The Numinous Tarot was created by Noel Arthur Heimpel and is a Rider-Waite-Smith variant. A few of the cards contain astrological symbols that you would expect on a Crowley-Harris-Thoth deck. There are 79 cards in this deck, the standard 78 plus an additional card called The Numinous. Overall, I do like this deck and the accompanying guidebook. The guidebook is well researched and a testament to the amount of time that the artist has put into studying the tarot. The deck does hit on a couple of my pet peeves, although none of them are “deal killer” levels for me.
What I really like about this deck is that it does try to be inclusive of gender, race, sexual identity, ability, and size. I’ll admit that I’m always a little leery of decks who are trying to bend the traditional images to fit a theme. (For example, a cat themed tarot.) A lot of these decks try too hard and in their attempts to re-image a card, the meaning is changed or lost. One of the cards I see this with is The Lovers. Traditionally, The Lovers is about the coming together of opposites and that not all parties are equally devoted to each other. This is why the Rider-Waite-Smith shows two opposite gendered people, usually one with light hair and the other dark, in the image. Typically the man is focused on the woman and the woman is looking at the angel above them. This isn’t usually the card of balanced romantic love. For that, go see the Two of Cups. The Numinous Lovers in trying to be all inclusive towards the types of relationships (romantic, familial, platonic) and the imagery loses that edge. The guidebook does talk about it but love being difficult and about choices but the illustration doesn’t show it very well.
A change that I do really like is done to The Emperor card. Here we have The Founder, a dark-skinned woman sitting on a brick wall. She holds a staff of rulership and has thorns growing up the wall she sits on. The Emperor is all about structure, rulership, and often appears sharp-edged. She makes and enforces the rules. There doesn’t tend to be much emotion or nature symbolized, and when it is it’s the small stream of water (emotion) leading into the looming, forbidding peaks, which we have here. There is a lot of juice here for me as a woman that has founded several groups and tried to lay down a structure that is supportive to the people involved, including me!
There were a few changes that while typically pet peeves left me asking why more than anything else. The suits of the minor arcana were all changed, along with the names of the royalty cards. There is an explanation in the guidebook that states it was done to encourage people to think beyond the traditional meanings of the suits and to break some of the gender assumptions in the royalty. I understand what the creator is trying to do but it didn’t always translate into the art. I did try to guess by looking at the cards before consulting the book and a few cards were easy to identify but a few left me confused. For example, pentacles were changed to tomes but every book had a pentacle on it. I can see how this gave earth a more intellectual bent by having books featured on all of the cards, which is far more symbolic of airy/intellectual leaning.
The last is the “extra” card. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to the tarot and I’m not a fan of “extra” cards. I’m fine with creators including cards that flip the numbers Strength and Justice cards (an easy identity of a Crowley-Harris-Thoth deck) or even Lovers cards that have the figures being the same gender. I tend to be judgmental about more than 22 major arcana. This card has the Numinous card, which is unnumbered but supposed to come after The World. The card description reminds me of Wyrd in runic systems. This seems to be the Divine is at play. The art is beautiful and the description is gorgeous. I’m not sure that it has a place in a tarot deck though. I’m glad that it is easy to pull from the deck if I decide not to use it.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I do really like this deck. I like what the creator is trying to accomplish with the changes that they made and I think overall they succeeded. It is a deck that I am glad exists. I borrowed this deck from another reviewer but it is going to be reprinted in December 2018. I like the concept enough that I am leaning towards buying my own copy. I believe more decks like this should exist in the world and I’m willing to support the artist creating it.