Timeless Spirit Logo     THE ENVELOPE PLEASE&#133

Volume 1 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

Current Issue Advertising Donations Free Subscription Feedback Come Shopping Meet Our Staff


The Envelope, Please… is pleased to profile
with Jeanette and Lori from "The Tarot Garden".

I hope you all enjoy meeting them as much as I have!
much light,

Q: What is the Tarot Garden?

A: The Tarot Garden is a combination website/Internet business which specializes in tarots and cartomantic decks. Our purpose in creating it was twofold.

First: we wanted to provide an informational resource on tarot decks which was as comprehensive as possible. Now, creating a list of every tarot ever published since the beginning of the twentieth century is probably an impossible task. However, we have been working to consolidate data which until now was only available by referring to a large number of different sources. Some of the tarots listed on our website are not cited anywhere else, including Kaplan (i.e., Stuart Kaplan's three-volume Encyclopedia of Tarot reference). Our online, searchable database has grown to include over 1,000 published cartomantic decks in less than three years, and we literally have hundreds more sitting in piles waiting to be entered into our system. There remain some definite "gaps" in our information, but we fully anticipate that 90% or more of the published tarots found in other sources will eventually be listed on our website. And, of course, there are numerous entries included among our data which aren't found anywhere else, due to their extreme rarity.

Second: we wanted to do more than simply make the information available. We also wanted to provide a service for people who wished to obtain and collect tarots. Until Tarot Garden, there wasn't a single source where a tarot enthusiast could, for example, purchase decks published in the U.S., China, or Poland with equal ease. We currently stock over 500 titles, from over 20 countries, and our inventory and selection is growing every month. We're also working diligently to bring a wide variety of small-press and self-published tarots to the attention of a wider audience. There are still a large number of both domestic and imported titles we hope to ultimately carry, in order to become a "one-stop" shopping source - both for folks who are collectors and for those who are simply seeking that "one, special deck." But even now, we still have the largest selection of both popular and rare items available anywhere.

Q: What deck (or decks) do you recommend for people who are just getting started with tarot, and want to learn how to read the cards?

A: There are generally two schools of thought. One view is that a beginner should stick with one of the "basic" tarots - usually the Rider-Waite or the Crowley-Harris "Thoth" deck - until he or she is comfortable with the essential principles. The other view is new tarotists should search for the deck which "speaks" to them, or "fits" their personality.

Ultimately, both of these views are correct, in their own way. It is probably mostly dependent upon the personality of the student. It is certainly true that the Rider-Waite and Thoth decks are not suited for everyone. On the other hand, with hundreds of decks to choose from, it can become an expensive proposition to buy and experiment with tarots until one finds the "best match." After all, how can a beginner necessarily know what constitutes a good match until he or she has some idea of what tarot is really all about? In the end, finding a good tutorial book or teacher is probably as important, (if not more so), as finding the "right" deck.

Q: At present, how widespread is the interest in collecting tarots?

A: There have been no formal studies on how popular tarot collecting has become as a hobby or avocation, but it's probably safe to say until recently, interest has been higher in Europe than in North America. Most of the really interesting limited edition tarots have been published in Europe, although we may see the situation finally starting to change soon, especially now since new technologies have made it more feasible for deck creators to publish their own work.

In North America, however, there's been a definite growth in the number of folks interested in collecting tarots as information has become more accessible through the Internet and other sources. The biggest problem with fueling more interest in the U.S. in particular seems to be the general conservative nature of the culture, and the association of tarot with "crackpots," "shysters," and "demonic practices." This, of course, is simply due to a lack of education of the general public, whose exposure to tarot has largely been through sensationalistic movies and dubious high-profile "psychics". As a result, people are discouraged from seriously considering all the enriching aspects of tarot collecting - its fascinating history, its artistic expression, its symbolic and academic richness. Even those who already collect tarot are sometimes hesitant to admit it. Some of our customers even ask us to remove all references to "Tarot" from the outside of the packages we send them, fearing ridicule from family, friends, or co-workers who might happen to spy the parcels and disapprove of their contents. Tarot has come a long way over the last hundred years, but it seems as though we may still have a ways to go in eradicating the ignorance and prejudice surrounding the subject.

Q: What advice would you offer to tarot collectors?

A: First, I think it's important for tarot collectors - or any collectors - to ask themselves why they collect. In the case of tarot, is it because the artwork appeals to them? Or maybe the study of its historical or academic aspects? Is it in anticipation of a future increase in value? Or simply for the "thrill of the hunt," and the excitement and sense of accomplishment they feel when they finally manage to track down and obtain an extremely rare or desirable item? Having a clear idea of the answer to this question can help collectors focus on building the collection that's right for them, and minimize the amount of time and money wasted on items which ultimately disappoint. Unless you're independently wealthy, it's unlikely you'd be able to obtain all tarots published over the last one hundred years (or more, for collectors who are also interested in the really antique decks). So the typical collector is probably best served by limiting their ambitions to some obtainable subset.

Secondly, I think it's important to be skeptical. Unfortunately, there's currently no tarot equivalent of the so-called "blue books" which you find for many other collectible items. This means there's no single, authoritative source where collectors can go to determine issues of rarity and (dollar) value for the various decks. As a result, many venues through which tarots are sold will make claims regarding rarity and price which are difficult for your average collector to verify. There are a tremendous number of decks often touted as "rare" by sellers who don't know (or don't care) what they're talking about. A truly rare tarot is one where there are very few copies in existence, either through design (i.e., low-number limited edition) or attrition (i.e., very old decks whose numbers have been greatly reduced through loss or spoilage). This is different from hard-to-find decks, which may be out-of-print, and for which demand may currently exceed the available supply, but which are not low in number. Hard-to-find decks usually can be obtained, as long as you're willing to offer a high enough price to coax them out of the hands of the people who have them. Truly rare decks may often not be obtainable at any price; the trick is to find them first. Of course, many, if not most, of the decks touted by some sellers as being either rare or hard-to-find are neither.

Q: What developments do you foresee for tarot over the next hundred years?

A: I think tarot will continue to gain legitimacy on all fronts as a discipline worthy of attention and study. There is some marvelous work being done in academic circles today, providing us with new insights into the history and development of tarot cards. While the answer to the question of the origin of the cards may never be fully discovered, we are certainly being disabused of earlier romantic notions regarding tarot as a book of arcane knowledge handed down through the millennia. In their place, however, we are gaining a broader understanding of the truly varied, enriching, and spiritual potential which has been incorporated into this handful of archetypal images in a relatively short period of little more than two hundred years. In the end, perhaps tarot may even provide us with the metaphysical equivalent of a "unified field theory," allowing us to find the important common ground in our various philosophical and theological truths.

The evolution of tarot is hardly at an end. Indeed, it may just be beginning.

Copyright (c) 2003 by Timeless Spirit Magazine. All articles are the copyright of the particular writers and cannot be reprinted without their expressed permission. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means whatsoever, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder. We retain legal counsel to protect our copyrights.

Any advice given is for informational purposes only.