Tarot is a Mind Altering Substance.
Yes it is...
Not just because of the lofty concepts, or the changes in consciousness that a reader attains as they fall into "state", but because sometimes the art is created in such a way that it literally changes you as you look at it.
There is some strange equation in putting images together, that make them psychoactive- and according to a person's frequency, they will experience them in different ways.
You remember those optical illusion pictures on the internet- the ones that cause you to see an after-image on a white wall, or on the inside of your eyelids? These cards do that to me.
The color combinations make my eyes go buggy, and seem to flicker and move in the same colors as the phosphenes inside my eyelids.
Because of this, I had a difficult time writing this review, so- please bear with me. I was, as I said, in an altered state.
I should also add here that I am a synesthete, and these really set me off on a loop. They are very noisy....the colors sizzle and shout in powerful voices: piano, trumpet, pipe-organ, percussion- and old-time steam calliope.
The shapes and patterns are rhythmic and full of reprised themes that change key and instrumentation, but never become muddy or indistinct.
As a synesthete, I found myself completely bedazzled- like opening a book and having a brass band suddenly march out of the pages into my living room. I was astonished at first, then amused as if a drum majorette leaned out of a card, popped a cork and poured me a stiff drink.
Kings and Knights shook their hair at me as if they were members of an '80s rock band, and I found myself marching to the bright tones of orange and turquoise right into the Landscape of Mystereum, stepping in time to the Processional March- a shako suddenly towering with plumes on my head, and a kettle drum resounding with every pulse.
I wasn't really sure if I could read clearly with these as of yet, or if I might find myself so carried away by all the brilliant sensory input- colors and shapes so sharp edged I could cut myself on them and never know I bled.
With a certain trepidation I unleashed the riotous characters and landscapes in the deck, and dealt out my first reading.
The potency of the images was penetrating, and produced actual physical sensations. I could hear as well as see the towering chords made by the shapes and colors- and they told me what to say. I could no more miss the point than fall off the earth into the endless sky.
I knocked that reading right out of the ballpark, even though to me it sounded like a commentary on thunder and lightning.
I described tornados and floods and volcanos and hurricanes in a voice clashing with cymbals and tolling with bells.
Fortunately, my client heard a more or less coherent answer to his question, and seemed impressed with the sense of my utterances. I have no idea what I told him, but he went away happy and very impressed. Thank goodness!
If you love strong, vivid contrasts and geometric shapes- with symbols that evoke a world both abstract and surreal, this deck is for you. I think this would appeal to fans of graphic novels, and chess players, to scientists and inventors, to scifi obsessed gamers and futurists.
There are no diaphenous veils or smoky layers of ambiguity here. Shadows announce the absence of light, and light bends around corners to illuminate every nook and cranny.
The mystery of mystereum is not that it keeps things hidden- it's more how it pulls you right in, without hesitation or dissembling. One good long look, and you're sliding into that world at the speed of thought, with answers shouting themselves into your ears, down your throat and out of your mouth.
This is clearly the work of an architect: it's full of tools, landscape elements, arches and clearly defined shapes with hard edges and actinic, saturated hues. Arches hold up the sky and frame the action. Mountains rise out of earth, and sweeps of vivid contrast swirl and capture the reader, until you are drawn irresistibly into the virtual landscapes within.
Whatever delicacy and subtlety of shading is not in the cards is instead present in the soothing back design- a painting that possesses a strangely harmonious combination of linear gradients, and an organic softness of wind and water and dusk-light.
The packaging is very well done, in the classic box style offered by Schiffer- with magnetic closure, satin ribbon, and fitted compartments. There is a well-crafted and comprehensive companion book- also authored by Jordan Hoggard- included in the kit, and the cards are beautifully printed on high quality card stock with a glossy finish.
*I should not here that I did not purchase this deck from Amazon, but received it from the artist for the specific purpose of writing a review.