Angie Green, of thesimpletarot.com, is currently running a Kickstarter for her new deck, The Simple Tarot. Her goal in creating it was to make a simplified RWS-based deck that was boiled down to the most basic symbols of the cards, making it easier to learn for beginner readers. The Simple Tarot has a mid-century modern vibe to it and comes in two versions: the Classic Deck and the Beginner’s Deck, which has keywords on the cards.
The deck comes packaged beautifully in a blue branded box. Inside it are the cards in a small bag, the guidebook, a cheat sheet, and some postcard-sized images. The cardstock is slightly glossy, thin, and flippy – perfect for riffle shuffling.
The Simple Tarot is clean, clear, and bright. It’s a RWS inspired deck, so it keeps all the standard RWS titles and suits. It’s borderless, and each suit has a different background color, so you immediately know what suit you’ve got when you lay out the cards. Majors are white, Wands are red, Cups are blue, Swords are yellow, and Pentacles are green. In the book, Angie describes her approach to the cards: intuitive, but no-nonsense. You can divine with them, but it’s not necessary. This deck and her viewpoint are focused on inner psychological work through the lens of Western symbology and esotericism as organized by Arthur Waite and the Golden Dawn at the turn of the 19th century.
In the book, not only is there an interpretation for each card, there’s also a section dedicated to the base symbols of the deck and what they mean. From a learning standpoint, this is one of the things that makes this deck and LWB unique – not only can you look up an expanded meaning of card, but you can dive deeper into the symbols and see how they combine to create the larger meaning. This is something I’ve only been able to find in my tarot books, such as 78 Degrees of Wisdom from Rachel Pollack, Holistic Tarot from Benebell Wen, and other dedicated texts that aren’t little white books packaged with a deck.
As the Beginner deck, each card has two different types of keywords on them: captions at the bottom of the card and keywords placed alongside the symbols in the image. For brand new readers, this can be a helpful tool to help learn the card meanings and kickstart the brain-image association process. It can make reading the image and recalling the book meanings a little bit easier as you learn.
It’s a straightforward deck and reads quickly, thanks to the simple art and keywords. It puts itself out there, straight up, and doesn’t hide anything. It says what it says, and that will work well for many readers at any level.
As a queer, non-binary reader, there are things that I struggle with using The Simple Tarot. In particular, I find that the court cards are too strictly gendered for me. It felt very 1950s in an unpleasant way when I noticed that all the female-bodied folks (except in the 3 of Cups) were in skirts or dresses and all the male-bodied folks were in pants and suits. The Wands suit appeared to have only one card with a woman – the Queen – and everyone across the board appeared to be aspirationally thin. While I can find portions of myself in this deck if I look around the corners and underneath the images through the use of my own knowledge and intuition, it’s work. And with so many decks out there now that strive to expand on gender and sexuality and visibly fat, disabled, and otherwise non-normative bodies, it can be a bit of a let down to work with a deck that doesn’t.
And as a tarot reader, I do have a choice in how I work with and through those struggles, because so many decks have similar issues for me. Because I do understand why this deck is designed the way it is – it’s a tool to help learn the traditional RWS system, which has been built on these age-old western systems of symbolism. And those systems are strictly gendered and strictly embodied in so many ways, because our culture is also highly gendered and highly embodied in similar ways. There is value to that, particularly when using the symbolism and archetypes of tarot. And there’s also value in pushing past the way things have been to new ways things can be. For learning the traditional RWS, The Simple Tarot is an excellent tool. It may not be the right tool for every new, aspiring reader, but the people who need and want it will find this deck and use the hell out it.