I received a note from Felix asking me to do a review of Kat Black’s Golden Tarot. I was surprised that I had never written an official review of Kat Black’s Golden Tarot – it’s one of my favorites.
During the first half of the 2000s I taught a very popular special series of tarot classes called “Important New Tarot Decks.” Each class would feature a newer deck that I thought was significant in its readability and unique contribution to the tarot world. Kat Black’s Golden Tarot was one of my most popular classes in the series. To this day it remains one of my favorite decks, to the point that I have worn off the beautiful gilt edges of the cards with constant use.
The thing that is, too me, most wonderful about this deck, was expressed by Felix in his note to me. He said, in part,
“For a newbie like me, it seems to follow very respectful the RWS tradition, but the Renaissance imagery and the rich colors work for me in at a level that Pamela Colman Smith’s art (while indeed excellent) just doesn’t. The cards come alive and restless in my hands. Studying is so much easier.”
Golden Tarot follows RWS imagery in a way that makes it easy to use, but uses richer period artwork in a way that feels really authentic.
Golden Tarot is a 78-card tarot deck published in 2003 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Often U.S. Games adds value to certain decks with really creative packaging. The special box that holds the deck and book is in itself remarkable, and makes it easy to develop a practice of drawing a card each day directly from the box.
The cards are standard sized with an old-fashioned brown textured pattern for the reversible card back. Strength is card 8 and Justice 11. The suits are Swords, representing the medieval ruling class, Wands, representing the peasant class, Cups, representing the clerical class, and Coins, representing the merchant class. The court characters are Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings.
The deck is completely illustrated with digital collage that uses elements from renaissance masterpieces. The resulting card images are very similar to the Rider-Waite-Smith images in terms of symbolism and action.
Current historical thinking says that tarot itself came from Italy in the late 1400s – essentially the same time and place that produced the works of art that Kat Black has used to illustrate Golden Tarot.
The Waite-Smith Tarot images are the most popular in the world. Many say they are the easiest to learn.
From the world that gave birth to tarot Kat Black has taken art, added to it the wisdom of A.E. Waite and Pixie Smith and produced a truly readable deck that honors the mediaeval origins of tarot.
The accompanying booklet fits nicely in the box. A little more than half the book is dedicated to insightful, understandable card interpretations. The rest of the book includes a lengthy list of the original art from which images were sourced for each card.
Golden Tarot is a perfect deck for someone who loves Rider Waite Smith imagery, wants to honor the medieval roots of the original tarot and enjoys art from the middle ages and early renaissance.
Aside from being a triumphant tarot deck, Golden Tarot enjoys a bit of irony. This deck that so thoroughly honors the era that gave birth to tarot could not exist without the digital technology of our own modern era.
Visually, the feel of Golden Tarot is rich, intricate, expressive and a bit somber, exactly as we expect art from the middle ages to be. I remember wishing, years ago, for a truly medieval deck that was illustrated with the same images as symbols as the Rider Waite Smith. With Golden Tarot, my wish was fulfilled.
Golden Tarot, by Kat Black, is published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Video of Christiana Reviews Golden Tarot by Kat Black