Tarot of Unknown Shadows by Dark Synevyr
I like all things macabre — the darker, the better. So when I got the chance to use and review the Tarot of Unknown Shadows, my emo heart yelped with Goth glee.
Creator Dark Synevyr has cranked out some unique and intriguing decks in the last few years. His “The Tarot” is an extremely minimal option which really tests your knowledge of the cards. At the other end of the spectrum is “The Manuscript of Initiations”, made up of various occult and religious material and symbolism.
And then we have the happy medium that is Tarot of the Unknown Shadows. I love love love love this deck. CAN YOU HEAR ME!? I love it. From the color palette to the well done collage art (which I’m usually not partial to), to the haunting Victorian aesthetic. Even before reading with the deck, I took the time to look through every card. Mysterious doesn’t even cover it. It’s like looking into a mirror of the past, watching people in another time live their lives. Some of the people seem happy, others more somber. I certainly felt a lot of emotions coming up from not only the deck, but myself.
So, let’s get the “worst” part out of the way. Some folks look upon thin cards with disdain. But in this case, they’d be missing out on a truly stunning deck that palpitates with energy. Fortunately, I am not one of those persnickety paper people, making it possible for me to enjoy the shit (pardon my French) out of this deck. Still, if you want a deck that you can beat up, this isn’t the one. And you’ll likely want to get a deck wrap, as the box won’t hold over time. I’ve got mine patched up with some nice gold duct tape, and I dig it, but I’m a believer in the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi. In any case, none of these minor bits detract from the workability of Unknown Shadows, and I plan to work with this deck a lot in the future.
It goes without saying — but I’ll say it! — I connected with Tarot of Unknown Shadows instantly. Once I was able to to tear myself away from the beautiful gauzy art, I pulled a few cards. Now, it’s not quite a beginner’s deck as the art strays from traditional Rider Waite Smith interpretations. But if you’ve got a tarot book handy, it’s not a big deal. I always feel that when deck art isn’t straightforward RWS, it pushes you to investigate the creator’s card choices further and really get to know and bond with your deck more.
The way the suits are incorporated into the cards is pretty smart. Umbrellas represent the Wands, and if they aren’t being held by a person in the photo, they are added to the image. The Swords, Cups and Coins are all represented in the same manner. Now, every once in awhile you may have to look a bit harder to find all the magician’s tools in a card, but for the most part it’s clear.
This brings me to one other small issue with this printing of Unknown Shadows. Unfortunately, a handful of card titles get washed out by the white color at the top. It’s slightly frustrating, but of course the images make up for this mess. I hope to see this corrected in a future edition.
If you’re in the market for a tarot deck that is dark and soul-searching, but not filled with comically gruesome art, you should really give Tarot of the Unknown Shadows a look-see. It’s just the right mix of meaningful introspection and meditative mystery that will propel you to dig deeper into the cards and yourself. You can pick up all three of Synevyr’s decks on Etsy. Trust me, Tarot of Unknown Shadows is a world that you will want to get lost in.