- Author: Barbara Moore
- Illustrator: Ciro Marchetti
- Publisher: Llewellyn
- Year: 2020
- Tradition: Rider-Waite-Smith
- Minors: Illustrated
- Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles
- Court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King
- Reversible: Yes
General thoughts, quality, and aesthetics
In time, artist Ciro Marchetti will be recognized as a classic of tarot, and if you must choose one of his decks to showcase, the Gilded Tarot Royale is probably it.
Here’s something amusing: the Gilded Tarot Royale is rich, colorful, detailed, over-the-top, with eclectic depictions of fantasy lands, medieval knights, Egyptian priestesses and Roman Emperors all mixed up… In short, all the things I rarely enjoy in a deck.
But guess what?
It reads beautifully.
The Gilded Tarot Royale is a new release of The Gilded Tarot: some cards have been revisited, and they all have lost their border. That’s wonderful! It allows the images to pop, dragging you in, and curiously, it takes the eclectic nature of the cards and makes it all work. Somehow.
Ciro Marchetti works digital media, and the composited nature of his images is not hidden or even attenuated. If that bothers you, it might be a good idea to steer clear of the Gilded Tarot Royale. However, I believe that if you want to own a future classic, this deck is perfect.
Perfect starting deck! The Gilded Tarot Royale follows closely the symbology and meaning of the Raider Waite Smith while giving the cards an entirely new aesthetic, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for a modern, meaningful deck that still follows the tradition most books, courses, and content seem to honor.
The thing is, even when the cards are seemingly disparate, they convey their point and to interact with one another. I’ve owned this deck for a while, it’s one of my choices when reading for clients, and I’m still trying to figure out how it works so seamlessly when the style itself feels a bit… mix and match.
I haven’t run into any important deviations with the traditional meanings, if the deck speaks to you, then it’s a wonderful companion.
This one is eclectic while keeping the traditional symbols of the Rider-Waite-Smith. If you can read the one, you can read the other.
There are a few exceptions, though. Especially through the Major Arcana. The devil, The Magician, Death, The Sun… they step far afield from their usual representation. Some work, some not so much (take a look below to my favorite and disliked cards to see what I mean).
In the Minor Arcana, the only out-of-place representation I can think of is 10 of Pentacles, which is a chest of gold and a bunch of rats. I’m sure that holds the right symbology for its meaning somewhere, but I can’t see it.
This one is great to bring out with clients. On the one hand, it’s different from the traditional deck, more modern, but on the other, its vibrant color and imagery are exactly what one might expect a Tarot deck to look like.
The borderless cards are great, because it allows the full attention to be drawn to the images and the patterns they paint while together, and they are so different from each other that it’s easy to identify them at once, both for beginners and clients.
Overall, I find this deck to be a solid choice that will work across the board, regardless of the type of client or the type of question.
Cards I love
Admittedly, my choices here are aesthetic. At least when it comes to the Devil and Strength.
There is one interesting thing in The Lovers: it usually represents choice, as in the choice to stay as you were or commit to something new. In this case, it has a curious feeling of… dreaminess. Like, the choice could be following an instinct or dream, something not quite real yet—a bit of a leap of faith? Or perhaps it implies a yearning you hesitate to acknowledge?
The Sun is a card I usually dislike. The Sun Child means nothing to me, but this representation of cosmic visions does make me feel full of energy and… not optimism, but power.
Cards I don’t resonate with
The Magician is the one card I don’t much like based on aesthetic reasons. Somehow, the man depicted gives me a bad vibe—the kind of illusionist, trickster version that usually is brought out by the inverted version of the card.
The High Priestess is… a very personal card for me. I perceive her as a teacher, a mentor, a keeper of knowledge. This ethereal, dancing figure doesn’t transmit that wisdom to me.
And The World is… very circus-y. It’s not the kind of imagery that tells me anything, particularly not a feeling of wholeness and completion.
Gilded Tarot Royale
An extremely readable deck in an alternative style that might just become a new classic with time.
True to RSW