I have been trying really hard not to buy more Tarot decks, but the moment I saw the graceful figures Gerta Oparaku Egy uses on her cards, I knew I had to own this one.
This deck was inspired by three disparate influences that resonate deeply with me. The first and most obvious is dance, as the people on these cards move fluidly and expressively in line with each card’s meaning. The box cover, for example, shows off the art on the Three of Cups, hearkening back to the ideal of the Three Graces.
The second influence is the Art Deco movement, which also gives the deck its name. The background pattern work is exquisite, with sleek lines and streamlined motifs that both complement and contrast with the dancers, setting the perfect stage for each card. Finally, Ms Egy draws on her cultural background as an Albanian to weave Balkan folk themes into her art, making for glorious linework with a predominantly blue and orange color palette.
The figures themselves are multiracial and feature all manner of healthy, strong bodies immersed in the joy of dance. The cards are nicely sized for shuffling and have a nice feel to them. I do think there was some controversy over what finish eventually came out vs what was promised during the Kickstarter: I’m pretty sure my cards don’t have a matte linen finish, but I’m honestly quite happy with what I do have, especially for the price point. I do wish that there’d been a booklet included with card meanings as the artist sees them — especially if it were to provide more insight into her design process, as many Tarot decks’ accompanying booklets do — but I can understand why that was omitted to help keep costs low. That said, I wasn’t the hugest fan of the booklet that the publisher recommended in lieu, but it was certainly serviceable (tho in all honesty, I just look things up on Astrotalk’s Tarot website instead.)
Ofc, as I say often, the true test of a Tarot deck is in its reading! And boy howdy have I done a lot of reading with this deck lately!
Every time I get a new deck, I do a Celtic Cross spread, mostly to get a feel for the deck and its vibe. The reading on the right was the one I did back when I got the deck in September, before my then best friend exploded our lives. I thought this was a positive reading encouraging me to keep going with my creative work. Little did I realize that it was a warning for turbulence on the near horizon.
Since then — and after a long stretch in which I did not trust myself to lay out my own cards — I’ve gotten into the practice of doing weekly readings for myself. For the month of December, I felt drawn to using this deck, perhaps because, like the month, the letters DEC figure prominently in its name, as they also do in the name of my man, the incomparable English football player Declan Rice. Losing my best friend caused me to find solace in my religion, Arsenal Football Club, and so I go almost every week to our bar (*cough*church*cough*) to commune with fellow Gooners as we watch the games, sing, chant, eat and banter together for a few hours. It has been very nourishing for my soul, finding communion with people who believe in something bigger than ourselves, a standard of genuine class and inclusion to live up to. It’s also been lovely to expand my connections beyond my former best friend, who had made up such a large part of my world to the point that I’d started thinking I didn’t want or even need anyone but him.
At this point, you’re probably wondering wtf this all has to do with the Tarot deck. Friends, I have the weird superpower of being able to accurately predict the result of Arsenal matches, an ability that started in college when another friend was trying to troll me as I practiced with my very first deck, a Kazanlar. So even back then, I didn’t ask my querents to tell me what they want to know, preferring to let the cards tell the story. My querent was (and still is) a Manchester United fan and didn’t take me at all seriously when I offered to do a reading for him. His secret question was whether his team would beat mine that weekend. The Chariot reversed jumped out of the deck as we were shuffling and, being a novice, I tucked it back in before laying out the Celtic Cross to answer the question. Final card? The Chariot reversed. Having no idea what the question was, I tried to gently break the news that whatever he was asking about did not look like it would succeed, at which point he told me his actual question. There was laughter and much ribbing, until after the game. Man United lost to Arsenal (I believe we won by 3-0) and he never doubted my abilities again.
In the process of doing my weekly readings recently, my cards have 100% overridden any commentary on the rest of my life on matchdays, preferring to talk about the Arsenal games instead. I’ve started a public accountability thread here to keep track of my predictions before each game, and I’ve been six for six so far (update January 9, 2014: 8.5/9 with this deck, /10 with another deck I’m still breaking in.)
One thing I really like about this deck for readings, especially ones that involve movement and fluidity, is how the art leans hard into the outcomes. Sure a lot of this stuff could be coincidental, but having a card pretty much tell me “a draw, and Declan Rice with his signature frog jumps will absolutely take the field” is some spooky stuff. Ofc, other people could read this card differently, which is why it was so important to me to make sure I publicly announced my readings before the match happened. It is a very insignificant superpower in the grand scheme of things, but it amuses me to no end. That said, this deck also gave terrific and spookily accurate life advice to another Gooner at the bar, so I very much recommend it for any situations that involve movement, whether physical or emotional. Just make sure to have your own trusted source of interpretations handy should you not yet be 100% confident in reading the cards on your own.
Divine Deco Tarot by Gerta Oparaku Egy was published September 19 2023 by Microcosm Publishing and is available from all good booksellers, including