I received this deck around two months ago, and have read and studied the book carefully while using the deck exclusively on a daily basis. I like to involve myself with the decks I invest in, and I like to keep my collection small. I found this deck after listening to an interview by one of the creators, Josephine McCarthy, on the Runesoup podcast. You can listen to it here if you’re curious.
The Magician’s Deck was created by the exceptional artists Stuart LittleJohn and Cassandra Beanland, and the magical adept Josephine McCarthy. The card stock has a somewhat linen finish and it leans towards the non-glossy side. The cards are big, roughly the size of my hand (or the size of the Vampire Tarot by Robert M. Place) but I don’t riffle shuffle my cards anyway so overhand shuffling is fine with me, which can be done perfectly with this deck. The card stock itself is right in the middle of too sturdy which makes for difficult shuffling and too fragile. In my opinion, it is almost perfect and feels great, supple and yet strong enough to last many many readings and years. Other reviews mention card stock as lacking, but I completely disagree. The edges were a little glaring initially, as the white contrasted significantly with the dark borders of the cards, both front and back. I ended up edging mine in black and they look wonderful. The guide book is slim, and it is written in Josephine McCarthy’s clear and concise voice. It includes a detailed amount of information on each of the cards, without the accompanying picture, which makes it travel-size. The information of the cards is divided into 4 realms, starting from the divine downwards, each section also containing a brief introduction.
The deck has 81 cards and depicts, as already mentioned, 4 realms, each bordered in a color representative of the realm. Red is the divine realm, blue (bordering on purple) the inner realm, green the physical realm, and black is the underworld. Some borders have a discrepancy in border color, at least one in my case, The Abyss, it should be blue but it is black. This might be a printer error, but I like to think that it is because this card bridges both the inner with the physical, as well as the physical with the underworld. Hence, it is a card that serves a unique function.
From the Quareia site:
LXXXI – The Quareia Magician’s Deck is not based upon any tarot system, but rather it draws upon the mythic, mystical and magical powers that underpin the magical systems that tarot eventually developed out of. It is based upon real inner realms, real inner contacts, beings and forces that the practitioner of magic is very likely to involve themselves with. Because of this approach, the deck works as a contacted deck, i.e. used magically the images can act as gateways to inner realms, inner beings and magical patterns. It is not a deck for casual tarot readers, rather it is a deck specifically designed for magical students, practitioners, workers and adepts working within the broad spectrum of Western magic. It can be used for magical divination, or as a direct connection to inner contacts, as gateways for meditation, magical visionary work , soul exploration, or contacted ritual work.
You can also view pictures of the entire deck on the website.
This is one powerful deck, the images are evocative and immersive. What is striking about this deck is its cohesion and construction. It is presented as a work that spans the gamut of the flow of life, both the magical, physical, and spiritual flow. From the Divine downwards reaching into the bowls of the netherworld. What adds oomph to this tapestry is the fact that the spiritual and magical concepts are outside of all religious framework. There are cultural references to different individuals, but the Divine and its emanations are outside culture and religion. What the deck offers is the essence of the magical/physical journey. Making the deck even more valuable is the art, and the diversity of characters depicted. The artwork is expressive and haunting, capable of transporting you within, into a starry and lush landscape. In addition, I love that there is a prevalence for stellar landscapes. The color palette is dark and deep, and in many (I would say more than half) of the cards the stars figure prominently. This further adds to the grand, all-encompassing scale of the deck.
As I have used this deck these past couple months, I have found that it is a deep tool that requires time and intention. It is not a deck that will instantly unfold for the reader, the images command contemplation with the messages and the concepts behind them. Given the visceral power of the deck it can initially be sharp and uncompromising, therefore it is through time and work that the subtleties begin to unfold. Through learning to read the images and coaxing the answers from the underlying layers, the deck will start to sing melodically for the reader. For me, it has been a hard deck to put down as I find myself constantly drawn to the images. It is engrossing.
As stated in the excerpt from the Quareia site, it is a deck particularly useful for magical uses, whichever form that might take for the individual. Whether for visionary work with an individual card, for placing in your sacred space, or altar, as well as for questions relating to magical/spiritual topics. Given its inherently spiritual construction, using it for mundane questions would glean results but it would not be rewarding, as it would be stifling the deck’s intrinsic power.
I would heartily dissuade anyone who considers purchasing this deck for its art value alone, as it would be a shame to neglect the full depth of the deck’s worth and potential. I feel it is meant to be used, and to unfold with the reader’s spiritual life. I am of the opinion that particular decks have a tonal soul, especially the ones historically charged. For example, the Rider Waite Smith has a stern almost scholarly voice, the Thoth has a fiery voice that speaks of power dynamics, and the Tarot de Marseille has a clear and playful voice. This one in particular, LXXXI The Magician’s Deck, has an old soul, the voice of the ages with the imprint of humanity.
I highly recommend this deck for those that are on an active spiritual path, and seek to grow both spiritually and in magical training. It is a balanced deck, containing both an elevated and a dark spectrum. The darker aspects can be very overpowering and this might not be pleasing to the layman or for everyone. It is a deck that demands patience, attention, and study. It is a masterpiece best suited for those already inclined or on the path of a magical tradition.
Here are more snapshots, pardon the picture quality. The beauty of the art is hard to capture.
I also want to add that Benebell Wen did an excellent review of the deck a few years back, you can find it here.