“Certainly anyone who is seeking spiritual understanding has heard of the tarot. But what is it? Perhaps the tarot is best described as an initiation into a secret metaphorical language—a language that leads each of us to our own spiritual center.” – From the Rohrig Tarot Book
Aesthetically speaking, the Rohrig Tarot is the most beautifully captivating deck I’ve seen. In fact, this deck contains some of my favorite tarot images—especially The Fool, Magus, High Priestess, Hermit, and the Court Cards. At first glance, you may think you’re looking at a collage deck, especially with images and writing superimposed on torn notebook paper. Upon closer inspection, however, you realize that German artist Carl-W Rohrig has painted each of the vibrant images. Sensuous lines (and bodies), hues of electric blues, starscapes, photo-realism, and stunning visual metaphors grace this sumptuous deck. Another intriguing aspect of the Rohrig tarot is the artist’s inclusion of sketches and writing on the cards—mostly on lined notebook paper renderings, but also on the component images themselves.
For example, on the headdress of the Knight of Swords, Rohrig has written—in both English and German—words like passion, flexible, ambition, straightness, thinking, aims, concerning. On the Magus card, the upper part of the Magician’s head gives way to a star-lit sky, with a bright super nova at the center. Rohrig has superimposed writings and sketches on the body of the Magus, which include a drawing of a winged foot (Mercury), sketches of lemniscates (the infinity symbol that’s above the Magician in RWS decks) and the German words for communication, flexibility, and geniality.
The writings and sketches themselves are an added source for intuitive information, but so are the visual metaphors that Rohrig employs. For example, a large, round eggshell-hued sphere is superimposed on the belly of a naked woman on the Princess of Disks card. With the Judgment card, a trumpet mouthpiece floats below a woman’s chin, symbolic of the horn blown on the traditional Judgment card. In fact, a sketch resembling the RWS card is on the lower left of the image.
The cards are quite large, measuring approximately 6 ½ by 3 ½ inches. The backs are non-reversible, but depict a surreal water/spacescapes of blues, violet, and silver—with hints of black, hot pink, and black. The card attributions follow traditional renderings and each of the Major Arcana cards depicts a Hebrew letter, astrological glyph, and rune symbol. These are explained in the Rohrig Tarot Book, but not in the L(ittle) W(hite) B(ook) that accompanies the deck. The LWB is eleven pages and provides key words and phrases for each of the cards. Both the LWB and the Rohrig Tarot Book provide three spreads and an explanation: The Cross, The Seven Cards, and the Partner Spread.
Disks, Swords, Cups, and Wands comprise the Minor Arcana, with the Court titles following the Princess, Prince, Queen, and Knight tradition. At the top of each fully illustrated Minor Arcana card, the suit name is displayed in light gray, almost like a shadow, while the keyword is superimposed in dark black. This could present some difficulty for those new to Tarot or beginning readers, because, at times, the suit isn’t obvious—especially with the Cups.
If you’re not sure you’d like to work with the Rohrig Tarot, you could always purchase the Rohrig Tarot Book, a 160-page companion book that reproduces each card in full-color on its glossy pages. The only thing missing from the card images in the book are the borders, which include the card title/keyword at top. In the companion book, Francesca Marzano-Fritz provides a thorough treatment of the Majors. Her insights are sharp, accessible, and profound. However, only key phrases are included for the Minors and Courts. If you’re a fan of artist Salvador Dali or collage decks in general, I’d be very surprised if you weren’t seduced and enamored by the Rohrig Tarot. Surrealistic and symbolic, this deck captures the senses and stimulates the imagination. It’s probably not a good working deck for those new to the tarot, but the Rohrig Tarot is a must-have for those who collect art decks. Personally, this deck doesn’t work well for me in terms of readings, however, I’ve found the cards to be fantastic for contemplation—and I can see how they’d work great for journaling, as well.
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