I think this is currently my favorite RWS deck. People always tell you that you should start with the Rider Waite Smith Tarot, and there’s something to be said for learning the archetypal cards behind so many innovative new decks. It helps you read the new decks right out of the box. But the RWS decks themselves aren’t always something we enjoy reading with. I do think this version has made some helpful changes.
The first thing you notice is the new color palette. For a deck that’s been around more than 100 years, this soothing antique palette is a better fit than some of the more garish colors we’ve seen on other editions.
The second innovation is removing the borders. I remember several years back when people were talking on the now defunct Tarot Forum about using paper trimmers and corner rounders to remove borders from decks. I’m glad the publishers were listening, because I personally can’t get a professional cut at home using my arts and crafts supplies. Plus, if they’re published without borders (rather than trimmed) they are the same size as a standard deck (rather than smaller) so the illustrations themselves can be enlarged. This pulls you into the pictures more and helps them feel more immediate.
This is literally the most standard of decks (as in the RWS is a standard deck and this deck has changed nothing about the line art itself). Suits are Swords, Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Courts are Page, Knight, Queen, King.
Backs are reversible.
They come in a solid box (not the flimsy kind where you’re going to wear out the lid opening and closing it) with a small booklet written by Sasha Graham. The only spreads in the booklet are one card, three card, and Celtic Cross.
The card stock itself is as perfect as it can get. Thick enough to not feel flimsy, but not too thick to shuffle. Glossy enough but not plastic. They feel durable.
I would recommend The Radiant Wise Spirit Tarot for anyone looking for a RWS deck to study or read with, especially if the previous color palettes were the main thing turning you off from RWS to begin with.
5 out of 5 stars
Radiant Wise Spirit Tarot
Arthur Edward Waite, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, colors by Barbara Nosenzo, text by Sasha Graham