on 23 December 2012
The word 'game-changer' could not be more aptly applied to the latest publication from New Age artist Chis Butler. Having previously been exposed to his daring, contemporary artwork in the Quantum Tarot collaboration with writer Kay Stopforth, I had high hopes for this solo publication.
I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was completely blown away.
The Son Tarot is a 'gay-themed' Tarot deck which combines traditional Tarot ideologies with Butler's unique style of digital artwork. And like all of his previous projects, it's the artwork which is the star of the show. Often dream-like and always innovative, the images in the Son Tarot connect on an emotional, almost subconscious level. These cards are exciting, unusual and yet completely functional. I've found that reading with them has become a real joy.
The imagery for each card is a skillful reinterpretation of traditional Tarot, faithfully following the Rider-White model with some small liberties to represent the experiences of gay men living in a modern world. Butler pulls off the near-impossible task of achieving a themed Tarot deck which has no gimmicky qualities, of remaining loyal to traditional Tarot while boldly developing it in a new direction.
The accompanying guidebook was a revelation, demonstrating the artist's previously undisclosed skill not only as a writer but as a Tarot historian. As a gay man myself, I found the explanations behind each card refreshingly personal and at times inspiring. The best Tarot guidebooks are those where the author demonstrates both extensive knowledge of the subject matter, clarity in how the cards should be used, and sincerity in what he/she hopes to accomplish. I would say that Butler achieves all of these with aplomb.
One final note should be included about the quality of the Son Tarot. Publishers Schiffer have done a sterling job in presenting both cards and book to the world, avoiding any unnecessarily-cut corners. The treasure-chest style box adds a touch of wonder not often seen in publications nowadays, and I applaud them for their efforts.
In conclusion, the Son Tarot is something which every gay man with an interest in spirituality should have on his bookshelf. For everyone else, it's a chance to become acquainted with one of those rising artists to leave their mark on the Tarot world.