and King depictions.
The Companion Book
The companion book is written by the artist, and numbers 199 pages. Wong gives upright and reversed meanings for each card, an explanation of the significant images and symbols, and a general overview of the numerological patterns of the Minor Arcana. I found myself highlighting portions as I read through the book. Rather than the warmed-over interpretations offered by many companion books, the author provides fresh observations. Several of Wong’s insights allowed me to see various cards from a new perspective. For example, for the reversed Sun he says: “In families, children can be hard to contain due to hyperactivity and restlessness.” I never saw the reversed Sun this way, but it perfectly describes my sunny-dispositioned son when he’s exuberant!
For the reversed Queen of Cups, Wong writes: “Within her, she could also harbor angst and self-loathing for her inability to do more with herself and her talents.” Part of the symbolism of this card: “Her eyes are not opened, for her powers extend beyond the mind’s eye. She can see all from channeling through her cup.”
I also enjoyed Wong’s take on the elements as represented by the four suits of the Minor Arcana. Four basic spreads are at the back of the book: Past, Present, Future; Four Elements, 7 Days Spread; and the ever-trusty Horoscope Spread.
The Revelations Tarot box set comes with a black organdy bag for card storage, as well as a stiff paper box. The cards themselves are slick, and are the same size (and have the same feel) as those from The Quest Tarot. The card backing is reversible, with blue, indigo and black brushstrokes swirling in an abstract lemniscate. In the center sets a faded boxy cross-like symbol.
The reversals provide visual interest, but are not mirror images. For example, the upright Emperor stands upright, arms close to the body. However, the reversed image shows his outstretched arms perpendicular to his body as he hangs by Illuminated “strings” like a puppet.
How It Reads
Having recently undertaken a new project that would have taken months to finish, I thought I’d test this deck out regarding this venture. I created a 7 card spread tailored to my situation, “finger-painted” and shuffled the deck numerous times, and began to read. As I saw the cards, my heart sank into my stomach. All of the cards worked in concert to relay a very specific message and it wasn’t an easy one to swallow. However, in the depths of my being, I knew heeding this profound message will conserve my energy, preserve my health, and re-direct my efforts where they need to be at this time. I am so confident of the message of these cards that I made an immediate U-turn.
Sophisticated yet accessible, this is one of those innovative decks that elicit comments like “Ohhhh….cool!” (At least, that was *my* reaction upon seeing the cards!) For beginners who choose to read reversals, Wong’s clear visual and interpretative synthesis of the Tarot will make the process much less daunting. The Revelations Tarot is a must-have for deck collectors, and seasoned readers will be delighted with its multi-layered presentation.
Kudos to Mr. Wong on his magnificent creation!
(For fun: when you get your deck, look for the tiny initials ZW hidden among the images.)
Revelations Tarot, by Zach Wong © 2005 Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved.
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.