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Radiant Rider-Waite

Radiant Rider-Waite
Designers: Pamela Colman Smith, Virginijus Poshkus  Publisher: US Games 2003.  Size: 699 x 1205cm  (2.75 x 4.75).  Price includes shipping.
Price: £24.95
Points Price: 250
Reward Points: 25

The Rider Waite deck is probably the single most recognisable tarot deck ever. It has formed the cornerstone for modern tarot for many years now, and a large number of decks owe much of their symbolism to the inspiration of the original design by Pamela Colman Smith under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite. Whilst the first design remains perennial, as tarot itself moved on the first Rider Waite began to look a little dated. It was inevitable that somebody would eventually use up-to-date methods to bring the deck into the 21st century.

The Radiant Rider Waite deck is one such attempt. It’s very hard to know whether to describe this as a copy or as a clone of the original Rider-Waite deck which is so familiar to most of us.  The images are almost exactly the same – clearly drawing far more than their inspiration from that seminal deck.
This deck has been recoloured and slightly redesigned by an artist called Virginijus Poshkus, whose artwork has been employed in other card collections such as “Endangered Species of the World.”

The deck is slightly larger than the original, and feels slightly less flimsy when shuffled. All those harsh yellow tones are gone, being replace by warmer, blended tones. The hard black outlines have gone as well, giving the images a more 3-D feel.

The Moon, for example, now has an indigo sky, and a luminous moodiness about it, which better invokes the echoing quality of the card’s interpretation. The Hermit is another card that benefits from the use of dark skies in the imagery. However it is noticeable that the glimpse of the pool behind the veils of the Priestess has disappeared, and the yin-yang effect of black and white wands held by the dancing figure on the Universe has also been omitted.

The original Ace of Wands was always a design that fell short in my opinion, but the Radiant version is dramatic and forceful. The cloud from which the hand appears now seems to be churning, and the hand itself vibrates with power. That’s a bit more like an evocative Ace in my opinion.

The deck remains a really good beginner’s Tarot. All pip cards are illustrated with images which reach deep within the psyche, stimulating the subconscious. All of the arcane and magickal symbolism of the very first Rider Wait is here, presented in a fashion that is attractive and easy on the eye. It is also noticeable how many more details  are discernible in this recoloured version.

The instruction booklet enclosed with the cards is surprisingly extensive, giving a detailed history of the development of tarot, and the Rider Waite in particular, though it is non-specific to the Radiant Rider Waite and appears to be the same booklet distributed with the family of variants on this deck. Divinatory meanings are also more thorough than with some decks, and are, of course backed up by the illuminating works of Rachel Pollack, who has written several books based around this deck. The best ‘starter’ is probably “Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom” which not only discusses the cards in depth but also interprets the symbolism clearly.

The Fool
The Priestess
Hanged Man
The Moon
Ace Wands
6 Wands
3 Cups
7 Cups
4 Swords
10 Swords
3 Pentacles
9 Pentacles
7 Cups

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