“The prophetic light blazes timelessly at the heart of Sufi way, for Sufism transcends all the outward forms of religion—it pervades them as their eternal essence and yet preexisted them all. Sufism is the subtlest and deepest core of universal truth, the purity of the all-pervading and traceless gnosis.” – From the Rumi Tarot companion book I pre-ordered the Rumi Tarot from Amazon.com with great anticipation, especially since I’ve used Rumi’s poetry for contemplation for several years. As I began to read the well-researched and detailed 294-page companion book, my heart sank. The first 31 pages are a dry, meticulous discourse on Sufi theology—including the liberal use of dozens of unfamiliar Arabic names and terms. In fact, I think Sufi Tarot would be a better name for this box set. (Incidentally, Sufism is the mystical arm of Islam).
After slogging through, I concluded that those 31 pages were, in my opinion, unnecessary. I became encouraged when I got to the section on the seven chakras, but the information was unorganized, out of vertical order (either up or down, 1-7 or 7-1, would have been fine), and, in two cases, the chakra title/number wasn’t even mentioned. Despite being quite familiar with chakra teachings and theory, I couldn’t make heads or tails of two of the chakras, even after considerable re-reading and examination!
And to give you an idea of how the first 31 pages read, here’s an example of a chakra description. (Incidentally, I can’t figure out which chakra it’s referring to since the Third Eye and Crown Chakras were discussed elsewhere):
“The Alam-i-Mithal or Alam-I-Khayal is the world of images, or imaginal world, the mystical ‘isthmus of similtudes’ that exists between the sensorial and unseen realms is also known as Hurqalya, the ‘earth of the emerald cities’ Jabalqa and Jabarsa, the ‘cities at the end of the earth’, the ‘earth of visions’ or ‘intermediate Orient’. This is the sphere of imagination wherein, according to the seventeenth-century Islamic mystic Muhsin Fayz Kashani, ‘spirits are embodied and bodies are spiritualized’…”
That said, the explanations and insights for the individual cards of the Rumi Tarot are more accessible, appealing, and spiritually illuminating—as are the upright and reversed meanings provided by Mr. Jackson.
Uncharacteristic of Llewellyn decks, the card stock is incredibly flimsy and low quality. After only taking out the Rumi Tarot cards a few times to scrutinize and scan, the corners began wrinkle, flake, and—in some cases—actually bend upward, exposing white card stock beneath.
Had I saw card samples online beforehand, I would have definitely reconsidered buying it, especially since the ornate borders, background, and quotes from Rumi’s Mathnavi hog most of the card, especially the Minor Arcana. In fact, the central imagery of the Minor Arcana measures (approximately) a mere 1 ½ x 1 inch!
It’s obvious that Mr. Jackson has taken great care with his intricate paintings, and the Majors and court cards are lovely. However, as I said, the double borders, moss green background, and quote banner overshadow the painstaking artwork, especially with the Minors.
Featuring a simple, delicate, reversible symbol on the backing, the cards of the Rumi Tarot measure 4 ½ x 2 ¾ inches with a matte finish. The box set comes with the companion book, white cardboard box for storage and a black organdy pouch. Personally, I don’t feel that the Rumi Tarot makes for a good divination deck (and certainly not as a beginner’s deck!), but it would make a wonderful contemplation tool for those inspired and nurtured by Sufi mysticism. Mr. Jackson brings an innovative perspective on the cards, as well as an exhaustive treatise of Sufi theology.
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