(L’article pour les francophones est sur le site)
This one is a deck I’ve had trouble working with, so I didn’t dare shoot or write a review about it. I’m trying to always bring something more beside the material observations about the deck when I do reviews, and I wasn’t sure I could for this one. So it stayed on the side. Today I’m getting out of my comfort zone (writing about things I’m sure and confident about) and trying this sort of review in a different, loose format.
(Official photo of the artist)
Artist: Laura Zuspan (USA).
Editor : self-published after a kickstarter campaign.
Year: 1st edition in 2018, sold out, now called « the Collector’s Edition »; 2nd edition published this year, 2019, called the « Shuffle Edition » (smaller size).
What in This Deck Attracted Me?
This one has a special place in my collection – Something I wish to talk about in depth in a series called « The meaning of our Collection » begun in French on my website. What drives us to buy certain deck? For what reasons do we not buy them? Where to we draw the line? What is too many? Do we restrict ourselves to an amount per month? or per year? Or do we even restrict ourselves about the sum of our entire collection? (no more than 100? 150?) Do we allow ourselves to buy certain decks we are not sure of? Do we allow ourselves to even buy decks that trouble even repel us, so as to understand why? A collection is multiple and complex, it’s a living thing to me. All those deep questions are fascinating, and I wish to talk more about it! But, now is not the time… anyway.
I discovered the Luminous Void Tarot way after its campaign, I think. It immediately startled me, I couldn’t picture having seen anything like this before, not even the « Lefty Oracle Deck » I had found shortly before (I think), despite its naive aesthetic and its creative aspirations. Something, both graphic and energetic, was calling me more. It’s been more than 10 years now that I now I’m sold on watercolor and water techniques in general, this is what I prefer, where my heart lies. So it was understandable to me that I got something special for the Luminous Void. Also, from what I was seeing, the material quality of the deck looked exceptional. So I took the leap, daring that buy despite the expansive shipping costs (from the US to Europe, often preventing people from accessing those decks).
Even if I plan to expand on it in a proper article, to put in shortly, let’s just say that I have realized after many years that I have allowed myself to buy a portion of my decks not for divinatory or even psychological goals, but for a purely artistic one. When I bought it, I had not connection to its tarot meanings and applications. I was under the impression that it would rather come nourrish my energies and my creativity (drawing, painting, writing, creating). Those kinds of decks usually I rarely use with other people, they stay for my private use only. Even though I was curious of what it could deliver in tarot readings.
A Few Impressions on the Luminous Void
Here are some of the first things the Luminous Void Tarot makes me feel : reverie, softness, creativity and our Inner Child. Its blurry, watery illustrations painted on a pure white background give me the impression of looking at a dream unfolding, or apparitions of the mind or from a phantasmagoria. It speaks to me of our unconscious and our subconscious, those complex concepts and worlds. I also feel a dose of freedom, both due to the randomness and freedom of watercolor techniques (wet on wet) and the freedom that comes with naive art. At first when I got the deck, I felt it was easier to mediate with it than anything else. The cards are pretty big by the way, and I appreciated that feature by placing them on my bedside table or my shrines. That howI first started using the deck. On card at a time, exposed there in my environment for a very long period of time. It really took me a while to dare use it by seeking an answer to a question. I think I’ve done that only three times until now, which is really not much.
The art is sometimes directly linked to the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, and you can recognize elements from it. But other times I feel rather lost from the tarot universe, I feel stuck on the « surface », in the universe of Laura and those cards, their energies. I’m sorry if this is unclear, it’s quite difficult to describe that feeling. I have come to think that this is not a deck for beginners, as it is not easy to use. But it might be completely biased, tied to the specificity of my experience: being too inspired and moved by the artist’s technique of choice and her personal style. I might be too absorbed by it, hence unable to go beyond this place to move to a tarot analysis practice. A few days ago, I decided to try the deck out again, to extract a message out of it. I thought I could write about it online, for not many people talk about this deck. It could also allow for a sort of snapshot of the personality of the deck – even though, of course, one card cannot sum up the whole.
The Knight of Cups
Let’s look at this Knight of cups, and how to me it moves apart from the traditional Rider Waite Smith (RWS).
For a start, the Knight is not a man in this picture, but a woman. Not that it is bad in itself (on the contrary), but I’m hinting at what splits from a pictorial and symbolical tradition. I wonder if the artist read much about Tarot before drawing, how she worked. Has she read somewhere that the Knight of Cups is the most feminine of all Knights, hence the woman? (Like Labyrinthos sums it for eg). Or is it some other reason?
Then, the cup is placed directly on her head, and not in her hands, which suppresses, for me, the symbolism of someone arriving or delivering a message.
Then, the mount here disappears… unless the dog is reminiscent of it? But the dog evokes to me a companion, not a means of travel, which is quite different. It is domesticity symbolised, close ties. It makes me feel some interior realm (house or self), not the exteriority of travel. It feels… intimate to me in this picture. By the way, the dog here is a mixture of red and brown, which is so far away from the purity of white in the traditional RWS.
The thing that remains from RWS, to me, is that utter sense of peace and slowness. But I can’t fathom to get that impression of something or someone arriving. I have a feeling of contact and almot intimate connection with another Being, and the warmth of the home and hearth. There is no sudden soul mate coming my way. Love feels more universal and complex, fraternal, filial, etc.
I wonder, what would you see in this Knight of Cups?