The 5¢ Tarot by Madam Clara: A Review
This latest acquisition to my extensive collection of Tarot decks is the most costly to date. Normally I cap price at the $29 range, so $50 (plus shipping) this deck was an extravagance. I made an exception because the concept of it came to me in a dream. Two strongly sensed aspects stood out, mysterious imagery and specifically the idea of cue cards, or keywords on the face of the cards. When I searched online and found both in the 5¢ Tarot, I was equally surprised and pleased.
This meticulously designed tarot deck uses collage, vintage engravings and graphic patterns reminiscent of victorian-era advertising. Not only is the deck a beautiful artifact, but also a well thought out correlation to the traditional RWS deck.
The Major Arcana
Don’t expect any visual familiarity with these cards. The major arcana are not the typical archetypes. In fact, there are no human forms in the 5¢ Tarot (with the exception of a skeletal representation here and there).
Additionally, this 2nd Edition of the 5¢ Tarot includes four bonus cards in the major arcana group. The Unknown, The Beyond, The Universe and The Messenger follow The World in that order.
At first I felt these cards were superfluous. They felt epetitive of other majors, such as the Fool and Magician (Unknown), or The High Priestess (Messenger). However, the LWB takes the interpretations for these cards to deeper meanings. Regardless, you could simply remove them from the deck if you find them repetitive.
I used The Messenger as a signifying card in a recent reading for a client. The results was impressive. I’ll be interested to see how they play out used in the full deck, with spreads such as the Ten-card Celtic Cross.
The Minor Suits
In the minor suits, Swords are Needles, Wands are Matches, Pentacles are Buttons. Only Cups remain true to traditional tarot, but with a quaint teacup theme. These minors are a combination of pips and unique illustration, which might be far too cluttered for some tastes. Yet, the opportunity for uniquely insightful interpretations abounds.
For example, the Ten of Cups includes a pair of ducks and two baby ducklings. This not only calls to mind family, but also for me, the image of ducks sailing along the water with the babies trailing behind. This image is particularly evocative of the domestic bliss associated with this card, harmony, unity, happy family, successful living, everything swimming right along—all my ducks in a row.
Another unique feature of this deck is the keywords printed on the face of each card. I’ve been long wanting a deck such as this. A few concussions early in life, now compound the diminished short-term memory of aging. Regardless of how well I know the difference between the four and five of cups, I often find myself stymied during a reading. The keywords help jog my memory.
The cues are subtle. They don’t overshadow the art or esthetic of the cards, but rather add to the spirit of vintage advertising graphics.
Minus the traditional imagery, however, I wouldn’t recommend the 5¢ Tarot as a learning tool for reading. There are traditional RWS decks fashioned with keywords that are better suited to that purpose.
On the other hand, if you have at least a passing knowledge of traditional tarot card interpretation, I think the 5¢ Tarot is an excellent deck for public readings at fairs, festivals, and tea rooms. With the mysterious and seemingly obscure imagery, along with helpful cues to overcome age-related memory moments or performance anxiety, they are sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Out Of The Box
The 5¢ Tarot is sold in a choice of five colors for the back design. Two come with gold edges three with edge colors coordinating to the the back of the cards. I chose the Lavender backs and edges, though the robin’s egg blue with gold edging and black with with black edging were both tempting.
The stock is lighter than most, making for ease of shuffling (again, a good choice for public readings). I wonder about the durability—the cards may bend or tear easily without careful handling. Time will tell.
The cloth bag (included with purchase) is well made and nothing short of elegant, with velvet like fabric and satin lining. Buyers have a choice of gold or grey-silver. The cards come in a hard, flip-box. The LWB is small and brief, but sufficient.
As for readings I’m still getting acquainted with this deck. I’ve tried a few, pretty much knowing the answers and insights before turning the cards. The results have been accurate. I’m sure this deck is destined to become a favorite among my divination tools.